3 Don’t When Reading Genesis

Genesis is hard enough as it is; here are three things NOT to do when reading the first book of the Bible (and to keep in mind as we read the rest of the Bible).  [This post first appeared on my blog, www.andrewforrest.org, 1/19/15.  I thought it might be helpful as we wrap up reading Genesis.  –AF]

"The Tower of Babel," by Pieter Brueghel
“The Tower of Babel,” by Pieter Brueghel [c. 1563]

Continue reading “3 Don’t When Reading Genesis”

January 25 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 50:1-Exodus 2:10:

  • 15-21 – Our sinfulness has long-lasting consequences. We often face them long after the actual situation is over. Joseph’s brothers still have guilt and shame on them and assume their brother will now pay back evil for evil. Instead, Joseph recognizes his place in the situation and recognizes that God redeemed to good what his brother meant for evil.
  • 26 – Unlike his father, Joseph had made Egypt his home and was fine with being buried there.
  • 7-14 – With a new king and the death of Joseph, the Egyptians quickly forget the good Joseph did for them. As the Israelites grow in size and strength while they live in Egypt, the Egyptians grow fearful of them and eventually enslave them to keep them under control.
  • 15-16 – Pharaoh is trying to control the Israelite population and their ability to join enemies in war.
  • 17-21 – Sometimes faithfulness seems impossible. The midwives chose faithfulness even though it was in direct disobedience to the king.
  • 1-10 – Moses’ mother finds a way to give him a chance at life. Moses’ sister’s quick thinking allows his mother to nurse and care for him.

Matthew 16:13-17:9:

  • 13-20 – Peter is the first of the disciples to identify Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus blesses him because this was clearly revealed to Peter by the Father. Peter becomes the rock of the church and is given great authority going forward.
  • 21-23 – This is a quick transition between Peter being told he would lead the church to being called Satan. In this section, Peter puts his own plans for Jesus ahead of God’s.
  • 24-25 – Note that no one knew Jesus would take up an actual cross at his death. He is calling them to be willing to make the same kind of sacrifice he will soon make.
  • 28 – Though somewhat confusing, this is not intended to mean that some of the people standing there would still be alive when Jesus returned a second time. Though there are many interpretations, one feasible one is that Jesus is saying that some people would live to see Christ reign in the world. Many were alive as Pentecost and then the spread of the church began. Some even led it.
  • 5 – This is the same phrase recorded from Jesus’ baptism.

Psalm 21:1-13:

  • Note that many psalms filled with violence and seeking revenge still end with praise and exultation of God. Clearly praise was a fallback whether times were good or bad.

Proverbs 5:1-6:

  • This section gives a great description of just how seductive temptation can be. We would much more easily avoid temptation if it wasn’t attractive and sneaky. Before we know it, we have followed temptation into destruction.

January 24 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 48:1-49:33:

  • 8-11 – Jacob expresses his excitement and gratitude for not only seeing his long-lost son again, but also for getting to meet his grandchildren.
  • 14-22 – In an interesting twist, like in his own life, Jacob assures that the younger brother receives the greater blessing. Manasseh was the older brother, but Jacob blesses his Ephraim with carrying on the line of Israelites.
  • 21 – Jacob assures Joseph that his family will not always remain in Egypt, but will return to the land God gave them. This won’t happen for a while, but will happen.
  • 1-28 – Jacob, before dying, offers specific blessings to each of his sons. Though he blesses the actual sons, their blessings come to, in part, define the tribes they will become.

Matthew 15:29-16:12:

  • 29-31 – We often want to receive recognition for the good things we do. Jesus did miracles in order to give God glory. When we recognize where our strength and abilities come from, it is easier to give God the glory since it is his already.
  • 32-39 – A very similar story to the feeding of the 5,000. It would seem that the disciples should have assumed Jesus would perform another miracle and yet they still seem to look for logical solutions from him.
  • 1-4 – The religious leaders ask Jesus for a sign to prove his identity even though he has just healed, exorcised, and performed a variety of miracles.
  • 4 – The sign of Jonah relates Jonah’s story with Jesus’ upcoming plight. Jonah was in the whale for 3 days and Jesus will be in the tomb for 3 days. Both exited.
  • 5-12 – Once again, the disciples are somewhat dense. They’ve just seen Jesus feed multitudes with meager amounts of food and they’re worried about his provisions for them. Jesus, in the midst of this, warns them against a greater danger, the Pharisees’ and Sadducees’ teachings.

Psalm 20:1-9:

  • 7-8 – Where this verse lists horses and chariots as things they trusted in over the Lord, we could probably fill those blanks differently. Verse 8 reminds us who is forever in control.

Proverbs 4:20-27:

  • These wise words sound like the verse of every parent giving sound, solid wisdom that could keep their children away from a multitude of heartache. Like the hearers of this proverb, we too struggle to take them at face value.

January 23 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 46:1-47:31:

  • 2 – Once again, a servant of God hears his voice and responds, “Here I am.” It should be an aspirational goal that we begin to respond to God’s callings with “Here I am.”
  • 26-27 – Now all of Jacob’s family moved to Egypt where Joseph was in control.
  • 9 – This is an interesting admission. Though Jacob clearly served God in a variety of ways and was blessed abundantly. Jacob should not be viewed as a moral role model, but an example of God using flawed people for his grand purposes.
  • 23-26 – Because of Joseph’s shrewdness, the Egyptian government is able to sustain all the people through the famine and gain all the land. He then implements a 20% tax to ensure the Pharaoh will have enough grain forever.
  • 27 – This is how the Israelites ended up in Egypt, which eventually put them in slavery. Check out the full explanation here.

