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January 11, (Day # 11) - Our Authorities and Our Priorities

Today we come to some key points in the life of Abraham in Genesis 21-23. Here we see that God makes good on His promise to Abraham and Sarah regarding the birth of their son, Isaac. We read that, “He did for Sarah what He promised - at the very time He had promised” (verses 1-2). God keeps His promises and His Word. In this chapter, we see a subtle contrast between God’s program and Satan’s opposition to that program. In His program and for His good purposes, God intentionally delayed the birth of Isaac until Abraham was old. Thus, Isaac’s birth was miraculous and serves to demonstrate the power of God, for Abraham “was past age and as good as dead,” and Sarah’s “womb was also dead” (cf., Romans 4:19; Hebrews 11:11-12). Yet God honored their faith precisely for these reasons. However, in verse 9, we read that “Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking.” In Satan’s program, this is actually where the historical persecution of Israel begins. Then, in Genesis 22, we see Abraham’s expression of faith at its best - trusting God completely, without wavering or faltering - for the deliverance of Isaac from being sacrificed. Abraham tells the servants, “Stay here … we will worship, and then we will come back to you” (verse 5). Foreshadowing Christ carrying His own cross, Isaac carries his own wood upon which he is later bound for the sacrifice. But Isaac asks, “Where is the lamb?” Abraham responds, “God Himself will provide the lamb” (verses 7-8). And, of course, God did provide the sacrificial Lamb – Jesus Christ. The action moves swiftly as we see next in Genesis 23, the death of Sarah and Abraham’s transaction to secure her burial.

We also come to the end of Psalm 7 (verses 10-17), where David recognizes “God Most High” as his “shield and righteous Judge Who expresses His wrath every day” (verses 10-11). God is our Shield, and He stands behind the scenes, working against those enemies who “conceive and cause trouble” – ensuring that trouble “recoils on themselves” (verse 16). Sometimes it seems we don’t see God’s work to shield us, but He is there, and He is working. Because God works on behalf of those who love Him, He is worthy of our “thanks and praise – He is the LORD Most High” (verse 17).

Matthew 8:23 – 9:13 is an extensive reading that addresses several different principles, but two specific issues dominate. First, the matter of Jesus’ authority, which Matthew’s Gospel emphasizes throughout the book. Here in this section, Christ demonstrates His authority over nature, over the spirit-world, over illness and disease, and over men and women. His demonstration of authority continues into tomorrow’s readings as well. It is important for us to understand - whether we like it or not – that we live quite evidently in a universe which is permeated and governed by all kinds of authority. Our Creator possesses ultimate authority. All around us, we witness and experience authority and its consequences - anyone who denies this is foolish – yet people do. The sooner we learn to submit properly to those in authority over us - beginning with our Creator’s authority - the better and easier our lives will be. We may not presume any position of authority not granted to us by a higher authority. Unfortunately, this is not the teaching of our world or our culture today, nor is it the practice of people all around us. Failure to submit to proper authority will exact from us a very heavy penalty and price. The second issue we see here relates to our priorities - we have both vertical priorities (i.e., to God) and horizontal (i.e., to man). In this life, we must get our priorities in order - priorities to God always take precedence over all others. Many people, unfortunately, ignore their priorities to God. This is what our readings for today are teaching and demonstrating.

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