Daily Reflections January 10, 2018
For today’s reflection, I’d like to focus in on verses 1 to 9. The story of the tower of Babel is relatively well known, and rightfully so. Here we find men striving together in unity to accomplish a grand feat. The question then becomes: Why was God so opposed to this development?
Their motives are not made explicit in the text, but God’s response provides us with a strong indication that their heart was in the wrong place. Consider verse 6:
And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. (Genesis 11:6 ESV)
Does God feel insecure now that mankind is realizing their potential? Is this text an indication that the God of the Bible stands in the way of human progress? Perhaps an artificial or shallow reading of the text could lead to these assumptions, but anyone who knows God recognizes something more here.
What we see in this text is God’s mercy in protecting us from ourselves. God is less concerned with the tower itself. He is concerned instead with the hearts of the people. He is concerned with the pride of man and all that it will lead to.
As I read this story, I can’t help but think about the 20th century. We were led to believe that we were more enlightened than the generations that came before us. Surely our new-found knowledge and scientific advancements would lead to a time of peace and prosperity. Instead, the 20th century was the bloodiest century in history. As a monument to our brilliant scientific minds we built ourselves the atomic bomb.
In Genesis 11, God is not thwarting advancement – He is saving us from ourselves. Without new hearts, our achievements will always prove to be mirages of goodness at best, and outright rebellion at worst. Contrast this chapter with Acts chapter 2. There, the coming of the Holy Spirit provides the heart change that mankind has always needed and as God ushers in his kingdom on earth he provides a miracle that removes the language barrier altogether. Men and women begin speaking in languages that they never learned and people from many nations hear the gospel preached in their native tongue.
There will come a day when all of humanity will live in perfect fellowship. We will exercise dominion over the earth as we were made to. Acts 2 is a glimpse forward to the unity we will enjoy. Genesis 11 reminds us that our unity was disrupted as a result of our sin. This world is fallen, yet God’s sovereign hand prevents us from becoming as destructive as we could be. This is mercy.
Assistant Pastor Levi denBok
Matthew 10 is a hard-hitting chapter addressing what it means to be a disciple of Christ. It feels very much out of step with North American culture of comfort and superficial religion.
For those brought up at the end of the 20th century who have known unprecedented prosperity and privilege, these words of warning seem very foreign. No one reading Matthew’s words would believe that life as a follower of Christ on this earth is our best life, now. Rather, the call to discipleship is the call to suffer for the sake of Christ.
The Twelve Apostles (verses 5-12) were Jesus’ sent ones, called, instructed and empowered to do as he had done.
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. (Matthew 10:1 ESV)
We stop as we look at the list of names, and note with perplexity, the last one, Judas Iscariot, the son of perdition (John 17:12). The scriptures however, teach us that his was not a misstep on Jesus’ part to choose Judas; scripture tells us that Jesus chose Judas to fulfill prophecy (Psalm 41:9, Zechariah 11:12-13).
Matthew records their marching order in this “commissioning sermon”. They were sent only to the Jews, the “lost sheep of Israel” and sent with the power and authority, to do as Jesus did. They were told to travel light and to rely upon God’s provision for them. They were told to go where they found receptive ears and to shake the dust off their feet in places that refused to listen.
As Jesus and the Apostles were rejected, and all except one, the Apostle John, were martyred, Christians are no welcome friend of the world. Our message to ‘repent and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ’ seems like insanity to a world consumed with their innate goodness and personal autonomy. The world loves darkness and hates the light; thus, we can expect many will reject our message and us (John 3:19-20).
Our call and commission, like theirs is to go out as sheep among wolves and make disciples as we go in to all the world (Matthew 28:19-20).
As we do, here are 7 things we can expect:
1. Cultural headwinds if not outright rejection and suffering at the hands of family (10:21), religion (10:17), and government (10:18). This is not peacetime; we are in a spiritual battle.
2. The fear of God to carry us forward in the face of the fear of man (10:28).
3. God’s gracious care in our time of distress (10:29-31).
4. In days of difficulty, we will have opportunity to witness before authorities (10:18).
5. God will give us wisdom and the words to say when we are called to account (10:19).
6. To find life eternal full of glory in Christ as we lay it down for him (10:39).
7. A great reward stored up for us in heaven for the troubles endured in this life (10:40-42).
Believer in Christ, love Christ above all other loves, including your life itself. Take up your cross and be bold!
Your God is for you and is with you. He is a Mighty Fortress, God triumphant and his Kingdom is forever!
Stand strong in the Lord and open your mouth to speak words of life through the Gospel, by the Spirit who will enable you.
Associate Pastor Jody Cross