Genesis is the book of beginnings. God reveals Himself in this book as the Creator of all things. We find in this book the first man, the first woman, the first family, the first sin, the first sacrifice, the first promise of God to bring salvation and many other firsts. Much material found in Genesis is foundational to truths we find throughout the Scriptures.
3 Key Verses: Genesis 1:1; 3:15; 12:3
8 Key Words: This large book can be thought through with these key words: Creation; Fall; Flood; Babel; Abraham; Isaac; Jacob; Joseph.
Let’s expound on each of these words.
Creation: Genesis shows us that God is the Creator. Life did not pop up from nothing in a glorious accident. Rather, it proceeded from the mind, heart and wisdom of a holy, sovereign God. From the starry heavens to the anmial kingdom to plants, trees, mountains and oceans, God made it all. His highest order of creation was mankind made in His image and likeness. Human beings are unique and distinct from all the other living creatures. Unlike animals, humans have the capacity to relate to God in a moral and spiritual way. God designed mankind as male and female. He ordained that the closest human relationship would be that of a man and woman joined together in a life-long commitment to one another. As Creator, God gave man authority and dominion over the earth and gave him commands by which to abide and please His Creator.
Fall: Genesis explains the spiritual and moral darkness and corruption of human history. The first human beings sinned against their Creator. As a result, God’s holy judgment passed over all of humanity. God had established the first man, Adam, as a representative of all mankind. When he fell into sin, all who would ever be born (Jesus excepted) would inherit sinful, corrupt natures. Genesis shows the tragic effects of the fall. Not only was there a spiritual barrier erected between God and man, but human beings became subject to death. The material creation itself was affected. Man’s work was affected. Human relationships were adversely affected as the first murder was committed in Adam and Eve’s own family! The effects of The Fall are such that man cannot remedy His devastating spiritual conditon and that He is, from the depths of his heart, opposed to his Creator. Mankind stands in need of a gracious and supernatural work of God to be redeemed.
Flood: Over time the darkness and corruption of mankind increased significantly. Man, who God had created good and very good, degenerated to a horrific depth. As a result, God determined to destroy the earth with judgment. However, God had always kept a remnant of faithful believers by His grace. So, God spared Noah and his family from the destruction of The Flood, which touched every other human being upon earth at the time! The Flood is referred to in the New Testament as a foreshadowing of His final judgment at the end of time. But, God also made a promise after The Flood. He would never bring such a world-wide destruction again on mankind until that last day. The sinfulness of humanity and the holy character of God that judges sin is on display in this event. His grace is also beautifully seen in sparing Noah and his family.
Babel: While God always preserved a faithful remnant, the vast majority of the descendants of Noah lived in rebellion against God. The peoples of earth sought to build a tower. It was their spirit of pride and self-sufficiency, living life apart from worshiping God, that drove them to this action. In judgment, God confused their speech, confounding them into speaking different languages and they were scattered throughout the earth. This event explains the origin of different languages and people groups we find throughout human history.
Abraham: Genesis is a book that highlights God’s great promise. He promised that through the offspring of Abraham, He would bring blessing to all nations of the earth (Genesis 12:3).This promise must be grasped in order to understand much of the Old Testament. Ultimately, the promise was fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:13-16). Obviously, Abraham is an important figure in Genesis and throughout the Scriptures. He in many ways is a Biblical type of a child of God. He was called out of darkness by God’s grace, believed in God, and obeyed God. He lived a life of faith. Perhaps the instance of his obedience that is most famously remembered was his willingness to sacrifice his promised son Isaac. In this dramatic event, we see a type of Christ in the ram being sacrificed in Isaac’s place. Abraham’s sins and imperfections are also noted in Genesis. This is important, in part, because Paul notes in Romans and Galatians that Abraham was justified by God-given faith, not by his works. In other words, salvation is by the gracious gift of God, not the works of man.
Isaac: God promised Abraham that through his family line, blessing would come. But, there was a problem: Abraham and Sarah couldn’t have children! They were past child-bearing age. They tried to remedy the situation by giving Sarah’s maid Hagar to bear children by Abraham. But, the product of this union, Ishmael, was not God’s fulfillment of the promise. Man’s ingenuity and performance will not bring the salvation blessing. God miraculously opened Sarah’s womb and gave the promised son, Isaac. Galatians 4 tells us that those who trust in the merits of Christ for salvation, rather than their own works and religious performance are, like Isaac, the children of promise (Galatians 4:21-31).
Jacob: Isaac and Rebekah had twin sons: Esau and Jacob. In God’s sovereignty, He chose the younger twin Jacob to carry on the promised line of Abraham. Jacob was a conniving deceiever in his early life. Thus we see that God’s choice wasn’t based upon cultural custom (birth order) or moral character, but solely on God’s sovereign will. Jacob established a large family, and his name was changed by God to Israel. The sons of Jacob formed what would be the 12 tribes of the nation Israel. It was through this nation that God would fulfill the promise to Abraham. God’s faithfulness to this promise is seen in preserving the family of Jacob.
Joseph: The young favorite son of Jacob was sold away by his own brothers into slavery in Egypt. Genesis records the years of injustice and hardship Joseph endured. But, God was sending Joseph ahead to be an instrument of saving the family of Jacob (Israel) from perishing in a terrible famine. Why is all this recorded? To again reveal God’s faithfulness to His promise to preserve this family/nation through which He would ultimately bring salvation blessing upon the nations of the earth. If God had not saved Jacob’s family from death by starvation all those years ago, there would be no salvation blessing today! Truly, we are saved by a great Promise!
- True or False. Marriage, gender and family are created by societies and can be altered according to social demands.
- Why is there violence, injustice, greed, wars and death in the world?
- True or False. Human beings are, at their core, basically good and upright.
- God’s promise to Abraham was that in his offspring all nations of the earth would be ____________________.
- True or False. Isaac, not Ishmael, was God’s child of promise.
- Why did God choose Jacob to continue the line of promise and not Esau?
- What key role did Joseph play in the promised line?
- Who is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham?