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Welcome to the beginning of our Chronological Bible journey in 2011! Today we begin the book of Genesis! Below is a fresco of "The Creation of Adam" by the Italian Renaissance painter Michelangelo, from the year 1510:
Date: ~1420 B.C.
Content: The book of Genesis was written to explain how everything began; in fact, the very title Genesis means “origin” or “beginning”. It explains that God created the universe, how man was created and placed in a perfect environment, how sin began, and how God provided salvation for lost man. The beginning of human history is described, the beginning of arts and crafts, how human languages began, and where the various nations came from. The focus then shifts to the beginning of the Hebrew people with Abraham, followed by the histories of Isaac, Jacob and his sons, and the book ends with Joseph in Egypt.
Theme: The main idea that runs through the book is that although God made everything good, man’s sin has spoiled it. God has not given up, but is now in search of man to save him. The overall control of God is stressed, and special attention is given to how God directs history for the good of his people and their salvation. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” p. 1) A wonderful commentary on the book of Genesis by Bob Deffinbaugh is at this link. Below is more art from Michelangelo - this is a marble statue of Moses, the author of Genesis, made in the year 1515 in Italy:
Moses is the author/compiler of the first five books of the Old Testament, also known as the Pentateuch, or the books of the Law. It is believed that these five books were written by Moses during Israel's 40 years in the desert after the exodus from Egypt - which was likely between 1446 B.C. and 1406 B.C. The book of Genesis is foundational to understanding the rest of the Bible. It is a book of relationships - between God and his creation; between God and humans; and between humans themselves. In Genesis, God pledges his love and faithfulness to humans through covenants. It is a narrative that continually demonstrates faith.
In today's Genesis readings we read about the Creation account and Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There is so much happening in today's readings, that this daily blog will not do it all justice... (I do hope you have the One Year Bible Companion book or another commentary to dive deeper in to today's readings - I'd type more but this post is already a bit long as you'll see below... :) The 6 days of creation have main 2 lines of thought by various scholars: 1. they were 6 literal 24 hour days or 2. they were 6 figurative days of an undefined timeframe, which could even be millions of years. Check out some great information on the Creation account in our Genesis readings today at bible.org at this link. Below is a wonderful piece of art from Pat Marvenko Smith titled "The Creation" - you'll note this piece shows all 6 days of creation and what was created on each day, going from the left to the right:
To order prints visit her "Revelation Illustrated" site.
Today we read this incredibly powerful verse in Genesis chapter 1 verse 27: "So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them." Do you believe that you are made in the image of God? Is this a powerful thing to reflect upon? What might this mean for your life this new year, knowing that you are made in the image of God? Does this give you a sense of possibility for your life? A sense that you are made for a great purpose in this life?
Chapter 2 verse 3 is beautiful: "And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from his work of creation." A day of rest. One day a week. If God did this, think we should too? :) 6 days of work and play and 1 day each week of resting in God. I confess I like the concept a lot more than I actually put it into practice. Perhaps 2011 can be a year of new beginnings where a Sabbath day of rest enters our lives each week? How are you doing on taking a Sabbath? I love this image below of God resting on the 7th day:
One quick note from our readings today about the location of the Garden of Eden. It is believed to have been near where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers meet, in what is now southern Iraq. Below is a very high level map:
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Genesis chapters 1 and 2 titled "The Meaning of Man: His Duty and His Delight" is at this link.
In Genesis chapter 3 we read about The Fall. Chapter 3 is a foundational chapter of the Bible to understand. From this chapter our history goes forward with sin passed on to every man and woman through the seed of Adam. This sets the stage for God's pursuit of men and women in Genesis, followed by the Exodus from Egypt, the Laws, the judges, the kings, the prophets - and ultimately the final solution to the Fall: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (ultra-Cliff Notes version here... you'll get the full version of all of this over the next 364 days... :-) It is through belief in Jesus as Messiah that we are saved from what began here in Genesis chapter 3. Below is a portrait by Guy Rowe of Adam and Eve with the serpent in today's readings:
In verses 1 through 4 in today's readings we are first introduced to the devil in the Bible, who clothes himself as a snake. The devil is often referred to as the "great deceiver", and in this chapter you can see why. I think an important thing for us to realize today is that the devil continues to work in our world. He continues to deceive men and women. And, unfortunately, he is good at what he does. I have a hunch that probably a few people reading this blog do not believe in the existence of the devil. I will admit that early in my Christian walk, I did not believe in the devil's existence. However - thankfully, I was discipled by a godly man who counseled me through Bible passages that prove his existence - chapter 3 of Genesis certainly being one. In fact, one interesting thing my friend said to me at this early stage of my Christian walk was this - "The devil's greatest trick is to make you think that he does not exist." This is a very powerful statement. Please consider it. Why would this be his greatest trick? Because if you believe there is no devil, then you may believe there is no evil, and you then may believe that there is really no sin or nothing you can do wrong, and then you may come to believe that there is no moral code. You see the slippery slope of not acknowledging and realizing the existence of the devil and evil? I hesitated to post up this picture below - I really don't like it at all - but I think it's appropriate for this conversation. It reminded me of the temptation of our modern day addictions - like pornography or drugs etc. - the apple perhaps looks tasty at first glance, but you can't bite the apple without getting bit by the snake and getting poisoned...
