Jan. 7 – Genesis 16:1-18:19

 

Genesis 1-11 is about how the world became such a mess.  Genesis 12 begins the story (which is still unfolding) of what God is doing to fix the mess.  God’s plan is laughable: he will save the world through one man’s family.  That man is Abram (later called Abraham).

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There is a problem, however: “Abraham and Sarah [his wife] were old, advanced in years, and “the way of women had ceased to be with Sarah.”  In Genesis 15, we read how God made a covenant with Abram and promised Abram as many children as there are stars in the sky, and that through that family would God bless the whole world.  So the fact that Abraham and Sarah still do not have children is a major problem.

In Genesis 15, Sarah takes matters into her own hands and decides to have Abraham father a child through her servant.  He does, and unsurprisingly the servants pregnancy causes problems in the family.  Whenever we decide to use our means to achieve God’s ends, it always goes badly for us.

16:6, One of the original sins of men is passivity.  That was Adam’s sin at the Fall–“It was the woman YOU gave me, Lord”–and that’s Abram’s sin here (along with the obvious sin of lust.”  He agrees to do what he knows is wrong by sleeping with the maid, and then he refuses to speak up for her.  I think this verse is heartbreaking.

16:11-14, Circumcision is like a gang tattoo: it’s meant to signify your allegiance.  Think of the significance, then, that baby boys are circumcised before they know what it signifies.  What this means is that God’s covenant comes to us first, before we deserve it or earn it.  It is a covenant of grace.

16:18-19, Abraham wants God to make the covenant with his son Ishmael, the first-born.  But, as we’ll see over and over again with the patriarchs, God subverts primogeniture and chooses the younger son.  God has a way of subverting human expectations.

17:17 – Abraham thinks God’s plan is ridiculous.  And he’s right.  But, God works in ridiculous ways.

18:1-8 – Note the picture of ancient Near Eastern hospitality: Abraham drops what he’s doing to care for his guests.

18:1 – It’s a very mysterious guest that Abraham entertains, but though we know it is a divine guest, Abraham does not.  (The event is referenced in Hebrews 13:2: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”)

–AF

January 7 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 16:1-18:19:

  • 2 – Note that God did not tell Abram to make a child with Hagar. Abram listens to Sarai, his wife, about how to fulfill God’s plan instead of trusting God to take care of it.
  • 11 – Like we find our Jewish and Christian roots in Isaac, Abraham’s son, Muslims find their roots in Ishmael.
  • 5 – There are many cases of biblical characters’ names being changed when something significant happens to them. Names defined identity in this culture so a name change was a big deal.
  • 1-14 – God defines the terms of his covenant with Abraham. He promises to make Abraham’s offspring countless. In return, he asks that all males in Abraham’s family be circumcised as an outward sign of their commitment.
  • 14 – Each of us should memorize the first half of this verse.

Matthew 6:1-24:

  • 1 – Our good deeds should not be for show.
  • 9-13 – The Lord’s Prayer. This is a perfect example of how to pray: adoration, asking for what we need, asking for forgiveness, and asking for God to lead us towards holiness.
  • 19-21 – What we treasure is where we place our value. It is not wrong to have things, but we should hold God and his will high above anything we could possess.
  • 24 – It seems so easy to split our loyalty, but we are not truly loving God if we are loving something else equally.

Psalm 7:1-17:

  • 3-9 – Clearly David is confident that he is on God’s side and obeying God’s will in the situation he’s referring to. He even asks God to judge him according to his own righteousness, which I don’t feel like any of us would be willing to do.

Proverbs 2:1-5:

  • We often make attempts to seek God through a variety of means, but what if we sought him like silver and hidden treasure? How much more would we find him if we sought him with that kind of fervor.

Jan. 6 – Genesis 13:5-15:21 – Andrew

If you miss Genesis 15, you miss the point of the entire Old Testament!

15:1-24 – This chapter contains the mysterious and absolutely essential account of the covenant God makes with Abram (who gets a new name, Abraham, as a result).  The entire rest of the Bible is a consequence of this covenant.  So, why is this important?

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Forgive me for quoting myself, but I wrote a blog post about this on my personal blog 2 years ago that I’d like you to read: http://andrewforrest.org/2015/01/23/take-the-abraham-quiz/.

Here’s the point.  Note that God, in making the covenant with Abraham, promises to also uphold Abraham’s side of the agreement!  God is committing to be cut in half if the covenant is violated.  Jesus is God’s response to the failure of humanity to keep the covenant, and Jesus was crucified–cut in half–because humanity couldn’t keep the covenant.  The entire scripture is about the covenant God made with Abraham, and how God uses Abraham’s family to bring salvation to the entire world.

