The Bible in a Year, Week 2: Genesis 24-50
This is the second weekly reading in the plan for reading your Bible in one year. As previously stated, it should only take 15-20 minutes a day of reading, and maybe 4-5 chapters a day. For this week, week 2, the assignment is Genesis 24-50. That would be almost 4 chapters each day, or about 6 chapters on just the weekdays.
Here are some comments to help you grow in knowledge and faith as you read Genesis 24-50:
Genesis 24-26: Abraham shows two important concerns. First, he sees it as very important that his son Isaac have a God-fearing and believing wife. Truly, it can be challenging when one spouse is a Christian and the other is not. It is surely a blessing when husband and wife share the same faith and beliefs. Second, with his concern that Isaac have a believing spouse, we see Abraham’s great desire to continue the promise the Lord made that a a Savior would come from his family. Abraham’s servant also displays a great faith as he takes his task to the Lord in prayer and leaves it to his guidance and direction.
The result of the search is that the servant finds Rebekah, the 1st cousin once removed of Isaac. We are also introduced to Laban, the brother of Rebekah, who joins with his father Bethuel in approving of this marriage arrangement.
After we hear about Abraham and Ishmael’s lineage, we hear about the birth of Isaac’s twin sons. It was custom that the firstborn son would receive the birthright and greater share of inheritance from his father. God’s grace is on display as he chooses to advance the promise of the Savior through the unlikely candidate, the younger brother Jacob. But that’s the way God always operates with his people. Great sinners like Rahab, David, Solomon, and more are included in the Savior’s line–how unlikely! A humble carpenter and a young virgin became the parents of Jesus–how unlikely! The Savior came to save all, even sinners like us–how unlikely! That is God’s great grace (grace means undeserved love)!
The bitter fighting between Jacob and Esau begins even in the womb as they were jostling each other. Jacob continued the brotherly brawl as he swindled Esau’s birthright away (in chapter 27). This fighting continued throughout history as Jacob became the father of Israel and Esau the father of Edom. Read the book of Obadiah to learn more about the fighting between Israel and Edom and how Edom was finally destroyed.
Like father, like son. Isaac falls into the same sin of not trusting God’s protection and providence as he commits the same sin as his father Abraham in Genesis 12 and 20. In fact, Isaac even sins against the same king Abimelech as Abraham did in chapter 20.
Genesis 27-33: Isaac and Rebekah show their lack of trust in God’s promise and plan in chapter 27. God promised that Jacob would be the one to carry forth the line of the Savior, yet they decided to take things into their own hands by means of crafty deception. They tricked Isaac into blessing Jacob instead of Esau when Jacob dressed like Esau and put on his “outdoorsmen cologne.” By this time we are beginning to identify doubt and a lack of trust as the achilles heel and pet sin of this family. Abraham didn’t trust and so lied about his wife Sarah twice. Abraham and Sarah didn’t trust God’s promise for a son, so they tried to do it on their own with the slave-woman Hagar. Isaac didn’t trust the Lord and also lied about his wife. Now Rebekah and Jacob show the lack of trust as well. How these great heroes of faith are so much like us! We too often have our weak points of doubt and distrust. Thus, we thank God for his grace and forgiveness spanning from these people in Genesis all the way to us living today.
With Esau being angry enough to kill his brother, Jacob had to flee to his uncle Laban’s home. Along the way, Jacob sees the famous “ladder” vision with angels going down and up from heaven to earth. There at Bethel (Bethel means “house of God”) the Lord continued the promise to Abraham as he promised to bless Jacob and send the Savior through his line.
Jacob agreed to work for Laban for seven years in exchange for his daughter Rachel in marriage. Laban deceived Jacob and gave Leah in marriage instead. Thus, Jacob agreed to work seven more years in order to have Rachel as his wife, too. At first glance it might appear that God approves of this polygamy as no comments are made about the multiple wives. However, we recall that it was God’s plan from the very beginning that marriage consist of only one man and one woman. Further, it is quite clear that the immediate result of this polygamy is nothing but problems and strife (the fighting amongst the sisters and children). The long term result was nothing but the same as the children had numerous family troubles (see below) and intertribal fighting became a common problem in Israel.
Jacob evidently had a weakness for women as he passively participates in the schemes of the rival sisters and has relations with their maidservants Bilhah and Zilpah. The end result was 12 sons and 1 daughter (consult this family tree for help).
Jacob leaves on hostile terms with his uncle Laban. Laban wanted to take advantage of this great worker whom the Lord was clearly blessing. Finally he departs and meets up with his brother Esau, who at least for the moment, is on loving terms with Jacob and his family.
One more key section in these chapters comes in 32:22-32 when Jacob wrestles with God. Here God allows Jacob to physically wrestle with him and then blesses him and changes his name to Israel.
Genesis 34-38: In these chapters we begin to see exactly how tumultuous and sinful Jacob’s family had become. In chapter 34, Dinah is raped by Shechem, the prince of Shechem. Not only do Simeon and Levi feign forgiveness with the Shechemites, but they also murdered every male in the city! In chapter 35, Jacob and his family recommit themselves to the Lord as he encourages them to get rid of all their household idols (this is just the beginning of the idolatry woes of Israel!).
