Psalm 145:8-15 • Zechariah 9:9-12 • Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67 • Matthew 11:16-30 • Romans 7:15-20
Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67
Our Genesis passage takes place after the story of God’s call to sacrifice Isaac (in case you have forgotten it was a faith ‘infinite resignation’ moment for Abraham and a miraculous/dramatic rescue for Isaac), and, this passage comes after the death and burial of Sarah, Isaac’s mother. It could be said that this chapter is all about God keeping his promise to Sarah, a son, and descendants promised and coming after her.
As we enter this phase of life, we have a father and a son – it is a story of about moving forward, moving on (following this story, Abraham marries again, has several more children and then dies).
It is also a story of fact that God sustains his people. The Jews are still around over 4,000 years later, Christianity is still around over 2,000 years later – God has not forgotten, and, full disclosure, the descendants of Ishmael, who also received a promise, are still around. God has not forgotten or forsaken.
To understand this story of Isaac gaining a wife, which is the subject of this passage, you need to read the entire chapter (Genesis 24).
As you read notice that the entire wife choice is not Isaac’s, it is the decision of his dad’s servant, with the boundaries set by Abraham. Actually, of the two betrothed, Rebecca ultimately has the greatest input in making the decision.
Psalm 145 is a Psalm of praise. Probably written by David remembering the miracle of the exiled Hebrews being freed from slavery and and heading towards the Promise of God. Although this moment of freedom set them in an unknown category, what were freedom going to look like, how were they going to survive? Eventually they made it to the promised land, they were changed, it was a new generation. This was a moment that came on the heels of Moses encountering God on the mountain side and now God is being proclaimed to all peoples.
It is about recognizing God, his great works, his mercy, his power, his love, and his name. He is God. It, in itself, comes after the return to home and their long-awaited return to God. It is a very raw and sincere act of worship and praise.
Psalm 145 is a song of praise about a people who have recognized, and turned back to God. It is a acclamation of God’s patience, grace, and mercy. It is a proclamation that God of the nature and character of God as well of the truth that he is the eternal King.
The writings of Zechariah take place following the destruction of the temple. People are in despair, and most have been taken into slavery. Zechariah spends the first section of his writings reminding them of all that their nation, and the city of Jerusalem, was. In this passage Zechariah is assuring the people that the glory of God will return and, at that time, God will put a stop to war, ‘he will cut off war.’ They will transition from being slaves in the desert to being slaves of hope.
In the prior chapter, Matthew 10, we witnessed Jesus send the apostles out, but with a caution by most of the people they go to. They were going out on a compassionate mission to heal, cure, and release – and that there was going to be outrage and confrontation from those that are being helped. Then, as we turn to chapter 11, Jesus is asked the question, by John the Baptist, asking for confirmation that Jesus is the coming Messiah. Jesus responds by bemoaning the mistreatment that has given to John the Baptist and affirming that John, was the messenger sent to prepare the people for Jesus.
Then, after he has been critical of the powers that be, he begins to call out his entire generation. He accuses them of having truth right in front of them, yet, refusing to listen or accept. In a fashion reminiscent of the response of the Israelites to Isaiah and Jeremiah, Jesus confronts this generation for listening to only that which they want to hear.
‘John came neither eating nor drinking, and yet, about John, they said ,He has a demon’; and that Jesus came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’Jesus
Jesus is confronting their identity, what they value, and, how they are determining what is true. The truth is that they their identity is dependent on the moment, their value is zero even though their presentation is of arrogance, and that, actually, they are not trying to find out what is true, they are very comfortable with the philosophy that anything that goes along with their own agendas politically and religiously, is what they accept as truth.
Jesus calls them to himself. He confirms that his identity is in God and that it is the easier way to follow; a truth that trusting God actually frees us.
Consider how you might see and interpret this passage in this time of Sickness, Turmoil, and the approaching Elections – differently than you would have last January.
Paul continues his writing to the churches in Rome and continues his focus on sin. As we have seen, Paul sees sin with such a broader picture than just to say this is sinful, or that is a sin – Paul is talking much deeper, when sin takes hold, long before we every act.
Our Romans passage for this weeks follows these two verses:
Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin.Romans 7:13-14
As we go into this passage, where the impact of sin becomes very personal for the believer, we have learned that sin enslaves us. We also see that, even though we know this truth about sin, it is still a struggle for us to not sin. We still turn away from God, we still hold on to sin, we still quickly and easily hand ourselves over to this enslavement. Is it the dichotomy of being human. We do what we do not want to do.