Genesis 7-8 B

“You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth.” (7:2-3‬)

I guess Noah knew the official classifications of animals to know which to bring 2 of and which to bring 14 of. Maybe Noah had some level of instruction from God. Sinai was obviously not the first time mankind found out some animals are dirty.

Also, Noah makes an alter and offers clean animal sacrifices which soothes the LORD:

“Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease.’” (8:20-22‬)

Interesting.

This stirs in me a memory of how simple it can be to please the Lord. Jesus said to enter the kingdom with child-like faith. Sure, Exodus-Deuteronomy are chalk full of detailed instructions. But also, there are many times when the LORD breaks it down for us.

“Then [Abram] believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” ‭‭(Genesis‬ ‭15:6‬)

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy‬ ‭6:4-5‬)

“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah‬ ‭6:8‬)

Sometimes the LORD is just building off the obvious. Even the future Ten Commandments aren’t unreasonable expectations.

All this to say, the LORD wasn’t inventing a cultural of sacrifice with Israel in the desert. He was refining it, to set them apart from how everyone else was doing it.

I don’t want to spend this whole time getting super ahead of myself though. It’s a crazy story, and super fun to imagine having seen the land surrounding Mt Ararat: Where the rest of human history takes off!

For an interesting side read, Wikipedia has a list of ancient civilizations that have a flood story.

By the time I get to the end, with the birds and Noah’s slow and deliberate weekly land checks, I think I would be losing my mind in that thoroughly infested space.

What stuck out to you this time around?

-Bethany

Genesis 5-6 B

I liked Bethany’s encouragement yesterday to engage with the text during our time in Genesis.

Whats up with the gods and demigods? I don’t think I’ve ever bothered to ask that, and I was thankful for Bethany’s perspective on it. The Nephilites reappear later in the Old Testament a couple times and then Joshua and his guys officially take them down in Joshua 11:21-22.

I love how the Scripture unfolds here, in chapter 6. It’s like God is finding out alongside us, as readers, that mankind turns away from him and sin clobbers our desires and intentions. Something he must’ve known all along, but gave us a chance anyway. He’s sorry that he created mankind, he finds it a mistake. He’s heartbroken over it. This sets the tone for God’s relationship with us. His intentions are genuine; he desires a relationship with his people and anticipated them bringing joy and purpose to creation. 

The Snake wants you to believe that God’s intentions are bad. He’ll cross his arms, eyebrows high, “See? he doesn’t love you, he’s keeping things from you.” He lies, again and again. “Did God really say _____?” (3:1) The truth gets foggy real quickly.

Anchor yourself in the Word of God and listen to the voice of truth. 

The deeper we get into Genesis, the more questions it creates for me on God’s character and intentions (also raises a lot of questions about WHAT IS WRONG WITH HUMANS, MY GOODNESS). But I promise, reading the Bible and having a problem with it is infinitely more beneficial to your relationship with God than having a problem with it and closing it up, avoiding the gray areas and the hard stories.

What’s something you noticed in today’s text? We love hearing from you!

 

-Carly

Genesis 3-4 B

I would be interested to know if there was any passage in the Bible more commonly scrutinized and taught from than this. The whole, “exactly where did we go wrong, and how” questions are on everyone’s minds.

  • Was it all Eve’s fault?
  • Was it Adam’s?
  • Was it rooted in distrust of the goodness of God?
  • Was mankind never intended to know about evil?
  • Is our sin rooted in our thirst be to our own judges?
  • What changed at “The Fall”?
  • Was childbirth originally supposed to be easy?
  • How easy was farming before?
  • Did bees always sting?
  • Were some animals originally not poisonous?
  • Was it normal that animals talked?
  • Where did these other people (ie. wives) come from?
  • Et cetera …

Whether we realize it or not, most of us have formulated varying degrees of assumed answers to these questions.

The reason it’s worthwhile to reread and reconsider these (even going back to see if these are the right questions) is because most of our theology flows downstream from what we decide is at this point.

One major concept that I had to grapple with, in recent years, is the basic evangelical theology that God can’t look at, or be around, our sinfulness. Hence, the need for Jesus. While these is something obviously needed about Jesus (something about crushing a snake’s head?), these chapters lead me to believe that’s just not true.

God seems to always be looking for people in their most sinful moment.

“Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.’ And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’” (3:9-11‬)

“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?'” (4:6)

“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?‘ And he said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.'” (4:9-10)

He is always showing up and asking questions, making them engage in conversation. Even when they’re hiding, He’s calling out to them.

Another thing I notice, as I posture myself as a post-Exodus Israelite, is the usage of plural pronouns used by God.

“Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever'” (3:22)

We, Christians, love to retrospectively use this as evidence of The Trinity, but what would these original readers have assumed? So much modern theology only makes sense in our time, which calls it into question.

Okay, so back to the question: what would have been assumed by the post-Exodus Israelites?

They were coming out of a polytheistic Egyptian worldview. With the LORD handedly defeating all the powers of Egypt, they might read this as Him speaking to the lessor gods around Him. We may take these to be angels or demons. “Someones” who are heavenly, yet unequal, to the LORD. This will be important to remember moving forward, because there only keeps being more references to the interference of these lessors.

