GENESIS 46:1-47:31 | MATTHEW 15:1-28 | PSALM 19:1-14 | PROVERBS 4:14-19
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At the age of 130, Jacob takes his entire household and moves down to Egypt — to be close to his beloved son Joseph — who sends for him from the famine-struck land of Canaan, and provides for his father and all his brothers by settling them in the fertile land of Goshen near the Nile.
This is how Joseph repays his brothers for their evil done to him: he drowns them in kindness.
Joseph continues to prove a wise and able administrator to Pharaoh in the time of famine, and shows great resourcefulness in ensuring that the people continue to have food and grain in the season of drought.
Seventeen years later, at the age of 147 years, when it comes time for Jacob to die, he calls Joseph to ask for a last wish: to be buried in the land of his ancestors, i.e., in Canaan. And thus ends the life of the great patriarch of the people of Israel, Israel himself, also known as Jacob.
Turning now to the book of Matthew, we see Jesus continuing with his ministry. And yet, not everyone is pleased. The Pharisees, who are the priests in the Temple have lots of questions: why this, why that — always attempting to show that Jesus has broken the law, i.e., the Ten Commandments and a host of other dietary and social customs of the Jewish people.
And they are actually right — Jesus is breaking laws every which way you look: he works on the Sabbath, he hangs out with the tax-collectors and fishermen, he speaks up for prostitutes, he speaks of forgiveness to all, he eats everything, he feeds everyone — and he calls himself the Son of God!
Just who does he think he is?! The Son of God?
Well, Jesus wastes no time in telling his disciples not to mind the Pharisees. He says: 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
Furthermore, regarding all those dietary laws, he seems to have had just about enough of all this nonsense coming from the Pharisees. He spells it out for one and all, once and for all.
He says: “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’”
But Peter still wants some clarification, and so Jesus leaves no stone unturned when He says in response: 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’”
Toward the end of this chapter there is an interesting account of a woman who approaches Jesus with a plea for help for her demon-possessed daughter. And Jesus initially appears somewhat fatigued and even annoyed at the fact that people such as this woman and perhaps the many multitudes that he preaches to every single day are there to gain some physical benefit by way of a healing, and aren’t really interested in what he is telling them about the Kingdom of God. This is a rare moment where we see a glimpse of the human-side in the person of Jesus.
Jesus’ primary purpose was to announce himself as the long-awaited Messiah to the Jewish people, but it seems like the people really don’t care, and certainly don’t believe him. And if it weren’t for all these miracles being performed, perhaps no one would believe anything, anyway. And so Jesus appears to be getting miracle-weary, it seems, but this is only for a moment.
Because the woman’s great faith in him moves him so greatly, and owing solely to her faith, he speaks the words, “Your request is granted”. He doesn’t even need to go in person and touch the girl — so great is that girls’ mother’s faith that Jesus essentially says to her ‘consider it done’– and it is!
Would that our faith was like that woman’s!
Psalm 19 is a beautiful hymn of praise. David weaves his words most delightfully in singing the praises of the Almighty God. It is therefore no surprise that popular contemporary songs have come out of this very psalm. The verses below form the words for a song that I learned many years ago (from the KJV):
7The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
8The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
10More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Another praise-song has these words directly from this psalm:
14Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Finally, in our Proverbs for the day, Solomon exhorts us to stay away from the wicked. He says:
18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.