After we read about the lineage of Jacob and Esau, who would later become the warring countries of Israel and Edom, we see more family problems. Joseph has two dreams in which he sees his family bowing down to him. It is possible Joseph may have flaunted this dream in an arrogant way, but regardless, the brothers acted with vicious vengeance as they concocted a twisted plot. They threw Joseph into an empty cistern and later sold him to the Ishmaelites (Ishmael was the illegitimate child of Abraham and Hagar). Then they took his special coat and covered it in blood and pretended that he had been killed.
Perhaps the greatest (or worst!) example of sinfulness is Judah. Judah went looking for a prostitute, had relations with her, impregnated her, and later found out that it was his daughter-in-law Tamar!
Yet with all of this great wickedness and sin, God’s grace and mercy are seen to be greater. God poured out his loving kindness and forgiveness on this family, and especially on Judah. Later, we find out that God chose Judah to be the son to carry forth the line of the Savior. How great the love of our father in heaven! No matter how terrible the sin, no matter how terrible the sinner, God still can and will forgive. Again, God’s great grace is on display!
Genesis 39-45: Joseph is a man very unlike his family. We could imagine the hatred and anger and vengeance that might have been brewing in his heart after being treated so horribly by his family. Perhaps Joseph could have used such a terrible turn of events as an excuse to turn away from and being angry with God. But Joseph did just the opposite. He shows himself to be an upstanding man of character and integrity. He is a man who consistently tries to do what is pleasing to the Lord.
Proving himself faithful and trustworthy, Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his entire household. The Lord blessed Joseph and Potiphar’s house because of it. While there, he faced as strong a temptation as one could imagine when Potiphar’s wife threw herself at him. We can only pray that when we face any temptation we would respond as Joseph did, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” Then he ran away!
Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him and he was wrongly thrown into prison. Yet again God was with Joseph. He rose in favor with the prison guard and became in charge of all the other prisoners. He came to the help of Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker who had disturbing dreams. Joseph interpreted the meaning of the dreams and only asked that he be remembered when they were released from prison. How quick they were to seek his help–and then quick to forget him and let him rot in prison!
After two more years of prison time, Joseph was finally remembered when Pharaoh had some disturbing dreams of his own. It is here that we finally see God’s plan in it all. This was why God allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery, then falsely accused, then imprisoned, then used and forgotten! When Joseph correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams as a prophecy of seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine, he was elevated to second in command in Egypt behind only Pharaoh himself!
How unsearchable are God’s ways and how vast his wisdom! The whole time God had in mind this wonderful blessing and position of power for Joseph! It surely is a reminder of what Paul says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We may not understand why things happen. It can be easy to question and doubt God when we are financially struggling or when cancer strikes or when trouble and hardship comes our way. But God has greater plans in mind for us at all times. Maybe he wants to strengthen our faith. Maybe he wants to give us a little wakeup call to remember who is most important. Maybe he wants to draw us closer to him. God’s promise is that all things are for our good–and God’s promises never fail! Let Joseph serve as prime example.
A further blessing of being in command in Egypt was that Joseph could help his own family out. The famine was so vast that it extended all the way to Canaan where Jacob and his family were living. Thus, the brothers went down to Egypt to find food. Joseph took time to test his brothers though. He was testing to see if they were the same egotistical, self-centered, hate-filled brothers that committed such wicked sins as mentioned above and that sold him into slavery. When he found them to be changed and now caring and loving, with many tears he revealed himself to them and forgave them their wrongs.
Joseph is a great hero of faith that we can look up to. He was an honest, hard worker whom the Lord blessed while working and living in a heathen land. He was dedicated to serving and obeying the Lord and thus tried hard to resist temptation and sin. He seemed to be patient while enduring hardship and trouble as he continued to put his trust in the Lord. He was compassionate and forgiving to others. God grant us the faith of Joseph!
Genesis 46-50: Once Joseph revealed himself, he made arrangements for his entire family to come to Egypt to live in the fertile land of Goshen. There God blessed the people of Israel as they multiplied and increased greatly in number. By the time they left Egypt with Moses there were over two million Israelites!
Joseph was blessed with two sons named Manasseh and Ephraim. These two were blessed along with the other sons of Jacob. Manasseh and Ephraim became two of the 12 tribes of Israel. One replaced Joseph, the other replaced Levi since the Levites became the priests and lived scattered throughout the territories of Israel. Thus, these two boys joined the other 10 as the main tribes and inheritors of the promised land of Israel.
In chapter 49 Jacob blesses his sons and speaks his final words to them. The most important one to note is the one mentioned above, the blessing of Judah. Despite Judah’s grievous and gross sins before, the promise of the Savior was to continue through his line. This blessing of Judah, specifically verse nine, is alluded to later in Revelation 5:5 when John sees a vision of Jesus in heaven. The unity of Scripture is so clear and so beautifully!
After Jacob dies, Joseph reassures his brothers that he will not take revenge upon them with the absence of their father. So this people of Israel were fruitful and multiplied . . . and the people of Egypt quickly forgot Joseph and what he had done for them. Next week we’ll read about what happened to the Israelites while living in Egypt.
Next week’s readings (starting 1/17/10): Exodus 1-20
To view or download and print the One Year Bible Reading Schedule, click here.