Friday, December 29, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Monday, October 23, 2006
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
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Friday, September 22, 2006
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Monday, September 18, 2006
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Monday, September 11, 2006
The book of Genesis is important for a few reasons. All of the books in the Bible are important, obviously, but Genesis is one of the ones that really stands out in peoples’ minds. Not just because it’s the first book—although this is where many people will start, when they’re going to read the entire Bible, because it makes sense to start at the beginning—but also because there are so many familiar and important stories in this one book.
Monday, September 04, 2006
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Monday, August 21, 2006
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Monday, July 31, 2006
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Monday, July 24, 2006
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Friday, July 07, 2006
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Monday, July 03, 2006
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Monday, June 19, 2006
The Flood—Part 1
SynopsisThis chapter begins the story of Noah and the flood, but before it does, it contains an interesting little historical footnote, in verses 1–3:
When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
This seems to indicate that God put a limit on how long a human can live, with the cap being 120 years. Obviously He is not saying that everyone will live exactly 120 years, no more, no less; most people don’t live nearly that long.
Anyway, back to the flood. The entire story is told in chapters 6–8, as follows:
- Chapter 6: God’s reasons for the flood
- Chapter 7: The flood happens
- Chapter 8: The waters recede, and Noah comes back out of the ark
The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.”
With one important exception, in verse 8: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.”
The rest of the chapter reiterates that “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.” God goes on to explain to Noah what He is going to do—and why He is going to do it—and instruct Noah to build the ark, into which Noah is to bring two of every living creature, male and female. God also gave Noah instructions on how to build the ark; what materials to use, how big it should be, etc. It’s only a few verses, though. (Compare that with instructions for the building of the temple, or the tabernacle, which will take up multiple chapters, in upcoming books!)
ThoughtsMy first thought is about verses 1–3, before the story of the flood: I’m not 100% sure what the Bible means by “the sons of God”. Angels? Doesn’t sound likely. Demons/fallen angels/whatever? Seems more likely to me. In any event, it seems very strange. But I think these verses are put here because they’re an example of how wicked mankind had become. Again, I’m not really sure if that is the case; maybe it’s unrelated to wickedness, and that part of the story only starts in verse 5.
On first reading—especially if this is your first time through the Bible, and you’re not familiar with God’s sovereignty—it seems like God was about to wipe out mankind, and then came across Noah, and said “Phew! There’s one good one! Now I don’t have to destroy all of them; I can keep him.” However, we have to keep in mind that God is in control, and there are no “accidents of history”. He orchestrated events such that there would be a Noah, at the right time. He never intended to wipe out all of mankind; what He intended was to give us a lesson in holiness, and in compassion: God is a holy god, and we don’t live up to His holiness. He would be justified in wiping us all out right now, because we deserve it. But He doesn’t, and he didn’t with the flood, because He is patient, and long-suffering.
Modern-day North Americans tend to focus on God’s compassion, and forget about His holiness; for them, the story of the flood is very perplexing. “Why would God wipe out all of mankind?” they ask. “It seems so cruel! That’s not the God I know!” We sometimes have an incomplete picture of God, and only focus on particular attributes. But if your “God” includes the love, and not the holiness, you’re not worshipping the real God. God is loving, but He’s also holy; He is patient and long-suffering, but He’s also just.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
SynopsisThis chapter records Adam’s descendants, up to Noah. It lists the name of the father, how old he was when he had his first child, and then at what age he died. It then goes on to the next in line, which, I assume, is probably the eldest boy—except for Seth, Adam’s son, who would have been Cain and Abel’s younger brother, I think. But of course Abel was dead, and Cain had been banished.
People get very focused on how long people lived in Genesis, so here are the men listed in this chapter, and the age at which they died:
- Adam: 930
- Seth: 912
- Enosh: 905
- Kenan: 910
- Mahalalel: 895
- Jared: 962
- Enoch: no age listed; verse 24 says “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”
- Methuselah: 969
- Lamech: 777
ThoughtsOne interesting item is that the chapter lists Methuselah; his name has become synonymous with old age, because he lived the longest of anyone in this chapter. Not much longer, comparatively, but still, the longest.
I’m not sure the significance of the fact that God took Enoch away, instead of allowing him to die like everyone else. I do know that he is mentioned a couple of times in the New Testament:
By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. (Hebrews 11:5)
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 14–15)
You may do with that information what you will.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
SynopsisAdam and Eve, of course, bore children, and the first two children were Cain and Abel. When they grew up, “Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil” (verse 2b).
