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January 5, (Day 5) - Rejoice and be Glad

Today, in Genesis 8, we observe that “God remembered Noah and all the wild animals … that were with him in the ark” (verse 1). God forgives and forgets our sin, but He remembers us. He is fully mindful of all His creation. So many people today hold to the silly idea of a local flood (if they believe in a flood at all). An even sillier notion obtains that God is an out-of-touch, forgetful, ancient codger dwelling somewhere up or way out in the universe, and that He has no idea about what goes on with life in our world today. For a moment, just consider the recorded numerical details of Genesis 7 and 8. Here, God not only reveals to us the event’s history, but also the event’s extent – that the flood actually happened, how it proceeded, how long it lasted, how it receded, how it ended, when it ended, whom it affected, etc. God begins all these details with “God remembered.” Genesis 8 closes with the promise of God: “Never again will I destroy all living creatures … as long as the earth endures” (verses 21-22). God remembers and honors His promises.

Psalm 4, a Psalm of David and somewhat similar to Psalm 3, touches upon some of the elements that we read today in Matthew’s gospel. Recognizing God’s righteousness, David calls on Him for relief from his enemies – those who attempt to “shame” him (verse 2). David relates to us that we should “know that the LORD has set apart the godly for Himself,” and He will “hear us when we call” upon Him (verse 3). In effect, David is saying that if we belong to God, then Ged’s enemies are our enemies. The Lord obligates Himself by His name, His promises, and His Word to hear our prayers and to act on our behalf. Notice that David says, “trust in the LORD” (verse 5). How hard is that? As we said yesterday, obedience is crucial; no debate or dispute is necessary. We simply need to do it. David’s faith in God was so confident that – even in the face of his enemies - he could “lie down and sleep in peace” - knowing that “the LORD alone makes him to dwell in safety” (verse 8).

In Matthew 5:1-10, we see the first part of the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount – the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes in the New Testament correspond to the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament, both of which describe God’s plan for a life filled with blessings for those who hold to them. Here, Jesus began His public ministry with blessings and preached these messages to “the crowds and to His disciples” (cf., 5:1-2). In this passage, we read nine statements which begin with the word “blessed” (verses 3-12). The tenth statement begins with “rejoice and be glad” (verse 12). We can “rejoice and be glad” because we are blessed. Interestingly, Jesus closes out His public ministry with eight denunciatory statements of “woe” to the “teachers of the law and to the Pharisees” – who represent all those who refuse to believe and obey Him (cf., Matthew 23:13-39). In verses 13-16, Jesus explains what we are to be in this world – “salt and light.” We are to add flavor to a tasteless world and shine the light of the gospel in s sinfully dark world. In verses 17-20, Jesus shows us the relationship between the Beatitudes and the Ten Commandments – He did not “come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill them” (verse 17). Jesus is the living Word of God, and in the way that He could not be confined to the grave - in that same way - the written Word of God will never by any means “disappear” (verse 18). It is important to understand that, in this sermon, Jesus is describing what life will be like in His kingdom.

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