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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This gives great confidence to those who do follow wisdom. You can feel secure in your steps forward.
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.
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.
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.
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.
17-32 – As Joseph makes clear in yesterday’s reading in verse 16, Joseph is not responsible for the interpretation, God is. Joseph is just the vessel.
32 – As we’ve said before, when things are repeated, it means it’s important and should be paid attention to. This is no different with Pharaoh’s dreams.
37-45 – Joseph’s faithfulness in the midst of adversity pays off.
45 – Potiphera is not the same as Potipher whose house Joseph served in and was falsely accused in.
1 – This is Jacob, Joseph’s father.
4 – Benjamin was still young and Jacob had already lost the only other son of his favorite wife, Rachel.
6-10 – Joseph’s dreams that frustrated his brothers when they were young, were now coming true. Joseph recognizes his brothers but they don’t recognize him because there is no way they could have imagined this scenario.
12-17 – Joseph uses this ruse because he wants to see his younger brother.
24-30 – A very powerful parable! God could have destroyed all the people who did not believe in him at any point, but he chooses not to because the destruction of all of them would certainly damage the faith of many believers. We see this even in reading Scripture and feeling sorry for the wicked people in Noah’s day who were drowned. We wonder why God had to destroy them. So God allows believers and non-believers to prosper even if it might make it more difficult for believers.
31-32 – Mustard plants grow quickly and are wild plants.
33 – Clearly Jesus wanted to describe the many intricacies of the kingdom of God. The fact that there are three parables describing the same thing means he wants you to take special note of this.
44-46 – It is unprecedented for a theme to be repeated five times so quickly. The order of the kingdom of heaven was necessary to understand.
David attempts to describe the power of God and how he comes to our aid when we earnestly cry out for help.
Solomon doesn’t just ask the reader to take from his lessons, he too took the lessons from his father, David.
1-6 – Joseph’s life was a series of extreme ups and downs. He was the favorite son and had dreams of ruling over his family, but then was sold into slavery, but now has risen to power in his master’s house. There is more to come.
7-20 – This is one of those rare times when you’re punished for something you are completely innocent of. Joseph must have wondered where God was and what he was doing in this situation.
21-23 – But it is made clear that God had not forsaken Joseph, but sustained him throughout his time in prison.
20-23 – Joseph’s dream interpretations were accurate, but the chief cup bearer not remembering him must have been disheartening.
16 – The Lord has been with Joseph throughout his ups and downs and even though he has experienced some pretty low lows, he continues to give the glory to God and to rely on him.
46-50 – Jesus is showing that following him is the most important connection people can have. Commitment to Jesus even trumps the bonds of blood relatives.
10-15 – To some degree, there is protection in not understanding the truths of Jesus’ identity and importance. With knowledge comes responsibility to act accordingly.
18-23 – Jesus explains the parable to the disciples, which rarely happens.
This Psalm shows David’s extreme trust in God. Phrases like, “I call upon you, for you will answer me,” and “Hide me in the shadow of your wings,” indicate his steadfast trust in God in the face of trials and enemies. This assures us that God is trustworthy.
3 – Joseph was also the firstborn of his beloved wife Rachel.
4-11 – Joseph was, to some extent, set up for failure, but he also did not help himself by sharing a dream that indicated that he would rule over his brothers.
13 – The response, “Here I am” runs throughout the Bible. It is a response of willingness and honor.
18-24 – Reuben, the oldest brother keeps the other brothers from killing Joseph out of envy and anger. They throw him into a cistern, a deep pit meant to collect rain water, which was important in such an arid climate.
28 – Through a long series of events we will soon read about, Joseph is taken to Egypt, where all the Israelites eventually end up enslaved. It is amazing how the brothers’ sin ends up in the enslavement of the whole nation.
1-30 – This is a series of Judah and his family being sinful and facing the consequences. Two of his sons were killed for not doing right in the sight of the Lord. He was unfair to Tamar and she ends up pregnant by tricking him. Overall, it sounds very dysfunctional.
22-28 – Jesus makes a good point of how he couldn’t possibly cast out demons by the power of a demon. This would clearly not work. But if the Pharisees admit that Jesus works by the power of God, they have to acknowledge his connection to God and ultimately that he has the same authority as God.
31-32 – This is a difficult section, but the best explanation I’ve heard is: many people denied that Jesus was the Son of God when Jesus was alive. They, however, had another chance to be forgiven when the Holy Spirit was sent after Jesus died. Those who continued to denounce Jesus and the Holy Spirit once the Holy Spirit came, had no other option for revelation and would not get another chance to believe.
35 – This is why we can’t expect to ingest all the evil things of this world and still produce good fruit. We will produce what we consume.
38-41 – Even the Ninevites, who were considered extremely wicked, repented when Jonah brought a message of repentance. The people of Jesus’ day had a far greater witness in Christ than Jonah and yet they still didn’t believe.
1 – David knew what it was to be protected or to take refuge in the Lord. This requires a great deal of vulnerability and trust.
5 – David also realized that God was his provision. We often try to provide for ourselves.
This is a variety of ways to live in harmony with those around you and to treat them with kindness and dignity. We are called to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.