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The Genesis Patriarchs: Ages, Years and Arithmetic

November 5, 2012 2 comments

For my Bible reading I’ve been following a genre style approach with 12-14 chapters per day, from Professor Horner’s Ten List idea, for about 3 ½ years now.  Over time, I find that through repeated readings I notice more and more things in the same text: a lot of the wonder of God’s word, that it is always fresh and new and never runs out of depth of material.

I’m now reading through Genesis, a book included in a 109 day cycle through the Pentateuch.  S. Lewis Johnson’s Genesis series is one that I remember more than some series. I learned of the doctrine of first mention from this series; that Sarah is the only woman in the Bible for whom we are given her age at death (127 years); and the biblical-historical rationale and importance concerning the burial of the body as opposed to cremation.  Also, the frequent mentions of Isaac and his love of Esau’s game, such that SLJ observed that Isaac probably had a large pot (belly) from his great love of food, as well as the overall life lessons of Jacob and how God dealt with him, sending him a Laban just as shrewd as himself; and why it was necessary for Jacob and his family to be sent to Egypt, and in the way it was done: to keep the family line secure and separate from the other peoples.

Now to another observation from regular reading through Genesis:  the many numbers and year and age figures provided, and the fact of the very long lives of people during the patriarchal period, with lifespans twice that of now (and even of the lifespans less than a thousand years later).  This especially comes out in the Jacob saga and the people associated with him.  We first meet Laban in Genesis 24, an adult brother of Rebekah.  Esau and Jacob were born twenty years later (Genesis 25:20, 26), were past age 40 (Genesis 26:34) and actually in their 70s (continue reading) — when Jacob stole the blessing from Esau.  Then Jacob — over ninety years after Genesis 24 — meets his uncle Laban, who continues in the story for the next twenty years.  Over a hundred years after Laban’s sister Rebekah left to marry Isaac, Laban is still physically active and able to pursue after Jacob in Genesis 31.

We also learn from Genesis that Joseph was born at the end of the 14 years work for both brides Leah and Rachel (Genesis 30:25).  Benjamin was born at least seven years later. Genesis 31 verses 38 and 41 note that Jacob had been with Laban 20 years at that point: six years after Joseph was born; and other verses indicate that Jacob’s children were still young when Jacob fled from Laban.  Then allow some period of time for the events of Genesis 34, perhaps a year, and then Rachel gave birth to Benjamin while they were journeying from Shechem to Ephrath (Genesis 35:16-18).  This agrees with the fact that Benjamin was not involved in the plot of the older brothers selling Joseph into slavery, when Joseph was 17 but Benjamin was still a young boy perhaps ten years old.

Jacob was 120 years old when his father Isaac died (Genesis 35:27-29): Isaac 180 years old, minus 60 years when Jacob and Esau were born.  If the later time and age sequences are correct, though, Isaac’s death occurred during Joseph’s time in Egypt, after the events of Genesis 37.

Working backward from Genesis 47:9 when Jacob was 130 years old, apparently Jacob was 91 when Joseph was born.  Jacob and sons entered Egypt after two years of famine, with five more years of famine, and so Joseph was then 39 years old: age 30 when he entered Pharoah’s service (Genesis 41:46); then seven years of plenty, plus two years of famine = 39.  Thus Jacob was in his 70s when he entered into service with Laban. So the incident of Jacob stealing Esau’s blessing came when they were in their 70s, after Esau had been married for many years to the Hittite women.  After all, by the time of Genesis 27 Isaac is old and his eyes set so that he cannot see; and he wanted to give the blessing to his son, since “I do not know the day of my death.” When Jacob and Esau were 75, Isaac was 60 years older, 135 (not knowing he would live till age 180).  Perhaps Esau already had children by those wives he married at age 40, a part not relevant to the story, which concerned the two men and the blessing.

Of course the book of Genesis has much more to tell, of which all these numbers and years are merely the background.  Yet we can also learn from these details, as well as the genealogies spread throughout Genesis, that our God is involved in the lives of His people, and that He is even interested in the details of people’s lives and their families and family lines.

