January 8: Judging the Time and Seasons
Genesis 14–15; Matthew 11; Ecclesiastes 3:9–15
We often have difficulty judging the events in our lives and then responding appropriately. Although God has placed eternity “in our hearts,” we don’t know the reason or the outcome of our life’s events (Eccl 3:11).
The danger comes in being known for only one mode of operation and one response for all seasons. In Matt 11, Jesus speaks to a generation who responds in one way—with skepticism and unbelief. Those who judge see John the Baptist as a demon-possessed man rather than a prophet. They see Jesus as a glutton, a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and sinners—not the one who has come to save them from their sins.
Jesus illustrates their responses with a tale. He compares them to children who call out to each other in the marketplaces, saying, “We played the flute for you and you did not dance; we sang a lament and you did not mourn” (Matt 11:17). Those who hear and fail to act confuse the writer of Ecclesiastes’ times of mourning and dancing. They don’t acknowledge the judgment of John the Baptist or the joy of Jesus.
For those in His audience who refused to acknowledge His words, and miracles, Jesus pronounces a judgment far worse than that of Sodom. Those who respond with humility and faith, however, have the promise of rest. Jesus invites them: “Take my yoke on you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt 11:29).
This response is an act of faith. We need to rely on God’s Word and His Spirit to judge the events of our lives, and to help us respond with faith.
What response are you known for?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- And in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedolaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of the nations:These men made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. All these joined together in the valley of Siddim, which is the salt Sea. Twelve years were they subject to Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. And in the fourteenth year came Chedolaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim, And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto the plain of El Paran, which is by the wilderness. And they returned and came to En Mishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites that dwelled in Hazezon Tamar. Then went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar: and they joined battle with them in the valley of Siddim, To wit, with Chedolaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and arioch king of Ellasar: four kings against five. Now the valey of Siddim was full of slime pits, and the kings of Sodom and Gomrrah fled and fell there: and the residue fled to the mountain. And they took all the substance of Sodo and Gomorrah, and all their vittles and went their way. They took Lot also Abram’s brother’s son and his substance (for he dwelt at Sodom) and departed. Then came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew, which dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner, which were confederate with Abram. When Abram heard that his brother was taken, he brought forth of them that were born and brought up in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. Then he and his servants divided themselves against them by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left side of Damascus, And he recovered all the substance, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also and the people. After that he returned from the slaughter of Chedoloamer and of the kings that were with him, came the King of Sodom forth to meet him in the valley of Shaveh, which is the King’s dale. And Melchizedek King of Sale brought forth bread and wine: and he was a Priest of the most high God. Therefore he blessed him, sayng, Blessed art thou, Abram, of God most high, Possessor of heaven and earth, And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thine hand. And Abram gave him tithes of all. Then the king of Sodom said to Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lifted up mine hand unto the Lord the most high God possesssor of heaven and earth, That I will not take of all that is thine, so much as a thread or shoe latchet, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich, Save only that, which the young men have eaten, and the parts of the men which went with we, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre: let them take their plans. After these things, the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram, I am thy buckler, and thine exceeding great reward. And Abram said, O Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of mine house is this Eliezer of Damascus? Again Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: ;wherefore lo, a servant of mine house shall be mine heir. Then behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This man shall not be thine heir, but one that shall come out of thine own bowels, he shall be thine heir. Moreover he brought him forth and said,Look up now to hheaven, and tell the stars if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And Abram believed the Lord, and he counted that to him for righteousness. Again he said unto him, I am the Lord, that brought thee out of Ur, of the Chaldeans, to give thee this land to inherit it. And he said, O Lord God, Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? Then he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, a turtle dove also and a pigeon. So he took all these unto him, and divided them in the midst, and laid every piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. Then fowls fell on the carcasses, and Abram drove them away. And when the sun went down, there fell an heavy sleep unto Abram: and lo, a very fearful darkness fell upon him. Then he said to Abram, Know for a surety, that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, four hundred years, and shall serve them: and they entreat them evil. Notwithstanding, the nation whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. But thou shalt go unto thy fathers in peace, and shalt be buried in a good age. And in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the wickedness of the Amorites is not yet full. Also when the sun went down, there was a darkness: and behold, a smoking furnace, and a firebrand, which went between those pieces. In that same day the Lord made a covenant with Abra, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land: from the river of Egypt unto the great river Euphrates. Then Kenites, and the Kenezzites, and the Kadmonites, And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, The Amorites also, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites. Genesis 14–15
- And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. And when John heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or shall we look for another? And Jesus answering, said unto them, Go, and show John, what things ye hear and see. The blind receive sight, and the halt do walk: the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor receive the Gospel. And blessed is he that shall not be offended in me. And as they departed, Jesus began to speak unto the multitude of John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? a reed shaken withthe wind? But what went ye out to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold they that wear solft clothing, are in kings’ houses. But what went ye out to see? A Prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a Prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, Isend my messenger before thy face which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them which are begotten of women, arose there not a greater than John Baptist, notwithstanding, he that is the least in the kingdom of heaven, is greater than he. And from the time of John Baptist hitherto, the kingdom of God suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied unto John. And if ye will receive it, this is that Elijah, which was to come. He that hath ears to hear let him hear. But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto little children which sit inthe markets, and call unto their fellows. And say, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced, we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of men came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a glutton and a drinker of wine, a friend unto Publicans and sinners: but wisdom is justified by her children. Then began he to upbraid the cities, wherein ost of his great works were done, because they repented not. Woe be to thee Chorazin: Woe be to thee Bethsaida: for if the great works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they had repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it shall be easier for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou Capernaum, which art lifted up unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the great works, which have been done in thee, had been done among them of Sodom, they had remained to htis day But I say unto you, that it shall be easier for them of the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. At that time Jesus answered and said, I give thee thanks, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise, and men of undertanding, and hast opened them unto babes. It is so, O Father, because thy good pleasure was such. All things are given unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father: neither knoweth any man the Father, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.. Matthew 11
- What profit hath he that worketh of the thing wherein he travaileth? I have seen the travail that God hath given to the sons of men, to humble them thereby. He hath made everything beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, yet cannot man find out the work that God hath wrought from the beginning even to the end. I know that there i snothing good in them, but ot rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man eateth and drinketh, and seeth the commodit of all his labor. This is the gift of God. I know that whatsoever God shall do, it shall be forever: to it can no man add, and from it can none diminish: for God hath done it, that they should fear before him. What is that that hath been? that is now and that that shall be, hath now been: for God requireth that which is past. And moreover, I have seen under the Sun the place of judgment, where was wickedness, and the place of justice, where was iniquity. I thought in mine heart, God will judge the just and the wicked: for time is there for every purpose and for every work. I considered in mine heart the state of the children of men, that God had purged them: yet to see too, they are in themselves as beasts. For the condition of the children of men, and the condition of beasts are even as one condition unto them. As the one dieth, so dieth the other: fo they have all one breath, and there is no excellency of man above the beast: for all is vanity. All go to one place, and all was of the dust, and all shall return to the dust. Who knoweth whether the spirit of man ascend upward, and the spirit of the beast descend downward to the earth? Therefore i see that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his affairs, because that is his portion. For who shall bring him to see what shall be after him? Ecclesiastes 3:9–15