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Bible reading plan & guide - week 4


Returning to Genesis, the next chapters trace the multiplying populations of the earth, descended from Noah’s three sons, for a thousand years down to the time of Abraham. This man, Abraham, has a most prominent place in God’s purpose and, so we can know of it and also have an opportunity of being associated with it, his life is recorded in greater detail than that of others. Indeed, because God has established him as the father of the faithful, most of the Bible is about God’s relationship to his children, including Gentile Christians who are counted by God as Abraham’s children.

God made great promises to Abraham and to his seed, which is Christ, and in the fact that all true disciples of Christ will inherit these promises with Abraham there is a very strong incentive for us to study the record of his life and to learn about these divine promises and so be able to anticipate their fulfilment.

Sunday: Genesis 11

The instruction of God to Noah’s family was to "be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth", for it was his will that the earth be fully inhabited. However, as the population grew the people developed a determination to resist his will and to remain concentrated in the same area of the earth, in the Middle East. To this end they built for themselves a city and a tower which also exalted themselves instead of the LORD. Therefore God intervened and, by confounding their language, effected their dispersion over the face of the earth.

It is also notable that their city in the land of Shinar was called Babel, meaning confusion, because this is the root of the name Babylon which became a great city in the same place and was responsible for the overthrow of God’s kingdom and people of Israel. It also became the symbol later in the Bible representing confusion of religious thought and apostasy from God’s truth.

Before the confusion of tongues all spoke the same language and God intends to restore this arrangement in the future; he will "turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent" (Zephaniah 3:9). It is not revealed what the original tongue was, but it was probably Hebrew as this is the language of his own people, and it is surely significant to those who watch the outworking of God’s purpose in the earth that with the rebirth of Israel as a State among the nations as prophesied, after centuries of being only a dead classical language, Hebrew is once more a living language!

This chapter also gives the genealogy of Noah’s son Shem through the generations to Abraham. Many genealogies are given in the Bible, the most important being those which trace the line from Adam to Jesus, of which this genealogy is a part, because it proves vital relationships which exist between Christ and those to whom God made his promises, especially Abraham.

Abraham, first called Abram, lived with his father and family in the civilised and cultured city of Ur of the Chaldees, near the mouth of the River Euphrates at the head of the Persian Gulf. Here Abram received a call from God to leave his own city and go to another land which God would show him, and Abram obeyed with far reaching results, as the following chapters and the rest of the Bible reveal.

Monday: Genesis 12

The details of God’s call are given v.1-3, which contained the LORD’s promise to bless Abram and his descendants, and also all the nations of the earth. You should note that God’s promise, "in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" v.3, is declared in the New Testament to be the Gospel (Galatians 3:7-8).

Abram obeyed God v.4 and travelled with his father and other members of his family from Ur to Haran in Mesopotamia near the source of the Euphrates. Later, when his father died, he crossed the river with his wife and nephew Lot, and journeyed to the promised land which Abram discovered was the land of Canaan v.5. The LORD then promised to give this land to Abram’s seed: "Unto thy seed will I give this land" v.7 and this seed, the New Testament teaches, is Christ.

Tuesday: Genesis 13

Abram prospered in the new land together with his nephew Lot until the increase in herds and flocks caused grazing disputes among their servants. To eliminate this problem, Abram invited Lot to choose the pasture land he preferred, with Abram living elsewhere, to effect an amicable separation. Lot chose the fertile Jordan valley, and Abram received a reiteration of God’s promise which detailed the extent of the promised land: "And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee" vs.14-17.

You should note the precise quotation of this passage by the apostle Paul to prove that Christ is the promised seed to inherit the land: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ" (Galatians 3:16).

Wednesday: Genesis 14

Abram became a powerful personage in the land of Canaan and was successful, with armed servants, in rescuing Lot when he was taken captive with the people of Sodom by invaders from the far side of the Euphrates. At this time a most significant event occurred on his return. He was met by Melchizekek who was "the priest of the most high God" v.18. Melchizedek brought bread and wine and blessed Abram, and Abram honoured Melchizedek with a tenth of the spoils v.18-20.

The apostle explains (Hebrews 5:5-10) the importance of this record by connecting it with a prophecy concerning Jesus, in the Psalms, of God’s words to him when he went to heaven after his resurrection: "The LORD (God) said unto my Lord (Jesus). Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek" (Psalm 110:1,4). Jesus is therefore now a priest at God’s right hand as a priest of the order of Melchizedek.

