May 2008


 

 

Genesis 9

The Covenant with Noah

 

This is where the purpose of a burnt offering is explained: “The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth” (9:2)

And after the burnt offering, God makes a covenant with Noah (and his people and animals): “I establish My covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations. I have set My bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth…” (9:11-13)

setting the bow in the clouds is a symbol of putting down one’s arms (retirement of battle)

The Sons of Noah

 

Shem, Ham and Japheth- “These three were the sons of Noah; and from these the whole earth was peopled.” (9:19)

This makes it easier for me to understand how the whole earth could become populated. While I believe Adam and Eve were the beginning, it was hard for me to visualize all the people coming from them.

Noah was naked, asleep and drunk- Ham was embarrassed and left to find his brothers. Shem and Japheth went back to their father and covered him up. This causes Noah to curse Canaan (the land of Ham) and announce that Canaan would be a slave to Shem and Japheth for his insolence.

Noah dies at 950 years old.

Genesis 10- Nations Descended From Noah

 

 

This is a genealogy of Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth and their territories. In the beginning of my Bible study I did not quite understand the significance of the “he beget him who beget him” sections, but now I see the purpose of expressing the direct link from Noah, through Abram (both with whom God made covenants) and on down.

Genesis 11

The Tower of Babel

 

Personally, I think this is a fascinating story and shows God’s humorous and quirky nature, usually related to either a person’s doubt or pride. In this case it is the whole earth’s pride. The Tower of Babel was built by the people to honor false gods and the people, showing their waywardness and denial of their true God. And moreover, the whole earth had one language, making communication amongst themselves simpler while deteriorating their relationship with God. Possibly prior to Noah’s time, God would have wiped them from the face of the earth, but because of the covenant He did not. Instead, God, with such cleverness and irony (From whom did you think we inherited those traits?) chose to take a different action. He said to Himself, “Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so they will no understand one another’s speech,” (11:6-7) and He scattered them across the world.

FYI, in Hebrew, “Babel”, translated from “balal”, literally means “to confuse”. And I just now finally understood the meaning of Brad Pitt’s movie of the same name. (Okay, so I never claim to be very quick.)

The Descendents of Shem and Terah

 

Here’s the genealogical timeline from Shem:

Shem— Arpachshad( —Shelah—Eber—Peleg—Rev—Serug—Nahor—Terah—Abram, Nahor and Haran (died)—Lot

Matthew 4

 

The Temptation of Jesus

Jesus led by Spirit into wilderness to be tempted by the Devil

40 days and 40 nights (like Noah, Moses & Elijah- Ex.24:18,34:28, Deut.9:9, 1 Kings 19:8)

Jesus fights and triumphs over temptation by quoting Scripturetempted 3 times, each time at physically higher location- wilderness, pinnacle of temple, mountaintop (is this symbolic?)

Satan quotes Scripture as well and appeals to greed, pride, doubt…

tempted to:

1. make stones into bread- He says one can’t live on bread alone but on God’s words

2. throw Himself down- He says Don’t tempt God

worship Devil and get all kingdoms- He says He will only serve God

—–JESUS is the LAST ADAM—–

Jesus Begins His Ministry in Galilee

Jesus hears of John the Baptist’s arrest, and He “withdrew” into Galilee

7th (of 14) prophecy fulfilled (Isaiah 9:1-2)

“From that time” Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Mt. 4:17)

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

Jesus Ministers to Crowds of People

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I’ve been having these occurrences a lot lately that I will think or write or say some analogy thinking it is of my invention only to find some form of it days later in Scripture. Hmm… I feel very blessed these days. I know I have always been blessed, but with the fog gone from my head, I can feel it. It’s amazing.

