My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.



Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Genesis 14

Abram's household get some action

Summary:
5 kings including Kedorlaomer have a war with 4 kings, including the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. Kedorlaomer's side is more powerful and thrash Sodom. Sodom's people, including Lot, get carried off. Abram and his men find out, and go and kick some posterior, and recover Lot. Melchizedek, priest of God Most High, blesses Abram, and Abram give him a tenth of his stuff. Sodom offers Abram riches for what he did, but Abram refuses, so that Sodom may have no boast in Abram.

Key verse:
19. "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth."

My thoughts:
Melchizedek is a very interesting Biblical character, because he is mentioned in comparison to Jesus in the book of Hebrews, chapter 7. Melchizedek is a priest, but not of the line of Aaron, or of the Levites, which come later. He is a different order of priest, and he was not even a hebrew, yet Abram still gave him a tenth - he must've been pretty amazing. In the same way Jesus is a new order of priest from those within the law of the Levites. Melchizedek only enters the Bible narrative for 3 verses, yet he is given quite a lot of significance. This gentile is surprisingly highly revered throughout the rest of the Bible. Some have claimed that Melchizedek is a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. Though this is an interesting viewpoint, it is not supported biblically.

Abram's giving to Melchizedek is the first 'tithe' in the Bible.

Issues of war in the Old Testament could be raised here, but I'll save those for another day!

Only 1175

Monday, November 29, 2004

Genesis 13

Abram goes west, Lot goes east

Summary:
Abram and Lot leave Egypt and go to Negev. They both have lots of possessions. They then travel around ending up where Abram had built his altar between Bethel and Ai. Abram's men and Lot's men start quarreling, so Abram and Lot decide to part ways to stop the fighting. Abram goes west to Canaan, and Lot goes east to the Jordan, near Sodom and Gomorrah. God restates his promise that Abram's descendants will be many and will live in Canaan. Abram ends up living at Hebron, and builds an altar there.

Key verse:
16. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted

My thoughts:
Sometimes with all the goodwill in the world, people end up separating because of disagreements. Abram and Lot loved each other, but given the situation they decided it best to part ways. Sometimes Christians feel that they ought to be best friends with everyone, and that any disagreement should be seen as a failure. However I do believe that sometimes, when tension and conflict is rising, it is best to go different directions with each other's blessing, whether physically or in vision. Paul also did this with Barnabas (Acts 15).

In this passage, God again states that Abram's descendants will be a great nation of people. Though this may seem obvious to us now, remember that Abram's wife was infertile! From a human perspective is was extremely unlikely that Abram would father a nation through Sarai. But then, God doesn't think from a human perspective...

Hebron, where Abram builds the altar, eventually becomes the capital city of Israel for the first years of King David's reign, before he captures Jerusalem.

Only 1176 days to go!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Genesis 12

Abram leaves Haran and deceives the Pharaoh

Summary:
God tells Abram to go west, and makes 4 agreements. Abram does this with his wife Sarai and nephew Lot. They end up in Canaan. God promises that the land will be given to Abram's offspring, and Abram builts an altar. There was a famine in Canaan so Abram fled to Egypt, but he said that Sarai was one his sister in fear of being killed for his wife's beauty. Pharaoh takes Sarai into his palace thinking that she was unmarried, but his family becomes cursed. Pharaoh finds out that Sarai was married to Abram, and sends them away, annoyed that they'd deceived him.

Key verses:
1. Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.
7. To your offspring I will give this land

My thoughts:
This is the call of Abram. Many prophets (though Abram was not a prophet) have a description of a their calling. See 1 Samuel 3, Isaiah 6, and Ezekiel 2. God is a god who calls us, sometimes by name, and commissions us for the plans he has for us.

Abram's faith here is amazing. At the Lord's simple request "get up and leave", Abram does it. I think we need to ask ourselves whether we would be willing to put everything we know, all our comforts and safety nets behind us and do what God is calling us to. It's requires a lot of faith. For this Abraham is in the 'Hall of Faith' in Hebrews 11 (vv. 8-19).

In return for Abram's obedience to leave his home, God makes 4 agreements with him in verses 2 and 3. These are as follows:
1. I will make you a great nation and bless you
2. I will make your name great and you will be a blessing
3. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you
4. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you
If you follows these 4 agreement through the Old Testament, you can see that when Israel has a good relationship with God, these agreements are fulfilled. However when Israel deserts God, these 4 statements become less true.

After this covenant is made, Abram builds an altar to worship God. Noah also did this when he received his covenant after the flood. So far it seems to be the thing to do after covenant-establishing. Once God has made a deal with you it is natural to respond with worship.

