Genesis 18, Matthew 17, Nehemiah 7, Acts 17

DateVersionReading Plan
@January 17, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Genesis 18

Genesis 18:1–5 (ESV) And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. 2 He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth 3 and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. 4 Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, 5 while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.”

Abraham was a gracious host to the three men who appeared him by the oaks of Mamre. One of them was the Lord and the other two were angels. He provided water, rest and a feast that included baked bread. The two angels leave for Sodom (Gen. 18:22) and are later greeted by Lot in Gen. 19:1. The personification of God and angels here is remarkable. They were not merely apparitions but real men who could eat and whose feet can be washed. It shows how God, infinite in His being, can enter bodily into His finite creation.

Matthew 17

Matthew 17:2–4 (ESV) 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

In a similar showing of hospitality as Abraham, Peter offered to make tents for Moses and Elijah when he saw them speaking to Jesus at His transfiguration. But Peter is misguided in this, missing the significance of their presence with Jesus as earthly representatives of the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). These were two of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament, but their association with Jesus becomes all the greater in that Jesus is not only a prophet but the singular fulfillment of all prophecy.

Nehemiah 7

Nehemiah 7:64–65 (ESV) 64 These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but it was not found there, so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. 65 The governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food until a priest with Urim and Thummim should arise.

Coming out of the recent study on the prophets, I was reminded of this in Ezra 2:62. Some of the people claimed priestly heritage, but could not prove their ancestry. The proof of lineage was taken very seriously in postexilic Judah.

Acts 17

Acts 17:1–2, 5, 10-11 (ESV) 17 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, … 5 But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. … 10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

The contrast of response between the Jews in Thessalonica and those in Berea is striking. The former formed a mob and set the city in an uproar while the latter received the word and eagerly examined the Scriptures. It is helpful to see these as examples of the two extremes of reaction to God’s Word. As we share Christ with others, we should be prepared that reception will run the gamut between inquisitive welcoming and defiant rejection.

Carson on Matthew 17

[Peter] rightly recognizes that it is an enormous privilege to be present on this occasion: “Lord,” he says, “it is good for us to be here” (17:4). Then he puts his foot in his mouth: “If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He entirely misunderstands the significance of the presence of Moses and Elijah. He thinks that Jesus is being elevated to their great stature, the stature of the mediator of the Sinai covenant and of the first of the great biblical prophets.

It is helpful to see Peter’s misunderstanding here because so often our focus can also be on the wrong thing. Jesus was not being compared to these great prophets of old but they were there because of Him, to point to His supreme greatness. As we similarly look on others with high regard, we should remain mindful of the God of all grace who created them and bestowed upon them their manifold giftings.