Tag Archives: Genesis

With the Word online Bible study–familiar-unknown

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Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

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What pops out at you in this story? Is there anything that makes you go “hmm….” or “huh?” or “hey!!!!” Are you reminded of any other stories–whether in the Bible, in literature/movies/music/TV, or in your own life? As you read, do you hear any music in your head?

Can you imagine (or have you ever) leaving everything you know and heading out into the unknown? What might that be like (or what was it like, for those who’ve done it)?

Why was Abram chosen for this journey?

What choices did Abram have to make? Could he have heard this call and chosen to stay where he was? To go back to where his father had come from? To go somewhere else? What might have been the consequences of those choices, compared to the consequences of choosing to follow this call?

How do we make choices when we hear the call? How can we be certain it’s God calling, and what do we do when we think God might be asking us to go into the unknown? Does God ever call us to stay in the familiar?

What do you hear as the good news in this text? What do you hear as a challenge? What might this passage have to say to our community today?

Saturday spirit space–entrance-exit

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Psalm 32

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

While I kept silence, my body wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
Selah

Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’,
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Selah

Therefore let all who are faithful
offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
shall not reach them.
You are a hiding-place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.
Selah

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,
else it will not stay near you.

Many are the torments of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

genesis 2.15-17, 3.1-7

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.” ’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

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You speak, Lord, but we are not always listening.
Sometimes other voices are louder or more persuasive.
You show us your way, Lord, but we are not always looking.
Sometimes other ways seduce us with their ease or power.
You give us choices, now help us to learn your will.
Lead us, Lord, to walk your way on any road we travel.

With the Word online Bible Study: entrance-exit

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Genesis 2.15-17, 3.1-7

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.” ’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

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What pops out at you in this story? Is there anything that makes you go “hmm….” or “huh?” or “hey!!!!” Are you reminded of any other stories–whether in the Bible, in literature/movies/music/TV, or in your own life? As you read, do you hear any music in your head?

Is it possible for you to put away the ways you’ve heard this story interpreted and read it with fresh eyes? Try reading it out loud, doing sound effects, or visualizing it as a play or movie. How does that change how you hear the story?

What does it mean to know the difference between good and evil? Why would that be something God doesn’t want?

Is it possible that humanity NEEDS to eat from the tree in order to be fully human? Or was it a bad idea that was destructive of our humanity? (again–put away all the interpretations you’ve learned before and use your imagination!)

We know what happens after this–the first humans are ejected from the Garden of Eden and sent out into the world. Is that an entrance or an exit, or both? How? Why?

What do you hear as the good news in this text? What do you hear as a challenge? What might this passage have to say to our community today?

Bible in 90 Days: Day 4

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BiND:  Day 4

 

The end of the book of Genesis shows us how the Israelites got down into Egypt and became powerful.  Pharaoh’s dreams, which Joseph interprets, turn out to be about how the land will experience seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine.  Joseph is appointed Pharaoh’s steward, not just of the house but the whole land.  He stores up grain during the first seven years, and then doles it out during the next seven.  In this we can see some aspects of tribalism, perhaps even the first biblical record of nepotism, and also a pretty good revealing of the way government can both serve and exploit the people.  Joseph sells grain to the people of Egypt, but when his brothers show up he gives them grain AND returns their money.  Eventually the people of Egypt run out of money, so Joseph takes their livestock as payment and adds them to Pharaoh’s herds.  The next year they have no money or livestock, so he takes their land as payment, and voila! Pharaoh owns all the land of Egypt.  I hope I’m not the only one disturbed by this situation—that people have to feed themselves and their families, the government has stockpiles of food and helpfully takes everything the people have in exchange for those stockpiles.  Luckily, Joseph is not truly corrupt, for he gives out seed and instructions to plant and harvest but to pay 20% of the harvest as taxes.  Hopefully the remaining 80% will be enough.

 

Tel Basta, a city in the Nile Delta

Once Joseph’s brothers know who he is, Joseph instructs them to bring Jacob (now called Israel) down to Egypt as well.  The 70 people of Israel’s family settle in the land of Goshen, which is in the Nile delta and is the most fertile part of the land.  This is still where the vast majority of Egypt’s crops are grown and where many animals are raised.  It’s also home to a number of temples, both Pharaonic and Hebrew.  In Goshen the Israelites raise their flocks and herds, as well as Pharaoh’s, and they grow and become numerous and healthy.  Indeed it seems that though Joseph’s brothers were malicious, God could use even that malice for good. 

 

 

My favorite part of this happy ending (except it’s not the end!) is where Joseph’s brothers, realizing that their father is dead and now Joseph could potentially get some revenge for what they did to him (because that seems to be what Joseph is all about, wouldn’t you say?), tell him that Jacob desperately wanted Joseph to forgive his brothers.  Nevermind that there’s no record of Jacob finding out what happened to Joseph.  While I’m not saying that the brothers made it up to save their own skins, since there’s precedent for reference to unrecorded events (just a few verses earlier in chapter 50 Joseph says his father made him swear to bury him back with in Canaan, which conversation is not recorded)….I am saying that I can see why they would make that up and try to convince Joseph to forgive them.  The best part is that Joseph, not caring whether the story is made up or not, does forgive.  He models God’s forgiveness and, over and again, returns good for the evil his brothers did to him.  

 photo is Tel Basta, a ruined city in the Nile Delta.  taken by TCP