Friday, March 31, 2017

READ IT! - Genesis 12

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.

Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”

When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.

But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

READ IT! - Genesis 11

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

This is the account of Shem’s family line.

Two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father of Arphaxad. And after he became the father of Arphaxad, Shem lived 500 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Arphaxad had lived 35 years, he became the father of Shelah. And after he became the father of Shelah, Arphaxad lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber. And after he became the father of Eber, Shelah lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Eber had lived 34 years, he became the father of Peleg. And after he became the father of Peleg, Eber lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Peleg had lived 30 years, he became the father of Reu. And after he became the father of Reu, Peleg lived 209 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Reu had lived 32 years, he became the father of Serug. And after he became the father of Serug, Reu lived 207 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor. And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah. And after he became the father of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and had other sons and daughters.

After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.

This is the account of Terah’s family line.

Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah. Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive.

Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.

Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

READ IT! - Genesis 10

This is the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah’s sons, who themselves had sons after the flood.

The Japhethites

The sons of Japheth:

Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshek and Tiras.

The sons of Gomer:

Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah.

The sons of Javan:

Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittites and the Rodanites. (From these the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language.)

The Hamites

The sons of Ham:

Cush, Egypt, Put and Canaan.

The sons of Cush:

Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteka.

The sons of Raamah:

Sheba and Dedan.

Cush was the father of Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.” The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Uruk, Akkad and Kalneh, in Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah—which is the great city.

Egypt was the father of

the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites, Pathrusites, Kasluhites (from whom the Philistines came) and Caphtorites.

Canaan was the father of

Sidon his firstborn, and of the Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites.

Later the Canaanite clans scattered and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, as far as Lasha.

These are the sons of Ham by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.

The Semites

Sons were also born to Shem, whose older brother was Japheth; Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber.

The sons of Shem:

Elam, Ashur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram.

The sons of Aram:

Uz, Hul, Gether and Meshek.

Arphaxad was the father of Shelah,

and Shelah the father of Eber.

Two sons were born to Eber:

One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan.

Joktan was the father of

Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah and Jobab. All these were sons of Joktan.

The region where they lived stretched from Mesha toward Sephar, in the eastern hill country.

These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.

These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

READ IT! - Genesis 9

Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

“But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.

“Whoever sheds human blood,
    by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
    has God made mankind.
As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the whole earth.

Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.

When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said,

“Cursed be Canaan!
    The lowest of slaves
    will he be to his brothers.”
He also said,

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem!
    May Canaan be the slave of Shem.
May God extend Japheth’s territory;
    may Japheth live in the tents of Shem,
    and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.”

After the flood Noah lived 350 years. Noah lived a total of 950 years, and then he died.

Digging Deeper: The Trial of Jesus

After praying, Jesus crosses the Kidron Valley with his disciples and they stop at an olive garden.

Judas knew that Jesus would go there, so he also shows up leading a group of religious leaders and soldiers to arrest Jesus.

 Jesus goes up to them and asks, “What do you want?”

They ask for “Jesus of Nazareth” and he says “I am.”

When he says “I am” the mob falls over backwards… including Judas.

Then he’s like, “Who did you say you wanted again?”

And they stand up and say “Jesus of Nazareth” and he says “I told you I am,” and he tells them that if it’s him they want then they should let the disciples go.

But Peter runs forward with a sword and cuts off the right ear of the high priest’s servant – a guy named Malchus.

Jesus commands Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

Then they arrest Jesus and bind him and bring him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.

Annas had been deposed from the high priesthood by the Romans in AD 15 but was still regarded by many as the true high priest.

Caiaphas is the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.

Peter and another disciple are following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he goes with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter has to wait outside at the door. The other disciple comes back, speaks to the servant girl on duty there and brings Peter in. She asks Peter if he is also a disciple and he denies it.

It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.

Meanwhile, the high priest questions Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.

Jesus replies, “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”

When Jesus says this, one of the officials nearby slaps him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demands.

