Archive for the ‘Genesis’ Category

Meant to Be

Posted: January 11, 2018 in Genesis, Uncategorized

Genesis 2, “Meant to Be”

When something is “meant to be,” it’s just right. It’s the relationship that hits it off – the job that goes without a hitch. It’s the situation that seems like it was predestined from the beginning of the world, and it plays out exactly as it was intended.

Those sorts of things are coincidental with us – based on our feelings and abilities at the time. If it “feels” right, we tend to think that it “is” right. That’s us; not God. For God, it isn’t coincidental at all. When things go according to His design, they truly are “meant to be,” by definition! 

Of course, God is sovereign, and nothing happens without His permission – but we need to acknowledge there are some things that happen that are not His express will or desire. Sin is the most obvious example. God’s desire is for us to live holy, free from ever falling into sin. His desire for us in that regard is explicit throughout the Bible. Yet the outcome is often radically different, as we engage in rebellion or simply fall in our weakness. Those are situations God has allowed, but they are not His express desire. 

That being said, there have been many times where things have played out exactly as God intended. For example, when Jesus went to the cross as the sacrifice for our sin, it may have looked chaotic & brutal, but it was exactly the will of God. Isaiah tells us that it pleased the Lord to bruise Him (Isa 53:10) – this was something that was necessary in order for God’s perfect justice to be fulfilled. So when Jesus went to the cross, died there, and was buried (and later risen from the grave), it was perfect. It was exactly what was meant to be.

That all brings us to Genesis 2. What was God’s desire for mankind? What is it that was meant to be? That’s what is detailed for us as the Bible continues to open. The whole of the universe has been made, and now the specific focus is put upon God’s special creation of Man. How was it that humans came to be? What is the role of men & women – what is the purpose of marriage? Those are the questions asked and answered in Genesis 2 as we see what God originally purposed for mankind – the things that were meant to be.

Things obviously aren’t this way today, and Genesis 3 tells us why. But we’re told in Genesis 2 of the way things once were, and lost. Why? Because that helps us hold out hope for the future to the day when all of this will be restored. Today, we may not have what was meant to be, but because of Jesus, one day we will!

Genesis 2

  • Day 7: conclusion of Creation (1-3)

1 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.

  1. Summary & wrap-up from Chapter 1. Everything in the entire universe was completed. What God did, He did wonderfully well – and finally, He rested. Keep in mind that when God rests, it’s different from when we rest. God doesn’t get tired – God doesn’t need to sleep. He neither sleeps nor slumbers. (Ps 121:4) When God rested, it wasn’t out of necessity; it was His choice. He did not rest because of weariness; God was simply done. He ceased from His work. It was finished.
    1. That was Creation, but it’s also true regarding Redemption. It IS finished! (Jn 19:30) No more needs to be done, and now we can rest in Christ!

3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

  1. God ceasing from His work makes for a special occasion, and that’s why He blessed the 7th day, and made it holy in His sight. This provides the background for the Hebrew 7th day Sabbath, which became their outward sign of their covenant with Him. (Exo 31:16-17) They declared their rest in God, just as God rested from His work of creation.
  2. Please note that this came (literally) in the first week of creation – before the Fall, before the flood, and long before the Hebrew nation, much less the Christian church. The 7th Day as the Sabbath predates it all. This is/was Saturday, as Sunday has always been recognized as the first day of the week. Nowhere in Genesis 2 or following did God command the Sabbath to be observed by Adam or his posterity, though it was obviously known by those who worshipped God. It was not made an official command until Moses with the nation of Israel (Exo 20), and never impressed upon the church. Additionally, the New Testament never once uses the term the “Christian Sabbath,” always using the term “Sabbath” to refer to the Hebrew observance of Saturday. The term “Lord’s Day,” is used but one time to refer to John’s time in prayer on Sunday when he received his revelation of the Lord Jesus. (Rev 1:10)
    1. How do Christians observe the Sabbath today? By resting from our labors in vain attempts to justify ourselves – by resting in the completed work of Jesus.
  • Origin of Man & Woman (4-25); Backstory (4-6)

