June 2008


Genesis 20

Genesis 21

The Birth of Isaac

Hagar and Ishmael Sent Away

Abraham and Abimelech Make a Covenant

Genesis 22

The Command to Sacrifice Isaac

The Children of Nahor

– Abraham and Sarah at Gerar

 

Matthew 7

 

Instructions on Conduct and Prayer

 

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” (v. 1-2)

. . .”you hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.” (v.5) J J

And one of my favorite verses so far:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (v. 7-8)

A Series of Warnings

 

Enter through the narrow gate.

Beware of false prophets.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (v. 21)

“Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them will be like the foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against the house, and it fell—and great was its fall!” (v. 24-27)

And, the end of Jesus’ first discourse (“Now when Jesus had finished saying these things…”) in the book of Matthew occurs in verse 27.

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Genesis 18

A Son Promised to Abraham and Sarah

The Fate of Sodom

Genesis 19

The Depravity of Sodom

Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed

The Origin of Moab and Ammon


Matthew 6

The Piety That God Rewards

Jesus offers advice on how the disciples should practice their piety, focusing mainly on how to pray and offers “The Lord’s Prayer” as example.

Jesus teaches more about prayer:

“Whenever you pray, go in your room, shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (v. 6)

Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (v. 8 )

Orientation to God

Frankly, a lot of these chapters where Jesus is teaching, I feel I have little to add. As this is my first time studying the bible, I think it would be wise just to note what I see as important teachings.

JESUS TALKING TO HIS DISCIPLES:

“Do not store up yourselves treasures on earth…but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” (v. 19-20)

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (v. 21)

“The eye is the lamp of the body.” (v. 22)

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (v. 24)

“And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” (v. 27)

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you- you of little faith? Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all those things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (v. 30-34)

Genesis 15

God’s Covenant with Abram

“Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” (15:1) The conversation back and forth between Abram and God speaks for itself, so I am reprinting it (at times paraphrasing) here: Abram says to God, “O, Lord, what will you give me?” referring to the fact that his wife, Sarai is barren, and that he has no biological heir. (15:2) God reassures him, “no one but your very own issue shall be your heir” (15:4) and brings Abram outside where He compares Abram’s descendants to the number of stars in the sky. Abram believed God, and God “reckoned it to him as righteousness”. (15:6) God tells Abram that the land in which he is currently inhabiting will be his to possess. Abram, doubtfully asks, “How will I know I possess it?” to which God simply instructs him to bring offerings and build an altar.

I find this is often the case with God. Thinking I will get an immediate direct answer to a question, I am continuously reminded that the route to anything I want, and the answer to any question, comes first from my worship of (and focus on) God.

Then, the calm mood changes as a “terrifying darkness descended upon” Abram (15:12).

A deep sleep fell upon Abram before the “terrifying darkness”. If Abram is asleep, who is terrified? Is terrifying not a subjective word? I am starting to think that I may be looking to deeply into such subjects, but I honestly do not believe anything ended up in the Bible by accident, that it is constructed in a way that answers are found in the seemingly simplest and most insignificant of places.

It is at this time, when the darkness is fully upon the sleeping Abram, when God speaks, uninterrupted, and makes the sole reference to the events of the Exodus found in Genesis. God Abram him know that there will be conditions to the possession of the land (or the “but”). And the “but” is this: “Know this for certain, that your offspring shall be aliens in a land that is not theirs, and shall be slaves there, and they shall be oppressed for four hundred years; but I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for yourself, you shall go to your ancestors in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” (15:13-16)

I have a few thoughts about this promise and plan that God expresses to Abram. I am always amazed by God’s perfectly laid plans and his impeccable timing. For some reason, though, I am always trying to figure out why He does what He does sometimes. As for this story, the story of the Exodus could have been avoided, correct? I am going to really focus on how this story knits together and the undeniable evidence that it could (or should) not have been any other way.

The notes at the bottom of my NSrV Bible, the explanation for the 400 years, or 4 generations is this: a society’s evil can take as long as four generations to mature before warranting divine retribution against the whole people. And God knows exactly how this is all going to play out, right? He watches as the people, for four generations continue to commit sins bringing them closer and closer to divine retribution, but He waits. He has a perfect rhythm in place, and we work either with it or struggle against it.

Genesis 16– The Birth of Ishmael

Sarai assumes the Lord had presented her from bearing children, which prompts her to tell her husband to “go in to” here slave-girl, Hagar, so that he may have an heir. Abram listened to the voice of Sarai (listen being a play on the name Isaac- their son born later), and Hagar conceived. This causes contempt between Sarai and Hagar, and Sarai decides she has done wrong (or, conveniently blames it on Abram): “May the wrong done to me be on you!” (16:5), she tells him, “may the Lord judge between you and me.”

Abram tells his wife she can deal with her slave-girl however she wants (as a slave rather than his mistress), so Sarai deals harshly with her and Hagar runs away from her. The rest of the chapter concerns Hagar’s situation. <BR> Hagar: an angel comes to her at a spring in the wilderness where she has stopped and he (do angels have a sex? or are they all referred to as “he?) asks her where she came from and where she was going. How I love the irony in God, Jesus and the angels always asking questions to which they clearly know the answers. Hagar explains her situation, saying she ran away from her mistress, Sarai. The angel then tells her to return and submit to Sarai and (usually the pronoun “I” the angel speaks as if he is God or has God’s authority) states “I will so greatly multiply your offspring”.


Then Abram says something to Hagar that brought up a number of questions for me: “Now you have conceived and shall bear a son; for the Lord has given heed to your affliction. He shall be a wild ass of a man, with his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him; and he shall live at odds with all his kin.” (16:11-12) Okay, so God gave heed to her affliction? If Ishmael (meaning “God hears”) is to be a “wild ass of a man”, how really is God taking pity on her? It seems to me that she is being punished, or maybe at a lesser extent than one would usually be for committing adultery. So, my questions are, 1. Is God punishing Hagar or looking favorably on her?, and 2. Why did God speak to Hagar through an angel? Is there a significance to when the Lord appears and when He uses angels to proclaim His messages?


Hagar names god “El-roi”, most likely translated as, “God of seeing” or “God who sees”, and asks “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing Him?” Hagar gives birth to Ishmael when Abram is 86 years old.

Genesis 17– The Sign of the Covenant

Genesis 12

The Call of Abram

Abram and Sarai in Egypt

Genesis 13

Abram and Lot Separate

Together, Abram and Lot have too many possessions to continue to share the land, and Abram decides they must separate. Abram gives Lot the pick of the land, and he chooses to move toward Sodom for it appears to him to be the better pick. Abram moves to Canaan.

The phrase “dust of the earth” is introduced in this chapter.

Genesis 14

Lot‘s Captivity and Rescue

Sodom and Gomorrah and other nations were at war against the rebellion. The enemy took all goods from Sodom, including Lot and his goods. An escapee tells Abram. Abram responds by gathering the best warriors and together with them he rescues Lot, his goods, the women and the people.

Abram Blessed by Melchizedek

Melchizedek is a “priest of God Most High” (14:18), meaning, unlike much of the civilization at that time, he worshipped the true Lord. Melchizedek blesses Abram after their meeting, and, out of respect and duty to God, Abram gives Melchizedek 1/10 of all that he has. The word, “tithe”, literally means 1/10 and this is the first reference to tithing (though not called that) in the bible.