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Matthew 4:12-17

A Significant Work

12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; 13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.


There are some churches today that teach a doctrine that borders on the blasphemous idea of manipulating God. They believe that we can get the Holy Spirit to do just about anything we want any time we want. They deny the omniscient and sovereign nature of God.

God is not a responsive being. That is to say that He does not respond to the actions and works of men. He knows, from the beginning of eternity to the end of eternity, everything that will happen. He has built His plan for the creation around that foreknowledge. Then, for example, when we pray His answer is not a response, but a predetermined part of His plan. The answer to our prayer has always been established and waiting for the right time in God's plan to be given to us. That is why we are to pray fervently. God uses our prayer to bless us.

In these verses, we can see an example of the precise timing of God's plan, which demonstrates how important the work that we do for God truly is.

Writing to the Jews, and being a Galilean himself, Matthew skips over the events found in John 2-4 and begins with Jesus' ministry in Galilee. Jesus went to Galilee upon hearing that John was cast into prison. John was the voice crying in the wilderness, sent to prepare the way for the Lord. "He must increase, but I [must]decrease." (Joh 3:30)

Now, John's work was finished. He had a place in God's plan. His preaching, his baptisms, his arrest and finally his death were all known by God beforehand and used to His great purpose.

John's arrest was Jesus' cue to go to Galilee so that the prophesy of Isaiah 9:1,2 might be fulfilled. Zabulon and Nephthalim were to the north and northeast of the sea of Galilee, but their exact locations are not known. The Gentile people of that region would hear Jesus preaching. They lived in the darkness of idolatry, but would have this visit by the Light of the World.

John had decreased as he had prophesied, and Jesus was now beginning to increase. It was God's timing and God's plan, as the responsibility for carrying God's message was transferred from the lesser to the greater of the messengers. "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." John had introduced it. Jesus would fulfill it.

Like John the Baptist, everything you do for God plays an important role in His plan. He already ordained the work and the results. You have the privilege and honor of being a part of that work. Every word you speak, every line of praise you sing, and every soul you lead to Christ is God's work. He wants you to be a part of it.

Even Jesus could do nothing except He saw the Father doing it first (John 5:19). Our task is to look for the signs that God is at work in a person or place and to join in that work. Look for opportunities to be a part of His plan, instead of making your own plans and asking God to bless them. God's work is significant and it will add significance to your life when you join Him.

Before The Throne:

Pray that God will show you what He wants you to be doing as clearly as He showed Jesus and John the Baptist before Him. The honor of joining Him deserves your worshipful and obedient response. Thank Him. Praise Him. Honor Him. Love Him with all your being. Above all, commit your life to serving Him.

For Further Study:

(v.12)
** when. Mark 1:14; Mark 6:17; Luke 3:20; Luke 4:14, 31, 43, 54;

(v.13) ** leaving. Luke 4:30-31; ** Capernaum. Matt 11:23; Matt 17:24; Mark 1:21; John 4:46; John 6:17, 24, 59; ** Zabulon. Jos 19:10-16; ** Zebulun. Nephthalim. Jos 19:32-39;

(v.14) ** it. Matt 1:22; Matt 2:15, 23; Matt 8:17; Matt 12:17-21; Matt 26:54, 56; Luke 22:37; Luke 24:44; John 15:25
John 19:28, 36-37; ** saying. Isa 9:1-2;

(v.15) ** Galilee. Josh 20:7; Josh 21:32; 1Kgs 9:11; 2Kgs 15:29;

(v.16) ** which sat in darkness. Ps 107:10-14; Isa 42:6-7; Isa 60:1-3; Mic 7:8; Luke 1:78-79; Luke 2:32; ** shadow. Job 3:5; Job 10:22; Job 34:22; Ps 44:19; Jer 13:16; Amos 5:8;

(v.17) ** that. Mr 1:14; ** Repent. Matt 3:2; Matt 9:13; Matt 10:7; Mark 1:15; Luke 5:32; Luke 9:2; Luke 10:11-14; Luke 15:7; Luke 15:10; Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19; Acts 11:18; Acts 17:30; Acts 20:21; Acts 26:20; 2Tim 2:25-26; Heb 6:1; ** kingdom. Matt 11:12; Matt 13:9, 11, 24, 47; Matt 25:1;

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