Genesis 5– From Adam to Noah

This chapter is an account of the descendants from Adam to Noah and it reads like the geneology of Jesus. It is of note that all descendants mentioned lived to be over 777 years old except Enoch, who “walked with God” and at 365 (hmm..) days old “he was no more, because God took him”. (5:24) I think I mentioned before the connection between lifespan and goodness/evil. This is another instance. Also Abel, obviously the more innocent and God-fearing of the two, was spared his brother’s fate of a long earthly life. Only the good die young?

Genesis 6– The Wickedness of Humankind and The Command to Build an Ark

This is a very pivotal and unique event in biblical history. God took a look around at all of the corruption of man, and “the Lord was sorry that He made humankind on earth, and it grieved Him to His heart” (6:6). He decided to wipe it all out, except Noah who, for some unexplained reason, had “found favor in the sight of the Lord”.(6:8) So, God commands Noah to build an ark using His very detailed instructions (including the type of wood, dimensions and specifications) and tells him to gather his family and a pair of each animal to avoid the impending flood (God’s wiping away of all evil). Wow! I cannot imagine what my reaction would be if I just received the news from God that Noah did. But Noah obeyed.

Genesis 7– The Great Flood

The Lord explains the exclusion of Noah from his wrath by saying “I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation.” (7:1) Then, more sevens. God wants Noah to take seven pairs of clean animals, seven pairs of birds for the flood occuring in seven days for forty days and nights.

After Noah takes everyone in: his wife, his three sons and their wives and all the pairs of animals, “the Lord shut him in” (7:16). Pause for a moment and let the whole thing sink in. God “shut him in”, protecting him like a huge cargo box floating along the torrential waves.

Genesis 8– The Flood Subsides and God’s Resolve Not to Destroy

After 40 days and nights, Noah thinks it’s a good idea to check things out, so he sends a dove out in search of dry land. He does this a few times (in seven day increments), but the dove kept coming back. Eventually God tells him to take his family and the animals off the ark. What I find so striking in this story is that Noah, who had just experienced something NO ONE else (other than his family) had experienced, something he knew was of God, something for which God had prepared him with a very detailed blueprint, yet Noah didn’t wait for instruction to get off the ark, he tested things out with the dove. But God didn’t forget him, and at the appropriate time, He let Noah know it. These tales are timeless aren’t they? I love that the Bible is a living book, just the way God designed it to be!

After Noah’s arrival on the land, he makes the first altar mentioned in the bible. And something crucial happens, God makes a promise. He promises to never again curse the earth or destroy every living creature because, He said, “the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth” (8:24), hence we are born with sin.

Matthew 3– The Proclamation of John the Baptist and The Baptism of Jesus

I’m just going to do my best to paraphrase this chapter in layman’s terms. God-willing you will feel the power, the humility, the glory of Jesus Christ. It doesn’t need any commentary from me.

John the Baptist, God-apointed foreteller of the Messiah’s coming, was baptizing people in the Jordan River. Anyone who came and confessed his sins and repented, John would submerge them in the waters so they could emerge a new child in Christ. People came from every where, God-led. Pharisees and Sadducees (the Jewish law enforcers and school of thought that was in all ways opposite to Christ’s teaching) came to be baptized and received a warning; John the Baptizer warned them to “bear fruit worthy of repentance” and to not assume that just being children of Abraham (God’s “chosen” people) was not enough, that “one who is more powerful than [John the Baptist] was coming after” (3:11) Then, there is a gap of time, nothing is talked about between John’s profession and…

Jesus’s Baptism. Jesus came to John the Baptist in the Jordan River to be baptized. Okay, I can’t paraphrase it any better, so here is it, pulled straight out of the NRSV version. Matthew 3:13-17:
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Wow! I try to imagine how this felt to John, he knew he wasn’t worthy. Yet, there Jesus was, flesh and blood, standing in front of him. Did John fall to his knees, did he cry, smile, what expression was on his face? I guess we’ll all know that feeling when we get to Heaven.

John “would have prevented him” (3:14), meaning he was going to say something, but then Jesus answered him. Have you ever had a time when the Lord answered your questions before you even asked?