“If I said something wrong,” Jesus replies, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”

Then Annas sends him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

In Jewish law no one could be sentenced on the same day their trial was held. The two examinations – one before Annas and one before Caiaphas – may have been conducted to give some form of legitimacy to the proceedings.

In a formal Jewish trial, the judge did not ask direct questions of the accused. Instead he called on witnesses, whose words determined the outcome. If two or more agreed on the charge, the verdict was sealed. The accused was not required to prove his innocence. But the scene here was more like a police interrogation than a trial. Perhaps Annas regarded this as a preliminary inquiry, not a trial. By pointing out that Annas should be talking to witnesses, Jesus unmasked Annas’s attempt to make Jesus incriminate himself. In essence, Jesus was demanding a trial.

Meanwhile, Peter is still standing there warming himself. So they ask him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”

He denied it, saying, “I am not.”

One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?”
Again Peter denies it, and at that moment a rooster begins to crow.

Jesus is then taken to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor, but the Jews refuse to enter the palace because that would make them ceremonially unclean for the Passover meal… they apparently didn’t think plotting murder would also make them ceremonially unclean.

So Pilate has to come out to them to see what in the world they want at that hour of the morning, and he asks them what the charges are against Jesus.

And they say his charge is that he is a criminal.

Seeing as how they can’t find an example of any Roman law that Jesus broke, Pilate tells them all to go away and settle their own problems themselves.

But they protest, saying they want permission to execute Jesus.

So Pilate has Jesus brought inside where they can talk alone.

Pilate asks, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus responds, “Did you come up with that yourself, or did you hear that from someone else?”

Pilate’s like, “Am I a Jew? Your own people handed you over to me! What did you do?”

Jesus says, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

Pilate is like, “So you are a king, then!”

Jesus says, “You say, ‘You’re a king!’ but in fact, the real reason I was born and came into this world was to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Pilate’s like, “Oh, what is truth anyway?” And he goes back out to the Jews to reason with them.

At this point we learn that it was traditional for a prisoner to be released once a year at the request of the people. We also learn that there was at this time a known terrorist and murderer locked up in prison named Jesus Barabbas.

Pilate uses this opportunity to ask the crowd who they would like to release – Jesus Barabbas or Jesus Christ?

But the crowd is like, “No! Give us the terrorist! Set Barabbas free!”

Monday, March 27, 2017

READ IT! - Introduction to Genesis 8-14

Readings for this week

Monday: Genesis 8
Tuesday: Genesis 9
Wednesday: Genesis 10
Thursday: Genesis 11
Friday: Genesis 12
Saturday: Genesis 13
Sunday: Genesis 14

Introduction to Genesis 8-14

The very end of the story of Noah and the Flood can be understood as a Creation story, or rather a story of New Creation - death and resurrection.

God does not abandon his servants forever to destruction in the ark, but He sends his wind (spirit) back over the waters of chaos, causing them to recede, and He begins his creation all over again.

The story ends with an account of God making a covenant with Noah.

This is the first covenant mentioned in the Bible.

The covenant contained:

1. The promise that God would never again destroy the earth with a flood.
2. Promise of a predictable and dependable world with seasons and cycles of nature.
3. The blessing of Noah and his family.
4. Permission granted to eat meat, but without blood in it.
5. Establishment of the value and sacredness of human life on the basis of the fact that God made humanity in His image.

“The narrative concludes with the report that God set the rainbow as a sign of His covenant with His creation.”

So after the Flood, Noah decides to plant a vineyard and make some wine… you know, cause he probably thought it might help take his mind off of the watery apocalypse he’d just witnessed.

So Noah gets drunk as a skunk and passes out naked in his tent.

His son Ham shows up and the text says he sees his dad naked (which is most likely a nasty euphemism).

Ham then decides to spread the word about this to…well… the only people around to listen to him…his brothers Shem and Japheth

But Shem and Japheth are embarrassed and they take a blanket and go cover up their dad’s nakedness.

