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January 23, (Day # 23) – Ever So Faithful

Today’s Scripture passages reveal the persistent and fundamental conflict between righteousness and evil ever since sin entered the universe. Jesus briefly addressed this conflict, as we have already seen in our earlier reading of Matthew 10, when He said that “a man will turn against his father, a daughter against her mother,” (verses 34-36). Here, In Genesis 43, we see this kind of conflict between Jacob and his sons. At the end of chapter 42, Jacob is insistent that his “son will not go down” to Egypt with the others (verse 38). In chapter 43, after “they had eaten all the grain they had” (verse 1), Jacob commands his sons to “go back and buy” more food (verse 2). “But …” Judah replies, “if you will not send [Benjamin], we will not go” (verse 5). This illustrates our selfishness and our inability to get along with each other – even family members. As the chapter progresses, we see that they do go down to Egypt with Benjamin, and importantly, we see the fulfillment of Joseph’s previous dreams – they “all bow low to pay honor” to Joseph (verse 28). At the meal, Joseph has the steward seat the brothers – unaware and astonished - in the order of their ages around the table – a picture of the sovereignty of God and a demonstration of Joseph’s authority over his brothers. In Genesis 44, we see the clever plan by which Joseph will hold the brothers responsible for their earlier actions toward him and which will bring Jacob and his entire household to Egypt for salvation from the famine. Perhaps, more importantly, we see Judah’s willingness to step up as the head of that tribe – through which our Lord eventually comes - and act as the substitutionary sacrifice to guarantee Benjamin’s safety: “I will bear the blame … all my life!” (verse 32). Judah’s attitudes and actions typify the kind of conduct that the Lord Himself demonstrated and wants each of us to follow.

In Psalm 13, David asks, “how long must I wrestle with my thoughts?” (verse 2). Quite possibly, he may be wrestling with evil thoughts and their result - “sorrow” in his heart (verse 2b). In any case, when we sometimes feel isolated or forgotten of the Lord, our thoughts can easily plague our minds and cause us to see things differently from what they truly are. Here, David’s thoughts give embodiment to his “enemy and his foes, and their glee when he falls” (verse 4). However, David asserts that recovery comes to us when we cry out to God: “Look on me and answer … I trust in your unfailing love” (verses 3-5). We notice how David has moved from “feeling forgotten” to “singing to the LORD” (verses 1 and 6). When we meditate on God’s character and goodness, such thoughts move us to songs of praise.

In Matthew 15:10-39, Jesus explains what we have been reading about in the previous two passages. He teaches that “evil thoughts” proceed from our hearts and they “defile” us (verses 18-20). It is really important that we fill our minds with wholesome thoughts. Sin’s grip on us all is illustrated by the Canaanite woman’s demon-possessed daughter - her condition is helpless and hopeless. Still, she tenaciously cries out to Him for “help.” Jesus tells the woman, “it is not right” (i.e., to forestall God’s plan for Israel), but like Jacob contending earlier with God, she argues, “Yes, it is, Lord” - demonstrating “great faith” (verse 28) in the power of God to heal her daughter. How could she properly argue this? Living in and under the collective authority of Israel, she – though an insignificant Gentile woman – can demonstrate and receive the benefits of faith that testifies to the people of Israel. In this way, even Gentiles receive the “crumbs” (verse 27) of His “compassion” (verse 32). No wonder Jesus commended her for her “great faith” (verse 28). Such demonstrative faith testifies to all around us and enables us to overcome evil in our world. May God ever find us so faithful!

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