This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Vayishlach is taken from Genesis 32:4-36:43. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he continues to examine the life of Ya'akov, and the encounter he had with ELOHIM, and how this is the encounter that prepares Ya’akov for the journey that lies ahead of him! The same is true for us! Only an encounter with ELOHIM can bring the transformation that prepares us for the future!
Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Parashah Torah Portion:
Lion of Judah Speaks: Parashah Torah Portion Vayishlach - Genesis 32:4-36:43
In this Torah portion, Vayishklach (He sent) we encounter the power of being transformed into another person. A story is told about a little old Jewish lady that decided to make a long journey to speak with a guru in India. She flies into New Delhi, takes a train to a small mountain town, catches a rickety old bus for a long ride. After the bus she hires a porter to schlep her bags as she walks the last few miles. She finally arrives at the place and demands to speak with the guru right now. His attendants refuse her request at first, but she is so insistent that they let her in on the condition that she agrees to speak only 3 words. “Fine”, says the old lady. When she comes into the guru, she looks up at him and says, “Sheldon, come home!”
We all want to be transformed into someone more holy. However, we know that such a change can only come from an encounter with the Yah of Israel. The Word is filled with covenants, ordinances, narratives, stipulations, and laws but is also filled with encounters! Elijah, David, Elisha, Nicodemus, Peter and John, in jail, Paul on the road to Damascus, just to name a few. All of these bring about transformations and without the transformation that Torah describes, we cannot fulfill the precepts that Torah teaches us.
Last week we opened with Ya’akov departing from the land of promise, as night falls the text literally says, “he encountered the place” Gen. 28:11. It was there he had a vision of a ladder joining heaven and earth. He recognizes that He has encountered Elohim at the “place.” It is this encounter that prepares Ya’akov for the journey that lies ahead of him. At the end of the Torah portion, as Ya’akov is about to return to the land, we see the same verb in Gen. 32:2, “And angels of Elohim encountered him.” Now he will be prepared to return to the land from which he departed decades before.
“Encounter” in these contexts implies something out of the ordinary- the heavenly realm breaking into the earthly. Ya’akov is not equipped for his departure or his return without this heavenly breakthrough. When we look at the story of King Saul, we see the same verb. Samuel anoints him as king and sends him back to his father’s house to await the time of public revelation telling Saul that he will “encounter” a band of prophets…then in I Sam. 10:6 it says he shall be “turned into another man.” This is the appeal of Ya’akov’s story!
We believe there is a transformed world waiting, the restored Creation of which Torah speaks. But like Ya’akov and Sheldon, we desire transformation ourselves. However, we learn that only a divine encounter will make us different people. More than Abraham and Isaac, Ya’akov is more like us (You and me). Abraham despite the flaws that Genesis honestly reports, appears on the scene as a visionary, a pioneer of faith in the One True Elohim. Isaac is more passive but never veers from the faith of his father Abraham. Ya’akov in contrast, is the patriarch with whom we can most identify…He is the everyman of Genesis! He is a person in process, whose potential for greatness is evident, but nearly always mixed with qualities that are more ordinary.
For example: Ya’akov has the greatness to recognize and desire the spiritual legacy of his father Isaac, unlike Esau who despises his birthright. Ya’akov gains the birthright but not with good character. He takes advantage of Esau’s shortsightedness to buy it for a bowl of lentil stew. It will take 20 years serving the wily Laban to transform Ya’akov into the man who can return to the Promised Land and take up the legacy of his forefathers.
We can sympathize with his trials at the hand of Laban but we realize that they are necessary just like the trials that mold us. However, in this Torah Portion, we learn that such trials do not give the final shape to Ya’akov, but the divine encounters do! In Gen. 32-36 Ya’akov discovers that you can come home again, but you cannot come home unchanged! The Ya’akov who returns home is different from the Ya’akov who departed! He goes through two changes on his way home: His hip is dislocated and his name is changed!
Whether you see Ya’akov’s hip dislocation as temporary or permanently impaired is not nearly as important as the simple fact that Elohim touched him and left a mark on Ya’akov’s soul that he would never forget! He bears in his flesh the reminder of the divine encounter for the rest of his life! Likewise, Ya’akov’s renaming evokes a variety of translations and interpretations. However, what is most important is Ya’akov’s new name, like his injury proclaims: The transforming encounter with the divine!
Ya’akov experiences two encounters: One as a young man setting out on his journey with nothing; the other as a mature man surrounded by possessions, cares, dependents, and responsibilities. Whether we are caught up in youthful self-absorption or in the complacency of mature age, only a touch from Elohim will really change us!
The earliest stories of Genesis give us a peek at the hope of our new birth that Yeshua worked in us. Through his encounter with Elohim; Ya’akov becomes Israel. Israel represents us all. Everyman of Genesis becomes the one-man embodiment of the chosen people of Elohim. Ya’akov’s story reminds us we all must be changed by a divine encounter to find our place in the fulfilled Creation as Messiah taught us in John 3:3, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of Elohim.”
Listen…only an encounter with Elohim can bring the transformation that prepares us for a life of faithful obedience! We must stay alert to the divine encounters that await us! We must embrace them as essential stages in the journey set before us. In order to move on to the next level…there needs to be a transformation, an encounter with the Presence of Elohim. It might mean some wrestling will take place, but victory will be His which in turn benefits us. He will have left His mark on us and we will share that experience with others.
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As we gather on Sabbath this week let us ask for an encounter with our Father. Come ready to be changed and transformed by His power and His Ruach. Are you ready for a new level? Are you ready to move into another phase of your destiny? If the answer is yes, then there needs to be a readiness to be transformed. Surrender and yield to the Ruach HaKodesh. Yield to the Ruach in your life. Accept the testing and trials that come your way that will put you in the place for encounters with Elohim. Come and worship the King. See you at the altar!