Originally, Israel had no king. That’s how God designed it. But, as usual, we humans have a gift for messing up God’s intentions. The system of judges was no different. So, if you’re ready for some corruption and intrigue, dive right in.
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).
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.”)
Welcome to Munger’s “The Bible Project”! You are brave and wise to begin this year-long project of reading the entire Bible. So, in this first week, here are a few things to think about:
- The Bible should be read as one huge story (told through a lot of smaller stories, songs, eye-witness accounts, letters, etc.) that tells us how much God loves humanity and the lengths he was and is willing to go to in order to be connected with us.
- The Old Testament is the story of God trying to keep this connection through one specific family – the Israelites. (This week you’ll read about the events that lead up to that family and, on day 5, meet the patriarch.)
- The New Testament is the story of Jesus coming to earth to teach us how to live and then to die to save us all. The remainder is the early Christians figuring out how to live as faithful followers of Christ until he returns.
- Each day you will also read passages from the Psalms and Proverbs. The Psalms are songs and poems written with raw human emotion. Note that anything you’ve felt – joy, rejection, sorrow, elation – are all expressed through the Psalms. Proverbs, on the other hand, are written with the intention of guiding the reader in wisdom. Many actions are contrasted as wise or foolish.
While there is a lot more to know about the Bible, let that be a starting point. Don’t expect to understand everything and if you have questions, ask them. Find a few people to read with so you can discuss your findings and hold each other accountable.
You can do this! And trust us, it will be well worth it!