Abram's deception of Pharaoh is another example of a biblical hero having flaws. His deception causes unnecessary grief, and he would've been better off being clear about Sarai from the beginning.

My Bit:
I just got back from clubbing and it's 5am, so sorry if today's post doesn't read well. I have to leave early tomorrow for Nottingham, so I thought I'd be better off doing this now that trying to get up 20 minutes earlier to do it. Now I'm off to about 3 hours sleep. Yay for me!

1177 days to go!

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Genesis 11

Tower of Babel and Origin of Abraham

Summary:
People have one language and decide to build a city to reach the heavens. God stops them by confusing their language and scattering them. Line from Shem to Abram goes: Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Rau, Serug, Nahor, Terah, Abram (with his brothers Haran and Nahor). Haran has Lot, then Haran dies. Abram marries Sarai. Sarai is barren. Terah's family, including Abram, go off to live in Canaan but end up in Haran.

Key Verse:
8. So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth

My thoughts:
This chapter marks the end of the proto-history section of the Bible (with the possible exception of Job), and marks the beginning of patriachs, starting with Abram, who later becomes Abraham.

Despite verse 6, I do not believe that God stopped the construction of Babel because he felt threatened. Rather he stopped the construction to humble the people, who had become filled with pride. Even after the flood and Noah, the world filled itself with sin again, as people sought glory for themselves rather than for God. God was punishing people for this.

Very early on we are told that Abram's wife Sarai was barren, unable to have children. The fact that Sarai later only manages to have a child because of God could be a statement that the children of Abraham actually were the children of God. They would be descendants of God, rather than descendants of the sinful people who built Babel.

I would be interested if anyone could find a free family tree of the entire Bible from Adam to Jesus, with all the branches off it mentioned within the Bible. UPDATE- Here are some: http://www.d.umn.edu/~jbelote/bible2.html , http://homepage.mac.com/millhouse/genealogy/adam_tree.html The second one is quite hard to read...

Only 1178 days to go!

Friday, November 26, 2004

Genesis 10

Development of the middle-eastern nations

Summary:
Noah's three sons are Shem, Ham, Japheth.
Japheth has Gomer and Javan and some others. Javan is the father of the maritime people.
Ham has Cush and Canaan and some others. Canaan is the father of the nations of Canaan. Cush's son Nimrod was a great warrior/hunter, and he built a big kingdom.
Shem has Elam and Arphaxad and some others. Arphaxad had Shelah who had Eber who had Peleg (Peleg means division and the world was divided when he was around). Shem's descendants lived in the eastern hill country.

Key verse:
32. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.

My thoughts:
In this chapter there are many references to people having different languages, however in the next chapter we are told that the whole world had one language. This could be seen as a contradiction, however the mistake made there would be assuming that the Genesis author was writing strictly chronologically. He is not. Chapter 10 is a genealogy which stands aside from the chronology of the narrative. The references to one language are presented to have happened some time between the flood and Abram, but when exactly is not specified. Genesis generally reads chronologically, however not in this circumstance.

My bit:
Woo! Chapter 10! Double digits!

Only 1179 days to go!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Genesis 9

God's deal with Noah and Noah gets drunk

Summary:
God blesses Noah and his sons, and allows them to eat animals, and makes the rainbow as a sign of that covenant. Noah gets drunk and naked, and his son Ham sees his and tells his brothers, and his brothers go and cover Noah's shame. Noah curses Ham and blesses his other sons. Noah died at 950.

Key verse:
13. I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

My thoughts:
A lot of people don't realise that before Noah people only ate fruit and vegetables, and here after the flood God allows people to eat everything that lives and moves. See v.3

It is easy to look at some of the 'role-models' of the old testament and wonder why they are worthy of being role-models. For example here, Noah gets himself horrible drunk and naked, and we are left to wonder if this is standard godly practice. I do not think we should always look to 'good' biblical characters as perfect role-models, except for Jesus. Since the beginning God used imperfect people in imperfect situations to fulfil his perfect plan.

Ham sinned because he didn't cover his father, but rather told his brothers resulting in more people seeing the naked Noah, to Noah's shame. His brothers did right by covering him.

1180 days to go!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Genesis 8

The waters recede

Summary:
The water levels start to recede until the tops of the mountains are visible, and the ark rests on the mountains of Ararat. Noah sends out a raven. Noah sends out a dove, which returns, then after 7 days, another dove which brings back and olive leaf. After 7 days he sent the dove out again, and it doesn't return. The ground is dry and they exit the ark and are instructed to multiply in numbers. Noah makes a sacrifice on an altar to the Lord, and the Lord promises not to destroy all the living creatures again.