Okay, so it is day 2 and this is already proving to be a much more formidable task than I had assumed. It’s not the reading, more the writing and all the millions of questions I can form from thirty or so verses. As a result I haven’t kept up with my Beth Moore 90 Days book (okay, so its been 2 days since I have read it). But, I still feel it is extremely important to do this, so I will do my best…

Genesis 3– Expulsion from the Garden

I assume most of us know the gist of this story, or at least we think we do. The snake goes to Eve (either because of her being the more gullibile or influential of the two) and tells her about the tree of knowledge. You know, God’s one and only no-no. The serpent says if she eats from the tree she can be “like God, knowing good an evil” (Gen. 3:5). Sounds appealing enough. So she eats some and gives some to Adam. Their eyes are opened, the realize they are naked so they makes themselves loincloths. Then my favorite part happens. They hear God coming so they hide. They go amongst the trees and try to hide from God. Maybe if they put their hands over their eyes He wouldn’t see them. But, obviously this doesn’t work. God knows where they are, but he still plays the seeker- “Where are you?”, he asks Adam. Adam blames it on Eve, Eve blames it on the serpent. God punishes the serpent, then He punishes Eve, then He punishes Adam, in that order. After replacing the pair’s loincloths with animal skin garments(hence, the first dead animal and the first death), God kicks Adam and Eve out of Eden, “to till from the ground from which [they were] taken” (Gen. 2:23). This act caused enmity, or hostility, to first appear, between the serpent and Eve, but more widely in all relationships that ever followed.

Now I know it’s often been a subject for argument as to why the serpent chose Eve. Mysoginists can say it’s because Eve was the weaker, dumber, more foolish, or more impulsive. I offer a different view. First, it needs to be noted that Adam was with her when this happened (see Gen. 3:6), so clearly he was not off doing something righteous, he was in on it too. But, nevertheless, the serpent appealed to Eve, and this is why I think that is. God had not spoken directly to Eve at this time, only to Adam, so not having so much a foundation on which to stand, it is obvious why Satan would choose her. And, more importantly, I think Eve had far better powers of persuasion than her husband possessed.

I am struck by the hide-and-seek nature of the events following THE sin. I laugh at the thought of Adam and Eve thinking they could hide from God, but I’m puzzled and somewhat comforted by how God searches for them, or pretends to, anyways. He asks Adam where he is. When Adam acknowledges his nakedness, God yet again asks him as if He doesn’t already know. He lets Adam tell his story and place his blame, but, in the end, Adam is justly and individually punished, as is Eve, as is the serpent. That is free will.

Genesis 4– Cain Murders Abel and The Beginnings of Civilization

After Adam and Eve are booted from Eden, the world begins in a sinful fashion that is easily recognizable today. Eve born Adam two children, Cain and Abel. In jealously (emnity?), Cain kills Abel, committing what was to be the very first murder the world ever experienced. God again played a bit of hide-and-seek with Cain. Like his father who hid from God after his sinful act, Cain also tried to trick God but telling Him, “no, I don’t know where he is, I am not my brother’s keeper“. I wonder if Cain assumed he could outsmart God. Maybe He did; this was just the beginning of God really showing His people the power that He possesses. I also wonder what grief, regret, anger Eve and Adam felt knowing that this horrible tragedy was a direct result of what they had done. It does not say, but Genesis 4:13-16 emphasises the only regret Cain had was that he was being punished. He hoped someone would kill him, but, Our God, being The God that He is, marked him and prolonged his life many years and helped begin civilization. I am seeing clues that God sometimes prolonges the lives of the wicked and, in the next few chapters, shortens the lives of the good, delaying or rushing, respectively, our greatest gift, Heaven. The new Eden, if you will. (Randy Alcorn wrote a fabulous book this subject, simply (oh! and yet so profoundly!) called Heaven

Matthew 2– The Visit of the Wise Men, The Escape to Egypt, The Massacre of the Infants, and The Return to Nazareth

I love the way in which this chapter shows how God’s path is very rarely straight. I believe it is the most fulfilling and it is always leading toward God, but there are often twists and turns, surprises, and the connections of many people, events and prophecies come together former such an amazing picture. God is the ultimate storyteller! And what a story for it to be! A story about Jesus’s birth and all the commotion surrounding the most important story in history.

