Preaching the Word vs. Waiting Tables

Daily Scripture readings for June, reading set #10:

– Genesis, chapters 25-26
– Psalm, chapter 10
– Matthew 5:1-12
– Acts, chapter 6

In Genesis 25:23 the Lord tells Rebekah this regarding her two sons, Jacob and Esau: “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.” I’ve heard that the current Arab-Israeli conflict can be traced to Jacob and Esau, but I’m not sure if that’s accurate. This verse sure indicates something of that nature. It’s obviously a politically-charged topic, and I’d love to know more about it.

Psalm 10 is a long description of a “wicked man” and his behavior, and verse 11 says this: “He (the wicked) says in his heart, ‘God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.'” How absurd to think that Almighty God won’t know or notice wickedness, and yet I fall prey to thinking this way all the time.

The Beatitudes in Matthew 5 are always good to read by way of reminder, but I’m going to skip ahead to Acts 6 because there are two HUGE things to make note of in that chapter. First, the response from the Apostles to the issue of serving the poor is remarkable: “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables” (vs 2). They choose reputable men from among them to head up the ministry to the poor, but two I’m noticing two things about this response: 1) preaching the word of God is a DIFFERENT THING from serving the poor, and 2) the Apostles divided these tasks amongst themselves, instead of all of them trying to shoulder all tasks. Some preach the word, and some serve the poor – both are important, but treated as separate responsibilities within the Church. This reminds me of the Church “body life” described in 1 Corinthians 12. The second noteworthy thing in this chapter is Stephen’s Spirit-filled debating with those who disagreed with him: “Some of those who belinged to the synagogue of the Freedmen… rose up and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking” (vs 8-10). Both with Jesus throughout the Gospels and here with Stephen, we see that speaking “in the Spirit” is undeniably powerful.

Aaaand… here are June’s #11 readings:

– Genesis, chapters 27-28
– Psalm, chapter 11
– Matthew 5:13-20
– Acts 7:1-38

The famous birthright theft of Jacob and Esau is found in Genesis 27, but I noticed for the first time as I read today that the deceit is basically all Rebekah’s idea. Jacob never dissuades her at any point, but she is definitely the initiator.

Psalm 11 contains another reference to the Lord’s HATRED of the wicked:  “The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence” (vs 5). Yes, the Bible describes God as loving, but also as hating. My understanding of the Word of God is that everything contained in it is there for a reason, and therefore it’s essential that we acknowledge EVERYTHING that the Bible says about God and his attributes.

Matthew 5 is Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and verses 17-20 are essential to understanding the function of the Old Testament Law and the “new covenant” of grace. Jesus “fulfills the Law” (vs 17) because he offers salvation, where the Law itself only exposes our failure to meet it’s demands: “For I tell you, unless your righteousness EXCEEDS that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (vs 20).

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