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"Do What is Right ..."

January 3

In Genesis 4:17 – 6:22, we see the family line of Cain and its early consequences unfold. Cain is building a city, and he “names it after his son Enoch” (4:17). This is the initial record of man’s urbanization which gives rise to a whole host of new problems, difficulties, and sins. Right away, we see Lamech’s violation of God’s design for marriage when he takes two wives. Then, he has the audacity to brag to them about his murder “of a young man for injuring” him, and his seventy-seven-fold desire for vengeance (4:24). Only four chapters into Genesis, and we already observe the compounding nature of man’s sin. However, we also see in verses 25-26, the birth of Seth and Adam’s recognition of Seth as God’s blessing in place of the murdered Abel (4:25-26). Genesis treats many early events in straightforward fashion – giving us only the necessary facts without providing a lot of detail; immediately, we read that Seth has a son named Enosh, and we are encouraged to see that “at that time, men began to call on the name of the LORD” (4:26).

In chapter five, we have the written account of Adam’s line to Noah, and we cannot help but notice God’s formula about life after sin – “and then he died” – repeated here eight times (cf., verses 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 27, and 31). This expression is interrupted only in verse 24, where we read of Enoch the contrasting statement that “he was no more because God took him away.” Otherwise, the emphasis on death continues to the end of the book with Joseph - who “died … and was placed in a coffin in Egypt” (cf., Genesis 50:26). Significantly, the book opens with God creating life, but it ends with our punishment for sin – death and a coffin.

In chapter six, we read that “man’s wickedness on the earth had become great – inclined to evil all the time” (6:5), for which reason now we see that “God was grieved and decided to wipe mankind from the face of the earth” by way of the worldwide flood (verse 5-7). But … “Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD” (verse 8). God wants us to be faithful to Him like Noah was - to trust in Him alone - and nothing or no one else. May that be true of us!

In Psalm 3, we recognize that David’s faith was similar to Noah’s. David’s enemies were arrogantly proclaiming that “God would not deliver him.” (verse 2), probably similar to treatment that Noah must have received from his enemies. However, we notice David’s trust in God alone: “You are a shield around me, O LORD … from the LORD comes deliverance” (verses 3-8). David is stating that God alone is trustworthy, and He alone secures our rescue. We can “lie down and sleep,” knowing that when we wake up, “the LORD sustains” us – we “need not fear” (verse 5). Such is the truth about our God.

In Matthew 3, we are introduced to the ministry of John the Baptist – the forerunner of our Lord. John must have been a sight to behold at that time – with his camel’s hair clothing and his leather belt. John’s messages were scathing toward the Pharisees and Sadducees, pointing out that they needed to produce the “fruit of righteousness and repentance” (cf., 3:7-12). In the next section, we see the baptism of Jesus for the purpose of “fulfilling all righteousness” (verse 15). The text tells us that “John tried to deter Him” (verse 14), but Jesus insisted on being baptized because it was right (i.e., righteous) – Jesus came to “identify with” sinful man. As a fully human Person – yet without sin - Jesus came into this world for the purpose of identifying with us (i.e., through water baptism); through baptism, Jesus extends to us His righteousness. In verses 16-17, we see that God the Father verbalized His approval of this process and certified it by sending the Holy Spirit “like a dove, lighting on Him.” Through this record of events – regardless how strange they may appear to us as human beings - we must recognize them as a part of God’s grand, eternal plan to redeem us. It is appropriate and fitting that we express our thanksgiving and gratitude to Him for this plan which establishes for us the principle – do what is right.

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