Genesis 23-24, Matthew 12

Something Greater.

Genesis 23-24, Matthew 12

The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord and said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.”  – Genesis 24:26-27 ESV

It’s fascinating to read the book of “beginnings” alongside the Gospel of Matthew. In them we see both the promise being unfolded and finally revealed. Through the life of Abraham, we see God sovereignly orchestrating the plan by which the “seed” will one day come. Then Matthew records His arrival on the scene hundreds of years later. It would be easy to read the Genesis account as merely history in the making and lose sight of the fact that it is a record of God’s promise to man being fulfilled over time and in real life. For Jesus to arrive on the scene, thousands of seemingly isolated, yet intimately connected events had to occur. And these were not left up to luck, fate or happenstance. Sarah’s barrenness was not just a random physical infirmity. It was part of God’s plan so that He might reveal His power and prove His capacity to accomplish what He had promised, regardless of the odds. The birth of Isaac was divinely planned and essential to the ultimate fulfillment of His promise to bless the nations. It was through Isaac that the “seed” would come. Even the death of Sarah was well within God’s timing and used by Him to prompt Abraham to make plans for the future. Her death caused him to start thinking about his own mortality and the need to provide Isaac with a wife so that the line might continue. And yet, all along, God was working behind the scenes in order to unveil His plan and accomplish His will, not only for Abraham, but for mankind.

What does this passage reveal about God?

This entire story is about God. It was God whose chose Abraham to begin with. “The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred…” (Genesis 24:7a ESV). It was God who made a covenant with Abraham and promised to give him a land, a seed, and a blessing. Abraham acknowledge that it was God who, “spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’” (Genesis 24:7b ESV). And Abraham knew that God would provide a wife for his son, Isaac. “…he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there” (Genesis 24:7b ESV).

And just as He had done in the past, God provided again. Abraham sent his servant all the way back to Haran in order to find a wife for his son from among his own people. Abraham did not want Isaac marrying a woman from among the Canaanites or  other people groups who occupied the land. And this story reinforces for us God’s sovereign control over all things, including this seemingly dicey attempt to find a woman who would be willing to leave her household, travel hundreds of miles into unknown territory to marry a man she had never met. And yet, God was there. He miraculously orchestrated the events to sovereignly provide a wife for Isaac so that from his lineage might come the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Every one of the stories recorded in the book of Genesis points toward a future event that would have eternal implications. The creation of Adam, while unbelievable, is nowhere near as critical. The rescue of Noah, while spectacular, falls short in importance.  The call of Abraham, while significant, pales in comparison. The birth of Isaac, while miraculous, isn’t nearly as amazing.

In the Gospel of Matthew we read of the coming of Jesus, but also His ministry among men. It portrays a conflict between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of men. It slowly reveals the growing controversy between the people of God, the Israelites, and the Son of God, their long-awaited Messiah. Over time, these people, the descendants of Abraham and Isaac, had placed far more stock in their own heritage than they did God Himself. They had ended up worshiping their status as God’s chosen people and placing their hope in His  presence among them because they falsely believed the Temple guaranteed it. And yet Jesus Himself had to remind them, “I tell you, something greater than the Temple is here” (Matthew 12:6 ESV). Someone greater than Abraham was among them. Someone more significant than Isaac was standing right in front of them. The greater sacrifice had arrived. The ultimate Lamb of God was in their presence. Everything that had happened from Adam all the way to Isaac had been a preamble, point toward the one to come. This was all part of God’s divine plan.

What does this passage reveal about man?

It is so easy for us to miss the point. God would provide a wife for Isaac. He would give Isaac a son named Jacob. And from his family tree, God would ultimately raise up a king named David. But these are single acts in a divine play that has a plot of far greater significance and import. The stories contained in the Bible are not about the individuals whose names they contain. It isn’t all about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, Nehemiah, Daniel, Paul or even John the Baptist. It’s all about Jesus. And yet I so often want to make it all about me, or at least, all about man. It is tempting to try and make the story about us. But it is about God and His divine plan to redeem what sin destroyed. It is about God restoring what has been damaged by the fall. It is about the God of the universe sending His own Son as the remedy for the chaos, confusion and justified condemnation hovering over the world He has made. I need to remember that something greater is here. Jesus has come and He offers a better way. The writer of Hebrews reminds me that “Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses” (Hebrews 3:3 ESV). He is not only greater than the high priest, He is the Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:13 ESV). He is the greater sacrifice, having “offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:12 ESV). There is nothing and no one greater than Jesus. In the book of Revelations, He refers to Himself as “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:14 ESV). And while man would like to make it all about himself, God will not allow it. While we might want to turn the Bible into a self-help manual designed to provide us with our best life now, God will not tolerate it. Something greater has come. Someone greater is here.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

I want to make my life all about Jesus, not me. I want to see Him as the central figure in the story of my life, not me. I want to understand that my life as a part of God’s plan, not the other way around. I exist for God’s glory, not He for mine. I want my life to point to Jesus. I want my life to mimic His. I want my life to reflect His saving power, not my own sad self-sufficiency. I need to continually learn to read the Scriptures with a focus on God and His Son, not on me.

Father, keep my eyes on You. Keep my hope focused on You. Help me find my strength in You. Never let me forget that my life is dependent on You. Constantly remind me that, without Your Son, I would have no relationship with You. You are in complete control of my life, this world, my circumstances, and the future of all men. Never let me forget that. Something greater is here and I can rest in that fact. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men