Eventually both sons brought offerings to the LORD; Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil, and Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. Which makes sense, since that’s what each did for a living. But the LORD “looked with favour on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour.” (verses 4–5)
This made Cain angry, so he lured his brother out into the field, and killed him. And then, in verse 9, God again asks questions that He already knows the answers to:
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Ouch. I’m thinking it might not be a good idea to mouth off to the LORD of all creation, but that’s just me.
Cain’s punishment is that the ground will no longer yield its crops for him, and that God’s presence will be hidden from him. Cain will become a “restless wanderer” (verse 12). Cain is afraid that he will be killed, since he no longer has God’s protection, so God puts a mark on Cain “so that no one who found him would kill him” (verse 15).
The rest of the chapter, from verse 17 on, is simply some extra genealogy, of Cain’s children, and some more of Adam and Eve’s children.
ThoughtsFirst off is the question of why the LORD accepted Abel’s offering, and not Cain’s. The most common answer—and, probably, the one that is correct—is that Abel’s sacrifice was a blood sacrifice, and Cain’s was not. And the only thing that bugs me about that idea is that grain offerings were acceptable by God, when He set out the laws for the Israelites later on. I would guess that it’s the type of offering being offered; grain offerings are probably acceptable for some things, and blood sacrifices for other things. For example, if they were giving the offerings as a sin offering, then it would have to be a blood offering. But I’m not an expert on the sacrificial system. However, despite the specifics, I think the main point is that Abel’s sacrifice cost him more than Cain’s sacrifice cost him. It’s called a “sacrifice” for a reason—the idea is that you are putting God, and God’s needs and desires, above your own. If you don’t give Him the best, because you want to keep it for yourself, then you haven’t really sacrificed at all.
This chapter is where we get the concept of the “mark of Cain” that people sometimes refer to, in slightly different ways. In the Bible, according to the text, the mark was simply used to indicate to others that Cain must not be killed. In verse 15 God says that “if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.”
Finally, keep in mind, when reading some of these chapters in Genesis, that the Bible doesn’t record every single son and daughter who were born. It’s clear, from Cain’s fear of being killed, that there are already a number of people in the world, by this time, not just Adam, Eve, and Cain.
I wouldn’t even have bothered to mention it, except that I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to change a post once it’s up—no matter how tempting it might be.
Monday, June 12, 2006
SynopsisThe book of Genesis has a way of setting out very important things in a very matter-of-fact style of speech. For the history of the world, this is a very important set of events, but it’s an easy read, without any emphasis; it’s left up to the reader to realize how important these events are. The following happens, in this chapter:
- The “serpent” is introduced in verse 1, as being “more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made”.
- He tempts the woman to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. She does so, and gives some to Adam as well.
- Once they do, their eyes are opened. They immediately become ashamed of their nakedness, and sew together fig leaves to create clothing.
- God takes a walk through the garden, and Adam and Eve hide, because they’re ashamed. God confronts them with what they have done, Adam immediately blames Eve, and Eve immediately blames the serpent.
- God curses the serpent, the woman, and the man.
- The LORD creates “garments of skin” for Adam and Eve, and banishes them from the garden.
ThoughtsAgain, a lot happens in this chapter. I’m not 100% sure if the “serpent” is Satan, or simply a messenger of Satan. I think he is; verses 14 and 15—which we’ll get to momentarily—definitely seem to indicate it. But, on the other hand, I don’t know why the Bible didn’t just say so. For all intents and purposes, I guess you can assume that it is Satan, since, even if he’s not, he’s doing the work of Satan. Whoever he is, he was pretty crafty in the way he tempted the woman to eat the fruit. In chapter 2, God had instructed the man that he was allowed to eat from any tree in the garden, except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So the serpent’s first question is trying to get the woman to think God is being unfair: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” She told him that, no, God didn’t say that. They’re allowed to eat from any tree in the garden, except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then the serpent says something very disingenuous:
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (verses 4–5)Actually, there are two parts of this that are disingenuous:
- “You will not surely die.” This is disingenuous because it hinges on what you mean by “die”; it’s true that the man and the woman didn’t immediately drop dead after they ate the fruit. However, by eating the fruit—or, more specifically, by disobeying God—the man and the woman brought sin into the world. God wasn’t telling them that if they ate the fruit they would die immmediately—He was telling them that if they ate the fruit, they would die, period. If they had not disobeyed God, Adam and Eve would have lived forever, without sin.
- “…you will be like God…” this part is disingenuous and straight-up temptation. Who wouldn’t want to “be like God”? Unfortunately, this is pride; the serpent is tempting the woman to be less reliant on God, and more reliant on herself. A temptation that we all fall into, to this day.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
The creation story, continued.