4 This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

  1. If Genesis 1:1-2:3 gives the overview of Creation, Genesis 2:4-25 give a more specific look at the details. There’s nothing in one that contradicts the other – they just provide some different perspectives.
  2. Note the term “history.” This is the same word elsewhere translated “generations,” and it provides the most common divisions of the book.
  3. Note also the word “LORD.” This is the first use of God’s covenant name in the Bible. This is the name “YHWH” (“The Ever-Existent One,” or from God’s point of view, “I AM”). There is a definite shift in the narration at this point. God as the All Powerful Creator has been shown in Chapter 1 – now we are introduced to God as the Personal Father, Son, and Spirit who interacts with His creation, desiring to know us. If we know people by their names, then this is the moment in the Bible when God is formally introduced.
    1. The great part about all of this is that anyone can know God on this kind of personal level! He introduces (reveals) Himself to us as Jesus!

5 before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; 6 but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.

  1. Knowing that the rest of the chapter is going on to describe the creation of man & woman, how is it that no plants had yet grown. On one hand, it seems like we’re getting an in-depth look at Day 6, but God had created the plant life on Day 3. Is this a contradiction? It’s possibly as simple as an issue of translation. What KJV & NKJV translate “earth” could just as easily be translated “land,” (NASB, ESV), context being the key for interpretation. Vs. 4 is plainly speaking of the heavens & the earth (referring to all lands everywhere), whereas vs. 5 could refer to a specific land which would soon be made into the Garden of Eden. Nothing was there yet, but it soon would change.
    1. Another possible explanation would be that the plants created, but not yet fully grown. Either interpretation would fit the text.
  2. Things were different then. The water cycle had not yet fully begun, and the way God caused the ground to be watered for plant growth was through a mist instead of rain. Rain would certainly be seen later with Noah, though it’s unclear exactly when the first rains began to fall. Why did things begin this way? Because God had a plan for mankind from the beginning: man was supposed to “till the ground.
    1. Although some liberal environmental groups would say otherwise, humans are not a blight and danger to planet earth; we are essential to it. God put humans here on this planet for a reason, tying people to the planet & vice-versa. We aren’t here to serve the planet; it’s here for us.
  • The Man (7)

7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

  1. There is wordplay here unseen in the English. To say that “Man” came from “dust” is to refer to Adam/adamah. Dust is simply what we are – but that’s just the stuff. God did something marvelous with all that stuff! Far from slowly evolving over millennia being guided by nothing but mere chance, the Bible shows that God specifically “formed man from the dust of the ground,” engaging in an artistic act much like a potter would form a beautiful vase from a lump of clay. God was intentional in His design of man, putting humans together exactly as He desired to do.
    1. Have we changed over time? There have been variations in heights, skin color, and much more through the centuries – but those are small adaptations in the grand scheme of things. In the end, humans are all human, and our design and formation came from God. Even evolutionists admit that we all have common ancestry…they simply refuse to acknowledge the source of that ancestry.
  2. That we came from the dust is not unusual; all animals are carbon-based life forms, and all physical bodies eventually deteriorate to dust. What makes humans different is what came after the dust: the breath of God. Interestingly, the Hebrew word used for “breath of life” is not the word some might expect (ruach = breath/wind/spirit), but is rather a word far more specifically referring to breath (nesamah נְשָׁמָה ; rooted in a word referring to gasping/panting). This isn’t so much a picture of Adam being filled with the Holy Spirit, as it is Incarnate God giving mouth-to-mouth to the Man, literally imparting life to him.
    1. God’s breath gives life! There is a reason why scientists have never been able to duplicate life in the laboratory. They can put all the elements together, and put all the essential nutrients there – but without some sort of life from which to begin, they have nothing but a lump of tissue. God alone grants life, and God alone has the right to take it away.
    2. God’s breath gives eternal life! We need His Spirit! John 20:21–22, “(21) So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (22) And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” This was the moment the disciples were born-again, born by the Holy Spirit now able to enter into the kingdom of God. (Jn 3:5)
  • The Garden (8-14)

