Genesis 24, Matthew 23, Nehemiah 13, Acts 23

DateVersionReading Plan
@January 23, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Genesis 24

Genesis 24:5–6 (ESV) 5 The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” 6 Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there.

In taking a wife for his son, Isaac, Abraham insisted that she be acquired from his original land and not from among the Canaanites. However, Isaac was not to go into this land himself. As the Faithlife Study Bible explains, this was because Abraham did not want the son of Yahweh’s covenant promises to leave the promised land.

Matthew 23

Matthew 23:1–3 (ESV) 1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.

The people were to listen the teachings of the Pharisees but not follow in their hypocrisy. A walk of true faith and understanding of the gospel is expressed by one’s words and actions. Along these lines, Paul Tripp has said before that the theology you believe is the one you live.

Nehemiah 13

Nehemiah 13:14, 22, 30 (ESV) 14 Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service. … 22 Then I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves and come and guard the gates, to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember this also in my favor, O my God, and spare me according to the greatness of your steadfast love. … 29 Remember them, O my God, because they have desecrated the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites. … 30 Thus I cleansed them from everything foreign, and I established the duties of the priests and Levites, each in his work; 31 and I provided for the wood offering at appointed times, and for the firstfruits. Remember me, O my God, for good.

Several times in this chapter, Nehemiah asks for God to “remember”, both as a request to bless his reformative efforts and to judge those who had defiled the sanctity of proper order and worship. We see in Nehemiah a continual attentiveness to the Lord as well as model prayers that our efforts would be blessed and that His perfect justice would be done.

Acts 23

Acts 23:12–14 (ESV) 12 When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 There were more than forty who made this conspiracy. 14 They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul.

There is much going on here that demonstrates how far gone the Jews had become. First, they made a plot to kill Paul which is, in itself, a violation of Mosaic Law. Lev. 24:16 says, “Whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death”, so perhaps they felt justified in their course, but this seems quite a stretch. Second, they twisted the discipline of fasting, a sacred practice meant to demonstrate one’s full surrender to the Lord’s provision and will. Rather than sacrificing their own nourishment for kingdom efforts, they pridefully used it for the sake of their own selfish means. And finally, they bound themselves to an oath for the killing of Paul. Throughout Scripture, we see the seriousness of oaths or vows and that they were not to be entered into lightly. If an oath was taken, there was to be honor in both its circumstance and its keeping, neither of which were exemplified here by the Jews.

Carson on Matthew 23

(Referring to Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees) How many evangelical leaders spend most of their energy on peripheral, incidental matters, and far too little on the massive issues of justice, mercy, and faithfulness—in our homes, our churches, the workplace, in all our relationships, in the nation? How many are more concerned to be thought wise and holy than to be wise and holy? How many therefore end up damning their hearers by their own bad example and by their drifting away from the Gospel and its entailments?

Carson poses some convicting questions in regards to leaders of our own day as it relates to Jesus’ discourse with the first-century Jewish leaders. It is not an empty expression of wisdom we need but those who embody the things they speak. Let this be for us to seek such leadership and to be ourselves faithful stewards of lived integrity.