In today’s Old Testament reading we continue to follow the account of Noah.

The ark of Noah is another picture of God’s plan of deliverance from the sentence of death that Jesus would eventually “accomplish” through the cross, on behalf of those who believe His Word.

Jesus refers to His death, burial, and resurrection as ‘an accomplishment’. Through His death on the cross, Jesus accomplishes what is necessary to deliver those who believe on Him from the judgment their sins deserve.  It is His provision of mercy. In Luke 9:31, Jesus speaks on the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses and Elijah. They are discussing His impending death, which is described as ‘the departure’, (literally the ‘exodus’) that He would accomplish in Jerusalem. In His death as our Substitute, Jesus provides what is necessary to satisfy God’s righteous demands for justice on behalf of believers.  Our sins are punished in His body. We escape the dominion of sin and the judgment of death. Jesus, ‘the Lamb of God’ provides the ‘greater Passover’, secures ‘the greater exodus’, and He provides for those who will enter in by faith, a ‘greater deliverance’ through the ‘greater ark of Noah’.

 “And the Lord remembered Noah” (Genesis 8:1)

How reassuring this is!  What is the grace of God all about? Grace is God remembering us. He knows what we need. He freely provides for us what we could not provide for ourselves. He is mindful of us (Psalm 115:12). He knows our frame, our capacities, and limitations. He remembers we are but dust (Psalm 103:14). He provides a plan of salvation so we can escape the wrathful judgment that our sins deserve.

God gave us the capacity to fix things, but one thing we cannot fix is the problem of our sinful hearts (Jer. 17:9; 13:23). So, God gives us what we do not deserve or cannot attain for ourselves. He gives us the revelation of His plan of salvation and the capacity to believe Him.

What is the source of the fights and quarrels in human history? (James 4:1) It all begins in our hearts.

Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” (Matthew 15:19; Genesis 6:5)

We need a new kind of heart, a loving, law-abiding heart. A heart that is right with God. And this is precisely what the gospel of God’s grace promises us:

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

It is the promise of the Spirit that enables us to live as a new creation, a new person in Christ.

Noah’s name means ‘rest’, although his life was not exactly restful. He was quite active fulfilling his obedience to God (building an ark and preaching the Word). But ultimately, he would have to rest in the authority and wisdom of God’s Word pertaining to the flood, the impending judgment against sin. He would have to trust His plan of salvation to escape that judgment.

Have you discovered God’s rest by transferring your trust to the wisdom of God’s plan of salvation? Have you responded to Jesus Christ’s invitation to come into the ark of His rest?

Matthew 11:28 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Like Noah, we need a vessel apart from ourselves to save ourselves. We must trust God’s revelation and be obedient to it. It is not enough to believe that judgment is coming (in Noah’s case, the flood). We must believe in what God has provided of a way of escape and enter into it by faith.

God shut the door when the rains came (Gen 7:16). The only ones in the ark were the ones that Noah brought with him.

There was no rudder or mast on the ark. It was not for Noah to direct or accelerate this ship. He would have to ‘rest’ in God’s provision.  He could not steer the ship. He had to trust that God would get him where He needed to go. As the waters of judgment came down upon the old creation, he would have to trust that God would bring him into the new creation.

After the flood subsides, and Noah disembarks, he builds an altar to offer God worship (Genesis 8:20-22). God then makes a covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:8-17). A covenant is an abiding agreement between two parties that defines the terms of the relationship. Promises and expectations are spelled out. In the covenant that God makes with Noah, God clarifies His promises to Noah and his descendants (that’s us, by the way). God pledges to keep His promises forever. The rainbow would be a sign of that covenant. When we see the rainbow, we are called to remember that God never forgets His promise. We remember His grace. The Lord remembered Noah, so He will remember us. We can rest in His Word. We can trust in His plan of salvation and respond with the obedience of faith to enter into what God has provided of a rescue from His righteous wrath against sin, which demanded the death penalty. He has provided an entrance into life as it is in Christ Jesus, the federal head of a new creation (Genesis 6:18; 7:1; Hebrews 11:6-7; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

TODAY’S NEW TESTAMENT READINGMatthew 4:12-25.

Matthew continually supplies Old Testament references that prophetically demonstrate that Jesus is the Promised Messiah the Jews were told to expect. Jesus begins his ministry in Galilee of the Gentiles, making known His glory:

Isaiah 9:1 (NASB) 1 But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.

