Today’s Bible reading: Genesis 8-10; Matthew 4:12-25; Psalms 4:1-8; Proverbs 1:20-23
Interesting list of nations that were founded by Noah’s sons. We will read later this year (in Ezekiel) that these very nations will rise up and launch an all-out assault on Israel in the last days. This assault will be lead by Persia, now known as Iran. That conflict has yet to happen but certainly the rhetoric and vitriol coming from Iranian President Amadinejad lend credence to this prophecy in Ezekiel. At one point all the founders of these nations were cousins and probably knew each other well. Now they will conspire against Israel. Also interesting to note that Israel is the only one of these countries still around today. God has kept His promise to Israel.
I also found it very interesting to note that Jesus’s early ministry began in an area where there were many Gentiles (Matthew 4:15). I had never noticed that before. This is why I love reading the Bible. Each time I read it I find something that I see for the first time.
Jesus’s first recorded words in His ministry were “Repent of your sins and turn to God” (Matthew 4:17 NLT). The word “repent” simply means to “turn” or “change direction”. Many people find that word to be offensive, and I understand why, but really the concept is very simple. God wants us to turn away from a life without Him to a life with Him. He has much more to offer us than we could ever obtain on our own.
Jesus’s goal on earth was to train people to be teachers of others (Matthew 4:19). Jesus started His ministry with just 12 men who, as we will see, barely got along and who kept making mistake after mistake. But Jesus trained them well because it was through them that people, even to today, have been saved.
Another thing I never noticed until today was that the first four men Jesus called to follow Him were two sets of brothers. Coincidence or is there a lesson there? I don’t know. I believe that every fact is placed in the Bible by God for a reason. Someday I hope to know why Jesus first called two sets of brothers.
When people came to Jesus to be healed (Matthew 4:23-24) He healed them “all”. Not some. Not just those he liked. But everyone. He turned no one away. The same is true for those who come to Him to receive salvation. He will not turn anyone away who comes to Him with a sincere heart who wishes to turn away (repent) from their current life and be “healed” from their sins.
In Psalm 4 we see that God declares those who are His to be “innocent” (Psalm 4:1 NLT). Isn’t that great?! Once our sins are placed upon Jesus, who freely takes them and pays the penalty for them if we ask him to (as we saw in the last paragraph), we are no longer guilty! We no longer have to pay the penalty of sin ourselves, which is eternal separation from God in hell. Think about that. There is no judgement for those who have repented (turned) and who have accepted Jesus’ offer to bear the punishment for their sins. That is simply amazing. John Newton wrote “Amazing Grace” in 1779 to celebrate this very fact and how fantastic it is.