8 The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. 9 And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

  1. God not only made Man, but God made him a home. All of this speaks of fellowship. God designed Mankind to be different. Man was made in God’s image – he was endued with God’s breath – now he has a personal home provided for him by God. Animals lived anywhere, but man was unique. This was someone set apart by God in order that he might know God.
    1. Consider that for a moment. What is it that Jesus has been doing for 2000 years? Preparing a home for us. He’s building someplace marvelous for us for a reason: so we can be with Him. Where He is, we can be also (Jn 14:2-3). His desire is not only that we be forgiven, but that we know Him – both now, and for forever. How amazing is it that God wants to be with you? Praise God!!
  2. In this garden, God placed the best of the best. Again, God already created plant life on Day 3, but it was in Day 6 that God made a special orchard – a sanctuary for the Man in which to dwell. Note what was present from the very beginning: blessing and temptation. God will soon describe the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to Adam, but this was a tree that had always been in the garden. No doubt Adam walked by it often without issue, all until the serpent came around. (It’s a warning for us to be careful of the company we keep!)
  3. The location of the garden is described. 10…

10 Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.

  1. We know none but the fourth of the rivers today (possibly the third, if it is referring to the Tigris, per the NASB & others), but the garden was described as being in a location which might have been easily found originally. That’s not to say it was that way in the days of Moses, but perhaps it was still that way in the days prior to Noah. Remember that the early chapters in Genesis were perhaps passed down to Moses for final review and editing, which might explain the use of the present tense for a land that was far removed from Moses at the time of his writing.
  2. Don’t miss the main point: this was a real place. An author doesn’t provide physical details like names of known rivers if the author is intentionally telling a myth. This was a place that could be found at one point, even if entry was forbidden (Gen 3:24). Question: is it important that Eden is a real place? It is if you want heaven to be a real place. The same sort of narrative wording used to describe Eden is used to describe the future city of New Jerusalem & the new heavens & new earth. Eden was heaven on earth at the beginning of the world; the New Jerusalem will be heaven on earth after its end & remaking. If we believe in one, it’s only logical we believe in the other.
  • The Command (15-17)

15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

  1. Notice that work came before the Fall. When God pronounced the curse, work became laborious and difficult. Work is included in the curse resulting from the Fall, but work in & of itself is not Work is good. How could it be otherwise? God worked for 6 Days in Chapter 1, and it wasn’t until the 7th Day He stopped working. In fact, Jesus makes the argument that God the Father has never truly stopped working (Jn 5:17); God simply ceased from His creative activity on the 7th Day.
    1. We are meant to work! Man had work to do prior to the Fall, and we’ll have work to do in the Millennial Kingdom & beyond. Work doesn’t have to be bad…it can be wonderful. When we’re doing what we were created to do & what we are empowered to do, all in the presence of God, work doesn’t feel like “work” at all.
    2. It also underscores the importance of a good work ethic today. There’s a reason why Paul warns the church of some who are unworthy of financial assistance. If someone isn’t willing to work, he shouldn’t be helped by the church to remain that way. “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat,” (2 Ths 3:10). It’s one thing if a person is unable to work; it’s another if he/she is unwilling. Such a state is unnatural and (frankly) ungodly.

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

  1. Although this isn’t the first command in all the Scripture (that’s found in Genesis 1: that the sea creatures and other animals would be fruitful and multiply), it is the first warning in the Scripture.
  2. There’s an interesting grammatical parallel between vss. 16-17 that doesn’t fully present itself in English. When God tells Adam that he may “freely eat” of all the trees, the same grammatical construction is used when God warns Adam that if he eats of the one tree, he will “surely die.” The Hebrew grammar is called the infinitive absolute, and it is when two of the same word are placed side-by-side in a particular form. In English, it would almost be like seeing the words “eating you may eat,” or “dying you shall die.” The purpose of it is to strengthen/emphasize the original idea. What difference does it make here? It might help us better understand the command given by God to Adam. On one hand, God gives Adam true, unfettered freedom. Basically, “Eat until your heart’s content! Enjoy as you eat & eat!” While the warning is, “If you eat of this one tree, you will without question die. Your death will be total & unrestrained.” IOW, God is warning Adam in no uncertain terms. There would have been no ambiguity in Adam’s mind as to what God was saying to him. When later confronted by the lies of the serpent who would claim, “You will not surely die,” (Gen 3:4), Adam would have known that the serpent was claiming exactly the opposite of God. It wasn’t something that was a “gray” area, or to be debated – God made it as clear as it could possibly be made.
    1. Quite often, that’s exactly the way God’s word is. It is us who like to read ambiguity back into the Bible, trying to pretend that it’s more complicated and nuanced than it is. After all, if the meaning of God’s word is up for debate, that means we might be able to give ourselves an “out” for whatever it is God’s word forbids. …
    2. Believe the Bible for what it says! What God had written, He meant. It’s not to be ignored.
  3. BTW – the warning still holds true. When we sin, we die. Paul put it simply: Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We earn death ourselves; we’re given life by God. To the point: death is earned – it’s a wage that comes as the due result of sin. Sin kills. That’s just as true today as it was in the Garden of Eden. There are only two differences: (1) We are born into sin, so it’s our natural state to engage in it, but (2) We can be freed from it through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • The Woman (18-23); The Need for a Companion (18-20)

