Genesis aka Promises.

August 20, 2008

Okay, I came to the realization that it is going to be harder for me to read the Bible on the weekends, since it is usually so hectic and busy. So I read two segments today, and finished up the book of Genesis. I will most likely read two segments again tomorrow, to make up for Saturday and Sunday.


I am amazed at the first book of the Bible. The amount of information and stories are just incredible. From Abraham to Jacob to Joseph, it seems like the common theme is “God’s Promise”. God promised Abraham offspring, Jacob a nation and Joseph – prosperity. He followed through with each of these promises, even though none of them came easy. I know this is a general observation, and seems quite obvious. I think God has a promise for all of us, and they will see fruition if we stay committed.


I will admit it’s hard to read through some of the cultural aspects of the Bible. It was such a different time, when women were more objectified, slavery was normal and overall, a lot of societal things seem a little weird to me. How do you process this? Is the Bible meant to be read through a cultural lens, or an eternal truth? I just thought I’d ask for the sake of discussion 😉



  1. That’s such a good question. I’ve always had a hard time with how the greatest, holiest people in the history of our faith lived, concubines, servants and whatnot. I don’t understand how God blessed them so much in spite of these horrible things!

  2. I think that it’s supposed to be both. I think it’s EXTREMELY important to understand all of the cultural aspects that you can about the Bible. It puts the stories into a multitude of different lights, which some may think are confusing, but which also really underscore the universal truths. It’s a much better way of bringing the truths to the surface instead of forcing a framework or ideology upon the text.

  3. @ JD. If these things were so awful (in the context of the times in which they lived) why would God not only have blessed them like he did, but he chose them specifically to set apart and blessed far beyond others. You can’t read these passages through a 2008, PC point of view or of course you would look at them with disgust. Times were different, God killed off all of mankind save Noah and his family, we were all born as a result of incest, God protected Cain even after he murdered his brother and said that if anyone murders Cain, he would suffer vengeance seven times over. When I read through these passages I read them to understand the culture and the times as they were thousands of years ago not using 2008 as a barometer of which to compare them against.

  4. I tend to agree, Abby. The world that the early Hebrew nation lived in was totally different from modern day Western living. It’s important to read the narratives under this understanding. However, it is chalked full of universal truths regarding good vs. evil and the sovereignty of God.

  5. Jonas – I think the main question is, at what point is something just plain wrong, and at what point is it only wrong through our current worldview? It’s definitely confusing, because genocide (ie killing off the entire world in a flood) seems like something that would be wrong regardless of what ages one was living in. I think in those times you have to rely on faith in the fact that God was under control, and there are things we just can’t process through.

  6. In those times had right vs. wrong been defined? The ten commandments had yet to be created, there was no biblical pretense to abide by. Based on our current view it was obviously much more barbaric and unacceptable but what was right vs. wrong was being played out and defined on a daily basis in that day.

  7. I think right and wrong has always existed, or at least it definitely existed when Adam sinned and ate the fruit. I wouldn’t say that God was kind of “defining it as he went”. I think he had a pretty clear idea of right and wrong, and he built that into us.

    For me personally, the thought comes down to free will. God allowed us to have free will, and do things that weren’t necessarily good, because he didn’t want robots as followers. In the Old Testament, the common theme is the nation of Israel seeing through to the promises that God had made. When one person messed up, God set them back onto track, for the greater promise that he had made. That is why there are a lot of things that are hard to process.

  8. RE: Adam – Exactly! God told him that it was wrong to eat the fruit and he did it anyway.

    I am not saying that God didn’t know right from wrong, but it had yet to be defined to man at that time.

  9. Adam most definitely knew it was wrong, and it had been defined to him. God explicitely told him not to eat from that tree, and he did it anyway. He immediately felt ashamed and hid from God after he did it.

  10. Exactly what I said. Of course he knew, God told him before he did it.

  11. But to the original post about concubines and servants, how is that supposed to be construed as inherently wrong without being defined as such?

  12. I am probably not fully following the debate here. So are you implying that when people sinned in the OT, that they just didn’t know better? So some of the things that were wrong by today’s standards, weren’t wrong because they hadn’t been defined as wrong yet?

  13. Yes, see my post previous to yours.

  14. Yea, I think we are on the same page. Social issues like concubines, slavery and multiple wives are simply a cultural issue. Their worldview did not perceive these things as wrong. I am honestly not sure how God viewed it, and I have absolutely no idea how anyone in modern day could process it without putting it into our modern view.

  15. Do all of these comments help your technorati rating?

  16. no…I wish.

  17. I don’t process those things through our modern cultural view. I never think of it as weird because it was just a different time. To read a lot of those stories in the Old Testament you pretty much have to read through the lens of the time period at hand.

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