Today’s Bible readings are from Genesis 38, Mark 9, Job 5 and Romans 9.
Genesis 38 moves away from the Joseph story (Gen. 37-50) and highlights the character and line of Judah, the Messianic line. Through his Adullamite wife Hirah, Judah has several children. The firstborn, Er, he procured a wife, Tamar (38:6). But Er was wicked and the LORD put him to death, so Judah told Onan to fulfill his Levirate duties (Duet. 25:5-10) and bring forth a grandson (and a son for Tamar), but God put him to death too. They were both wicked.
Since Judah never provided a son for Tamar to bear children with (perhaps he thought she was a black widow), she pretended to be a prostitute. Judah went in to her. He gave her a pledge of payment. When she was found to be pregnant and Judah condemned her, she brought forth the pledge and Judah acknowledges his own fault in not taking care of her. She gave birth to Perez and Zerah.
Mark 9 begins with the transfiguration of Jesus. Some would see Jesus in (partial) glory, and of course John would see Him in greater glory in the vision of Revelation 1. Jesus also heals a demon-possessed boy that His disciples could not. Jesus seems to rebuke both the crowds and His disciples as “faithless.”
The response of the father to Jesus’ statement that He could do anything for one who believes is a classic, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
Isn’t that what we all feel? We all experience a mixture of faith and doubt. We do need Jesus (or the Spirit) to help us “overcome” our unbelief.
Jesus once again predicts His death (9:30-32) and explains to his disciples, who were jockeying for position and status, that the first will be last and it would be better to be a servant. Jesus then points out the folly of their sectarian attitude (vv. 38-40) and the serious danger of causing “little ones” to fall into sin (vv. 41-48).
Job 5 is more of the same, the continuation of Eliphaz’ speech from chapter 4. On and on he goes, trying to prove that–since Job was suffering, he must have sinned.
Eliphaz reminds Job that God will graciously restore those who repent of their sins and turn to him. This, of course, is absolutely true. The problem is that Job had not sinned.
We should learn from this speech not to judge another person”s relationship with God by what they may be experiencing, whether it be adversity or blessing.
The reliability of God’s Word is foundational to our hope of justification, sanctification and glory (Romans 1-8). God’s Word also hasn’t failed with regard to Israel (Romans 9:6) and that is what Romans 9-11 is about, showing how God’s Word towards Israel is true, even though much of Israel at that time was unsaved.
Although Paul’s primary concern is to vindicate God’s righteousness, he prefaces his remarks by expressing his own deep sorrow over Israel’s unrepentant state (9:1-5). Then he details how God has dealt with the nation in the past (9:6-33). In essence, God’s choice was completely sovereign and gracious (9:1-29), as can be seen in Israel’s very history (9:6-13), as well as on the basis of the principle of God’s sovereignty (9:14-29). Further, they have rejected their Messiah by clinging to the Law (9:30-33).
Notice the questions in Romans 9, and the answers God gives:
- To the question—Is God unjust?—he replies with Moses’ words that God will be merciful and compassionate to whomever he chooses (v. 15; citing Exod. 33:19).
- To the questions—“Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”—Paul replies that we have no right to question God or his ways (Romans 9:20).
Although some believers hold that God chooses us because he foresees our choice of him, Paul excludes both human will and effort in salvation (v. 16). Instead, he asserts God’s freedom to show mercy to or harden “whomever he wills” (v. 18). God is the One with the will and effort that can effect salvation. God has rights as Creator to choose as he desires. He is the divine potter who fashions “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” and “vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory” (vv. 22-23).