Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from February, 2012

Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 34

Through the Whole Bible hits another one of those unhappy chapters in Scripture today. Genesis 34 (link) presents us with the ugly tale of the rape of Dinah. That, in and of itself, is a bad thing. A quick note: there is a not a specific Hebrew word at the time for our concept of rape—however, you can see here the concept of "took her and lay with her by force" which does not suggest consensual behavior. The traditional understanding of the Hebrew words here captures the concept: Dinah, previously pure and undefiled, is forced into Shechem's bed. No lexical flips and flops here can create any shared responsibility.When people are involved, though, one bad thing is rarely enough. The story carries on that her rapist, who is the son of prince of the city, decides he really loves her and wants her for a wife. In negotiating a bride-price, her brothers set up the entire city for slaughter and destroy Hamor. Her father, meanwhile, only raises a cry about the bad effect on pub…

Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 33

Back on task: Through the Whole Bible continues with Genesis 33 (link). Here, Jacob's story of going home finishes up. He returns to Canaan. It is time for him to face the music of his years away and the circumstances that drove his departure.He looks up and sees, though, a bad moon a-risin' as Esau is coming his way with 400 men. It would not have been surprising to see Esau coming with a few men. Traveling alone is dangerous and treacherous, and was no less so in those days. 400 men is more than just a bodyguard group or a hunting party. That's a batch big enough to fight a pretty substantial fight.What does Jacob do at this point? He gets a little nervous. Wouldn't you? Jacob decides to split up his group more than it was already split up. He puts the two maidservants with their children in one group, Leah and her children in a second group, and finishes the line with Rachel and Joseph. We don't know exactly why he does this: Perhaps his hope is that Rachel and …

Sermon wrap up February 26

Sunday Morning Audio Link here (alternate)Sunday Evening Audio Link here (alternate)Sunday Morning Outline:Nehemiah 7:1-2 How to be qualified for work in the Kingdom I. Be Faithful      A. In doctrine           1. Believe the right things           2. Disbelieve the wrong things      B. In speech           1. Teach the truth           2. Refuse to speak falsehoods           3. Commit to actively speak the truth      C. In action           1. Do not act contrary to God's Word           2. Act to spread the Gospel II. Fear God      A. Recognize His holiness           1. Otherness of God           2. Unapproachableness      B. Recognize His righteousness           1. Purity           2. Perfection      C. Recognize His justice           1. Wrath           2. Grace through Christ Evening Sermon: Psalm 26

Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 32

Just when you think things cannot get much worse for Jacob, they do. Not unlike normal life when you think about it. Here's Jacob, having just escaped from Laban in Genesis 31, heading back to Canaan. Esau, the brother he wronged all those years ago, is there. Waiting for him.Now, in Genesis 32 (link) we see the build up to that meeting. Jacob separates out first a gift for his brother, then sends his wives and children across the creek they have been camped beside. And he's alone in the camp for the night. At present, Esau lives some distance away in Seir. The Biblical notation that it's the country of Edom is a little bit of an anachronism: it becomes the country of Edom in the years that Esau and his family fill, populate, and rule the area. Keep in mind that the closest this was written to the events is about 500 years afterwards. Using "country of Edom" here is no different from describing the original settlement of Manhattan as being part of New York: yes, …

Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 31

Jacob's life turns back toward Canaan in Genesis 31 (link) as we proceed through the whole Bible today. We find Jacob waking up one day and finding that Laban and Laban's sons have turned against him. The statement is that "behold, it was not as before." One might wonder how long it took Jacob to notice this. He's been with Laban about 20 years at this point and has acquired wealth from Laban as well as two wives. Assuming others thought Rachel as beautiful as Jacob did, one could guess that a mere seven years of labor was the low-end of what her brothers hoped to gain from her.Jacob then hears from God: it's time to go back. Jacob heeds that instruction and goes back. After double-checking with his wives, that is, Jacob heeds the command of God. Let's pause there for a moment.I am all for unity in the home and mutual decision-making between husbands and wives. I do not think that there has been a major decision since Ann and I married that we did not mak…

Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 30

Genesis 30 (link) continues Jacob’s story while he is in Paddan-Aram. He continues to work for and live with his father-in-law, Laban. The conditions are not the best—Jacob is still a sojourner with not much to his name. His family, though, continues to grow. He has children through both wives and both wives’ servants. Jacob has 11 sons at this point. That’s a good number.He talks to Laban about departing, returning to Canaan. That’s where his wealth is, where all of his property is. Laban, though, persuades him to stay and work a few more years. They agree to a set of wages, where Jacob can have the animals with spots and stripes and odd colors. Makes it easier to sort them out…Which is what Laban does as soon as the deal is struck. I think the ESV rendering is to be favored, where they fill out the pronoun structure to show that Laban goes, has his sons separate out the animals and drive the ones that would be Jacob’s three days away from the flocks Jacob can see.Laban expect to dep…

Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 29

Genesis 29 (link) demonstrates what happens when someone who has lived with treachery and deceit meets someone cut from the same cloth. It’s the story of what happens when Jacob meets Laban and the people caught in the middle.Most of you that are regular Bible readers are familiar with the overall sweep of the story: Jacob is working for his relative, Laban, and the question of compensation comes up. Jacob agrees that he’ll work seven years with his labor providing the bride-price to marry Laban’s daughter, Rachel.Then, Laban tricks Jacob into marrying his older daughter, Leah, first. Then, Jacob marries Rachel and commits to seven more years of labor. This is not the best side of anyone to be seen: Jacob dashes into polygamy so that he can have the wife he wants, Laban treats both of his daughters poorly.This is bad. The story finishes up with Jacob treating his wives poorly: his preference for Rachel is felt by Leah while Rachel suffers from seeing Leah constantly provide offspring …

Genesis 28: Through the Whole Bible

Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 28 (link) takes a look at Jacob’s journey from Canaan back to Paddan-Aram. Paddan-Aram, for those who are interested, is mostly in the upper stretches of the Euphrates River, between two branches of the river. It’s where the rest of Abraham’s extended family have continued to live since he went to Canaan.In the aftermath of deceiving both his brother and his father, Jacob finds himself needing to live elsewhere. That’s what happens when you build your fame and fortune without integrity. Life ends up heavily disrupted. So, Jacob flees. This is a mixture of good and bad for Jacob. He goes where he needs to be so that he can find a wife (next chapter) from among his own people. That’s been one of the sources of contention between Esau and Rebekah: Esau married from the local population and that bothered his mother.Let’s take a quick look at Esau in this situation: Genesis 28:8-9 addresses some issues of Esau’s character. He finds out that his parents pref…

Sermon Recap for February 19

Here are the sermons from yesterday:Morning Sermon Audio (alternate link)Evening Sermon Audio (alternate link)Morning outline:Nehemiah 5 I. Charging Usury (forbidden: Leviticus 25:36-37) II. Sending people back into slavery III. Willful self-denial Application: I. Personal profit cannot be the motive of God's people      A. Survival/benefit is not prohibited      B. The Spirit should guide us to a stopping point. II. Giving up the freedom that has been bought      A. Spiritual first and foremost      B. Cultural secondly III. Willingness to take on major issues Consider John Adams: “I must study politics and war, that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, natural history and naval architecture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, tapestry, and porcelain.”Consider Thomas Paine: "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." Consider: The Pilgrims, The Baptists, …

Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 27

Moving through the whole Bible into Genesis 27 (link) gives us a peak into inheritance politics in the 20th Century BC. And that peak is not pretty, is it?We have two sons, one loved more by mom than by dad and the other, well, the opposite. Neither son gets along, and the expectation is that dad's passing is near at hand. So, a little trickery, a little razzle-dazzle, and momma's boy gets the primary inheritance.Then he has to hightail it out of town for fear that his brother will solve the divided inheritance problem once and for all. This would be bad.Now, here are the things I think we can find here:1. Don't cheat your brother out of his inheritance. That's a bad play. Seriously.2. Don't show favoritism among your children. That's tough sometimes, but it's necessary. Your kids will most likely outlive you and need to live with each other.3. Be equitable with your blessings. Really, there's no cause to bless one above the others.4. Honesty is the bes…

Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 26

For the three of you who have suggested I consider professional writing, keep in mind that real writers have to make deadlines. I’m not so good at that—I make my school ones (usually) and my weekly deadline of every Sunday. Right now, I set the deadline of posting every day which is the best I seem to be hitting.Genesis 26 (link) is a quick glimpse into the life of Isaac. We see a few vignettes, and they’re not all positive. From the end, working backwards, there’s the solution to a quarrel over wells, a quarrel over wells, and Isaac trying to pass Rebekah, his wife, as his sister. Nothing…oh, wait, that sounds both not right and familiar, does it not?Abraham pulled that stunt: twice, actually, in Genesis 12 and Genesis 20. It was wrong when Abraham did it, and it didn’t get any righter by the time Isaac does it.There is our first lesson: right and wrong really do not change from generation to generation. Neither does the fact that a previous generation did something wrong excuse us i…