Key verses:
17. multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number
21. never again will I destroy all living creatures

My thoughts:
The concept of being fruitful and increasing in number is a common sign of blessing throughout the old testamant. Adam and Eve are instructed to do it. God assures Abraham that his son Ishmael will be fruitful and increase in number. There are many other examples. Here God instructs Noah to be fruitful and increase in number, showing God's blessing over him.

Verse 21 again shows the grace of God at an early stage of the Bible. It may be hard to imagine a graceful God when he has just destroyed everything, but in verse 21 God states that he will not curse the ground because of man again, despite the fact that we're all innately sinful. Though God totally despises sin, he is willing to make an exception to his wrath because of his love for us.

My Bit
Wow, Google ads have decided that the Genesis rock band is related to this site. Interesting...

1181 days to go!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Genesis 7

The flood

Summary:
God told Noah to put 7 of each clean animal (and bird) and 2 of each unclean animal into the boat. Seven days later, it starts raining, and continues to rain for 40 days and nights, and the water levels rise to cover the mountains by 20 feet. Everything outside the boat dies. The flood covers the earth for a hundred and fifty days.

Key verse:
5. And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

My thoughts:
There are a few things which lead me to believe that the story of the flood did actually happen in some form.
Firstly, the points of accuracy of the Biblical account, which would be bizzare if the account was purely myth. An example of this accuracy is "on the seventeenth day of the second month - on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth".
Secondly, similar accounts of a great flood in other ancient literature of the Near East. An example of this is the early 2nd millennium BC Akkadian/Babylonian story entitled the "Gilgamesh Epic".
Thirdly, modern geological evidence. Though not exactly conclusive, there is enough evidence of an enormous flood covering the Near East at about 5000BC to bring the possibility of Noah's flood back into respectable science. I assure you that this evidence is not the work of some out-of-touch 'creationist' who uses faulty science. Check out this article http://geology.about.com/library/weekly/aa080899.htm . There are many other articles on this topic in science magazines and websites if you have the time to look.

Science does not make the possibility of a worldwide flood seem possible, but I do believe that at least an enormous regional flood in the Near East existed. For the Genesis author, this would've been the entire known world. As for the existence for an actual boat or ark, there is much less solid evidence, though there is no proof that the ark didn't exist. A secular website, space.com, recently posted this article http://www.space.com/astronotes/astronotes_apr18-may1_04.html (click link and scroll to April 26). I found this article interesting rather than seeing it as evidence. I would be interested to see the results of the planned expedition if it ever actually happens.

1182 days to go!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Genesis 6

God plans to destroy the sinful world

Summary:
People's lives are limited to 120 years. The Lord decides to wipe out his creation, because it has become too sinful. God commands Noah to create a boat, and to put animals and food in it along with his family.

Key verse:
18. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark

My thoughts:
The mention of 'sons of God' in verse 2 is a controversial one. No-one is quite sure what it means. I don't quite have time to go right into it, but an interesting opinion is here http://www.christiancommunitychurch.us/clevelandcommentary/Gen06.html.

God's plan to destroy the world can be seen as quite harsh, but it is also an early indication of God's desire to wipe clean what is evil, and to get rid of the sin amongst/within us.

I find it amazing that Noah actually built the ark! Imagine if you got a sense that God was asking you to drop everything to start a new enormous project which would be pointless unless the world was suddenly flooded, an event that was not exactly certain! Noah was truly a man of faith for building a boat in anticipation of an event he simply had to trust God about.

1183 days to go!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Genesis 5

Genealogy from Adam to Noah

Summary:
The line to Noah goes:
Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah.

Enoch didn't die but was taken away by God.

Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth

Key verse:
1,2. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them.

My thoughts:
The seventh in line from Adam through Cain was Lamech, an arrogant polygamous man. The seventh in line from Adam through Seth was Enoch, who walked so closely with God, that God chose him not to experience death. This happens to very few people in the Bible. Elijah was taken away from the Earth rather than dying, whereas other great men like Moses and Jesus did die. In the first century some Christians thought St. John would never die, but St. John openly refuted this in John 21:23.

I find it interesting that though the line of Cain was the firstborn of Adam, God put his anointing on the line of Seth, through Enoch and Noah. God is more interested in how people live than in their apparent birth rights. Other examples of this are David, and Jacob (though Jacob was a bit deceptive...).

