Genesis 28: Jacob’s Ladder – see John 1:51; Notice that stone ‘monuments’ are often employed by God’s people.
Genesis 29-31: Jacob gets deceived – a taste of his own medicine. The Bible never outright condemns having more than 1 wife, but have you noticed that with more than 1 there is always trouble? God’s design is clearly 1:1. Also note that similar scenes seem to repeat.
Genesis 32-33: Jacob is very concerned about facing Esau. He makes quite the show of humility and caution. His fear may be a lack of faith. He literally wrestles with God! The name Israel can mean ‘wrestles with God’ or ‘prince of God.’ Isn’t that interesting? Jacob has powerful moments with God both leaving and returning to the promised land. How have you wrestled with God? Compare and contrast 32:9-12 with his vow in 28:20-22. Note his spiritual growth. Also note Esau’s apparent spiritual growth.
Genesis 34-36: No, these are not perfect people, and parts of the story are pretty ugly. Why include this in the Bible? Like Ishmael, God blesses Esau with numerous descendants even though he is not the chosen line.
Genesis 37-40: Elements of one of Joseph’s dreams are found in Revelation 12 – interesting! Favoritism happens occasionally in the Bible – and always is a problem. Tamar ends up in the line of Christ. All the while, God is bringing Jesus Christ through this mess to save the world. He can work in you and your family! Joseph has many ups and downs. Please note that he keeps his way blameless, and is in a position to be blessed later.
Jacob was a scoundrel, but the Lord used challenges in his life to shape his character. Interestingly, Joseph appears to have been upright in every way, but he also faced severe challenges. Hebrews 12:3-11 explains that God disciplines all whom he loves, and it produces “the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” Take heart, your present difficulties serve purposes in God’s plans. James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-5, 8:28. We are more than conquerors.
Psalm 11: The upright shall behold his face. Remember, it is in the righteousness of Jesus Christ that we approach God, not our own. So go ahead, praise Him! Psalm 11:5, “the Lord tests the righteous,” is a simple, biblical fact. While we cannot accuse God of tempting us, James 1, trials and temptations are an occasion to prove us.
Psalm 145: Verse 21, “my mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.” I dare you to go back through this Psalm verse by verse and simply say aloud to the Lord what each verse says about Him! This is praise!
Psalm 12: How timely is this in our world in 2021? Note in the Bible that the faithful are always a minority but always kept and guarded by God (verse 7). This is actually a substantial theme in the Bible – the idea of a faithful remnant of God existing as a struggling minority in the world.
Mark 11: The Triumphal Entry is the one time Jesus allowed himself openly to be declared as king and Son of David. The crowd is quoting (probably singing) Psalm 118 – this would be a good time to read it. Did you notice Jesus actually set up this fulfillment? It seems like he is forcing the hand of the authorities. The withered fig tree speaks of the discontinuation of the Old Covenant religious system. It’s failure is displayed here in the rejection of Jesus, the corruption in the temple, and their failure to recognize the authority of Jesus. Mark11:22-25: Faith is belief in God and His Word, not a force that dwells within us to be exercised according to our will. This is a lesson that says trust God – for following his plan we will be brought through seemingly impossible tasks.
Mark 12: Mark 12:16-17, “likeness” see Genesis 1:26-27. Mark 12:28-34, accepting Jesus’ teaching brings us close to the kingdom. Mark 12:37, – Jesus’ argument is based upon a single letter affixed to the end of a word in the scripture that makes “Lord” mean “my Lord.” He believed the scripture was precisely what it should be.
Mark 13: The temple was destroyed in AD 70 by the Romans. The disciples ask two questions in Mark 13:4. Jesus does not seem to directly answer these, but as always He tells them what they need to know – be on guard, let no one lead you astray, stay awake, and always be ready – faithfully serving the Lord at all times. That is the main point.
Mark 14: Jesus gets anointed for burial. Judas is set to betray him. On the Passover, which he fulfills, Jesus introduces a New Covenant in the midst of the traditional meal. It was customary to share a a meal with someone in those days when making a contract. Also, a wedding proposal in those days included the bride and groom sharing a cup. Watch and Pray is a good lesson here. Mark 12:38, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” shows us that the battle is won therefore with the Spirit. This is why the emphasis to the disciples here is to pray. In a few minutes, their flesh will say, “run,” and they do. Jesus’ trial is illegal – taking place at night, and beating him before a sentence is pronounced. Peter denies Jesus three times. A powerful moment. What Jesus was doing, he alone was doing. It’s just him and the Father walking up the hill so to speak. (Genesis 22)
Mark 15: The crucifixion. Isn’t it amazing how crowds welcomed him into the city at the beginning of the week, but now the crowds, agitated by their leaders, are shouting “Crucify Him”? Pilate is put in an awful predicament, but ultimately fails to act justly. This is a great time to read Psalm 22 as Jesus quotes the first line from the cross. All this abuse and taunting, but Jesus does not correct them. I just love Joseph of Arimathea, and can’t wait to meet him.
As Jesus’ public ministry draws to a close, notice how he appears greater and greater in his wise opposition to the religious authorities. He indeed shows himself to be Lord. And just about that time, He is crucified! “How marvelous! How wonderful!”