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365 Challenge

Filtering by Tag: Genesis

Start with Exodus. February 1

Wesley Skinner

Did you want to start reading through the bible in one year in 2014 but missed the start in January? It's not too late! Don't let missing day 1 stop you! You can start February 1(this Saturday!) with Exodus. 

In the chronological one year bible I recommended in the intro to 365 challenge, we have currently read through Genesis and will finish Job Friday. This would be a great time to jump in!  

365 Challenge; It's Not Too Late To Start!

Wesley Skinner

 

365 challenge it's not too late!

Reading through the Bible is great, but what if you missed the start? It's ok. Don't let missing the start of a year prevent you from jumping in. And now is a great time to jump in. 

Reading through the Bible chronologically allows a great place for a late start. Chronologically, the Bible starts with Genesis, and my chronological Bible ends Genesis and jumps straight into Job. 

So if you missed the beginning of the year, start now with Job and catch up on Genesis as you have time. My previous blogs can give you a good recap as well. 

The life and death of Joseph(Genesis 38-51)

Wesley Skinner

Joseph is one of the most interesting characters in all of Genesis. He is the poster child for a rags to riches story and demonstrates more character than the rest of the patriarchs, yet it is not through his line that Messiah will come. 

To recap: Joseph's father, Jacob(Israel), had one true love, Rachel. Rachel had trouble conceiving and Israel had children born from his other wife(Rachel's sister) and the two maid servants. When Joseph was born of Rachel, he was Israel's favorite. His brothers knew it and grew jealous. It didn't help that Joseph didn't know when to keep his mouth shut. Joseph has two visions from God showing his family bowing down to him, so of course, he immediately discloses all. When his brothers see the opportunity, they decide to sell him into slavery. 

Joseph is bought by an Egyptian official and we see a trend begin, everything Joseph does, God blesses and Joseph quickly ascends to positions of influence. 

Joseph's character is on display as he ignores sexual advances from his master's wife and ultimately runs out when he finds himself in a sticky situation(see last blog). Potiphar's wife lies about the incident and has Joseph thrown in prison. In prison we find the same narrative, God blesses Joseph, he ascends to a position of influence and interprets a dream for the cup bearer to pharaoh. 

Fast forward a few years, pharaoh has a dream, Joseph is brought to interpret and pharaoh makes him second in command. This is huge because famine is coming to all the land and by the position of influence Joseph is able to relocate and provide for his family. Preserving God's chosen people and setting the stage for God's next big event. "The Exodus"

One of my favorite verses occurs at the end of Genesis. Genesis 50:20 "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." Joseph's brothers finally come to apologize and Joseph realizes something profound, it's a truth found, not just throughout Genesis or the rest of scripture, but an insight into the character and purposes of God that transcends time. Joseph realizes that all the crap he went through served a greater purpose. And that if we look at life as a series of separate events, we miss the bigger picture of what God is doing. Life is not compartmentalized. Everything that we do, everything that happens, God is using to write a story much bigger than ourselves. A story that started at creation and includes us, but transcends only us. The story of God's glory written throughout history. The purpose of man. The glory of God. 

 

Don't try to resist sexual sin, flee!(Gen 39)

Wesley Skinner

Anytime I get to talk about sexual temptation, Genesis 39 is my go to. Joseph is more concerned about honoring God than what other people might think of him. That's integrity. 

In Genesis 39, Joseph is employed by Potiphar, an Egyptian official, and Potiphar's wife continues to make sexual advances to Joseph. Now, before we go any further I have to put this out there, Potiphar was an Egyptian official, she was probably much younger than him and hot. So don't give me any of that, 'it was easy for Joseph to not give in to temptation because the girl wasn't hot' , rich, shallow, godless people have trophy wives. Potiphar was likely no exception. 

So what do you learn from Joseph? 

1. Don't put yourself in easy situations to sin. This is the first thing I talk to with students about boundaries, either in a relationship or personally. Your far more likely to give in to temptation when you're isolated than not. In a dating relationship, be careful where you spend your alone time. Third wheels and public places help keep your hands where they should be.  

2. Honoring God is paramount. Joseph acknowledges sleeping with Potiphar's wife would be a violation of the trust his master had given him, but Joseph was more concerned with how it affected his relationship with God. 'How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?' If your concern is only for yourself, it is easy to sin. But if you think about how it affects other people and ultimately if it honors God or not, a simple thing becomes more significant. Integrity, character. Because even if no one knows, God does. 

3. Flee from sexual sin! Joseph knew that it was better to run away and face the consequences than to stay in the place of temptation. When you are tempted, get out! Don't just think you can resist and fight the temptation, leave. And I mean leave, physically. If it's at home alone when temptation comes, get out of the house. If you are in a danger zone on a date leave that place, get around people, or at least not in an environment that leads to going farther. This might make you a weirdo, but you have honored God and respected the other person.  

