"God's Word is Living & Active!" ~ Hebrews 4:12
Genesis 26:17-27:46 ~ Matthew 9:1-17 ~ Psalm 10:16-18 ~ Proverbs 3:9-10
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Old Testament – Today’s Genesis chapter 26 readings open up with Isaac digging wells – and then moving on when the Philistine’s contest the wells. This shows an incredible amount of patience on Isaac’s behalf. In this arid region of Gerar, water was like gold and people often battled over water. Filling in someone’s well was akin to declaring war.
Below is an aerial map of where Gerar and Beersheba are located, just on the northern edge of the Negev desert (see lower left corner of map):
Verse 22 stood out to me in these readings about the wells: “Abandoning that one, he dug another well, and the local people finally left him alone. So Isaac called it “Room Enough,” for he said, “At last the LORD has made room for us, and we will be able to thrive.”” For me this was reminiscent of Abraham giving Lot the choice of lands when there was disputes between their herdsmen. Abraham was confident that God would provide even with “2nd choice” of the lands – and Isaac here seems to be following in his father’s footsteps of wisdom. I also like the naming of the well – “Room Enough.” I think sometimes in our world today we can get so competitive with each other, thinking that there is a limited sized pie and we have to get our piece of it! “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” author Steven Covey calls this the “scarcity mentality” – and he encourages us to instead operate with an “abundance mentality” – that there is ultimately enough pie for everyone. That there is Room Enough. (perhaps we do need to do a better job sometimes of sharing our pieces of the pie however… see our Psalms & Proverbs today on this point)
Genesis chapter 27 today is a very interesting and challenging chapter… both Jacob and Rebekah are deceitful. And Isaac is suspicious of the whole charade. And yet, Jacob receives the verbal blessing from Isaac, which was binding back in those days. I think this chapter is challenging in that it can bring up the question of sin – and can sin be used to fulfill God’s will? The sins of Isaac and Esau and Rebekah and Jacob did not in any way thwart God’s will from being done. In fact, their sins were employed by God in such a way as to achieve the will of God. God’s sovereignty is never thwarted by man’s sin. To the contrary, God is able to achieve His purposes by employing man’s sinful acts to further His plans.”
Below is an oil painting from 1639 by Dutch Baroque painter Govert Teunisz Flinck (who was a pupil of Rembrandt) of Isaac blessing Jacob:
New Testament – In Matthew chapter 9 we read about Jesus not only healing – but also forgiving sins. This is a power and an authority – forgiving sins – that only God could truly have. It is true that Jesus would be blaspheming, per the teachers of religious law in this passage, if Jesus was not God.
In today’s readings, Jesus calls Matthew (or “Levi”), the author of this Gospel, and a Jewish tax collector at the time of his call. Note that while Jerusalem was under the authority of Rome at this time, Rome would hire Jews to collect taxes from other Jews that would be paid to Rome. The Jewish tax collectors were allowed to keep a commission or percentage of the taxes they collected – however, they were notorious for overcharging and making more than they should have in their collections. As such, Jewish tax collectors were typically not allowed to be in the temple – nor were they even trusted as witnesses in trials. And this is our Gospel writer! 🙂 (yes, I still trust Matthews writings – he, like us, was forgiven & changed after meeting Jesus)
Below is a painting of Jesus calling Matthew at his tax collector booth – I love how Matthew is very attentive in this image toward Jesus in the midst of all the chaos around him.
In this chapter Jesus has a meal with “tax collectors and other notorious sinners.” And the religious leaders ask Jesus why he eats with such “scum.” I do hope that you see that this is such an amazing thing about Jesus – he will have a meal with anyone – the “scum of the earth” as one translation calls sinners who believe in Jesus in one of Paul’s letters. Jesus loves the “scum”. And he gets frustrated with the religious leaders who are righteous in their own eyes. Why the difference? I think verses 12 & 13 answer this well: “When he heard this, Jesus replied, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor–sick people do… For I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.”
Psalms – I love Psalm 10 verses 17 & 18 today: “LORD, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will listen to their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so people can no longer terrify them.” The Psalmist here tells us that God knows the hopes of the helpless.
Proverbs – Proverbs 3:9-10 teaches us today: “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything your land produces. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with the finest wine.” This is a wonderful reminder to bring our tithes and offerings to God, and he will bless us immensely. We are not called to bring our leftovers – but our first fruits.
Please join me in memorizing and meditating on two verses of Scripture today: “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9-10
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