February 9th, 2018 | Mark and Scott McAndrew
Romans 13-14 | Sunday: Romans 13 emphasizes that obedience to our governing authorities is a big deal, along with paying taxes and giving appropriate honor. Don’t forget that the ‘governing authorities’ Paul spoke of here would end up being the ones who took Paul’s life later.
Romans 14 is about loving our brothers and sisters who have different convictions than we do on matters of lesser importance. For a passage with the same theme, see 1 Corinthians 8.
Genesis 24-27 | Monday: Genesis 24 is not merely a romantic story put in the Bible for sentiment. It is yet another example of God supernaturally orchestrating events so that His promise to Abraham will come true.
God has promised to make Abraham into a great nation, yet Abraham only has one legitimate heir to this promise: Isaac. If Isaac cannot find a wife from among Abraham’s distant relatives, then he will end up marrying an unbelieving Canaanite woman and that will threaten the fulfillment of the promise.
So God makes sure that Abraham’s servant finds the right woman: Rebekah.
Genesis 25 has the birth of Jacob and Esau. Note that Isaac was 40 when he married Rebekah, but she was not able to conceive. He prayed for her and God answered his prayer and she gave birth to twins when Isaac was 60.
That is 19 years of persistent prayer before his prayer was answered! Wow. Let us not give up on praying for those we know who do not yet know Christ.
Genesis 26 shows Isaac lying about his wife (“She is my sister”) to King Abimelech. This is a repeat of last week’s reading (Genesis 20) where Abraham did the same thing. (Likely this is not the same man, but a son or grandson of the other king.)
Genesis 27 is about Jacob stealing Esau’s blessing. For more, see below.
For an NAC sermon on Genesis 24 (dating and marriage), see here.
For an NAC sermon on Genesis 27 (Jacob stealing Esau’s blessing), see here.
Judges 7-11 | Tuesday: Should we, like Gideon, lay out ‘fleeces’ in order to find God’s will for our lives? Is this how we are to apply this famous story? Well, no, we shouldn’t. For a helpful explanation, see this video:
For a brief video about how we often misread the story of Gideon, watch here.
Psalms 18-20 | Wednesday: Psalm 18 says, “They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me” (v. 18-19).
Matthew Henry says of this passage:
Can we meditate on verse 18, without directing one thought to Gethsemane and Calvary? Can we forget that it was in the hour of Christ’s deepest calamity, when Judas betrayed, when his friends forsook, when the multitude derided him, and the smiles of his Father’s love were withheld, that the powers of darkness prevented him? The sorrows of death surrounded him, in his distress he prayed.
He then adds:
God made the earth to shake and tremble, and the rocks to cleave, and brought him out, in his resurrection, because he delighted in him and in his undertaking.
God is talking to the world all day and all night, every day and every night, everywhere in the world…. The ministry of the sky is a ministry of communication about God. Day and night everywhere in the world God is speaking to all people about himself. Not about nature…. What God is speaking about in the sky is beyond the sky, namely, himself.
The air would be lucid and cool, and the morning sun would be spangled in the ripples of the lake down the hill through the pine trees, and the leaves of the sweet-gum and the oak and the maple and the hickory trees would be all ablaze with gold and green, and up through the branches I would see the sky bright and clear and blue. And all I could do was look up and feel, “Glory, glory, glory!” And I knew, immediately, without words and without any extended reasonings: this is the way God is. These are but the outskirts of his ways and the beams of his beauty.
Job 13-14 | Thursday: In Job 13 Job says in verse 4 that his friends are: “worthless physicians.” They are not helping his pain. Christopher Ash points out that the friends’ medicine is not the gospel medicine that Job needs. In verse 7, Job says: “Will you speak falsely for God and speak deceitfully for him?”
D.A. Carson comments on the verse and says that Job’s friends:
cannot find concrete evidences of gross sin in Job’s life, yet they think they are speaking for God when they insist Job must really be evil. Thus in their “defense” of God, they say things that are untrue and unfair about Job: they “speak wickedly on God’s behalf.” How can God be pleased with their utterances? Ends do not justify means.
It is always important to speak the truth and not fudge facts to fit our theological predispositions. Far better to admit ignorance or postulate mystery than to tell untruths.
