GENESIS 11:1-13:4 | MATTHEW 5:1-26 | PSALM 5:1-12 | PROVERBS 1:24-28
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We start out this chapter with the fascinating story of the Tower of Babel, and the origins of multiple languages on the face of the earth. First, it is truly remarkable that the engineering and construction technology of that day allowed for something as significant as a tower like that to be built. And did you note their use of bricks? Pretty sophisticated for circa 600 BCE!
The story continues with the account of the generations that populated that part of the world, possibly in modern-day Iraq. Abram, later to be called Abraham is the one to keep an eye on. I wonder what it must have been about this one man that caught the eye of God so as to cause him to wish to make that covenant with Abram. God says to Abram, the original Father of the nation of Israel:
2 “I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
When Abram arrives in Canaan, God goes on to say to him, “To your offspring I will give this land.”
But Abram is no angel; he is the very essence of everything fallible, nay, human. We see this in how he schemes and plans deceit with the Egyptians regarding his wife Sarai. But his sin is duly found out, and he is soon sent on his way duly chastened by God and the Pharoah. Next, we see Abram parting ways with his nephew Lot, and settling in the place that he calls Bethel.
Turning now to our passage in Matthew, we find Jesus’ preaching at its very peak. We find the well-known sermon on the mount of Olives here, and these magnificent words of Jesus have come to be known as the Beatitudes. Jesus says:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Jesus goes on to preach and teach about the Kingdom of God, and how one may enter it (incidentally, being as holy and righteous as the Pharisees and Saduccees is not going to cut it!).
Jesus also speaks to the importance and essence of the believer being likened to the salt and the light of the earth. He says: 13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
And also: 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Jesus also offers practical advice on daily matters. Here is one nugget of wisdom on getting along with your brother: 23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
Turning now to the Psalms, we find David’s words to be a calm assurance to those who believe in God’s provision and protection. David says:
11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
Finally, in the Book of Proverbs, a verse to remind us that God may not be mocked, and there might be times when this is the stance that is adopted by a God to his people:
28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
they will look for me but will not find me.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.