(Genesis 7, Matthew 7; Optional Psalm 7, Proverbs 2:6-15)
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GENESIS 7 – You’re probably busy today. Before reading this early-in-the-Bible record of devastating judgment, let a few NT (New Testament) verses warning of the FINAL judgment set the stage. Luke 17:26-27 (ESV): “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” This hit me especially hard, because my family is so happily busy right now preparing for my son’s wedding this weekend that I almost didn’t have time to post this today. And from Romans 11:22 (ESV), about how God’s recorded past judgments shouldn’t lightly pass over Gentiles who hear the good news on how they can be rescued from God’s judgment: “Note then the kindness AND severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided that you continue in His kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.”
A just judge can NOT see absolute evidence of awful injustice and violence then say: “It’s okay, I’ll be merciful and just let it go.” After Gen 3-6 and the first generations of human history after the fall into sin, God’s JUST and RIGHTEOUS response is Gen 7. But the KINDNESS of God is the lengthy warning that building the ark would have entailed, and Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet 2:5), warning the people of his time. The kindness for readers today is that we’re warned through reading Gen 7, the terrifying words of Jesus in today’s NT reading (Matt 7:21-23), and the sobering truth that God sent His own Son to be crushed for the sins of all who would trust in Him (see Isaiah 53:10-11) so that Jesus HIMSELF is our Ark of Rescue from God’s judgment that ALL of us deserve.
MATTHEW 7 – Matt 7:1 is the most-often misquoted portion of Scripture I hear from people: “Judge not…” And that’s often all they know, having no clue that in the very same chapter are some of most terrifying words of judgment in the whole Bible (Matt 7:21-23, where the perfectly kind and loving Jesus wans that MANY on the day of final judgment who THINK they’re okay will be sent to eternal torment).
One of the few daily devotionals I recommend (consider for your reading plan in two years) is D.A. Carson’s For the Love of God: a daily companion for discovering the riches of God’s Word. (Vol. 1) Here’s a quote I can’t improve on:
Three things must be said. First, it is striking that today’s readings include not only Matthew 7 but also Genesis 7. There the sweeping judgment of the Flood is enacted: “Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark” (Gen. 7:23). The same God stands behind both passages, so we should not be too hasty in understanding Matthew 7:1 to mean that all judgment is intrinsically evil.
Second, this is not an instance where something practiced in the Old Testament is somehow abolished in the New. It is not as if judgment was possible in Genesis but is now abolished in Matthew. After all, Matthew 7:6 demands that we make judgments about who are “dogs” and “pigs,” and the paragraphs at the end of this chapter warn against false prophets (and tell us how we are to discern who is true and who is false), and who is truly a follower of Jesus and who is not. Moreover, not only does this chapter speak of a terrible judgment no less final than the flood (Matt. 7:13, 19, 23), but there are many passages in the New Testament that are equally uncompromising.
Third, we must not only expose false interpretations of Matthew 7:1, we must understand what it does say and appropriate it. The verb judge has a wide range of meanings, and the context (7:1–5) is decisive in giving it its color in this passage. People who pursue righteousness (6:33) are easily prone to self-righteousness, arrogance, condescension toward others, an ugly holier-than-thou stance, hypocrisy. Not all are like that, of course, but the sin of “judgmentalism” is common enough. Jesus won’t have it.
Optional Psalm 7 – David is being accused by an enemy named “Cush, a Benjaminite” (see title of the Psalm). We know nothing about this enemy, other than what we can glean here. But as David is feeling overwhelmed by false accusations (see Ps 7:3-5), and feeling that Cush has LOTS of help in trying to destroy David (Ps 7:1b, 2), David runs to his ONLY help: God Himself (Ps 7:1, 6-11, 17). And even in the midst of yet another sad and scary time, David is settling himself that he WILL give thanks to and WILL sing praise to the Most High (Ps 7:17), his refuge (Ps 7:1).
We’ll see this pattern in many Psalms. David sets out (in brutal honesty) what he’s FEELING and brings those feelings to God Himself. Then David reminds himself of the TRUTH that he knows from God and His Word. David reminds himself that the END of his story will be complete justice and vindication because he belongs to God. Then he COMMITS that he WILL praise and rejoice in GOD, even when the SITUATION right now is still overwhelming.
Ps 7:8 – Some are bothered by this and think it’s arrogance. But in Psalm 6 (and multiple other Psalms) David is VERY aware of his own sin, so this is NOT a claim to sinless perfection. It IS a recognition that THIS time the accusations against David are false and that God the righteous judge WILL see and ultimately bring justice. David’s confidence in God handling things one day was right: we don’t even know who “Cush, the Benjaminite” WAS other than the brief mention in this Psalm.
Optional Proverbs 2:6-15 – In Prov 2:1-5, we saw the responsibility of people to be INTENTIONAL and DILIGENT about seeking wisdom and understanding. In Prov 2:6, we get the balancing truth about the sovereignty of God in GIVING wisdom. See the same balance in 2 Tim 2:7 (and I’ve scrawled a note in the margin of Prov 2:6 and the margin of 2 Tim 2:7 pointing this out, from an insight I gleaned from pastor/author John Piper).
Prov 2:8-9 – “justice…equity” – These words are often twisted today by people who try to define these terms completely apart from the wisdom God lays out in Scripture. Prov 2:12-15 calls this “evil … perverted speech … ways of darkness … devious”. BUT don’t over-correct and be alarmed when anyone talks about “justice” or “equity”. Just keep returning to God’s Word and crying out to God Himself to help you in understanding and applying HIS wisdom so that true Christians are leaders in seeking BIBLICAL justice and equity, founded on BIBLICAL wisdom.