Genesis 35:1-36:43 ~ Matthew 12:1-21 ~ Psalm 15:1-5 ~ Proverbs 3:21-26
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Old Testament - Today is a big day for Jacob in that he finally returns to Bethel - the same place where his pilgrimage began with God in Genesis 28:10-22! Bethel is where Jacob had his dream of the angels ascending and descending the staircase, when he was leaving the promised land for 20 years in Haran. Below is a map of Jacob's journeys for his entire life:
Bethel was the place where God first gave to Jacob His covenant promise that was also given to Abraham and Isaac - and the covenant promise is reconfirmed in today's readings in chapter 35 verses 11 and 12: "Then God said, "I am God Almighty. Multiply and fill the earth! Become a great nation, even many nations. Kings will be among your descendants! And I will pass on to you the land I gave to Abraham and Isaac. Yes, I will give it to you and your descendants." These 2 verses are essentially thought to be the climax of the Isaac-Jacob portion of Genesis. In tomorrow's readings we begin the Jacob-Joseph portion of Genesis. (which is an amazing narrative that begins tomorrow...) The covenant continues!
Today we read about the passing of Isaac and Rachel. What was interesting to me today about the death of Isaac was that he passed away after Jacob and Esau reconciled. I honestly forgot that Isaac had lived this long - I thought when he gave Esau's blessing to Jacob 20 years prior that he was on his deathbed! Obviously not. However, even with Jacob and Esau being reconciled at this point, going forward in the Old Testament we will see that this reconciliation didn't carry forward to their descendants. The nation of Israel (Jacob) and the kingdom of Edom (Esau) will have much strife in their coming generations toward each other, which we'll read about later this year. The red area in the map below shows the kingdom of Edom at its largest extent in approximately 600 B.C.:
In chapter 36 we read about Esau's descendants. One interesting note on verse 11 per Zondervan's NIV Study Bible - "Eliphaz: Teman - One of Job's friends was named Eliphaz the Temanite (Job 2:11), and Job himself was from the land of Uz (Job 1:1). Thus Job probably lived in Edom (see verses 28 & 34 in Genesis readings today)." Interestingly, I have a friend reading a Chronological Bible where Job is the book that is read just after this portion of Genesis - I think even before the Jacob-Joseph narrative coming up, some Chronological Bibles place the book of Job in the timeline of being read at this point. Below is an image of Eliphaz the Temanite and Job:
New Testament - Today in Matthew chapter 12 we read about Jesus' teachings surrounding his healing on the Sabbath. Note that in verse 14 the plots to kill Jesus begin: "Then the Pharisees called a meeting and discussed plans for killing Jesus." Why do you suppose these plots started at this point? I don't think it was this one incident per se that began the plots in and of itself - but it was probably a culmination of Jesus' teaching, preaching, and healing ministries up to this point that started murmurs and discussions and finally led to plots. I think Jesus' wisdom and power and popularity with the people were seen as a threat. Do you suppose that Jesus' wisdom and power and popularity with the people are seen as a threat by some in our world today?
I read an interesting commentary on verses 11 & 12 today: "And he (Jesus) answered, "If you had one sheep, and it fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn't you get to work and pull it out? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep!" The commentary said that in this verse Jesus contrasts the worth of an animal with that of a human being. I think for most of us, we would agree that a human life is more valuable than an animal life. However - interestingly, not everyone in our world today feels that way. I recently heard a radio talk show host ask a woman if she saw both her beloved dog and a stranger drowning in a lake and she could only save one of the two, who would she save. And the woman basically said her dog - she hemmed and hawed about saying that straightforwardly, but basically she said her dog was her family... And so the stranger - the human - would lose out in that situation. What about you - if you could only save your beloved pet or a stranger (human) from drowning, who would you save? Who would God save? Do you think God places a higher value on human life than animal life? (since we just read the creation narrative in Genesis, this should be a slam-dunk answer! :)
I love the Isaiah prophecy in today's readings, summarizing the quiet aspects of the ministry of Jesus! Verse 21 makes me tear up to really meditate upon: "And his name will be the hope of all the world." How does this verse strike you? Do you believe that Jesus' name is the hope of the world? Is Jesus' name the hope of your own personal world?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Matthew chapter 12 titled "The Lord of the Sabbath" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 15 verses 1 & 2 today are awesome: "Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts." Psalm 15 was written for those that wished to have access to God in his Temple in Jerusalem. However, I do believe that today, through Jesus, anyone can worship God anywhere - in a church or in our homes or wherever we find ourselves. However, I do think there is truth in these Psalm verses in that we can worship God beautifully by living a blameless life (not perfect life - only Jesus was perfect this side of heaven - we will need to confess sins & repent), doing what is right, and speaking the truth from sincere hearts. I do believe these are acts of worship that demonstrate our friendship with God and our growth in becoming more like his son Jesus in our lifetimes. Do you seek to lead a blameless life? Do you seek to do what is right? Do you speak the truth from a sincere heart? Do you seek to worship God in some way each and every day? How?
Proverbs - I love Proverbs 3 verses 21-23 today: "My child, don't lose sight of good planning and insight. Hang on to them, for they fill you with life and bring you honor and respect. They keep you safe on your way and keep your feet from stumbling." These verses remind me of a couple of things. First is the old adage of "Trust in God. And tie up your camels." Meaning, tying up your camels to a pole so they don't wander away is good planning and good insight. It's common sense. Obviously you don't want to live your life on solely your own smarts and your own planning and your own insight. We need God to be our foundation. But, at the same time I think God wants us to be smart about how we live our lives. Yes, trust in God, but wear your seatbelt. Trust in God, but save some money for a rainy day. See where I am going with this? The other thing that these Proverbs verses remind me of is one of my favorite three word quotes: "Habits determine success." I've spoken about this in some of my weekly emails in regards to reading the One Year Bible each day. It takes some planning and insight for us to figure out when we will realistically read the Bible for 15 minutes every day. After this planning and insight and after a week or two we've suddenly built up a great habit! A habit that will determine our success in reading the Bible in a year.
Worship God: Matthew 12:21 reminded me of the Chris Tomlin song "How Great is Our God" with the line "Name Above All Names!" Please watch this video from start to finish. It's incredible to see Chris start with the piano only, then have the band play along, and to hear the crowd sing. Please feel free to worship along with this one!
How great is our God? Click here and find out!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on two verses of Scripture today: "LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy mountain? Those whose walk is blameless, who do what is righteous, who speak the truth from their hearts." Psalm 15:1-2 TNIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you would dwell with God today. Pray that your walk would be blameless. Pray for righteousness. Pray that you would always speak the truth from your heart. Pray for Truth in our world.
Comments from You and Questions of the Day: Based on my reflections in Proverbs above, how do you go about planning things in your life? In what ways do you invite God into the process of planning your life? And in what ways, or at what times, do you simply make decisions based on your own knowledge or common sense? What is the foundation of your own knowledge or common sense? Is it the Bible? Is it God? Do you suppose with the foundation of God and the Bible in our lives, that we may not need to take every single decision throughout our day to God in prayer because we are operating (generally speaking) from a biblical godly worldview? How do you balance taking things to God for guidance and making decisions on your own? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!