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Bible Study Notes on Genesis 16 – 20161024


Bible Study Notes

Genesis 16:2  “…the LORD has restrained me from bearing…”
Obviously this entire episode shows lack of faith in God, but I wonder about this statement.  It could have been just a statement acknowledging God’s sovereignty, but it could also be a subtle shot at God for not appearing to fulfill His promise.  He made this promise of many descendants, and now He’s kept me from having any, and it’s too late for me.  Nothing in the text to support the idea, but does cause me to wonder.

2  “…Abram heeded the voice of Sarai”
Adam and Eve all over again.  Abram knew what was right just as Adam did.  Yet he also listened to his wife even though she was proposing something he knew was wrong.  As with Adam, Abram bears the responsibility.

3  “…ten years in the land of Canaan”
Quick note on how much time has passed.  I realize it seemed like a long time to wait for a promise, and both Abram and Sarai were getting on in years, but they did have a promise from God.  He had already given a personal covenant to Abram regarding all of this.

5  “…The LORD judge between you and me.”
No mention of checking with God before walking down this path.  Now that things aren’t going the way she expected, Sarai blames Abram and feels God can vindicate her.  She probably felt she had done everything for the right reasons so God would take that into account, thus making what happened Abram’s fault.

6  “ to her as you please…”
The more I think about this, the worse Abram looks.  He listened to his wife contrary to what he knew was right.  He took another woman as a wife, albeit secondary to Sarai.  Now he’s not defending the girl or appearing to take any responsibility for his part.  As many servants and possessions as he had, he could have set Hagar up to be cared for, but separated from Sarai to avoid further conflict.  Instead he washes his hands of the incident and passes it back to Sarai.  Of course none of this takes God by surprise.  He knew the kind of man Abram was before He called him.  Fortunately He has the same grace and mercy with us and keeps working with us.  He doesn’t give up on us in making us into the image of Christ.

6  “…she fled from her presence”
We’re not told exactly what transpired between Hagar and Sarai, only that her mistress was despised in her eyes.  Hard to know how much blame Hagar bears in this.  She probably had no say in becoming Abram’s wife, but she could also have seen it as an opportunity for herself and any children she had by him.

7  “…Angel of the LORD found her…”
God wasn’t watching from a distance.  He allowed the incident to transpire, but stepped in when He deemed it necessary.  We wonder why God allows certain things to happen when He could easily prevent them.  The idea of an Almighty God who imparts the gift of free will to His creation is difficult to reconcile.  The times He chooses to intervene or not intervene are beyond our understanding.  I think perhaps some of that is governed by the fact of our rebellion.  He doesn’t intervene when He knows we’re too stubborn to listen.  He allows us to make the mistakes to learn the hard way since we didn’t listen and trust Him from the start.

10  “…I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.”
Same thing He told Abram.  Just speculation, but I’ve always seen this as a reflection of God’s character in that He’s keeping part of His promise to Abram’s descendants even though it’s through the wrong woman.  The promise of a land, nation, and blessing are to be through Sarai’s children, but even though Abram stepped outside the plan, God is still faithful to His word in providing for all of his descendants.

12  “…His hand shall be against every man…he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren”
Ishmael’s descendants became part of the Arab nation.  It is unfortunate that this prophecy has been played out as the Arabs have always been in conflict with the Jews.  The shame and sadness is that it doesn’t have to be so.  God has blessed them as He said He would.  If they would only choose to follow Him, the entire Middle East would not be the powder keg of chaos it is.  Even today, the Arabs that live in Israel and choose to be part of the nation are given equal standing.  There are even members of the governing body who are Arab.  Problem comes with those who choose to always be at odds, just like Ishmael.

15  “…Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael”
She obviously told Abram what had happened to her and that God had spoken with her.