The other problem of not realizing the existence of the devil or evil is that you can more easily be tempted and enslaved to bad habits and sins. So - I know I'm going on quite a bit here about this point - I just want to encourage you to ask yourself - do you believe in the existence of the devil? Do you believe in the existence of evil? Of temptation? Of sin? There is a remedy and solution to protect and keep you from all of this - and that is Jesus. But, it's possible that you may not run into the loving and saving arms of Jesus if you don't believe in the devil or evil. Second to last point - a book that did help open my eyes in a big way to existence of evil in our world today is Frank Peretti's "This Present Darkness". It is a Christian book and one that I believe will really bring home the seriousness of evil and temptation in our world today. You may want to check it out if you have questions on all of this. Also, C.S. Lewis, in the intro to his incredible book about evil and temptation in our lives called "The Screwtape Letters" writes this: "There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or magician with the same delight." A great quote... and a great reminder to not have an excessive nor unhealthy interest in the devil or evil - this is of course extremely dangerous! And the bottom line is of course to turn your eyes and gaze toward God and Jesus for ultimate protection - and I do believe reading the Bible each day is one of the best ways to do exactly this!
In verses 12 and 13 we see Adam and Eve passing the buck on why they sinned. Check out Adam's words in verse 12: ""but it was the woman you gave me who brought me the fruit, and I ate it." At first glance you might think that Adam is just blaming Eve in this verse, but note that he is also blaming God! "the woman YOU gave me..." Adam was blaming God and Eve - anybody but himself. How often do we do this in our lives? Blame others for our mistakes? The painting immediately below I think captures Adam's words and expression in verse 12 above perfectly!
Verse 15 is a prophetic verse that carries forward to Jesus: "From now on, you and the woman will be enemies, and your offspring and her offspring will be enemies. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."" This last sentence refers to Jesus ultimately defeating the devil through his life, death on the cross, and resurrection!
Below is "The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise" by American Neoclassical Painter Benjamin West from the year 1791:
Worship God - I typically post up a worship video that relates to our daily readings on this section of the blog. Today, reading about God's creation of our world in Genesis reminded me of the Third Day & Caedmon's Call song, "God of Wonders." Here's a great live version of this song, introduced by Michael W. Smith, and then wrapped up with a beautiful version of "Agnus Dei." Enjoy, and don't be afraid to Worship God right now along with this video! (Watch for Steven Curtis Chapman worshiping in the audience near the end of the video too!)
Do you personally know our God of Wonders? Click here to meet Him!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27 NLT
Prayer Point: Based on Genesis 1:27 above, will you pray today for your family, co-workers/students, and others in your community that you will see the image of God in each of them them? Also, will you pray for those you know who are made in the image of God, and yet are not in a saving personal relationship with Jesus? Will you pray that they will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior this year?
Comments from You and Question of the Day: As today is our first day together on the Chronological Bible journey in 2011, I thought I'd post up a Chronological Bible "roll-call." This is an opportunity for each of us to click on the "Comments" link below and let everyone know a few things about ourselves, as we'll be journeying through the Word together over the coming year. So here's the roll-call questions: 1. Have you read the entire Bible before? 2. What are you looking forward to about reading the entire Bible in 2011? 3. What's your favorite book or verse in the Bible? 4. What's a fun or interesting fact about yourself? 5. City and/or country you live in? (if you're comfortable sharing this - you don't need to.) 6. Do you have a blog or website link that you want to share with everyone? Thanks for participating in the roll-call! :) Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!