Genesis 25: Through the Whole Bible

Genesis is halfway down as we continue to work on the series Through the Whole Bible. Today, Genesis 25 (link) is in focus. Here’s a sermon link. We make a major turn here, as Abraham, our focal person for more than half of Scripture so far, passes on. That’s a major transition. Abraham has almost as many column inches in the text as Peter and Paul, and is behind only David and Moses in terms of human character development.This chapter is the end of his life, though it’s not the end of his story. He continues to figure in the whole of the Biblical narrative. Yet the story of his life ends here.We find some details in his passing that weren’t evident throughout his life. We see that he was not only the father of Isaac and Ishmael but of other children. We have a reference in Genesis 25:6 to the sons of Abraham’s concubines and 25:1 tells us that Abraham married Keturah after the death of Sarah.This actually surprised me the first time I read it back in college. We often put Abraham on …

Book: Straight to the Heart of Genesis

In the middle of doing the Through the Whole Bible series, I have a book to recommend. It’s titled Straight to the Heart of Genesis. It’s by Phil Moore and published by Monarch Books in the United Kingdom. Kregel Publications is the United States, and they provided the review copy I have been reading.This book is part of the Straight to the Heart series that Moore is writing on most of the books or sections of the Bible. For example, he has written a Straight to the Heart of Moses to cover Exodus-Deuteronomy rather than individual volumes for each book. My wife will be reviewing his volume on Acts at her blog. I’m focused on the Genesis volume, seen here:Straight to the Heart of Genesis: 60 Bite-Sized InsightsThis book fits somewhere above being a simple devotional and somewhere below being an academic commentary. That’s neither slam nor praise: Moore’s intent is to hit that gap. It’s a good gap to hit. The goal is to provide a commentary that addresses some of the academic issues of …

Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 24

One thing I’m learning—my attention span and a nearly 1200-post series are not super-compatible. It’s like running software in an emulator—it’s good practice, but it’s not always smooth.
Genesis 24 (link) is next. Here’s a link to a prior sermon on the passage if you’re interested. Meanwhile, let’s move forward. The story is moving forward and we don’t want to miss it.
Abraham is nearing the end of his life. He knows this—the text records that he was ‘very old’ at this point. Which, by the way, you should probably never call anyone. Not to their face, not behind their backs.
He is aging. His wife is deceased. It is time to put the focus forward: future generations. Abraham has seen God fulfill the promise to provide a son to him, but what about next?
This has to be considered. After all, Isaac is not going to possess the land forever himself, is he? Time will eventually catch each of the patriarchs and send them to the cave of Machpelah. Isaac must have offspring, he must have a herit…

Genesis 23: Through the Whole Bible

Note: I discovered, yesterday, that the shortened links to the Bible chapters were going to a Facebook page and not to the pages themselves. That's not right. So, no more shortened links for that, it will be the long links. Sorry about that glitch.Genesis 23 (link) draws the life of Sarah to a close. I've offered a few thoughts on this passage before, and they are here. That should include a sermon link if you want to take a listen to that message from back in September.I'll try not to repeat the same ideas that the prior post held. Let's take a look at a few other aspects of this chapter:1. I used to think there was something to the idea that Genesis 22 ends with Abraham at Beersheba and then Sarah dies at Hebron. That's a bit of distance between them, as if the whole situation within Genesis 22 with the near-sacrifice of Isaac put a major break between Abraham and Sarah. I'm not so sure of that now. Abraham was, after all, a nomad.2. The various sources I con…

Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 22

Apologies for skipping Saturday. Through the Whole Bible continues on today, and I'll try not to make you wait too long for the next installment.A second note: due to not preaching from written outlines this past Sunday, I really have no material for my typical sermon-wrap up post. Here is a link to the morning audio: Morning Sermon. Here is a link to the evening audio: Evening Sermon. Thanks!Genesis 22 (link) is not really one of my favorite chapters in Scripture. I know that, for some, this chapter is one of the high points of the Old Testament. Here we see Abraham act in faith by offering Isaac as a sacrifice, only to be stopped by God. Instead, God provides a ram as a substitute here, and this picture the giving of Jesus as the substitute at Calvary. It really is a great picture of the love God has for us.Moreover, the mountains of Moriah are in the Jerusalem region and tradition puts either the Temple at this spot or, less likely, Golgotha at this same place. I'd favor th…

