Journey Through the Bible

Compiled Notes

Day 51, Deuteronomy 23-25: ”But the Lord you God would not listen to Balaam; instead the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you.” (23:5). So much stands against us. But the Lord our God doesn't listen to our enemies because he is our friend. The Chrsitian experience summed up is ”because the Lord your God loves you.” He turns the greatest curse into the biggest blessing. ”What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)

Day 50, Deuteronomy 19-22: God limits the sins of his people through the giving of his law. Without God’s word, we do foolish things like cut down all the trees in the new land he's brought us to. Israel did not plant those trees (6:11). They were their inheritance. But the pinnacle of this section is seen in 20:22-23 because there we are told something that makes sense only in light of the death of Christ. A man hanged on a tree should be brought down that day, for a hanged man is cursed by God, and the land should not be cursed. Jesus died on a tree, but his body was taken down on the same day (Mark 15:43). Why was Jesus cursed? It wasn't for his sins. It was for ours. He got what we deserved, and we get what he deserves. God’s word about laws of the Promised Land helps us see the wonder of the cross. The Bible is amazing. 

Day 49, Deuteronomy 16-18: A priest should stand as a judge and minister before the Lord on behalf of the people (17:8-13). A king of Israel should not have an excess of earthly resources that would draw his dependence away from God (17:14-20). A prophet should speak only God’s word (18:15-22). But only one man combined them all perfectly: the prophet whom God raised like Moses (18:15), the priest who judged rightly before God, the king who made himself poor that we might be rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). Jesus alone is the fulfillment of these chapters. 

Day 48, Deuteronomy 12-15: God takes his worship seriously. Why? God is the only true God. All others are imposters. To give his people the greatest good, he must give them himself, which he did. In response, he asked for love and faithfulness. God brought his people out of slavery. Why would they go back in through the worship of other gods? Why do we seek other options when the Lord gives us himself? Jesus came to live, die, and rise again to claim our heart. Why would we want to add to or diminish his sufficient work? Let's not listen to other prophets or dreamers. Let's stick with the Word of God, the only true guide. 

Day 47, Deuteronomy 9-11: Israel’s favor from God is a result of God’s grace, not their obedience. Love from God is the ground for all good in them and for every call to obedience to them. God’s grace always comes first in our relationship to him. Experiencing the love of God toward us is the fountain of our love for him. We merely respond to God. We don't work to earn him. He gives himself freely to us. There are blessings and curses (11:26-32), but now that Jesus has come as the second Adam and second Israel, to obey perfectly on our behalf, we now have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). He received our curses of disobedience, and we received his blessings for obedience. The great exchange indeed. 

Day 46, Deuteronomy 5-8: Obedience to God flows from what God has already done for us. He redeems then gives the law. We get the order wrong all the time, thinking God’s love for us is dependent on what we do. But why does God choose Israel? ”It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (7:7-8). In the same way, we are chosen before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Everything flows from God’s love: all our love for him, our love for our neighbor, and all obedience in everything. He remembers us, and he asks us to remember him. But we struggle sometimes, don't we? We say, ”My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth” (8:17). It is not we who are faithful; it is God. Good thing our salvation is based on his goodness, not ours. He chose us not because of how good we were but because of how good he is. ”Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” (7:9) 

Day 45, Deuteronomy 2-4: Moses recounts the wilderness years when God was with them, and they lacked nothing (2:7), and he prepared the Promised Land for them by putting fear and dread in the people living there (2:25). God’s work for our good is often hidden, maybe even in faraway lands. Our part in God’s story rests on what God does on our behalf--”It is the Lord your God who fights for you.” Therefore, we should listen to and obey God’s word, because he alone has wisdom for life. “The Lord is God; there is no other besides him” (4:35). “The Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other” (4:39). 

Day 44, Numbers 34-Deuteronomy 1: God speaks, and to the Christian, this is very good news. Some truths are too deep to be discovered, they must be revealed. God reveals himself through words. So it is no surprise to find Deuteronomy open with Moses speaking to the people. He will do this throughout the book, reminding us all of the ultimate Word of God, Jesus. So much of the Christian life is comprised of listening to God’s word. As we begin our final descent from the Pentateuch, let's open our ears to hear from Moses one last time. 

