Genesis 16, Matthew 15, Nehemiah 5, Acts 15

DateVersionReading Plan
@January 15, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Genesis 16

Genesis 16:3–5 (ESV) 3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. 4 And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. 5 And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!”

As the Believer’s Bible Commentary points out, we see the restlessness of Sarai’s sin nature here. To that I would also add impatience and mistrust in the Lord that Sarai would bear her own son by Abram. Also worth noting is the contempt that began between Sarai and Hagar when Hagar conceived. The sin of disbelief in the Lord led to disobedience which led to disdain.

Matthew 15

Matthew 15:17–20 (ESV) 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

Jesus uses the confrontation with the Pharisees regarding clean and unclean food as an opportunity to teach the disciples about the heart. It showcases Jesus’ focus to bring awareness to the heart as the source of all spiritual/relational health rather than the following of the law.

Nehemiah 5

Nehemiah 5:6–7 (ESV) 6 I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. 7 I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, “You are exacting interest, each from his brother.” And I held a great assembly against them

This idea of Nehemiah taking counsel with himself is interesting. He was in the right to be angry at the selfishness of the Jews in exacting interest against each other. Thus it seems he felt it unnecessary to consult the Lord in this instance directly but to proceed based on what he already knew of God to be the proper course.

Acts 15

Acts 15:36–40 (ESV) 36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.

The separation of Paul and Barnabas is an intriguing turn of events. At this split, the storyline follows Paul and Barnabas is never again mentioned in the book of Acts. Some interpret this as Paul being in the right with regard to Mark, but we also see later in 2 Tim. 4:11 that this tension was restored. This is such a fascinating occurrence in the course of the early church narrative.

Carson on Genesis 16

In Matthew 15:21–18, Jesus well knows that during the days of his flesh his mission is in the first instance directed to “the lost sheep of Israel” (15:24). There is a redemptive-historical primacy to the ancient covenant people of God. But this does not prevent him from acknowledging the remarkable faith of yet another woman, a Canaanite, who wisely changes her plea. She no longer addresses Christ as “Son of David” (15:22), on who she can make no direct claim, and simply pleads for mercy (15:27). Another “Hagar” finds that mercy abundant, as countless people do today.

This connection between the Canaanite woman in Matt. 15 and Hagar in Gen. 16 is simply amazing; demonstrating God’s heart for the lost across all time and circumstance.