Genesis 28-40 Highlights
- Jacob’s dream of the ladder going to heaven
- Jacob marries Leah and Rachel
- Jacob begins to have what will be 12 sons, and eventually the start of the 12 tribes of Israel
- Jacob fears his brother Esau, and wrestles with God
- Jacob meets Esau after many years, whom he had deceived and taken his birthright and blessing
- God blesses Jacob and renames him Israel
- Introduced to one of Jacob’s sons, Joseph
- Joseph sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers
- Joseph is made overseer of his master’s house (Potiphar)
- Potiphar’s wife lies about Jacob and Potiphar has Jacob thrown in prison
- Joseph, who has the gift from God to be able to interpret dreams, interprets the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker for the King
Psalm 11, 145, 12
- Psalm 11 speaks to our ability to take refuge in the Lord in times of distress. The wicked will cause trouble for the righteous, but God sees all things. He may test the righteous, but he despises the wicked. The LORD is righteous and those who remain faithful before Him are promised they will see His face.
- Psalm 145 speaks to the greatness of God. His greatness is shown in his grace and mercy, in his everlasting kingdom that cannot be shaken, in his love for those who are struggling, and in his absolute righteousness.
- Psalm 12 speaks to King David’s lamenting the lack of righteousness and faithfulness he sees amongst people toward God. People are turning to their own ways, lying, saying one thing and doing another. David is saddened, but has hope because he knows that God keeps and guards his people.
Mark 11-15 Highlights
- Jesus enters into Jerusalem, where he will eventually be crucified
- Jesus cleanses the temple
- Jesus teaches his disciples about faith with the example of the withered fig tree
- Jesus speaks against the Pharisees
- Jesus mentions the great commandment, to love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He also tells the second, which is like the first, “to love your neighbor as yourself.”
- Jesus foretells of the destruction of the temple, and also gives signs to know when the end times are coming
- Judas Iscariot enacts plot to betray Jesus
- Jesus eats the last Passover meal with his disciples
- Jesus prays the night before he will be arrested, and eventually crucified
- Judas betrays Jesus, and he is arrested
- Peter denies he knows Jesus three times
- Jesus delivered to Pilate
- Jesus is mocked, beaten, and crucified. He is then buried.
This week’s Genesis reading dealt mainly with Jacob, the grandson of Abraham and son of Isaac. Jacob has a dream where God makes the same promises to him that he made to Abraham and Isaac. Jacob then marries two women, Leah and Rachel. Jacob asks Laban if he can work seven years to have his daughter Rachel as a wife (she is the younger daughter). Laban agrees, but after seven years gives him Leah, the oldest daughter first and makes him work seven more years for Rachel.
Multiple wives was/is never God’s plan, and there is always strife when we don’t follow God’s plan. Leah and Rachel become envious of one another, mainly Rachel of Leah because Leah is able to have children and she is not. There is competition amongst the sisters, and just overall the situation is certainly not ideal.
Jacob ends up eventually fleeing from Laban and leaving as God instructs. Jacob then hears that his brother Esau is near and is afraid, since he had previously stolen both his birthright and his blessing from their father Isaac. Jacob attempts to offer a peace offering, but Esau says that he will come meet Jacob and that he has 400 men with him. Jacob is again afraid, but when they meet Esau hugs his brother and forgives him. We get a great picture here of forgiveness – in the same manner we all have sinned against God, but God is a gracious God and does forgive those who trust in Him.
In chapter 35, God speaks to Jacob, and renames him Israel. This is God again being faithful and keeping his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and now Jacob as he forms a people he will love and call his own. Jacob’s 12 sons will be the start of the 12 tribes of Israel. This is a formative moment in God’s dealings with His people. God is forming His people to be set apart as an example to the nations of the one true God. This also continues the line through which God will eventually send His Son to be the full and final sacrifice for sin.
The narrative now shifts to Joseph, one of Israel’s 12 sons. Joseph’s brothers do not like him very much (he is his father’s favorite and has dreams where he is the best and decided to tell his brothers!) and they decide to sell him into slavery and make his father think he is dead. Joseph ends up in Egypt, where he lands with a man named Potiphar, who puts Joseph in charge of his whole household. Potiphar’s wife attempts to seduce Joseph, but when Joseph refuses she lies about him, and Potiphar throws him in jail.
As we continue reading next week, we will see how God is working and using all of these things that happen in Joseph’s life for the ultimate good of both Joseph and Israel. Nothing in our lives is wasted or meaningless. God is doing thousands of things in and through us, and though we might not understand all of them in the moment they are happening, at the end we will see how God was weaving a beautiful story both in and through us as followers of Jesus.
Chapter 11 starts with Jesus entering into Jerusalem. The rest of the gospel of Mark (really 1/3 of the gospel) will center around the final week of Jesus. Mark raced at a quick pace to this point, as this is the point where everything comes to a head, as Jesus enters Jerusalem, and will be crucified and then gloriously resurrected. His initial entry though is one of celebration, as people line the streets to see Jesus and are excited about his entering into Jerusalem. This is also the first time Jesus is proclaiming openly that he is a King, their King. He knows doing this will provoke a confrontation with Jewish leaders about who he really is, but Jesus knows his time is fast approaching to be the sacrifice for sin that he was sent to be.
Notice, though, that he also does this ‘triumphal entry’ with great humility. He didn’t organize a parade, or enter with much pomp and circumstance. Rather, he enters on a donkey! Even in this moment, he moves forward in humility and with a servant’s heart. He comes with great simplicity and meekness. What a gracious Savior!
Jesus spends the next couple of chapters doing two main things – teaching and instructing his disciples (he knows in short order they will see him crucified) and also confronting the religious leaders of the day. He tells parables aimed at their hypocrisy, and also correcting their faulty theology. Again, as he does this, he knows he angers them, but his appointed time to lay down his life is now here.
Jesus gives the two great commandments in this week’s reading. He really summarizes the 10 commandments given to Moses with these two statements. When asked what the most important commandment is Jesus states, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” This basically summarizes the first four commandments, which talk about our relationship with God. He then says, “The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This basically summarizes the last six commandments, which concern our relationships with other people.
The reading concludes with the plot to betray and arrest Jesus, one of Jesus’ disciples (Judas Iscariot) agreeing to the plot, his betrayal of Jesus leading to his arrest, the denial of Jesus three times by Peter, and Jesus stating that he is the Christ to the high priest. This leads to the crucifixion of the innocent Savior, all of which had been appointed by God to be the full and final sacrifice for our sin! What a glorious Savior! Jesus willingly laid down his life to die for sin, so that we do not have to stand before God guilty. Rather, by trusting in Christ’s sacrifice, we are not just forgiven, but seen as righteous in the eyes of God! Praise God for loving His people enough to know they can’t save themselves, and sending His own son to be the Savior we needed.