Jan 13, 2022

(Genesis 14, Matthew 13; Optional Psalm 12, Proverbs 3:21-26)

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GENESIS 14 – Abram’s nephew Lot has gone from living NEAR Sodom in Gen 13:12-13 to living IN Sodom (Gen 14:12 – “Step 3” in the slow fade – see yesterday’s notes). The kings of Sodom, Gomorrah and their allies rebelled against their overlords (Gen 14:4), who then defeated them in battle and took them captive.

Gen 14:13 – “the Hebrew” – First use of this to describe the line of Abram. Probably a reference to Abram being a descendant of Eber (see Gen 10:21-25, 11:14-26).

Gen 14:14 – While Lot has been getting more enmeshed in wicked Sodom, Abram has been training and preparing his household, and they’re ready to help in a crisis.

Gen 14:17-24 – This is a powerful picture of two very different worldviews, the TWO PATHS theme all through Scripture. The fleshly human-centered perspective represented by the king of Sodom, and the God-centered perspective represented by the one who is both king and priest of Salem (related to the Hebrew “Shalom,” and means “peace”). Melchizedek (meaning ‘king of righteousness”) is referenced multiple times in the Bible. In Psalm 110, we see him as a pointer to the Messiah from David’s kingly line. In Heb 5:6, 10, 6:20, and all through Heb 7, we see that Jesus is the High Priest for believers, but NOT from the Levitical line like Jewish priests. Instead, Jesus is a king AND priest like Melchizedek.

Gen 14:20 – Abram voluntarily giving a tenth of everything is the first mention of the “tithe”. Under Moses (hundreds of years later), God will command tithes and offerings from Israelites. I don’t think that Christians are COMMANDED to tithe, but many believers have found this a helpful starting place as a guide to their giving. All through Scripture we’ll see generous offerings as a grateful response of worship because of all that God has done for us.

Gen 14: 21 – The king of Sodom was DEFEATED (and just rescued by Abram) and has no right to attempt bargaining with Abram. I love the God-centered response of Abram in Gen 14:22-24!

MATTHEW 13 – Multiple parables about the kingdom of heaven. I like the definition I grew up with: “A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.”

Matt 13:1-9 – Parable of the Sower and the Four Soils (explained in Matt 1:18-23).

Matt 13:10-17 – The surprising REASON Jesus taught in parables. It’s NOT because stories are memorable, but as a sifting device. Out of the huge crowds who were interested in Jesus for many reasons (just as many today have SOME level of curiosity about Jesus), the parables show where God is sovereignly at work on a person’s heart and ears. As I read through the Bible, I’m regularly amazed at how God clearly presents BOTH the absolute sovereignty of God AND the responsibility of people. So I have a capital “S” in my margin near Matt 13:11, and “R” near Matt 13:15. Then another “S” near Matt 13:16-17. Prophets and righteous believers in the OT realized they were seeing hints and POINTERS (and longed to see more) to the Messiah and the kingdom of heaven. But now that Jesus has come, His disciples were blessed and sovereignly chosen to see the beginning of the FULFILLMENT!

Matt 13:18-23 – The EXPLANATION of the Parable of the Sower. Have you noticed it can be difficult to pay attention and not get sleepy or distracted when hearing or reading God’s Word? Matt 13:19 tells why – the evil one wants to snatch away the seed of Scripture. Notice that two kinds of hearers APPEAR pretty good for awhile, but only the true believers hear and BEAR FRUIT. Different LEVELS of fruit in their lives, but ALL believers bear fruit.

Matt 13:24-30 – Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds. Explained in Matt 13:36-43.

Matt 13:31-32 – Parable of the Mustard Seed. This would have been the smallest seed they would have used in gardening / farming in Israel at this time. It points out that the kingdom of heaven starts small but is growing.

Matt 13:33 – Parable of the Leaven. The kingdom of heaven starts small, but is eventually pervasive, working its way EVERYWHERE.

Matt 13:34-35 – How MUCH Jesus used parables, and how this is a fulfillment of the OT.

Matt 13:36-43 – The EXPLANATION for the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds. Notice how Jesus “left the crowds” and it’s His DISCIPLES that want to hear the explanation. This is a great example of how the parables acted as a sifting device (and how hard-to-understand Bible teachings still act that way). People often wonder why God doesn’t just remove unrepentant sinners from the world NOW, and Jesus explains that they WILL be judged (with “fire…weeping and gnashing of teeth”) ONE DAY, but not yet.

Matt 13:44-46 – Two parables that show:  1) there’s a COST for being in the kingdom of heaven (see also Matt 10:34-39) and 2) the surpassing WORTH / VALUE of being in God’s kingdom.

Matt 13:47-50 – The Parable of the Net. Another powerful picture of the final judgment, where the unrepentant will be thrown into the fire, where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Don’t miss how clearly Jesus gives terrifying warnings of the coming judgment!

Matt 13:51-52 – Those who know the Old Testament (represented by the “scribe”) AND are now being trained by Jesus about the kingdom of heaven will have treasure from both. This reminds that we need to read the OT with NT eyes and see how the first ¾ of the Bible points to Jesus and His kingdom. There are some today who want to virtually ignore the Old Testament and forget what TREASURE Jesus says is there.

Matt 13:53-59 – The Parable of the Sower TOLD about how there would be different responses to God’s Word, and now we SEE the unbelieving and offended response from Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth.

Here’s a 7-minute video overview of the rest of Matthew:  https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/matthew-14-28/

Optional Psalm 12 – A psalm for when righteous people feel very much in the minority among an increasingly and proudly sinful world. Several helpful prayers and promises to encourage the believer.

Optional Proverbs 3:21-26 – More wonderful incentives for holding onto wisdom and discretion. And a key to good sleep and living anxiety free. In Prov 3:26, note that the Bible is building confidence in GOD, not the self confidence that the world prizes.