01/08

January 8

Matthew 6:19-34

 

This portion of Scripture is part of the Sermon on the Mount. In context, Jesus is speaking to Jews that need to know a new covenant is coming, a covenant that will change the heart. It’s a covenant based on grace and not on works. 

 

He has already dealt with many different matters in this message, pointing out the rules, but leading to relationship. In today’s reading, Jesus speaks on the heart in regard to finances: 

 

  1. Where your heart is will be reflected in what you do with your money (vv 19-21)
  2. The generosity of the heart (vv22-23). The phrase “If your eye is good” is a Hebrew idiom, meaning, “if your heart is open.” It is compared to an open eye, allowing light in. If your heart is open, then your hand will be open, and you will be generous. If your eye is closed or dim, then the hand is closed, less generous. See Matthew 20:15, Proverbs 22:9. 
  3. Your heart will either serve God or mammon (vs 24). Mammon is an Aramaic word meaning riches, but it is much more. It comes from the Syrian god of riches that originated from Babylon. Mammon is about self-sufficiency and control through riches, serving an idol rather than yielding the heart down to God’s loving authority. The heart will either serve self or God. The heart will either rely on God or rely on self. Faith is dependency on the Lord, a surrendered position to His lordship. 
  4. Your heart will either seek God’s kingdom and God’s ways or it will seek its own interests (vv 25-34). If someone seeks his or her own interests, then there will be that constant struggle of trying to make it on their own. However, if someone is living in dependent faith, God will meet those needs. See verse 30, where Jesus addresses those of “little faith” who work hard for what they have, uncertain and concerned about how their needs will be met. 

 

Jesus loves His people, and He knows He will soon die to ransom people from sin. However, Jesus also had a ministry that lasted about three years, give or take, where His purpose was to prime the heart to see their need for salvation and receive Him as their Savior. Through His own sweet surrender on the cross, He teaches us we can also have resurrection life through our submitted heart. 

 

Genesis 20-22

 

CHAPTER 20: Abimelech

I’m so glad God uses imperfect people to perform His plan, because as imperfect people ourselves, we can see how God can accomplish His plan through us, despite our failures. In chapter 20, we see how Abraham nearly aborts the plan of God. In these early days of civilization, apparently a leader would murder a husband in order to take his wife. Abraham and Sarah obviously had concern for their survival, so they lied to King Abimelech, as they’ve done in the past, saying that Sarah was Abraham’s sister. She was a beauty, even in her older years. On the eve of Isaac’s conception, God intervenes, supernaturally appearing to Abimelech in a dream, telling the king that he has taken another man’s wife, and not only a man, but a prophet. King Abimelech feared God, a righteous man, and he returned Sarah to her husband. The king also gave to Abraham, adding to his wealth, and invited Abraham to live in their land. They would be safe there. Because of the indiscretion, even though done unknowingly, God closed up the wombs of the women in Abimelech’s house because of the sin; however, when Abraham prayed, God healed Abimelech and the women were no longer barren. You don’t want to mess with God’s leaders or God’s plan!

 

CHAPTER 21: Isaac is born

Isaac is born. Abraham is 100 years old, Sarah is 90, and Ismael is 14. It has been 25 years since God called Abraham. God allowed the age issue to prove that this covenant was His doing, and not the doing of a man and a woman. The redemption that God planned was supernaturally miraculous, making Himself known, not only to the Jews, but to the world, and not just that generation, but for generations to come. 

 

In Galatians 4 we read about Sarah demanding that the son of a slave not be in the same household with the son of the wife, who was not a servant. In Galatians we read the illustration of those who try to come to God by works and those who come by faith. Apostle Paul wrote of two covenants, comparing a covenant of flesh to a covenant of the spirit, a reborn heart. He quotes Genesis 21:10-12, requiring those who strive against the freedom of the spirit to be removed. 

 

We know the promise of redemption, the bloodline of Christ, would go through Isaac. However, this doesn’t mean that God didn’t love Ishmael and Hagar. In addition, we know that today, God loves the descendants of Ishmael, the precious Arab people. Salvation through Christ is available to the Arabs as well. 

 

This situation between Isaac and Ishmael has been a sign throughout time of the contrast between flesh and spirit, between works and faith. Generally speaking, Arabs and Jews have always been in opposition to one another. End time prophecy reveals this ongoing conflict in the Middle East. This has a spiritual significance, a message to the world, not to hate the Arabs, but to seek the promise by faith. 

 

God took care of Hagar – a single mother, an Egyptian, a slave. God cared for Ishmael, giving him a wife from Egypt. In the not too distant future, we know Isaac’s grandson and Jacob’s son, Joseph, will be taken as a slave into Egypt. There God will use Egypt to provide for the family. There the family would grow into a nation as slaves to the Egyptians for more than 400 years. I find that interesting. 

