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).
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.
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.
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.