Monday, 30 April 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 3

As many have done before me, I am attempting to read the Bible in a year. Not my first full read-through, but my first with a time limit and a reason. I sometimes struggle to recognise God's love for me; to see how He loves me personally and not just as one of many. So, as I read now, I am trying to pick out every verse that explicitly shows God as loving. Furthermore, I have often heard people saying that the God of the Old Testament is a harsh, cruel god, not one of love, so hopefully this will enable me to refute those claims.

I began reading on Saturday, so I'm day 3 now.

Day 1: Genesis 1 & 2; Matthew 1
In the beginning God creates. Everything. And it's all for us. For me. The earth and everything in it were created to enable us to live the lives God gave us.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. (Genesis 1:28-29)

God blessed them. First He created human beings and then He blessed them. What a wonderful start to life - receiving God's blessing. And then receiving the gift of His Creation.

We can see just how much God loved His final creations - man and woman - from His final thoughts before resting: God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. (Genesis 1:31) Up until this point all that God saw was merely "good," but when He sees His human beings, He sees that everything is now "very good."

So, not only do we start life receiving God's blessing, but we are masters over His creation, and we are very good. Positive things to remember when we look in the mirror each morning. It's also pleasing to know that we were created to be in relationship - with God and with one another. God does not want us to be alone.

 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

I love the following explanation of the word "helper" here:

"In Genesis 2, when God provides a helper for Adam, He used a glorious Hebrew word for helper: azer. "Then the Lord God said, 'It is not a beneficial thing for the man to be alone. I will make for him an azer who is his complement or equal.'" In Hebrew, azer is used 19 times; mostly it is used to denote humanity's great helper. The word means a "helper like unto God." God paid a compliment to women with this word. The same word is used in Psalms, where it says, "O Israel, trust in the Lord, for He is their Helper and shield" (Psalm 115:9). The term is always used to describe someone who brings significant help and often not as someone who delivers another from some great dilemma. When the ancient Hebrew speaking Israelite heard the term used to describe Eve, he would have been impressed. He would have thought of women, therefore, as a God-like gift from God."
(David Eckman, Ph.D.

Women are a blessing; men are blessed by women. Nice! And, yes, I'm writing this from the point of view of a happily married woman, but I wasn't always where I am now. I used to be the girl who longed for a husband, who felt unattractive and unwanted. But this verse helped me. I claimed it as my own and hoped for the day when I would the helper God had made me to be. I wouldn't dream of sitting here though, and telling all you single girls and guys not to worry. I hated those patronising talks on singleness by the happily coupled - how did they know how I was feeling? - and longed for someone who was still surviving being single to tell me how they did it. So I'm not even going to attempt to make anyone feel better it's not my place to. Just know this - we were all created to be friends and helpers for those around us, not just for marriage and families.

So then we come to Matthew 1 and the genealogy of Jesus. It's easy for us to think that we are not good enough to be used by God, that there are too many skeletons in our personal closets, that we're not worthy of notice. But, if you read the list of Jesus' ancestors, there are countless "worthless" and "bad" people. Five of note are the women mentioned: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba (though she's not mentioned by name, but by description) and Mary.

Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and seduced her father-in-law to get the son she was owed.
Rahab was a prostitute.
Ruth was a foreigner.
Bathsheba (who had been Uriah's wife) was an adultress.
Mary was unmarried, a virgin, who risked her life by agreeing to carry God's Son.
It's worth checking out this blogpost for more information on these women and what they can teach us:

The most obvious sign of God's love in Matthew 1 is verse 21: She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

Day 2: Genesis 3, 4 & 5; Matthew 2
Genesis 3 - the Fall. Sin enters creation. God banishes His people from the Garden of Eden. They will die - but they are given the chance to live first. God loves them; He doesn't kill them.  And because He loves them, He made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21) God will provide for us in His love.
Genesis 4 - Cain kills Abel. God must punish him, but because He loves Cain He will not allow anyone else to judge or take revenge upon him: anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. (Genesis 4:15) And in His love for Adam and Eve, God gave them a third son in place of those they had lost. (Genesis 4:25)

Day 3: Genesis 6, 7 & 8; Matthew 3
The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of human beings, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. (Genesis 8:21)
This really needs no explanation!

So, there's a quick run through of what I have read, learned and remembered so far.

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