Monday, July 21, 2008

In the beginning

I have just finished reading Genesis--the first book completed through my new Bible reading plan. And here are a few quick observations about Genesis:

1) All the prophets testify about Jesus. "If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me" (Jn 5:46). In Genesis 48:10, I read: "The scepter will not depart from Judah, or the staff from between his feet, until He whose right it is comes and the obedience of the peoples belongs to Him." And Gen 22:18 states, "All the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you have obeyed My command."

2) As Tim Keller has noted, the Bible is counter-cultural. In ancient cultures, the eldest son was the blessed son and the one who received the inheritance. But, in Genesis, the eldest son is not the blessed one. Cain was the eldest and killed the younger son who pleased God. Abraham's eldest son Ishmael was not the promised and chosen son; that was Isaac. Isaac's eldest son was Esau, but Jacob received the blessing. Of Jacob's 12 sons, it was Joseph that God chose to use for the salvation of his family. In fact, at his death, Jacob pronounced this on his eldest: "Turbulent as water, you will no longer excel..." (Gen 49:4a). And just prior to that, Jacob went to bless Joseph's youngest son and Joseph tried to correct him.
When Joseph saw that his father had placed his right hand on Ephraim's head, he thought it was a mistake and took his father's hand to move it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's. Joseph said to his father, "Not that way, my father! This one is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head." But his father refused and said, "I know, my son, I know! He too will become a tribe, and he too will be great; nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his offspring will become a populous nation. (Genesis 48:17-19)
3) The characters of the Bible trust the sovereignty of God. Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac because of his faith in God's provision (Gen 22). Joseph saw all the bad things that happened to him as the will of God.
And now don't be worried or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there will be five more years without plowing or harvesting. God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Therefore it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt. (Gen 45:5-8a)
4) There is an amazing continuity in the Bible. Joseph and Job both saw everything, good and bad, as part of God's sovereignty and wisdom. Throughout the Bible, God chooses nobodies to do incredible things; an old nomad with no kids becomes father to millions and to the Messiah. The Messiah is born to a poor family in a small hamlet. But, of course, that birthplace was foretold because it was also where God called a poor shepherd boy--the youngest in his family--to become the great king. And finally, there is the constant theme of trusting God to fulfill his promises and be kind to his people.


Father, 0pen my eyes so that I may see wonderful things in your instruction. Help me understand the meaning of your teachings so I may meditate on your wonders. Teach me, Father, and help me follow your way. Put your word in my heart and teach me to love your wisdom. Help me to follow your teaching and to take pleasure in your word. Turn my heart to your word and not toward temporary temporal riches. Turn my eyes from what is worthless to focus on what is priceless. May I be like the rich man who found the treasure in the field and gladly sold everything to buy that field. Make me like the good soil that hears your word and bears good fruit. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

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