5 January: Genesis 12-14, John 3b, Psalm 5

Genesis 12-14

  • It's remarkable how the Bible presents its heroes with warts and all. As we encounter Abram (Abraham), he begins faithfully obedient to God. He leaves his homeland to set out to parts unknown in Canaan. Along the way he builds altars in devotion to God. And God reinforces His promise to Abraham (to make him a great nation). However, fear supplants his faith while in Egypt. Fear often prompts deceit (that's certainly my personal experience!). Abraham asks Sarai (Sarah) to lie to Pharaoh, saying that she and Abraham are merely brother and sister. Truth is equated with Reality in the Bible. If I do not convey Reality when I describe a situation, then I am not presenting Truth — I am lying in any distortion of Reality (i.e. Truth). I've done exactly this recently when talking to a customer service rep on the phone. I exaggerated the problem with a product (needlessly btw) to ensure a full refund. I tried to backtrack on my statement to better reflect reality but the careless words had already been established from my mouth. I was convicted. I cared more about my refund than the truth. I wanted my way even if I needed to spin and sin to get it. And all the while, God was listening. This happened too easily. This is now a real focus for 2014. I plan to constantly gauge (and share with brothers) whether I am carefully presenting reality (truth) with my words. 
  • Later, it's heartening to see Abraham refusing to accept any spoils of war from the king of Sodom. It would have been easy to compromise, but he stands firm for the sake of holiness.
  • Melchizedek appears as one of the most intriguing characters in our Bible. Jesus is later equated with him throughout Hebrews. I don't see Melchizedek as Jesus, rather he is a type for the priesthood that Jesus later embodies. 

John 3:22-36

  • There's a short period of time where the ministries of both John and Jesus overlap. When questioned about this apparent conflict, John responds with great humility. 
  • Both John and Jesus are baptizing in an area with lots of water. Based on Luke 3, John's baptism was a "baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." Unlike New Testament baptism (instituted by the blood of Jesus — Hebrews 9:15-28, Acts 2:38), this baptism was similar to a Temple sacrifice for sin. It did not have a "once for all" efficacy that NT baptism provides (because it is based on a better sacrifice, that is, Jesus). It did not cleanse the conscience, and it did not impart the gift of the Holy Spirit. I would assume (reserving right to proved wrong here) that this is also the case of the baptism that Jesus was offering during his earthly ministry. All of this changes after his blood establishes the New Covenant, a covenant that imparts once for all forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 5

  • Here's a plug for morning quiet times ("In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; int he morning I lay my request before you and wait expectantly.")!
  • God hates all who do wrong - specifically the arrogant and deceitful. Ouch (given my convictions from Genesis above). Here's more resolve to love the truth in 2014 (and beyond). 
  • David is not afraid to plead for swift justice on his enemies. Many Psalms that include "imprecatory" pleas seem harsh, but what if I were in David's sandals? I'm sure I would then better appreciate his hope for ultimate justice through a just God. I do like how David does not come across as saccharin sweet religious in his prayers to God; instead he tells it like it is.