Genesis 17, Matthew 16, Nehemiah 6, Acts 16

DateVersionReading Plan
@January 16, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Genesis 17

Genesis 17:27 (ESV) 27 And all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.

Abraham immediately responds in obedience to be circumcised and to circumcise others. Worth noting is the circumcision of those purchased from a foreigner. The equal treatment of foreigners and sojourners as natives is seen throughout Scripture. In Exod. 12:48, the sojourner was to keep the Passover, to be circumcised and to be as natives of the land. The law was to be one between the native and the sojourner (Exod. 12:49). In Exod. 22:21, God speaks specifically to the reason: “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” (Exod. 22:21) It is a beautiful picture of how we are to treat and engage with strangers in our own walk, to love on them as if they were our own.

Matthew 16

Matthew 16:25–26 (ESV) 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

The Believer’s Bible Commentary has a great exposition on this and how Jesus was not just speaking of material gain but of self-preservation as well:

The Lord anticipates two hindrances to discipleship. The first is the natural temptation to save oneself from discomfort, pain, loneliness, or loss. The other is to become wealthy. As to the first, Jesus warned that those who hug their lives for selfish purposes would never find fulfillment; those who recklessly abandon their lives to Him, not counting the cost, would find the reason for their existence.

Nehemiah 6

Nehemiah 6:8–9 (ESV) 8 Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” 9 For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.

Nehemiah’s response to Sanballot’s accusations exhibits a great faith. He would not be cowed by their slander, but instead stand firm in his resolve. He knew their charges were false and his loyalty to stay on course spoke for itself.

Acts 16

Acts 16:35–37 (ESV) 35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” 36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.”

As a Roman citizen, Paul’s public beating without a full hearing would have been illegal. This gives helpful context to his refusal to leave the prison under secrecy. His request for a public affirmation that they had done nothing wrong would strengthen the church and the position of the new believers in the community.

Carson on Genesis 17

God introduces circumcision as the initiatory sign of the covenant. Circumcision was practiced by several ancient Near Eastern peoples. Here, however, it has a distinctive role: a rite that is not unknown in Abraham’s world is picked up by God and assigned distinctive significance in the history of the covenant God enters into with his people.

It is interesting to think about how circumcision did not originate with the Hebrew nation. God chose to take an existing practice and use it as a marker to symbolize their covenant with Him. How often we see God redeem or purpose something for His glory. We see this most clearly displayed in Jesus: His death brought new life, His humiliation brought exaltation, by His suffering we are restored. Only the God of all power and love can do such things.