“Get Yourself Out”
This week’s Torah Portion introduces us to one of the most famous and revered men in Scripture – Abraham. Or as he is known throughout the majority of this Parsha, Avram. To see a bit more about his influence and character we will first look at Moshe.
In the last few weeks of his life he exhorted the children of Israel (Abraham’s 5-times great-grandchildren) to obey the covenant terms they entered into. In so doing, they would heap blessings upon themselves and their families.
Yahweh will make you abound in prosperity,Deuteronomy 28:11 (NASB)
This is promise is certainly evident in Avram’s life. Even from the time he’s called, he seems to have been a man of wealth and position.
Avram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan.Genesis 12:5 (NASB)
After arriving in the land Elohim promised him more possessions, namely land (12:7).
In the time of famine when, presumably, men were losing their fortune, Avram prospered.
Therefore he [Pharaoh] treated Avram well for her sake; and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels.Genesis 12:16 (NASB)
Despite the lie about Sarai was discovered, Avram was allowed to keep the possessions he was given (12:20). Upon returning to the land the dispute with his Nephew Lot came to a head for the simple reason that their combined wealth was too great and couldn’t be supported by the land.
And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together.Genesis 13:6 (NASB)
His wealth was to such an extent, that after battling with the neighboring kings who had kidnapped Lot, he doesn’t feel the financial need to accept any of the plunder.
Even with all this, Elohim promises even more in the opening lines of the next chapter.
Fear not, Avram! I am your shield and the one who will reward you in great abundance.Genesis 15:1 (NET)
It would be easy to agree with the purveyors of the prosperity gospel that Elohim’s plan for all believers is health and wealth. If we just do and say the right things we’ll be blessed…just look at the life of Avram! But, with just a little closer look it becomes clear what was truly important to this week’s hero.
Despite the animosity that sprung up between them, when push comes to shove Avram risks both his health and wealth to save the captured Lot from the Canaanite kings. When presented with the opportunity to gain even more, he gives the tithe to the priest Melchizedek, and declines more in order to point to the author of his success…Elohim.
The chapter 15 promise for even more? Through it we discover what matters most to him is not wealth, but family.
Avram said, “O Master Yahweh, what will You give me, since I am childless…?”Genesis 15:2 (NASB)
Avram’s desire was a son to whom he could pass on his legacy. It’s a travesty that in today’s society “legacy” is a socially acceptable term for “the money I get when someone dies.” But to Avram it was about his character of righteousness. He desired a son to whom he could teach the covenant, and the ways of Elohim that he was taught.
Like Avram, Elohim desires to prosper us, but how often has our definition of prosperity been colored by the stained glass of the world? As we return to the passage from Deuteronomy that we opened with, let’s complete the quote.
Yahweh will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in he produce of your ground, in the land which Yahweh swore to your fathers to give you.Deuteronomy 28:11 (NASB)
It was within the context of family that Avram was blessed, first that he would be granted a family – a large one! But also that through him the families of the world would be blessed (Gen. 12:3). Not the individuals of the world, but the families. This is significant, and it should reshape the way that we approach prosperity. It should reshape the way that we approach each other as brothers and sisters in the Messiah.
Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, ‘Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of Elohim, he is My brother and sister and mother.”Mark 3:34-35 (NASB)
The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Min, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”Matthew 25:40 (NASB)