SynopsisIn Genesis 1, the Bible told the story of God’s creation of the world. Genesis 2 finishes the story, and then goes back and re-tells part of it, giving more details about the creation of man. But it starts in verses 1–2 by saying that God had completed His work of creating the heavens and the earth, and that He rested on the seventh day. And, because He rested on the seventh day, He made it holy.
Genesis 2 is where we find the story of God creating man from the dust of the ground, and breathing life into it (verse 7). We also find in Chapter 2 that God has created a garden called “Eden”, where he places the man. In the middle of this garden He placed the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told the man that he was allowed to eat from any tree in the garden, except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And it says “for when you eat of it, you will surely die.” (verse 17) Notice that God says “when you eat of it”, not “if you eat of it”; He knew what was going to happen, just as we all know what’s going to happen. However, He had a purpose in doing it this way. (And, LORD willing, we’ll spend the next 1,187 chapters of the Bible exploring that purpose.)
Genesis 1 is punctuated occasionally by God declaring His work of creation to be “good”. He created the light, and saw that it was good, He created the land and the seas, and saw that it was good, etc. In Chapter 2, we see the first time that God saw that something wasn’t good: “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” (verse 18) So what did God do next? He brought every kind of animal before the man, and had the name name them. So he did, but for him, “no suitable helper was found” (verse 20). So, another famous scene from the Bible we’ve all heard: God took a rib from the man—who was called Adam—and formed the rib into a woman, and brought her to Adam. Adam named her Eve. (According to my footnotes, in Hebrew, “Adam” basically means man, and the word for “Eve” sounds like the Hebrew for man.)
The chapter ends with these two verses (24–25):
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
ThoughtsMany people get a bit confused between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, because they say that there is an inconsistency: Genesis 1 says that God created “vegetation, seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds” on the third day, and man on the sixth day. And then, in Genesis 2:4b–7, it says “When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens—and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground—the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (emphasis added) People say the two chapters are inconsistent, because they say that in the first chapter, God created the plants first, but in the second chapter, He created man first. However, that’s not what chapter 2 actually says, which is why I put in the italics when I quoted that verse. What it says in chapter 2 is that man was created before there were any cultivated plants—which makes sense, because “there was no man to work the ground”. We know that there were already plants, because it says that God put the man in the garden, which He had already created.
Another thought: God said that it was “not good” for man to be alone. However, this was not a condemnation of singlehood; it’s not wrong to be single. In fact, in the New Testament, Paul makes it quite clear that it’s not only okay to be single, it can actually help you grow closer to God, because: “An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided.” (1 Corinthians 7:32b–34a) The statement in Genesis is a general statement: people, in general, are happier when they have a “helper” to spend their lives with. But this is not a universal truth; all of chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians is an examination of the pros and cons of getting married. Neither is intrinsically wrong, or a sin.
Friday, June 09, 2006
The first book in the Bible.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
SynopsisThere are two accounts of the creation in the Bible, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. The first chapter is more of a summary of creation, while chapter 2 re-explains it, and goes into a bit more detail on some aspects.
Even someone who wasn’t raised in a Christian (or Jewish) family will be familiar with the story recounted in Genesis 1. Everyone will hear a ring of familiarity when they read “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”
The Genesis account of creation outlines 6 days of work that God did:
- Day 1: Created the heavens, the earth, and light, and then separated the light and the darkness to create “day” and “night”
- Day 2: Created waters and sky
- Day 3: Created dry land, to separate the waters, and vegetation, to grow out of the land
- Day 4: Created the sun, the moon, and the stars
- Day 5: Created creatures to live in the seas, and birds
- Day 6: Created creatures to live on the land, and created mankind “in the image of God”. (verse 27)
The chapter ends by saying that God saw all that He had made, and it was “very good”.
ThoughtsEven if you don’t believe the Biblical account of Creation—I do, but not everyone does—the story in Genesis 1 still has this value: It illustrates that God was in control of it all, from the beginning. If you happen to believe that the world is millions of years old, instead of 6,000, and that mankind evolved from other forms of life, but still believe that God was in control, you’re at least getting part of the point behind this chapter.
Also, a thought on verse 28, which I mentioned above: some people will see language like “fill the earth and subdue it”, and “rule over… every living creature that moves on the ground”, and think “All right! That means we’re the boss! We can do whatever we want!” However, this was not God’s intent. God didn’t give us the Earth as a plaything, that we can use up as we see fit; he gave us a responsibility, to care for His creation, and not waste the resources within.