Tuesday, January 26, 2021

January 25 - Genesis 27, Matthew 18

Key verse: Genesis 27:29

Big idea: In the beginning, sin could not stop God's plan. 

A Hebrew man putting his desire for food above God's intended blessing. Sound familiar? Isaac's favorite son Esau sold his birthright for a meal in Genesis 25, and in Genesis 27 Isaac, falsely believing he was close to death, was fooled in his pursuit of a meal. He had grown old and blind. Blind physically so that he could no longer distinguish between his sons. Blind spiritually so that he could no longer distinguish between his will and God's. He called Esau to him and asked for his son to hunt a meal for him to eat before he bestowed his blessing. In recounting this story, the Holy Spirit had Moses refer to venison eight times and "savoury meal" six times, emphasizing Isaac's fleshly perspective. The same error that had led to Esau's foolish trade was present in both of their hearts. 

What about God's promise that the elder would serve the younger? It was clearly long forgotten. But Jacob, the one who ought to receive the blessing, was no better. His mother, Rebekah, approached him with a plan to fool Isaac into blessing Jacob instead of Esau. We must wonder how God could form the nation that will rescue the world through a family that is such a mess. Emphasizing the tension, the author calls one of the twins Isaac's son and the other Rebekah's! Jacob, dressed in Esau's clothes and with skins on his hands to copy Esau's hair, went in with food that Rebekah has prepared to taste like venison, while Esau was still out hunting. 

When Isaac suspiciously asked Jacob how he returned so quickly, Jacob's response was blasphemous: "Because the LORD thy God brought it to me." But it was also true. God used Jacob and Rebekah's sin to accomplish his promise, in spite of Isaac's sin. God allowed Isaac's deception to take place, without excusing it, to accomplish His plan. If Rebekah and Isaac had not intervened, God would undoubtedly have accomplished the same end. Maybe an angel would have descended or God himself would have spoken. However it would have happened, there would have been a lot less heartbreak. This family was scattered for years as Esau plotted how he would kill Jacob as soon as his father died and Jacob ran away. Esau and Isaac were hasty in their funeral planning; Isaac survived 80 more years (Genesis 25:26 and Genesis 26:34 vs Genesis 35:28). But Rebekah did not. Because of their sin, the mother and son never saw each other again. God's purposes are not thwarted, but His way is always best.

Discussion Idea: Has God ever turned some sin in your life around to turn out for the best? Did it still come with heartache?

Prayer Focus: Praise God for His sovereignty, thank Him for His mercy, and ask for His forgiveness for the times we have futilely tried to "kick against the pricks." 

Key verse: Matthew 18:32

Big Idea: The King has forgiven us of more than we could ever need to forgive.

In today’s chapter, Jesus tells a parable so vivid that it requires almost no explanation. A slave owes an unimaginable debt of ten thousand talents, an amount of money so absurd that it means something like “a zillion dollars.” If the talents (a measure of about one hundred pounds) were gold, the translation favored in some paraphrases like the NLT (“millions of dollars”) is too small: it would take a day laborer well over two hundred thousand years to repay. So when the slave begged the master for more time and said that he would pay it all back, it was obviously impossible. But the master graciously forgave the debt. Then, the forgiven slave went and found a peer who owed him three or four months’ wages. Not a small sum, but nothing in comparison to his own debt. He took the other slave by the neck and threatened to throw him into prison if he did not repay it.

The scene is simply absurd. How could someone who had been forgiven so much be so ungrateful as to refuse to forgive others? Jesus told this story to answer the question of how often we should forgive each other. If we have been forgiven of all of our sins by a holy God, we must certainly be quick to forgive others. Whether the language is seventy times seven or ten thousand talents worth, the picture is clear. We have received forgiveness we could never earn, and whatever anyone else might owe us is insignificant in comparison.

When we use the mouths, minds, and hands given to us by God to rebel, we can understand why David said, “Against you, and you alone, have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4). When we placed our faith in Jesus, we were forgiven at such a high cost that we are like a slave forgiven a debt we could never repay. Others may hurt us and do so substantially, but it is nothing in comparison to how we have hurt God. He has forgiven us at a cost far higher than money. No blood-bought sinner has any right to refuse forgiveness to another.

Discussion Idea: What leads to an unforgiving spirit in ministry? How can you keep the magnitude of God’s grace to you personally at the forefront of your mind?

Prayer Focus: Praise God for His kindness in removing a debt far beyond our comprehension or ability to repay. 

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