I don’t think I’ll be alone in admitting that at times, it can be a bit of a struggle to read the bible. I struggle to choose, first of all, where to start?! There’s 39 books in the Old Testament, and 27 in the New Testament – that’s a lot of choice! Secondly, as an incredibly impatient person with the attention span of a goldfish, I struggle to keep my focus on what I’m reading...
So as indecisive and impatient as I am, I’ve admittedly done the classic ‘drops the bible open to a random page and read whatever verse my finger lands on’ trick. Sometimes that works, sure, but then sometimes it really doesn’t. For example, when you stumble upon Ruth 4:20, “Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon,” (just off topic, my firstborn son will be named Salmon).
But what keeps me coming back to the bible is the amazing times God has spoken to me, and has taught me incredible things about His character, His people, His plan and His son through His word. My point is that I’m encouraging you to delve into the bible, because it is a direct message from God, which is even more awesome then naming your son Salmon. The Story – which we will be following using a weekly bible reading plan - is an awesome place to start. As an XS community, let’s learn more about the Word together.
Week 1 – Day 1
The first three chapters (which we are doing this week) are titled First Families, and it’s all about the people God put on this earth at the very beginning.
Today we read Chapter 1 titled: Creation: The Beginning of Life as We Know It. The chapter starts with creation. God weaved the earth together piece by piece. He created the light, the sky, the land. He made water, and trees and plants. God made all the living things we see. Everything from fish, birds, and insects, to lions, tigers and bears (oh my). God filled the earth with life and beauty, and blessed what he had made to multiply and be fruitful. Can you imagine what the earth would have looked like at that point, after the 5th day of creation? How bright the light would have been? How fresh the air would have smelt, with nothing man-made poisoning it?
But God wasn’t done. This perfect earth wasn’t complete, so God made 2 more things. First he made Adam (it says he formed him from the dust, and then breathed life into him), and later he made Eve to accompany Adam. God blessed them with a whole garden of his creation. They named all the animals, cared for all the plants, and were able to eat any fruit from any tree, except one – the tree in the middle of the garden called: The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But that wasn’t a big deal, was it? Why would they care about one measly little fruit when they had an entire earth of every single fruit they could imagine?
Eve was approached by the crafty, evil serpent, who questioned Eve as to why she wasn’t allowed to eat the fruit. Her answer – because God said we would die – wasn’t good enough for the serpent and he kept pestering her as to whether she really trusted God’s word. He led her astray, making God out to be the one who was selfish, and who wanted to keep Adam and Eve in the dark. He told her that her life would be better if she followed that path, and that she would be like God: knowing good and evil. He appealed to Eve’s human desires, and she caved. Not only did she take a bite of the fruit, but she offered it to Adam.
Basically what happened next was that, they realised they were naked and were ashamed of who they were. They tried to hide from God, but he found them (obviously). God was absolutely shattered. He was so upset that they had disobeyed him. All sorts of pain and hardship was afflicted on them, and on their children, and the serpent was cursed as well. But they didn’t die.
Was God lying when he said they would?
No, because they had died in a sense. That intimate, deep relationship they had with God was cut down in that second, and was now dead. God made clothes for Adam and Eve and they were sent away from the garden. This stands out to me: even though God was distraught and pained, and probably incredibly disappointed by what his children had done, he still clothed them, and still gave them access to his creation.
The chapter moves on next to the children of Adam and Eve – Cain and Abel. Abel looked after flocks of sheep and Cain worked in the soil. Both came to bring offerings to God. Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. This offering was significant, and Abel was coming to God with everything he could give. But Cain brought fruits of the soil, and basically, God basically wasn’t happy.
But why? Did God hate the fruit Cain brought, like I hate rockmelon? And more seriously, doesn’t this paint God as a selfish God?
It’s not what was brought that was the issue. In fact, grain and harvest offerings were eventually genuine expressions of worship. It was the heart behind Cain’s intentions that differed so greatly from Abel. Abel gave generously, without concern for his own loss or how it would affect him. Cain’s heart – because God knows our heart and our intentions – weren’t pure. Naturally, Cain is jealous that his brother was favoured more highly than him, and unfortunately ends up killing Abel in a field. This was the first ever murder.
The mistakes made by this family marked the start of a lot of tragedy and hardship for the people of the world. People full of evil, anger, greed and selfishness filled the earth until God couldn’t handle seeing what his creation had become for much longer, so he decided to wipe the earth clean. A fresh slate. A clean palette.
Now, I know many people know the story of Noah and the flood. Basically God decided to spare Noahs family and asked him to build an arc. He then got him to fill the arc with 2 of every clean animal created, and God washed the earth clean with a massive flood. But here’s some things you might not have known:
The arc was huge. It was taller than a 3 story building, had a deck the size of 36 tennis courts, and if anyone knows much about American football, it was about the length of a football field. Some studies have discovered that the approximately 16,000 animals on the boat would have only taken up just over half the space. This thing was massive. Secondly, it rained for 150 days! Let me paint a picture: 150 days ago today was October 17, 2014. Can you imagine it raining non-stop, all day every day since October??? Lastly, Noah was 600 years old. Six. Hundred. Years. Old. Wow.
But God kept Noah, his family, and all the cats, dogs, rabbits and alpacas safe over that time and eventually he dried out the earth again. There’s something cool about God using his creation to wash clean the destruction man-kind had caused, and then using his creation again to dry it up. He sent a rainbow as a promise to never do this again, and blessed Noah’s family.
So that’s Chapter 1! There’s still heaps to discover when you read it yourself, but I hope that general overview helped! I wouldn’t be surprised if most people were pretty aware of these stories, but it’s never a waste to read God’s word, and you can always find a new perspective on what you read.
Here’s just some thoughts to leave you with, so you can have a think about what you’ve read over the next few days:
Firstly: do you find Eve’s willingness to disobey God surprising? Is it really such a shock that she would give in to temptation, when we easily cave all the time too? What’s the serpent in your life at the moment, pulling you away from what you know is a true and good relationship with God?
Secondly: are you putting into your relationship with God what you want to get back? So many times the bible says that when we feed into our relationship with God, God blesses us beyond our imagination. Are you giving like Abel – a sacrificial amount of time, heart, money, and even prayer or time in His word? Or are you giving like Cain – the bare minimum, and yet still hoping to get something in return?
Lastly: Do you trust God in your life at the moment? The thing about Noah’s story that stood out for me was his ability to believe that what God said was true and good was in fact that? If God sent you on a mission right now to build a giant boat, would you do it? What if all he asked was that you spend more time with him, or that you share his message to your friends? Would you do it?
Do you have any comments? We'd love to hear them! It might be a comment from the blog itself, or maybe one directly from Chapter 1 of The Story. Post the comments below - its super easy, no need to create an account or anything =D