Some notes to help guide your reading for this week
The foundational assumption of Scripture is that God exists. Nowhere in Scripture does anyone argue for God’s existence, it is the universal assumption that drives everything that unfolds. His creation of everything throughout this chapter points to His universal sovereignty as the Creator.
Some want to argue that this is a differing account of creation, but this appears to be an example of telescoping (where the author zooms in on a particular section to emphasize a point made earlier). This time the emphasis lies upon God’s special creation of man and woman. Verses 18-20 serve to show Adam that he has need of a female that God graciously provides through His direct forming.
The original sin is pride in that Adam and Eve though that they had a right to question what God had commanded or to make a judgment about what God had forbidden. Verse 15 stands as the proto-evangelion (the first Gospel), as God promises One who will come of the seed of the woman who will crush the head of the devil while Himself being mortally wounded.
While we are tempted to think that sin would progress slowly, the murder of Abel demonstrates just how fast and how overpowering sin is as Cain slays one made in the image of God. The effects of sin come into even sharper relief with the statements of Lamech at the end of the chapter, bragging of his ruthless taking of life.
“and he died” is the thematic verse of this chapter as it shows the universal consequences of sin and points to the curse of sin. The wages of sin now come to roost on humanity.
“sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful” This has been interpreted numerous ways with some claiming that the sons of God were angels, Sethites, tyrants who succeed Lamech. While scholars debate this, what is apparent is that this represents something patently disordered. Moreover, the Nephilim appear who are said to be great in stature, but we are not given much more information.
Was the flood universal or local? Some believe that the flood occurred only over a small portion of the world. However, verse 19 claims that the flood covered the tops of the mountains, which would be difficult to square with a local flood option. A universal flood would favor God’s desire to “blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky” (6:7).
Having seen how his younger son disgraced him, Noah utters a curse against him. Unfortunately this has been used to bolster racism by claiming that the descendants of Ham were black; however, there is absolutely no warrant to this claim.
Man’s rebellious pride comes once again to the forefront in at Babel as they sought to, “make for ourselves a name.” Thus they build a city to concentrate their number rather than following God’s command from 9:7 to “be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.” So while they build a tower to reach to heaven, God must still come down to contend with the rebellious heart of the people.
Nothing stands out about Abraham or suggests a reason why God chose him. God’s choice of Abraham points to God’s sovereign choice. Moreover, God promises to give children to a 75-year-old man. Verses 10-20 show us just how imperfect a person Abraham was and highlights the fact that God chose Him in spite of himself.
Verse 10 stands as one of the most sobering reminders that the grass may be greener on one side but great peril may come in embracing it.
In verses 17-20 we are introduced to Melchizedek. He will become a picture of Christ because we have no details about him but just that Abraham recognizes him as a priest of God and his inferiority to Him. (cf Hebrews 7)
Why the scene of the animals cut in two and the smoking oven? The answer lies in Ancient Near Eastern custom where the one making an oath would do so through the slaughter of animals and swear that “may it be done to me if I break this oath.”
Abraham and Sarah decide to take matters into their hands and thus invite great confusion and turmoil. Their actions are a clear and poignant reminder that trying to do things for God rather than allowing Him to do them will always result in heartache.
Abraham receives circumcision after God chose Him. The chronological ordering of these events becomes a foundational point for Paul in Romans 4.
God confirms His promise to Abraham to give him a son through Sarah even though it is more than twenty years after God gave the initial promise. Our God is not slow in keeping His promises.
By beginning his genealogy with Abraham, Matthew paints Jesus as the true Israel, the One in whom fulfill their destiny is fulfilled.
Verse 15 stands as one of the most confusing quotations of the Old Testament in the New Testament. When we consider that Jesus is the true Son of God who, like Moses is preserved in Egypt from a cruel king, we recognize that Jesus fulfills God’s hopes for them.
Jesus is tempted by Satan in the wilderness, much like Israel. Where they failed, He succeeds by quoting the Word of God.
Verse 17 plays a vital role in the rest of the Sermon on the Mount, especially in light of the formula, “you have heard that it was said, . . . But I say to you.” Here we see that Jesus is pointing to the fulfillment of the Law in Himself and His teaching.
The religious practice of the Pharisees revolved around an external expression that could be seen and applauded by men, but Jesus sees this as mere hypocrisy.