Spirituality

Reading The Bible :: What I Learned From The Book Of Genesis (Part 1)

vod_genesis_graphic-320x214One of the tasks on my 2013-2014 100 In a Year List requires me to read the Bible at least once a day. So far I’ve picked it up and read over 100 times and I’ve noticed a change in myself (more about that later).

I started by reading through Bible plans but I found that I was often placed in the middle of a story or situation without knowing the history of it. This didn’t work for me. I wanted to learn about all the Biblical characters, their personality traits and how they came to encounter God in the way that they did at times. 

What better way to learn than by starting at the beginning?

I decided that I would begin to read the Bible chronologically in June instead of reading through the plans. I feel like God will speak to you through any scripture and we’ll all interpret them differently so this has been a great thing for me! Below, you’ll find what I learned as well as some of my thoughts and comments. All the posts that will follow this one will be in this same format.

*Note: Because Genesis has 50 chapters, this part of the article is only in reference to Chapters 1-25.

Version: NLT (New Living Translation)

Verses I Highlighted:
Genesis 1:26
Genesis 2:2-3, 18, 20-24
Genesis 3:1
Genesis 6:3
Genesis 8:21-22
Genesis 9:12-16
Genesis 15:6
Genesis 18:14
Genesis 19:17, 26
Genesis 22:13
Genesis 32:22-32 (one of my favorite passages in Genesis)
Genesis 37:3, 11
Genesis 39:10
Genesis 40:8
Genesis 41:16, 25, 32
Genesis 50:20

What I Learned, My Thoughts and Comments:

– In Genesis 2:18, God realized that it wasn’t good for man to be alone in the world. His solution was to create a helper who would be just right for him, a woman. This passage really showed me just how spiritual our love lives should be. We were created for each other and woman is perfect for man. This is why as and when a couple is married, a man leaves his family to be joined with his wife. Man and wife return to be “one” just like when we were created.

– The Lord gave very specific instructions about living in the Garden of Eden. In the middle of the Garden, The Lord placed two trees – the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Man had the freedom to eat from any tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and The Lord told Adam that if he ate from that particular tree, he would die. A serpent, one of the most evil animals that God had created, approached the woman one day and asked her if God had instructed them not to eat fruit from any tree. Of course the serpent already knew what the rules were. What I was reminded of while reading this particular part of Genesis is that the Devil will have you doubting God and his promises. Even though the woman knew that she wasn’t supposed to eat from it, after being convinced by the serpent that eating from it was a good thing, she did and encouraged her husband to do the same. As a result, they were thrown out of the garden and given several punishments (pain during pregnancy, having to work hard to earn a living, etc.) and mankind would no longer live forever.

– The Lord’s spirit could not put up with the fleshly ways of humans so he shortened our life span. According to Genesis 6:3, no human would live more than 120 years. I did a quick Google search to see if there was any documentation of a person living beyond 120 years (just because I’m inquisitive like that) and I learned about Jeanne Calment of France who lived to be 122 years and 164 days old. Maybe I’ll come across something in the New Testament that addresses the difference and maybe not. If you know of anything, add it in the comments section below, let’s start a dialogue!

– Noah drank wine excessively. In other words, he got drunk.

– God makes a covenant with Abram and changes his name to Abraham. He also changes Sarai’s name to Sarah. Part of the covenant required all males to be circumcised.

– Abraham pleaded with The Lord about saving the righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah. What interests me the most about this particular part of Genesis is that The Lord wanted to be totally sure that the people in Sodom and Gomorrah were really as bad as He’d heard that they were. He went back and forth with Abraham about whether or not He would save the righteous people (because The Lord’s plan was to destroy the entire city). Abraham was able to intercede for Sodom and The Lord agreed that if he could find at least 10 righteous people in the city, He would spare it. What did this teach me? The company we keep can either elevate us or bring destruction in our lives. 

– The first reference to homosexuality was made in Chapter 19. Two angels had arrived in Sodom to observe the citizens. After Lot insisted that they spend the night at his home, they agreed and took part in a feast that had been prepared for them there. Before the angels could call it a night, all of the men (young and old) of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house yelling for the men (they didn’t know that they were angels) to come outside so they could have bad word with them. I distinctly remember my jaw dropping because I couldn’t believe what I’d read. Like…these men were trying to basically gang rape a pair of angels. Crazy!

