Jan 12, 2022

(Genesis 13, Matthew 12; Optional Psalm 11, Proverbs 3:13-20)

Click the following link to enter your email address and get a FREE daily email with the Bible readings for that day, along with some helpful thoughts: https://2tim3v16.wordpress.com/free-daily-email/

GENESIS 13 – Abram (renamed Abraham in Gen 17:5) has been so blessed by God that there’s not enough room for him and his adult nephew Lot. Abram is the generous peacemaker and lets Lot choose whatever section of land he wanted, then Abram goes in a different direction. God makes clear to Abram that he’s NOT the “loser” in this generosity, and reaffirms the covenant promises with Abram and his offspring.

Gen 13:4 – “Abram called upon the name of the LORD.” Also see Gen 13:18 and Gen 4:25-26 (the dark times when this phrase was first used). When God’s name is in ALL CAPS (like in Gen 4:26, 13:4, and many others) I’m going to start using what many are reasonably sure is God’s actual name in Hebrew – “Yahweh”.

[Years ago, before God sent us in different directions to serve Him, my friend and fellow pastor Michael Hampton did a lot of study and teaching on God’s name, and this is a short summary. The clearest explanation is Exodus 3:13-17, where God ties His Name to the phrase “I AM,” and “I AM WHO I AM.” The Hebrew word Yahweh sounds like these “I AM” phrases, and God’s use of it reminds us of a few things: 1) Yahweh is the One who IS. No one started Him; He has no beginning. He ALWAYS simply and powerfully “IS.” 2) Yahweh is the One who CAUSES all that is. His Name is often used in connection with His creation.  3) Yahweh is the One who ALWAYS IS with those that are His. Note the close connection with Yahweh and His people in Ex 3:15-17 as He reminds them of His covenant promises to their forefathers. We’ll OFTEN see GOD or the LORD (representing His name “Yahweh”) used instead of the more generic “God” in connection with His constant PRESENCE with His covenant people. People often have heard “Jehovah,” (and I certainly enjoy great songs that use that as God’s name) but “Jehovah” is more of an Anglicized German. By the way, LOTS of other Bible words and names point to the shortened version of God’s Name – “Yah” (“IsaiAH, AlleluIA,” the same meaning but closer to Hebrew “HalleluJAH,” etc. And though I happily say the Anglicized from the Greek “Jesus,” Joseph and Mary would have said either “YAHshua” or “Yeshua” – the same as “Joshua” in the OT. Yahshua means “Yahweh saves,” and is a reminder that Yahweh ONLY saves eternally through His Son, the PERFECT image of His Father).]

Gen 13:10-11 – Note similarities to the first sin in Gen 3:6 and the introduction to the worldwide flood in Gen 6:2. Lot “SAW” and (apparently ONLY on the basis of how it looked / seemed to his senses) “CHOSE”. But notice the chilling reminder in 13:10 that the Sodom and Gomorrah area was only beautiful BEFORE Yahweh destroyed it in judgment. Two things to be sobered by in Lot’s story: 1) This choosing simply on the basis of what something LOOKS like or SEEMS to our senses is the first sliding step in a sad, slow slide into AWFUL consequences that will impact the rest of history. I’m reminded of the words to the Casting Crowns song Slow Fade: “It’s a slow fade when you give your life away. It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray.”  2) I think you’ll be shocked at the depths to which Lot descends over the next years of his life and the next few chapters in Genesis. Be sobered that Lot is a BELIEVER (see 2 Peter 2:7-9). Bible Study tip: In my margin I’ve written next to Gen 13:10 – “Sounds a lot like Gen 3:6, 6:2.” And next to Gen 13:11 – “Step 1, but see 2 Pet 2:17-19 – this is a BELIEVER.”

Gen 13:12-13 “Lot moved…as far as Sodom” (or “towards Sodom”) – In my margin I’ve written “Step 2”. In the next few chapters we’ll see Lot getting more and more enmeshed with Sodom, until he’s finally calling them “my brothers” (Gen 19:7) to a mob attempting utter wickedness, and where Lot offers his virgin daughters to that Sodomite mob.

Gen 13:14-18 – Yahweh reminds Abram that he is NOT the loser by his generosity, reaffirms the covenant promises, and Abram responds in worship.

