(Genesis 18, Matthew 17; Optional Psalm 16, Proverbs 4:5-9)
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GENESIS 18 – [Important follow-up to yesterday… After God established circumcision as the sign of the Abrahamic covenant, it was vitally important that OT (Old Testament) believers showed their trust in God by obeying. The main point was not the act of circumcision, but the HEART that trusted God that circumcision DEMONSTRATED (see Rom 2:28-29, 4:9-12). But folks sometimes wonder if believers NOW are still required to circumcise. No – the sign of the NEW COVENANT (under Jesus) is baptism. Ssee Matt 28:18-20, where Jesus commands that all His followers be baptized and then taught to obey all that He taught. The NT (New Testament) is overall indifferent about this issue (1 Cor 7:18-19, Col 3:11, Gal 5:6). BUT, if anyone is trying to apply spiritual pressure or guilt, then you must take a firm stand and NOT be circumcised. This is a key point in the entire book of Galatians – see especially Gal 5:2-6.]
Gen 18:10-15 – When Sarah was a much younger woman, we were told that she was barren (Gen 11:30). And it was physically impossible for Sarah to have children anymore (Gen 18:11). BUT…nothing is too hard for God! (Gen 18:14) Let this truth impact your prayer life!
Gen 18:19 – The Sovereignty of God AND the Responsibility of people intertwined in the very same verse (as so often happens in the Bible)! The word “chosen” in some translations is “known” in other translations. It’s the same Hebrew root as Gen 4:1 – “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived…” (this is an intimate knowledge that causes things to happen). Same Hebrew root as Amos 3:2 where God says to Israel – “You only have I known / chosen of all the families of the earth…” I’ve circled the word “chosen / known” in Gen 18:19 and put an arrow to the margin where I wrote “S” (because the God’s sovereign choice of Abraham is the decisive FOUNDATION for the rest of the verse). Then I’ve circled the words “command / direct” and “keep” and put an arrow to the margin where I wrote “R” (because it’s Abraham’s responsibility to command / direct his family in God’s ways, and THEIR responsibility to keep and obey God’s way.) Then I’ve circled “so that the LORD may bring…what He has promised” and put another “S” in the margin. 1) God is the sovereign AUTHOR and FINISHER of our faith and obedience, AND 2) we’re meaningfully involved by our choices and actions.
Gen 3:22-33 – God revealed in Gen 18:20-21 that He was on the verge of destroying Sodom and Gomorrah to judge their sin. Abraham responds with another first in Genesis – a beautiful example of INTERCESSORY PRAYER (when we pray on behalf of someone else). Two more truths to shape our prayer life (also see Gen 18:14): 1) God, the righteous Judge of all the earth will do what is just (Gen 18:25). AND 2) God is more merciful than we can imagine. Study the respectful yet increasing requests (and merciful granting of requests) for more mercy. Our world is shocked by the wrong parts of Scriptures about God’s judgment. Too many are offended by the harshness of God’s holy judgment when we SHOULD be amazed by His grace. The shock is NOT that God destroyed the wicked world in Gen 6-8, but that He graciously rescued eight. The shock is not that the world is condemned (John 3:17-18), but that God would send His only begotten Son to sacrifice His own life so that all who believe in Him get eternal life (John 3:16)!
MATTHEW 17 – Matt 17:1-8 – “The TRANSFIGURATION,” where three of Jesus’ disciples get to see a glimpse of the kingly power and glory that was normally veiled during Jesus’ time on earth. Also present were Moses (the human giver of the OT law) and Elijah (one of the most famous OT prophets). God the Father makes clear that the disciples should focus on and listen to His beloved Son (it appears the disciples may have gotten distracted by and overly excited about seeing two OT heroes). God focuses them on JESUS… Matt 17:8 – “And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.” (I’m reminded of the hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”).
Matt 17:9-13 – The SECOND time (first time in Matt 16:21-23) that Jesus clearly declares His upcoming suffering, death, and resurrection.
Matt 17:14-21 – Down from the glorious mountain top experience straight into the brokenness of this fallen world. Note the toughness of Jesus in His rebuke to the little-faith disciples (Matt 17:16-20). And ALSO the tenderness of Jesus in 1) casting out the demon and healing the boy AND 2) in not giving up on the disciples, but teaching them.
Matt 17: 22-23 – The THIRD time Jesus prophesies His soon-to-happen death and resurrection.
Matt 17:27 – “offense” – I’ve written in the margin: “BALANCE to Matt 15:12”. In Matt 15:12, Jesus didn’t shrink back that some found the truth offensive. But HERE, they could stand in the truth AND not give offense (see also Rom 14:13-15, 1 Cor 9:19-23).
Optional Psalm 16 – A powerful reminder of a key biblical theme – there are only TWO PATHS. 1) The path of following and treasuring the true God. HE will show us the “path of LIFE,” where there is “FULLNESS OF JOY” and “PLEASURES FOREVERMORE” (Ps 16:11 – great to memorize). 2) Those that follow any other “god” end up with multiplying sorrows (Ps 16:4).
Ps 16:7 – “my heart instructs me” – ?! This shocked me at first, because a consistent theme in Scripture is the DANGER of following your heart (completely the opposite of our world today). BUT… 1) notice the FIRST part of Ps 16:7 – “I bless the LORD who gives me counsel…” So David (the psalmist here) FIRST looks to Yahweh, and his heart has been trained to line up with HIS counsel. The evidence is all through Psalm 16. In my margin I have an arrow from “my heart instructs me” to where I’ve written: “So, IF God is your refuge (v 1), your Lord (v 2 – meaning “Master”), your chosen portion and beautiful inheritance (v 5-6), your counsellor (v7) THEN you can follow your heart 😊”
Optional Proverbs 4:5-9 – No surprise…MORE commands and motivations to get wisdom and insight. Hmm…WHY did God inspire SO MUCH repetition of this?? It’s almost like we might get distracted with lesser things.