Later in scripture we see Jesus make statements like, 'if your eye causes you to sin pluck it out', I don't think he actually means pluck out your eye, but we need to take radical steps to avoid sexual sin. The story doesn't end well for Joseph, he did the right thing and got thrown in prison, but he honored God and ultimately this may have been God way of getting Joseph into a position of influence later on in Egypt. 

4. Men need to take responsibility for sexual purity. This seems unnatural in some ways because today, men as the sexually aggressive ones. Being a man is not about having sexual exploits to brag about, it's about having character. Men need to be the ones to stop things before they start. In a dating relationship a man will honor his girlfriend and respect her. He is responsible for guarding the purity of that relationship. So men, step up and take responsibility!

Forgiveness(Gen 32-36)

Wesley Skinner

Forgiveness seems like the hardest thing. It's hard to give forgiveness. It's hard to receive forgiveness. This section shows us a very overlooked part of one verse, that is very powerful. 

Let's face it, up to this point, Jacob has been anything but up-standing. From birth, there was the whole, race out of the womb thing with his brother. He made Esau sell him his birth right for some soup(wierd story). Then he tricked his father into blessing him instead of Esau. This is a sibling rivalry! Even when Jacob goes to Laban, he is still dishonest. Not really the guy I would choose as a father of the faith. But God does. 

Fast forward now to Jacob's return from Laban, he is faced with the sudden reality that when he last saw Esau, he was ready to kill him. You begin to see Jacob start to panic. He schemes and tries to figure out how to satiate esau's wrath. And at the end of his rope, he does what all people do, he prays. Scripture says he wrestled with God all night long. He would not stop until God did something. Have you ever had that kind of burden? The kind where you lose sleep? Utterly dependent on God to move? 

Finally, the brothers are face to face. Jacob, humbled. Esau, forgiving. And here comes my favorite line, Gen 33:10b "For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me." Jacob just saw the face of God. But he says seeing the forgiveness of his brother is like seeing the face of God. And he's right, forgiveness is beautiful. This looks like a story we see Jesus tell later on. A younger brother runs away and comes back to the father humbly and in need of forgiveness.

We Never see Jacob ask for forgiveness or apologize. We never see Esau bring up the offense. It's forgiveness with no strings attached. No holding anything over his head. That type of unconditional forgiveness is like seeing the face of God. Forgiving others even if they never ask for it is a demonstration of grace. The type of reconciliation only God can bring. 

Anyone you need you demonstrate God's forgiveness to? Anyone wronged you that you need to show grace? Jacob tells us that forgiveness and acceptance after wronging someone is like seeing the face of God. And that guy would know!

 

A father goes to kill his only son(Gen 21:8-24)

Wesley Skinner

God finally, after Abraham and Sarah are past the age of childbearing, gives a son to them. Isaac grows and after many years, God instructs Abraham to offer him as a sacrifice. 

I've seen friends from time to time "fast" from social media, or people like to give up certain things during Lent. This is not the same thing! God wants to test Abraham and see if Isaac has become an idol to Abraham. While Facebook or chocolate can be unhealthy, and might be idols in certain people's lives, this is much different. Abraham isn't taking "time off" from Isaac. This is a man going to place all his hopes and dreams and future and his only child on an alter to be slain, even by his own hand! He is not making due without something, that may be a minor inconvenience, at best. He is laying it all down before God and saying, there is nothing standing in Your rightful place, You have it all! While there are things God wants us to "fast" from, God is not calling Abraham to fast, He's calling him to sacrifice. 

The thing that amazes me about Abraham in this passage, is how he is immediately obedient! He doesn't wait a few days to see if God will change his mind or wait until a more convenient time in his life. God says go, Abraham leaves.  

The beauty part of this story is that God doesn't ask something of us that He is unwilling to do himself. Years later it will be His son on a hill, but this time the Father will not hold back the knife. Isaac was a gift from God to Abraham. What gifts from God have become idols to you? Like Abraham you may not need to sacrifice them, but are you willing to?

Into the darkness(Gen 18-21:7)

Wesley Skinner

God's story in Genesis has begun to follow one chosen man, the man through whom all nations would be blessed, Abraham. The bible is a book that shows us lives of people who were perfect and followed God perfectly, right? Wrong. Abraham lies about his wife, twice, Sarah doubts God, Lot chooses a land of depravity, his wife longs for sin rather than deliverance, his daughters get him drunk and sleep with him. These are some dark days we won't see arise again until the book of Judges. 