MATTHEW 12 – Just after Jesus’ wonderful promise of REST to all who come to Him and learn from Him (Matt 11:28-30), Jesus TWICE takes on religious leaders and how they had perverted the Sabbath from being about REST into something burdensome and legalistic. Then we’re reminded that Jesus is BOTH the authoritative “Lord of the Sabbath” AND the tender servant prophesied in Isaiah. Then teaching to warn the very religious (but NOT truly godly) Pharisees about their rejection of Jesus and the Holy Spirit given evidence that Jesus is the One they should follow. Matt 13 closes with powerful words from Jesus that the family made up of those who want to obey God’s will is MORE important than physical family.

Matt 12:6, 8 – Don’t miss these claims that would have SHOCKED the Pharisees. Jesus is saying that HE is the fulfillment of such cherished OT things like the temple and the Sabbath, and that Jesus is GREATER than these.

Matt 12:13 – We’ll see a growing intensity in the opposition to Jesus. We sometimes think that if we’re gentle enough that the world (including much of the religious world) will like and respect us. But Matt 12:18-21 says that Jesus is the fulfillment of Isa 42:1-3 and all the “servant” prophecies in that section of Isaiah. But even with Jesus’ perfect balance of toughness (Matt 12:20b) and tenderness (most of Matt 12:18-21), He was still hated.

Matt 12:23 – “Can this be the Son of David” – people were wondering whether Jesus is the Messiah from David’s line. THESE kinds of questions about who the biblical Jesus truly is are THE MOST IMPORTANT for all eternity. God is clear that the final judgment boils down to your response to Jesus and the Holy Spirit given evidence that He truly IS the One sent to fulfill all the prophecies and promises.

Matt 12:22-32 – Many have questions from this section, especially Matt 12:32. At www.DesiringGod.org, you can enter “Unpardonable Sin” into the search bar and get helpful resources.

Matt 12:33-37 – Too many people think that their connection with some GROUP makes them a good person. Jesus emphasizes that the truly godly will be evidenced by the good fruit in their ACTIONS and their TALK.

Matt 12:38-40 – Jesus’ answer for those that demand miraculous signs is that they should study His RESURRECTION as the ultimate sign. Through history, many who started as unbelievers and realized that the key issue is to determine if Jesus truly conquered death have become followers of Jesus. Also don’t miss that Jesus considered the Bible story of Jonah to be LITERALLY TRUE (contrary to many religious “scholars” of our times).

Matt 12:41, 42 – “greater than Jonah…greater than Solomon” – Jesus is clearly stating that He indeed IS the Messiah, the One that ALL the OT pointed to!

Matt 12:46-49 – Also see Matt 4:21-22, 10:34-39. The family that Jesus MOST treasured was NOT the physical family, but the family of those who are learners of Jesus who want to obey the heavenly Father.

Optional Psalm 11 – In my Bible’s margin I’ve written: “Encouragement for the righteous when the wicked SEEM to be winning (also see Ps 10).” Note the often repeated “upright / righteous / righteousness” through this Psalm. Bible Study tip: Derek Kidner has written excellent summaries and brief comments on every Psalm. If I could only afford one author on the Psalms, it would be him – short, approachable (you don’t have to have seminary training), and very helpful.

Ps 11:1 – The SET of the righteous heart – focused on Yahweh and taking refuge in HIM, even when others advise other options.

Ps 11:2-3 – The SCARY SITUATION. This psalm (like so many psalms) comes from a crisis.

Ps 11:4-5 – The TRUTH, whether it FEELS like this or not.

Ps 11:6 – The PRAYERFUL DESIRE of the righteous – that Yahweh will get ultimate justice. Also see Rom 12:19 – “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”

Ps 11:7 – Closing CONFIDENT PRAISE and reminding himself of the END of the story of every believer: “Yahweh is righteous…the upright shall behold His face.” I’m reminded of the hymn “Be Thou My Vision” and Ps 17:15 – “As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with Your likeness.” This has been called by believers “The Beatific Vision,” and is a sweet reminder that the greatest Treasure of the universe is God HIMSELF. [Online you can read a beautiful sermon about this by searching “Charles Spurgeon The Beatific Vision”.]

Optional Proverbs 3:13-20 – Continued emphasis on the importance and value of getting wisdom and understanding.