So, Chapter 2 begins with the 3 wise men coming to worship Jesus. Upon arriving in Jerusalem, they were met by Herod who, hearing their proclamation of the “king of the Jews” (2:2), instructed them to look for Him in Bethlehem. Herod’s motives were evil; he lied saying he too wanted to pay homage to the child when the truth was he was going to kill Him. Obviously Herod’s role in this is essential, Herod’s evil is neccessary in the whole context of the story. Someone said once that God looks through a macro-lens, seeing far greater than we can and tying things together to all serve His greater good. God did not let Herod’s evil triumph, however, and used many warnings through dreams and the Holy Spirit to direct His people away from harm. First, the wise men were warned in a dream to not go back to Herod, and they obeyed. An angel appeared to Joseph then in a dream instructing him to take his family and flee to Egypt because Herod was seeking to kill the infant Jesus. Joseph obeyed. Herod found out about the wise men’s trick and infuriated he had all babies under two murdered. Eventually Herod died and another angel appeared in another dream to Joseph telling him it was safe to return to Israel as no one was seeking Jesus’s blood any longer. Joseph obeyed. He was afraid when he saw the current leader in Judea (the son of Herod) and had another dream warning him not to reside there, and again Joseph obeyed.

Are you starting to see where my point here? Had the wise men not come, Herod would not have known and would not have been tricked and would not have massacred the infants (an act from which Jesus escaped because an angel told them to leave). All of this seemingly chaotic wandering around serves to fulfill the word of God, namely the first four of fourteen (7×2?) similarly structured prophecies in Genesis. (I will give a complete list at the end of Genesis). And I just love that God lets each person do the footwork, sometimes giving vague instructions (go to Israel? Could You be a little more specific? Is there a house waiting there for me?) but when His words are followed we stay in His arms, living out an infinitely complicated journey leading us Home.

QUESTION: What does Genesis 4:26b mean? “At that time people began to invoke the name of the Lord.” (NRSV ed.)

Genesis 1– Six Days of Creation and the Sabbath

It’s funny to me that I missed how awe-inspiring this first chapter (that we’ve all heard) is. So, seven days, huh? This seems to be the beginning of the importance of the number 7- and I know it represents something, so I will investigate it further while I’m reading. This is a glimpse of how we Christians believe God created the universe (and frankly, in my opinion, how He said He created it). And it goes something like this…

Day 1- light, day 2- sky, day 3- earth, day 4- sun and moon, day 5- birds and water creatures, day 6- land creatures and Man, and on the 7th day, God rested and delighted in his creation.

I found that there are surprisingly (to me) many verses that I felt the need to expound on. So, I’ll start, logically, with the first thing I found that I deemed worth mentioning. Before God started His creation process, there was “a formless void and darkness [that] covered the face of the deep” (Gen. 1:2) along with wind, which is attributed to God’s breath. This is only translated this way in the New Revised Standard version (among the 5 versions I’ve looked at), but I love the imagery. I imagine an amniotic sac, with a child waiting to be born, complete darkness surrounding him but louder than any rumble of thunder he hears God’s breath, his deep inhaling and exhaling, rhythmically, keeping time to this blackness.

When I was a little girl I remember waking up at night and being too scared to stay upstairs in my room. I made a habit of running and leaping over the floor vent right at the top of the stairs because all that floor vent was to me was a deep black hole (it went from the 2nd floor to the ground, so there was no light) into which my dad had warned me I could fall forever- presumably to keep me from doing precisely what I did. I hated that vent, but I was willing to tolerate it to go climb into bed next to my dad and listen to his deep breathing, trying to copy his perfectly rhythmic pattern until I fell asleep. Its just breathing, but it was so comforting to me.

