TODAY’S READING IN THE OLD TESTAMENT: GENESIS 13:5-15:21;
Abram’s trust in God is continually tested. So is ours. He compromises his obedience. And so do we. He does not leave his family as God told him to. He brings his father and nephew.
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you;”
According to Scripture, Abram is called while he is living in Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 15:7; Nehemiah 9:7) a city devoted to Nannar, the moon god. Abram and his father were serving other gods (Joshua 24:2). Abram did not know God at the time, but God sovereignly chose to make Himself known, and called him to leave his idols, and his household.
Abram takes his wife, Sarai, his father, Terah, and Lot, his nephew from Ur to Haran, another city devoted to serving lunar deities.
In Acts 7:2, we know that the Lord called Abram before he came to Haran:
Acts 7:2 2 And he said, “Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran.
Abram’s stays in Haran, until his father dies. Then Abram, follows the Lord according to the promise originally given to him. He and Sarai bring Abram’s nephew Lot with him.
Warren Wiersbe comments: “Whatever you bring with you from the old life into the new is likely to create problems. Terah, Abram’s father, kept Abram from fully obeying the Lord; and Lot created serious problems for Abram until they finally had to agree to part. Abraham and Sarah brought a sinful agreement with them from Ur (Genesis 20:3) and it got them into trouble twice (Genesis 12:10-20; 20:1-18).
Disobedience gets us into trouble. But “If we confess our sins, (God) he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). God is faithful to His covenant. That is the message of Abraham. God’s grace is available to those who trust Him. And by grace through faith, His purposes are advanced in us and through us.
Abram and Sarai were not perfect, but their lives illustrate the walk of faith. Abraham was saved by grace through faith (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:1-5, Galatians 3:6-14). He lived by faith (Hebrews 11:8-19) and his obedience provided the evidence of his faith (James 2:14-26).
In Genesis Chapter 13, Abram and his nephew Lot have both prospered. “Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver and in gold” (Gen 13:1). Lot also had flocks, herds, and tents. It was challenging for them to graze their animals and keep track of all their stuff! Their herdsmen disputed over each other’s management of their many possessions. Abram proposed as a solution that he and Lot split up and move into different territories. He offered Lot first choice of the ample land available to settle in.
Lot made his choice based strictly upon what he could reason through his senses- what he saw. “He lifted up his eyes and beheld all the plain of Jordan.” It sounds similar to the woman in Eden who “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes” which led to the rationalization of her disobedience. Lot is a type of one who lives by “sense knowledge”, choosing to “walk by sight”. Abram is an example, a ‘type’, representing a believer. He is a model believer, the Father of our faith. He walks by faith and not by sight.
Lot pitches his tent towards Sodom, a city inhabited by “men who were exceedingly wicked and sinners against the LORD” (Gen 13:13). While Lot pitches his tent to behold the beauty of Sodom, the LORD calls Abram to lift up his eyes and view his God-given inheritance- His promised provision, the land of Canaan. How wonderful to rest in the Lord’s provision for us. “For all the land which you see, I will give it to you and your descendants forever.” (It is a reminder that the Lord’s promise to Abram’s seed -Israel- is not yet fully fulfilled! This land will be fully settled as the Lord’s habitation in the Book of Revelation!) The Lord also promises to multiply Abram’s descendants as the dust of the earth. What is Abram’s response? He builds an altar of thanksgiving.
Genesis 14 describes a war of kings- 4 kings against 5. Four kings allied to the King of Elam, attack the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and Bela, who had recently rebelled against Elam’s king. Sodom and Gomorrah are attacked and Lot, Abram’s nephew, is taken captive.
Abram is not passive. He does not abandon Lot. He puts his own life at risk and goes to the great trouble to rescue his nephew. He brings 318 men with him and successfully defeats his nephew’s captors (the four kings) and rescues Lot with his possessions and the women and the people!
Abram knows it is the Lord God who has given him success. Bera, the King of Sodom, is very grateful to Abram for rescuing his people and offers Abram all the spoils in return for the restoring his land and subjects. But another King shows up, a mystery man, who is like no other man in the Bible except Jesus Christ!
The Bible lists a separate lineage of kings, such as the line of David, and a separate lineage of priests (the descendants of Levi), but here is a man who is BOTH King and Priest and there is no record of his beginning of days or his end of days! He is a type of Christ; whose priesthood is everlasting.
Melchizedek’s name means “King of Righteousness”. He is also King of Salem (Peace) and he offers Abram bread and wine, symbols of redemption that will be used by the greater Melchizedek, Jesus Christ, who offers us His body (symbolized by the bread- Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22) and His shed blood (symbolized by the wine) so that His kingdom of righteousness and peace can be established in the hearts of believers (Isaiah 32:17; Romans 14:17)!
The promise of the Messiah is that He would be a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4).
