Week Three: Exodus 1-19

Read the Bible in a Year

This week, read: Exodus 1-19

At Least Know This:

God leads his people out of Egypt, and he leads the people to Mount Sinai. There, God gives

people a two-way covenant: If you will be my people, then I will be your God.

Author and Date:

Jesus once referred to the first five books of the Bible as the “Books of Moses” (Mark 12:26).

So, through most of church history, people assumed that Moses wrote those books. Modern

analysis of the ancient Hebrew text shows that there were many people (or many groups) that

edited the book.

The date that Moses led the people out of Egypt is debated. Some scholars suggest the date of

the Exodus was 1446 BC. Other scholars prefer the date of 1290 BC. Advocates of both dates

cite clues in the biblical literature as well as archeological evidence. Personally, I lean toward

the later date, just because the Pharaoh would have been Ramsees II, the biggest, meanest,

most powerful Pharaoh ever.

Exodus was probably put in its final form during the Babylonian Exile (587-538 BC).

Historical Situation

The children of Israel were living in Egypt, and had been enslaved by the Egyptian government

when they became a security risk. Moses, unwillingly at first, led the people out of Egypt, and

down to Mount Sinai. Here, the children of Israel would receive the covenant.

Important Passages

Pharaoh was disinclined to let the slaves go. So, in chapters 7-11, God causes a series of 10

plagues on Egypt. These were not just random events. This was God taking on the Egyptian

gods, one by one. Plague #1 was turning the waters of the Nile into blood—that was an attack

on the Egyptian gods Khnum and Hapi, the gods of the Nile. The plague of locusts was an attack

on the Egyptian god Seth, the protector of the crops.

If you recall the belief of the ancient peoples that gods were gods over geographic areas, then

this is really significant. The God of the Children of Israel shouldn’t have been able to beat up

the Egyptian gods.

In chapter 12, they have the Passover as they waited for the word to leave. They were

instructed to celebrate the Passover every year to remember how God rescued them from

Egypt.

In chapter 13:21-22, we see that God is leading his people, with a pillar of fire and smoke.

Throughout the Old Testament, and into the New, we always fire, smoke, thunder, and

lightning as the presence of God. We call it “the theophany,” and it represents that God is

present and active in their midst.

In chapter 19: 3-6, we see God offer the two-way covenant: Now if you obey me fully and keep

my covenant, then out of all the nations you will be my treasured possession. Notice the if-then.

The people had to obey God to get the covenant. This is different than the covenant of

Abraham—the one-way covenant—where God made a promise and didn’t require anything in

return.

Faith Insights

In Exodus 19:6, God says You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. They were

called to be servants to the world, unifying all people back to God through their service to the

hungry, the homeless, the widowed and the orphans. However, too often the people saw their

“chosenness,” as an excuse to separate from others, rather than engage with them. The

prophets tried to correct them, but frequently the prophets spoke to deaf ears. Today, does the

church see themselves as separate? Or do we try to engage with the most vulnerable?

For the people of Israel, the Exodus was one of the central events in their history. For the rest

of the Old Testament, they remembered the exodus as the primary event that defined

them—they were chosen by God. This lasted until they were about to leave Babylon (Isaiah

43:19) in 538 BC, when the prophet Isaiah said “Don’t look back on the Exodus. God is doing a

new thing right now!” God continues to do new things for us today!

Our relationship with God today is a one-way covenant. Jesus has redeemed us and called us to

be his. There’s nothing we have to do to be righteous. God already pronounced us righteous.

We don’t have to perform feats of obedience to get God’s approval. We already have His

approval. The staggering truth of the gospel is that God loves us right now; not as we should be,

or as we ought to be—He loves us right now.

If you run across a passage that you have questions about, feel free to post questions (or

insights that you have received from the Bible reading), then please click here.

Our next face-to-face meeting is on February 14, 2019 at 6:30-7:45.

Week Two: Genesis 23-50 

This week, read: Genesis 23-50 

At Least Know This

Abraham dies in chapter 25, and the stories of his descendants continue. God made a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12, to use Abraham and his descendants to unify all people back to God. The point of the stories is always “How is God going to keep his promises?”

 

Author and Date

Jesus once referred to the first five books of the Bible as the “Books of Moses” (Mark 12:26). So, through most of church history, people assumed that Moses wrote those books. Modern analysis of the ancient Hebrew text shows that there were many people (or many groups) that edited the book. 

The book of Genesis was probably put in its final form during the Babylonian Exile (587-538 BC). Abraham, the main character in the first part of Genesis, may have lived around 1750 BC (give or take a couple hundred years).