Day 43, Numbers 31-33: Israel’s battle with the Midianites foreshadow the battles to come. The fact that not a man of Israel was lost in the battle (31:49) is proof of God’s care. The recounting of the journey in chapter 33 is a reminder of God’s shepherding. Moses reminds the people of the places they were protected, embolden, fed, watered, rebuked, instructed, and forgiven. God works in the real places of our lives. What are the markers in your life? What is your story of God’s faithfulness? 

Day 42, Numbers 27-30: Nearing the end of his life, Moses said to the Lord, ”Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the LORD may not be as sheep that have no shepherd." So God gave Joshua. God always provides leadership for his people. But no leader as is true as the One who looked over the crowds with compassion because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). Jesus is the leader Moses was really asking for. He's the leader we’re all really asking for. 

Day 41, Numbers 24-26: Balaam, under the influence of the Spirit, sees Israel as they really are (24:3-9). Beyond the outward roughness, they are God’s people, well provided for, mighty, blessed. All in Christ are the same. We may look sick but are healthy, may be poor but are rich, may be oppressed but are free. Balaam sees the Messiah to come rising out of Jacob (24:17-19). He will accomplish what has begun in this desert. But there is still sin in the camp. The zeal of Phinehas turned God’s wrath away. How? He was jealous with God’s jealousy (25:11). When we care about God’s glory, we minister to our brothers and sisters. When we are on the Lord’s side, he is on our side. 

Day 40, Numbers 20-23: Israel quarrels again with God. They cannot seem to understand that he’ll provide for them at all times. Moses grows angry and strikes the rock instead of speaking to it. Paul says the rock represents Christ (1 Cor. 10:4). As the water flowed from the rock even as Israel and their leaders disbelieved God, so too do rivers of living water flow from Christ to cover our sins. Israel complains again, and serpents are sent into the camp to bite them. A bronze serpent is constructed and raised on a pole. Everyone who looks upon it will be saved. Do you see how little we contribute to our salvation and how much we deserve condemnation? We are no better than Israel, yet Jesus was lifted up on the cross, and by beholding him there, we are saved. 

Day 39, Numbers 17-19: “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.” (Hebrews 5:1). Aaron's staff alone budded. God had appointed him as priest. There was no other way Israel could approach God except through the priest. This finally solidified that truth in their minds. Aaron's staff was thereafter kept inside the ark of the covenant as a perpetual reminder that the way to God is through God's appointed way, through the priesthood. "No one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, 'You are my Son, today I have begotten you'; as he says also in another place, 'You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.'" (Hebrews 5:4-6) 

Day 38, Numbers 13-16: Israel stands on the edge of the Promised Land. The spies go in and only two come back with trust in the Lord. The rest fear the giants in the land and Israel follows their lead. They had an evil, unbelieving heart leading them to fall away from the living God (Hebrews 3:12). They could have entered the rest of God, but they refused. Let us not refuse to enter his rest today. Let's not fear the giants in the land when we have the Lord on our side. Let's not grow weary of God's ways nor of God's appointed leaders nor of God himself. The true rest God provides wasn't in the Promised Land. It wasn't in David's kingdom. It wasn't even in Jesus' earthly ministry. It's still ahead of us, the moment when we see him face to face. "Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience." (Hebrews 4:11). What is our hope of standing strong? Our High Priest, Jesus. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:15-16) 

Day 37, Numbers 10-12: Israel leaves Sinai. Then they complain about the miraculous bread God gives from heaven. They want meat. They get their meat but also a plague. They had no gratitude for what God had provided. How often are we the same! Moses longs for all God's people to have his Spirit so that they may have understanding. One day that becomes true after another mediator better than Moses comes to intercede on our behalf. Jesus was not a leader who only spoke to God mouth to mouth, he was God's very word made flesh. In Jesus, we don't merely behold the form of the Lord. We behold the Lord himself. 

Day 36, Numbers 6-9: Aaron's blessing in 6:24-26 is one of the great passages of the Bible. "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." God's blessing is far greater than we can imagine. Paul says we have every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3). Jesus provides for all we need. He gives what we need to worship him. His face shines upon us. He himself is our peace. He cleansed us once for all and his presence with us by his Spirit leads us out of every spiritual slavery, through the wilderness of sin, and into the promised land of heaven.

