January 6

Matthew 5:33-48


Jesus, under the old covenant, continues His Sermon on the Mount to Jews. He continues to speak to them as people living under a set of rules that were impossible to keep. 


He tells them to simply say “yes” when they mean yes, and “no” when they mean no. To swear by heaven, earth, or your own head may have been ways to communicate how strongly they believe in keeping their promise; however, the heaven and Earth don’t belong to any person, and no one can change their head – these are things outside of our control. To attempt to control them is evil.


Quoting the old testament, Jesus says not to resist the evil person, but to go above and beyond in showing them they have value. In verse 41, Jesus mentions being compelled to go a mile.  The word was used when Romans would enlist young men to serve in the military. If they, as civil leaders, ask you to carry something for them for a mile, Jesus said to go ahead and give them beyond what they ask. He then instructs people to give when asked, not turning away from them. The love of God doesn’t just do what is asked; it does more. 


In verse 43, a continuation of the previous verses, Jesus speaks about loving enemies. In doing so, they are sons of their Father God, imitators. When you love those who have wronged you, you are like your Father. Aren’t we glad that He loved us while we were still sinners? Aren’t we glad that God has mercy on us when we fall short? 


He tells us to be perfect like God is perfect. The word for perfect is teleios, a word that means to come to maturity, to be full and complete. When we are able to love an enemy, blessing and praying for them, we have grown to become more like God. Anyone can love a lovely person. It takes God’s love to love an unlovely person. Furthermore, we are complete and whole by the salvation God offers. We must receive it and grow in it. When we are whole, then we can love others based on our condition, not based on their behavior. 



Genesis 16-17


Sarai knew God promised Abram a son, but she had not conceived. In verse 2, Sarai said, “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children.” Notice, one, she’s blaming God for her barrenness, and, two, she doesn’t believe she ever will bear a child. Sarai came up with the idea of her maid having the child for her, so Sarai asks Abram to impregnant Hagar. Abram didn’t fight Sarai on it. He must have agreed with Sarai. We don’t have a record of what Hagar wanted or that she even had a choice. She was an Egyptian slave – I find it interesting that Egypt one day would enslave the Israelite people. Then once Hagar conceived, there was strife between Sarah and Hagar. Sarai went to Abraham, acknowledging she knew it was wrong to give Hagar to Abram, but she told her husband, “my wrong be upon you!” Abram told Sarai to do with Hagar as she pleased. Whatever Sarai did to pregnant Hagar, Hagar felt she had to run away from Sarai to survive. 


The Angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar and instructed her to return to Sarai. He told her to submit to Sarai, and He would multiply her descendants. Who else could this Angel messenger be that could make such a promise? I believe this messenger was the Son of God. He told Hagar to name the child “Ishmael,” meaning “God hears.”


Hagar’s response to the Lord, “You Are The God Who Sees” because He saw her. How many abused people have felt forgotten? Have suffered in secret? Does anyone see me? Does anyone value me? Does anyone care that I’ve been mistreated?


Hagar returned, had her son, and raised him with Abraham. 


In chapter 17, Abram is now 99 years old. It’s been twenty-four years since God first called Abram to leave Haran. God recalls covenant, changes Abram’s name to Abraham, and adds to His first promise. When God first cut covenant with Abram, God promised many descendants. Now God is promising that Abraham would be the father of many nations, not just blood relatives. A father is an originator. Gentiles would call Abraham their father, the one who made a covenant with God by faith. This faith is a dependent relationship on God, turning from a proud self-sufficiency to a God-sufficiency. 


God promised the land to Israel as “an everlasting possession,” and He promised to be their God. From studying end time events, we know Jerusalem and their land will be the place from which Jesus will rule and reign. 


God required circumcision as a reminder of the covenant God has made with them and with their descendants. If a child were not circumcised, that family would be breaking the covenant and would be cut off from Israel. Every male in Abraham’s household was circumcised. Ishmael was 13 and Abraham was 99. 


God changes Sarai’s name to Sarah, meaning princess. Here God specifically promises the son to come through Sarah, Abraham’s covenant wife. 


Abraham, the father of faith, then laughs so hard that he falls down on his face. Inwardly, he thought, “Shall a child be born to a man who is 100 years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” Then Abraham said, “Let Ishmael live before You.” God said, “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac, meaning “he will laugh.” The Lord promised that Sarah would have a son the next year. 


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