Jan 5, 2022

(Genesis 5, Matthew 5; Optional Psalm 5, Proverbs 1:20, 29-33)

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GENESIS 5 – Gen 5:1 – “the book of the generations of…” (compare Gen 2:4). Throughout Genesis, God uses a similar phrase to FOCUS IN on a smaller group. Here He focuses in on the line of Seth (Gen 5:3), leading up to Noah and his family (Gen 5:32 – including Shem, father of the Shemites / Semitic people, leading up to Messiah Jesus). When you get to a list like Gen 5, it’s okay to skim, but look for main points, things that are a pattern, and things that stand out. The main point here is that God keeps His word. He said in Gen 2:17 that if Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil “you shall surely die”. Satan (liar that he is) had said in Gen 3:4 “You will NOT surely die.” Well, the sad chorus that repeats all through Gen 5 is “and he died.” Methuselah (Gen 5:27) has the longest recorded earthly life (969 years), but it still ends “and he died”. Gen 5:28 – Lamech is NOT the same one from Gen 4 (Gen 4 records Cain’s line, and Gen 5 records Seth’s line). Some hopeful words in Gen 5:29, but the end of Lamech is still “and he died.” And part of the judgment that’s recorded in Gen 6-9 is that people will die much sooner (life spans drastically fall off after the worldwide flood in Gen 6-9).

Out of this sad chapter, there are two notes of hope. 1) Gen 5:21 hints that the end of our story does NOT have to be like most. See Heb 11:5 for more detail on how Enoch “walked with God” (don’t miss the sweet echo of Gen 3:8 and the possibility of intimate fellowship with the Creator) and did NOT die, because God just took him home to be with Him.  2) Gen 5:29 shows that Lamech had high hopes for what God would do through Noah. Since the promise of God sending One to fix the problems with the now-cursed earth, there will be a theme through Scripture – Is THIS the One?? I think it’s very possible that was Eve’s hope when she gave birth to Cain in Gen 4:1, but of course Cain turned out to be a murderer. I sense that longing in Lamech for his son Noah, and Noah IS a wonderful pointer to the One. But we’ll see that Noah falls far short. This longing continues until God sends His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus!

MATTHEW 5 – Matthew 5-7 make up Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount,” where He teaches His disciples (Matt 5:1-2) what it means to follow Him (“disciple” means follower / student). There are some who try to squirm out of applying the radically counter-cultural commands in this sermon to their lives today, but see the Great Commission in Matt 28:18-20. The PROMISE of the Great Commission (that Jesus is with His people ALWAYS, “to the end of the age”) will only be ultimately fulfilled when Jesus returns at the end of the age. Until then, the COMMANDS of the Great Commission still hold valid – once someone is a disciple of Jesus, we must be about “teaching them to observe / do ALL” that Jesus has commanded. And the Sermon on the Mount in Matt 5-7 is a summary of what it looks like to follow Jesus and be in HIS kingdom. His kingdom values are SO DIFFERENT from our society!

If you either are about to BECOME a follower of Jesus (and God is changing your heart / thinking), or you ARE His already, two things will happen as you study the Sermon on the Mount.  1) You will long for your life to increasingly line up with what Jesus teaches. You will “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matt 5:6).  2) You will mourn how far you fall short of God’s perfect ideals, and humbly confess that you don’t have it in you to effect meaningful and lasting change. And that humbles you right into being “pour in spirit” (Matt 5:3) and is part of the mourning of Matt 5:4 (along with all kinds of mourning from living now in a fallen, sin-twisted world filled with suffering and death). As you study Matt 5-7, beware attempts to rationalize / justify how you’re CURRENTLY thinking / acting. Those areas where you find yourself most trying to wriggle away from God’s conviction are probably where God wants you to start crying out to Him for help in conforming to what Jesus taught.

Matt 5:8, 5:20, 5:48 – As you read the whole Bible it’s VERY clear that the ONLY human that was sinlessly perfect in this life was Jesus (who is fully human AND fully God). Verses like these three are to humble us when we start thinking (like many Pharisees did – see Matt 5:20) that we look pretty good on the outside. The goal is complete purity in heart, and our LONGING is for sinless perfection (Matt 5:48) – which will happen when those who belong to Jesus go home to heaven. Until then, we confess our poverty in spirit (Matt 5:3 – how different from the self-confidence the world values) – that we are completely dependent on God for 1) His righteousness which is CREDITED to the life of each person who trusts in Jesus.  2) His HELP / power / indwelling Holy Spirit to keep changing our thinking / acting. In this life, we are NOT talking about sinless PERFECTION, but we ARE talking about a radically new DIRECTION.

Optional Psalm 5 – Ps 5:1-2 – “groaning…cry” – So many Psalms reflect the deep pain and sorrow of living in a fallen, sin-twisted world. A precious old saying: “For every sigh there’s a Psalm.” Psalms teach us to turn TO GOD when we’re hurting / upset.

Ps 5:4-6 – What a different picture of God than the world has! The perfect, righteous hatred God has for sin AND sinners (don’t miss Ps 5:5) should guard us from self-righteousness and lead us to a humble thankfulness that God has made a way for sinners LIKE US to run to Him for mercy in Jesus. So that we can approach His throne (where we like other sinners DESERVE only righteous wrath) with confidence (NOT self-confidence, but confidence in what JESUS has done for those that come to Him) and find “grace and mercy to help in time of need” (Heb 4:14-16).

Ps 5:8 – Note the lack of SELF-righteousness – the Psalmist is VERY aware that his only hope is for the LORD to lead him in God’s own righteousness.

Ps 5:10 – The first of many imprecatory prayers (a prayer for God to bring justice / vindication / holy revenge on the wicked) in Psalms. Note how the Psalmist turns the unjust, painful situation over to God (compare Rom 12:19, where we’re reminded “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”).

Ps 5:11 – Wonderful, hope-filled prayer that even in the midst of painful, sad situations believers can run to God for refuge and still sing for joy (even through our tears) in God.

Optional Proverbs 1:20, 29-33 – More of wisdom crying out in the midst of a noisy, distraction-filled world. Tremble at the warnings and rejoice in the promises for those that listen to and apply godly teaching. Compare the END of the Sermon on the Mount in Matt 7:24-27 where Jesus has incredibly similar warnings / promises about hearing and applying HIS teaching, because HE is the ultimate personification of wisdom.