Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Read the Bible in a Year (Day 2)

Today's readings from Genesis start out with a murder, then proceed with a dry genealogy...then get extremely wet!

January 8
Genesis 4: TNIV ESV TEV
Genesis 5: TNIV ESV TEV
Genesis 6: TNIV ESV TEV

1. Genesis 4:1-16. The Hebrew word usually translated as "offering" in verse 3, is associated most of the time with grain offerings and with thankofferings. Offerings of thanks are to be given from the heart, not begrudgingly. According to Jesus, God has little concern about the size of our offerings to Him, though its authenticity is seen in heaven's eyes in the sacrifice involved in proportion to our incomes. (The Bible holds up the tithe, an offering of the first 10% of our income, as an appropriate response to God's goodness and grace.) What is important in God's eyes is the authenticity of our motives, the genuineness of the thanks behind the offering.

Apparently, Cain had a less than cheerful heart. When God received his brother's offering with apparently more delight, he resented it. (To learn more about Cain and Abel, see The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament.)

2. God told Cain that Abel's blood was crying out. The Bible understands that blood is life. This is why the blood of a lamb was smeared on doorposts by the Hebrews when the the angel of death passed over their homes, as commanded by God in the event we know as the Passover. On the Day of Atonement, the blood of unblemished lambs was sacrificed at the Temple for the sins of the people, the blood spattered on them as parts of the sacrifice. The blood covered then life and forgiveness against death and sin. And Jesus is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. Today, Christians receive life and forgiveness when they receive the body and blood of Jesus in Holy Communion.

3. The answer to Cain's question, "Am I my brother's keeper?," is simple: Yes. We are all our brothers' and sisters' keepers. The great commandment, seen in the Ten Commandments, as well as in Jesus' words in Matthew 22:34-40, is that we are to live in a fellowship of love for God and neighbor. (This is shalom.) The point of Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan is that we are all the keepers of others.

Because of the condition of sin, this love doesn't come naturally to us. The Christian's life on earth is marked by daily repentance and renewal so that as we submit to Christ, the Holy Spirit will help us manifest the love for which we were made.

Points to Ponder:

1. Genesis 6:22 says that Noah did everything just as God commanded. What does command you in His Word that you find difficult to accept? Does Noah's example help you or not?

2. In Genesis 4:15, God marks Cain. Scholars don't believe this was a physical marking. Nonetheless, how is this marking an example of both condemnation and grace? Have you ever felt yourself to be "marked" by God in a similar way?

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