So, while I’m sure there was a certain peace to God’s breath in the darkness, God decided to make light, which He did effortlessly. I am captured by they way God’s creations are expressed, that He made them and then saw that they were good. Never does it say “God thought it was good so He made it.” I’m not sure that there is significance to this, being the novice Bible studier I am, but I like it. God doesn’t make bad. But… on day one, God did something not mentioned regarding any other of His creations, He separated the light from the dark. I find this point to be very interesting, it doesn’t say (in this part of Genesis, at least) that the dark was bad, in fact, before all this God was ruling over the darkness in, what seems to me to be, a peaceful way. It’s as if the presence of light made the dark bad, or that is my interpretation now.

The talk of day and night/ light and dark I know is a common theme in the Bible and I’m sure far more profound and significant than I understand at this time, but at the end of each “day”, it says “And there was evening and there was morning, the first [second, third, etc] day”. Maybe there isn’t a reason that evening is always mentioned before morning, but I doubt it. I have two hypothesis that I will humbly let go of if someone can provide me a truer meaning, but I will mention them (either boldly or stupidly) anyways. First, darkness preceded light in all of creation, so perhaps the order of evening and morning is an allusion to that, morning is the culmination of the creation, what came out of the darkness, what was next. Or… it was referring to the time following each day, that at morning it was the following day. As I write that, wow, it seems logical, but I am going to hold tighter to my first analysis because I have to believe there is possibly a deeper meaning to it all.

The end of Chapter 1 talks about God creating Man out of his own image, but I find that Chapter 2 really helps me see the importance and effort in it. So, with that, I feel I’ve said what I wanted to say, at this time, about chapter 1.

Genesis 2– The Garden of Eden

I absolutely love that essentially every creation God made, save Man, He did basically by saying “poof” and it appeared, no effort, He just said it and it was. But, He got His hands dirty with Man. Genesis 2.7 says “then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.” (NRSV trans.) He formed us from dust (also, I think, a frequently used word); He breathed life into us. He got His hands dirty, I know He did.

The chapter goes on to talk about Eden and God’s commandment to Adam (and Eve, whom God created as a partner to Adam, while Adam was sleeping- after Adam named the animals- from Adam’s rib). He wanted them to take care of the garden, to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28), these things are mentioned in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 focuses on what God told the pair not to do- eat from any tree they wanted, just not the tree of knowledge, because it would cause them death. This really caught me. I know this story, or I thought I knew it, at least this part, yet I was still surprise. But that is what I so dearly love about the Bible; every time I take a look at it, more meaning is revealed. God told them this for their own good (and His- which are in essence the same to me), so that they may live in the Heaven He created for them, free from death. And He says “shall”, which to me has the power of “may”; He doesn’t say “don’t” or “you can’t”. He doesn’t say “I don’t want you to”. He says you shall not. And thus begins our free will (which, as you’ll see, we don’t use very mindfully).

The one other thing I wanted to mention is actually a question I have yet to find the answer for: In 2:4, it seems to me that it was talking about God making man on the third day, while earlier he was made on the 6th. I’d love some more clarity on this or to know that it doesn’t mean much.

Matthew 1– The Geneology and Birth of Jesus, the Messiah

From what I gather, the first half of this chapter is a declaration to the Jews showing that Jesus was descendant of David (son of Abraham), thus fulfilling the prophecy of the Messiah. Someone begot someone who begot someone else who then begot another person, all the way from Abraham to Joseph and then to Jesus, who was actually biologically related to Mary, not Joseph, but placed into this lineage by God. So, that’s that. And, by the way, another name for Jesus is Emmanuel, which means “God with us”. Yep, that seems to sum it up to me.

‘Til tomorrow…