 

Historical Situation 

For most of this part of Genesis, the Children of Israel are in Palestine. They are mostly nomadic, tending their flocks. In chapter 41 and 42, there was a famine in the land of Palestine. Jacob’s sons go down to Egypt to find food (Egypt has the Nile, so there’s almost always food in Egypt).

 

Important Passages

At the end of chapter 21, Abraham and Sarah have one son, Isaac. So, after all these years since God made his covenant (Genesis 12), he finally has a son that will continue God’s promise of Abraham having many children. It’s written so that the reader let’s out a sigh of relief, saying, “Finally! God kept his covenant.”

Then, at the beginning of chapter 22, God tests Abraham by telling him to sacrifice his only son. As with all the stories in Genesis, you’re meant to jump to your feet and say, “Oh no! How can God carry out his promises if Isaac is dead?” After each story in Genesis 22-50, you’re meant to watch how God carries out his promises. 

 

Faith Insights 

The story of Joseph moving from a spoiled child, to a slave, to a prisoner, to ultimately the prime minister of Egypt is a fascinating one. It shows how God was with Joseph the entire time, and God continued to keep the promise he gave to Abraham. In all our journeys of life, God is with us, too—walking with us and always keeping his promises. 

 

 

 

 

If you run across a passage that you have questions about, feel free to post questions (or insights that you have received from the Bible reading), then please click here.

Our first face-to-face meeting is on January 10, 2019 at 6:30-7:45.

Week One: Genesis 1-22

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Read the Bible in a Year

This week, read: Genesis 1-22

 

At Least Know This

God gave Abraham a promise—a covenant (Genesis 12). Abraham’s descendants (physical and spiritual descendants) would be a people to unify the world back to God.

 

Author and Date

Jesus once referred to the first five books of the Bible as the “Books of Moses” (Mark 12:26). So, through most of church history, people assumed that Moses wrote those books. Modern analysis of the ancient Hebrew text shows that there were many people (or many groups) that edited the book. 

The book of Genesis was probably put in its final form during the Babylonian Exile (587-538 BC). Abraham, the main character in the first part of Genesis, may have lived around 1750 BC (give or take a couple hundred years).

 

Historical Situation 

At the time of Abraham, people were largely nomadic and agricultural, driving their herds from one place to another. God calls Abraham out of Ur (a pretty cool city in Mesopotamia), and Abraham goes to Palestine. 

 

Important Passages

Genesis 12:1-3 is one of the central passages of Genesis, if not the whole Bible. God promises that his descendants will bring people back to God. 

The stories in Genesis 12 and following, are meant to keep you on the edge of your seat—wondering how God will keep the covenant to Abraham. For example, in chapter 12, we see that the Egyptian Pharaoh talks about kidnapping Abraham’s wife, Sarah. We’re supposed to say, “Oh my gosh, how can God keep his covenant if the Pharaoh keeps Sarah?” In chapter 14, Abram fights in a battle. We’re supposed to wonder, “What if Abraham gets killed in the battle? How will God keep his covenant?” The rest of the stories in Genesis show how God keeps his promises, even when all seems lost. 

 

Faith Insights 

Why did God choose Abraham? A common idea is that God chose Abraham because he was so righteous. But there is nothing in the text that says that. In fact—it says just the opposite. In Joshua 24:2 states that Abraham was worshipping idols when God called him. God called Abraham, not because Abraham was good, but because God is good. 

Why does God choose us? It’s not because we are good, but it’s because God is good. This is grace—undeserved love and kindness. We don’t ever have to measure up, we don’t have to do tricks to get God to like us. God loves us right now, as we are; not as we should be, or as we ought to be—God loves us right now.

The covenant God gave to Abraham was a one-waycovenant. This means that God gave Abraham a promise, and asked for nothing in return. Abraham didn’t have to do anything to get the promise. God, out of his grace, gave this promise. Our relationship with God is a one-way covenant. God promises his love and presence and salvation—and there’s nothing we have to do to earn it.

In Genesis 19, God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah, for being evil. And through the years of church history, people believed that that “evil” was homosexuality (leading to years of oppression of homosexuals). But read through the chapter. You’ll see that nowhere does it identify the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. In fact, there’s only one place in the Old Testament that identifies their sin. Ezekiel 16:49: This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. It is interesting that our rich and prosperous churches today have chosen to forget that verse.

 

 

  

If you run across a passage that you have questions about, feel free to post questions or insights that you have received from the Bible reading in the comments below!

Our first face-to-face meeting is on January 10, 2019 at 6:30-7:45.