Drawing Near to God
Week 3 in the Bible -- Jan 15, 2021
Last week I mentioned some ways that we can keep up and keep motivated in our Bible reading.
· Develop the habit of consistent daily reading.
· Get a day ahead and stay ahead.
· Remember that the Bible is the Word of God and our time of reading is central to our fellowship with Him.
My friend, Mario, in Costa Rica responded: “To approach the Word of God is to approach God and to approach God is to approach his Word. I know of no other way to do this!” Amen and thanks, Mario.
We are never closer to God than when we fellowship with Him in His Word and prayer.
If you find yourself eager to get up in the morning, pick up your Bible, hear from God and speak to Him in prayer, you are grasping what we all need to grasp that we are never closer to God than when we fellowship with Him in His Word and prayer.
We now begin week 3 of 2021. So, what may we expect in this week’s readings?
In Concealed and Revealed: a year in the old and new testaments, we will be reading Genesis 36-50 and Matthew 12:1-15:20. Our readings in Genesis this week are almost all narrative. After the genealogy of Esau’s family (ch.36), we follow the accounts of Jacob’s sons, Joseph and Judah. Judah’s story is a shame-filled reminder of how sin invades a family causing devastation (ch. 38). Yet after Judah’s incest, God would show His grace to Tamar by making her part of the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ (see Matt 1:3).
Joseph, though Jacob’s favorite son, endured much suffering. His jealous brothers kidnapped him and threatened his life. They sold him to Ishmaelite traders who in turn sold him as a slave in Egypt. There his owner’s wife accused him of rape, and innocent Joseph spent years in prison. In the end, by distinguishing himself as an interpreter of dreams, he was raised to rule under Pharaoh himself.
As you read about the lives of Jacob, Judah, and Joseph consider the fact that the God of all wisdom rules over every detail of human history. He makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Even suffering--deserved and undeserved--is not beyond the power of God who is infinitely wise in His rule over all things.
Here we see the wisdom of God on full display. “Wisdom,” writes J I Packer, “is the power to see, and the inclination to choose, the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it.” God’s best and highest goal for His people is for them to grow in godliness (fulfilling their calling to reflect the image of God). His surest means to accomplish this are the experiences that He providentially sends to them (including all kinds of suffering).
God used the wickedness of Joseph’s brothers to get him to Egypt where he would one day be able to save his abusers from starvation. Joseph grew in understanding of God’s ways so that he could forgive his brothers and teach them important truth about how God had arranged the whole situation. [See Genesis 45:4-15.]
In Matthew, Jesus continues to proclaim the kingdom of heaven and His lordship over the Sabbath, final judgment, spiritual truth, nature, disease, and death. In ch. 13 we come to the third of Jesus’ five discourses in this gospel—His discourse on the parables. Jesus displayed His authority and His wisdom, and Matthew shows the resistance that the Lord got for this. Despite His miraculous power and irrefutable truth those who held authority among the Jews were quick to contradict Him accusing Him of being in league with the devil. Many of His parables pointed at those who sought to justify themselves by their works and warned them of the judgment to come.
Tip. I find it profitable to listen to an audio version of the Bible by an excellent reader like Max McLean on Bible Gateway. I follow along as he reads. This works well for hard passages (like genealogies) and is enjoyable with narrative passages.
If you do not have a copy of my book you may want to order one here. However, you may also access the daily audio recordings generously provided by my friend and pastor Charlie Evans (see pic).
January 15/Day 15 Sons Who Suffer for Others (Genesis 36-37; Matthew 12:1-21) Audio here.
January 16/ Day 16 Jesus: Judge or Savior? (Genesis 38-40; Matthew 12:22-50) Audio here.
January 17 / Day 17 Providence and Human History (Genesis 41; Matthew 13:1-32) Audio here.
January 18/ Day 18 Why Is God So Good? (Genesis 42-43; Matthew 13:33-58) Audio here.
January 19/ Day 19 Big Boys Do Cry (Genesis 44-45; Matthew 14:1-21) Audio here.
January 20 / Day 20 Lessons about Time (Genesis 46-48; Matthew 14:22-36) Audio here.
January 21/ Day 21 Looking for Loopholes in God’s Law (Genesis 49-50; Matthew 15:1-20) Audio here.
May you enjoy fellowship with God every day!
 J I Packer, Knowing God Downers Grove, Intervarsity Press, 1973 p. 80.