Previous study tells us this portion of Scripture begins with the death of Sarah and concludes at the death of Abraham. It includes, among other history, the account of the meeting of Isaac and Rebekah. But, while reading through it last evening and again this morning, something came to mind we had not noticed before. Abraham, the first Hebrew, the patriarch of all Israel (which includes all born-again believers ) bows himself before a pagan. What’s up with that? Abraham bows himself before the children of Heth, the council of the Hittite leadership and before Ephron, the leader of this pagan bunch ? Anybody besides us have a problem with this ? Let’s look a little deeper and see what we find.
The Torah admonishes us to ‘honor our father and mother, for this is the first commandment with a promise.’ We, as adults, should have learned ‘respect and honor’ while we were children in the home, by honoring our parents. As we mature, this understanding and extending of respect and honor should mature as we do and be evidenced by appropriate respect and honor for our God, our spouse, our family, our employer and those in positions of responsibility and authority over us. Eventually, this comes to be known as ‘proper protocol’.
So what does ‘proper protocol’ have to do with Father Abraham bowing himself before a pagan leader? Remember in the letter of Jude how the writer makes reference to Michael the archangel NOT railing against satan but literally turnin’ him over to The Lord ? That’s because the angelic host understand proper protocol and chain of command in ways we haven’t quite got a grasp on as of yet.
Abraham could have gone strutting into the ‘enemy’s camp’ and declared ‘I am Abraham, the friend of God, so recognize my importance and give me what I desire’. Alas, he did not, for he knew ‘proper protocol’ and the purpose for his visit. He wasn’t there to ‘take on’ the enemy. He was there to accomplish the purpose for which he came – to find a suitable burial place for his beloved wife. There would come a time to deal with the enemy. There are times when God has called his people to fight and times when He has called them to stand down. But, again, what has all that got to do with Abraham bowing before the descendants of Heth? Let’s try to boil all this down.
The Apostle Paul understood and taught this concept – first the physical, then the Spiritual. Abba gives us tasks to perform in the physical realm by which we are to learn and understand Spiritual truths. Abraham understood ‘proper protocol’. It was evidenced by his interaction with Ephron and the children of Heth, and shows the maturity level of his understanding of ‘respect and honor’.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul confirms this truth – “If you are in Messiah, you are Abraham’s seed . . .’ (Gal. 3:19) and if we are Abraham’s seed we should be able to walk in some reasonable level of an understanding of honor and respect comparable to that of our father Abraham. Abraham knew how to properly honor, respect and approach His Father and this understanding overflowed into his relationships with those around him.
So how does our Heavenly Father desire we approach Him? The Word is jam-packed with ways in which Abba would want us to come into His presence, and visa-versa. Just as we need to learn what pleases our Father, we also must learn what displeases Him, and that is in His Word as well. Here are some examples:
‘Seek out the old paths and walk therein and find shalom . . . but the people said
we will not . . .’ Jeremiah 6:16
‘Do not come to Me in that manner . . .’ Deut 12:4;
‘you shall not behave this way before the Lord your God . . .’ Deut 12:31;
‘do not imitate the ways of the nations . . .’ Deut 18:9;
‘do not learn the ways of the nations . . .’ Jeremiah 10:2;
‘while these people were worshiping the LORD, they were also serving their idols. To this day their children and their grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did in the past. 2 Kings 17:41 (and they were judged accordingly );
‘But now that you know God– or rather are known by God – how is it that you are turning back to those weak and beggarly practices of the world . . . (by) observing (their) special days and months and seasons and years ?’ Galatians 4:9-10;
and the phrase ‘under every green tree’ is always connected to ‘the ways of the nations’ and is a phrase especially appropriate this time of year.
Deut 12:2, 2 Kings 16:4, 2 Kings 17:10, 2 Chron. 28:4, Jer. 2:20,
Jer. 3:6, Jer. 3:13, Ezekiel 6:13
‘Thus says the LORD: “Learn not the way of the nations . . . 3 for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and fashioned with an axe by the hands of a workman. 4 They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move. 5 They are idols that cannot walk or speak . . .’ Jeremiah 10
Jeremiah 16:19 O LORD, my strength and my fortress, My refuge in the day of affliction, The nations shall come to You From the ends of the earth and say, “Surely our fathers have inherited lies, that which is worthless and unprofitable; (weak and beggarly; Galatians 4:9);
So just as our Father Abraham understood ‘proper protocol’ in his day, so to, we must understand in these days the proper ways to approach our Father as well as the ways that displease Him . . . especially ‘as The Day approaches’.
In the meantime, Shabbat Shalom to you and yours –