It should be noted that most ancient (or commonly called pagan), deities have semblance of powers and are always claiming to be helpful with what? Farming & Fertility. These two cursed aspects of our fallen lives.

Don’t be afraid to engage in these questions! There’s so much that’s easy to skip over because our minds don’t have context for them. God disregards vegetable offerings? Right after He told them to farm?! Jubal was the father of all musicians? Is that a thing?

Have fun!

-Bethany

Genesis 1-2 B

I love this scandalous, complicated and captivating book so much. I learned a lot from Bethany’s overview last time, and don’t worry, she’ll keep the nuggets of Bible history coming as we go through this book.

I’m always surprised to read that we were created with limitations, they aren’t a result of sin. He limits where the oceans and land can be, and where plants can grow . He limits all the animals and creatures; placing mankind in authority over them. And he structures Adam’s existence right away, tasking him with work and prohibiting him from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (2:15-15)

Before I started reading the Bible for myself, I thought work and rules were a punishment, given out of anger from God after Adam and Eve sinned. I imagined heaven was free from things like rules, restrictions and responsibilities! I struggle daily to reveal the freedom in the restrictions he’s given us, but have grown to trust them.

How do you find yourself struggling with God’s design?

Where do you find freedom in his design? 

 

-Carly

 

Titus 1-3 B

Titus is in an interesting situation, charged to shepherd the churches in Crete and appoint elders. They are to be men of integrity, which may be hard to find among a people group known for lying, evil, laziness and gluttony (1:12).

I was convicted when I read the general call for laypeople to live reverently. It can seem a lot of men get away with not being temperate (2:2), and a lot of gals get away with being gossips (2:3). However, I’ve got to look at myself, not at other people. As a young woman, I search for my directions. Besides all the ways to treat my non-existent husband and children, I am called to be sensible, pure and kind.

Sometimes we can get it in our heads that these instructions are just gentle suggestions, and maybe that’s because we (love the freedom of grace and) don’t get why it’s so important.

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (2:11-14‬)

“But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (3:4-7‬)

We may never understand all the glorious implications of everything Christ accomplished on our behalf. Indeed, we can only get close to understanding the height, breadth, depth and width in a world wide group effort. But what we can know, is God sought to create a new people for Himself, who would be examples of His love. People who are sensible, hospitable, generous, just, cool-tempered and self-controlled.

Jesus did an amazing thing for all mankind. He set us free to live as God designed. He was a perfect example of a life well lived. This empowers me to live in a way that honors Him and glorifies my Creator God.

What stood out to you today?

-Bethany

2 Timothy 3-4 B

This is why I don’t read my Bible:

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 3:16

And this is why I do:

“God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” 3:17

Satan (and our slavery-prone selves) want you to be feel alone, ashamed and unworthy of being loved by God. The Bible wants to tell you the story of why you are unworthy of being loved by God, and how he relentlessly and unconditionally loves you anyway, and gave himself up to rescue you.

But it’s not a pretty story. It’s sad and weird and complicated and written a really long time ago. There are gray areas, and stories we don’t like and things we don’t have answers to. It teaches us and corrects us, and what sort of broken down person feels up for that?

There are also parts of the Bible that roll over my soul like a salve, relieving my pain and ache. Stories that make my heart leap. Verses that create a lump in my throat. My relationship with my Bible is the most complicated one I have. The author of Hebrews says it best:

“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12

What’s your relationship with Scripture?

Do you allow it to correct you?

Do you allow it to encourage you?

Oh, this letter is sometimes so hard for me to read. Tired, old Paul writing his good byes to his protege and asking for his coat before winter arrives? I can hardly take it!

Tomorrow we are reading the book of Titus.

 

-Carly

 

2 Timothy 1-2 B

The tone of this letter is tired. It is thought to be Paul’s last. It’s been a violent and arduous journey, for both of them. Timothy has been hard at work alongside (although more recently, from a distance) Paul for years and there is always a temptation to slow down.

“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (1:6-7‬)

Along those same lines, Onesiphorus is commended (1:16) for being a source of refreshment.

Being tired is certainly relatable, although Paul’s intensity-of-life out-runs most of us. So, what does he prescribe his fellow weary friend?

  • Be strong (2:1)
  • Pass on what you learn (2:2)
  • Endure hardships (2:3-7)
  • Remember the Messiah is alive (2:8-13)
  • Remind others (2:14)
  • Be diligent (2:15)
  • Avoid fruitless arguments (2:16-19)
  • Maintain integrity as a servant of God (2:20-26)

Not all of these are directly applicable to us in the way they were to Timothy. We aren’t first century pastors. We aren’t all in daily disputes with Jews. We aren’t all facing violent opposition with our mentor in jail, but there certainly is room for us to keep moving forward in whatever work the Lord has given us to do.

What refreshes you when you’re tired of serving the Lord?

For me, it’s taking the time to remember who He is, then, narrowing down what He is actually calling me to be. I tend to over complicate, even letting my pride convince me I’m responsible for more than I am.

Part of this encouragement to Timothy is reminding him to not get entangled in side projects (all those fruitless arguments). What would be life-giving to let go of?

-Bethany