Thursday, January 3, 2008

McCheyne Reading Plan: January 3

Genesis 3:

As I was reading Genesis 3 I recognized an inaccurate image that I get in my head as I read this. I imagine the serpent speaking with Eve and Adam in the Garden, and God is off somewhere picking strawberries or something. But the truth of the matter is that the omnipresent God was right there as they ate of the forbidden fruit. Anything more as to what God was thinking, feeling, etc. would be merely conjecture on my part. All I can say is that He was there. I do wonder though, what God thought as He saw His creation do such a ridiculous thing. Certainly it was no surprise. It had to have made God shake His head as He saw man and women do what we have done sense--try to cover our sin by our own efforts.

It would be worthy of a sermon to exposit the dialogue between Eve and the serpent. Notice that she adds a restriction. God never said that you cannot touch the fruit. It would also be another sermon to exposit the dialogue between God and the fallen couple.

I notice quite a few new things about man that were not present in Genesis 1 and 2. Man now runs away from God. He tries to take care of himself (atone for his mistakes by making garments) instead of relying upon his Creator. He now has fear. He now blames others. And we see for the first time in the story pain. These will forever mark man, and even yet today as those banished from the Garden we experience each of these things so long as we are in Adam.

I also notice the amazing grace and love of God. We perhaps see a hint as to what is coming in verse 15..."I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." Even if that it is not exegetically plausible that this is a reference to the Christ we still can see the grace of God in verse 21. We see a foreshadowing of the atonement. God provides their need. He covers their guilt with new clothes...clothes that he makes. And we also see His grace and mercy in kicking man out of the garden. He could not bear man to live forever in such a state so he banished him from the tree of life. Only through redemption will we finally eat of the tree of life.

One question I have on Genesis 3. Verse 20 seems like a strange place to put the naming of Woman. Why is it only after the Fall and curse that her name is now Eve? Mother of all the living seems to be an act of grace. They should have dropped dead on the spot and the human race wiped out. What is the significance of this?

Matthew 3:

I find verse 7 strange. Why were the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism? Why would they want to be identified with this? Are they caught up in the movement? Are they trying to save face with the masses? It is obvious that they are not actually repenting. How frequent was baptism then? I have heard that this would have been much the same as proselyte baptism. It was communicating that the Jewish people needed to be cleansed just as the Gentile and become a true Jew. If this is the case why would the religious elite be baptised?

I am not sure that I actually believe verse 12. Certainly I believe it because it is God's Word. But I do not think it has penetrated the depths of my heart as it should. I am not sure that I feel the beauty of being gathered into Christ' barn. Nor do I feel the awesome weight of those that will be burnt in unquenchable fire. Lord, I know that your glory is the proper motivation for evangelism! But if it please you, stir in my heart a deep passion for your glory and a deep brokenness for my fellow man that is chaff.

Question: How does Jesus' baptism (v15) "fulfill all righteousness"?

I have also never really understood everything that is going on in v.16-17. What exactly is taking place in that moment. I know it is heresy to say that it was at this moment that the divine spirit was imparted to Jesus. But what IS taking place? Is this significant for Jesus to know what is taking place or is this significant for others to know what is taking place? Did people hear this voice?

Ezra 3:

I need to spend some time studying Ezra. My understanding of it is only cursory and I think it hinders me from getting the main thrust of the chapters. What does hit me though is the exuberant worship they are engaged in at the end of this chapter. Shouts of joy and shouts of weeping. Was the weeping happy weeping? Was it sorrowful because they remember the glories of old? Was it joyful because they felt restored? Was it a mixture of both? Regardless their worship was heard from far away. I am not a supporter of great excess in emotions, however, I think some Baptist would have rebuked this worship service in Ezra. I think I might have even felt a little uneasy. Lord, tear out complacency and dull worship from my heart!

Acts 3:

I have always loved the story of The Lame Beggar Healed. I think whenever I picture it in my head the guy looks like Shorty on the Beverly Hillbillies, Festus in Gunsmoke, or Ernest T. Bass from The Andy Griffith Show. It had to have been quite a site to see. You get the idea that entering the temple would have been something normally reserved for quiet. This guy is leaping and praising God. He is definitely unashamed. When I reflect on this I wonder whether or not we as believers should have that same type of inexpressible joy. (I guess you could argue that his joy was expressible). The miracle that has happened in our life is nothing short of a dead man being brought to life. That is far more significant than ankles and legs getting healed. Where are the shouts of joy in our churches when God saves a sinner. (Again, I am not promote excess emotionalism--but I pray that the gospel goes so deep in our hearts that we cannot help but be like this man).

Verse 14 must have stung (or totally ticked off) the hearts of the people. The contrast is striking. Denied the Holy and Righteous One. Killed the Author of Life. Ouch!

Question: In verse 20 when he says "that he may send the Christ appointed to you, Jesus", what is that a reference to? The "sending". Is this the Second Coming? Is this some sort of spiritual sending?

Repent and turn again that your sins may be blotted out. A promise of times of refreshing. A reminder of the promise of the Coming One and that this is indeed He. A reminder of our duty to the Lord and His Servant. These are appropriate calls to repentance, or "gospel invitations" if you will.

Question: In verse 26 he says, "God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness". I know this is saying that Jesus was sent to the Jews first. It also sounds like it was sent to them so that everyone might be turned from wickedness. We know that not all the Jews turned. How then do we interpret this verse? Did God desire everyone to turn but they refused? (Will my Calvinistic brothers take a stab at this one?)

I wanted to remind you that you are welcome to interact with my reading plan. These are my thoughts as I am reading through these texts. As you have noted sometimes they are questions. I am inviting you to help me journey through these. So, please interact. If you are reading through the text as well then feel free to share your thoughts. If you see one of my questions and feel you have an answer then please share that. While these are my personal interactions with the Lord--I also intend them to be corporate as well, what better way to be edified?

1 comment:

  1. Mike,
    As far Ezra chapter 3 is concerned, Dr. Mr. Bergen said that the men that were weeping were doing so because they remembered what Solomon's temple had been like and knew that the new one that we being constructed would in no way compare to it, that is if I am remember the lecture correctly from this last semester.



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