Day 35, Numbers 3-5: The Levites are God's servants on the earth, performing priestly duties. They inherit no land because the Lord is their inheritance (Numbers 18:20). Jesus also inherited no land in his earthly ministry. The Lord was his inheritance, and because he was the perfect priest who gave himself up for us, imputing his righteousness to us and taking our guilt on himself, he made us into a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). God has become our inheritance. We serve him now in his presence, receiving all we need from him, having become a people for his own possession. We carry out the visible signs of God's work and presence in the world. So, go forth, priest, and minister to everyone around you, bringing them into the presence of God through the once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Day 34, Leviticus 26-Numbers 2: If Leviticus shows us anything it shows that God is holy and he wants his people to be holy. His covenant is full of both blessings and curses, as every ancient near eastern covenant was. But it's clear God wants to bless his people. He expects them to keep their vow to him as he's kept his to them. But of course, they won't because they can't. That's the tragedy of sin. Our best efforts can't keep us holy. We need another source. If God's blessing is to come in fullness, we need a new kind of obedience. That's why what Jesus did in his perfect life (his active obedience) is good news. In his death on the cross as our substitute (his passive obedience), God imputed all Christ's righteousness to us, making us forever holy and granting us every blessing in Him. We can now look at the blessings of God's covenant and receive them as ours by faith in Jesus, and we can see the curses Jesus received on our behalf on the cross. And we can rejoice in the merciful and gracious work of Christ. In his resurrection, he instituted a new covenant--one in which he will remember sins no more (Jeremiah 31:34). As we move into the book of Numbers, we see that God isn't done with his people. He's going to lead them in triumphant victory as he does now for those in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14). 

Day 33, Leviticus 23-25: Every feast was a reminder of what God had done for his people. From creation to redemption, God is reigning and ruling, caring and guiding, proving steadfast and faithful, merciful and gracious. The jubilee year makes no sense in the wilderness where they are. Who has land in the desert to plant and raise crops? God's gift of the Promised Land is still to come, and when they arrive, they are not to forget their dependence on him. How will they survive the jubilee year without raising crops the seventh year? He will provide three years' worth in the sixth year. He will provide food where there is no food, redemption where there is slavery, freedom where there is debt. In Jesus, we see this to the ultimate degree. He provides and releases and forgives to the utmost. 

Day 32, Leviticus 19-22: We must be holy because God is holy. Jesus didn't change that. He said, "You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). Jesus upheld that we should love God and love our neighbor. Throughout this section, we hear the phrase "I am the Lord." God is reminding his people that he's the one who redeemed them. Their obedience is not a way to him; it's a response to his saving grace. Ours is the same. Our perfection comes from him, and our life should be lived openly before him. Jesus lived his life openly to us--so open that he gave it up for us, taking our unholiness on himself and giving us his holiness as a free gift of grace. "I am the Lord" isn't a threat. It's another way of saying "I'm yours. I love you." 

Day 31, Leviticus 16-18: The sacrificial system moved sinners closer to God by washing their sins away in the blood of bulls and goats. But the blood of bulls and goats isn't sufficient to cleanse for all time. The Day of Atonement presented a problem more than it provided a solution: how can a sinner remain forgiven by God? Jesus gave us the answer in his death. "He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God." - Hebrews 9:12-14

Day 30, Leviticus 12-15: Lots of law about clean and unclean bodies, from leprous diseases to bodily discharges. It's not a pretty section to read. The uncleanness is serious because God is pure and impure people must be made pure to live with him. So while we may look at this as a strange section with far too much detail, let's see it instead as an amazing provision of God's grace addressing the issues so that his people may be as near as possible to him. And of course, let's not forget that God is not a God who pushes the unclean away forever. How do they become clean at all if it's not the Lord who does his work in them to purify? We see this most vividly in Mark 1:40-42. Jesus meets a leper, and though the law of Leviticus said a man who touches a leprous man would also become unclean, Jesus reaches out his hand and touches him. Jesus does not become unclean. The leprous man becomes clean. We see a similar act in Luke 17:11-19 where Jesus heals ten lepers but only one returns to him after he sees he's healed. What does he do? He falls down and worships. So Leviticus 12-15 must there be to lead us to worship. 

