bible study: waiting patiently

August 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

(these are notes after attending the Great Adventure bible study)

Many of us have come to believe, whether it is true or not, that if we want something we have got to fight for it.

In the story of Jacob and Esau (sons of Issac/grandchildren of Abraham), it appears that Jacob believes this too.

Before He was born, God told his mother Rebekah,

“Two nations are within you; you will give birth to two rival peoples. One will be stronger than the other; The older will serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:23)

Yet even so, Jacob resorted to forcing his famished brother to give his birthright to him in exchange for some food, and deceiving his father Issac into giving Jacob his blessing.

True, he was getting what should have been his; God had decided that those would be his even before he was born. Yet, his methods were dubious. And expectedly, he was punished for it later. It is not stated explicitly. When he fled into exile and fell in love with a girl named Rachel, he was deceived into marrying the older and had to work for another 7 years for Rachel’s hand in marriage. Tit for tat. The younger cannot come before the older. What a slap in Jacob’s face.

Later, when He fled from Laban (the father of his wives), He wrestled with a man quite out of the blue (Genesis 32: 22-32). When the man asked him to let him go, Jacob refused to do so, unless the man blessed him. The man then changed his name to Israel, which sounds like the Hebrew for “he struggles with God”. It appears that this man is God.

From this account, I’ve learnt 2 things:

1) When God promises something, He will fulfill His promise. There is no need to fight for it. Jacob did so and was duly punished. Contrast Jacob’s behavior with that of Joseph. He had dreams in which his brothers all bowed down to him. The circumstances in his life later made this seem quite impossible– he was sold into slavery, lied about when he refused to sleep with his master’s wife, thrown into jail, forgotten about after he had interpreted correctly the dream of the guy who was later released… Yet, Joseph did not seem to have fought for what was revealed to him in his dream but waited it out patiently. Later, he was quickly raised to second in command after the fellow ex-inmate remembered him and told Pharaoh about him.

2) It is God that he must wrestle for blessing.

bible study- old testament’s importance

August 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

If you’re like many Christians out there, it is quite likely that you hardly touched the old testaments. The old testament is for one, more difficult to understand. For another, it seems that when Jesus came, some things in the old testament didn’t stand anymore. Circumcision, as the sign of the covenant with Abraham, could be one.

Yet, Jesus says in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law of the Prophets; I have not  come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Is he saying that whatever happened before still counts? I think so.

As I read the old testament as part of my bible study classes, I come to appreciate some parts of the new testament better. I also see how some parts of the new testament are foreshadowed by events in the old testament.

1. One striking example is that of Abraham, who in obedience to God, gave up his son Issac to be sacrificed. This seems to foreshadow the act of God giving up His beloved son Jesus as the lamb to be sacrifice. On closer reading, one may discover a number of parallels. The following have been suggested in the The Great Adventure bible study:

“Abraham was asked to offer Issac on Mount Moriah; the crucifixion was on one of the hills of Moriah. Issac walked obediently up the hill carrying the wood of the offering; Jesus walked obediently up the hill carrying the cross.”

2. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, He punished them– the woman will experience pain in childbirth, and the man will work hard to toil the land. He also condemned the serpent and said that one day the seed of the woman will prevail. He is talking of none other than Jesus.

These, I believe, are the more obvious ones. But I look forward to discovering more.

Bible study notes: Genesis part 1

July 31, 2010 § Leave a comment

I will be using this blog to record highlights from my bible study notes and my thoughts occassionally.

Creation Story

  • God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone, and thus he created Eve. She was his helper, but also his equal.
  • Sabbath was created for Man. It is a day to acknowledge God and His Lordship.
  • The kind of punishment that God laid out is a remedial one– it helps us learn that to give of ourselves is good/fruitful suffering. Adam and Eve were unwilling to deny themselves and put God’s will first. Thus they were to learn that out of giving of themselves (through suffering), there was new life. For the woman, the pains of childbirth are forgotten when she carries her newborn in her arms. As for the man, he plows the land and for his sweat, crops sprout from the ground.
  • Before the fall, the will was subject to the intellect. After the fall, the will often directs the intellect. (That’s why we often do unwise things we later regret doing.)

Cain and Abel

  • God was not pleased with Cain’s offering (some of his harvest), but He was pleased with Abel’s offering (best parts of the first born lamb). This is not because God prefers meat. God doesn’t need our sacrifices and so He doesn’t care what they are. But He does care about what they represent.
  • Cain is furious. His anxiety is caused by his own wrongdoing. Application: Sometimes, we cause our own anxiety when we are not right with God.
  • going east of= going away from God’s presence

Noah’s Ark

  • God wiped out the evil men with the flood. However, sin persisted in the world because our nature is sinful.

Tower of Babel

  • The people wanted to make a name for themselves. Fail. Compare this with God telling Abraham that He will make his name great. Pass 🙂   Application: We shouldn’t try to make a name for ourselves and elevating ourselves, but focus on worshipping God. Trying to make a name for ourselves harms our relationship with God.
  • Reversal of the Babel event in which the people’s languages were confused and they were scattered: the disciples speaking in tongues, God inviting people all over the globe (not just the Jews) into a relationship with Himself  (Acts)

July 31, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve been attending the Great Adventure Bible Timeline sessions (developed by Jeff Cavins) at my parish. This involves reading the assigned bible reading and answering some workbook questions.

Now, I never knew homework could be fun. I never knew reading the bible and thinking about what it means can be so satisfying 🙂

If you’re catholic/christian, you may want to try out this question pertaining to the story about Noah and the ark:

The Church has long seen that God’s actions in the Old Testament prefigure what He one day will do through His son, Jesus Christ. The Old Testament figures are called “types” of the New. Think for a moment about the ark: A great vessel rides above the deathly waves of a flood and carries the righteous to safety. Can you think of a New Testament parallel, of whihch the ark is a type? What do the ark and the flood signify?

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