After the intensity of Genesis 22:1-19, the events described in Genesis 22:20-23:20 seem rather benign. In fact, if we are honest, we might even call them boring because they seem so “ordinary”. Sadly, we might interpret such “boring” events as being unimportant. However, it actually seems like the main point of this section is found in the very “ordinariness” of the situation. In these verses (Gen. 22:20-23:20), we see God working out His plan and purposes even in the midst of “ordinary” life – achieving and accomplishing things even as no one really seems to take notice.
The Bible uses a variety of different images to describe God’s people. It describes us as a body (1 Cor. 12:12-13), a building (1 Cor. 3:9; Eph. 2:19-22), a family (Gal. 4:4-6), and a bride (Eph. 5:22-24; Rev. 19:6-10). All of these images are used to make particular, special, and important points about the nature of God’s people. One point in particular, though, seems to stand out in all of the images: they all highlight a particular thing that is necessarily made up of many individual parts – all of which are necessary if the thing itself is going to be “complete”. The point then? God intends His people to live and function together in faithful fellowship and intimate community, and in so far as they neglect this fellowship and community, they will suffer and God’s people will be incomplete.
In the first part of Ephesians 3, Paul is preparing to (once again) pray for his readers – much like he did in the last half of chapter 1. In the process, however, he seems to get “sidetracked” (obviously, under the perfect guidance of God’s Spirit) on the “stewardship of God’s grace” that has been given to him. This “stewardship” with which he has been entrusted is the “mystery” of the gospel. In 3:1-5, he discusses the nature of the mystery – that it was not made known to other generations but has now been revealed. Then, in 3:6, he lays out the content of the mystery – that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promises of God. Having said all of that, Paul then moves to discuss his calling as a “minister” of that gospel. He reiterates that he has been called to preach it. And in the process, he reminds us that our task – though it may be carried out differently than Paul – is the same. The mystery of the gospel has been entrusted to us, and we are called to proclaim it.
This past Sunday, we continued going through the Gospel According to Mark in Sunday School by looking at Mark 3:31-35 and Mark 4:10-12. In the first section, Jesus teaches about the primacy of the Kingdom in relation to family. And in the second section, He addresses the issue of parables and their role in the revelation of the Kingdom. Ultimately, even our understanding of the truth is a gift from God – just like our salvation. Notes and audio can be found here and here.
We also continued our sermon series through Revelation by looking at Revelation 6. In this text, we get a symbolic picture of the time leading up to the very edge of the end of all things. Trials and tribulations build and mount until the arrival of the day of the Lord. We see very clearly the sovereignty of God – as well as the clear results of both opposing Him and trusting Him. Notes and audio can be found here.
Genesis 22 is one of most well-known and – if we are honest – strangest stories in the book of Genesis. After the joy and blessing that runs through chapter 21, the text tells us of an instance in which God commanded Abraham to sacrifice the promised son, Isaac, as a burnt offering. The story is one of intense emotion and suspense, but that is not its main purpose. Ultimately, it is a story about faith, obedience, and salvation.