The End? – January 24th
Day 24 of the Murray M’Cheyne Bible Reading plan – why not comment to let me know how you are doing with it?!
This chapter is very much hatch and dispatch. Abraham dies “full of years”, implying that he was satisfied with the life he had lived.
Isaac and Ishmael come together to buty him – funny how people can get back together at funerals, even if just for a while. The old hostilities reappear in v18 and continue even today in the Middle East.
The birth of Jacob and Esau is interesting. Today we may debate when life starts, but here in Genesis we see the emotional aspect of reproduction in the anguish of barrenness, the physical assumed and the spiritual emphasised in their pleading prayers for children. Even during the pregnancy, Rebekah inquires of God what is going on when there are problems. Inquire = prayer and listening! Do you do that for every situation that troubles your mind?
Between womb and tomb there is a lot life – that can be done well or done badly. Jacob and Esau are very different and sadly Isaac has a favourite, Esau. Jacob therefore buys his birthright. Esau is feckless, Jacob is ruthless. Esau is described in Heb12:16 as a profane person, but at least Jacob matures later in life.
We all make mistakes – have you received forgiveness for the sinful ones and learnt from them all?
D.A. Carson, a New Testament scholar, begins his commentary on Matthew 24 with the following words: “Few chapters of the Bible have called forth more disagreement among interpreters than Matthew 24 and its parallels in Mark 13 and Luke 21. The history of the interpretation of this chapter is immensely complex”
The key to understanding is that Jesus is answering 3 questions of the disciples in v3
1) When will this happen? (the destrcution of the Temple)
2) What will be the sign of your coming?
3) What will the sign of the end of the age?
Separating out the three questions, and seeing how Jesus answered each of them, clears up understanding Matthew 24. Jesus was telling his disciples that Jerusalem and the temple (the “this”) would be destroyed in their day. But the “sign” they asked about, Jesus said, would be associated with his coming, not with the destruction of the city. Finally, as to the disciples’ third question, Jesus said, no one could know the answer to the question of when he would return and “the end” of the age would occur.
In Matthew 24 are three questions, and each is answered individually. For us reading it, we can see Jesus’ return and the “end of the age” occuring in the future, and Jerusalem’s destruction in the past, in A.D. 70, just as Jesus prophesied. V15 the abomination that causes desolation most likely occurred in 70 AD with the worship of the Roman Standards on the Temple Mount under Titus.
That is not to say the disciples separated out the destruction of Jerusalem from “the end,” because they almost certainly didn’t. And they most likely thought that the events would occur almost immediately.
Spurgeon wrote of the book of Esther “The Lord intended by the narrative of Esther’s history to set before us a wonderful instance of His providence, that when we had viewed it with interest and pleasure, we might praise His name, and then go on to acquire the habit of observing His hand in other histories, and especially in our own lives.” The name of God is not mentioned in the book, there is nor prophecy of the Messiah, but as Paul Ferguson wrote “Most commentators, however, believe that the primary reason the Name of God is not directly mentioned is to give a graphic and a classic illustration of the hidden workings of God in providence.”
It’s a time of crisis, the book of Esther opens some 60 years after the first return of Jewish exiles to Jerusalem and after the Temple was rebuilt. In Biblical chronology, the events in Esther take place between Ezra 1-6 and Ezra 7-10, a book which chronicles the first and second return of the Jews from Babylonian exile.
God is able to use ordinary events to produce extraordinary results! So the book starts with King Xerxes getting cross with his Queen Vashti, refused to come when summoned. So he banished her from every coming! That sets the scene for God providentally rescue the Jews in exile by getting Esther close to the King.
Matthew Henry: If blamed for being more earnest in the things of God than our neighbours, what is our reply? Do we shrink from the accusation? How many in the world would rather be accused of any weakness, nay, even of wickedness, than of an earnest, fervent feeling of love to the Lord Jesus Christ, and of devotedness to his service! Can such think that He will confess them when he comes in his glory, and before the angels of God? If there is any sight pleasing to the God of our salvation, and a sight at which the angels rejoice, it is, to behold a devoted follower of the Lord, here upon earth, acknowledging that he is guilty, if it be a crime, of loving the Lord who died for him, with all his heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. And that he will not in silence see God’s word despised, or hear his name profaned; he will rather risk the ridicule and the hatred of the world, than one frown from that gracious Being whose love is better than life.
Paul frequently discoursed on righteousness, self control and the judgement to come – he shared the gospel with Felix who had the power to have him killed. Are you passionate about sharing the Gospel with anyone? Why not have a go at writing the gospel so it is clear in your mind and you would be ready!