We are on day 8 of blogging through the Bible using the Murray M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan
Over the next two chapters Matthew has three sets of three miracles.
The first ones
v1-4 Healing a Jewish man with leprosy
v5-13 A Gentile Centurion’s servant
v14-17 Peter’s mother in law.
Leprosy was a horrible skin disease – a sentence to living death cut off from civilisation. Other diseases were healed, leprosy was cleansed. In Jesus, the fulfilment of Judaism had come. Go show yourself to the priest – would have loved to have been the fly on the wall for that one. Offer the gift Moses had prescribed – because a one greater than Moses has come! Jesus does what Judaism couldn;t do, in cleansing from leprosy and the disease of sin it represents.
The gospel is first for Jew then the Gentile – you see this in Matthew, but with pointers to what would later happen with this healing of the Centurion’s servant. He had simple profound faith, which wasn’t abounding at that tiem among the Jews (v10)
The purpose of recording the healing of Peter’s mother in law is surely that God wants to heal our families and those close to us. Be lifted in faith for praying for those around you!
The midesction (v18-22) of the chapter is the call to costly commitment. Jesus response to the enthusiastic “I will follow you whereever you go” is to point out the cost of commitment.
The last part of the chapter details the first two miracles of the second trio!
Jesus has power over nature (v23-27) and power of the demonic (v28-34). in ch9 the third miracle is power over sin (9:1-8) followed again by two pieces on discipleship.
The promise of the Spirit is power to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). With teh martyrdom of Stephen, persecution breaks out and the Church is scattered from Jerusalem to begin fulfilling power to be witnesses everywhere else. Verse 4 “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” – Not only is there scattering in the persecution, but multiplication of ministry too. Satan thought he had won again. Oops!
Many are delivered and many are healed. Not all now, but still way more than we currently are experiencing.
Acts 8:15-17 is a key passage on the baptism in Spirit. There are believers in Samaria now and two apostles are dispatched to check out their foundations. They find believers who have been baptised in water, but not in Spirit – it is not automatic! Peter and John lay hand on them, so they are filled.
Simon the sorcerer wants to buy this anointing but is told where to go!
The Spirit tells Philip to go to a Eunuch, a god fearer, who bevertheless would not have been fully welcome in the Temple and is on his way home reading Isaiah. Philip helps him understand and baptises him. People who would not have been fully welcolmed to worship under the Old Covenant are allowed in Christ! Hallelujah!
This second return from exile is much smaller than the one 79 years before – under 5,000 people. Teher are no Levites listed who would acts as teachers of the Law so Ezra sends men of discernment to fetch some.
v21-23 spiritual preparation is made – fasting, praying and humbling before God’s gracious hand on the journey
v24-27 physical preparation is made – Ezra divided the silver. . . gold, and articles among 24 of the key men in the group. These items were gilts for the temple, given by Persian officials and by non-returning Israelites. They included 25 tons of silver, silver articles weighing 3.75, tons, 3.75 tons of gold, 20 bowls of gold that weighed about 19 pounds, and two expensive bronze objects. All this would be valued at many millions of pounds today. No wonder Ezra was concerned about the people’s safety (v. 21).
They journey, are protected and arrive in Jerusalem for three days rest before making sacrifices at the Temple.
The flood has happened, it has rained for forty days and night and every living thing, not on the ark, has perished. Noah is about to enter the new creation!
Waiting for the waters to recede must have felt like a long time. Being over 600 years old had probablytaught him some patience – we are living in an instant age and patience comes hard!
Noah’s first action on leaving the ark is an act of worship. It would have been easy to rationalise not to waste what limited resource he had to make a sacrifice, but Noah is a man of faith and obedience.
God covenants to bnever again destroy mankind by flood – not because we are better than the pre Flood lot, but despite that!