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January 12, (Day # 12) – Like Sheep without a Shepherd

Once again, today’s passages are filled with biblical principles and applications for our lives. The multi-layered story about Isaac and Rebekah is recognized among literary experts as one of the most compelling love-stories in literature. In Scripture, it also beautifully portrays God’s sovereignty and exemplifies His plan to redeem and call out from the corrupt world a people for Himself. Here, the allusions to the reality of the Trinity are uncanny … in Abraham, we see the existence and purposes of the Father. In Abraham’s servant, we see the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ – His missionary heart, His compassion to serve, and His willingness to go forth into an unknown, evil world – in obedience to His Master. Finally, we see the invisible overshadowing direction and accompaniment by the Holy Spirit in “taking with him all kinds of good things” (cf., Genesis 24:10-11). The good things of the Spirit include “kindness, faithfulness, and abundant blessings” (cf., verses 12, 14, 27, 35, and 49) all sent with the Servant by the Father under the LORD’s direction “without abandonment” (verse 27) - as the servant traveled on his journey to secure a “bride” (i.e., the Church) for the father’s son. These parallels are astonishing. Rebekah must “choose” to follow the servant back home - exactly the same choice we must make to follow our Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 8 tells us about God’s majesty and glory. Because our minds have been so thoroughly confused and distracted by sin, we cannot really conceive how glorious God is. However, He has “set His glory above the heavens” for all to see (verse 1), and we observe from a distance His majestic glory. When we rightly consider His glory and majesty, we wonder how He can take an interest in us. Rightly, properly, and humbly considered, we know and realize that we are sinners who have nothing to offer, but He “has crowned us with glory and honor – placing all things under our feet” (verses 5-8). Thus, His glory testifies to His “care” for us - He gives constant attention to mankind and enables us to “rule over the works of his hands” (verse 6). This passage reveals that, although we are fallen creatures, God is mindful of us, loves us, and wants to bless us.

In Matthew 9:14-38, John’s disciples raise the question of fasting – specifically, why the Lord's disciples don’t fast when they and the Pharisees do. Legally, fasting was associated generally with the Day of Atonement (cf., Leviticus 23:27), but ordinarily, it is a private matter that relates to one’s own personal holiness and sanctification before God. It is not an issue for public debate or display. Yet, this is what it had become for the Pharisees. Here, Jesus directly answers John’s disciples – and the Pharisees indirectly - by saying that “the guests of the bridegroom do not mourn” in his presence (cf., 9:15) nor does “new wine go into old wineskins” (verse 17). Essentially, Jesus is saying that He has come to bring in something new (i.e., the age of grace) and replace the old (i.e., the system of law). The two systems cannot co-exist. This occasion is followed by several more examples of Jesus demonstrating His divine authority over death and illness – He raised up the ruler’s dead daughter; He healed the woman who had bled for twelve years; He restored the sight of two blind men; and He drove out a demon from a man possessed and unable to speak. The hatred and jealousy of the Pharisees is here in view – they attributed these good works to “the prince of demons” (verse 34) – something akin to the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (cf., Matthew 12:31-32). In spite of this bitterness, we see the compassion of Jesus toward “the crowds, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (verse 36). Until we come to Christ, we are like that. Thank God for His compassionate care for us.

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