bible-in-a-year


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.

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.

 

 

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

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.)

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