Genesis records these people living to extremely old ages. Methuselah was recorded to live to 969. Obviously no-one lives this long anymore, so how can we accept these figures? There are a few ways to see these figures.
One way is to see them symbolically, with Lamech (of Seth) living 777 years, which would tie in with the associations of the name 'Lamech' as established in Gen 4:24, and Enoch walking the earth for 365 years, symbolising a full life, as there are 365 days in a year.
Another way you can see these is that they are not actually 365 day years. With limited calendar technology, these numbers could actually represent periods of time less than a year. The Hebrew word for 'year' could've meant a shorter period of time at this early stage.
A third way is to accept that they actually lived that long. This way is preferred by those who wish to take Genesis 1-11 completely literally. This view can be defended by saying that people lived longer shortly after the fall, and that livespans decreased because of the declining nature of the fallen world, and possibly even due to the early necessity of incest. In the next chapter God makes a statement that future people will only live to a maximum of 120 years. This doesn't seem to actually be enforced until some time quite a bit later.

Interestingly, if you do the math correctly, and note that the flood came when Noah was 600 years old (Gen 7:6), you will find that Methuselah, Noah's grandfather, died in the flood (or in the same year as the flood). This leads me to believe that there probably is truth in these figures, because if you work beneath the surface the numbers fit with each other without the author of Genesis explicitly pointing it out.

And I thought I wouldn't have anything to say on the genealogies!

1184 days to go!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Genesis 4

The First Murder

Summary:
Cain and Abel born of Adam and Eve (Cain first). Abel gives a better offering to God than Cain, and he gets jealous, and kills Abel. God finds out and curses Cain to be a restless wanderer, but that no-one will kill him. Cain moves to Nod, east of Eden. Lamech is a descendant of Cain, and is the seventh in line from Adam. He is the first person to take more than one wife, against God's model. Lamech has 3 sons from his two wives. Adam had another son, Seth, to replace Abel

Key verse:
7. If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?

My thoughts:
Sin continues to enter the world through murder and pride. God makes it clear in verses 6 and 7, that he desires us to do what is right. However we can see the mercy of God right at this early stage. He still loves Cain, and has compassion on him when Cain complains that he'll be killed as a wanderer. God ensures that he does not get killed.

Lamech is an interesting character for his pride and rebellion from God. He takes two wives and sets himself up as better than Cain, by saying 'If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.'. We can see sin beginning to infect the world more and more. God perfect creation is clearly no longer perfect.

1185 days to go!

Friday, November 19, 2004

Genesis 3

The Fall

Summary:
Serpent convinces Adam and Eve to eat from the tree. They suddenly realise their nakedness. God finds out about it all. He curses the serpent, woman, and man. He makes clothing for them, and kicks them out of the garden, so that they don't eat the fruit which would give them eternal life, now that they know good and evil.

Key verses:
10. He answered, 'I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.'
23. So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.

My thoughts:
The fall is very important, because it is root of the problem which plagues mankind, and it is ultimately the reason why Jesus had to come to die for us. The rest of the Bible is basically recovering from this point. This is Satan's greatest triumph, and it comes to quickly after God's great triumph of creation.

This chapter gives insight into the deception of Satan, or the serpent. He misquotes God, he lies outright. He sows seeds of doubt saying 'Did God really say ...'. Often it's the growing seeds of doubt that can lead to our undoing, and a way of fighting these doubts can be by familiarising ourselves with what we do know and what God has said in his word.

I find it interesting that even when the people had screwed up so badly, God was still there to make clothing for them (verse 21), even though clothing was one of the results of the fall. God still had compassion on the people created in his image.

My Bit
I'm away tomorrow at a weekend away, so I'm trying to post two chapters today to stay up-to-date. I'll post tomorrow's update as if it was tomorrow, so that it all looks normal when I might come back and look at what I've written in the past. This is what I intend to do whenever I can't access a computer for whatever reason!

1186 days to go!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Genesis 2

Garden of Eden

Summary:
Day 7: God rested, made day holy.

Second creation account. God made man out of dust. God makes garden of Eden. Man in charge of whole garden, but cannot eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden. Adam names all the animals. Eve is made from the side of Adam whilst he is in a deep sleep. They are naked but unashamed

Key verse:
17. But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.

My thoughts:
Not many people realise that there are actually two accounts of creation, in chapter one, and chapter two. As you read around verses 4-6, you'll see that God had not yet made the plants, even though chapter one has already narrated the creation of plants. These two accounts do not differ on anything important, and are in unison about the important ideas of God's supreme power over creation. The account of creation from chapter two is much more focussed on people, and gives the first inclination of entrance of sin which comes in chapter three. This inclination is the inclusion of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which is not to be touched by the people.

