Daily Reflections January 12, 2018
Abraham leaves Egypt and returns to Bethel. And we have a narrative account of Abraham and Lot parting ways into two different lands. When we look at this passage as a whole, we notice that the primary purpose is to show a contrast between Abraham and Lot. And in this contrasting picture, we notice a few truths that are very relevant to us.
1. Seeing is misleading and can lead those who walk by sight to venture into evil. Lot chose the land that looked the most attractive and fruitful. But unbeknownst to him, the people of Sodom were wicked and one only has to read a little bit further to find that it was the opposite of what it promised to the eyes. This should sound eerily familiar to what caused the fall in Genesis 3:
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6).
Eve and Lot chased and trusted in what their eyes saw and desired. And they found out not only was it not what it appeared to be but it caused them to suffer the curse of God. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that nothing is new under the sun. In our over-sexualized, materialistic, media-driven culture we fall into this cycle with every notification and vibration of our cellphone. It grabs our attention, it looks desirable, and we indulge only to find out that it delivers the opposite of what it promises.
2. True faith results in worship, humility, and trust. Notice that this chapter is bookended by Abraham worshipping God. God has made a covenant with Abraham and he has stepped out in faith that God will be faithful. Returning to Bethel wealthy, he knew that all he had and all he would have was because of God’s gracious providence so bows before him in worship. And because Abraham knew that God does what he promises, he did not have to clamor to claim the land as his rightful possession. He could let Lot select the choice land, establishing peace, while knowing that God would give Abraham what he had covenanted to give in due time. We do not see this example very often.
Even among Christians, more often than not, we see people fighting for their “rights”, competing for any control, and scrambling to get a little more because they “deserve it”. But what is that other than lack of faith? How does this show anything but a lack of trust in who God is and what he has promised?
Notice that God reaffirms his covenant with Abraham and reassures him that God will give him what he has promised. Brothers and sisters, God is merciful and kind, knowing that we need reminders. He gave that to Abraham when there may have been a brief moment of looking at the lands that were chosen and becoming despondent. He gives that every day to us through the promises in His Word. If you want to grow in faith like Abraham, meditate on the promises in God’s Word. If you want to be encouraged when it seems unfair that others have what is rightfully yours, meditate on the promises of God’s Word. Psalm 119 was not written by accident, it was written because it is an essential theme that we need to adopt in our heart.
Yours in Christ,
Associate Pastor Evan Webster
Chapter twelve of Matthew’s Gospel is loaded with material that is deserving of our paused reflection. Perhaps the most notable verse in this chapter is verse 31:
“Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”
This verse has struck fear in the hearts of many ever since the time that Jesus uttered these words. As a result, much ink has been spilled in answering the question what the unforgivable sin is. If you are curious as to the answer to this question I would point you to my favorite Bible teacher, D.A. Carson.
You can find a short, 3:47 minute video where he answers that question here: www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/don-carson-on-the-unforgivable-sin/. Or, if you are looking for something more precise, Pastor Paul has also answered that same question here: www.adfontes.ca/posts/post/article/faqs-january-23-30/index.php. (scroll to the bottom of the page, “From Mark 3:”)
Rather than revisiting this same question, I want to instead use this reflection to focus on three statements that Jesus makes that are unique to Matthew’s Gospel. These statements are:
“I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.” (v. 6)
“behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” (v. 41)
“behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” (v. 42)
Each of these statements reveal something very significant about Jesus’ identity and authority. Consider for a moment Jesus first declaration of being greater than the temple. In Jesus’ day the temple sat at the center of all Jewish practise. It was there that sacrifices were made to atone for sin, and it was there that God’s Spirit dwelt. Jesus, in this passage, is announcing that He is greater than these things. He is greater because He is the final fulfillment of what these things pointed to. It is in and through the person of Jesus that man now has the forgiveness of sins and a final mediator between God and man.
The last two “greater than” statements of Jesus are no less bold. Jesus is declaring himself greater than two of Israel’s most famous prophets and kings. He makes this assertion about himself with the purpose of condemning those who reject Him. The men of Nineveh repented at the message of Jonah, and the queen of the South came to hear the wisdom of Solomon. The indictment is that even the Gentiles were able to recognize God’s work through lesser vessels, but the Jewish people of Jesus day failed to see the greater, more recognizable glory of Christ. For this failure and rejection of Christ they stand condemned.
In our children’s catechism we ask the question, “What offices has Christ?” The answer to that question is, “Christ has the offices of prophet, priest, and king.” We see confirmation of this answer in these three declarations of Christ, and by them we are reminded that we are fortunate to serve and live under the perfect teacher, the perfect mediator, and the perfect ruler.
Director of Youth Ministries Ryan Shevalier