|@February 8, 2024
|M’Cheyne Plan 2024
Genesis 41:20–21 (ESV) 20 And the thin, ugly cows ate up the first seven plump cows, 21 but when they had eaten them no one would have known that they had eaten them, for they were still as ugly as at the beginning. Then I awoke.
In Pharaoh’s recounting of his dreams of the cows and grain to Joseph, he adds a detail to the cow dream not included in grain dream. After eating the plump cows, the ugly, thin cows “were still ugly as at the beginning”, denoting how their eating of the plump cows did little to effect their circumstance. It is a minor variation but helpful to see as it reflects the coming famine.
Mark 11:22–25 (ESV) 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
When the disciples ask Jesus about the withering of the fig tree, He responds by teaching them about faith, prayer and forgiveness. He speaks of how we are to have faith that God answers prayers and that our prayers should include forgiveness of others so that our Father may forgive our trespasses. We see in this how closely related these are and that a detriment to one will impact the other two.
Job 7:17–18 (ESV) 17 What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him, 18 visit him every morning and test him every moment?
Job laments God’s concern for humanity as it is crushing him. Like the psalmist in Ps. 8:4 asking why God is mindful of man, Job asks why God makes so much of him. It seems a relevant question to ask, why He would not just leave us alone. The answer lies in God’s character. The triune God of all creation is intimate and relational, expressing His love by His presence and involvement. By His steady hand we are sustained, through every season of ease and difficulty, that it all may bring Him glory.
Romans 11:11, 13 (ESV) 11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. … 13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.
Two times in this chapter, Paul speaks about making the Jews jealous. God’s purpose is that as a result of their fall, salvation might come to the Gentiles and provoke Israel to a jealousy that would bring them back to Himself. It is helpful to see here how God’s jealousy is righteous and restorative, that those who belong to Him will repent and turn toward Him.
Carson on Mark 11
A pair of pastoral implications flow from this exchange [in Mark 11:27:33]. The first is that some people cannot penetrate to Jesus’s true identity and ministry, even when they ask questions that seem to be penetrating, because in reality their minds are made up, and all they are really looking for is ammunition to destroy him. The second is that sometimes a wise answer is an indirect one that avoids traps while exposing the two-faced perversity of the interlocutor. While Christians should normally be forthright, we should never be naive.
Carson illuminates some important points here from Mark 11. Jesus was dealing with hard-hearted Pharisees who were asking questions not to obtain answers but to trap Him. By extension, we will also encounter individuals whose entire aim is to dismantle the Christian faith. Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees in the form of a question provides a model for how we can engage with such people. Responding in this way shifts the focus back to the accuser, uncovering their motive and revealing their heart.
- J. I. Packer et. al, The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016)
- D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: Volumes 1 & 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006; hosted on thegospelcoalition.org)
- Faithlife Study Bible (Lexham Press, 2016)
- Believer’s Bible Commentary (Thomas Nelson, 2016)
- CSB Study Bible Notes (Holman Bible Publishers, 2017)