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Week 6 May 6, 2020

What we are reading this week (beginning Wednesday, May 6, 2020):

• Genesis 36-42

• Isaiah 36-42

• Mark 8-14

• Psalms 36-42

Notes on Genesis

Chapter 36 is a genealogy of Esau, the people of Edom.

Chapter 37 begins the saga of Joseph and his brothers. This is one of the longest continuous stories that we find in the Bible, running all the way to chapter 48. One chapter (38) diverts to the very unpleasant account of Judah and Tamar.


There are so many lessons to learn from Joseph: It’s good for a father to not have and play favorites, with wives or with children. It’s good to keep your prophecies to yourself until you are sure it’s the right time.

There will be more next week.


Notes on Isaiah

Isaiah takes a really radical turn in chapter 36, where we begin this week, going into an historic account. Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, is knocking on the door of Judah. Assyria has taken out nation after nation, including—recently—the northern kingdom of Israel. There doesn’t seem to be any power on earth able to resist them. But the humble and steadfast faith of Hezekiah unleashes the power of Almighty God on Judah’s behalf.

Hezekiah is my favorite Old Testament character.


In chapter 40, we go back to the prophetic norm of the book. There is a marked transition here, so great that many scholars think the second part of the book (chapters 40-66) were written by an entirely different author. Of course I object that that!


Chapter 40 is Messianic, and also contains the primary prophecy concerning the Messiah’s forerunner, whom we know will be John the Baptist.

The second half of this chapter paints some of the most majestic pictures of the greatness and glory of God that we find anywhere, closing with the very well-known verse 31: “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary” [NASB].


Chapter 41 is a typical chapter for Isaiah, with both rebukes (and even sarcasm) toward idolatry, the gathering storm of judgement, as well as the promises of hope for his people:

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (10).


In the next chapter (42), we find another broad collection of topics: it begins with a Messianic theme (1.4). Then, a missional statement for the people of God is given. Here we find plainly that Israel was to be “a light for the Gentiles,” (6) a role that they never really understood.

A psalm follows this (10-17), and a rebuke closes out the chapter.

“Who is blind like my servant…” (19) is not commending his people for having a wonderful blind faith (I’ve seen many Bible teachers try to make this argument). They are rebuked in the next verse for being clueless (20).


Notes on Mark

Jesus’ ministry will continue to wind down. The critics move into position, and the tension builds strongly.


The only time we read of a partial healing by Jesus is found in 8.22-25. The man is healed after Jesus’ second laying on of hands, but I admit there is much of this I simply do not understand.


Peter goes from the top of the class to the bottom in short order. He recognizes Jesus as the Messiah in 8.29, but is rebuked by Jesus four verses later. I’m wondering if this brought back memories to Jesus of his confrontation with the devil in the wilderness with the option (still on the table at this point) to take the easy route.

He had come way too far to back out now.


The transfiguration is also found in Matthew 17. The appearance of Elijah is significant in light of Malachi 4.5.


Sometimes God makes allowances due to a hard heart (10.5). But we should not look for such loopholes. We need to guard against a hard heart at all costs.


Jesus does not say that the rich cannot enter the kingdom of God (10.23). He just said that it would be hard for them. The reality is that it is hard for all of us (see verse 24).


Jesus predicts his death in three successive chapters. You find those in 8.31, 9.31, and 10.33. Even so, when it happens, the disciples will be completely clueless. Jesus told them ahead knowing that it would make no difference until after the resurrection. But it was vital that they heard if from him ahead of time.


Jesus destroys more private property in order to make a point, this time a fig tree (11.14, 20-21). He was Jesus, so he could do this!


Jesus’ amazing wisdom and intellect are on full display in his last days. The account of paying taxes to Caesar (12.13-17) is one of the best examples of this.


When Jesus calls something the Greatest Commandment, we would do well to focus our entire lives on it (12.28-34). I always wondered what happened to the teacher of the law who asked the question (see verse 34).


Jesus had fun teaching the Scripture. “The large crowd listened to him with delight” (12.37). This is remarkable, considering that he knew he would be brutally tortured and killed in short order.


The signs of the end times are given in chapter 13. They have all taken place except the very last ones, which could occur within days at any point. It would be a good idea to live ready!


Messiah Deranged Syndrome was fully in place in chapter 14. They had to work around creating a riot, but could not bring themselves to wait until after Passover to try to kill Jesus. The contradictions will pile up in a hurry.


The young man of verse 51 is thought to be Mark, the author of the book. Scholars can think of no other reason why this verse was included.


Notes on Psalms

Chapter 37 has two amazing verses back-to-back. Verse 3 in the NASB reads, “Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” That verse has carried Eileen and me through some difficult times.

The next verse, “Delight yourself in the Lord your God, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”


Book II begins in chapter 42. We find contributions from other authors. The Sons of Korah give us the first in this section.

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God” (42.1).


Read, meditate and enjoy the psalms this week!

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