The apostle also identifies some important points in the purpose of God from these scriptures including the fact that, as Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, the priesthood of Christ must be superior to the order of priesthood later occupied by Abram’s descendants in the line of Aaron under the law of Moses. These priests were required to make sacrifices regularly and continually for the sins of God’s people, which were efficacious only for a short while; whereas Jesus made just one sacrifice, of himself, to give forgiveness of sins for ever (Hebrews 10:10-14).

The name Melchizedek means "king of righteousness" and his title "king of Salem" means "king of peace" and the apostle points out the significance of the order of these names and titles for in God’s purpose there must first be righteousness and only then can there be peace: "To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace" (Hebrews 7:2).

Thursday : Genesis 15

Abram was 75 and his wife 65 and childless when they entered the promised land, and with the passage of time it looked more and more impossible that they would ever have a child. Nevertheless, God reassured him that he would have his own son as his heir v.4, and that through this son his descendants would become a great multitude, "as the stars of heaven" v.5. And Abram believed God, therefore God counted him righteous. This is a vital lesson, drawn by the apostle Paul in Romans 4, that the only people God will consider righteous are those who have Abram’s faith which is the complete conviction that God will perform his promises.

God again promised Abram the land of Canaan and confirmed it in the way men in those days fixed agreements between themselves - by sacrificing animals, separating them, and then walking between them vs.9-13, God himself being represented in this transaction by a burning lamp v.17. This, however, was only a typical confirmation of the covenant, the proper confirmation being the sacrifice, not of animals, but of Christ. Consequently, Abram fell asleep into an horror of great darkness to represent the death of Jesus when he was crucified with darkness falling on the whole land at noon for three hours until he sank into the sleep of death (Luke 23:44-46). The covenant which God made with Abram was to give his seed, which is Christ, the land of Canaan and the extent of this promised land was revealed to Abram at this time: from the river Euphrates in the north to the river of Egypt, running into the Mediterranean between Sinai and the Negev, in the south, being occupied then by the peoples listed vs.18-21.

During his sleep, Abram was informed by dream what would happen to his natural descendants over the succeeding four hundred years. They would live in "a land not theirs", which turned out to be Egypt, where they would be afflicted until they would return to the promised land. Thus during those centuries faithful men and women would be able to look forward, even when under cruel bondage, and anticipate God’s intervention to deliver Israel from Egypt and take them back to Canaan. In the same way to-day we, with the knowledge God’s declared purpose, can anticipate the return of the Jews to the promised land not only from Egypt but also from all the countries of the world (Jeremiah 16:14-15).

It is significant that the delay in God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt was because the iniquity of the Amorites, the inhabitants of the land, was not yet full. This illustrates the LORD’s longsuffering. People are inclined to think when they see great wickedness in the earth that God does not see, or even does not exist, yet he does and in longsuffering is awaiting the time when he will pour out his righteous judgments as he did upon Egypt and the Amorites long ago. And all the signs indicate that this time of judgment is very near at hand.

Friday: Genesis 17

Although Abram had a son, Ishmael, by a bondwoman, he reached the age of ninety-nine v.1 without having a son by his wife, Sarai, as God had promised. At such advanced ages it seemed impossible that they would have a son, so God reaffirmed his promise and as an assurance of it changed Abram’s name to Abraham, meaning "father of a multitude" because out of him would come nations and kings. The New Testament explains the significance of this, that Abraham was not only to be the father of his natural descendants, the Jews, but also the father of all those of whatever nation who become faithful disciples of Christ and who ultimately will reign with Jesus as kings in the earth.

Sarai’s name was also changed, to "Sarah" meaning princess because, through her son Isaac, she would be the mother of these kings. As a token of this covenant in Isaac, God instituted circumcision involving the cutting off of the flesh; to represent the ultimate purpose of God which is to populate the earth, not with people of flesh and blood, but with the seed of Abraham who will all be immortal and incorruptible.

Saturday: Genesis 19

God is longsuffering but when man’s iniquity becomes full he executes his righteous judgment upon them. His main purpose, however, is to deliver the righteous. The events recorded in this chapter provide a dramatic illustration of this in the destruction of the inhabitants of wicked cities but the deliverance of the righteous therein. Jesus and his apostles cite this as a serious warning to others including ourselves today e.g. "And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds)" (2 Peter 2:6-8).

Because Lot lived in Sodom, Abraham prayed for its inhabitants, and God agreed to spare the city if there were ten righteous persons therein ch.18:32, but only Lot and his two daughters escaped the destruction of the city. Their salvation and the suddenness of God’s judgment upon the wicked is cited by Jesus in exhortation to his disciples to be righteous, watchful, and prepared: "Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed" (Luke 17:28).


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