As we dive into the darkness we also see light. For the first time we see man plead with God on behalf of others. After God tells Abraham about the coming destruction of Sodom, Abraham boldly lobbies with God for mercy. We didn't see Noah do this. but Abraham knows God's heart and knows He is good. That He desires life not death. And I think this pleased God. I think God knew that by telling Abraham what He would do, Abraham would intercede. So we have our first example of man, going before God on behalf of others. This helps me remember when things look dark, God is good and desires good not harm. Who should you be interceding with God for?

one other thing I want to mention today is Lot's wife. I have no idea what's going on with the pillar of salt thing, but I think what is captured here represents all of us in our sin habits. As they leave Sodom, she looks back. Maybe it was just a glance, maybe it wasn't. Sometimes I wonder if it might have been a heart issue. Sin is something that as you leave, it pulls you back. To me this story paints a picture of salvation. God provides deliverance and offers it to us freely, but if our heart is not truly changed we will find ourselves longing for that life of sin. This looks like the same story to me as Genesis 4, "sin is crouching at your door, it's desire is to have you but you must conquer it." Sin undealt with will consume you. 

Random observationf the day: Sodom and Gomorrah were cities of "the plain", the plain of Shinar where the Tower of Babel was being constructed. 

Bonus random observation: the incestuous children of Lot become the enemies of the people of God Moabites and Ammonites.  

Abram called out. (Gen 11-14)

Wesley Skinner

 

The writing of Genesis is beautiful. It's not not like our current writing. When I write I want my voice and passion to come through. I give my thoughts and make comments. Sometimes I think there might be a glimpse of something special. Maybe some way I understand something differently than someone else or my quirky random observations. But it's not epic. That word gets tossed around flippantly in our culture, but the writing of Genesis has something of grandeur. It reminds me of the beginning of Lord of the Rings when you get a recap of things when the ring was formed. Only here, we start with something more significant, the creation of the world and everything in it. And the Creator who is personally responsible and near. Genesis comes at you in waves, 30,000 foot view, then zoom in on one person of the story. Up to this point, the narrative has been on all humanity, Noah and his family being the one exception. But now we are going to begin following one man. 

Of all the people in the world God chose Abram. God came to him and told him to go. He didn't tell him where, only that he would be blessed and through him all nations would be blessed. This sets up something really special, we begin seeing a pattern develop. We see what a far reaching impact can be made through one man. One man, Adam, sinned in the garden casting the death sentence on all mankind. One man, Noah, was chosen to preserve mankind and animals during the flood. Now, one man, Abram, will be a blessing to all nations. God uses one man. One man can make a difference. And we will see this pattern continue. 

I think that is why I like the thought of this verse being the beginning of missionary sending, one man makes an eternal difference. For me, Abram is the first missionary. He is called to leave his home, family and comfort to go and bless all nations. Do we see that happen during his lifetime? Not really, if Abram, as a missionary were to write an update letter to his supporters, it wouldn't be filled with stories of dozens of people turning to God from idolatry. He might not have much to report at all, but the ground work is laid by him for blessing to follow, because he is obedient to go. 

I also think it is important to note that abram didn't have it all together, he is afraid of pharaoh and dishonors his wife. (And again later!) God didn't choose abram because he was perfect. That means there is hope for us!

Random observation of the day: Shem was not born before God told Noah about the flood. According to my calculations, there were about 100 years that passed from god telling Noah about the flood and it happening, then it says 2 years after the flood where Shem was 100 he had a son. Shem was born 2 years after God told Noah to build an ark. 

Don't skip the genealogies! Part 2(Gen 7-10)

Wesley Skinner

Day 3 is really interesting. The flood happens. God establishes a couple of new things. We see division take place. 

Random observation of the day: if you add up the ages of the people up to the time of the flood 1. Noah was really old compared to everyone else before having kids( unless Shem, ham, Japheth were not his first kids but only the ones who came out of the flood with him.) 2. The oldest man to ever live, methuselah, either died during the flood or just before it. 

So the flood happens, but it isn't until after the flood when I think so much interesting stuff takes place. 

1. Seasons

8:22“As long as the earth endures,

seedtime and harvest,

cold and heat,

summer and winter,

day and night

will never cease.”

God establishes seasons. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Imagine life without seasons. It would be like San Diego. Or no seed time or harvest. Did that mean up to that time food just grew unhindered and was always ready? Guess there weren't many prayers for patience. Life where all you needed was available without waiting. Maybe this is an institution of markers in life. If it was day time all the time, especially in biblical times, when you know to stop working and rest at sun down. And seasons of planting and harvest give you closure, something you are working for that comes to completion before starting again. And maybe this gives comfort to people to know that "seasons" in life are God ordained. Maybe God wants us to go through different seasons to learn and grow. What do you think?

2. Meat! 

We no longer have to be vegetarians! 