16  “Abram was eighty-six years old…”
Note on Abram’s age.  He’s been in the land ten/eleven years and is now eighty-six when Ishmael is born.  Even though it was by the wrong woman, Abram now has a son of his own.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bible Study Notes on Genesis 15 – 20161021


Bible Study Notes

Genesis 15:1-2  “After these things…Do not be afraid…I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward…what will You give me, seeing I go childless”
We’re not told what Abram was thinking or feeling.  Can only go by what God says to him and what he asks of God.  He’s just gone through an intense situation and would be dealing with the after stress, after these things.  He’s been told by God to go to a new land where he was supposed to receive a blessing and become a blessing.  And God has blessed him greatly financially, but all of that could be gone in an instance as demonstrated by the raiders.  He put his life at risk to rescue his nephew and all of the others from surrounding cities, yet he has no legacy.  What good are possessions if you have no one to leave them to, and they could disappear at any moment?  So God reminds him that He is his protection, and He will provide the legacy.

4-5  “…one who will come from your own body shall be your heir…count the stars…So shall your descendants be”
God promises that Abram’s legacy will come from himself biologically, not from someone he adopts.  And his descendants will be as numerous as the stars.  Abram’s physical descendants are mentioned here specifically, but God’s promise that Abram would be a blessing to the entire world expands his promise of descendants to those outside the physical.

6  “And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.”
The basis for our relationship with God and Abram’s increased descendants, faith in God.  Our salvation comes from the actions of God and our faith in Him.  Even though we have no righteousness of our own, our faith in God becomes righteousness.  Abram expressed this faith in God here and thus is the father of all who would express the same faith, both Jew and Gentile, the entire world.

9-11  Abram asked for assurance of God’s promise, so God sets up a binding ceremony with which Abram would be familiar.  Strange ceremony, but makes sense once you understand the parts and idea behind it.  Had to check with commentaries, and there are different ideas, but I think I found the jest of it.  To enter into a covenant, bargain, or deal, two or more parties would take animals used for sacrifice and cut them in two pieces, then lay the pieces apart providing space to walk between them.  In the case of the birds, since there were two there was no reason to split them, just one per side.  Those walking between the pieces were binding themselves to the covenant and, if they failed to uphold their part of it, would suffer the fate of the animals cut in two.  Apparently it is where we get the phrases to cut a deal or to strike a bargain, the latter also referring to something or someone dead or that has been killed.  The idea is that the same fate of the object will be assessed upon the participant should he not fulfill his part of the deal.

12  “…deep sleep…horror and great darkness fell upon him”
Checked with commentary to confirm idea.  I get the idea that, once the ceremony is set up, God is arriving to participate.  His presence causes great fear, awe, and reverence.  Horror was not that of fear of evil, but an expression of the awe felt in the presence of such power and holiness.

13-14  “…your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them…afflict them four hundred years…nation whom they serve I will judge…shall come out with great possessions”
Abram asked for a sign of the promise of his inheritance.  God sets up the covenant ceremony then gives Abram specifics on the presentation of the promise.  Here is the prophecy of the Israelites time in Egypt.  Abram’s descendants would be in a foreign land where they would be afflicted for four hundred years.  God will then judge the land that afflicted them.  He will bring out the descendants with great possessions and bring them back into the promised land.

15  “…you shall go to your fathers in peace…”
Abram won’t see the fulfillment of the promise.  He will live a good, full life then be buried.  I don’t think the idea of not seeing the fulfillment was that big a deal to Abram.  I think the assurance came from knowing that, even after he was gone, God was going to do all He promised.  He understood the promise would take much time, and he wouldn’t be around for that long, but now he’s been given a view of what it will look like.  The promise of God was enough, but God was gracious in giving the preview.

16  “…they shall return here…iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete”
They will return when the time is right.  Here is the answer to those who accuse Israel of being conquerors with no real claim to their land and to those who claim God was unfair to those He drove out before Israel.  God could have allowed the Israelites to remain in the land as they grew into a great nation, but he removed them to give the current inhabitants time to repent.  The Canaanites died or were destroyed due to their own wickedness.  God gave them four hundred years before passing judgment on them.  He then brought the Israelites back into the land and used them as His instrument of judgment on the Canaanites.  Same thing can be seen throughout history once a civilization becomes corrupt.  God’s patience eventually ends, and He allows the nation or people to be destroyed.  The first chapter of Romans gives the checklist of the path of destruction a people follow.  It can be clearly seen in the fall of the Roman Empire.  The sad part is that the final steps are being seen today in the United States.  Unless we as Americans repent, we’ll end up like all the other destroyed civilizations of history.

