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January 26, (Day # 26) – A Call for Radical Change

Today, we come to the end of the book of Genesis. Beginning back in chapter 25, we have followed the life of Jacob through almost half of this first book of the Bible. As we come to Genesis 49-50, we see that Jacob - although he has had his struggles like all men and women - is a biblical example of unshakable faith. His faith is pronounced with even greater clarity as he comes to the end of his life. In Genesis 49, Jacob calls his sons together to “tell them what will happen to them in the days to come” (verse 1). How could he possibly know what will happen to them in the future? The only answer is that God, Who is the Author and Creator of the future, has given him access to this information because of Jacob’s unshakable faith in Him. Jacob blesses and instructs his sons with the firm conviction and accurate knowledge that God has led him through life to this point, and now he is now ready to trust Him in death and pass the torch to his sons. Jacob addresses specifically – son by son – the reasons and characteristics that relate respectively to each one's individualized blessings. At the midpoint of Jacob’s pronouncements, he asserts with full conviction: “I look for Your deliverance LORD” (49:18). Deliverance is another word for salvation. We see the strength of Jacob’s convictions in verses 24-25: “Because of the hand of the Mighty One … the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel … your father’s God Who helps you.” These are the assurances of a man of unshakable faith, and Moses, the writer of Genesis, says that Jacob “gave each of them the blessing appropriate to them” (verse 28). When he was finished, Jacob breathed his last. In chapter 50, we read about the Egyptian preparations for Jacob’s burial with great honor in the land of Canaan – accompanied by “all the dignitaries of Egypt” (verse 7). The chapter and the book closes with Joseph “speaking kindly to” and reassuring his brothers that God used their “evil intentions and actions for good – to accomplish the saving of many lives” (verse 20). Joseph, foreseeing the future departure of the Israelites from Egypt, follows his father in death with the plea that his bones may not remain in Egypt, but they should be “carried up” in the exodus (cf., Joshua 24:32). In Genesis, we have seen how God initially created everything beautifully “in the beginning,” but sadly, because of sin, it all comes to a contrary end “in a coffin in Egypt” (50:26).

Psalm 15 is an incredible Psalm that teaches us how we should order our lives as we walk through this world. If we follow its principles, it promises that we will “never be shaken” (verse 5). This implies that, as we grow over time through the practice of our faith, the truth that God has established becomes fundamentally cemented as an unwavering reality in our hearts and minds to keep us on the path of righteousness. The real issue today is this: Few people in our present culture desire to “order their lives” at all. Order involves discipline. How many people in our current culture are willing to discipline themselves to … ”speak the truth … do their neighbor no wrong … cast no slur on their fellowman … honor those who fear the LORD … keep their oaths even when it hurts?” But notice: “He who does these things will never be shaken” (verse 5) and [he] “may dwell in the LORD’s sanctuary” (verse 1).

The Matthew 17:14 – 18:9 section begins with a child and ends with a child – revealing how much Jesus cares about children. In the first instance, Jesus heals a boy possessed by a demon. The disciples were unable to heal the boy, but Jesus points out that humility – “faith as small as a mustard seed” (17:20) is a necessary requisite for us - first to come to faith and then - to continue in our faith. Humility is unexpectedly radical. The second instance relates to the “greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (18:1). Jesus says, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (verse 3). This is a radical claim that does not synchronize well with us. Our culture teaches us to put ourselves forward; promote and exhibit ourselves – in short – we demand and expect pride. But Jesus says, “humble” yourself. If we want to enter the kingdom of heaven, His radical claim calls us to make a radical change.

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