Saturday 12 November 2011
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I study the Torah every year using the teaching tools of Scripture. (Why?)
Today is the 4th Sabbath of the annual Torah cycle: parashah (Torah portion) Veyeira / He appeared, Gen 18:1-22:24. Read Genesis 18:1-22:24 at Bible Gateway.
This week’s Torah portion forms a chaistic structure. I have included the markings (s for stumah and p for p’tuchah) for the paragraph divisions (see the teaching tools of Scripture) so that it can be seen that the paragraph divisions often reveal the chiastic structure.
1A) Gen 18:1-21:21 s+s+p, The seed of Abraham;
1B) Gen 21:22-34 p, Abraham’s covenant with Abimelech;
CENTRAL AXIS) Gen 22:1-14, The sacrifice of Isaac;
2B) Gen 22:15-19 p, God’s covenant with Abraham;
2A) Gen 22:20-24 p, The seed of Nahor.
Of course, the central axis of this torah portion is the sacrifice of Isaac, a prophetic type of the sacrifice of Messiah. This chapter is full of signs of the Messiah. But what was most interesting to me this year, was the 1A element from Gen 18:1-21:21.
There are three paragraphs in this element:
Gen 18:1-19:38 ends in a stumah, so it forms a single weak paragraph according to God’s paragraph divisions. This is fascinating to me, because these two chapters appear to be talking about two completely separate incidents. But because God has grouped them together in a single paragraph, something that we would not normally expect, we know that He is trying to show us something important!
Upon further examination, we find that Gen 18:1-33 forms its own chaistic structure, with the central axis of:
“For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” Gen 18:19
Keep this in the back of our minds. Gen 19:1-38 also forms its own chiastic structure, with the central axis of Gen 19:15-22 — “Escape for your life!”
I realized that these two chapters shone a spotlight on two men: Abraham, and Lot. The difference between them was not hospitality, because Lot ran to prepare for the two angels just as Abraham had. Their difference was not in righteousness, because the New Testament describes Lot as righteous, who was oppressed by the wickedness around him in Sodom (2 Pet 2:7). The Scripture is going out of its way to contrast these two men: what is their difference?
Go back to the central axis of Gen 18: Abraham commanded his SEED after him to keep the way of the LORD. Gen 19 ends with the history of Lot’s daughters and their sons (Lot’s SEED). Lot’s seed did not keep the way of the LORD, obviously. Abraham commanded his seed after him to keep the way of the LORD; Lot did not command his seed after him to keep the way of the LORD. That contrast is why these two chapters are together in a single weak paragraph.
But that is not all, with the 1A element. There is a second weak paragraph: Gen 20:1-18 ends in a stumah. This chapter also forms its own chiastic structure. Its central axis is:
“Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.” Gen 20:7
Because this is a weak paragraph in a series, it is tied to the previous weak paragraph of Gen 18:1-19:38. They are revealing similar facets of a single theme. Notice that here, Abraham will pray for Abimelech and he will live. And in the previous weak paragraph, Abraham prayed for the righteous of Sodom, and the righteous of Sodom — Lot and his two daughters — lived. Lot and his two daughters lived because Abraham prayed for them. If he had not done so, they would have been consumed in the destruction of Sodom. The Scripture is teaching us that intercessors and prophets are two sides of the same coin. Intercessors speak to God on behalf of men, and prophets speak to men on behalf of God. Abraham operated in both ministries; in other words, the ministry of faith, is MEDIATION.
There is a final paragraph in the 1A element: Gen 21:1-21, which ends in a p’tuchah, a strong paragraph division. This chapter is about the birth of Isaac, and the banishment of Ishmael. This paragraph also forms its own chiastic structure. The central axis is:
So the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned. Gen 21:8
In other words, Abraham made Isaac his official heir and not Ishmael. The Scripture is highlighting for us, WHO is the seed of Abraham? The son of promise, and not the son of the flesh. Abraham is the father of all who believe, so ISAAC, the promise, the promised seed, is his heir, and not ISHMAEL, the flesh, the seed of the works of the flesh.
Taken all together, the 1A element is teaching us about the seed and heir, the children of Abraham. Abraham, the father of all who believe, will command his seed after him to keep the way of the LORD. Those who do not keep the way of the LORD (Lot’s seed and Ishmael, for example) are not counted among those who believe. This element, which is wrapping the central axis of the torah portion, the prophetic type of the sacrifice of the Promised Seed, the Messiah, teaches us that Yeshua’s sacrifice and faith in His sacrifice, does not exclude keeping the way of the LORD, but includes it.