17  “…there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces”
Representation of God Himself.  Commentaries had quite a variety of things to say about what the oven and torch meant, but most saw the two items as being one device, like the torch was sticking out of the oven or pot.  I see it as how God chose to represent Himself in this action.  Point is that God Himself passed between the pieces.  There is no mention of Abram doing so.  God is binding Himself to the covenant without Abram having to do anything.  In reality, what could he do?  He had no power or anything to bring to the covenant but his faith, which he has already expressed.  An antitype of God’s covenant of salvation to us.  He provides the way of salvation and binds Himself to it.  No action on our part as we have nothing to bring, only our faith in Him which imparts His righteousness to us.

18  “…To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates”
Description of the land that God is giving to Abram and his descendants.  Pretty big chunk.  Not sure which river of Egypt is being referenced.  Could be the Nile, but other scriptures seem to refer to a smaller river east of the Nile between the upper part of the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.  I wonder if the modern Suez Canal is located where this river was.  Commentary pointed out that the list of nations is probably a limiting factor.  God is giving Abram the lands currently occupied by these other peoples which falls between the two rivers.  During the reign of Solomon, the boundaries of Israel may have extended to these limits, but I’m not sure, and there are differing opinions.  However, since God promised this land to the Israelites, once Christ returns, I’m sure they will occupy all of the land.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bible Study Notes on Genesis 14 – 20161019


Bible Study Notes

Genesis 14:1-4  Apparently there were quite a few city/tribes in the area of the Jordan plain near the Dead Sea.  Commentaries agree the intruders are from the east, the land of Shinar and the area south.  Interesting that the groups in the area around the land of Canaan were paying tribute to kings around the Babylonian area.  History will repeat itself.

9  “…four kings against five”
Commentary suggests the king of Shinar was probably a descendant of Nimrod, yet this descendant didn’t have the power that Nimrod had possessed.  Although Chedorlaomer appears to have been the dominant power, he was being paid tribute, he must not have been extremely powerful either.  He had to have help.

10  “…asphalt pits…”
The pits are mentioned, but no further information.  Commentary suggests the local kings had chosen this area to do battle hoping the pits would give them an advantage, but apparently it didn’t work out that way.  One commentary also mentioned the pits still exist on the western side of the Dead Sea today.

12  “They also took Lot…who dwelt in Sodom…”
Lot has now made it all the way to Sodom.  He’s paying the price of getting too close to the pagan peoples.  Of course, we’re not told of the exact spiritual condition of Lot.  You’d think he would have picked up some of the knowledge of God from Abram, but it doesn’t appear it was making too much of an impression on him.

13  “…they were allies with Abram”
Abram has been in the area long enough to have a good relationship with the local tribes.  Doesn’t mention it here, but they go on the raid with him.  No telling how large the entire fighting force was.

14  “Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.”
Told several things here.  Although he and Lot had split, Abram still considered him family and was going to do something about the situation.  If he had three hundred and eighteen servants to arm as a fighting force and still have enough left to look after things, Abram’s possessions must have been vast indeed.  We’re not given exact numbers of everything, but considering he must have had far more livestock than servants, his group would have been enormous.  No wonder he took up so much room.  Would have been like a moving city.  As we mentioned before, he had home-born servants.  Families within families with Abram as the head.

15-16  “…divided his forces…attacked them…pursued them…brought back all the goods…”
Apparently Abram knew something of battle tactics.  The kings of the east weren’t as strong as they appeared.  They were able to conquer the local cities, but couldn’t withstand an attack from Abram and his allies.  He was able to reclaim everything they had taken from the cities as well as Lot and his possessions.

18  “…Melchizedek king of Salem…priest of God Most High”
Much could be said about Melchizedek.  Scripture refers to him as an antitype of Christ Himself.  Some have even suggested that he was a pre-incarnate form of Jesus since Abram felt the compunction to give him a tithe of everything.  I don’t think it went that far.
Verse 18 says he was a king/priest of God Most High.  This alone would have made him an antitype of Christ.  He was obviously worshipping the one true God as Abram was.  Abram sees this and therefore gives him a tithe in worship of God, the same way the Israelites would do later.  Interesting that within all of the pagan peoples, God had a group who continued to follow Him.  We aren’t told the history of Melchizedek, but it is conceivable that his ancestral line were some who continued to follow God after the flood just as Abram’s.  Makes one wonder why God chose Abram and not someone of Melchizedek’s group.

