The Blessed Life


January 4 – The Blessed Life (Gen 8-11, Mt 5)

But God remembered Noah . . . Gen 8:1

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. . . For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt 5:17, 20)

Our Old Testament readings continue to develop the story of redemption through contrasting Noah’s lineage and the other nations. Where God had wanted to wipe out the entire world because of people’s wickedness,  Noah found a soft spot in God’s heart (Gen 6:5-8). The previous chapters had noted Noah’s spiritual CV “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God” (Gen 6:9). 

Today’s reading reflects God’s faithfulness to his promises – he kept his word that he would not destroy Noah, and his household and thus subsided the flood. Where the other nations had faced God’s judgement through the flood for their rebellion, Noah and his family were safe. We are however left with some questions: Did dimensions of the ark not crush Noah into immobilizing fear? Didn’t his family think he was crazy for telling them of an impending cataclysmic flood? Wasn’t his scientific knowledge inadequate in terms of knowing when the floods had subsided?

Faith stares into such impossibilities with a God-sized courage.

God reissues to Noah, the commandment he had made to Adam “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen 9:1) and Genesis 10 records God’s increase of Noah’s generations. In Genesis 11, we find the table of nations – while united in mission, their mission is “mission impossible.” They will not dethrone God as intended, and instead God intervenes in judgement. Whatever the case, God’s purpose will prevail.

We find then a contrast in how we respond to God’s word. Noah builds an ark as commanded by God, trusting that it will be sufficient for their salvation. His faithful act stemming from his “reverent fear” of God is commended in Hebrews 11:7. The other nations continue their assault on God’s Word, seeking to save themselves trough their advanced technology, scientific and business enterprise. While this may help them in the short-term, it will not stand eternity’s test.

The question is, how have you responded to God’s word?

Those who rely on their own righteousness find that the demands are too high for them. The beatitudes in Matthew 5 show us God’s lofty standards. In saying that “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter he kingdom of God” Jesus is showing us that he is the only perfect one. Those who trust in God’s provision through Christ are recipients of his perfection. Their pattern of life is now defined by the true blessedness. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the peacemakers and those who are persecuted, for they will be truly blessed with the kingdom of heaven, granted the earth’s inheritance, made holy, recipients of mercy and greatly rewarded in heaven.

Reflection questions

  1. How does today’s passage reflect God’s faithfulness to his Promise?
  2. In what ways does this passage warn us?
  3. What encouragement do you draw from Jesus Christ?
  4. Which of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 do you need to heed more?

Prayer
Our Father, we are encouraged by your faithfulness to your promise and how you justified Noah by his simple faith. We are also warned through your response of judgement on those who rebel against you. We are refreshed once again when we consider the perfect life that Jesus Christ exemplified and which shows us the truly blessed life.  Help us to live the beatitudes in our daily life, and through it experience your true intention and blessing for our lives. Amen.

A devotional reflection by Kevin Muriithi on the Tabletalk Bible reading plan.

Feature image by Aaron Burden from http://www.unsplash.com


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