“This covenant [with Abraham], initiated, established, defined in promises and commands, and even guaranteed to be everlasting, by the sole sovereignty of the Lord God Almighty, is nevertheless a union of God with his people. It is the same union that comes to expression in the New Testament phrase ‘in Christ.’ This is the essence of the covenant concept, the essence of all true religion. The covenant God made with the man from Ur is the union God has established with his own in Christ Jesus, himself the epitome of covenant as the incarnate God-and-man, Immanuel. There is no more glorious concept given to men than this: God with us!” (John J. Mitchell, “Abram’s Understanding of the Lord’s Covenant,” The Westminster Theological Journal, XXXII, No. 1, November 1969, p. 48).
“The ‘walking before Jehovah’ pictures the constant presence of Jehovah to his [Abram’s] mind as walking behind him, and supervising him. The thought of the divine approval furnishes the motive for obedience. Also the force of El-Shaddai must be noticed. What shapes his conduct is not the general thought of God as moral ruler, but specifically the thought of El-Shaddai, who fills his life with miraculous grace.” (Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, pp. 102–103).
Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
In Amos 5 the prophet pictures the nation of Israel as a young woman lying dead–but nonetheless he delivers a funeral lament for her to hear! Israel is truly dead–yet is commanded to hear. That is a “marvelous contradiction,” as Herman Veldkamp points out:
“In marvelous contradiction, the prophet Amos told the virgin Israel, whose obituary he was reading and whom he already saw lying dead on the ground, to listen to what he was saying–as if a dead person could hear! This obvious impossibility did not stop Amos, for he knew that the impossible is possible with God.” (The Farmer from Tekoa, p. 153).
God’s gracious Word continues to speak to those who are dead in sin. Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones (Ezekiel 37) reflects the powerful co-joining of the Word and Spirit. You cannot respond in your own strength, but God graciously gives new life, enabling those he calls to turn to him.
In many ways the church is a counter-cultural institution. We gather on Sunday morning when many are sleeping in or watching sports on TV. We sing. We pray. We listen to a Book being read and preached. We eat a small piece of bread and drink a small cup of wine. Is this just a strange habit we have picked up, or is there more behind it? Is this something we just do as individuals, doing our own thing, or is God doing something to us and through us in the world? The session has asked me to preach a series of sermons looking what the Bible says about the church. Our focus this morning is Genesis 12:1–3, an important passage, even though the word “church” is not used in it.
“The downside of sin is not only its consequences, but sin itself is an act of deprivation. For me to sin is to deprive myself of the enjoyment of God.” (from a lecture by Richard B. Gaffin, Jr.).
“The keynote is not what Abraham has to do for God, but what God will do for Abraham. Then, in response to this, the subjective frame of mind that changes the inner and outer life is cultivated. . . . The all-important thing is that God has acted in the past, is acting in the present, and promises to act in the future.” (Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments, pp. 93–94).
“Abram’s calling to leave his land and people did not contain the the slightest suggestion that grace as the ‘wholly other’ would continue to stand over against human life, as though life on earth was not to be sanctified. On the contrary, Abram was promised that he would become the father of a nation, that he would have a name on the earth, and that in him all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Grace entered life and sanctified it.” (S. G. De Graaf, Promise and Deliverance, Vol. 1, p. 75)
Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC.
“Simeon’s words give powerful expression to the thought that Simeon, having beheld Christ in fulfilment of the divine word concerning his life, has fully performed his service. His watch is concluded with the arrival of the One for whom he was waiting.” As Simeon addresses Mary, “Here the cross is indeed virtually in view, and Mary is standing before it, sorrowing at what would befall her son.” (Ned B. Stonehouse, The Witness of Luke to Christ, pages 53 & 56).
“Christ was indeed a ‘light to lighten the Gentiles.’ Without him they were sunk in gross darkness and superstition. They knew not the way of life. They worshipped the works of their own hands. Their wisest philosophers were utterly ignorant in spiritual things. ‘Professing themselves to be wise they became fools.’ (Rom. i.22.) The Gospel of Christ was like sun-rise to Greece and Rome, and the whole heathen world. The light which it let in on men’s minds on the subject of religion, was as great as the change from night to day.” (J. C. Ryle, , Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Vol. 2, p. 68).
From the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church
“All salvation, all truth in regard to man, has its eternal foundation in the triune God Himself. It is this triune God who here reveals Himself as the everlasting reality, from whom all truth proceeds, whom all truth reflects, be it the little streamlet of Paradise or the broad river of the New Testament losing itself again in the ocean of eternity. After this nothing higher can come. All the separate lines along which through the ages revelation was carried, have converged and met at a single point. The seed of the woman and the Angel of Jehovah are become one in the Incarnate Word.” (Geerhardus Vos, “The Idea of Biblical Theology,” Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation, p. 13).
“The shepherds had to return to their flocks but they returned with a song in their hearts and carried the joy of adoration with them. They really felt they could take care of their flock again because the praise of God no longer conflicted with their earthly occupations.” (S. G.. De Graaf, Promise and Deliverance, Vol. 3, p. 326).
Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church.
Malachi 4 is the last word of God in the Old Testament before 400 years of silence are broken by the angel Gabriel’s message to Zechariah in the temple, telling him that he would be the father of the one to prepare for the coming of the Messiah.
Malachi 4 contains a warning of coming judgment, both in the near and more distant future:
“Nor, again, have we any right to exclude the whole period from the destruction of Jerusalem till the last judgment, as if in the great book of history only the first and last leaf were written with the finger of God, and the rest left vacant.” (E. W. Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament, on Malachi 4:1).
Geerhardus Vos notes (The Eschatology of the Old Testament, p. 162) regarding Malachi:
“The judgment aspect of Jehovah’s advent—the coming is condensed into the one ‘day’ par excellence and this one day assumed the character of a veritable dies irae (‘day of wrath’) (3:2; 4:1). . . . Side by side with this retributory aspect, the judgment assumes the form of a process of purification resembling the method whereby silver and gold are extracted from the dross adhering to them.”
“Malachi shows that despite God’s mercy in choosing Israel over Edom (1:1–5), Israel’s response to exhortations to faithfulness has been negative. . . . If Israel will repent of its many sins, God will bless the people again in the future (3:5–18). Judgment is coming, but the faithful will be spared (4:16).” G. K Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, p. 85).
From the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church
Reflecting on the interchange between the LORD and Job (Job 40–42):
“He can trust the infinitely holy and mighty and wise and gracious One to do whatsoever seemeth Him good. It is good if God does it; it is the best thing possible; no man at least, nor any finite being, could alter it for the better; and Job would not have it otherwise.” (William Henry Green, The Argument of the Book of Job Unfolded, pp. 312-313).