Genesis 1-11, Historical Context

The beginning of the Bible (creation) is difficult to pinpoint the exact years of the events. Finding a timeline that will lay this out is difficult to find. Most scholars (biblical or secular) label Genesis 1-11 as primeval history or pre-history. Some study Bibles and academic textbooks do not dare to place a year for this portion of the Bible.

When did God create “the heavens and the earth”? The simple answer is “in the beginning”. This will be the starting point of our biblical timeline, which will be represented by the abbreviation AC (after creation).

We will be going along with the BC-AD tradition of there being no year zero. With that in mind Genesis 1:1-2:25 occurs in the year 1 AC. Genesis 5 and 10 cover hundreds of years between major events in God’s redemptive story. When we study those chapters we will be looking at the AC timeline in more detail.

Whether Genesis was written or compiled is beside the point. At some point in history the book came about and was passed down through the generations until it reached us today. There is evidence that Genesis was edited sometime after the conquest of the Promise Land (more on this later).

Putting that aside for now, let us look at who tradition claims is the human author of Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch. Moses, the lawgiver, was given the task of recording God’s message to the Israelites. Tradition holds that Genesis was part of the message that God wanted to give to His people. This also answers the questions of where (location), when (general date), to whom (original audience), and why (reason) Genesis was written.

With Moses as the author the location was Mount Sinai, the year was 1446 or 1445 BC[1], and the original audience was the twelve tribes of Israel. The reason for the composition of Genesis was to tell the Israelite their history of where they came from, how they got to be in Egypt and why Yahweh had chosen them and why He brought them out of slavery and into the Promise Land.

(The above information goes for entire book of Genesis.)

There is another reason for Genesis 1 and 2, and that is God. In fact it answers the question “Who do you worship?” or “What type of god is God?” He is different than all the gods around the Israelites, a God who does not need to do battle with monsters or slay other gods in order to create the world, this is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He speaks and it is so. Genesis 1 demonstrates the unimaginable power that Yahweh holds.

The purpose of Genesis is to begin telling the story of God and His interactions with His creation, especially humanity. A story of love and redemption that “may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7b, HCSB).


Footnotes:

[1] Holman Illustrated Bible Handbook, 2012. Page 29.

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Prayer Challenge Eighty-Two

DEVOTIONAL: “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” Matthew 9:37-38, ESV.

CHALLENGE: Praying for the church and praying for revival. The Great Awakening of the 1700’s began with prayer: a small town in Germany did not necessarily pray for change in the world around them, but for change within their church (see page 217-218, The Battle Plan for Prayer). When “dissension and infighting” turns to “joy, unity” within the church people around us begin to see “the mighty power of the Holy Spirit” at work. This was the beginning of the modern missionary movement that converted John and Charles Wesley as well as Jonathan Edwards.

“Ordinary people praying in extraordinary fashion.” This has happened throughout the ages, from the apostles to the Great Awakening. Kendrick says this is our prayer. “For you, for us, for the church, for the world. And ultimately for the glory of God.” How are we continuing praying in such a fashion?

If we desire for revival around us, for Christian revival in the world, we need to pray for the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us. “There’s no reason why we can’t see God’s Spirit poured out in abundance on us…” “There’s no reason why we can’t see” transformation of the “whole cultural landscape” around us.

Pray for the harvest. Pray that labourers heed Jesus’ call. Pray that we hear and obey the call to be labourers in the God’s harvest.

Prayer Challenge Eighty-One

DEVOTIONAL: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” 1 Timothy 2:1-3, ESV.

CHALLENGE: In the twenty-first century praying for our authorities can be stressful, or, on the other hand, we just do not do it for personal reasons. News headlines are full of anti-this or anti-that protests, marches or books being released. Instead of praying, generally speaking, we are complaining that we didn’t get our way.

Kendrick opens chapter 33 of The Battle Plan for Prayer with the following two statements: “Actions and decisions made by people in authority create a significant impact on those within their sphere of influence—both good and bad.” “Our authorities either help us in doing the will of God, or they make it harder for us to pursue.”

Kendrick talks about government and how we should pray for them. By doing so we are obeying God our Father.

Whether it is local/city, provincial/state or federal governments, they all are in place for a reason. Kendrick also adds other forms such as “supervisors, parents, officials, law enforcement”. And to top that off “most of us also represent some kind of authority.

Do we want those beneath us to constantly be in rebellion? If we as non-elected authority figures desire peace and obedience, how much more do those in elected office deserve to control a peaceful and respectful country?

Let us pray for those who are in power over us, as well as those who we hold authority over. Pray for our respective nation, each other’s countries, and the world.

Prayer Challenge Eighty

DEVOTIONAL: “…that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” Psalm 78:6-7, ESV.

