OYB January 2

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Genesis 3-4
NT: Matthew 2:13-23, Matthew 3:1-6
Ps: Psalm 2
Pr: Proverbs 1:7-9

Gospel Thread - OT:

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.

Genesis 3:15 (NIV)

How exciting! Today, in the story of man's fall into sin, we read the Bible's very first instance of messianic prophecy - and even spoken by God Himself! This verse is often called the protoevangelium, or "First Gospel", and is explained in excellent detail by Jake Porter. Answers in Genesis explains why the Gospel demands a literal interpretation of Genesis. Christianity Is Jewish has further commentary.

Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.

Genesis 3:20 (NIV)

Adam (man) named his wife Eve (living) - here we see that Adam understood and took God's intended encouragement from verse 15, that from Eve would come One who would overcome evil, and restore life to mankind.

The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

Genesis 3:21 (NIV)

Perhaps overlooked in this verse is a subtle foreshadowing of Christ's atoning sacrifice. In order literally to clothe the nakedness of Adam and Eve, God killed a (presumably) innocent animal - thus illustrating that the figurative clothing of mankind's sinfulness requires the shedding of the blood of an innocent sacrifice.

3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Genesis 4:3-5 (NIV)

In these verses we see more of the gospel. First, the requirement for the sacrifice of innocent blood for atonement is reiterated. Second, as explained in Hebrews 11:4, God credits righteousness through one's faith in the atoning sacrifice. The Way of Righteousness gives a good explanation, summarized here:

However, in past generations, God's plan of salvation required animal sacrifices. But Cain ignored God's plan. Cain came up with another way, a religion of his own making. Cain created the first false religion. He brought to God the works of his own hands. He sacrificed to God that which he had cultivated, that is, the produce of the cursed earth, which has no blood. Did God accept such a bloodless "sacrifice"? No, God did not accept it.

As for Abel, he brought to God a lamb without blemish and slaughtered it so that the blood was shed. After that he burned it. Because of that sacrifice, Abel had a clear conscience before God. He knew that, in himself, he deserved to die, but the innocent lamb had died in his place. Thus, Abel testified to his faith in the Redeemer who would come into the world, to die in the place of sinners, to bear the punishment for their sin.

Genesis chapter 4 also introduces the divergent lines of descent from Adam, and the struggle between good (line of Seth) and evil (line of Cain) prophecied in 3:15 and carried throughout Scripture from Adam to Christ. More on that, tomorrow.

Gospel Thread - NT:

14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."

Matthew 2:14-15 (NIV)

From the NIV footnotes, these verses fulfill the prophecy of Hosea 11:1.

16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: 18 "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."

Matthew 2:16-18 (NIV)

From the NIV footnotes, these verses fulfill the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:15.

22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."

Matthew 2:22-23 (NIV)

These verses fulfill apply both to the prophecy of Isaiah 11:1 ("A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." and the prophecy of Isaiah 53:3 ("He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not."), as explained here by Dennis Bratcher:

In Hebrew, the word "branch" is netzer, actually only three consonantal letters: NZR. Note that the town NaZaReth contains the same three primary letters (plus an ending often attached to nouns). In the Aramaic form of Nazareth, (Aramaic was the common language spoken by most Israelites after the exile; some have suggested that the entire book of Matthew was originally written in Aramaic rather than Greek), it comes very close in sound to the Hebrew word for "branch."

It seems, then, that Matthew was not at all "mistaken" in this Old Testament reference, although he was certainly not exegeting Isaiah. He was identifying the obscure Galilean town of Nazareth in which Jesus grew up with the OT reference to a netzer God would raise up to bring justice and righteousness and peace to His people. In other words, this was the means Matthew used to identify Jesus, even as a child returning to an obscure town in remote Galilee ("can any good thing come from Nazareth?" -John 1:47), as the "King" from the line of David whom God had finally raised up to restore His people.

1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2 and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.' "

Matthew 3:1-3 (NIV)

From the NIV footnotes, these verses fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3.

Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

Matthew 3:6 (NIV)

To my knowledge, here we find the first usage in the Bible of baptism for sins. John's baptism - which Jesus Himself undergoes - symbolizes one's burial with Christ and death to sin, and resurrection with and new life in Christ.

Gospel Thread - Psalms/Proverbs:

Psalm 2 is a messianic psalm! Some notable verses:

6 "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill."
7 I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery."

Psalm 2:6-9 (NIV)

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 2:12 (NIV)

OYB Image of the Day:

Branch

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1)
Image © Lorna Effler

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today, with several questions of the day, including:

What is your reaction to reading about The Fall in Genesis today? Is it painful to read about The Fall after reading about The Creation yesterday?

I don't really think the story of the Fall of man is painful; honestly, I think it was inevitable. God created beings with free will - both his angels, and mankind - and knew both of Satan's rebellion and man's rebellion. I read the story with thanksgiving, knowing that God placed everything in order from the very beginning of creation to implement His plan of redemption. Mankind committed the greatest atrocity possible: the breaking of perfect, complete fellowship with God - and yet in the midst of man's rebellion God promised the redeem mankind and to destroy the power of sin that Satan wielded over man. What a wonderful, mighty, loving God we serve!