Genesis 22, Matthew 21. Nehemiah 11, Acts 21

DateVersionReading Plan
@January 21, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Genesis 22

Genesis 22:4–5 (ESV) 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.”

God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son and the entire process reflects his steadfast faith. A couple things stand out in these two verses. First is that this sacrifice would be a means of worship. Abraham’s obedience illustrated his attentiveness and full surrender to God. Second, Abraham knew that both he and Isaac would return. Evidence that Abraham believed God could raise Isaac from the dead (Heb. 11:17–18) is found in his comment, “and come again to you”. The details of their return may have been obscured, but Abraham, by faith, rest assured that they would.

Matthew 21

Matthew 21:28–30 (ESV) 28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go.

The parable of the two sons in its original context was a stinging rebuke to the chief priests and elders to John the Baptists call to repentance and faith, but it also sheds light on the sinful human condition. There will be those who initially respond to the gospel poorly, but divine conviction takes root, leading to eventual repentance. As onlookers, we can succumb to error in thinking they are perpetually lost and subsequently write them off. Conversely, there will be some who seemingly respond positively to the gospel but then fail to fully yield their life Christ, continuing instead to follow their own path, seeking their own desires and ambitions. In either case, we are to have equal compassion for every human soul, unconditionally pointing them to the hope we have in Christ regardless of the effect we perceive it may have.

Nehemiah 11

Nehemiah 11:15–16 (ESV) 15 And of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, son of Azrikam, son of Hashabiah, son of Bunni; 16 and Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the chiefs of the Levites, who were over the outside work of the house of God;

This chapter largely depicts the different groups of the people, names of their sons and the roles they had in the rebuilding of the temple. It is interesting how their roles (ex. priests and Levites) coincided with portion of the temple rebuild for which they were responsible.

Acts 21

Acts 21:11–13 (ESV) 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ ” 12 When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Paul’s response to the man who bound his hands and feet with his own belt is astounding. More than the threat of imprisonment, it broke Paul’s heart that he might be restricted from reaching Jerusalem and preaching the gospel. It shows how little was his concern for his own well-being as compared to the importance of sharing Christ with others.

Carson on Genesis 22

Judging by the way [Abraham] was prepared to go through with the sacrifice (22:10–11), it is not even clear that he expected that God would provide a literal animal. One might even guess that this was a pious answer for the boy until the dreadful truth could no longer be concealed. Yet in the framework of the story, Abraham spoke better than he knew: God did provide the lamb, a substitute for Isaac (22:13–14). In fact, like other biblical figures (e.g., Caiaphas in John 11:49–53), Abraham spoke much better than he knew: God would provide not only the animal that served as a substitute in this case, but the ultimate substitute, the Lamb of God, who alone could bear our sin and bring to pass all of God’s wonderful purposes for redemption and judgment (Rev. 4–5; 21:22).

Carson here reiterates just how strong was Abraham’s faith that he had no idea how God would provide in this moment. Abraham was willing to place everything on God’s good character and to proceed based on this alone.