17, 21-24  “…king of Sodom went out to meet him…Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself…I have raised my hand to the LORD…Possessor of heaven and earth…I will not take anything that is yours…what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me”
Text begins to finish the story of the rescue then throws in the episode with Melchizedek.  Now we’re back to the end of the story.  I assume the king of Sodom thought to bargain with Abram.  He probably had no reason to believe Abram would just give his part of the possessions back.  Abram has more character.  He’s not a conqueror and wasn’t out to gain spoil.  He recognizes that God is the owner of everything.  He only charges for expenses and portions for his allies.  Here we’re told that the three Amorites mentioned earlier did go with him on the raid.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bible Study Notes on Genesis 13 – 20161017


Bible Study Notes

Genesis 13:1  “…went up from Egypt…to the South”
Up is usually either a higher elevation or northerly direction.  Land of Canaan is a higher elevation than Egypt.  Entered into the southern part of the land.  Actually moving east and northeast.

2  “Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.”
God had richly blessed him.

3  “…as far as Bethel…where his tent had been at the beginning…”
Not a bad idea when you’ve messed things up.  Go back to where you last met God.  Let Him set you back on the right path.

5-7  “Lot also…had flocks and herds and tents…land was not able to support them…there was strife…Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land”
You would think they could just separate a bit instead of trying to inhabit the same area.  I guess the size of the flocks and herds made it impossible to have their living tents close together.  And of course that is the way with sheep.  They eat the grass down to the ground.  They have to have their own area apart from cattle.  Was wondering about the mention of the Canaanites and Perizzites.  Commentary suggested a few ideas.  Their presence meant a limit to the land available to Abram and Lot which added to the situation.  Also, they could be watching how these two sojourners handled their conflict.  Even now, Abram is a witness to the LORD regardless of how much.  And they could also be a threat.  Abram and Lot were probably still together for the sake of safety as well as family.

9  “…If you take the left, then I will go to the right…”
Abram was clearly the head of the family being the elder.  He showed something of his character by giving Lot the choice of land.  He would have been within his rights to make the choice for himself.

11  “…Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan…”
The land surrounding the Jordan river was plush and well watered.  From a worldly viewpoint, it was a good place to have herds and flocks.  And there were cities in the area.  Unfortunately, Sodom and Gomorrah were two of those cities.  What looks good from our standpoint isn’t always the best, which is why we’re told to always trust God instead of our judgment.

13  “…men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD”
First mention of a problem with Sodom.

14-17  “…northward, southward, eastward, and westward…all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever…walk in the land through its length and its width…”
From the viewpoint of Bethel, which was apparently higher than the surrounding area, God told him to look in all directions.  So even the land which Lot had decided to use for himself would be given to Abram as his inheritance.  God tells him to explore it all, see what a great land and possession He has given to Abram for his own.  Reminds me of the reports given by the spies when the Israelites came out of Egypt.  The land has some desert, but also has some beautiful, productive country.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bible Study Notes on Genesis 12 – 20161013


Bible Study Notes

Genesis 12:1-3  “…To a land that I will show you…I will make you a great nation…in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed”
The Abrahamic covenant.  God told Abram to leave his country and extended family and go to a land that He would show him.  For His part, God would give Abram a land of his own, make his descendants a great nation, and make Abram a great blessing on all the world.  The fulfillment of this was the land of Israel and the Jewish nation.  The land has been given to the Jews for an everlasting possession, and the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, came from the Jewish nation which still exists today.  This tells why Terah, Abram, Sarai, and Lot left Ur at the end of chapter 11 and went to Haran.

4  “…Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran”
They made it to Haran where Terah died.  But this was not the land that God had promised, so Abram continued on.  He is seventy-five years old, fairly wealthy, but has no children.  I know their life spans were longer than current ones, but I’m still impressed that he didn’t use his age as an excuse to refuse God’s request.  Instead of looking for a nice place to settle down with all he had, he took God at His word and moved all of his possessions in the direction God said to go.