18 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

  1. What’s striking here is the proclamation of something not being good.
  2. What was the problem? The man had no one “comparable to him.” He had no one that was opposite or corresponding to him. Although the man had been made in the image of God, there are certain traits of God that are incommunicable – they reside in God alone. Mankind may be impressed with God’s image, able to think, love, experience goodness and justice, etc., but we can never be omnipotent or ultimately self-sufficient. Thus we are like God, but not like Him. We are created beings like animals, but we are not animals, having within us the breath of God. We are unique on this planet, and that was on display with Adam.
  3. Question: wouldn’t this also be the case with God? After all, He is supremely unique as well. Yes, but no. God is unique, but God is also Trinity. There is one God, but that one God is forever existent as three Persons: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Thus God the Father never gets lonely. There is eternal relationship between the members of the Godhead. (Which is why it is wrong for Christians to assume that God made us because He somehow needed us. God does not need anything whatsoever from us. He did not create us in order to give Him someone to love & love Him back; He created us because it gave Him pleasure and glory to do so. He created us out of an abundance of love; not a lack of it.)
  4. That being the case, the man was left in a precarious position, and that’s what God had planned to rectify through the creation of the woman. That’s when the odd parade of the animals began. 19…

19 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.

  1. Question: Why? What was the purpose of all this? Surely God had already created male and female of every animal species when He created them in the first place. Certainly God had always known there would be Man and Woman among humans, as His eternal plan for Jesus included Him being born of a woman. Why have the animals parade themselves in front of Adam for his inspection? There are at least a couple of possibilities:
    1. The animals needed to be named. We get that much from the text itself. The animals did not merely come in front of Adam as possible companions; he named each one along the way. This was part of God’s work planned out for Adam – it was part of Adam exercising his God-given dominion over the living things on earth. (Gen 1:28)
      1. BTW – Did Adam see all of the many thousands of species that exist on earth? Surely not. It is far more probable that he inspected the various “kinds,” and gave his names to the general types of the animals. What those names originally were, we do not know. That may have been something lost to history, as language changed & evolved through the centuries.
    2. As they presented themselves to Adam, then Adam would see his own uniqueness. Obviously, God knew that Adam was unlike the animals, and that the male human would need a female human in order to multiply in population. But it would seem Adam did not yet understand this, and the parade was perhaps intended to help him understand his own uniqueness among creation.
      1. Sadly, this awareness is something that is increasingly being lost among people today. Evolutionists routinely assert that humans are no more than another one of the many species of animals, and our cultures end up treating one another that way. …
    3. There’s something poetic about the whole event that is somewhat lost in translation. The Hebrew word for “comparable,” can speak of a physical relationship: something that is “in front of” something else, or something that is “opposite” another based on where it’s placed. God had already observed that there was no creature truly opposite of Adam, and He gave Adam the opportunity to see it for himself. Each creature stood in front of Adam, and Adam could see, “that one isn’t like me,” etc. There was “not found a helper comparable to him,” no matter how many creatures stood opposite to him.
      1. (NET Bible notes) “The English word “helper,” because it can connote so many different ideas, does not accurately convey the connotation of the Hebrew word עֵזֶר (’ezer). Usage of the Hebrew term does not suggest a subordinate role, a connotation which English “helper” can have. In the Bible God is frequently described as the “helper,” the one who does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, the one who meets our needs. In this context the word seems to express the idea of an “indispensable companion.””
    4. This would seem to be an insurmountable problem. What could Adam do? He was alone, and had no capability to help himself. Yet God had a plan. He knew how it was meant to be, and that’s when God took action. 21…
  • Building the Woman (21-23)

