According to the Guinness World Records, the Bible is the bestselling and widely distributed Book.
Does this carry any meaning?
It is one thing to have a loaded revolver and it is another thing to know how to use it. Besides, knowing how to use it does not equal to using it.
The Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilization to pieces, turn the world upside down and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of literature.”
I think the Mahatma is right to some point. We are yet to fully appreciate, appropriate and relate this Great Book.
Going through the first Book of Genesis opens up one too many attention-grabbing tidbits.
Faith is the Ignition
The first verse in the Bible does not tell us about God. It assumes we know who He is. Genesis 1:1 goes like this, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’. This introduction takes for granted who God is. It does not tell us about the Author. This kind of welcome instructs us in faith. It tells us that as we start to study this Book, we must approach it by Faith. Hebrews 11:6 buttresses this case – And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
The first verse of the first book in the Bible requires faith from us. The journey of studying the Bible necessitates faith.
As I walk through the Book, I am startled that the first man to die on the face of the earth is the one who practised righteousness. Abel’s righteousness earns him acceptance before God, and this angers Cain who is nursing rejection. (Genesis 4:8).
Righteousness earns us enmity with Satan. But it is heartwarming to know that Satan has no power to snatch anything that is in the hand of the Father (John 10:28-30).
After this I encounter Abram. It is fascinating that Abraham went to Egypt during the famine – Genesis 12:10 – and later his grandson Jacob and his great-grandsons run to Egypt to save themselves from famine too. Is it a coincidence?
Abraham is treated well then shortly he is sent away in haste as God punishes Pharaoh for taking his wife. His grandson and great-grandsons are first treated well too, then afterwards are subjected to slavery. God intervenes by afflicting Pharaoh. Pharaoh is forced to send them away in smoke.
God’s promises cannot be frustrated by anyone.
My journey through Genesis stretches and in Chapter 13 I bump into two relatives in altercation: Abram and Lot. It is ironic that the green and watered land Lot chooses to live in (i.e. after disagreeing to agree with Abraham) is Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 13:10-11). Not all watered lands around our lives are fit for settlement. Some are better left alone.
Abram astounds me. In Genesis 17:23-27, the man circumcises himself. He inflicts pain on himself. He causes himself to bleed to bring the covenant between him, his descendants and God into binding. A similar scenario is observed in the New Testament with Jesus. He caused himself to bleed and die so that the covenant between humanity and God can be binding. Matthew 27:50, “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.”
We are supposed to circumcise our hearts. We are to beat ourselves and line up with His purposes as the Bible commands. We have to defy our flesh; cut off fleshly desires. It is a painful process, but worthy.
God promises to give Abraham a son and through this son, Abraham is to become a father to many. Interestingly, after fulfilment of this promise, God comes back and tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the only hope for promise fulfilment (Genesis 22:1-2.). God’s ways are wonderful before our eyes. We are supposed to remain focused on Him despite the shifting winds in our lives. It is expensive to go through life scheming. Now and then we just need to let go and let God.
Jacob takes blessings which are due for the firstborn – Genesis 27:19-29, funnily through conniving. He too is tricked by Laban (Genesis 29:22-25). Isn’t it surprising that the last can be the first? The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favour to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.
However crafty we get, we always meet somebody craftier than us.
Joseph is the beloved son of Jacob. He reports to Jacob the mischievousness of his brothers. Joseph has a dream of reigning over his brothers (Genesis 37:5-7). Shockingly he is sold as a slave to Midianites (Genesis 37:28). The happenings that follow Joseph are nowhere near his dreams.
There is always a cistern, a service and a prison before premiership. Between our God-given dreams and their actuality, there exist times and seasons that almost erase them.
The name Israel means ‘The Prince with God’, (Genesis 32:28). I am struggling to come to terms with the fact that the Prince can also starve (Genesis 42). Princes and princesses do occasionally starve – but within the plan of God.
Finally, I start to move away from Genesis into the Book of Movement. I find the man Moses. Moses, at one point a murderer, is given Ten Commandments. One of the commandments states that ‘You shall not murder’. God is using a-one-time murderer to preach against murder. God can use what vexes us to bring healing to others.
All the Scripture Quotations are from the New International Version.