Now that we’re right in the middle of the story of the Israelites, let’s review!
It’s hard keeping track of all those sons of Jacob. Hope this helps.
- 1-29 – Rebekah and Jacob tricked Isaac to bless him instead of Esau. Jacob had already tricked Esau out of his birthright and now he attempts to steal his father’s dying blessing. Jacob is sneaky and a liar and yet, he seems to be blessed over and over.
- 30-42 – When Esau lost his birthright, it was, in large portion, his own fault. In this case, however, he was simply obeying his father and due to his mother and brother’s trickery, he loses his blessing as well. Esau’s anger is understandable.
- 46 – Jacob has to flea because of his and his mother’s deceitfulness. Rebekah is afraid Jacob will marry a Hittite woman while he is among them, but if that were to happen it would be a consequence of her sin.
- 1-8 – The Pharisees think Jesus is blaspheming because they don’t realize his divinity and think forgiveness is not something he can offer.
- 10-13 – The Pharisees were far more concerned with the practices of holiness while Jesus was focused on redemption. Jesus quotes the prophet Hosea saying, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” In other words, God desires for us to offer love and grace that lead to change rather than simply going through the motions.
- 16-17 – The new emphases of the faith Jesus brought could not be contained by the constraints of the old law and practices.
- 17 – There are a number of times when Scripture mentions God hearing the cries of the afflicted. Most notably, God hears the cries of the Israelites in Egypt, which starts the process of a mass exodus.
- 9 – It is easy to give from the leftovers of our abundance, but it takes real trust to give God your first and bust.
- 1-16 – Abraham was unwilling to accept a burial spot for Sarah as a gift from the Hittites. He insisted on paying. Like in the story where he was asked to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham knew and believed that all his blessings were from God. He could not allow someone’s gift to disrupt that.
- 1-4 – It was important to God, and thus Abraham as well, that Isaac not inter-marry with a Canaanite, which would have been easy since that was the land they lived in.
- 14 – Watering camels was a long, laborious job since camels drink so rarely, but when they do it’s in high volume. Offering to water someone else’s camels would have been a big commitment.
- 10-33 – In this society, meeting at wells often led to marriage. Laban was pleased that his sister had met a man at a well for this reason.
- This section is filled with 3 healing stories. It is important to notice when anything in the Bible comes in 3s. This means it is being emphasized.
- Note that of the three healings, one is a leper, who is considered unclean and is often outcast, another is a centurion, who is a gentile’s, servant.
- 10-13 – Israelites, because of their covenant with God, sometimes considered themselves above others. Jesus is explaining that this man, though not part of the chosen people, would be with Jesus because of his faith, while some Israelites were banking on their heritage.
- There are several terms like “Higgaion” and “Selah” whose meanings are not certain. They are presumed to be some sort of musical term since the Psalms often have instructions such as that they are “for the choirmaster”.
- 3 – In Deuteronomy chapter 6, Moses encourages the Israelites to bind God’s word around their head and wrists and to write it on their hearts. This is a similar command and purposely mirrors that of Moses.
- 5-6 – Familiar, encouraging verses reminding us to trust in God first and we will be rewarded with straight paths.
Congratulations good and faithful servant! You’ve made it to week 2!! You’ve already covered hundreds and hundreds of years of Biblical history in Genesis and the first 30 years of Jesus’ life – I consider that good progress.
This week you will continue to learn about the Israelites, the family known as “God’s people.” Specifically, you’ll read about The Patriarchs. These were the original fathers of the Israelites: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
One thing to be wary of as you read: do not read these characters like they are moral compasses. They are not! They are simply imperfect people who God chose to use for big things.
Does that frustrate you? It does me sometimes. Confession: I can’t stand Jacob. I think he’s a total weasel. But, God chose to use him. And honestly, it should actually be a comfort because if he can use Jacob, he can probably use me too. That’s good news.
Switching gears to the New Testament, we pick up in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ most famous sermon. Then we head into the thick of his ministry with his disciples.
One important thing to pay attention to this week is noticing just how counter-cultural Jesus was. He completely flips what faithfulness looks like on its head. While the religious leaders were calling for strict adherence to the letter of the law, Jesus was encouraging people to go beyond the law to grace, mercy, and love. The religious leaders were not fans – drama ensues.
The Psalms continue to feel. The Proverbs continue to teach.
Happy reading to all!