The Bible In A Year: Day 4 (January 4th)
The reading for January 4th is Genesis 10-12 and Romans 4.
Mostly lists of names. In fact, to quote verse 32:
32 These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.
In verses 1 to 9 the Tower of Babel is built and destroyed.
5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6 The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.
Is God trying to stop mankind from doing whatever they want? What happened to free will?
On a slightly different note, this passage might seem to suggest that the people might be able to do everything that God can do, as ‘nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them’. However, I think that the important word is ‘plan’. They’ll be able to do whatever they want to do, which God knows will not be a great many things. Doing these things, however, is opposite to God’s plans for the world, so he scatters them across the earth.
The remainder of the passage is mostly concerned with lineage, but Abram (later to be Abraham) and Sarai (later to be Sarah) are introduced right at the end of it.
1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
4 So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.
Unlike a lot of people called to a specific purpose by God in the Bible (e.g. Moses, Jonah), Abram just does as he is told.
5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
Were these ‘people’ slaves?
7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.
Once again, Abram doesn’t show disbelief or argue. He builds an altar to the Lord in memory of his promise.
In the verses leading up to verse 17, Abram goes to Egypt to escape a famine. In the process, his beautiful wife Sarai is taken into the Pharoah’s household.
17 But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai.
Even now, when Abram is yet to do anything amazing, the Lord is protecting him and his family.
2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God.
Whatever good works we may do, however much we have to be proud of, they cannot help us when we come before the perfect, righteous God.
Romans 4 talks entirely about Abraham. It talks about how Abraham was not rewarded (by being seen as righteous in the eyes of the Lord) for following rules or laws (because there was no law for him to follow) but was rewarded for his faith, belief and trust in God. So often we try to codify Christianity, but the Bible specifically says that this won’t get us into heaven. It might help us live day-to-day, but it isn’t what will make us righteous before God.
Paul, returning to his theme of Jews vs. Gentiles, also notes that Abraham did not earn his reward only after circumcision, but before, when he was effectively a Gentile (as Judaism did not exist).