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2024: New Beginnings ...

January 1, 2024

Today we begin a brand-new year – 2024 – and I want to begin by wishing you and yours a New Year filled with new beginnings and the blessings of God. We begin 2024 with the book of Genesis which actually begins with revelation. In Genesis 1-2:17, we see God’s disclosure about the beginning of everything. As the sovereign Creator, God stands absolutely outside of His creation - the universal dimensions of time, space, and information. These dimensions place man - the creature - completely under their authority, boundaries, and limitations, but such precincts have no effect on God whatsoever. As the book of Genesis reveals, God merely spoke everything into existence. In these chapters, God tells us truthfully, mercifully, and graciously what He did, but He does not tell us how He did it. Nor is He obligated to tell us. Over the first six days, God uses the formula, “And God said,” to create, and then He evaluates His creative work with, “He saw that it was good, and there was evening and morning …” (cf., Genesis 1, ff.). After creating man on the sixth day, God’s evaluation was that everything was “very good” (cf., Genesis 1:31). On the seventh day, however, God did not apply this creative formula because “He had finished the work,” so He “rested,” blessed, and sanctified the seventh day as “holy” (2:1). In this way, we see that God established an exemplary pattern by which He requires us to rest from our work – rest is good – and people need it.

Chapter 2 continues with a more detailed account of God’s creation: the man and woman, the Garden of Eden, the responsibility of working and caring for the garden, and the command that Adam should not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This command reflects God’s will about knowledge - not all sources of knowledge are valid. Before anything can be truly known and understood, it must first be believed. The most reliable Source for knowledge about anything is not a tree; not a book, not an encyclopedia, or a teacher, or a university. It is God Himself. Why? Because He is the Creator and Author of all reality and truth. God requires belief (i.e., faith; trust; etc.), which is His prerequisite for knowing – not only knowing the truth that God reveals, but also for knowing anything at all (cf., Hebrews 11:1-6). Knowledge - and its proper source - has become a major problem for post-modern mankind today.

In Psalm 1, we are told that the man who refrains from an association with "the wicked" (i.e., with sinners or mockers) is “blessed” (verse 1). This man takes "delight in God’s laws, on which he meditates day and night." Such a man is like a well-watered tree yielding seasonal fruit and whose leaves do not wither – sharing nourishment and comfort with those who come in contact with him. God sees to it that He prospers in all he does. However, by contrast, the “wicked are like chaff” (verse 4). They are rootless, unstable, easily led astray by other wicked men and sinners, and ultimately, they will “perish” (verse 6). The man of God is able to “stand in the judgment” (verse 5) because “the LORD watches over him and his way” (verse 6). God looks after His own – He does not make bad investments.

Matthew, like Genesis in the Old Testament, is the New Testament book that represents the beginning of the Age of Grace in God’s eternal plan. In Matthew 1, we see God's gracious plan begin to unfold in the genealogy of Jesus Christ as it goes back to Abraham. Matthew’s gospel focuses on the Jewish nature of Jesus, and his purpose is to show Christ as the rightful, royal King of Israel and the Messiah for the Jews – relative to David and the ancient Hebrew patriarchs. Matthew gives us the birth of Christ as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (cf., Matthew 1:22; Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9). With these readings, we begin our 2024 daily pilgrimage through the Word of God. This new year, may the readings from and reflections upon God’s Word bless you richly!

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