Genesis 13, Matthew 12, Nehemiah 2, Acts 12

DateVersionReading Plan
@January 12, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Genesis 13

Genesis 13:8–9 (ESV) 8 Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.”

This is a wonderful extension of grace on the part of Abram to seek relational remediation with Lot. It reflects the command Jesus gives in Matt. 18:15 where we are approach another directly with our grievance and seek restoration with humility.

Matthew 12

Matthew 12:1–4 (ESV) 12 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” 3 He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?

David was not found at fault for eating the showbread in 1 Sam. 21:1-6 because God’s law was never intended to inflict hardship on His faithful people. The root of the issue was not the plucking of grain on the Sabbath but the failure of the Pharisees to understand the Sabbath rightly and look on the disciples with disgust.

Matthew 12:41 (ESV) 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

The Pharisees listening would certainly have understood this reference to Ninevah as they were Assyrians and enemies of God’s people. As such, this would have been a powerful rebuke by Jesus to say that the repentant men of Ninevah will rise up at the judgment and condemn those who refuse to receive Him as greater than Jonah.

Nehemiah 2

Nehemiah 2:11–12, 16 (ESV) 11 So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode. … 16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work.

The secrecy with which Nehemiah inspected the ruins of Jerusalem is intriguing. Perhaps this was to avoid sympathizers of Sanballat and Tobiah who were resistant to the rebuilding of the wall, but he left out involvement of the Jewish priests, nobles and officials as well. It seems there was specific purpose to this sequence, to inspect the ruins first as a smaller band and then bring the findings to the larger group in an effort to initiate support for renovation.

Acts 12

Acts 12:11 (ESV) 11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

Once Peter realized that his rescue by the angel from prison was real, he immediately ascribed his deliverance to God. This is such a wonderful example of God-oriented mindfulness, acknowledging divine orchestration behind every circumstance.

Carson on Matthew 12

While Jesus is healing someone on the Sabbath, his opponents try to kill him for ostensibly breaking the Sabbath (12:9–14); while Jesus casts out demons from a poor victim, his opponents are ready to write Jesus off as the devil himself (12:22–28). Their very harshness, in the name of an alleged orthodoxy, contrasts sharply with his gentleness.

Similar to my previous comment regarding the Pharisees, the contrast of harshness and gentleness adds an additional layer. It is not only obedience that matters but its motive and expression. The aim is not rigid adherence but a faithful alignment of ourselves to God’s good order, grateful that He has revealed to us the way in which we can live in intimacy with Him.