 

CHAPTER 22: God Tests Abraham

This chapter is one of the most Messianic and prophetic events in the Bible. It is much more than a story of God testing the faith of Abraham. However, let’s look at his faith first. Abraham was familiar with sacrifice of animals and the need for the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sin, as was Isaac (22:7). God did not simply ask Abraham to murder his son; God asked Abraham to offer the son as a sacrifice on the altar, an act of worship and atonement. Because the child had the promise of descendants, Abraham knew that somehow Isaac would live. In Hebrews 11:17-19, we see that Abraham believed that if he did murder Isaac, that God would raise Isaac from the dead to keep His promise. In Genesis 22:5, Abraham told Sarah that he and Isaac would return after worshipping God together on the mountain. We see Abraham’s reliant obedience of faith. 

 

Now let’s look at the prophetic meaning in this event:

  1. Isaac was unique. He came as a result of God’s Word, a promise. He was the start of a bloodline that would make a way for the Son of God to enter the world as a human being, someone like us that would die in our place. In John 3:16, John writes that God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus. That phrase refers to Jesus being unique from the rest of us. He was different, and He was the Word made flesh, a promised Messiah. 
  2. Isaac was loved by His Father. In verse 2, God, who loved His Son, asked Abraham, who deeply loved Isaac, to give up His Son. I see how God is communicating His perspective as a Father who gave up His Son, a Son He deeply loves. In the Gospels we read that the sky turned dark when Jesus hung on the cross. It had to be difficult for God, as a Father, to give His Son. 
  3. The offering was made on Mount Moriah. First, mountains were known as places of worship, going to high places. Abraham went up the mountain with Isaac to worship. Second, many believe Jesus was crucified on the same mountain, Mount Moriah, in Jerusalem. It was called Golgotha, Aramaic for skull, because the mountain was shaped like a skull. It is also called Calvary, in Latin meaning bald head, because of the shape of the mountain. This mountain is also where the temple was built, known as the Temple Mount. Is it any wonder that Satan would fight to keep the Jews off this mountain today? Satan knows the significance. I have stood on the Temple Mount myself, and let me tell you, you can sense the tension. 
  4. The sacrifice would take place on the third day. The third day is all throughout Scripture, one, as a reference to Christ’s death and resurrection, and two, quite possibly significant of His Millennial reign.   
  5. The Lord will Provide. When Isaac asked about the sacrifice, Abraham declared it, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” God provided a ram that had been caught in the thicket, a substitution for Isaac. Abraham names the place, “The Lord Will Provide” or Jehovah Jireh, YHWH Yireh. God has given us provision for our salvation. Jesus died in our place. 
  6. Abraham’s full surrender. What more could God have asked of Abraham? Isaac was his whole world. He willingly offered his whole heart. What more could God do for us? He sent us His Son! God gave so much to get us back. May we never take that for granted!
  7. Faith without action is dormant. God stopped Abraham and said, “Now I know…” Anyone can say they have faith in God, but only those who act on it in obedience have activated their faith. To receive salvation in Christ, we have to do more than believe. We have to confess Jesus as our Lord, and as our Lord, we are no longer our own lord. We turn from the world and we turn to God. It requires action. It requires a declaration. Water baptism is also a way to put action to our faith, not required for a spiritual birth, but encouraged as a public demonstration. Jesus was water baptized. Jesus made declaration. Jesus put action to His faith (see also James 2:23, Genesis 15:6). 
  8. In your Seed the nations of the earth will be blessed. He didn’t say “seeds” as in his many descendants. God said, Seed, referring to Christ, born to a descendent of Abraham. All who come to God through faith in Christ are considered grafted into this new covenant.
  9. Your descendants will possess the gates of their enemies. This is prophetic of the Messiah’s second coming and His reign over all the nations.  
  10. Atonement was made. The ram was slaughtered and atonement was made. The work Jesus accomplished at the cross not only covered sin; it removed it. Hallelujah! Thousands of years before the Messiah came to earth, God knew His plan. God communicated it prophetically over and over, wanting us to realize the weighty significance of the price He and His Son would pay for humanity. They both did so willingly and with joy, all to restore our relationship and save us from sin and death (Isaiah 53:10; Hebrews 12:2).  

 

God sent Jesus to SAVE us. Not only do we receive His rescue when we are first born again, but with that same love and mercy, God is patient with us, drawing us closer to Him and His ways in our daily surrender. Let’s not just receive this provision one time, but let’s continue to live in the grace that He provides, not living by pride and performance, but through humility and faith. 

 

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