This year as a church, we’re walking through the Chronological Bible Reading Plan. We’ll be posting a weekly blog on Sunday mornings so you have a guided daily look and question prompts for each day of your reading.
*You can begin this plan at any point throughout the year. Simply begin at week one and follow the plan for a year!
The child-bearing battle between Rachel and Leah continues. Pay particular attention to all the footnotes as each child is named – these are brilliant plays on words in Hebrew. In the “mandrake episode” between Rachel and Leah in Genesis 30, notice some familiar themes from Jacob and Esau’s "birthright stew." Finally, we always want to keep God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in our minds as we read Genesis. The Lord remains faithful to his promise to bless this family – even though other family members try to undermine God’s blessing.
Today, the family drama from a few decades ago comes back to create tension for Jacob, who rests in the promises of God (32:9-12). If we’re attentive readers, we may be expecting another Cain and Abel situation between Jacob and Esau (because so many things repeat in their family history). Yet, we see grace and forgiveness. We might believe Jacob is in the clear when he arrives peacefully in Shechem, but we quickly see the depravity of the inhabitants of Canaan, whose prince rapes Jacob’s daughter, Dinah. It’s a dark passage. We might be tempted to ask how this ended up in Genesis, but we should also note God’s conspicuous silence. But if we’ve learned anything from Job – it doesn’t mean he’s absent. And it also doesn’t mean he approves. For further reflection, here are two articles (article 1, article 2) discussing Dinah and Genesis 34.
If it hasn’t sunk in already, names really do matter in Genesis – so it’s significant that the Lord renames Jacob in Genesis 35 and restates his promise in 35:11-12. Don’t miss the place where Rachel is buried in 35:19! The mother of Joseph, the favored child who sojourns in Egypt and saves his people from death, dies on the way to Bethlehem. Perhaps we should be on the lookout for another ruler who does make it to Bethlehem and also saves his people from death?
What a BRUTAL week of Bible reading. If we’re tempted to think that Judah is “righteous” for sparing Joseph’s life from his brother, we’re given a rude awakening in Genesis 38. In the words of Dr. Ken Mathews (a Shades church member and Beeson professor), “Chapter 38 shows that the purposes of God for Jacob’s family and, from a historical perspective, for the nation of Israel, overcame human obstacles … Judah exhibits the worst and best of the brothers as a whole … Chapter 38 shows him at his worse.” Even still, the line of Judah will lead us to the Lion of Judah and Tamar will be included in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1.
Genesis 41-42 continues Joseph’s sojourn in Egypt. He started from the bottom, now he’s here. Joseph remains insistent that the glory goes to God because he has revealed what will happen and gave wisdom to Joseph. Again, we see the purposes of the Lord cannot be thwarted. The one who suffered is again the one who is an agent of salvation.
We’re again presented with another opportunity for a Cain-and-Abel-like rematch between brothers, but mercy and compassion prevail again. Joseph is still insisting on God’s guidance and providence in preserving life (45:5-7). I thought 43:32 was an interesting note about Egyptians eating with the Hebrews being an abomination to the Egyptians. It’s interesting because that will be reversed in Exodus.
A few very interesting things happen in today’s reading. First, God himself promises to go with Israel to Egypt and also to bring him up again. Lest we believe God is only a regional deity, he shows us that he is Lord over all the earth. Second, we’re given a first-glimpse at the nations being blessed through Abraham’s family when “Jacob blessed Pharaoh” (47:7). Third, we see Israel’s steadfast trust in God’s promise when he commands Joseph to carry him out of Egypt and bury him with his fathers (47:30).