5  “…the people whom they had acquired in Haran…”
Servants and possibly slaves.  Servants and slaves were also born in-house.

6-7  “…Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem…Canaanites were then in the land…LORD…said ‘To your descendants I will give this land’…he built an altar to the LORD…”
Abram left Haran and entered the land of Canaan all the way to Shechem, near the center of the country, and God spoke to him.  God repeated His promise to give Abram’s descendants the land, even though at this point the Canaanite tribes are still living there.  Possession has passed to Abram by promise of God, and His promises are not revoked.  It mentions Abram built an altar and called on the name of God.  He then moved a ways farther south and did the same thing.  I think we’re being shown that worship of God has now become a priority for Abram.
God didn’t choose the land of Canaan by chance.  If you look at it on a map with respect to how the family groups migrated after the flood, you see it is the land passage between north and south.  Those going from the European/Asian continent to the African continent would pass through the land.  Once God had settled the Israelites in the land, they would be in a position to tell others passing through about God.  This is the reason they are God’s chosen people.  They had direct knowledge of God, could tell others about Him, and the Messiah would come from them.  Unfortunately, they never lived up to all the reasons they were chosen.  Chosen to be a blessing, but more concerned with receiving one.

10-13  “…there was a famine in the land…Please say you are my sister…”
First hint we get that Abram is not perfect.  He worships God, and God has called him for a purpose, but he is still a man with a sin nature.  Even though God has brought him to the land, and he has been worshipping God, he fails to check with God when the famine comes and follows his earthly reasoning.  While we can see why moving to Egypt would make sense, it wasn’t what God called him to do.  And once there, he was deceitful to the Egyptians.  He thought his thinking was logical, but he had no way of knowing how others would react.  They may have respected his person and possessions, but he didn’t give them a chance.  He also didn’t rely on God to keep him safe.  Certainly none of this behavior was a surprise to God.  He doesn’t choose people because they are perfect.  He only asks that we trust Him and be obedient.

17-20  “…Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai…they sent him away, with his wife and all that he had”
God was watching.  He’s trying to teach Abram to trust Him fully.  He’s also using the disdain of the Egyptians over what Abram did to push Abram back into the land.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bible Study Notes on Genesis 10 & 11 – 20161012

Bible Study Notes

Genesis 10  Listing of the descendants of Noah through his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  The chapter lists some areas where the descendants migrated and settled.  Checked other sources for explanation of the location names and found some confusion over directions and families.  Important information from chapter 10 is: 1)  All . . . → Read More: Bible Study Notes on Genesis 10 & 11 – 20161012

Bible Study Notes on Genesis 9 – 20161010

Bible Study Notes

Genesis 9:1  “…Be fruitful and multiply…” 1-7 begins similar to Genesis 1:28 where God told man to subdue the earth and have dominion over all creatures.  However, now things are different.

2  “…fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast…” Instead of having dominion over the . . . → Read More: Bible Study Notes on Genesis 9 – 20161010

Bible Study Notes on Genesis 8 – 20161007

Bible Study Notes

Genesis 8:1  “…God remembered Noah…” Like He could forget.  Interesting how the Bible puts things.  We tend to give God credit only when we see Him acting.  We pray for whatever is troubling us, and we wonder why God doesn’t answer.  Seems like He’s forgotten us.  But the scripture tells us . . . → Read More: Bible Study Notes on Genesis 8 – 20161007

Bible Study Notes on Genesis 7 – 20161005

Bible Study Notes

Genesis 7:1  “…you and all your household…you are righteous before Me in this generation” How sad that of all the people on the earth, mankind had corrupted himself to the point that only Noah and his family were considered righteous before God.  How merciful is God that He would choose to . . . → Read More: Bible Study Notes on Genesis 7 – 20161005

Bible Study Notes on Genesis 6 – 20161003

Bible Study Notes

Genesis 6:2  “…sons of God saw the daughters of men…took wives for themselves of all whom they chose” Questions have arisen over who were the sons of God and the daughters of men.  Here and in verse four.  But from what we’ve read thus far, this seems to be a reference . . . → Read More: Bible Study Notes on Genesis 6 – 20161003