21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

  1. First surgical procedure in history. Not exactly a c-section, but not too much different, either! God took a rib (or part of his “side”) from Adam and “built” (literal translation) it into a woman. The word is different than the earlier word used for “formed,” but the general idea probably only differs in shades of meaning. Even so, there is something unique about this – something unseen anywhere else in the animal kingdom. (Once again underscoring that humans are not animals!)
  2. The whole picture is beautiful. When Adam looked to the outside, there was nothing truly opposite/corresponding to him. So God took something from Adam’s inside – something that was already infused with the breath of life given by God, and it was from Adam’s inside than a true corresponding helper could be built on the outside.
    1. FYI, humans typically have 24 ribs – men & women alike. The fact that God took a rib from Adam does not mean that his absence of a rib would have been genetic to males. Again, this was surgery (divine surgery, but still surgery); not the initial creation. If we’ve had ours removed, we don’t pass on a lack of a gall-bladder to our children. It’s no different here.
  3. God built the woman, and as might be expected, He did a fabulous job. Notice how Adam responds…

23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”

  1. Adam is so amazed that he breaks out into poetic verse! Whether or not he sang, we don’t know, but it certainly would have been appropriate! He was blown away by this gift given him by God. At no point among all the creatures on the earth had Adam seen anyone like himself, but he now saw someone who was absolutely like himself, having come from his own body. She may have been standing on the outside, but she was still a part of Adam, and would always be. And that caused Adam to speak out in joy!
  2. She was the same, but she was different. She was genetically made of same stuff as Adam, being of his flesh. She was truly comparable to him as she stood opposite him gazing on him. At the same time, she was observably different, and Adam appropriately gave her another name. She was comparable to him physically, equivalent to him emotionally, but still different from him fundamentally. God did not give Adam another man; God gave him a woman – and this was rightly recognized by Adam.
  3. This all leads to the Biblical description of the institution of marriage, as seen in the concluding remarks to the chapter. 24…
  • Conclusion (24-25)

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

  1. Notice this is now broader than that of Adam & Eve, and prescriptive for the entire human race. What God did with the original, became the standard for all who followed. And that standard did not change with the Fall. It’s quoted by both Jesus and Paul in the New Testament. God’s intent for Adam & Eve is God’s intent for every married couple: one man & one woman, united together for life.
    1. One mate for each. Polygamy was common in the Bible, but never endorsed by God.
    2. One mate of the opposite sex. Man was to be joined with Woman – there is never any allowance for another version.
    3. They are to be united together on every level. Because one had become two, two now become one.
    4. It lasts for life. Flesh is not to be ripped apart, and this is the reason divorce is wrong.
  2. Sum it up: Marriage is loving unity between husband and wife, humbly submitted unto God and one another.
    1. Ultimately, this isn’t so much about man & woman, as it is Christ and the Church. (Eph 5:32)

25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

  1. The chapter leaves off with everything being perfect. All was good. No sin was in the world, and no shame existed. Though the humans were naked, there was no awareness of their own vulnerability. They were totally innocent – exactly as God intended. This was the way it was meant to be.

Conclusion:

This is how it was meant to be, though it wouldn’t remain that way for long. 

Never again will humanity be innocent. Once lost, it can never again be regained. Yet God gives us something truly good in its place: redemption!

To read of how God meant things to be might cause us to realize how far we’ve fallen. Perhaps we look around at our own marriages and see that they don’t match up – or our divorce & realize how badly we failed. Perhaps we simply see our own lack of innocence, mourning our own ready tendencies to sin. Don’t let those things cause you to despair; let them drive you to Jesus! He is our Redeemer & Restorer. He is the one who forgives, and gives us hope.

