Today’s Bible reading: Genesis 35, 36; Matthew 12:1-21; Psalms 15:1-5; Proverbs 3:21-26
God speaks to Jacob today and tells him (again) to go to Bethel and “settle there”. God had previously told Jacob to go there but for some reason he took a detour and ended up in an ungodly city (Shechem). Interestingly Jacob tells everyone in his household to get rid of their idols and put on clean clothes. Finally, Jacob does what God wants! It only took him about 30 years. I often think of myself and how much of the past 20 years I’ve wasted when I could have been living for God. But just like God never gave up on Jacob, He isn’t going to give up on me (or you) either. I may have missed out on a lot, but there is still plenty more blessing available from God if I want it (and I do).
While “idols” here were physical statues, in modern-day America an idol is anything that takes our time and attention away from God. Money. Our job. An addiction. TV. So many things. Its very easy to get distracted in life with the things we can see. But all of the things we can see will someday pass away. They are temporary. The thing we can’t see is most important. Because it is eternal.
Jacob appears to be spiritually strong here. Yet, he faces trials. God never promises that our life will be without difficult circumstances. And we see two deaths in this chapter, including that of Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel. We also see this son Reuben attempt to usurp control of the family from his father by sleeping with Rachel’s maid. Rueben’s sins has consequences (as does all sin). He will forfeit his rights as the firstborn son of Jacob (we’ll see this later in Genesis). Sin may seem appealing in the short-run, but it is never worth it.
Issac dies at the end of this chapter. Esau and Jacob come together once again to bury their father.
Chapter 36 traces Esau’s descendants. This is a tough chapter to read due to all the unfamiliar names. Its hard to understand why God put it in the Bible. But there are probably many reasons not the least of which is that God loved Esau and promised to bless him. This chapter is proof that God delivered on that promise.
The Pharisees harass Jesus today trying to get Him to trip up. But of course, Jesus was God so not only did He know exactly what they were going to say, He had the perfect answer for them each and every time.
The Pharisses were a religious group that came up with all kinds of rules which, if followed (or so they claimed) made a person righteous before God. Jesus debunked all their claims but they never believed in Him. Today we see how they followed Jesus around watching everything He did and said in order to catch Him breaking one of their own made-up rules.
First the Pharisees accuse Jesus of harvesting on the Sabbath. But Jesus rebukes them by remind them of the Old Testament scripture stating that it was more important to show mercy (which the Pharisees never did) than it was to make sacrifices (which the Pharisees deemed highly important).
When they come upon a man with a withered hand, the Pharisees asks Jesus if it is okay to heal on the Sabbath. They were trying to find fault with Jesus. As usual, Jesus responds with a question that puts the Pharisees in their place. He asks them if they would rescue one of their own sheep on the Sabbath. Obviously they would thereby implying that they valued sheep more than a human being.
Notice how they Pharisees then conspire to come up with a plan to murder Jesus. Apparently healing someone was not okay but plotting to murder someone was!
Matthew quotes the Book of Isaiah to show how Jesus is fulfilling the prophecies written about the Messiah (verse 18-21).
Psalm 15 describes characteristics that should be present in the life of a believer. This Psalm does not imply that we can earn our way to heaven by doing these things. It is instead describing the kind of life a believer should live. More importantly, this is the kind of life than can only be lived by the power of God. None of us do good. We saw this yesterday in Psalm 14. The only way anyone can do the things mentioned in this Psalm is through the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling that person. And the Holy Spirit indwells a person only after that person has been born-again.
Note that one attribute is to keep promises even when it hurts us to do so. Wow. How many of us do that? Certainly the only way it can be done is supernaturally because in our natural state, human beings try to avoid pain at all costs. Even if it means bringing pain upon someone else.
I really like Proverbs today. Hang on to common sense and discernment. They will keep us safe as we go through life. Knowing that God is with me, keeping me secure, is of great comfort. I need not be afraid.