Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Reading the Bible in a Year: Day 1 (Part 1)

I'm only on Day 5 of my chronological reading plan of the Bible, and I can already tell this is one of the best commitments I have ever made. Most of what I have read so far are passages that I have already read before - Genesis 1-11, Job 1-9. It's amazing though how God can teach or point out something totally new to you nearly every time you read something. Honestly I came into this dreading the first week or so when I would be reading chapters I'm already familiar with, but God totally rocked my quiet times and put me back in my place.

Who am I to even think that I don't need to read the book of "X" chapter "X" verse "X" because I have already read it a thousand times? Isn't it referred to as a living book? The very words of God? It reminds me of a passage from Isaiah:
"As the rain and snow
come down from Heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the Earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."
-Isaiah 55:10,11
When I first read that passage a while back, it made me think of missions witnessing. It was a comforting verse I thought of when I needed to know that despite how things looked, God was using His word through me whenever I shared it. Now, though, I can apply that to any reading. God has a purpose and desire for every quiet time you spend with Him. He can and wants to teach you something about Himself. He wants to grow with us intimately everyday!

My first day of reading included Genesis 1-3. I don't really want to summarize anything, but rather my thoughts and what stood out to me.

[Genesis 1] First off, the creation sequence bears a striking resemblance to what scientists believe the "evolution" of life on earth was. Photosynthesizing creatures, then sea creatures, then land. I don't really give any thought or credit to scientific origin theories, but the fact that their arriving at the same conclusions despite efforts to alienate themselves from creation-thinking is just really cool and satisfying to me.

In verse 2, the Spirit of God is described as "hovering over the waters." What a loving and beautiful picture of God! I read probably a million times before, but this time it just stuck out to me and really comforted me. It made me think of a similar verse from 2 Chronicles that we read during my mission trip to Los Mochis:
"The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole Earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him."
-2 Chronicles 19:9
In the first few verses of scripture, we see the essence of our marvelous God and Creator. He is loving and caring towards His creation. He hovers across the waters (even when the Earth was new and formless) to make sure everything is just so, and probably also to enjoy what He has done. Try to just picture that scene: God's spirit hovering over the waters. Awesome, isn't it? Truly awesome.

Skipping down to verses 7 and 8, I noticed something else really awesome. Please forgive me if this is dumb or obvious, but when I read that God separated the waters "above the expanse from the waters below the expanse" and that he "called the expanse Heaven," I immediately thought... "Woah, this is talking about waters in Heaven!" I know this sounds like a basic thing and you're probably thinking "Oh yeah, waters in Heaven, Zack, whoop-de-stinkin-do." To me, though, that was just really cool. God referenced Heavenly waters in Genesis, and I had missed it until now. These waters that God gathered in Heaven way back in Genesis are the same waters that God promises to His people through both Isaiah and Jesus Himself:
"Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters.
You who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me
listen, that you may live."
- Isaiah 55:1-3
Through Isaiah, God uses the waters of Heaven as an invitation to those who are lost and need the LORD, and advise them to stop investing themselves in worldly desires that do not satisfy the soul like only the waters of His love can.
"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
-Jesus Christ (John 4:14)
Here we see God again inviting His people to drink of His waters. Not only that, but we see Him consistently making a separation between what Earthly and Heavenly satisfaction. In the beginning God set His waters aside with a purpose and plan in mind. He new that only they can truly give eternal joy, satisfaction, and life. He separated them from our own with the infinite expanse of the Heavens, and advises us to do the same with our own desires. We must greatly distance ourselves from the unfulfilling desires of this world that and cling to His waters and His Kingdom. Any other desire will disappoint us and trap us and corrupt us. This isn't an easy task, and we cannot do it without Christ! But what joy is there in thinking of the great expanse of God's living, Heavenly waters, and how He invites us to drink of it and live! He hovers over us to give us love and support when we call on Him. He intricately and carefully designed us. He offers us and promises us His waters, with which we will thirst no more, hurt no more, and suffer no more.

I thought when I started reading Genesis 1 I would be going back to the basics. Wrong! Right from the start, God is working miracles and preparing a place for me, for us. Working hard to make sure He is there when we need Him. How great is our God?

[Genesis 2] I could spend so much time sharing how fascinating this chapter is to me. It's basically a more detailed account of the creation of man and woman. The scene that is described is so incredible:
"the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of them man, and he brought her to the man."
-Genesis 2:21,22
It reminds me almost immediately of a surgery scene, where a physician will use anesthesia and operate on a patient while they are sleeping. This is written way before the idea of putting someone to sleep for surgery (or even the idea of surgery itself) were even thought of, so we can be absolutely sure the person who is narrating this book (presumably Moses) is not making this up (I would never suggest that any part of the Bible is made up, but Genesis and the creation story get attacked so frequently by atheists that it is so sweet and legit and satisfying to note scriptures that can be used to combat those claims). There is something incredibly awesome about this scene though...

Many people have said that men have one less rib because of the creation of women. It's a myth that is certainly not true, though something even more amazing IS true: the rib is the only bone in the body that can be used to reconstruct damaged bone and...... (drum roll please...).... regenerates itself. That's right! In fact, physicians today use the bone in reconstructive surgeries. The rib has to be removed perfectly in order for it to grow back, but hey, we're talking about the Great Physician here, aren't we? He does all things perfectly (He even says so after each step in creation, calling His work "good.") and takes great pride in His work.

After reading that verse and reflecting on research I had come across, I couldn't help but just sit there in awe of His glory and wisdom and perfect design.

I think I'll stop there and pick back up in a little while. On the seventh day God rested and probably just admired it all and let it sink in. Let us do the same! Rest, and let God's perfection and glory sink in. Seek His waters and drink of them. Rest peacefully, knowing his eyes are watching over you. Rest in Him, loved and cared for.

Isn't our God amazing?