In Jesus we not only see the manifested truth about God, but we see the truth about man. Not man as he has become through the Fall, but true man, man as the Son of God created man to be, a man without sin, a man full of the Holy Spirit, a true subject of the kingdom of God.  In Jesus, we see the God-man ruled by God. He is the manifestation of the rule of God. In Jesus, the kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matthew 4:17). (The terms ‘kingdom of God’ and ‘kingdom of heaven’ are used interchangeably in the New Testament.)  In Him the kingdom of God was on display. God’s promised blessing upon full obedience to God’s Law, fell upon His Son. In Christ we see God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven. Thus, the kingdom of God was observable; the kingdom of God was ‘at hand’.

The first word of Jesus’ public ministry in Galilee is “Repent”. In the Greek language the word is ‘metanoia’, which means to ‘change your way of thinking’.  Jesus calls us to change our way of thinking about God, about ourselves, and about how we can be saved. We all have broken God’s law and as a result we are broken and cannot be repaired by our own efforts. Therefore, we are called to admit our sin, turn from following our own rebellious ways and trust Christ with a living faith that will pursue Him with obedience.

In Galilee, Jesus calls the first of His twelve disciples:  two sets of brothers- Peter and Andrew, and James and John; all of them fishermen.

Think about His promise to Peter and Andrew: “Follow me and I will make you.”

Jesus is the Creator who made us. We were all broken by our sin. But Jesus promises to redeem us, to salvage our lives by making us new creatures, fashioned into His likeness. We must follow Him all the way, not just on His preaching tour, but all the way to the cross where we see God’s kingdom verdict upon our sin executed, when He offers His body as a perfect atoning sacrifice. It is there where justice is fully satisfied with Jesus taking the punishment we deserved for our rebellion. It is on the basis of that justice that God’s mercy releases full pardon. It is on the basis of His identification with us that our sin-debt is paid. Based on our identification with Him, we are credited with His righteousness. He qualifies us to receive the gift of eternal life so He can make us the Christ-like men and women that He has purposed us to be before the beginning of time!

READING FROM THE PSALMS- PSALM 4:1-8

There are similarities between Psalm 3 and Psalm 4. It is quite possible that David is dealing with similar circumstances in both- enemies who oppose and mock him to scorn and situations that cause distress. Psalm 3 is a morning Psalm (3:5). Psalm 4 is an evening Psalm (4:8). The Psalmist gives us the example of calling upon the Lord day and night in prayer and song.

Notice that this Psalm was given to the choir director and was to be accompanied with stringed instruments.  It is a song for the people of God. It contains David’s personal heart cry, but it is also a heart cry that is relevant to all those who have become worshipers of the One True God.

We all experience the tension that comes with being set apart in Christ for the glory of God, while at the same time being in a world-system that is deceived and opposes godliness.

Verse 2 most likely refers to ‘the sons of men’ who followed the rebellion of David’s son, Absalom, and fell prey to loving what was worthless, believing lies.

Verses 4 and 5 contains encouragement for all Christ-followers. This is how we are to handle stressful situations. We have godly reverence and cast our cares upon the Lord in prayer.

Psalm 4:4-5 4 Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. 5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And trust in the LORD.

The final verses of this psalm speak of the gladness and peace that comes when we discover the gift of righteousness, the righteousness of God that is credited to us when we put the full weight of our trust upon Jesus Christ.  He alone can make us dwell in safety (4:8). This is truly good news- gospel righteousness!

TODAY’S READING FROM PROVERBS – PROVERBS 1:20-23

Proverbs 1:20-23 (NASB) 20 Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square; 21 At the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings: 22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing and fools hate knowledge? 23 “Turn to my reproof, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.

PRAYER: Lord, today let me sing of Your mercies. By a miracle of sovereign grace, You have broken through the cacophony of my life with clear, convicting gospel truth calling me to life!  As we enter this new year, we want to know You more.  Increase my hunger for Your Word and my desire to heed it!  Give me a deeper repentance and horror of my sin. Thank You for providing deliverance from the wrath to come. You are my ark! You are my hiding place! My eternal refuge! You are my Rock, my high tower, and my strong fortress. Thank You for calling me out of darkness to follow You in the Light. I pray that, by Your Holy Spirit, Your Word will do a greater transforming work in me as I yield myself in full surrender. May I become more like Jesus today!  In His incomparable Name. Amen

  • Pastor David