As a part of a personal challenge from this book, I am currently reading through the Bible. There are, like, a gajillion different reading plans, which all seem wonderful; however, I do not like reading plans. Reading is my plan. Don't schedule my reading. I like reading at my own pace, pausing to ask and go back to find answers to my own questions. But thanks, all writers of reading plans. I'm sure your schedules are lovely and helpful and thorough and beneficial. My goal is to complete the Bible, reading from cover to cover, in 1 year. Hopefully I won't saunter too long through the Word and end up not making my goal. But honestly, is there such a thing as "sauntering too long in the Word?" As with other books I read, I'll be posting summaries/thoughts here, and will label each book with the Bible tag.
Anyway, here we are, beginning at the beginning.
Genesis is the first book in the Bible, composed of 50 chapters. The beginning of the world, and all of the subsequent drama, is included. People are created, their hearts beat about 5 times before they foul up a perfect world, but even in these earliest phases, the groundwork is laid for humanity's ultimate salvation, one so strong that not even we can mess it up. Many of the stories I've heard since childhood are found in Genesis, but there are also lots of insight and other interesting aspects to those stories that you gain when you actually put your eyes on the page and read it all word for word.
My favorite people from this book were Joseph and Abraham. Joseph experienced some pretty nasty stuff at the hand of his brothers. They picked on him, they threw him in a pit, sold him into slavery, lied to their father about what happened to him, and pretty much tried to forget he ever existed. There's no telling all the mean things they actually said to him when all of this was happening. Yet, he tells them that "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive." (chapter 50, verse 20). Because, as a result of their betrayal and abandonment of him, Joseph was relocated to Egypt, where God used him to foretell and prepare for a terrible famine that would have otherwise taken the lives of so many people, probably Joseph's entire family. It is a powerful thing to remember that sometimes what other people in our lives intend for evil, the Lord means for good. Remembering this will help us react differently when suffering comes our way. God made us, He is sovereign, and that is all that matters in the good, bad, and ugly of this life.
Abraham was the son of Terah, who descended from Shem, who was one of Noah's three sons. In chapter 12, verse 1, the Lord told Abraham (then, Abram...apparently name changes in the Bible were both common and significant) to "go forth...to the land I will show you; and I will make you a great nation..." God essentially told Abraham to do something that was sort of nuts. He told him to take his family and leave all that he knew, all that was safe, all that was comfortable, and to GO. He didn't tell him where, though, nor did He say how long it would be before He would let Abraham in on the plan. He just said to GO. And you want to hear what's even more nuts? Abraham did! He went! I wonder what Sarah (his wife) had to say about all of this. I can just hear people talking about how crazy they were, and how stupid it was to leave safety, and how unwise Abraham must be to take his family into the unknown, etc. Abraham and Sarah made lots of mistakes, but the most important great thing they did was to obey and to go.
And speaking of Abraham, it is in chapter 17, verse 10, when Abraham and his crew are settling down in the land of Canaan, that the Lord establishes a covenant with him that involves Abe and all his manfolk getting circumsized. I don't know about you, but I am thinking that Abraham probably responded with something like, "You want me to what?! You want me to cut off part of my what?!" And I wonder how the other guys, who had not heard this instruction straight from the Lord, reacted to Abraham when he started cutting off foreskins. Nevertheless, in verse 23, we see that Abraham immediately went and circumsized every male in his household. Between going and leaving all he knew, offering his son as a sacrifice, and getting circumsized, Abraham had this obedience thing down. Of course, he messed up lots of other times, but we can learn from those as well.
There are many more of these real-life encouragements and applications in Genesis. It made me sad to leave this book behind because there were so many significant people and events included. I loved every word of it. Next stop: Exodus.