Genesis 21: Through the Whole Bible

Moving right along, we find Genesis 21 (link). What happens here?Good and bad, again. First, we have the good of the birth of Isaac. Children are a blessing, and a long-awaited promise fulfilled is a great thing. This is the tangible beginning of the fulfillment of God's promise to Abram way back in Genesis 12. That's wonderful. Really wonderful. Then the bad comes along: because of conflict within the family that is extended beyond what it ought to be, Abraham drives out Hagar and Ishmael. Hagar was Sarah's slave, Ishmael the child born when Abraham and Sarah decided to use Hagar's womb for their own plans. That incident was, on its own, bad enough.Here, though, it goes worse. The rift seems final at this point: Hagar and Ishmael do not return but go on to live in the wilderness. Later, we see Abraham give of an inheritance to Ishmael, but that is yet to come. What do we do with this? I've addressed this just recently in the vein of faulty heroes. Therefore, I'…

Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 20

Yikes. This should have been up 12-hours ago. If I had the ability, I'd spend the rest of the day designing a time machine just so I could get this done quicker, but advanced computational fictional time physics isn't one of the books I've read yet. That, and I lack a blue police box to put it all in.We're 20 chapters into the Through the Whole Bible blog effort, which puts us squarely in Genesis 20 (LINK). Last year, I preached through the first 25 chapters of Genesis, and you can find the relevant postings here and here.Taken historically, at this point Abraham is traveling away from the wreck of Sodom and Gomorrah. His relationship with Lot is completely severed and he moves on. Assuming a straightforward chronology of Genesis here, the incident of this chapter comes between the visit of God that precedes the destruction and the birth of Isaac, which means it fits into a year's time span.During that year, Abraham apparently moved back toward the Negev into the k…

Books: The Mysterious Epigenome

Note: I have moved away from the weekly BookTuesday feature because I was, quite honestly, neither getting other stuff done nor books well reviewed. So, I still have a few left to clear out but then the books will fall to a somewhat infrequent basis. For the most part, I will be reviewing books that look interesting to me. Some will still be freebies. Some will be my own.Today, we’re going to take a look at the book The Mysterious Epigenome by Thomas E. Woodward and James P. Gills. It’s published by Kregel Publishing, who provided a free book in exchange for the review.The book is a quite fascinating look into some of the more recent discoveries in DNA-related science. Most of what I know regarding DNA is a bit out of date, a fact that I did not realize until doing some research to grasp this book.However, I’m going to focus on just one aspect of this book. Anytime we take a look at science, we’re peeling back the nuts and bolts of how things work. The hows and whats become a secondar…

Genesis 19: Through the Whole Bible

Another step through Genesis today. Genesis 19 (LINK) moves forward with the sad conclusion to Abraham’s pleading for God’s mercy in Genesis 18. Simply enough, there are not enough righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah to stave off destruction. How many were needed?10.There weren’t 10 there. A few of my prior thoughts are in the sermon linked here. Let’s look through the rest of the chapter and see what else there is here.First of all: Closing judgment is God’s business. There are phases of human justice that fall to humanity to handle. You can see evidence of that in Genesis 14. Lot needs to be delivered from capture and violence, in the course of warfare, takes place. This is very different from meting out final judgment at the hands of man. Sodom and Gomorrah were, at the moment, not doing anything to warrant human intervention. However, the punishment of sin is God’s business. Essentially, those times are out of our hands: we can choose to worship God and trust His grace or we ca…

Through the Whole bible: Genesis 18

Genesis 17 was yesterday's focus of Through the Whole Bible. In an earlier post, I had addressed some of the other factors of that chapter. I've also preached on both Genesis 17 and 18 which you can find at that link.Today, the focus is on Genesis 18 (Link). There are a couple of factors to consider in this chapter.The first is this: God provides for the fulfillment of His promises, and oftentimes that provision is different from what we might expect. How that comes forward into your life is likely different from how it came forward for Abraham and Sarah.For example, you're not going to be the father of the Hebrew people. That job is complete: Abraham got it. It is also likely that you're not going to father a child at age 100. In point of fact, given life expectancies these days that would be quite reckless and dangerously close to violating the biblical principle of parenting your children responsibly. Yet, with all the appropriate nods to the wisdom found in Scriptu…

