[bible:365 2013] Genesis 16-50

This chunk of reading is quite a lot to cover in one post, so I’m just going to highlight a few thoughts/observations.

22:6 – I proposed a connection in a previous post between the sacrifice of Isaac and the sacrifice of Jesus, but didn’t include this passage in my comparison.  I find it interesting in seeing parallels between the two events, that both Isaac and Jesus carried on their backs the wood that was meant to be the instrument of their sacrifice.  How does this relate to Jesus telling us we must “take up our cross” and follow him (Luke 9:23)?

28:12 – Jacob’s ladder is a topic I honestly don’t think I’ve ever studied or heard anyone speak of.  Ever.  My entire life in church and 4 years getting a double degree in Biblical Studies and Youth Ministry, and not once was this passage expounded upon.  After some brief research, I found a common two-fold interpretation of this vision: that the ladder, with God’s presence at the top and the angels ascending and descending, is a comfort to Jacob as a representation of God’s providence and the ministering of the angels on earth, and in a post new-covenant reinterpretation, claims the ladder as representative of Christ, the one whom forms the bridge between God in heaven and man on earth. Some interesting thoughts, and something I would like to come back to study later. continue reading

bible:365 Genesis 11-15 [2013]

Terah died in Haran.

Terah left the land of Ur, heading for Canaan, but he never made it.

He settled in Haran, and died there. (Genesis 11:31-32)

How many times do we settle for Haran? How many times do we start out, only to settle partway there?  Be it a job, a hobby, a relationship, a project, or whatever, we often settle for less than we intended.

Why is that?

Why, when we start out with a goal in mind, do we often end up saying “good enough,” leaving it there, unfinished, unperfected. I know often for me it’s because I don’t think I can make it any further/better, and so live with what I have. Or, it doesn’t seem that important to put the effort in to making it better: it’s good enough the way it is.

I suppose I am continuing with the topics from my last two posts, wondering how I can remain steadfast in the goals I have set, to not settle for anything less than God’s best for my life. I don’t want to settle in Haran, but I feel like I’ve been camping there for the last few years. I’ve gotten sidetracked on the journey to Canaan, and have stayed longer than I wanted.  But how do I continue on? continue reading

bible:365 Genesis 1-10 [2013]

Looks as though New Years resolutions are still on my mind after yesterday’s post.

The first portion of this reading that really stuck out to me is from Genesis 2:3:

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work he had done in creation.

Well, if we’re talking about things I did not do so well in the past year, “remember the Sabbath, and keep it holy” is certainly one of them.

While the Pharisees had it wrong, and the Sabbath is not about a laundry list of  what you can and cannot do on a given day, that doesn’t negate it’s importance, and God’s command to remember it.

In Genesis God works for six days, and on the seventh He rests. But why? Surely the Lord Almighty doesn’t need to rest. It’s not as though he’s all tuckered out from a hard week’s work, wanting nothing but warm slippers and a cup of tea while sitting on the couch. While he might enjoy those things, it’s not necessary for him, he doesn’t need to recover from a difficult week. So then why rest if he doesn’t need to? continue reading

[bible:365] Days 8-10 – Genesis 35-50

I love the Joseph story (and it’s various retellings. Technicolor Dreamcoat anybody?). It’s always been a particular favorite of mine, seeing how God uses one man to impact so many people, even though things don’t always seem to go well for him.

I can’t imagine what it would have felt like to be him: to be sold into slavery by your own brothers. The sense of abandonment he must have felt, and yet he never turns away from God. Then, to go from rock bottom as a slave in a foreign country to being household overseer for an important man, only to have it all taken away from him when he did nothing wrong. I can’t believe I ever complain about my circumstances. continue reading…

[bible:365] Day 7 – Genesis 31-35

Our heros are not perfect.

These people, those we herald as the “heroes of the faith” were not perfect: they had very real flaws, made very real (and often disastrous) mistakes, and did not follow God perfectly.

This is something that I have noticed throughout Scripture, but it really stood out to me in today’s reading. Honestly, it’s one of the most comforting themes I see in Scripture: that those extolled for their faith were not perfect.

In this reading, Jacob does not trust that God will take care of him. God has promised Jacob blessings and descendants, and tells Jacob he will be with him as he returns to the land of his father (21:3). But despite this, Jacob is fearful of Laban, continue reading…

[bible:365] Day 6 – Genesis 26-30

It’s pretty neat to see how God reaffirms his covenant with Isaac in the beginning of chapter 26. Abraham has died, so now the covenant has been passed to Isaac, of which God reminds him. God reveals himself to the next generation and passes on the covenant again in chapter 28 with Jacob.

I grew up in a Christian family, so God and church was my life. But really, my faith wasn’t mine; it was the faith of my parents, and I was living it because it was the thing to do, and there were no other real options at that age. But the summer before eight grade, continue reading…

[bible:365] Day 5 – Genesis 21-25

Sometimes I feel like I pass over the birth of Isaac as just another birth story. I almost did it writing this. But then I stopped and thought about it: this is a big deal. This is God’s covenant with Abraham finally coming to fruition. It’s in chapter 12 that God first promises to make Abraham into a great nation, and Abraham is 73 at this point. It takes almost 30 years for this promise to begin to be fulfilled. After such a long time of waiting and praying for the child from whom this great nation will spring, the hope and joy felt at his birth must have been astonishing. The child that was promised had finally arrived; how joyful Abraham and Sarah must have been.

This makes the almost-sacrifice of Isaac that much more astonishing. I don’t have children of my own, so I can’t speak from experience, but I can imagine the thought of sacrificing your own child continue reading…

[bible:365] Day 4 – Genesis 16-20

I wonder if we would laugh too.

God comes to Abraham and Sarah, again affirming that they will have a child, and they both laugh! This occurs in both accounts of God foretelling the birth of Isaac, with Abraham laughing in the 17:1-21 account, and Sarah in the 18:1-15 account. The idea that they could have a child at such an old age sounded ridiculous to them, despite the fact that it came from God.

We might look at this and say, God told them they were going to have a son, how could they not believe! But I wonder, should God reveal his plans for our lives, would we not find it equally ridiculous and crazy, and perhaps laugh at the suggestion that we could do such a thing?

The birth of Isaac is foretold as part of God’s covenant with Abraham, and in chapter 17 we get our first picture of what God expects in return: circumcision. What??? continue reading…

[bible:365] Day 3 – Genesis 11-15

The Tower of Babel

The Tower of Babel story is rather odd. It’s a story I’ve heard since I was a child, and I always thought it was pretty crazy, but reading it now it’s just plain odd. The people want to “make a name for themselves” and build a tower to the heavens, and according to God, they can accomplish that goal because they all have one language. At this point, the story seems to be about the power of a people united, that “nothing they propose to do will now be impossible for them” (11:6).

But God sees something bad in this; whether it’s the pride that they want to glorify themselves, that they think they can reach heaven, or that he sees where this will lead (“this is only the beginning of what they will do.” 11:6), he decides this cannot be allowed to happen. So he divides them. According to this story, God is the source of language barriers.

I look at this and can’t help but wonder, was it worth it? continue reading…

[bible:365] Day 2 – Genesis 6-10

What I found myself thinking about the most as I was reading these chapters is our perspective of God. Any listing of characteristics attributed to God will include things like: eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, immutable, infinite, incomprehensible, and transcendent. I’m not saying that these things are not true of God, I just wonder if they’re true in the way we imagine them to be.

In my experience, I’ve seen how this perspective of God tends to set Him apart from us, or maybe more accurately, sets us apart from Him. continue reading…