Day 29, Leviticus 9-11: The priests have a high standard. Faithfulness matters. Offering unauthorized fire before the Lord brings death. Serving the Lord is not done out of our strength or by our own rules. It is done under his careful instruction. Why? Because his holiness is seen in such things. The unfaithful priests we see at the beginning of chapter 10 contrasted with the faithful priests later in the episode remind us of the most faithful priest, Jesus. His humble faithfulness accomplished the priestly work of reconciling us to God. He wasn't killed for offering unauthorized offerings but by becoming the offering himself. God poured his wrath out on him, not due to his sins but all the sins of his people whom he came to save. His faithfulness in obeying the law on our behalf, as our substitute, was sufficient enough to reconcile us to God and even to erase the rules of clean vs. unclean food. God gave the apostle Peter a vision many years later telling him to rise, kill, and eat all kinds of animals listed in Leviticus 11. "What God has made clean, do not call common" (Acts 10:15). The strict law of Leviticus was a placeholder until Christ could make everything clean again. And when he did, freedom flooded God's people. 

Day 28, Leviticus 5-8: Chapter 5 shows God’s provision of forgiveness for the unintentional sins of his people. If they felt guilty, there was a sacrifice to take away the guilt. God cares about how we feel before him, and his overwhelming desire is for us to feel forgiven. Chapters 6-7 shows God's care for his appointed priests. They are to be provided for out of the offerings made to him. Serving the Lord requires constant nourishment, and he provides it through his people. Chapter 8 shows the ordination of the priests. Our sin makes the priesthood necessary. We cannot approach the Holy God apart from purification. The priests aren't set apart for their personal holiness. They're as sinful as everyone else. God makes them pure through sacrifice. One day a priest would come that needed no sacrifice of personal cleansing before making a cleansing sacrifice for his people. Jesus was the perfect priest we always needed, wholly sufficient in himself to cleanse us once for all. 

Day 27, Leviticus 2-4: Leviticus is perhaps the hardest book of the Bible to read. The specific law, with the sacrifices and instructions, is hard to get through. But as we march on with the Lord, let's see two things. First, the Lord is holy and has made his dwelling place with his people. Second, his people are sinful, but their new neighbor isn't. Your neighborhood Facebook page has nothing on the tension of this wilderness collection. However, God so loves his people that though they defile themselves and his dwelling place with their sin, he provides a way to be clean again in the sacrifices. His mercy extends to the most significant extent, not in the slaughter of bulls and goats, but in his Son, slain for our purification. 

Day 26, Exodus 38-Leviticus 1: The tabernacle is finished. Moses and Israel did all that God commanded in its construction. Then the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. God came down to live with them. But what God did in a cloud and by fire back then he did in human form in the incarnation of Jesus who tabernacle among us (John 1:14).

Day 25, Exodus 35-37: The instructions for the tabernacle are given to Moses. What is the purpose? To build a dwelling place for God in their midst. Moses built it according to God’s command. “He was faithful in God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.”  (Hebrews 3:5-6). The tabernacle was not a random assortment of golden trinkets. It was a copy of the heavenly reality where God welcomes sinners into his holy presence. It was pointing us to the priestly ministry of Jesus.

Day 24, Exodus 31-34: Israel makes a golden calf and bows down to worship it. Our idolatry runs so deep that even God in our midst isn’t enough to remove it apart from his activating grace. They receive their punishment of golden juice and Moses’s intercession saves them from further destruction. On the heels of such blasphemy comes a revealing of the glory of God. On Mt. Sinai in one of the great prayers of the Bible, Moses asks to see God’s glory. And God says yes. He’s not the hold out. We are.

Day 23, Exodus 28-30: God instructs Aaron and his sons to be priests. The gift of the priesthood means God is providing a way for his people to come near to himself. He asks the priests to wear garments that match the tabernacle. They must go through certain rituals to ready themselves for the sacrifices. And when all is prepared, the priests sacrifice a lamb and God meets with his people and sanctifies them by his glory (29:43). All these meticulous details funnel down to the glorious reality of 29:45-46. “I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God,” Our Great High Priest has the same but more complete effect. Through Jesus’ blood, we enter the presence of God. He dwells with us by his Spirit until that day when we live with him bodily forever.