Another Horner Bible Reading Variation: 9 Lists Through the Bible in 109 days

June 16, 2012 Comments off

A follow-up from last month’s update concerning Bible genre reading. I recently switched over to the 8 list plan described there, and made slight modifications to make it a 9-list plan.  The main change this time is to have two separate New Testament lists of one chapter each, instead of two chapters going through all of Acts through Revelation.  One list reads through all the non-Paul NT books: Acts, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1-2-3 John, Jude, and Revelation, one chapter per day.  The other list is the Pauline epistles: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon.  The lists for Psalms and Proverbs have slight changes too:  Psalms and Ecclesiastes together, two chapters per day, then five days of Lamentations at one chapter per day, for 86 days through that list.  The Proverbs list, minus Lamentations, is now 85 days.  In the actual plan a few days’ readings are adjusted to one or two chapters in some cases, for handling of shorter or longer chapters along with the “lowest common multiple” list-realignment factor.

I’ve also experimented with different list orders, applying the alternating pattern (between New and Old Testament readings) with the wisdom books in the middle.  The nine list plan, with an extra New Testament list, gives more flexibility in list sequence:  start with the gospels, and end with one of the New Testament lists, but insert the other New Testament list in the middle.  Sequence is of course only a matter of personal preference.  Many people who start the Horner or similar reading plan at first just want to read the lists in actual sequence from Genesis to the end.  But alternating between the different genres, including NT versus OT genres, helps with the overall daily reading flow.

The nine lists:

  • Gospels (1 chapter/day):  89 days
  • Pentateuch (1-2 chapters/day):  109 days
  • Pauline Epistles (1 chapter/day): 87 days
  • History (2 chapters/day):  98 days
  • Prophets (2 chapters/day): 94 days
  • Psalms/Lamentations/Eccles (2 chapters/day):  86 days
  • Proverbs/Job/Song/Ruth (1 chapter/day):  85 days
  • Esther-to-Chronicles (1 chapter/day): 106 days
  • Acts-to-Revelation (non-Paul) (1 chapter/day): 83 days

The PDF reading list

The Kingdom of God: David and Solomon as Types of Christ

March 27, 2012 Comments off

I continue to appreciate Horner-style genre Bible reading, for the repetition and increasing overall familiarity with scripture.  Often I notice particular verses and parallels that I might not have picked up on from separate single-passage reading.

One day in my reading, for instance, I noted the following similar passages:

  • Romans 16:20  “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”
  • 1 Kings 5:3 “You know that David … because of the warfare with which his enemies surrounded him, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet.

The interesting point I noted here is the David-Solomon pair as a type of Christ in His future reign upon the Earth.  Romans 16:20 references the fulfillment, what Christ will actually do in the future.

As I’ve been reading again through the books of Kings and Chronicles, and thinking more about the Kingdom (see this recent post), I’ve noticed even more clearly the typology of the David-Solomon set and the functions and actions of each.  Together, David and Solomon represent aspects of Christ’s future work:  first the warfare against His enemies and putting them down (King David), immediately followed by the wonderful time of peace and prosperity as pictured in the Kingdom of Solomon.

As pointed out in this previous post, true types (examples or pictures) can be defined by three characteristics:

  • correspondences between people, things (or institutions), or events
  • historicity: not allegory of things that did not historically happen
  • predictiveness:  God works according to the patterns that are revealed in the Old Testament; the types of the Old Testament point forward to the ultimate fulfillment.

1 and 2 Chronicles especially point out the distinction between the two, with several statements about the fact that David was a man of war and could not build the temple, and Solomon would be the man of peace (1 Chronicles 22:7-10, and 1 Chronicles 28:3-6).  1 Kings 5:3 (above) directly shows David as the type of Christ: who had enemies, and warfare, until the Lord put them under his (David’s) feet.

It is so true, as Richard Mayhue said, that the doctrine of the Kingdom of God is the most neglected and misunderstood theme in the Bible.  So much of the Old Testament includes the kingdom theme, including the many passages showing the Kingdom type as played out in Israel’s kings, plus the parallel scriptures written centuries later, by the prophets, describing a future kingdom so much like the one depicted in type by King Solomon.