As we read through Job’s speeches in chapters 13-14 it is important to remember what Christopher Ash points out in his commentary:
[T]he speeches of Job give us a unique insight into what it feels like for a believer to experience God-forsakenness. And therefore they help us to understand and feel the darkness of the cross.
In his suffering Job foreshadows the man who will enter fully into the misery of being identified with sinners in life and death…who will experience in all its horrors the final penalty for sins, and who will taste death on behalf of sinners.
Isaiah 34-39 | Friday:
Isaiah 34 is the fate of those who trust in man.
Isaiah 35 is the future of those who trust in Yahweh.
Isaiah divides pretty cleanly into two major sections: chapters 1-39 and 40-66.
(Coincidentally, there are 66 books in the Bible and 66 chapters in Isaiah; and also, the Old Testament is books 1-39 and the New Testament is books 40-66. This really is nothing more than a coincidence, but it can be helpful for remembering Isaiah’s outline.)
Isaiah 36-37 really contains the central historical event of Isaiah’s lifetime.
The first part of Isaiah (1-39) largely a build up to the events of chapters 36-37. This is where Assyria, after destroying Israel (the Northern Kingdom) in 722 BC, almost destroyed Judah in 701 BC, but was defeated by Yahweh miraculously just in time. The destruction of the army left Assyria’s king, Sennacherib, defeated and ashamed.
This great event points forward to the ultimate defeat of our greatest enemies, sin and Satan himself.
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities [Satan and his demons] and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” (Colossians 2:13-15)
Isaiah 40 is a massive turning point that we’ll get to next week. As a sneak preview, Isaiah 40-66 is one of the most quoted and alluded to parts of the Old Testament in the New Testament.
For an entire NAC sermon on Isaiah 36-37, see the link below.
For an NAC sermon that covers all of Isaiah 36-37, see here.
For a fantastic message by Mark Dever on Isaiah 36-37 (which the above sermon was partially based on), watch here.
For a message by D.A. Carson on the temptation and downfall of Hezekiah in Isaiah 38-39, watch here or listen here.
Matthew 17-19 | Saturday: We should remember what David Platt says as we read through Scripture: “Our goal…is that we would behold the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Matthew 17 begins with what Platt calls “one of the most exhilarating, awe-inspiring, and worship-evoking portraits of Jesus in this Gospel.” What Platt is talking about is the transfiguration of Jesus. Peter, James, and John are as D.A. Carson says “privileged to glimspe something of his preincarnate glory.” We too get to see his glory powerfully revealed in this passage.
D.A. Carson continues by reminding us that “this glorious sight would one day prompt Jesus’ disciples to marvel at the self-humiliation that brought him to the cross…” We too should marvel at the self-humiliation of Jesus. A helpful verse to think on as we read through Matthew 17 would be Hebrews 1:3 that says: “Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
Matthew 18 ends with the parable of the unforgiving servant. As we read through this parable we should be reminded of our sin against God. Jerry Bridges points out that the 10,000 talents that the servant owes is a representation of “our moral and spiritual debt to God.” Bridges reminds us that: “we all are represented by the first servant who owed ten thousand talents. Our debt to God is utterly unpayable.”
In the parable the servants 10,000 talent debt is canceled. Bridges reminds us that: “It cost the king tremendously to forgive his servant’s debt.” As we read this parable we should be reminded of the cost of our redemption. Jerry Bridges tells us that: “it cost God to forgive us. It cost him the death of His Son. No price can be put on that death, but God paid it so He could forgive each of us of the enormous spiritual debt we owed to Him.”
In light of the enormous cost of our redemption how can we turn around and then withhold forgiveness, mercy, and kindness from others?
Bridges once again is helpful here when he says:
This basis of our forgiving one another, then, is the enormity of God’s forgiveness of us. We are to forgive because we have been forgiven so much. Until we acknowledge that we are the ten-thousand-talent debtor to God, we will struggle with forgiving people who have wronged us in significant ways or people who continue to wrong us.
After the young man leaves, Jesus tells his disciples how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. The disciples are ‘greatly astonished’ and they say: “Who then can be saved?” Jesus powerfully tells them in verse 26: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
What the young man in this story needs and what we need is (as Carson puts it): “the triumph of grace.” If we are believers today then we should remember that “God, with whom all things are possible” has worked a triumph of grace in our lives.