In the Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5–7], Christ delivered an elaborate teaching on living in the image of God: i.e., living and interacting with people for the purpose of representing God in everything we do and accomplishing the objectives that he places on our paths. The teaching consists of two parts. First, he provided a set of eight principles for living in the image of God, which are known today in Christianity as The Beatitudes. Second, he described the essence of living in the image of God using examples from everyday life. We discussed the Beatitudes (first part of the Sermon on the Mount) in Part 1 of this study at This_Link. This week, our discussion focuses on the second part of the Sermon on the Mount.
This is the second of a two-part study from the genealogy of Jesus, to examine the lives of a number of individuals that would have been considered unsuitable based on ordinary standards of current society. Because God selected each of them to be part of the lineage of Christ, we can draw lessons from their lives regarding his purpose for human interactions and relationships. We select four persons—Perez, Boaz, Obed, and Solomon—because the bible provides additional information to enable an understanding of their lives and, potentially, their inclusion in the genealogy. We discussed Perez and Boaz in Part 1. This session looks at Obed and Solomon.
PEREZ, SON OF JUDAH We learned in Part 1 that Perez was a fulfillment of God’s blessing for Judah that was passed to him from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. Furthermore, Judah earned blessing by offering to sacrifice himself for his junior brother Benjamin. We noted he may have also incurred punishment later for marrying a Canaanite or going to bed with a woman he thought was a prostitute that turned out to be his daughter-in-law. However, any punishment he incurred had no effect on his blessing. The blessing was fulfilled in Perez, a grandfather along the lineage of Christ.
BOAZ, SON OF SALMON AND RAHAB Also, we learned that Boaz was a fulfillment of God’s blessing for Rahab, the prostitute that harbored two Israeli spies in Jericho. Rahab earned blessing because she feared God and protected people she believed were on a mission for him notwithstanding their mission included spying on her people. Any punishment she incurred for prostitution had no effect on her blessing. The blessing was fulfilled in Boaz, a grandfather along the lineage of Christ.
TWO-PART STUDY From the genealogy of Jesus, we examine the lives of a number of individuals who would have been considered unsuitable based on ordinary standards of current society, yet God granted each of them the special favor of being identified as a grandfather along the lineage of our Lord Jesus. We select four persons for the study—Perez, Boaz, Obed, and Solomon—because the bible provides additional information to enable an understanding of their lives. We discuss Perez and Boaz in this session. Obed and Solomon will be discussed in Part 2 of the study.
EARNED BLESSING AND INCURRED PUNISHMENTWe learn based on the study that one can earn blessings even if he/she has previously incurred punishment. Earned blessing and incurred punishment are parallel promises from God. An earned blessing remains effective until fulfilled, irrespective of any other occurrence in the person’s life. Similarly, incurred punishment would remain effective until fulfilled, unless forgiven upon true repentance by the sinner. In any case, incurred punishment does not prevent earning blessing; it does offset, and is not offset by, earned blessing.
GOD DOES NOT NEED PERFECTION Therefore, a person does not need to be perfect to find favor with God. One could earn blessings or experience fulfillment of earned blessings even with incurred punishment in his/her past. The examples in this study provide evidence that all are invited to seek opportunities for blessing. Imperfection does not present insurmountable obstacle against earning blessing.
Any blessing earned by a person remains effective until fulfilled at its time. Also, any incurred punishment, unless forgiven, remains effective until fulfilled at its time. Earned blessing and incurred punishment are parallel promises. There is no trade-off of one against the other.
We learn this through this week’s bible study on interactions between David and Bathsheba. King David had an affair with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, while Uriah was at the war front fighting for Israel. She became pregnant from the affair. David tried to cover up the affair, first by attempting to trick Uriah into sleeping with his wife. When he realized Uriah would not fall for the trick, David ordered that he be over-exposed at the war front so he would be killed by the enemy. The plot was successful. Uriah was killed in the battle. David married Bathsheba thereafter and she gave birth to a son from the affair. But God was not deceived.
An opportunity to earn blessing often may be encountered first as a call to be compassionate. For example, when Joseph had compassion on two fellow inmates in Potiphar’s jail, he did not realize that the encounter was an opportunity for him to demonstrate competence that would later propel him from jail to the highest administrative position in Egypt. The two men were Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer and chief baker and were held in the same jail with Joseph.
In this bible study, we learn about Jacob’s departure from Canaan to live with his uncle in Paddan Aram. Informed that Esau was threatening to kill Jacob, Rebekah advised Jacob to flee to Paddan Aram. However, to secure Isaac’s approval, she presented a different case that she could not bear the possibility of Jacob marrying a Canaanite. Isaac was convinced by this argument and instructed Jacob to move to Paddan Aram. Thus, Rebekah persuaded her husband by focusing on an issue that she and her husband were likely to agree but did not mention her other concern that could have led to a disagreement with her husband.
In a previous bible study (Banking Blessings through Positive Human Interactions) we learned about God’s promise to bless any person that provides selfless service to benefit others in need. This week we study an example from the wonderful testimony of the life of Joseph, the 11th son of Israel. An act of compassion that Joseph performed to two fellow inmates in jail triggered a sequence of events that culminated in grand blessing for him, the people of Egypt and their neighbors, and Joseph’s family in Canaan.