Beginning in Genesis 25:19, the focus of the story shifts from Abraham to his son, Isaac and Isaac’s children, Jacob and Esau. Over the next several chapters, we see the promises of God transferred from Abraham to Isaac and then from Isaac to Jacob. In the initial section – Gen. 25:19-34 – we see God miraculously provide children to Isaac and Rebekah while also declaring their futures in advance. Much like the stories involving Abraham, we see the truth about God revealed through “normal”, “everyday” life situations.
As we have seen, Ephesians 3 deals with the grand purposes of God. In His sovereign time, God chosen to reveal the “mystery of Christ” to His holy apostles and prophets through the Spirit. This “mystery” is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the covenant promise. God chose Paul to be a minister of this message, and Paul’s task was to bring to light the mystery for as many people as possible since it was the purpose of God to show His wisdom even to the angels in heaven by means of His work in the church. God’s grand plan is – and always has been – to reveal Jesus and save sinners through Him. As verse 11 says, “This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God has brought this great “mystery” to pass by sending Jesus to make it so.
But that still leaves this question: why do we care? Does this have any relevance for our day-to-day life? It certainly does – as verses 12 and 13 of chapter 3 make clear.
This past Sunday, we continued looking at the Gospel According to Mark by walking through Mark 4:35-41. It is a passage in which Jesus teaches the disciples both about Himself and about the nature of faith itself by calming a stormy sea. Notes and audio can be found here.
We also continued our sermon series through Revelation by looking at Revelation 10. In this text, there is a “pause” in the action between the blowing of the sixth trumpet and the seventh trumpet. This “pause” is used to remind John – and us – that though we do not know everything, we know that God’s purposes in Christ will come to pass, and we are called to proclaim that news for good or ill. Notes and audio can be found here.
At first glance, the beginning of Genesis 25 seems very similar to Genesis 5 and the last part of Genesis 11. It is a section full of strange names and little action and details that seem relatively unimportant. However, recognizing that all Scripture is breathed out by God and useful (2 Tim. 3:16) helps us slow down in passages like this so we can see the reason for which the words were spoken. In the case of Genesis 25:1-18, the information about the rest of Abraham’s family reminds us both of God’s faithfulness and of the nature of true faith.
If you have the time, I would recommend this blog post to you. It is a wonderful meditation on the fact that Christians are not supposed to be concerned merely for themselves but also for others who call themselves Christians. The moment we are born again and made new creations by the power and grace of God, we are immediately made part of the larger body of Christ. We become part of something larger. Whether we realize it or not – whether we like it or not, we immediately have responsibility to other Christians and they have responsibility to us. Put simply: we owe each other things because we are brothers and sisters in Christ. The article is a wonderful reminder of that.
One of the biggest struggles for us as American Christians, it seems, is our radical individualism. Even in our devout spirituality, we are very self-focused, and we often tend to forget about the larger purposes of God that transcend us. In Ephesians 3:1-7, Paul declares that the mystery of God with regard to the place of the Gentiles in His people has been revealed. He also reminds us that we have a place in the proclaiming of that truth. The mission had captivated him and become the driving force of his life. Beginning in verse 8, though, Paul steps back and provides an even broader, birds-eye view of God’s plan with regard to the revelation of this mystery. God’s plan is much larger than just saving us, and we do ourselves, and the world, a grave disservice if we fail to recognize this grander perspective. We need to remember the larger purposes of God so that we do not lose heart.
This past Sunday, we continued our journey through Mark by looking at Mark 4:21-34. In this section, Jesus uses some everyday items and objects as illustrations about the nature of the Kingdom of God. Notes and audio can be found here.
We also continued our sermon series through the book of Revelation by looking at Revelation 8-9. After promising the ultimate security of God’s people in chapter 7, these two chapters give a vivid glimpse of the wrath of God which will be poured out on the earth when the Day of the Lord arrives. Notes and audio can be found here.
Genesis 24 represents a critical turning point in the history of God’s people. As we have seen, God chose Abraham and promised to make him into a great nation. And yet, even after the miraculous birth of Isaac (Gen. 21), Abraham is still far from having offspring as numerous as the stars in the heaven like God promised (Gen. 15:5). How is this promise going to be carried out? And when? This chapter begins to show us the answer. The same God who called Abraham and made sure that he was protected and blessed also made sure that the promised line would continue so that the promises could be fulfilled. God keeps His promises and carries out His plans – even when we do not understand how it can happen.
“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.” (Isa. 46:8-11)
In the book of Isaiah, God is calling His people to trust Him. Instead of trusting themselves or the help of other pagan kings and false gods, He is calling them to believe that He is sufficient. At the same time, He knows they will not. He knows they are going to fail. And yet, even as He promises judgment, He also promises future blessing and restoration. At the end of the day, God makes clear that nothing will stop His plans and purposes and promises. In fact, this is what separates Him as God: He does whatever He pleases, and He will bring to pass whatever He plans.
This past Sunday, we continued walking through Mark by looking at Mark 4:1-20. This is the parable of the soils, and it is full of lessons that are as applicable today as ever – lessons about salvation, evangelism, conversion, and the kingdom. Notes and audio can be found here.
We also continued through Revelation by looking at Revelation 7. After the seals of Revelation 6, John sees a glorious vision which makes clear that God will preserve His people through the judgment that is coming. Those who are alive in that day will be sealed by God and, as a result, they will make it to glory where they will dwell with God in perfect peace forever. Notes and audio can be found here.