The first several chapters in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles provide some great descriptions of some of what we can look forward to when Christ has put all His enemies under His feet and begins to reign:  wealth (1 Kings 4:20-28, 1 Kings 10:14-23, 2 Chronicles 9:13-22), peace (1 Kings 4:24-25; reference Micah 4:4), a king who reigns with wisdom (1 Kings 3), and people from the other nations coming to Jerusalem, bringing tribute and seeking his wisdom (1 Kings 4:21, 1 Kings 10: 23-25), and praising the true God, Solomon’s God and ours (1 Kings 10:1-10;  Matthew 12:42 ) the King and Lord Jesus Christ, the “greater than Solomon.”

The following is just a sampling, a table showing several of these parallels between the Old Testament type and the future fulfillment.

Scripture Teaching OT Type Future Fulfillment
Enemies Under Feet 1 Kings 5:3 1 Corinthians 15:25-27;
Romans 16:20
A Kingdom of Peace 1 Kings 4:24-25 Micah 4:4
Nations Coming to Bring
Tribute
1 Kings 4:21; 1 Kings
10:23-25
Zechariah 14:16; Haggai 2:7;
Isaiah 60:3-7
Fleet of Ships at Tarshish,
bringing silver and gold
1 Kings 10:22 Isaiah 60:9
The House Filled With Glory 2 Chronicles 5:13-14 Haggai 2:7

Horner Bible Reading: The Benefits of Genre-Style Reading

November 30, 2011 Comments off

As I’ve mentioned before, I appreciate the genre Bible reading format (as with the Horner Bible Reading System) and its benefits. Some of the day’s readings will often relate to what I’m listening to in sermons, or a devotional text.  Recently, for instance, the “Days of Praise” devotional considered the topic of rest for God’s people, as contrasted with the devil. The main text was Job 1:7, about Satan going about and never resting.  The devotional cited two texts, which I read shortly afterwards, in Matthew 11 and 1 Peter 5, providing a contrast between “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” and the warning in 1 Peter 5 about our enemy prowling about (the same restlessness as in Job 1:7) as a roaring lion.

Then, the endings to each of Isaiah’s 9-chapter sets comes to mind, related to this and what I’ve been listening to, S. Lewis Johnson’s “Messianic Prophecies in Isaiah”.  Isaiah 40 through 66 consists of three sets of nine chapters, different segments concerning the Suffering Servant.  The first two sections end with the identical phrase, “There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.” (Isaiah 48:22, 57:21). The third one, the last verse in Isaiah 66, contains the same idea.  Just as the devil prowls around, characterized by restless activity, so too the ungodly do not have rest or peace.

Other recent reading parallels include a day the readings included the theme of both Israel’s rejections as well as good times:  the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 33, as a contrast with the great time of revival in Hezekiah’s day (2 Chron. 29-30), then judgment in Amos 6-7.  That day’s “Days of Praise” also related to some of the readings:  James 2-3 and Amos 6-7, about the evil rich.

The 90 Day Modified Horner Bible Reading Plan: Day 6

January 6, 2011 2 comments

I’ve begun the 90-day reading plan mentioned here for the beginning of the year 2011.  Along with a new year, the first readings include many “beginnings:” Genesis creation; the beginning genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1; the Israelites coming into the Promised Land (Joshua); the gospels (Matthew), and the church (Acts).

Since I was already reading 12 to 14 chapters per day, the amount of reading so far is the same, though the focus is slightly different:  more history and prophets, less of the New Testament (3 chapters instead of 4).  I’ve made one change so far: to the reading sequence.  The sequence I originally suggested followed the pattern of the original Horner Bible Reading plan, and the 8-list plan as well:  start with the gospels, then the law, then back to the epistles, followed by OT readings:  wisdom (Job-Proverbs, Psalms), then history and prophecy, and finally back to the New Testament with Acts.  However, the 90-day plan doesn’t have the extra list at the end for Acts or other New Testament books.