Abram rejects the offer of the King of Sodom, lest it be said that the kings of this world have made him rich. Abram gives glory and thanks to God instead. He accepts what Melchizedek offers- a blessing from the Most High God accompanied with the visible elements that foreshadow the body and blood of the perfect sacrifice, bread and wine. This is a reminder that our blessings from God are not given due to our own merits, but the merits of the One who would offer His body and shed His blood on the cross, a perfect offering, atoning for our sin (Leviticus 17:11).
How blessed Abram was to meet someone who knew the same God who had revealed Himself to him earlier! How he must of rejoiced to have fellowship with another believer. Breaking bread with Melchizedek was a symbol of their fellowship with the One True God! This revelation of God’s grace inspires Abram to worship. He expresses this worship by offering a tenth (tithe) of all.
Offering a tenth (tithe) of the material blessings to those bringing the knowledge of God’s grace to us, is often seen in the Bible as an act of worship, if it comes from the heart. Tithing was not a commandment, or even a regular practice in Abram’s life- it was a free expression of his worship of the One True God. Jesus affirmed this practice though it is not legislated in the New Testament (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42).
TODAY’S READING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT- Matthew 5:27-48
Jesus continues to contrast the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees of apostate Israel, (“You have heard it said”), with His exposition of the true intent of the written Law (“but I say unto you”). He explains what true righteousness looks like. He not only explains the Law, He exhibits it! Jesus represents the holiness of God’s law with skin on!
The Law is not given to show how righteous we are, but how righteous we are not (Romans 3:19-20)! The Law is a reflection of God’s righteousness, but it gives us no power to fulfill its demands. Instead it convicts us of sin reminding us that we are guilty lawbreakers in need of salvation. The law is like a tutor who teaches us of our need for Christ and brings us to Him!
Galatians 3:24 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.
The only place on earth where the Law is fulfilled is “in Christ Jesus”. That is why we trust Him for our salvation. He satisfies the Law’s demand for our death, paying our sin’s wages on the cross (Romans 6:23). He satisfies the Law’s ongoing demands for righteousness today by virtue of His representing us in heaven and living within us on earth by His Spirit. The Law of the Spirit of Life has set us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2)!
Jesus turns the Law of God into a Promise!
Jesus’ teachings remind us that we cannot afford to be complacent about sin. It is because of sin that mankind is destined for hell, a place that was originally prepared for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Hell is a place of real torment and the inevitable consequence of our sin. Unless we repent and trust the Person and work of Jesus Christ to satisfy God’s justice on our behalf, it is where we are bound to spend eternity.
Jesus addresses the moral laxity that exists even among the outwardly pious- the lust in the heart, the legitimizing of deception, betrayal and adultery through ’easy divorce’ and insincere promise-making (Matthew 5:27-37).
He also exposes how far short our concepts of love fall from the true love of God. The love of God does not just extend to those who reciprocate our loving feelings or initiatives, but to our enemies. The love of God does not extend only to those who put reasonable demands upon us, but also to those whose demands are unreasonable. Jesus points to, and exhibits, the truth about the love of God. God’s love sacrifices, forgives, and keeps no record of wrongs (1 Cor 13:4-7; Ephesians 5:25). While we were failing to reciprocate His love, made unreasonable demands, while we were still sinners, and enemies, God demonstrated His own love for us. How? Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Jesus reminds us that we were originally created to reflect the image of our perfect Creator.
Matthew 5:48 48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
The Law as a revelation of God’s righteous perfection underscores that truth. But Jesus is the Living Torah- a Living revelation of God’s righteous perfection. He could say, “He who has seen me, has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Jesus has come to save us from sin. Sin impedes the image of God from being expressed through us. Jesus is the perfect image of God. He is the Lord our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16). Through Jesus, His dying for us and living in us by the Spirit, God is restoring us to our true purpose- which is to reflect the perfect moral nature of our Father in heaven! He is going to make Matthew 5:48 a reality in the lives of believers!
TODAY’S READING IN THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALM 6
Psalm 6:1-10 This psalm reminds us that our souls are not exempt from mental, emotional and spiritual suffering. But it also reminds us that God hears our prayers, our heart-cries for deliverance. He bolsters our hope in the midst of suffering with the reminder that He will ultimately defeat ALL the enemies of our souls.
Psalm 6:10 10 All my enemies will be ashamed and greatly dismayed; They shall turn back, they will suddenly be ashamed.
Revelation 17:14 14 “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”
Revelation 21:4 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
TODAY’S READING IN THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 1:29-33
Proverbs 1:29-33 The Non-blessings of the Unrepentant Life
Proverbs 1:29-33 (NASB) 29 Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD. 30 “They would not accept my counsel, they spurned all my reproof. 31 “So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way and be satiated with their own devices. 32 “For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them. 33 “But he who listens to me shall live securely and will be at ease from the dread of evil.”
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, fill me today with your Holy Spirit that I may have ears to hear and a heart to obey You- the express image of God, the Living Torah, the Holy Word of God. Keep me from foolishness and legalism and all systems of self-redemption. May I walk by faith, resting in the sufficiency of Who You are and all that You have done and continue to do on my behalf. Help me to trust You with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5)!