Day 22, Exodus 24-27: God confirms his covenant with his people. The elders of Israel saw God and ate and drank before him. God longs to live with his people, so he instructs Moses to make a tabernacle for him. The details aren’t superfluous. They matter to God. Beauty matters to him. But our forgiveness matters more, and that’s why the tabernacle is constructed as it is. It highlights mercy from the Holy God.

Day 21, Exodus 21-23: God’s law isn’t easy to read. It feels so foreign to us. There is so much detail, so many stipulations. But God doesn’t give the law to bind us but to free us. If we never see how much grace we need, we will never look for a Savior. If we believe we’re good, we will never see the ugliness of sin. If we never place ourselves under the Lord’s rule, we will never find the peace we need. God’s law may be hard to read but if we forget the righteous requirement Jesus’ life will be less beautiful to us. When we see the demand of the law, we are ready to see the provision of God in Christ.

Day 20, Exodus 17-20: The Israelites complain about being thirsty. So God brings water from a rock. They go into battle and Moses intervenes for them with raised hands, and God brings victory. They have so many disputes that every problem is brought to Moses. So God brings many wise men to help Moses bear the burden. They need help in how to live so God brings them to Sinai and gives Moses the law. The Ten Commandments begin with grace, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Everything in Israel’s life has been surrounded by grace: water when they complain, victory when they’re weak, wise judges when they’re in need, righteous law when they’re wayward. If grace surrounded God’s people then, how much more does it surround us now that Christ has come and accomplished his work! God’s grace doesn’t run out. There’s enough for today and more for tomorrow. Go ahead and draw as much as you need. He’s a patient God.

Day 19, Exodus 14-16: God displays his power in the crossing of the Red Sea. With God in control, his people have so little to fear. “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord…the Lord will fight for you and you have only to be silent” (14:13-14). Our best attempt is nothing compared to the work of God. Why do we try to do what only he can? God can accomplish in one minute what we could never in a thousand years. What if today—just today—we trusted the Lord enough to watch his work in the world? Would we not respond with singing like Moses in Exodus 15?

Day 18, Exodus 10-13: God brings Israel out of slavery in Egypt. It’s the death of the firstborn that finally breaks Pharaoh’s heart. After ten plagues, it’s not until what Pharaoh loves is taken away that he will free Israel. The Israelites were safe in God’s care. The blood of a lamb marked them out as God’s people. They did not lose anyone. As God was with Moses in the burning bush, so now he was with Israel in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. He was their God, and they were his people—free from slavery to worship the Lord. He’s with us now too because another spotless lamb was slain, and by his blood we are set free.

Day 17, Exodus 7-9: Pharaoh won’t listen to God. The plagues up to this point don’t persuade him. His heart is hardened. Even dumb Pharaoh has a purpose in God’s plan. As Pharaoh hardens his heart, God says, “for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth” (9:16). Denying God’s greatness doesn’t reduce him. It magnifies him as he proves to the world how great he truly is.

Day 16, Exodus 3-6: God calls Moses to go to Egypt and free his people. Moses doesn’t like the call. He’s not eloquent. He’s afraid. Their relationship doesn’t get off to a good start. But God doesn’t expect Moses to be eloquent. He made him who he is. That doesn’t, however, remove the call on his life. God will use what he has made, weaknesses and all, for his glory. Moses has no right to say to God, “You made me too weak.” Do we say the same to him today? Are we scared of our weakness or are we trusting his strength?

Day 15, Genesis 50-Exodus 2: We’ve reached the end of one book and the start of another. This time, the book doesn’t start in a garden but in slavery. “During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.”

Day 14, Genesis 46-49: Joseph brings his family to Egypt. Jacob sees his son for the first time in many years, receiving back he whom he thought was dead. One day, all who believe in Christ will have similar reunions. Then we will be with the Lord himself, who brought us to life out of actual death and reconciled us to himself, and the reunion will have no tinge of loss—only joy forevermore. Christ is the true and better Joseph putting the family back together, bringing us into the land of plenty, not taking revenge but extending mercy.

