I could physically hear the quiet groans murmuring throughout the room. I had just shared with my college freshmen women that we would spend a few weeks in our Bible study looking through Genesis.
“But we’ve read Genesis a million times!” one girl said.
“I already know Genesis, I’ve learned about it since I was little.” another shared.
“Ah, I see.” I replied, “So you guys are already Genesis experts.”
“Well, maybe not experts, but we’d just like to do a book of the Bible we haven’t read much before.”
I challenged them to give me three weeks to study Genesis 1-3. One chapter each week. I asked them to trust God, and I promised they would be greatly challenged and encouraged by this book they had read so many times. I challenged them that they surely did not know Genesis as well as they thought, and that God would teach them many new things even at the turtle-slow pace of one chapter a week.
Much to their surprise, my freshman Bible study couldn’t get enough of Genesis 1-3. As we studied one chapter a week for only three weeks, we found our study going well beyond our normal hour time frame. One week we looked at Genesis 3 for two hours and felt we had only reached the tip of the iceberg.
I can so easily be just like the freshmen women from that Bible study- feeling like I’ve read books or chapters of the Bible enough times that I probably won’t learn much more from it. Last month I started reading through the Bible in a year with a group of ladies. This is our third consecutive year doing this plan, and as we started in Genesis I wondered how much more I could possibly learn from a book I’ve read dozens of times. I’ve heard the stories since I was little. I had a Noah’s Ark toy boat and animals. Genesis…again? Maybe you can relate. When we think we are well versed and familiar with a book in the Bible, it can be hard to find motivation to study it again. But I have found that every time I trust God to read His Word, He is faithful to show and teach me more new things than I could have ever imagined.
Here are just a few things He has taught me in the past month of reading Genesis- things I had never thought about before, things that convicted me that never had before, and details that show His glory in a way I had never seen before:
Abram and Lot chose their land and part ways.
When I first read in 13:10 that Lot saw the valley of Jordan and how lush and watered it was, I was surprised. When I think of luscious farmland, Jordan is definitely not the first place that comes to mind! I know movie companies like Star Wars film in Jordan because of how desolate, desert, and Mars-like it looks!
But the second part of that verse explains that this was before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, and that was sobering to me. Sin turns life into death, and it kills everything it touches. Only God can forgive sin and help us fight it so that we have true, eternal life and keep our hearts from this same kind of death.
Do I take sin this seriously?
I pray that God will help me all the time to view sin with this gravity.
The fall of Sodom
I noticed so many things in these chapters today that I have never noticed before!
First, I wondered if Sodom and Gomorrah are why the Dead Sea is salty. So I looked it up- there is a Mt. Sodom by the Dead Sea in Israel/Jordan, and it is composed of salt (literally huge rocks made of salt!). There’s a pillar of sodium rock they named “Lot’s Wife” which seems like a bit much…but it is neat to read about Biblical locations and remember that these were real people in real places!
Second, Sarah makes the men a feast, but it kind of sounds like Lot is who makes the feast when the men come to him. We know what happens ultimately to Lot’s wife, and I think her absence here says a lot about her character. Am I attentive to the needs of my household and the people in my life? Or are there distractions that keep me from loving others well?
Lastly, even when God strikes the men in Sodom with blindness, they continue clamoring for sin. But when God struck Paul with blindness, it led Paul to repentance and faith in Christ.
My takeaway from this chapter is that the Bible is living and active and I’m always surprised by how much I learn each time I read even familiar passages like these.
Abraham offers Isaac on the mountain
I wondered why God repeats several times that Isaac is Abraham’s “only son.” Since right before this we learn about Ishmael being from him and Hagar.
But then I noticed the parallels between 22 and Christ’s crucifixion…where God will give His only Son. I’m not sure I realized Mt Moriah is also where Solomon will build the temple, and where Jesus will be crucified. A reminder that God is outside of time and knows all things.
I also didn’t know that Mt Moriah is the Temple Mound in modern day Jerusalem. The Muslim Dome of the Rock sits there now…and Muslims believe Mohammad descended from Ishmael (I had never made that connection before between Islam, Ishmael, Mohammad, and Abraham on Mt Moriah!).
