(Genesis 26, Matthew 25; Optional Psalm 21, Proverbs 5:20-23)
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GENESIS 26 – We don’t hear much in Scripture about Isaac’s life, but in Gen 26 we clearly see God reaffirming the Abrahamic covenant with Isaac and his offspring (Gen 26:3-5), and the blessing of God is recognized by others (Gen 26:28-29). This chapter is a great summary of the life of a believer. There are spiritual highs and lows, struggles and celebrations, and through it all God is present and we’re reminded that all the blessings come because of the faithfulness of another. Gen 26:5, 24 are wonderful pointers to how Christians are blessed because of Jesus (see Eph 1:6).
The deception Isaac uses in Gen 26 to try to protect himself while putting his wife at risk is so similar to his father’s in Gen 20. The king in both stories is “Abimelech” and army commander “Phicol” (Gen 21:22). It’s POSSIBLE it could have been the same people, but more likely that these are family names or titles and these are sons or grandsons from Abraham’s time.
Gen 26:2 – “Do not go down to Egypt” – Gen 26 is almost identical to Gen 20, but also very similar to Gen 12:10-20, when Abraham went down to Egypt during a famine in his time. God allowed that for Abraham, but clearly commands Isaac NOT to go to Egypt, but to stay as a sojourner / pilgrim in the promised land. The first audience for the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) were Israelites recently rescued by God from slavery in Egypt. We’ll see in Exodus that there was a consistent temptation to go BACK TO EGYPT. God is making clear to Isaac and the first readers that, although there are STRUGGLES in the promised land, they are NOT to go to Egypt.
Gen 26:34-35 – The first audience (see note at Gen 26:2) also had a consistent temptation to intermarry with people of the land who worshiped other gods (Num 25 is a vivid example). We see a glimpse of that heartache here and are reminded of why Abraham took such pains to get a wife for Isaac from OUTSIDE of the people living in the promised land. See Gen 24:1-8 and note the same two points: 1) stay in the promised land and 2) don’t marry the worshippers of false gods that live in the promised land. We’re also prepared for Gen 27:46-28:5, where Jacob is sent far away to get his wife.
MATTHEW 25 – Jesus expands on His command in Matt 24:44 – “…be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Matt 25:1-13 – In Jesus’ time, the bridegroom would prepare a place for the soon-to-be-married couple to live, and then the word would go out that he will be arriving soon to claim his bride. But they didn’t know the exact time – you had to be ready. Note how similar Matt 25:11-12 are to the terrifying warning in Matt 7:21-23.
Matt 25:14-30 – Again, JOY for those that are prepared and are active about the master’s business until he returns (v 21, 23). And horrifying warnings of judgment for those that do things their own way (v 30).
Matt 25:25 – I’m tracing the theme of proper fear of God through the Bible. So I’ve written a note next to this verse: “WRONG kind of fear! Paralyzed (no action)”. The proper fear of God is different than every other fear. Most fears drive us AWAY from what we fear, but fear of God propels us away from anything that might SEPARATE us from God or from full joy in Him.
Matt 25:31-46 – We are NOT justified (declared righteous) on the basis of our works, but we ARE judged by them. Our words and works will testify to the reality of whether we truly belong to Jesus or not. [See Eph 2:8-10 – we are not saved BY good works, but the truly saved will HAVE good works because we are God’s new creation.] If we love Jesus, we’ll also care for His followers (compare Matt 25:40 with Matt 10:40, 12:50; also see 1 John 3-4).
Matt 25:46 – “Eternal” – the same Greek word is used to warn of eternal PUNISHMENT as is used to promised eternal LIFE. Jesus gave clear warnings that the torment is ETERNAL for those that are not His. If we truly love folks around us, we need to be clear, too.
Optional Psalm 21 – Psalm 20 was a prayer asking God for blessing and help in a troubled time. It ended with a prayer for the king to be rescued by God (Ps 20:9). Psalm 21 is a prayer of rejoicing that the prayer of Psalm 20 has been answered. God has given victory! We are again reminded that, though the wicked may seem to do well for a WHILE, the END of the story is ALWAYS that God wins and wins BIG! Compare the full and eternal joy in Ps 21:6 with Ps 16:11. The wicked may seem to do well for a WHILE, but God’s people will do COMPLETELY WELL for ETERNITY! And God will get all the praise and glory!
Optional Proverbs 5:20-23 – Yesterday’s reading was how a husband IS to be delighted with his wife. Today’s reading is a terrifying warning about going elsewhere for sex. The ONLY place God designed for sexuality is between a husband and wife in their marriage. Hebrews 13:4 (ESV) – “Let marriage be held in honor among all and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”