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Week One

Posted: January 4, 2018 in Genesis, Uncategorized

Genesis 1, “Week One”

Where to begin? According to the character Maria in The Sound of Music, we ought to start at the very beginning, for it is a very good place to start. The obvious question then becomes: the beginning of what? After all, everything has a beginning. Songs have a starting point for performance, and can be backed up to the point of composition. The composer has a starting point of his/her musical idea, then back to his/her musical training, then back to the beginning of his/her own life. It goes back through the generations of parents & ancestors, to the very first humans on planet earth. Earth itself has a beginning, being formed at a certain time and in a certain place in the universe…and even the universe has a beginning, being made of matter & basic atomic elements. All of it has a beginning…all except God. God is the creator & God is the ultimate beginning for everything that is seen and unseen. 

So if we’re going to start at the beginning, we’ve got to start with God. But how do we study God? How can we know the One who ought to be unknowable? After all, He is infinite in size, power, knowledge, and existence. Everything about Him goes far beyond our intellectual capabilities to comprehend. The idea that mere humans could “study” anything about God is almost ludicrous. As if we could put Him under a microscope, and peer into His being…it’s impossible! It would be impossible, with the exception of one thing: God wants us to know Him. The Almighty Creator God desires to have communion with His creation, and thus He has revealed Himself to us. In an act of sheer grace, God allows men & women to know Him as He is, in order that we might properly worship Him for all eternity.

All of that brings us to the Bible, and specifically to the book of Genesis. To know God, we have to study the revelation that God has given of Himself, and that means we need to study the Scripture. Not just part of the Scripture; all of it. We cannot read only the books of the New Testament if we want to know the fullness of our God, although we certainly see God in the pages of the New Testament. The glories of the Almighty are made clearest in the Person of Jesus: His life, teachings, miracles, crucifixion, and resurrection. But the gospels are the climax of the rest of the Book, the foundations of which are laid in the pages of the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures. Christians that read only the New Testament shortchange themselves on their understanding and relationship with God. Do they know Jesus? Praise God, yes! But they would know Jesus even better if they just read the rest of His book.

Where does His book begin? With Genesis, the book of beginnings. In it, we see the beginning of the world, the beginning of the human race, the beginning of marriage, the beginning of sin & death, and the beginning of the gospel, as well as of the people group/nation that leads to its fulfillment. We see something very good become bad, tainted by sin – and it eventually leads to a point in the book of Revelation when it becomes incredibly good all over again. The book of Genesis not only provides a foundation for our understanding of God, but of the rest of 66 books of the Bible. We dare not neglect it!

What do we know about Genesis? For one thing, we know the author: Moses. That statement alone is highly controversial, as the Mosaic authorship of Genesis has come under grand attack from liberal theologians. Yet for thousands of years, the idea that Moses authored the entire Pentateuch (the 1st five books of the Bible) had been virtually unquestioned. Both the Old and New Testaments repeatedly refer to Moses as the author of the Law as a whole, and this has always included the book of Genesis along with Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. When summing up the teaching of the Old Testament law concerning Himself, Jesus often referred generically to the writings of “Moses,” (Mt 8, Mk 12, Lk 16, Jn 5) or “Moses and the prophets,” (Lk 24:44).

Yet the objection often is raised that Moses was not alive during the period of Genesis, so how could he have written it? Some go even so far as to suggest that Moses was not alive during a period of time when human writing even existed, thus discounting Moses (and the Biblical record) altogether. As to the second question, Moses lived in the 2nd millennium BC, during the age of the Egyptian pharaohs…there’s no question that writing was prevalent. The code of Hammurabi was written centuries prior to Moses’ birth, so writing isn’t a problem. As to the issue of time-separation, we need to remember two things: (1) Moses was instructed by God, and thus wrote under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, just as much as any other author of the Scripture, and (2) it’s quite possible Moses was the chief editor of the book, rather than the original author of the accounts of Adam, Noah, etc. It seems probable that each generation recorded the events of its day, and God gave those accounts to Moses, which he compiled & put together in the cohesive book that exists today. There’s some internal evidence of that through the various divisions of “generations” or “history” (Hb “toledoth” תּוֹלֵדוֹת) found in 2:4, onward. Regardless how Moses wrote the book, the evidence of the Bible is overwhelming that Moses did write the book. The only real reason for doubt is if someone doubts the inspiration of Scripture as a whole.

