“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (v. 17). - Matthew 5:17
Patience is a virtue, it is said, probably because waiting is so difficult. Young children find themselves having to endure an almost unbearably long stretch of school days before the freedom of summer. Engaged couples spend what seems like ages waiting for their wedding day even though the ceremony may be only a few months away.
After the fall of man (Gen. 3:1–13), God turned us over to the consequences of our sin. Strenuous labor, pain in childbirth, broken relationships, and finally death would be our lot (vv. 16–19). Yet our gracious Lord spoke good news as well. His curse would not last forever; one day the seed of the woman, a people holy unto the Lord, would crush the serpent and his seed (vv. 14–15). Thus began our long wait for Satan’s defeat.
Our Father did not start over from scratch to keep this promise but chose some out of fallen humanity to be His own. Abraham and his seed would be the family through which God would bless the world (12:1–3). For centuries Abraham’s offspring waited for the great blessing they would share with the world. Yet though there were times when the patriarch’s seed blessed the earth (47:13–26; Jonah 1–4), most of the nation of Israel failed to be salt and light to the world; thus, the Lord kicked them out of the Promised Land (Deut. 28:58–68; 2 Kings 17:7–23; 25).
But God also promised an even greater blessing would come if His exiled people repented (Deut. 30:1–10). The covenant community would go back to their land and a holy son of David would rule the world when they turned to Yahweh (Isa. 35; Zech. 12:7–9). Israel did return to Palestine (2 Chron. 36:22–23), but national repentance did not follow (Mal. 2:10–17; 3:13–15), and the Jews lived as a shadow of their former selves, under the heel of one empire after another.
However, the faithful remnant in Israel continued to trust God for His blessing. Four hundred years or so after the voice of prophecy fell silent in Israel, the Father sent Jesus His Son to fulfill His promises (Matt. 5:17). This is the Gospel of this Jesus, according to Matthew.
Take the time to look over Matthew. Find one passage that you have not spent much time examining. Meditate on that text today and ask the Lord to help you focus on His message. Commit yourself again to lead the life of discipleship to which our Savior has called you, a life that you can live by grace through the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16). Thank Him for His transforming work in your life.
Passages for Further Study
- Leviticus 26:44–45
- Matthew 4; 12:15–21; 28:16–20
- Luke 5:27–32
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