Why did God make the tree if he knew that it would cause sin and ultimately lead to suffering? Does God delight in suffering as Greg suggests? We will never fully understand why God allows pain and suffering, because he is God, and his perspective is completely different and better than ours. One good suggestion that I like is that if God did not create temptation, then there'd be no choice. God wants us to choose him, not just to be with him because there's no other option. God is just, and so he couldn't allow temptation without there being a punishment if the temptation was satisfied. Why does God allow suffering? One possible answer is because suffering is the result of the existence of free will when we make choices against the will of God. God also uses suffering to grow us. It is clear throughout that the Bible that God isn't yet in the business of completely doing away with all suffering. As Greg pointed out in yesterday's comments, God even put his son through suffering. From this I see that God has a purpose for suffering which we may not always understand, or see as fair, but it will ultimately fit into his plan. In time God will do away with all suffering, but for now, it's there for a reason.

Only 1187 days to go!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Genesis 1

Creation

Summary:
God creates the heavens and the earth in 6 days.
Day 1: Light, Day, Night
Day 2: Sky
Day 3: Land and vegetation
Day 4: Sun, Moon, stars
Day 5: Birds and sea animals
Day 6: Land animals and man

Key verses:
1. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth
3. And God said 'Let there be light,' and there was light.
27. So God created man in his own image
31. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (cf. Mk 10:18)

My thoughts:
I love it how the Bible begins at the very beginning (and ends at the very end, but we'll get to that in 1188 days). The awesomeness of God shines out in this chapter, where God effortlessly creates everything. The God of the Bible (Yahweh) is much more powerful that the meddling in-fighting gods of other creation stories originating from the same time and place.

The idea that God created everything has always been at the centre of Christian belief. However, this chapter (and the following chapters) has proven to be very controversial in light of modern science. Some Christians retain the view that God created the world in 6 days, and that at some point modern theories will be proved wrong. Others prefer to look at these chapters as a literary work not intended to be completely literal. I don't care too much how one decides to fit Genesis 1 with modern science, because I believe there are many ways this Chapter can fit with modern science. What I feel is important is the fact that God created everything, and it was good. I do not feel that these ideas can be comprimised.

My Bit
I bought my tickets for my Eurotrip today. I leave for Denmark on Dec 11, on a £0.99 Ryanair ticket. Yay for me!

I hope you read the entire chapters with me when reading my summaries and thoughts. Let the Bible speak, don't make me do it instead!

1188 days to go!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Introduction

Welcome to my new blog! My first blog in fact...

Ok, this blog is basically my personal plan to read through the whole Bible in 1189 short days! (a chapter each day) This will basically be my daily account of what I want to record. Each day it will include a Chapter Title/Topic, a quick Chapter Summary, my thoughts, and some key verses. It'll be reasonably brief, because I plan to keep this up each day. We'll see though. Hopefully it doesn't just become a nice idea. I start tomorrow, the 17th November 2004.

I use the NIV translation of the Bible, which is the translation Jesus would use if he walked the earth today.

I have read the Bible 3 times already, mostly in NIV (with a little Good News there as well), however every time I've read it I've seemed to be rushing through it, as if it's a race. This blog is an attempt for me to slow down, and to maybe take more in this time.

This blog will be as much for me as for anyone else, but everyone is welcome! Feel free to comment on my thoughts etc.

I'll start tomorrow on Genesis 1.

Only 1189 days to go!

That stuff about Jesus reading NIV was a joke BTW...

* Free car not actually real.

Monday, November 15, 2004

NEW CHAPTER FINDING THINGEE! ------>

Look what Dave made for my site! Now you can find any chapter you want. Don't (a) press return - you have to click go (b) try to see chapters I haven't written yet! Do leave comments. I get an email when I get a new comment, so I'll be able to find them! If you're ever reading a passage and think something, then leave a comment about it. One day I might let you write comments on chapters I haven't done yet. We'll see. Tell me if a chapter doesn't work or something.

Edit: This Post used to be dated in the future so that it wud always be at the top of the blog. It is now here, at the beginning. For safe keeping.

I am still being updated!

Just for those who can't figure it out... (eg. my mother)

You'll notice that the date of my most recent post is possible up to a month ago. That does not mean that I haven't posted in a month. It means that I am a month behind overall. I am updating this blog on most days, but I doctor the dates so that each post lands on the day it was supposed to be on had I done one chapter every day. This allows you to search the posts properly. Verstehstma?

disabsence!

Dearest Children,

I am back.

Still check out the missions blog though.

Pete