- January 2: Genesis
4-6; Matthew 2
I am already enjoying cracking open the Book of Faith. My Bible of choice is The CEB Study Bible with Apocrypha, which includes lots of notes and articles. While not necessary, a good current study Bible is a great way to get into God’s word.
Genesis 4 shows us that jealousy and violence go far back into history. The first son of Adam and Eve, Cain, kills the second son, Abel. God banishes Cain, but puts a mark of protection on him, so that he would not be killed by others. After Abel is murdered, Adam and Eve have another son, named Seth, and the family tree continues to Noah and his sons. There some mysterious parts of this story. The ‘sons of God’ in 6:2 are members of the divine court who have heroic children with humankind, and the Nephilim in 6:4 are a race of giants. The ancient Greeks and other ancient cultures thought similarly of the people who lived before their time, as the stories that were passed down from the past took on larger than life proportions.
God becomes sorry that God made the world, when God sees all the violence in it, and decides to make a clean sweep and start over with Noah, his family, and two of each kind of animal. There are other flood stories in ancient cultures, but in the biblical account God is reacting to human violence, while in the other ancient flood stories the gods are capricious and act out of annoyance. What is clear from the flood story is that God stands against violence: what is the message to us who are citizens of the strongest military power in history?
When Joseph found out that his fiancé Mary was pregnant, he was undoubtedly deeply troubled. Joseph was ‘righteous,’ and yet he did not want Mary to be publicly shamed. He had decided to quietly break off the engagement. But then, he was visited in a dream by an angel of God, who told him that Mary’s child was from the Holy Spirit. The angel also told Joseph to name the child “Jesus,” which means ‘He saves.’
The story of the Wise Men tells us that even some non-Jewish people recognize that Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One of God. They offer the infant Jesus gifts worthy of a King. King Herod, of course, really does not want to pay Jesus honor, as we shall see.
The end of this passage is terrifying. Joseph takes Mary and the infant Jesus and flees to Egypt to escape King Herod’s wrath; the rest of the little ones of Bethlehem are not spared. After Herod’s death, the family relocates to Nazareth.