"God's Word is Living & Active!" ~ Hebrews 4:12
Genesis 3:1-4:26 ~ Matthew 2:13-3:6 ~ Psalm 2:1-12 ~ Proverbs 1:7-9
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Old Testament – Today in Genesis chapter 3 we read about The Fall. Chapter 3 is a foundational chapter of the Bible to understand. From this chapter our history goes forward with sin passed on to every man and woman through the seed of Adam. This sets the stage for God’s pursuit of men and women in Genesis, followed by the Exodus from Egypt, the Laws, the judges, the kings, the prophets – and ultimately the final solution to the Fall: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is through belief in Jesus as Messiah that we are saved from what began here in Genesis chapter 3.
In verses 1 through 4 in today’s readings we are first introduced to the devil in the Bible, who clothes himself as a snake. The devil is often referred to as the “great deceiver”, and in this chapter you can see why. I think an important thing for us to realize today is that the devil continues to work in our world. He continues to deceive men and women. And, unfortunately, he is good at what he does. I have a hunch that probably a few people reading this blog do not believe in the existence of the devil. I will admit that early in my Christian walk, I did not believe in the devil’s existence. However – thankfully, I was discipled by a godly man who counseled me through Bible passages that prove his existence – chapter 3 of Genesis certainly being one. In fact, one interesting thing my friend said to me at this early stage of my Christian walk was this – “The devil’s greatest trick is to make you think that he does not exist.” This is a very powerful statement. Please consider it. Why would this be his greatest trick? Because if you believe there is no devil, then you may believe there is no evil, and you then may believe that there is really no sin or nothing you can do wrong, and then you may come to believe that there is no moral code. You see the slippery slope of not acknowledging and realizing the existence of the devil and evil? I hesitated to post up this picture below – I really don’t like it at all – but I think it’s appropriate for this conversation. It reminded me of the temptation of our modern day addictions – like pornography or drugs etc. – the apple perhaps looks tasty at first glance, but you can’t bite the apple without getting bit by the snake and getting poisoned…
The other problem of not realizing the existence of the devil or evil is that you can more easily be tempted and enslaved to bad habits and sins. So – I know I’m going on quite a bit here about this point – I just want to encourage you to ask yourself – do you believe in the existence of the devil? Do you believe in the existence of evil? Of temptation? Of sin? There is a remedy and solution to protect and keep you from all of this – and that is Jesus. But, it’s possible that you may not run into the loving and saving arms of Jesus if you don’t believe in the devil or evil. And the bottom line is of course to turn your eyes and gaze toward God and Jesus for ultimate protection – and I do believe reading the Bible each day is one of the best ways to do exactly this!
Below is “The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise” by American Neoclassical Painter Benjamin West from the year 1791:
In Genesis chapter 4 we read about the first murder of humankind – Cain killing his own brother Abel in a premeditative way. This is a clear demonstration of The Fall and how sin lives in the hearts of men and women – and can only be redeemed and forgiven today through faith in Jesus and through God’s grace. Many of you probably asked yourselves, why didn’t God look with favor on Cain’s offering? Commentaries I’ve read suggest that Cain’s offering was a careless or thoughtless offering whereas Abel’s offering was a choice or generous offering. And God saw the motivation and heart attitude of both men as they brought their offering. It seems that God is looking straight into Cain’s heart as he says this in verses 6 and 7: “Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked him. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it.” That is a scary thought – sin waiting to attack and destroy. In the NIV it translates “sin is crouching at your door.” Let us be watchful and prayerful to not be overtaken by sin, but to respond correctly to the grace and strength given us through Jesus.
Below is a modern image by an unknown artist of Cain just after killing Abel. Do you see the contrast of light & dark and which way Cain is facing? This is a powerful image to consider…:
Genesis 4:17 – “Cain made love to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch.” In chapter 4 verse 19 polygamy enters history: “Lamech married two women–Adah and Zillah.” Polygamy clearly went against God’s divine intention of monogamy in Genesis chapter 2:24 – “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” God’s original plan early on in the Bible is monogamy in marriage. We will see many cases of polygamy this year as we read through the One Year Bible – this is humankind thwarting God’s will – which we will also see in many ways throughout our readings this year. I think sometimes we can get hung up on the “strange stuff” we read about in the Bible – but one important point to make is this – The Bible records both God’s will and teachings, and people’s sin. So if we happen to read about people’s sin in the Bible, as we do here in verse 19 with Lamech’s polygamy, please don’t confuse this with this being God’s will. It’s people’s sin. And we’ll see this again in the Bible – fortunately we have a loving God who sent his son, Jesus, to save us from our sins. Heavy that they are…
New Testament – In Matthew today we read about The Escape to Egypt. Two things stood out to me in Joseph’s behavior in today’s readings. In verse 13 an angel tells Joseph to “get up and flee to Egypt” – and Joseph responds by leaving THAT NIGHT with the family, as we see in verse 14. That’s beautiful obedience. Then, in verse 21 we see Joseph respond similarly when he is told by an angel to return to Israel – he leaves with the family “immediately.” I like this – Joseph is acting obediently to God’s will in his life – and he is acting pronto! He’s not sitting around worrying or fretting or thinking that he’ll get to it tomorrow. He goes that night! He returns immediately!
Today in Matthew chapter 3 we are introduced to John the Baptist! I don’t know exactly what it is about John the Baptist – but I love reading about him and his life. He is just on fire for God and Jesus and he is encouraging others to get on fire too! I guess I like that in a person. 🙂 Another thing about John is that he is so focused on his mission to call others to repentance and to baptize them, that he really does not care about worldly things – like how he looks or what he wears or what he eats. None of that really matters to him. It is the message of the coming of Jesus that matters to him. Maybe it is verse 4 that really stands out to me about John: “John’s clothes were woven from camel hair, and he wore a leather belt; his food was locusts and wild honey.” I think this is really saying that John lived a simple life. He did not “major in minor things” – he “majored in the major thing” – Jesus!
Psalms – Psalm 2 today is a prophetic and Messianic Psalm! This Psalm is frequently quoted in the New Testament in reference to Jesus as God’s Anointed and the great son of King David. The word “Messiah” comes from the Hebrew word for “anointed one.” And the word “Christ” comes from the Greek word for “anointed one.” (as we read Anointed One in verse 2 of this Psalm today)
Verses 11 & 12 in this Psalm are encouraging and also a strong warning for us at the same time: “Serve the LORD with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling. Submit to God’s royal son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of your pursuits–for his anger can flare up in an instant. But what joy for all who find protection in him!” I think the closing sentence should be a huge encouragement to us. If we are seeking to love God and Jesus and other people with all of our hearts, mind, strength and souls – God knows it. And he will provide eternal protection for us. Yes, there will be suffering in this life – but joy can be found in knowing that we will have an eternity to spend with God and his royal son!
Proverbs – Proverbs chapter 1 verse 7 is basically the mission statement for the entire book of Proverbs! “Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. Only fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Proverbs 1:7 NIV
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