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Bible Narratives Devotional, Week 4: A Just God Justifies

This entry is part 4 of 34 in the series

"Bible Narratives Devotional"

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Week 4: A Just God Justifies

Weekly memory verse:

Romans 4:5 — And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.

Weekly hymn:

Not What These Hands Have Done (free download)

Weekly catechism:

What is special about God’s creation of you?
God made me in his own image.

Day 16: Justified by Faith

Reading: Genesis 22:1–19; Romans 4

Notes

Genesis 22, Verse 2. Moriah. Most scholars believe that this is the future site of Jerusalem, where Solomon would later build the temple (see 2 Chronicles 3:1).

Verse 5. I and the boy. Hebrews 11:17–19 states that Abraham was confident in God’s promises concerning his son, and therefore believed that if Isaac died, God would raise him from the dead.

Verse 12. Now I know. God’s test of Abraham was not for his own benefit as if he didn’t know what Abraham would do; it was to demonstrate Abraham’s faith in his promises.

Verse 13. Instead of his son. This is an important expression of substitutionary atonement.

Verse 16. Sworn. This is another key reaffirmation of the Abrahamic covenant, emphasizing its unconditional, unilateral nature, and focusing upon promises concerning land, seed, and blessing, which have yet to be completely fulfilled.

Summary

Abraham’s life is a supreme example of justification by faith. Anyone who disobeys God’s law in even the smallest measure fall under judgment, and thus no one can be justified through good works. Yet those who unreservedly trust in God’s promises are declared righteous on the basis of the ultimate substutionary sacrifice of atonement—Jesus Christ.

READ
Bible Narratives Devotional, Week 1: Creation and Fall

Discussion Questions

  1. Why did God test Abraham?
  2. What important principle does the ram God provided reveal?
  3. What must each of us do in order to be declared righteous in God’s sight?

Day 17: The Justice of God

Reading: Psalm 9–10

Notes

Psalm 9. Muth-Labben. This is likely the name of a tune.

Psalm 10, Verse 1. Why? It is appropriate to question why God withholds his justice as long as we follow the psalmist’s example of also expressing confidence that God will indeed do what he has promised.

Summary

God is righteous and just, and he has promise that he will both punish evil and reward the good. Yet in this life it sometimes seems as if the good is punished and the evil is rewarded. This causes us to long for the righteousness and justice of God, and our appropriate response to these difficulty circumstances is to trust that God will do what he has promised.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are some examples in your life of God rewarding good and judging evil?
  2. What are some examples in your life of evil going unpunished?
  3. What should be our response when we see wickedness go unpunished in this life?

Day 18: Isaac and Rebekah

Reading: Genesis 24:1–67

Notes

Verse 2. Thigh. This was an ancient Near Eastern customary way to make a solemn promise.

Verse 14. Camels. The hospitality customs of the day required giving water to people, but not to animals. The fact that Rebekah gave water also to the camels revealed her unusually hospitable character.

READ
Christmas, the Face of Jesus, and the Story of the Gospel

Summary

This story is the next step toward God fulfilling his promises to Abraham. Isaac needed a wife to continue the Abrahamic line, and Abraham desired that Isaac’s wife be chosen from among his people rather than from the Canaanites. This arranged marriage was customary for the time, but even in these conditions, Isaac and Rebekah chose to love each other.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why did Abraham want Isaac to marry someone from among his people rather than from the Canaanites?
  2. How does the blessing of Rebekah’s sisters (v. 60) fit with the Abrahamic covenant?
  3. What does this story reveal about love and marriage?

Day 19: Wisdom

Reading: Proverbs 2

Summary

Those who trust God and pursue righteousness must also pursue wisdom—the skillful application of knowledge. Wisdom comes from God alone to those to ask for it and incline their hearts toward truly knowing him.

Discussion Questions

  1. How does wisdom lead to understanding and knowing God?
  2. Why is it so important to pursue wisdom?
  3. What does the pursuit of wisdom help us avoid?

Day 20: God’s Promise to Isaac

Reading: Genesis 26:1–33

Notes

Verse 1. Abimelech. This is likely a dynastic title for Philistine kings.

Verse 3. Bless. God reaffirmed with Isaac the covenant he had made with Abraham, emphasizing the same three elements of land, seed, and blessing.

Summary

God continued to fulfill the promises that he made to Abraham through his son, Isaac. Since the Abrahamic covenant was unconditional, even Isaac’s sin did not prevent God from blessing him, even using pagans to accomplish that blessing. God will keep his promises to his people.

READ
Differences Between Two Gatherings of the Saints in the End Times

Discussion Questions

  1. How was Isaac’s deception to Abimelech similar to and different from his father’s deception?
  2. In what ways did God use even unbelievers to bless his people?
  3. What does this story tell us about the character and nature of God?
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Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

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