Once again there is more going on than meets the eye! And this chapter is a fine example of the way Bible stories are told so that we have to interpret and judge people’s actions and words for ourselves (as we do in everyday life) rather than being told what to think. So as various characters both Joseph and his brothers keep up appearances and pretend, we have to decide what we think their motives are. There are also tensions between parts of the chapter that allow different sorts of scholar to notice different things in the story. So though it has no deep theologicalRead More →

As we get into the body of the Joseph story the dramatic episode with Mrs Potiphar (surely another candidate for soap-opera treatment) has lots of interesting features in its telling, today I’ll focus on one, and then make sure to notice also the big theological message these chapters hammer home. In doing this we’ll notice the dramatic change in our hero between his teens and twenties, is it just “growing up” is is there something more profound going on?   http://5minutebible.com/audio/E100gen39-41.mp3Read More →

This is another story of a dysfunctional family, Kuniholm in the E100 notes picks up on some of the causes of this mess, and we can certainly learn some things to avoid from Jacob’s family life. But let’s notice what came between the dreams (37:1-11) and the nightmare (37:18-36). In Gen 37:12-17 we have a neat example of the way the tellers of the Bible’s stories, putting lots of weight, and in this case not a little theology into few words. This is what makes biblical narratives great story-telling, and also superb theology! http://5minutebible.com/audio/E100-11gen37.mp3Read More →

Joseph gets 13 chapters, in Genesis (that’s more than any other character) so Joseph’s story is one of three parts of the book: Primeval History, Patriarchs & Joseph. So what’s so special about Joseph? Message in Gen 50:20: Providence: God is in control even when it does not look like it – “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good“ Salvation: God seeks to rescue people – “in order to save a many people“ Application: moves to significance today – “…as he is doing today.” Living well as an “exile” Babylon, beyond, Christians today Necessary step in the plotRead More →

Another of the most mysterious and difficult stories in the Bible, this time not difficult because the subject pains us, but difficult to understand. We Westerners are hung up on “understanding”, sometimes it is better to “stand under” (and learn from) than to understand πŸ˜‰ This may be one of them! If we try to understand the story of Jacob’s fight we quickly get a headache, nothing quite works of provides all the answers. (See a fine website produced by Kirsten Abbott in one of my classes for more on this.) If, however, we stand under and learn from this story there is lots toRead More →

Don’t look for happy families in the tales of the ancestors, matriarchs and patriarchs, of God’s chosen people.Β  Genesis 27-28 carry the story into the next two generations but present a thoroughly dysfunctional family. Yet Genesis 28 tells also of one of the most dramatic revelations of God and renewal of God’s promises to this chosen people. These chapters present a powerful reminder that humans are full of and ruled by sin, but that God’s grace is not thwarted so easily.   http://5minutebible.com/audio/E100gen32-33.mp3Read More →

Genesis 12 marks the beginning of the real story of the Bible. Chapters 1-11 are a prologue both to Genesis and to the Bible as a whole. They introduced us to “characters” (not least God – singular and with a capital G) and to the central issue that the Bible addresses. In chapter 12 we are introduced to Abraham, the first of the ancestors of the people God chose. Their story will fill the rest of the Old Testament. But also in Gen 12 we have to recognise what an odd choice God made. The people later on known as the Jews were neither moreRead More →

The first week’s readings covered the prologue to Genesis, the second week covers the Ancestors of Faith, the Matriarchs and Patriarchs of Israel. Here we begin to see the first outlines of God’s plan to restore a world warped and twisted by human sin. We also begin to discover what it means to be “people of faith”. The picture caption included this: ABRAHAM – PROMISE The first vertical window from the entrance on the north side represents Abraham and promise. Abraham believed God. The winding path of light blue that leads upward is symbolic of the faith of Abraham as he heard the call ofRead More →

If this was a merely human story you’d expect God’s bold attempt at drastic punishment to have an equally bold result. Either humanity reformed, or the rebellion gets deeper πŸ˜‰ But of course neither is possible. humanity is unreformable, just try making a few worthwhile New Year’s resolutions to prove that πŸ˜‰ nor is rebellion any deeper possible. So what we get instead is a second old-fashioned word, to add to the collection of outmoded terms we began with “sin” earlier. Here’s the story Genesis 8:1-9:17. http://5minutebible.com/audio/E100gen8-9.mp3Read More →