Isaac, like Abraham, lies about his wife
I would love to hear what Abimelech is thinking in these chapters. Despite Isaac tricking him in the exact same way Abraham did years earlier, he doesn’t kill him…because he “sees plainly that the Lord has been with” Isaac.
They are in a famine, so Abimelech has the dried wells filled in. But when Isaac digs them back up, he finds “flowing water.” Not just gross, stagnant water, but fresh flowing water.
Isaac is flourishing so much despite the famine, that he is able to make an abundant feast for Abimelech and Philco when they come to seek a peace treaty. Nobody else in the land has food, but Isaac is able to make a feast!
It makes me think about how when we know God, the blessings that come from knowing Him should be strikingly obvious to people around us (not just physical, but things like true peace, love, and eternal perspective too.) I want my life to reflect God in such a plain and obvious way like Isaac’s did to Abimelech.
Jacob and Rachel meet
Genesis 29 begins seemingly wanting us to know how big the stone is at the mouth of this well. It says “now the stone on the mouth of the well was large” and multiple times talks about how the shepherds would gather and then “they” would roll the stone away to water the sheep.
Then Rachel comes with the sheep, even though it will be some time before the other shepherds are there to help with the stone. (Interestingly we also met Rebekah when she was gathering water).
But Jacob sees her, goes up and rolls the stone away by himself! I wonder if this is somewhat of a foreshadow to when God will miraculously roll the huge stone from the tomb when Jesus rises from the dead?
It is obvious God is with Jacob. And after seeing his deception with Isaac, it is a comfort to know that God is with us and forgives our sin.
Jacob tricks Isaac. Laban, Leah, and Rachel trick Jacob. So much trickery!
It has been interesting to me to watch these generations unfold from Shem’s line. There is generational sin, especially deception, that we see in Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebekah, Laban, Rachel, and Leah (who are all related).
But there is also generational blessing. God doesn’t change His mind about the covenant He made even though there is so much sin in the family. Laban even says he is blessed by God because of Jacob.
It’s a reminder to me that, even though we are sinful and not worthy of the gift of Christ, God does not change His mind. We are saved not because of our actions but because God is good, He chooses us, and He has the power to change our hearts.
Jacob’s sons are told by Joseph to bring Benjamin to Egypt
In the past, we’ve seen both Isaac and Abraham lie to kings when asked about their wives. But here the brothers are honest about having another brother (they could have lied!).
In the moment it probably seemed like honesty wasn’t the best choice. Even Jacob is upset they shared about having another brother because he knows he may never see Benjamin again.
But then we see the brothers are actually blessed by their honesty. They are given food and land and safety, and they will prosper in Egypt.
Honesty may sometimes seem like the harder option sometimes but God is a good God who is truth.
Is there a book in the Bible you know too well? A book that, if you’re honest, you don’t think you could really learn much more from? If so, I hope you will take the time to trust God, read through the Word, and see what incredible things He may show you!
As I’ve read through Genesis this past month, I cannot believe how many new things God has shown me within it. I continue to realize how much I still have to learn no matter how familiar I may feel with a book of the Bible. This time reading through Genesis, I have noticed how obvious it is to people when God is with someone.
✨Potiphar “saw that the Lord was with [Joseph] and how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in the Land.”
✨Laban asks Jacob to stay with him because he had “divined that the Lord has blessed me on your [Jacob’s] account.
✨Abimelech and Philco tell Isaac “We see plainly that the Lord has been with you.”
✨Abimelech tells Abraham “God is with you in all that you do.”
This has been an encouragement and challenge to me as I go about daily life interacting with people at the playground, grocery store, or wherever I may be. Is it obvious to people that God is with me? How can they tell? Does my life look obviously different? Am I sure it does, or do I just think that in my mind? How easy it is to just focus on my tasks or in getting from place to place, but being intentional to just talk with others is a great opportunity to show people how great God is. It will be obvious to them that God is with us.