– In Genesis 9:6, Lot went outside to talk to the group of men and offered his virgin daughters to them instead in exchange for the protection of the angels. The men weren’t having it and they tried to break Lot’s door but not before the angels pulled him in and bolted it. The angels warned Lot that they were about to destroy the city upon The Lord’s orders and he needed to get all his relatives who were in the city and get them out immediately. Lot went to alert his daughters’ fiances’ but they thought he was joking and he ended up only taking his wife and two daughters out of the city with him. This made me think about how the prayers and faith of our loved ones sometimes keep a wall of protection around us when we’re failing to pray for ourselves and stay strong in our faith.

– Before they were rushed out of the city, Lot and his wife were instructed by the angels to run for their lives and to not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. They were to go toward the mountains (that’s a shouting moment right there). The Lord proceeded to destroy the two cities but Lot’s wife looked back and she turned into a pillar of salt. Lord! This is so huge for so many reasons…it really hit home for me. See, when we’re under God’s protection, He wants us to trust Him the entire way through whatever the situation is. When He makes us aware that something is wrong and we’re headed toward destruction, we have to listen and be obedient and keep moving. We shouldn’t stop in the valley (a low area; low point of our life), we should keep running toward the mountain (better days, higher place in life). If we keep going back to that low place or whatever triggers us to feel like we’re in a “valley,” we risk being destroyed and it’s our own fault. So when God is pulling us away from something and we know without a doubt that He is, we need to leave it alone and not look back. Keep moving forward.

Powerful image of Abraham preparing to sacrifice Isaac. (Image via Google)

Powerful image of Abraham preparing to sacrifice Isaac. (Image via Google)

– The Lord tested Abraham’s faith by asking him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. On the morning that everything was supposed to go down, Abraham took two of his servants and his son and went to the place God told him to go. On the third day of their journey, Abraham could see where he was supposed to go and asked his servants to stay behind while he and Isaac went further. Isaac began to wonder where the sheep were that they were supposed to sacrifice and he asked his father. Abraham told him that God would provide a sheep for the offering. When they made it to the place he was instructed to go, Abraham built an altar, arranged the wood on it, tied Isaac up and laid him on it. Just as Abraham raised his knife to sacrifice his son, an angel appeared and told him not to harm his son. The Lord knew that Abraham was a man of unwavering faith and he truly feared God because he was willing to sacrifice his only son. At that moment, Abraham spotted a ram caught in a bush and he used the ram as a sacrifice. This is where old folks get that saying that The Lord always has “a ram in the bush.” If we could only trust God, we will see that He will always provide for us. We just have to let go and trust Him.

– Abraham wanted Isaac to marry a woman from his homeland so he sent his servant to go find her. The servant was a little worried about being able to find a woman fit for Isaac that would travel far from home to marry him, so he prayed. The Lord answered Abraham’s servant’s prayer immediately. This shows me to be specific in what I ask of The Lord.

In this half of Genesis alone, I’ve already been able to make connections in my own life based on what I’ve read. I think I’ve been challenged to be real about where I am as far as my spirituality. You may know that I’m not very religious, I prefer spirituality but that doesn’t mean that it’s OK for me to be lax. I still have to do my part by studying and practicing what I’ve learned. I can’t talk it if I’m not walking it…and if I’m walking it, am I walking it as boldly as I should be? Or is there room to be bolder?

I always felt like I trusted God but my actions don’t always agree so these passages have really hit home. I can’t just trust Him halfway, I have to have the same kind of faith that Abraham had when he prepared to sacrifice Isaac. I have to know – and never ever doubt – that the Lord will provide, even if it’s at the eleventh hour. It isn’t easy to have this unwavering faith but over the last year I’ve become a totally different person and I know God is moving in my life so I’m confident that I will get where I need to be.

What about you? Has your faith ever been tested? Did you pass or fail the test? Share your thoughts and comments with me below.

Twitter @jessicasimien | Instagram @jessicasimiendotcom

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