(Genesis 20, Matthew 19; Optional Psalm 18:1-15, Proverbs 4:13-19)
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GENESIS 20 – Another very low point in the faith life of Abraham. VERY similar to the low point in Gen 12:11-20, and years later Abraham’s son Isaac fails to trust God in almost an identical story (Gen 26:7-11). One of the key aims of Scripture is that we should be regularly both HUMBLED and ENCOURAGED. Humbled by the sin, weakness, and inability of fallen people like us. Encouraged at the sovereign greatness of God! We live in a world that’s always trying to build SELF confidence. Scripture is always building our GOD confidence.
Gen 20:1-2 – The judgment God rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah was so breathtaking, it’s easy to forget the promise just recently made to Abraham and Sarah that God will be giving them a baby together within the year (Gen 18:9-15). Rather than trust in God’s promise and know that He would protect them, Abraham again uses deception (although he tries to rationalize that there’s SOME truth – see Gen 20:12), just as he did in Gen 12:11-13 and just as Isaac will do years later in Gen 26:7.
Gen 20:3-7 – Vital section for seeing the two truths presented all through Scripture: 1) God is absolutely sovereign AND 2) our human decisions and actions still matter. This is a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse at how these two truths work together. Usually, we only can see OUR decision (Gen 20:4-5). But HERE God allows us to see what is always the FOUNDATIONAL truth under every human decision, but is usually hidden from us – the absolute sovereign control of God (Gen 20:6; also see Prov 21:1, Ps 105:25, Jer 42:12, 2 Chron 30:12). Since I’m tracing these two truths through the Bible, I’ve written a capital “R” (for “responsibility of people”) next to the end of Gen 20:5 and the beginning of Gen 20:6 (because God does not disagree that Abimelech HAS been meaningfully involved in his obedience). Then I’ve written “S!” next to Gen 20:6 (for “sovereign control of God”). And another “R” next to Gen 20:7, because God still meaningfully involves Abraham and his prayer (even in the middle of this story about how Abraham was definitely NOT perfect in trusting God). And because there will be VERY meaningful consequences if Abimelech doesn’t heed God’s command to return Sarah to Abraham!
Gen 20:6-17 – GOD was looking out for Sarah, even though her husband definitely was NOT. This is the key to how a wife can obey 1 Pet 3:1. In 1 Pet 3:5-6, note how Sarah’s submission to Abraham (even when he’s being a sinful jerk) is used as a vital example to women that the key to obeying 1 Pet 3:1 is having confidence in GOD. Thankfully, God is infinitely bigger than our sin, and HIS good and wise plan always wins in the end!
MATTHEW 19 – There’s much to see and study in this chapter, but be careful! There are so many controversial topics mentioned in this chapter (marriage, divorce, singleness in Matt 19:3-12, materialism in Matt 19:20-30, end times in Matt 19:27-30) it would be easy to miss the overall structure…
Matt 19:1-3 – Question about the OT law #1.
Matt 19:4-9 – Jesus’ answer and then v 10 is the disciples’ SHOCKED RESPONSE #1. Jesus doesn’t disagree with their overwhelmed shock, but gives a bit more teaching in vs 11-12.
Matt 19:13-15 – The HINGE of the chapter – compare Matt 19:14 with the HUMILITY / utter dependence of children in Matt 18:2-4.
Matt 19:16 – Question about the OT law #2.
Matt 19:17-24 – Jesus’ answer and then v 25 is the disciples’ SHOCKED RESPONSE #2. Jesus then AFFIRMS their overwhelmed shock, but then gives an important encouragement.
Matt 19:26 – Part 1 of this verse is utterly HUMBLING. Entering the kingdom of heaven and following Jesus as our King is UTTERLY too big for us to handle! Too many study the Bible trying to 1) justify themselves so not much needs to change in their life (see the Pharisees in Matt 19:3, 7). Or 2) are studying the Bible to figure out if they can do this whole following God thing. You CAN’T – it’s too big / overwhelming! But Part 2 of Matt 19:26 is ultimately ENCOURAGING – what is IMPOSSIBLE for us is EASY for God!
Matt 19:27-30 – There ARE some interesting end times things to think about here, but don’t miss the main points: 1) Remember the END of the story is very very good for those that leave anything they have to in order to follow Jesus! 2) God’s kingdom values completely FLIP upside down (or rightside up) the world’s values! (And that prepares us for the next parable in Matt 20 tomorrow…)
Optional Psalm 18:1-15 – A psalm after God has rescued David from all his enemies. Don’t get discouraged and think, “But I’ve prayed and have NOT seen such a wonderful response.” This is the END of the story for EVERY believer – eventually there is TOTAL and COMPLETE victory and restoration for everyone trusting the one true God! Be amazed at the awesome response of God to the prayer of His people in Ps 18:6-15.
Optional Proverbs 4:13-19 – The vital theme that there are only TWO PATHS…