Matthew 15:1-28:

  • 1-9 – Once again, The Pharisees are tied to the law to justify themselves. They continually seek out ways to questions Jesus’ actions, but Jesus rarely answers to them. Like now, he calls them out for their own sins. Here Jesus recognizes the Pharisees denying their elderly parents’ financial support in order to gain wealth while saying their giving to God.
  • 10-11 – A common theme throughout the New Testament is that good trees bear good fruit. Jesus uses this again to explain that you can tell the heart of a person based on what comes out of them.
  • 21-28 – This is a difficult passage. The unnamed woman is a gentile and Jesus originally denies her request claiming that his mission is strictly for the Jews. It is interesting that he says this while withdrawing from the Jews to a city filled with gentiles. It is possibly he was simply testing her faith because he doesn’t send her away like the disciples encourage him to do. Ultimately, her persistence and faith are rewarded.

Psalms 19:1-14:

  • 7-11 – David delights in God’s commandments and the laws that govern him. The law is perverted by religious authorities, particularly in Jesus’ time, to allow them to withhold love, mercy, and goodness. When we delight in and see the goodness in the law, we don’t have that tendency.

Proverbs 4:14-19:

  • 14-15 – We often allow ourselves to get too close to temptation assuming we are strong enough to withstand it. The proverb wisely encourages us to avoid it altogether.

January 22 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 44:1-45:28:

  • 1-13 – The brothers had promised, even to the point of risking the lives of their own children, to bring Benjamin home safely to their father. Finding the cup in Benjamin’s bag must have been devastating.
  • 16 – Judah is most likely referring to their guilt due to selling Joseph and lying to their father about it for all those years.
  • 33 – Judah offers himself up as a replacement for Benjamin as a servant to Joseph. When the brother sold Joseph into slavery, it was originally Judah’s idea. Everything is coming full circle.
  • 1-3 – Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers just as they’re begging for him to release Benjamin.
  • 5-8 – A beautiful act of grace and understanding. Joseph recognizes that God worked good out of what others intended for evil. Joseph was in Egypt at the perfect time to sustain tons of people through the famine.
  • 25-28 – Jacob understandably had difficulty believing that Joseph could be alive since he had believed for many years that he was killed by an animal. He makes it one of his dying efforts to go and see him.

Matthew 14:13-36:

  • 13 – When Jesus heard about John the Baptist’s death he retreated.
  • 14-21 – This miracle story is included in all 4 gospels. Very few stories are in all 4.
  • 23 – Note how many times throughout the gospels they mention Jesus going off by himself to pray.
  • 28-33 – Peter gets a bad rap because he sinks, but notice that he’s the only one that trusts Jesus enough to even get out of the boat. Also, this is a clear instance of when our faith fails, Jesus fills in the gap and takes care of us. This also elicits belief in the witnesses.
  • 34-36 – Clearly the story from chapter 9 where the bleeding woman is healed by touching the hem of Jesus’ garment had spread.

Psalm 18:37-50:

  • This Psalm is about a specific instance of God rescuing David. He describes how God handled his enemies when Saul was chasing after him and trying to destroy him.

Proverbs 4:11-13:

  • This gives great confidence to those who do follow wisdom. You can feel secure in your steps forward.

January 21 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 42:18-43:34:

  • 21-22 – Joseph’s brothers are still haunted by the evil they did to him so many years ago.
  • 28 – They assumed they would somehow be accused of stealing. They felt like God was repaying their evil.
  • 38 – Joseph and Benjamin were the only two sons from Rachel.
  • 16-25 – The brothers still have not recognized Joseph and are terrified that they are being lured into a situation where they will be punished for stealing the money they brought last time, even though they didn’t intentionally steal it. Why else would the overseer of all of Egypt want them to come to his house?
  • 30-31 – Joseph must have had a wealth of emotions. He was finally reunited with the brothers who had betrayed him as well as his youngest brother who would have been quite young when Joseph was sent away.

Matthew 13:47-14:12:

  • 47-50 – This sounds like a harsh judgment, but the hearers and now, the readers, have received warning after warning of what decisions we need to make and how we are to live.
  • 53-58 – As will continue to become clear, their culture was one of honor and shame. Everything about you either brought honor to you and your family or shame. Jesus came from a small town and a normal family. Those in his hometown saw nothing impressive or honorable about him.
  • 1-11 – John the Baptist was beheaded because Herod was weak. He did not want to have John killed, but he was clouded by drunkenness, the pressure of a crowd, and a hormonal spike caused by a young girl dancing.
  • 12 – We don’t often think of Jesus’ emotions, but he had to have been extremely sad about the death of his cousin and friend. We do know that Jesus knew John would die in prison because the message he sent to him earlier purposely failed to mention prisoners being released.

Psalm 18:16-36:

  • 20-24 – Most of us do not want the Lord to reward us based on our righteousness. Instead, we want the Lord to reward us based on the righteousness of Christ.
  • 36 – A beautiful image of grace. When the Lord makes our steps wide, it is harder to miss the places he intends for us to step.

Proverbs 4:7-10:

  • 10 – This verse offers a cause and effect. If you listen to and accept the words of wisdom you will receive a long life. We tend to like to know what we’re playing for, so this is helpful information.