To download the Bible reading plan that our faith family started on January 1st, visit this site. There is also a guide to personal worship that you can download from that site. If you haven't been reading along thus far, no worries! Jump on in with the current day's reading.
Readings for This Week
Genesis 6-13 & Matthew 6-12
Where We Are In The Story ~ Old Testament (Genesis)
As the first book of the Bible, Genesis explains that God is the all-powerful Creator who cares about His creation, and it teaches that God takes evil and transforms it for His glory (Gen. 50:20). Written by Moses when Israel was wandering in the wilderness, Genesis also provides the history of God’s covenant with Israel by telling about Adam and his descendants, which include Noah and Abraham. In this week’s readings, God responds to the overwhelming wickedness of mankind by sending a worldwide flood. Questions abound regarding the identity of the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 with the most likely explanation being that these “sons” were evil despots who were, perhaps, demon-possessed. And the language of Genesis 6:2 intentionally mirrors that of Genesis 3:6, for both Eve and the sons of God “saw” something that was desirable and “took” it. Whatever view one holds regarding the identity of the sons of God, Genesis 6-8 emphasizes the wickedness of humanity, and their sin grieved the heart of God, warranting His judgment. A worldwide flood would wash the earth clean, reflecting God purging the earth of sinful man. His judgment was so severe because the peoples’ sin was so great, but even in the midst of great judgment, God demonstrates grace and mercy with Noah’s family.
In Genesis 8:20-9:17, God establishes a covenant with Noah (the Noahic Covenant) in which He promises to never again destroy the earth through a worldwide flood and gives the rainbow as the sign of this covenant. God’s commands in this section parallel His original commands to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:26-31, for He commissions Noah and his family to be fruitful, to multiply, and to fill the earth (Gen. 9:1, 7). God also institutes capital punishment in Genesis 9.
Although God had commanded humanity to fill the earth after the flood, people flagrantly rebelled God’s original commission and attempted to live in one place (Gen. 11:4). The building of the Tower of Babel reflects their hubris, and because of their attempt to make a great name for themselves instead of making God’s name great, God intervenes by destroying their common bond – language. By creating a variety of languages, God both judged the people and prevented further apostasy such as what previously led to the flood. Their language barrier also led them to scatter across the earth as God had originally intended.
Genesis 11:27-32 introduces us to Abram (a.k.a. Abraham) whom God blessed and made the founding father of the Israelite nation, and while Abram demonstrates faith in God by leaving his family and country to move to the place God led, he was still a sinner, as evidenced by his deception in Egypt. The God who made the universe was not surprised by man’s sin, and He chose people like Noah and Abram to carry out His plan.
Structure: Genesis is organized into ten sections (Gen. 2:4-4:26; 5:1-6:8; 6:9-9:29; 10:1-11:9; 11:10-26; 11:27-25:11; 25:12-18; 25:19-35:29; 36:1-37:1; 37:2-50:26), and each section opens with the phrase “these are the generations of” and serves as the beginning of a genealogy. The first person mentioned in the genealogy (“these are the generations of Adam”) describes the subject of the following narrative section. Genesis 6-13 focuses on the generations of Noah, Noah’s sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth), and Terah (Abraham’s father).
Where We Are In The Story ~ New Testament (Matthew)
Matthew is the first of four Gospels that tell about the life of Christ. As one of the twelve disciples (Matt. 9:9-13), Matthew focuses on demonstrating how Jesus fulfills Old Testament promises concerning the Messiah, and in this selection of readings, Matthew demonstrates how even Jesus’ healing ministry was prophesied by Isaiah (Matt. 8:17; 12:15-21; Isa. 42:1-3; 53:4). Jesus Himself quotes Hosea 6:6 as a justification for why He spent time with tax collectors and sinners (Matt. 9:13).
These readings also describe Jesus’ clash with Israel’s religious leaders. They accuse Jesus of blasphemy when He forgives sin (Matt. 9:3), state that He casts out demons by the power of the evil one (Matt. 9:34; 12:24), and desire His destruction because they believed He broke the Sabbath (12:14). Why did Jesus warrant so much resistance from His fellow countrymen? Because He exposed their hypocrisy, for His words spotlighted that their hearts did not match their outward deeds of piety.
Structure: Matthew includes five collections of Jesus’ teaching (Matt. 5-7; 10; 13; 18; 24-25), and each of these sections concludes with a statement saying, “And when Jesus finished these sayings…” The first of these collections is in Matthew 5-7 and is called “The Sermon on the Mount” (Matt. 5:1-7:29). In it, Jesus teaches His disciples about life in the kingdom of heaven and how to live as His followers. Matthew 8-9 includes acts of power that support His authority to teach such things, and in Matthew 10, Jesus presents another collection of teachings also directed towards His disciples that includes instructions for their mission.