And so Genesis ends, with Jacob’s family well established in Egypt. The final five chapters of the book feel very much like an ending indeed – one that sets the scene for the start of Act Three with the book of Exodus. (If you’re wondering about this ‘Act Three’ business, I said a bit about it in one of my earlier posts and I’ll say a bit more when we get into Exodus.
So we have a lot of drawing together the threads of ‘chapter two’ – God’s dealing with Abraham’s family as a family through the generations. We also get the end of the story of Joseph’s work in saving the people of Egypt – at the cost of nationalising their entire farming industry and bringing in national serfdom, but you can’t have everything.
The last couple of chapters, and Jacob’s last words to his sons, read like something which would have made sense at the time the book was written, with the later tribes living out their ancestral promises.
Then Jacob dies, and there’s one last thing which brings a conclusion to Joseph’s story. His brothers fear that Joseph has only been holding back from punishing them for the sake of their father, and in a fulfillment of his dream so long ago they bow down to him. Yet Joseph has grown and learned wisdom, and now refuses to accept their homage – that which he once expected as his due, and which led to all the problems in the first place. He has changed too.
Not a bad place to end a story. A story which has taken us from the beginning of all things up to a large family settled in Ancient Egypt, and through all the ups and downs has shown us a God who promises and stays faithful to his word. A God who is just as much at home speaking the Universe into being as he is walking in a garden with a friend. A God who cares for all people, even those outside his promise, but who has particular purposes in mind for particular people.
Still, the bigger story is just getting started.
One book down, 65 to go…
So, fifteen days and one long book of the Bible in, how am I feeling about this rash resolution?
Pretty good! Some of the posts have been written late at night after a long day – one only just made it before midnight. But there are a few benefits that I don’t think I’d have found any other way.
- Having a reason to carry a large chunk of the Bible around in my head through the day has kept me thinking about God’s word while I’m doing other things – and I think it’s been enriching rather than distracting.
- Reading every bit of Genesis has made me read bits I would otherwise have missed out or skimmed over. Frankly I’d rather some of them weren’t there, but they’re in the Bible and we have to reckon with them even when we don’t like them.
- Reading longer passages has let me spot occasional connections in the flow of the story which may or may not be important, but which are at least briefly interesting!
- Perhaps most importantly, knowing that I’ve committed to write something each day has forced me to try to find something worth saying – and perhaps even reading – about passages I’m never likely to preach a sermon on, and where I wouldn’t otherwise have invested time trying to draw out a valid, positive point.
- …and one person has told me that she found one of the posts helpful.
Anyway, I’ll keep going. I’m writing this more for the sake of writing than for the sake of being read – but if you are reading this, thank you. Please let me know what you think so far!