After Noah’s done sleeping it off, he finds out what happened and he starts throwing down curses on Ham’s son Canaan… while at the same time blessing Shem and Japheth

But wait a minute here…Why is Noah cursing his grandson Canaan instead of his nasty son Ham?

Because this story is also an origin story. It is intended to show the origins of Israel's nasty neighbors - the Canaanites. Why were the Canaanites so perverted? Because the first Canaanite (Canaan) was the son of Ham, Noah's perverted son.

Shem is the ancestor of the Semitic peoples, which include many of the people of the Ancient Near East, including the Israelites.

“The genealogical record in chapter 10 gives the list of nations that descended from Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”

In chapter 11 we come to the familiar story of the tower of Babel. This story explains that all of the people of the Ancient Near East used to speak the same language, but that at some point the people were separated from each other and began speaking in different languages.

This story also appears to be an ancient Hebrew indictment against the structures and practices of ancient Babylon.

So as the story goes, sometime after the Flood, humanity moved eastward and settled down in the Plain of Shinar, or Babylonia.

Humanity began to construct large cities and towers using this amazing new technology – bricks… instead of the more traditional stones.

Now Humanity was afraid of becoming scattered, so they decided to make a huge city in order to “make a name” for themselves.

This group of people united to become a superpower in the world. The people believed that if they could build a tower tall enough, then they could break into the heavens above and become gods themselves.

So God comes down to the city to investigate humanity’s big project, and God concludes that humanity needs limits, or else they will be able to achieve anything to which they put their minds. So God confuses everyone’s language so they can’t understand each other. Construction then stops and the tower becomes a joke. The city comes to be known as Babel after this, which is similar to the Hebrew word for “confused.”

The story ends with a genealogy of the Semitic peoples, ending with Abram son of Terah.

This also brings us to the end of the primeval narratives (stories about humanity’s origins) and transitions us into the patriarchal narratives (stories about Israel’s origins).

So as the story goes… Terah moved his whole family away from the city of Ur of the Chaldeans by the Euphrates River and settled them in the city of Haran, 600 miles to the northwest in present-day southern Turkey.

Later, God speaks to Abram, and tells him to leave his father’s household in Haran, and go to the land of Canaan. After they arrived in the land of Canaan, God appeared to Abram again and said to him, “To your offspring I will give this land.”

This promise was significant for several reasons.

First of all, Abram was homeless and God was promising him a home.
Second, Abram and Sarai weren’t able to have children and God was promising them descendants.
And finally, God was revealing himself to Abram… who came from a family of pagans who worshiped other gods.

But the text says that Abram believed what God said, and because of this, he was considered righteous.

However, sometime after Abram arrived in Canaan, there was a severe famine, and Abram decided to leave the promised land and move his family down to Egypt. Pharaoh then took Sarai into his house to be one of his concubines, and he reimbursed Abram for allowing him to own his “sister” …as Abram called her.

So Abram ended up getting rich off of Pharaoh because of this little scheme of his, but God didn’t like this and he sent a plague on the Egyptians until they learned the truth Pharaoh kicks Abram and Sarai out of Egypt (the first exodus…).

After the incident in Egypt, Lot’s shepherds began getting into fights with Abram’s shepherds because the land did not have enough resources for all of them. So they agreed that they would move away from each other in opposite directions.

Sometime later, several eastern kings joined forces and conquered the five great cities of the Jordan Valley, including the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Later, these five cities started a revolution that was quickly squelched after a great battle near the Dead Sea. Many people were carried off to the north, including Abram’s nephew, Lot.

When Abram heard about this, he gathered up his allies and set out in pursuit of the invaders. Abram’s surprise campaign was successful, and they brought back all of the captives and their belongings, including Lot and his family.

Genesis 8

But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.

After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.

By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year,the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.

Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”

So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another.

Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

Sunday, March 26, 2017

READ IT! - Genesis 7

The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”

And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.

For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.

The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.