See below for other brief glosses on today’s reading.

13:18 – “The oaks of Mamre.”  This description will occur throughout the rest of Genesis, and I always find it interesting to think about how striking these trees must have been to be used as a place designation.

14:14 – “318 of them.”  Abraham is extremely wealthy–he has 318 trained fighting men working for him.

14:17-24 – Melchizedek has long puzzled commentators:

“Who is the mysterious king-priest Melchizedek? He is not mentioned in the genealogies of Genesis. Announced as a priest of God most high, he appears out of nowhere to officiate over Abraham’s victory celebrations, and he disappears just as suddenly. As Calvin observes, ‘This Melchizedek, whoever he was, is presented before us, without any origin, as if he had dropped from the clouds, and . . . his name is buried without any mention of death.'” -R.R. Reno, Genesis

The author of Hebrews in the New Testament sees Melchizedek as a Christ figure, but we’ll wait until we get to Hebrews to discuss him.

–AF

 

 

January 6 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 13:5-15:21:

  • 8-13 – Because Abram was Lot’s uncle, he should have received first choice of the land, but he humbly allowed Lot to choose first. Lot chose the better land, but landed himself in a town that disobeyed God.
  • 19-24 – Abram wisely refuses riches from the king of Sodom so that he could not attribute his wealth and blessings to anyone or anything other than God.
  • 1-5 – God makes a huge, impossible sounding promise to Abram. He was old and had no children so it seemed impossible that his offspring would be numerous.
  • 6 – Abram’s faith in God’s ability to do the impossible was counted to him as righteousness. In Hebrews chapter 11 there is a list of various Bible characters who’s faith was credited to them as righteousness. Our faith in Jesus is our only hope for righteousness.
  • 13 – This refers to when the Israelites are enslaved in Egypt.

Matthew 5:27-48:

  • 29 – What lengths are we willing to go to in order to be blameless?
  • 31-32 – In Deuteronomy Moses gives the hard-hearted Israelites instructions on how to divorce because they were doing it anyway. Jesus makes divorce that much more difficult.
  • 33-37 – Letting your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’ asks you to be trustworthy on your own merit so you don’t have to put the responsibility on something else.
  • 38-42 – This kind of teaching would be jarring to the Jewish religious leaders because Jesus is changing up the teachings of Moses. The religious leaders did not realize that he wasn’t negating the laws, only making them more difficult by asking his followers to display additional mercy and grace.
  • 43-48 – It’s easy to love those we like. Jesus calls us to love like God loves.

Psalm 6:1-10:

  • 5 -–Sheol was where ancient Jews believed all people went after death. It was not a pleasant place. David is asking for his life to be spared because he would not be able to praise God from Sheol.
  • While it is many of our tendencies to blame God when we face difficult times, David sought God’s help in difficult times.

Proverbs 1:29-33:

  • There are consequences for not following the wisdom of the Lord. It gets us into trouble and while it’s easy to blame God for not saving us from the destruction, it’s harder to accept that it was by our own actions we received the consequences.

January 5 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 11:1-13:4:

  • 1-9 – Humans, once again, were trying to become more powerful and God could see the disasters that would ensue so he changed their languages so they would not be able to work all together anymore.
  • 27 – Enter Abram who will later be known as Abraham.
  • 1-3 – Though this sounds like a great deal for Abram, and it was, it would have been scary to leave behind the rest of your family and go to a land you don’t know.
  • 10-20 – Abram clearly didn’t trust God to take care of him in the place and situation God sent him. Trusting in things other than God seems to be the most prevalent sin in Scripture.

Matthew 5:1-26:

  • Matthew chapters 5-7 are Jesus’ most famous sermon, The Sermon on the Mount.
  • 2-12 – These are The Beatitudes, which means “blessings”. Jesus offers up very counter-cultural blessings, which go against who we think receive our earthly blessings. These saying nothing about success, wealth, or fame.
  • 16 – When we have and know the love of God and salvation of Jesus, they should be things we want to share because we recognize how powerful and necessary they are.
  • 17-20 – Jesus didn’t negate any of the laws, he simply took them further. Also, both Jesus and the writer of Matthew found it important to frequently remind the reader of the various ways Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies.
  • 23-24 – Jesus calls us to love first and then to fulfill our religious obligations. We can show our love for God by loving others.

Psalm 5:1-12:

  • David asks God to hear his prayers and then becomes extremely raw about how he wants the Lord to punish a variety of his enemies. We truly can take anything to the Lord in prayer.

Proverbs 1:24-28:

  • Verses 26 through 28 do not sound like a godly, gracious response, but remember that this is Solomon writing from the perspective of wisdom. When we ignore wise counsel, we will feel mocked by what we were so clearly advised to do.