3. Covenant 

God establishes a covenant with all of creation to never again destroy with a flood. 

4. Division

We get an odd little story about naked, drunk Noah being dishonored by Ham, but honored by Shem and Japheth. This is the first time we see one of the patriarchs bless and curse. Noah blesses Shem and sets him above his brothers, but curses Ham. And if you don't skip the genealogies, you see, Ham becomes the father of the enemies of Israel. 

Bonus random observation: in Peleg's time the earth was divided, yes foreshadowing Babel, but what if the earth was actually "divided" during Peleg's time?(Pangea anyone?) Who knows?! Tell me what you think! 

Don't skip the genealogies!(Gen 3-6)

Wesley Skinner

Genesis 3-6 is a case study in why I should learn Hebrew! I'm not claiming I understand everything going on in this section of Genesis but what I do understand points me to Jesus. 

Genesis 4 starts with the classic sibling rivalry and we learn that people know they should bring offerings to God. We're not given the specifics of that or when they learned about it. We also see that God has a standard for offerings and that He is the judge of them. 

Then confusion, who are these other people who might kill Cain? What is the mark God put on him? Who are the nephalim? How much time has passed until God lost patience with mankind? And what's the point of it all!?

Don't skip the genealogy! A little gem left for us right here in plain site is the meanings of the names. 

Adam=first man

Seth =compensation(to make, fix)

Enoch=mankind

Kenan= possession(room, nest)

Mahalaleel = praise of God(ram, sacrifice)

Jered= descent(come down)

Enoch= dedicated

Methuselah=man of the dart(make, to extend)

Lamech=powerful

Noah=rest(resting place)

Add a couple of articles and this is a pretty powerful statement:

The first man was to make mankind a possession ready for the praise of God/sacrifice come down dedicated to extend powerful rest. 

Then we get a beautiful picture of God's redemptive plan. God tells Noah to enter into death to save life. Get into a box(don't think a curved ship intended to break through waves, think long rectangular wooden box, remind you of anything? Maybe a coffin?). This box is covered with kaphar(atonement) within and kopher(ransom) without. 

We also see a deeply personal God who walked with Enoch and took him away to heaven. A God who was pleased with Noah. Who made a way for mankind to be saved. 

The beginning: talking animals and plot(Gen 1-3)

Wesley Skinner

The bible begins unlike any other book, there was nothing and by the very words of God there was something. Creation, man made in the image of God, then rebellion. 

Genesis is probably my favorite book of the bible. It moves quickly and gives you only what you need to know, then slows down to zoom in on sections of real importance. Which is great for me to stretch my imagination. I look at creation, see God speak, things appear then questions come to my mind. Like 'what was created first, chicken or egg?'. After creation we get no timeline and God said be fruitful and multiply, but after the fall God increased pain in childbirth, so it makes me wonder, were there children that had already been born in Eden from Adam and Eve. My imagination takes me all kinds of places with wild speculations that have very little to do with anything of real importance. 

One of my favorite things to speculate about is the talking serpent. It didn't come as a shock to Eve that the serpent could talk. And when God confronts Adam in his sin He asks "who told you that you are naked" the options are kinda small for "who" unless God might be referring to the animals as who not what. Who to me connotes personhood and speaking is a characteristic of personhood. Paired with the fact that until the flood people were vegetarians. Makes my speculation run wild that animals could possibly speak until after the flood. Who knows!? These are the mysteries that God felt we didn't need details for in Genesis. 

Mysteries that we have, made plain to us from the beginning, are purpose, conflict, plot, and resolution. 

Purpose. From the onset of Genesis we see our creator God, in need of nothing, yet create intelligent beings in His image with a desire to have relationship. God is personal with Adam. He didn't just set Adam on this rock and start it spinning. God walked with Adam in the garden. We also see that man was not intended to live in isolation, but in community, with God and with his wife. 

Conflict. The fall. We see man's perfect relationship with God broken when He ignores the one rule God gave him. 

Plot. The deceiver, Satan, is introduced. Because of the fall there is hatred(enmity) put between Satan and the "seed" of woman. Here we get a great foreshadowing of the struggle that will remain constant between man and evil until ultimately, the seed of woman will crush the head of the serpent, but the serpent will strike the heel. Satan and sin will remain a stumbling block until Jesus comes to crush the power and penalty of sin. 

Resolution. God foreshadows even more of His story in Genesis 3. There is a penalty of separation from God because of sin. Sin shows man his shame and instinctively man tries to cover his shame by his own methods. But it doesn't work. It takes Gods doing to cover the shame of man. God himself offers the first sacrifice for sin. He kills the innocent to cover the guilty. 

That is why I love Genesis. What are some things that stood out to you as you read? What a great start to the bible and the year!