Day 13, Genesis 43-45: Joseph meets his brothers for the first time in a long time. How would you feel about family who betrayed you and sold you into slavery? Would you long for them to be with you as Joseph did? Who can effect such change in the heart? It’s a forgiveness not of this world—a gift from God above.

Day 12, Genesis 39-42: Joseph rises, falls, and rises again in Egypt. In his life, he never speaks to God as his fathers have, with direct, audible revelation. But he’s still just as close to God. He was accused of a crime he did not commit and thrown in jail. He was never vindicated in his life. Even after his rise again, the accusation wasn’t wiped away. Only in the Bible do we see what really happened. He was forgotten in prison. It took two whole years for the cup bearer to remember him. But when Pharaoh needed a dream interpreter, Joseph suddenly became the most important person in the country. God loves the forgotten. He vindicates the wrongly convicted. He lifts up the downcast. Our part through the highs and lows is to trust him. Just hang on. He’s coming.

Day 11, Genesis 36-38: Joseph is born and his brothers hate him. He is sold to Egypt and a new journey for God’s people begins. But before that story takes off, we see the ugliness of sin in the story of Judah and Tamar. The people God uses are not nice, clean folk. They’re a mess like you and me. But it’s not Judah that brought righteousness to the world anyway. It’s the One who came from Judah.

Day 10, Genesis 32-35: Jacob goes home. It’s not easy. He has to face Esau. Last time they saw each other he tricked him out of blessing. The night before, Jacob wrestles with God and doesn’t let him go until he’s blessed. The idea of blessing pervades the Jacob narrative. When he saw Esau, Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him. And they wept. That’s a blessing Jacob couldn’t imagine. Reconciliation is a blessing from above pointing us to the eternal reconciliation God effects in Christ.

Day 9, Genesis 29-31: Jacob the trickster is tricked. His life with his uncle Laban is no better than his life at him with Esau. But God is with him, blessing and providing. His life is one disappointment after another. That’s what sin does to us. But God takes our disappointments and turns them into stories of redemption for his glory. He advances his cause into eternity even when we can’t see beyond the next seven years of labor.

Day 8, Genesis 25-28: Isaac’s family is dysfunctional. Esau doesn’t care about God. Jacob only cares about himself. This is the family through which God’s blessing runs? God uses them anyway, bringing glory to himself through sinners. Jacob, who doesn’t deserve anything, receives the promise. If God can use him, can’t he use you and me?

Day 7, Genesis 22-24: Abraham is asked to sacrifice his only son. But God intervenes to save. One day, God will sacrifice his only Son and no substitute will die on his behalf. God’s Son becomes the substitute!

Day 6, Genesis 18-21: God takes our sin seriously, as seen in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. But God is also full of mercy for his people, as seen in the story of Lot and his family. God yanks us from what destroys us.

Day 5, Genesis 15-17: God is sovereign over every part of our lives. His promises may sound crazy but he is God and we are not. He can bring to pass what we could never imagine. Our part is only to trust him.

Day 4, Genesis 11-14: God calls Abram and makes his covenant with him. That promise extends to all of us who believe today. “It is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). But it’s Abraham’s most important offspring, Jesus, in which the promise finds its ultimate fulfillment.

Day 3, Genesis 8-10: The flood subsides and life on earth starts again. God makes a covenant with Noah. He will not flood the whole earth again. As a sign, he hangs his bow in the sky, not pointing down at us but pointing up at himself. He’ll pay the price of faithfulness and give his righteousness as a gift in his Son.

Day 2, Genesis 4-7: Sin spreads throughout the world. Cain kills Abel. Lamech kills a young man for wounding him. Men and women live and die, earning the wages for sin. But we are not left without faith in the world. Noah found favor in God’s eye. Why? Not because he built the ark but because he walked with him (4:8). He built the ark as a result of faith, not a path to faith. God uses openness from his people to build big things for him and to bring restoration to a dying land.

Day 1, Genesis 1-3: The creation of the world and mankind and our terrible fall into sin. But God’s promised offspring will bruise the heard of the serpent. The worst day in the history of the world wasn’t even outside the gracious and merciful hand of God.