Hi Everyone! Welcome to week 2 of our reading! I am trusting and praying that your times in God's word have been rich and encouraging!
Our reading for this upcoming week will cover Genesis 25 - 45 and Psalms 8-14. Here are my Top 3 Things that stood out to me as I read!
So. much. trickery
The stories of Genesis have so much trickery. Jacob tricks his father, taking his brother's inheritance and blessing, on the recommendation of his own mother! Jacob soon falls under the schemes of an even greater trickster, his uncle Laban, who schemes to have Jacob marry both of his daughters. Tamar tricks her father in law, Judah, in order to force him to carry out the family duties to her as a wife. Joseph's brothers trick their father into believing that Joseph has been killed by a wild animal rather than the truth that they sold him into slavery. Sheesh!
Trickery is a soft word for deception and lying, and there is a lot of deceiving and lying going on in Genesis. It is a good example of a principle that has helped me a lot in my reading of the Bible, that all of the people in the Bible are sinners who demonstrate unfaithfulness in various ways. But the picture we see amongst the people is in sharp contrast to the God who interacts with them. God, in contrast, speaks the truth. He does not deceive, he makes clear his intentions and follows through with what he promises. In a world of trickery, God is the God who is perfectly truthful!
The mysterious relationship between God's promised future and our own actions
Have you noticed how God will often show a person his intended plan, but then over the course of story unfolding, you see the person taking steps to bring about the outcome that God had showed them?
For example, God reveals to Rebekah that Jacob will rise above Esau, the older will serve the younger. When it comes time for the inheritance and blessing to be passed down, Rebekah instructs Jacob on what to do in order to take the blessing. Or, how about the vision of whole family bowing down before Joseph? In their first meeting, Joseph notices that his whole family is not present as they are bowing before him (they don't recognize that it is him, yet). So Joseph takes action to try and bring the rest of his family.
When God reveals that something will happen, does it happen independently of our own choices and actions? And what if the choices and actions that brought about the outcome that God had promised are questionable or downright sinful? This is stepping a little bit outside of our reading for this week, but later Joseph concludes with his brothers that God uses even the things we mean for evil, for his good. Truly mysterious, but then, this is also God being the God that I truly need!
He Struggles with God
In this week's reading we got to see the climactic struggle between Jacob and God. It was so climactic that the struggle ends with Jacob being given a new name, Israel. The name, Israel, means, "he struggles with God". It is a strange name, but at the same time it gives us a window into the radical graciousness of God.
Israel is a strange name given the fact that God is the creator, and sustainer of all things. Could it ever really make sense that one of God's creations struggles with God himself and the struggle is real? And yet that is exactly what happens! What kind of God would allow his creation to struggle with him? I think that a God who truly loves is the kind of God who would do that.
Here are the links to the Bible Project videos for your encouragement!
Monday, Jan 8 - https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/image-of-god/
Tuesday, Jan 9 - https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/torah-genesis-2/
Wednesday, Jan 10 - https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/what-is-bible/
Thursday Jan 11 - https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/the-story-of-the-bible/
Friday, Jan 12 - https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/literary-styles-bible/
Sunday, Jan 14 - https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/character-biblical-narrative/