CHALLENGE: Family members are a big part of our prayer lives, at least they should be: spouses, children, parents, extended family, friends who are like family, etc. We pray for them all, but what are we praying for on their behalf? Kendrick says, “Surely by now, you’re way past the kind of praying that’s content with only asking God to ‘bless’ and ‘be with’ your” family. “Shouldn’t you know what you’re really asking Him for?”

Kendrick gives several pointers in respect to praying for spouses and children. For husbands or wives: “You should pray that both of you would maintain a sense of protective passion for [the] primary function of your marriage. That Christ would be where you run for love, joy and peace, not your spouse. And that you bring” all this back to your spouse. Related to this you pray that your husband or wife “be devoted to Christ” even above their devotion to you.

If we love “the Lord our God” with everything we have then we will love one another “as Christ first loved us”.

Praying for children can be easy and difficult. Whether they are young or grown-up we should pray “that they remain faithful to God in their generation.” How can we be living prayers for the next generations? We need to remain faithful to God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. Be examples of faithfulness in the workforce, at church, to our spouses, and to them, the children.

Let our general prayers, which “can get general answers”, become specific prayers, then “we will praise God more and recognize His handiwork when we pray specifically.”

Prayer Challenge Seventy-Nine

DEVOTIONAL: “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers…For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” Philemon 4 & 7, ESV.

CHALLENGE: Praying for other believers should come to us as naturally as breathing. It is the cornerstone of a church and a Christian’s life. When we do not pray for one another we are not seeking God’s grace and mercy in all we do. Kendrick opens the chapter “Praying for Believers” with a profound and sad truth: “Perhaps some of the most commonly spoken words from one Christian to another are “I’ll be praying for you.” And yet perhaps the most commonly unspoken words are the prayers that would have been said if those promises were truly kept.”

Some believers have a vibrant prayer life, some pray when they feel like it, and others rarely pray. The same goes for churches. We take each other for granted and we take our “son-ship” as co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:16-17a) for granted.

As children of God we have the privilege to come before our Father who is in heaven. We have the privilege to pray on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Why should we continuously pray for one another? Kendrick gives us several examples from the early church in Acts. “We see people coming to faith… We see sin exposed and repented of. We see teamwork. We see abundant generosity and unselfishness. We see regular demonstration of God’s power.” Can such activity if the Holy Spirit happen within our churches today? Definitely!

Make witnessing God at work be our goal as we pray for our brothers and sisters, when they succeed and they struggle.

Let us not our “I’ll be praying for you” be mere words but actual actions we take. Whether we pray with them on the spot, or we pray for them during our private prayer times. Who have you promised to pray for this past week, this past month, and forgot to do so?

February Bible Reading

Reading the Holy Scriptures is an adventure, we never know what the Holy Spirit will show us today. Being convicted to change our behaviour or attitude is perhaps a reason many people, including Christians, do not want to read their Bibles regularly. Since I made my 2017 resolution to read through the Bible I have fallen behind, way behind.

As I was reading last night, a question came to mind, one that many have asked in the past: am I ready for the sake of reading the Bible? Or am I reading for the sake of desiring to get closer to God? The latter was my ultimate new year’s resolution, and one that I continue to want to strive towards. This time round I will not give up. This year I will catch up and continue. I may fall behind again and again, but I shouldn’t allow that to discourage me. God doesn’t give up on His children, why should we ever give up getting to know Him on a personal level?

For those of you who are joining me in my reading in God’s Holy Word, here is February’s reading schedule.

 

Prayer Challenge Seventy-Seven

DEVOTIONAL: “I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.” Psalm 77:1-2, ESV.

CHALLENGE: Extraordinary change requires extraordinary prayer. The Scriptures are filled with wonderful examples of God’s people faithfully praying to bring about God-honouring changes. Kendrick gives three examples of ordinary people with extraordinary prayer methods. Reading the book of Esther we see the use of corporate prayer. Esther beseeched her people the Jews to pray together for deliverance from Haman, “the mastermind of the genocide”.

Of corporate prayer Kendrick says, “Extraordinary prayer is a team effort.” And “The result of their united, above-and-beyond praying was miraculous.” This also is true of the apostles in the New Testament. In Acts 12 Peter is set for execution, and the disciples praying for him with fasting. “Serious matters call for unusual sacrifice with focused devotion and dedication.”

The final example of extraordinary prayer comes from Jonah’s shipmates during the storm. “They prayed fervently. Persistently and passionately.” They prayed to Jonah’s God for deliverance.

Reading these stories and many more in the Bible we see prayer shaping the people and their circumstances. Jesus’ life was filled with devote prayer, communion with His Father. How have corporate prayer, fasting and fervent prayer shaped you this past year? How have they affected your family, church and community? How can they change our walk with God?