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 35-42 & Mark 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 even when they disobey Him, 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 12-50 specifically emphasizes the development of the nation of Israel by focusing on their founding fathers – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

This week’s readings focus on the life of Jacob and Joseph. Genesis 35 records the loss of family members, but despite death and man’s sin, God’s promises to continue. Genesis 36 provides a genealogy of Esau’s line. This chapter emphasizes that Esau is Edom (Gen. 36:8, 9, 19, 43), which is important because Esau’s descendants developed into a powerful people group, the Edomites, who would later oppose Israel when they returned to the Promised Land after the Exodus. Genesis 36 also demonstrates how God keeps His promise to bless Abraham as the father of many nations (Gen. 12:1; 15; 17).

Family fights and famine in Genesis 37-42 provide opportunities for God to demonstrate His faithfulness, protection, and provision. The story of Joseph is instructional in how it emphasizes obedience to God’s instructions, the contrast between the righteous and the wicked, the sovereignty of God in the midst of suffering, and the ultimate blessing of the righteous. Despite persecution from family, slavery, false accusations, and imprisonment, Joseph continues to profess faith in God and acts righteously.

Genesis 38 focuses on Jacob’s son Judah, and Judah’s statement to Tamar (his daughter-in-law and his one-night stand) about her being “more righteous” is often a source of confusion to readers (Gen. 38:26). Why is Tamar “more righteous” in this story, especially when she has committed incest? Genesis 38 is not stating that incest is acceptable to God, for Judah makes the assertion about Tamar’s righteousness, not God. To understand this chapter, one must grasp the practice of a levirate marriage. This practice requires the brother of a deceased man to marry the man’s widow and to produce a child who can carry on the deceased man’s name. This practice enables both the family name to continue and the widow to receive care, especially in such societies where women must rely on men to provide for them. Tamar was more righteous than Judah in that she sought justice when Judah did not fulfill his legal responsibilities to her. While Tamar goes to desperate lengths to obtain what was her right according to the law in her day, Scripture does not condone deception and illicit sex. This bizarre story provides the history of Judah’s origin, which is important because the Messiah would later come from the tribe of Judah (Matt. 1:3).

Where We Are In The Story ~ New Testament (Mark)

As the shortest and the earliest of the four Gospels, The Gospel of Mark focuses on Jesus’ identity, and Mark 1:1 introduces Him as human (“Jesus”), the Messiah (“Christ”), and the Son of God. Although Mark emphasizes Jesus’ identity, he consistently records Jesus silencing those who state Who He is. By focusing on this question of Jesus’ identity, Mark demonstrates Who Jesus is and how He fulfills the promises of the prophets. Mark 6:1-8:26 focus on Jesus’ public ministry, particularly His power and challenges to His authority. This sixteen chapter Gospel includes twenty accounts of miracles that Jesus performed, which underscores that Jesus is the Son of God, and half of these miracles occur in Mark 6-12.

Mark 8 presents a shift in this Gospel, for in Mark 8:31, Jesus begins teaching His followers about His purpose, death, and resurrection. Peter’s confession in Mark 8:29 reaffirms this Gospel’s theme – Jesus’ identity as the Christ, the Promised Messiah. More than any other Gospel, Mark also presents Jesus as the Suffering Servant prophesied in Isaiah 53, and Mark 10:45 points to this in its reference to the Son of Man giving His life as a “ransom for many.” In contrast to the selflessness and sacrifice of Jesus, the disciples argue over who among them is the greatest (Mk. 9:33-37) and request positions of power (Mk. 10:35-45), and the religious leaders attempt to bait and trap Jesus with their questions (Mk. 11:27-33; 12:13-34).