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January 8, (Day #8) - We Need God's Light

In Genesis 14, we see an Old Testament picture of Christ in the person of Melchizedek, to whom Abram (and ultimately, all of Israel through his representation) paid tithes. Here, we also see the first rescue of Lot – at Abram’s hand. Later again in Genesis 19, we will see Lot’s second and greater deliverance at the hands of the “two angels” (cf., 19:15-17). Then, in Genesis 15, we find one of the most important and intriguing chapters of the whole book, for in it, God certifies (i.e., “makes certain”) the basis for our faith in Him when He informs Abram to “know for certain” (vs 13). God wants us to know “for certain,” and the only kind of knowledge that is reliable or certain is God’s divine revelation. This chapter answers the dilemma of Genesis 2 – acquiring knowledge from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (cf., Genesis 2:17). That tree represents all knowledge sources that are not of God. Our faith rests on the certain knowledge that we only get from God - the Author of reality and truth. In Genesis 16, we encounter the incident between Abram and Sarai regarding Hagar. Unfortunately, this was another poor choice on their part, and it led to bad consequences that we all live with today – through Ishmael’s descendants. They “live in hostility toward” their brothers, and in fact, with everyone (16:12).

In Psalm 7:3, the Psalmist states, “if there is guilt on my hands” – which indicates that David wasn’t entirely certain about the righteousness of some of his actions. This conditional expression should provide a comfort to us. Even as Christians, we may not always know or be aware that our actions might be offensive to God. However, God knows the sincerity, the purity, and the “integrity” of our hearts (verse 8). If we “take refuge in God” (verse 1), and if our integrity is pure before Him, He is righteously able to “probe our minds and hearts," and to “vindicates us” (verses 8-9). If we have sinned, the Holy Spirit will convict us of our offenses. God is faithful to those who are faithful to Him.

In Matthew 6:1-24, Jesus continues His sermon about living righteously. We are not to demonstrate or make a show of our righteousness before others – for the purpose of “being seen by them” (verse 1). We are not to “announce” our giving. Being “honored by others” is the wrong motivation for living righteously; rather we should seek to honor God without drawing undue attention to ourselves. God is not interested in our public spectacles. We see the contrast that Jesus addresses between the righteous life to which He calls us and the hypocritical lives of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the pagans. Three times, Jesus says, “they have already received their reward” (verses 2, 5, and 16). What is the value and how long lasting are the accolades of men? These truths apply to our practices, our giving, our prayers, our forgiveness of others, our finances, and every other area of our lives. Adam and Eve found out that they could gain a kind of knowledge (i.e., insight and enlightenment) from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but at what cost? Jesus is saying that, “if the light within us is darkness” (i.e., worldly light apart from revelation), then “how great is that darkness!” (6:23). How desperately we need God's light.

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