We are on day 11 of blogging through the Bible using the Murray M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan
Genesis 12 is the key chapter for the Mission of God to redeem mankind. Abram is called by God! “God promises to make him into a great nation, bless those that bless him, curse those that curse him and all peoples on the earth wiil be blessed hrough you”
This is the start of Israel as the Old Testament people of God – the call will mean all nations get blessed though! So we see a pointing forward to the new covenant people of God too, who are by faith the seed of Abraham.
A quick comment on those that bless you I will bless and those that curse you I will curse. Zionists would argue this means we must bless Israel to be blessed. America’s Middle East foreign policy is largely based on that! I think the Zionist argument here is flawed for two reasons
1) Bless you applies to Abram himself.
2) If it does apply to “Israel” – under the new covenant, Israel, the people of God, is now made up of one new man in Christ, Jew and Gentile in Christ who now both have access to the Father through the Spirit in Christ (Ephesians and Romans both clearly teach that!). It is not limited to the now largely secular nation/land of Israel
Abram is immediately obedient and leaves his country and starts going the direction God has called him to go.
Nehamiah is a great example of leadership. The first return from exile in babylon has occurred but Nehemiah is still in Babylonia, serving as cup-bearer to the King. He hears news of the terrible mess Jerusalem is still in and is grieved. He weeps and then prays and fasts for several days.
One of his prayers is recorder, because it is a great example of how to pray!
1) v5 Acknowledge God’s sovereignty. Worship God for who he is
2) v6-7 Confess sin
3) v8-10 Remind God of His promises
4) Ask God clearly to intervene and use him to be part of the answer
Chapter 11 answers to questions – what grounds are there for accepting Jesus? and what is Jesus claim?
John the baptist has been bold. He has exposed Herod’s affairs and ended up in prison. so he is having doubts. Jesus doesn’t appear to be bringing an ax to the root of the trees and is a different sort of Messiah than what John had expected. So Jesus tells John’s disciples to speak of the fruit – healings, raisings and good news.
Jesus quotes Mal 3 – “I will send my messenger ahead of you…” John the Baptist is that messenger. Who is coming after – God Almighty. So in a throwawy comment Jesus is making a big claim!
If you want to know what God is like, go to Jesus. If you want to get through to God, go to Jesus. If you want to discover the epi-center of God’s self-disclosure, go to Jesus. Very exclusion claim – come to teh Father through Jesus.v28 Come to me, not go to God!
Lastly Jesus promises rest from the yoke – that wooden collar on pairs of oxen to enable them to jointly pull great weights. yoke was taken to be the law metaphorically that the young Jew bound to themself at the Bar Mitzvah. He invites the weray not to be harassed by the Law but to come and find rest in his grace!
The Gospel begins to spread widely to the Gnetiles. Firstly Peter explains himself to the rest of the apostles in Jerusalem who find no objections to the testimony.
Then news of Gentile salvations in Antioch gets to Jerusalem, who send Barnabus over to Antioch. Barnabus finds “evidence of the grace of God”. And soon plenty more are saved and discipled.
Barnabus teams up with Saul in Tarsus ad spend a year teaching loads of new converts. The disciples begin to be called “Christians” little Christs in Antioch.