Instead, I’ve found the following sequence works better:  Genesis, history, prophets, then wisdom books, then the gospels, and finally the NT readings.  Reading in this order highlights the Bible’s characteristic of progressive revelation:  start with the very basic information given in the Pentateuch, then progress through Israel’s history, prophets and wisdom, to the final word in the gospels and New Testament letters.  As Hebrews 1:1-2 says, God spoke previously “by the prophets” but now has spoken to us by His Son.

A few more observations from recent readings:  The first day’s reading includes two mentions of Rahab — in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1, and her actual story in Joshua 2.  Psalm 2:8-9 and Isaiah 2:4 also go together.  In reading through both Isaiah and Lamentations I notice the use of the phrase “daughter(s) of” — including “daughter of Zion.”  From day 2, Acts 4:25-26 is a quote from Psalm 2, read the day before.

Bible Reading Discovery: Repetition in the Same Bible Really Works

November 5, 2010 Comments off

Since the beginning of the year I’ve been using the same reading Bible for my modified Horner Bible Reading plan.  Regarding that 10-list plan, Grant Horner noted the importance of having one Bible — to always read from it, as a way to remember where everything is in your Bible.  Until recently, though, I had not observed this extra benefit.

John MacArthur has also emphasized repetition in reading, to achieve the same familiarity with where things are on the page.  As described in several sermons including these (How to Study the Bible and How to Study Scripture), his preferred reading method is to read through the Old Testament once a year, but repeatedly read the same New Testament book, or a set of 7 chapters of one, every day for a month, then on to the next NT book, and so on.

As MacArthur described it:

Now after thirty days, if you’ll just stick with thirty you’ll have a tremendous comprehension of that book. If someone says to you, you know, where in the Bible does it say, if we confess our sins, He’s faithful and just…? You’ll say, oh that’s easy, First John chapter 1 ah, left hand page right hand column halfway down, see. Because you’ll be able to visualize that, you’ll be able to literally see that, in your mind’. People always ask me, why do you still use the King James, why don’t you move to the New American or the New International-? Because I visualize my Bible, I find things by where they are in my vision. In other words, my mind has taken a mental picture of a page and I can tell you … I may not remember the chapter everywhere in the Bible but I can just about tell you where on the page everything is, people give me a new Bible and I am lost. … I can’t find anything in another Bible. So the thing you want to do is to, is to read a book through thirty times, and at the end of that thirty times you will really have that book in your mind.

After having tried MacArthur’s New Testament reading plan for a few months, and now 1 1/2 years of a Grant Horner genre-style reading, I prefer the genre-style which gives emphasis to both Old and New Testament books.  Both reading plans emphasize repetition, but in very different ways:  reading the same thing every day for a month (only in the New Testament) and then not seeing it again for a few years, versus reading straight through (only one reading of each chapter) but repeating the set every 2-3 months.

This weekend I experienced one of those “mental picture of a page” moments.  A friend at church asked me if a certain saying was in Proverbs (the one about a righteous man taking care of his animals).  The regular reading of Proverbs (every 73 days, through Job and Proverbs) gave me confidence to affirm that yes, that verse indeed is there — though at that moment I could not cite the chapter and verse reference.  But soon afterwards, with my reading Bible at hand, I recalled seeing that verse on the bottom, left side of the page, somewhere in Proverbs.  After quickly scanning several pages throughout the Proverbs, I found it where I expected it — left side, second column, near the bottom — on the page for Proverbs 12, and provided her the reference of Proverbs 12:10.   This type of repetition really works, as something far better than a printed  concordance (which I didn’t have with me anyway) — and it’s a good memory aid that cannot be replicated with computer software or portable electronic books.  Yes, anyone with a computer and electronic text search could have found the reference just as easily.  But in a day when most people (all those I know, anyway) are still carrying print Bibles to church, it’s neat to discover a new mental facility within oneself, and to know that good old-fashioned human memory still works.  Besides, it’s always better to be using the brain rather than just relying on the search feature of an electronic device.

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