Genesis 10 lays out for us the lineage or descendents of Noah. On the surface it seems like a rather long list of strange names but when we look at it a bit more deeply we see the plan of God at work. Through the line of Shem the son of Noah we arrived at Abram (later renamed Abraham) and from what we previously read in Matthew 1, we know that through the line of Abraham we arrive at Jesus. It soon becomes apparent that this remnant of mankind, the family of Noah, was spared not only to repopulate the earth but more importantly to bring about the fulfillment of our salvation. Through the centuries of time the fulfillment of salvation’s plan was preserved so that you and I through grace may become partakers of that which was planned from the beginning. Not only do we see God working to preserve the plan of salvation, we also see the geographic regions and nations over which the seed of Noah spread. At first glance it would appear that repopulation and distribution of the descendents of Noah was random, but God’s plan is at work here as well.
So soon after the great flood men began to return to their evil ways. Even before the passing of Noah man had started their pathway away from God and towards idolatry. In Genesis 11 we read the story of a tower being constructed that “reaches to the heavens”. A statement that points more towards the spectacular rather than the spiritual motivation of the builders. A tower whose purpose was “so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth”. A rather stark divergence from the command that God had given. As a result, God intervenes and many different languages were born, confounding the builders, obstructing the project, and scattering the workers. Oh that our will and our ways would always be subject to his perfect plan. In 11:35 we read of a clan that left Ur and headed for Canaan. They only got about halfway, Haran, and settled there. Far too often this becomes our story. We begin our journey for the land of promise and find a comfortable resting spot somewhere along the way falling short of the fullness of the blessing that God has prepared for us.
Genesis 12 begins with the calling of a champion of faith, Abram. With this call Abram had to choose whether he would leave the familiar, the prosperity of the region and the security of family to receive a future blessing from the hand of a God he could not see. God had promised to make him a great nation and to bless those who bless him and curse those who cursed him. So on to Canaan he went. While he was in Canaan God promised this land to his offspring. When a famine in Canaan compelled him to seek refuge in Egypt he devised a scheme to hide the fact that Sarai was his wife. Yes, this champion of faith, recipient of the promise of God, conspired to hide the truth. How many of us are guilty of the same. How many times instead of trusting have we looked for ways to escape? And somehow we like Abram are surprised when God leads us through despite our foolishness and shortcomings.
For our New Testament reading we direct our attention to Matthew 4 which commences with the temptation of Christ. After 40 days fasting Satan comes and temps Him to turn stones into bread. It is most often in our times of physical weakness, times of hunger, fatigue, loneliness or discouragement that the enemy’s temptation is most effective. The second temptation was to cast Himself down for if He was the Son of God surely no harm would come to Him. This temptation finds its strength in challenging our identity. The third temptation was that if He bowed to Satan He would receive all the kingdoms of the world. This is the temptation to find the shortcut, the easy way. As with Christ we can find strength during times of temptation by anchoring our faith in the WORD. We must safeguard ourselves by identifying and avoiding those times, places, things and people that seem to increase our susceptibility. And lastly we must realize that His plan and His timing are always best.
Matthew 4 concludes with the calling of His disciples. Four are mentioned here, Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John simple men who history would remember for the impact that they were to have upon the world. It never ceases to amaze me what Christ can do through those were yielded and receptive to his call.