Genesis 12, Matthew 11, Nehemiah 1, Acts 11

DateVersionReading Plan
@January 11, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Genesis 12

Genesis 12:1–3 (ESV) 12 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

The repetition and progression of the word “bless” in these three verses is remarkable. Worth noting is that its first usage is of the Lord’s action (a verb) to bless Abram. As the Source of all blessing, it is fitting that this discourse of blessing would begin with Him. The next use is as a noun, that through God’s work Abram will BE a blessing, declaring a state of being as a work of God’s favor. It then returns to verb form, where God extends His action to bless those who bless Abram. Finally, it is once again used as a noun to describe the families of the earth, an assurance that they will share in this blessed condition along with Abram.

Matthew 11

Matthew 11:20–21 (ESV) 20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

It is telling how Jesus referenced Chorazin and Bethsaida, some of the most privileged cities of the time, for their lack of repentance. Contrasting this was Tyre and Sidon, viewed by the Jews as notoriously wicked and deserving of divine wrath. This reinforces the NT narrative that Jesus came for the lost and wayward rather than the self-sufficient, reflecting His words in Luke 5:31-32: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Nehemiah 1

Nehemiah 1:11 (ESV) 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Now I was cupbearer to the king.

The chapter ends with a seemingly odd non-sequitur in which Nehemiah mentions that he was cupbearer for the king. However, the cupbearer typically served as a personal confidant to the king, which gives context to Nehemiah’s ability to learn the status of the returned exiles and the broken wall of Jerusalem, leading to his prayer of confession and petition.

Acts 11

Acts 11:18 (ESV) 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

This is a stunning admission among the Hebrew Christians that God had granted Gentiles repentance that leads to life. It demonstrates how their objections had been eradicated, now realizing that there was no longer distinction between Jew and Greek.

Carson on Genesis 12

This passage, Genesis 12, marks a turning point in God’s unfolding plan of redemption. From now on, the focus of God’s dealings is not scattered individuals, but a race, a nation. This is the turning point that makes the Old Testament documents so profoundly Jewish. And ultimately, out of this race come law, priests, wisdom, patterns of relationships between God and his covenant people, oracles, prophecies, laments, psalms—a rich array of institutions and texts that point forward, in ways that become increasingly clear, to a new covenant foretold by Israel’s prophets.

I have known of the introduction of Abram in Gen. 12 as a turning point in Genesis, but it was refreshing to hear it explained in this way. From this point forward, the narrative builds in eager expectation of a Messiah. Now, as those living in the New Covenant age, we get the great joy of revisiting these inspired texts from the vantage point of knowing their fulfillment in Christ.