Today’s readings are from Genesis 47, Luke 1:1-38, Job 13 and 1 Corinthians 1.
Genesis 47 starts with Pharoah assigning Joseph’s family the land of Goshen to raise their flocks, then asking his brothers to look after his livestock (vv. 1-6). Then Jacob is presented to Pharoah and since Jacob was so old, he blessed Pharoah (vv. 7-10). Joseph settled his family in Goshen, near Ramesses and made sure they had food (vv. 11-12).
Joseph buys all the money, land, and people under Pharaoh in exchange for food. He makes them slaves of Pharaoh! Yet the people of Egypt regard Joseph not as a tyrant, but as a savior. He made a plan whereby they could still farm the land and live on it, but contribute 20% to Pharoah.
27 Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen. And they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly.
Jacob, before he died, asked to be buried “with my fathers” in Canaan (vv. 29-30), to which Joseph agreed (vv. 30b-31). Jacob knew this was not the land God had promised to him and he wanted to participate in the promises made to him and his family. Joseph’s bones would also be buried there (50:
Luke 1:1-38. Luke is my favorite gospel, but I won’t just regurgitate my sermons here. Luke wrote both this gospel and Acts. Luke is written to Theophilus (“God lover”), a Gentile.
Luke wanted to give a third account with an emphasis on comprehensiveness and order. Therefore, Luke is the most comprehensive gospel. He documents the story of Jesus all the way from the annunciation of John the Baptist to Jesus’ ascension.
- Luke is the most universal gospel. In Luke, Gentiles are often put in a favorable light.
- Luke’s gospel is the one most interested in the roles of women, children, and social outcasts.
- The gospel of Luke is the one most interested in prayer. He has seven different references to Jesus praying that are found in this gospel alone.
- Luke’s gospel is the one with the most emphasis on the Holy Spirit and on joy.
- Luke’s gospel is the one with the most emphasis on preaching the good news (the gospel). This term is used ten times in this Gospel (and only once in any other Gospel) as well as fifteen additional times in Acts.
Verses 5-24 recount the foretelling of John the Baptist’s birth.
Only priests from a particular lineage could serve in the temple. Over the years the number of priests multiplied (there were said to be as many as 20,000 priests in the time of Jesus), so they used the lot to determine which priests would serve when. The lot to serve might fall to a priest only once in his life. To a godly man like Zacharias, this was probably the biggest event of his life, a tremendous privilege, a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Zechariah and Elizabeth were old and had been unable to have children. An angel told him “your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John” (1:13). He was told that John would have a special mission in life, being a forerunner for “the Lord” (1:17).
Expressing unbelief, Zechariah was struck mute, which made people believe he had seen a vision.
24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”
Luke 1:26-36 is the angelic announcement of the birth of Jesus to Mary. He was born of a virgin (v. 27), the Son of the Most High who would sit on David’s throne (v. 32), in other words, Israel’s Messiah!
Mary says two things in this interchange with the angel:
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
38 “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
Job 13 is another round from Job to his friends. In vv. 1-12 he says that they didn’t know everything and they were worthless physicians who should not presume to speak for God. The weakness of their wisdom is expressed in v. 12
12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defenses are defenses of clay.
Their counsel has no substance or use.
In vv. 13-19 Job expressed his confidence in God, but also in his own integrity before God. He expresses these two (seemingly contradictory) thoughts in v. 15…
15 Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face.
That first part is a great expression of trust; the second is an expression of desperation. Slaying times are like the sifting times of Luke 22:31-32. He continues that thought of arguing his case to God in v. 18…
18 Behold, I have prepared my case; I know that I shall be in the right.
Job appeals to God to let him know if his sin is really the cause of his troubles (13:20-28). Apparently he had no inclination from God yet, that he was guilty of sin.
Of all the churches Paul dealt with, the Corinthians seemed to have the most problems. They had factions favoring different “preachers,” unchecked immorality in the church, disunity over “gray area” issues, mockery of the Lord’s Supper in the way they treated one another, superiority through spiritual gifts, and denial of the resurrection.
Even so, he says of them…
2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours
Although not acting saintly, they are nevertheless “saints” because they have called on the name of Jesus.
Later, he shows the security of their salvation by saying by saying about Jesus, then about God…
8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Though they were quarreling (v. 11), advocating different favorite preachers, Paul tells them that Christ is not divided (v. 13) and that no one was baptized by any name other than that of Jesus (vv. 13-16).
Paul then talks about the gospel he preached, primarily “Christ crucified” (2:2). H. B. Charles had a great message on this passage at the Together for the Gospel conference in 2018. He asked the question: How does the message of the cross distinguish the church from the world?” His answer was…
- The message of the cross determines our eternal destiny (1:18)
- The message of the cross declares true wisdom (1:19-21)
- The message of the cross defines Christian ministry (1:22-25)
A couple of quotes
“The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make the children of God look like the Son of God” (H. B. Charles)
“Human wisdom cannot be conquered without unwavering confidence in the truthfulness and sufficiency of God’s Word.” (H. B. Charles)
“The foolishness of preaching is not the preaching of foolishness.” (A. T. Robertson)