Jan 09: Gen 17, 18 | Psa 19-21 | Matt 11

Reading 1 - Gen 17; 18

"The work of the Elohim in the life of Abram draws him nearer to the great moment of his life: the expression of the covenant, and to see the goodness of Yahweh in the provision of a son as the medium of the divine promises. Gen 17 provides the background to the covenant, and Gen 18 to the preparation for a son.


"In view of the threatened and impending destruction of Sodom, Abraham pleaded for the righteous as his seed proclaims the Gospel today. Even as he laboured in pleading, the Destroying Angels were approaching the doomed city. The Sodomites were oblivious to the impending destruction; so also was Lot. Abraham alone knew the fate of the city, as we do the state of the world today. Thus Abraham's eloquent and urgent appeal (cp Luk 17:28-30). But when it came to ten only in Sodom (Gen 18:32), Abraham concluded his appeal, as he knew that there were at least ten in Lot's immediate family. What a sad state concludes the chapter" (GE Mansfield).


Reading 2 - Psa 21:13

"Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength; we will sing and praise your might" (Psa 21:13).

"It is the mission of Christ, through the Gospel, to teach men to rejoice in God. And an unfailing source of joy is God, when once the mind opens to the great fact of His existence, excellence and power, for is not He beyond all minor causes of joy? Those minor causes fail; He, never. He is from everlasting. With Him is strength; not the strength that belongs to man: man owes his strength to the bread he eats; and the bread he eats with man himself is a perishable thing. Man dieth and wasteth away. But when we turn our eyes to God, we see the full meaning of the words: 'Be thou exalted in Thine own strength: so we will sing and praise Thy power' " (Robert Roberts, "Seasons of Comfort" 90).


Reading 3 - Mat 11:11,12

"I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" (Mat 11:11).

In this verse, Jesus points out the great demarcation between the time of "the prophets and the law", on one hand, and the time of "the Messiah" on the other. So, to paraphrase: "The least of the disciples -- who preach the kingdom of God NOW -- are greater (more able) than was John the Baptist -- the greatest of the prophets -- because, while he brought Israel up to the brink of the new 'age', they have actually entered it: they NOW know Jesus as the Messiah!" (This distinction is borne out by v 13 here as well: "For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.")


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"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it" (v 12).


In this verse, Jesus has in mind the same line of demarcation: before John came, all men (even "prophets") were looking forward -- tentatively -- to the coming of the Messiah. But now -- after he HAS come -- all men who preach him (even the least of the disciples: v 11) can be bold, because they have seen and heard of him!

 

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