Through the whole Bible: Genesis 17

Going through the whole Bible, you find that the darker chapters are frequently followed by chapters that are much more positive. Genesis 17 (Link) is one of those positive moments. Whereas Genesis 16 was not a happy chapter, showing the darkness of human nature, Genesis 17 puts Abram and Sarai back toward the right direction.Abram and Sarai actually do not live through the end of the chapter. The opening aspect of this chapter is God declaring that Abram will now be known as Abraham and Sarai as Sarah. There's some valuable ideas that fall under this concept.The first is this: naming rights are important. Think about it: how do major buildings get named? Or university properties? The names given are usually requested by the primary benefactor behind the project. Children are named by their parents. All of these processes of naming highlight this truth: the person that gives the name is usually either in charge or indispensible to the project. These days, it's typically that t…

Sermon Roundup February 5

The sermons didn't exactly preach out like the outline, so I've excluded those from the post. One major point from the morning sermon was to take the time to write out what God has been doing in your life and prepare to share it. Then, find a place to share it!Morning Sermon:Nehemiah 2:11-20Audio Link HereEvening SermonNehemiah 3Audio Link Here

Genesis 16: Through the Whole Bible

Genesis 16 (Link) is one of the darker portions of the narrative. Part of working Through the Whole Bible, though, requires looking at all of it. It speaks of the tragic abuse of power and control by people who ought to have known better. How we deal with this is a significant reflection on ourselves and how we implement the ethics based on Scripture. Coming to the text, we find Abram and Sarai waiting on the promise of God to be fulfilled. As they wait, they make a decision. That decision is one that the culture around them, by the available data, was fully approving of: Sarai hands her servant Hagar over to Abram to use her womb. That is what's happening here.This violates several things that are right: the sanctity of humanity for starters. Hagar, whatever employment she may have, is a human being. The fundamental right of a human being to not be used as a breed animal is ignored here. Likewise, the right to self-determination is violated. it is one thing to have to work employ…

Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 15

Through the Whole Bible is actually a blog series that will take me approximately 3 years if I do a chapter a day. Since I probably won't do Sundays, that's probably closer to 4 years. Eventually, I may double up and try to get done quicker, but who knows? I need a good long project. Keeps me moderately sane.We've made it fifteen chapters into Genesis and approach Genesis 15 (LINK). This is the first place, that I can see, that Abram expresses doubt about God's promises. He has lived a bit of doubt, back in Genesis 13 (note here) when he doubted God's ability to provide in Canaan and protect Sarai from the Egyptians.Yet he never gave full voice to those doubts. Now, though, he does. In fact, he tells God that the promise is impossible to fill.Therefore, God creates a magnificent sign, Sarai is miraculously pregnant and delivers a baby the next day, right?No.God restates His promise. He takes Abram out to look at the stars and reminds Abram of the promise.Then, God …

Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 14

Through the Whole Bible for today takes us to Genesis 14 (Link) for a war. There's a sermon in my podcast history that addresses some of what happened here (LINK). I'll give you a recap: the story zooms out for a moment and gives the political happenings in the region. In that time, the rulers of the cities around Sodom and Gomorrah had been paying tribute/taxes to the king of Elam. After twelve years of that, the taxpayers decided they were tired of it and quit. One does not, however, just quit paying taxes and get away with it. The king of Elam comes back to remind the others of the pecking order.Lot, meanwhile, gets caught up in the middle of this. The text does not record that he fought, but he still gets taken as a prisoner by Chedorlaomer, King of Elam. (Yep. King Cheesy.) Abram hears and goes out to deliver his nephew from the king. And does so, successfully.Here's a few takeaways from this chapter:1. Those who do not carry a sword can still die on one. Or, in this …

Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 13

Yesterday’s TTWB installment introduced to a man named Abram. I touched briefly on him, but didn’t take the time to deal with the rest of the chapter. So, let’s fold the second half of Genesis 12 in with today’s chapter, shall we?As we work Through the Whole Bible, we’re now in Genesis 13 (LINK). It starts with the observation that Abram moved back to the Negev from Egypt. What was he doing in Egypt in the first place?After traveling to Canaan in obedience to God, trouble came to Abram and family. Famine struck the land, and Abram, Sarai, and Lot moved down to Egypt. While they were there, Abram lied to Pharaoh about whether or not Sarai was his wife and they were escorted out of the country. He then finds himself back in the Negev.Here’s where things get interesting. “Negev” is the Hebrew word for a specific region, but the origin is the word for “dry” or “parched.” In other words, it’s a barren, desolate place. The Negev isn’t really a happy place to be.It’s not uncommon, either, fo…