Jan 22, 2022

(Genesis 23, Matthew 22; Optional Psalm 19:1-9, Proverbs 5:1-6)

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GENESIS 23 – Gen 22 is a high point in the faith life of Abraham, where Abraham beautifully DEMONSTRATES the faith in God that years ago was credited to him as righteousness (Gen 15:6). God reaffirmed AGAIN the covenant with Abraham and his descendants in Gen 22:15-18. But God had also earlier made clear that the land Abraham is traveling through is PROMISED to Abraham and his line, but is NOT THEIR PROPERTY for several hundred years (Gen 15:12-16). And even after the spiritual high point of Gen 22, the sad chorus of Gen 23 are words related to death, sorrow, and burial (I count about 21 references in this short chapter – reminds me of Gen 5).

Gen 23:4 – “sojourner and foreigner” – Also see Heb 11:9-10, 13-16 for beautiful promises for all believers that (along with Abraham) recognize the impermanence of this fallen world and place our confidence in God Himself and dwelling forever in the new heavens and new earth with Him. Even under David’s reign, when Israel is well established in the promised land, David applies this same language to believers in his time (see 1 Chron 19:14-16). And God applies this same kind of pilgrim language to Christians today – see 1 Pet 2:11, Phil 3:20. BUT… Abraham also very carefully recognized property rights and proper transfer of title (MANY business details get amazing focus in Gen 23 so Abraham ends up with a burying plot for his family). Compare similar attention to detail in the property rights dispute and lease-type agreement in Gen 21:22-34 (and the same word “sojourned” in Gen 21:23, 34). Don’t mistake our being sojourners and pilgrims in this life as God’s okay for carelessness in business dealings and property rights. Scripture is clear that such day-to-day details MATTER to God (compare Gen 23:16 and Prov 11:1, 20:10, 20:23).

Gen 23:20 – “made over to Abraham as property” – see the notes just above

Gen 23:20 – “burying place” – Christian, be encouraged that Jesus so fully entered our sorrows and the suffering of this fallen world that He too needed a “burying place.” Be even more encouraged that His tomb was only borrowed for a few days!

MATTHEW 22 – We’re now only a few days away from Jesus’ death on the cross. Note the intensity of His warnings of coming judgment (Matt 21:37-41, 43-44, 22:13-14). Also notice the fever pitch of opposition to Jesus, as three groups that usually fought each other (Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees) unite in trying to trap and entangle Jesus in His words.

For DETAILS in Bible study, my favorite study Bibles are the ESV Study Bible and John MacArthur Study Bible (the MacArthur study Bibles are available with several respected translations). But for helpful SUMMARIES of whole sections of Scripture, my favorite is the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible. Here’s their summary of Matt 21:28-22:14… [“Much of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew’s Gospel addresses the question, “Who belongs to the people of God?” or, to put it another way, “Who will enter the kingdom of God?” These three parables reveal that entering the kingdom involves responding in faith to the message of repentance that John the Baptist and Jesus preached (21:28–32), recognizing Jesus as the One who brings in God’s kingdom (21:33–46), and living in a way consistent with this recognition (22:1–14). All three parables communicate the sad message that the leadership of Israel (21:23, 45; 22:15) had met none of these requirements for participation in God’s kingdom (see also Isa. 5:1–7). Instead, “the tax collectors and the prostitutes” (Matt. 21:32), and others who respond to Jesus in repentance and faith, will comprise the new vineyard tenants and wedding feast guests (22:8–9).”]

Matt 22:14 – “many are CALLED, but few are CHOSEN.” – As so often in Scripture, notice BOTH 1) the responsibility of people (“many are called”) AND 2) the sovereignty of God (“but few are chosen”). God’s servants are responsible to call ALL people – Matt 22:9-10. And people are accountable for their response to that invitation. The king is not impressed with any of the excuses given in Matt 22:2-8, and notice the terrifying judgment of the one who didn’t make use of the proper wedding garment in vs 11-14 (equivalent to those who think they’ll be able to enter heaven apart from putting on the righteousness of Jesus).

“many are called” – There are two kinds of “call” in the Bible. 1) The GENERAL gospel call given to ALL people (compare Matt 22:10 and the Great Commission in Matt 28:18-20).  2) The EFFECTUAL call of God, where those that He has chosen are given power to respond in faith to the general gospel call given to all people (see Rom 8:29-30, Rom 9:22-24).  This “effectual call” is equivalent to being chosen by God. Also see 1 Cor 1:22-31 where it’s very clear that the effective call is equivalent to being chosen by God. Christians are NOT to try to figure out who are the “chosen”. Our responsibility is like the king’s servants the Matt 22 parable – call EVERYONE to respond to the king’s invitation! (Matt 21:9-10).  And if we have correctly responded we should never feel prideful as if we’re any better than others. The humbling AND encouraging explanation for any that respond correctly is Matt 22:14 – “many are called, but few are chosen.”

Matt 22:41-46 – From Matt 22:15 on, different groups tried to trap Jesus with their questions. Now He has a question for THEM. For those with ears to hear, Jesus is both affirming that 1) He IS the promised Messiah / Christ / Anointed One from David’s line AND 2) their ideas of the Messiah have been far too small. Most were expecting a POLITICAL rescue from the Romans by merely a great HUMAN leader. Jesus points them back to the OT (Psalm 110:1, clearly recognized to be a Messianic psalm) to show that there were clear hints that the Messiah would be both fully human (from David’s line) AND God in the flesh. Since David prophetically called his physical descendant “Lord,” God was hinting for those listening that the Messiah to come was ALREADY EXISTING as David’s Lord and Master – the King of kings and Lord of lords!

Optional Psalm 19:1-9 – God reveals Himself 1) in His CREATION (Ps 19:1-6) and 2) in His WORD (Ps 19:7-9). When you compare Ps 19:1-6 to the very similar Rom 1:18-21, we see that there’s NOT enough revealed in Creation for people to get SAVED from God’s righteous judgment (that’s why God’s revelation in SCRIPTURE is necessary). But God DOES reveal enough in Creation to hold all people ACCOUNTABLE (Rom 1:20 – “they are WITHOUT EXCUSE”). There are stories of people that have never seen a Bible traveling many miles searching for someone to tell them about how to be right with God. They say things like this: “When I looked at creation I knew that Someone powerful had made all this, and I must find out who He is and how to be right with Him.”

Ps 19:7-9 – What wonderful motivations for regularly studying God’s Word!

Optional Proverbs 5:1-6 – The forbidden woman SOUNDS enticing in v 3, “BUT in the end…” bitter consequences and ultimately death and judgment. Those that follow their lusts will look for a WHILE like they’re having fun, but “she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.” (Prov 5:6) Which path are you on (and those you love)?