The fact that Moses is the author of Genesis tells us something important about its content: it is Hebrew-centric. Although the book of Genesis details the beginnings of every nation on planet earth, it ultimately isn’t about those other nations; it’s about one nation: the Hebrews/Israelites. This one nation will eventually bring forth one Messiah, who in turn will provide salvation for all the world. Thus although the book covers much, it really has a laser-focus. First it shows us what went wrong, and then shows us what God did to make it right. If we miss that, then we miss the whole point.

Of course, all of that comes later. It all begins at the very beginning: Week One (literally!). In order to know God, we must first know Him as our Creator. This world (and us specifically) are not the result of random chance – we are not the result of a series of games between competing lesser “gods” – we were specially created for a specific purpose: to know and give glory to our Creator. God is our Maker; worship Him!

Genesis 1

  • The beginning (1-2)

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

  1. Honestly, we could stop right there & have enough to ponder for months on-end. “In the beginning” = at the head / at the top. The same Hebrew root word used to name “Rosh Hoshanna,” the beginning (rosh) of the year (ha-shanna) is used to describe the beginning of the beginnings. בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית (Be-Roshit = In [be] the beginning [roshit]) At the chief of all things – in the beginning of all time – when the clock of the universe first started ticking…at that time, something was already going on.
  2. What was it? God was there. God pre-existed existence. At the beginning, nothing existed, with the singular exception of God. Nothing created Him, no one gave Him birth…God simply was. As the angelic cherubim & 24 elders of heaven say of Him, He is “the One who is and who was and who is to come,” (Rev 4:8, 11:17) – the exact same title Jesus speaks of Himself (Rev 1:8). He is everlasting – ever-existent. This is why He reveals His name to Moses as simply “I AM,” (Exo 3:14). Our names are given us by our parents, but God has no parent. He names Himself, and the most basic description He can provide is simply that He is. The covenant name of YHWH is basically the 3rd person version of “I AM,” roughly meaning the “ever-existent one.”
    1. Skeptics often trip over this aspect of God. After all, if everything has a beginning, then what was the beginning of God? They say that Christians (and Jews & other theists) assume faulty logic when they claim all things have a beginning with the exception of God. Yet the same argument can be turned back around to them. All things do indeed have a beginning, and that includes basic elements of matter. For those who claim an atheistic “big bang” beginning to the universe, then the material & gravity used in that “big bang” had to originate somewhere. To conceive of a material universe that simply exists as endless infinite cycles is to imagine an absurdity. In the end, the atheists are the one without an answer to the question “What existed before the beginning”; not Christians. We do have an answer: God. God existed before the beginning, and because He is God, He is unconstrained by natural limits.
    2. Ultimately, this comes down to our presuppositions. Everyone has some bias – everyone starts with at least some assumptions and preconceived ideas (Christians, Hindus, atheists, etc.). The questions are these: (1) are you able to recognize your presuppositions? And (2) are your presuppositions accurate? Only Christians can answer both questions affirmatively. Atheists have a collection of evidence, but no more evidence than any other belief system…they just choose to interpret it differently. In the end, they only have a theory, and it is unprovable on a cosmic scale. Other religions have a belief system, but no more proof than the atheist. Only Christians have a belief system and We have the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. How is it that we can know that the facts provided by Genesis regarding the creation of the universe is true? Because Jesus historically, factually rose from the dead. In doing so, He proved that He is God…and because He believes the account of Genesis, then we can know it is a fact.
  3. Back to vs. 1:1 – who is this “God” who created everything? Here, He is given the name “Elohim,” (אֱלֹהִים) – His covenantal name not to be used until Chapter 2. (Which is one more reason to affirm Mosaic authorship.) “Elohim” is the plural form of the generic word for God (“El”) – an argument often used to affirm the doctrine of the Trinity. While by no means can be said that the Trinity is explicitly taught through the use of “Elohim,” it certainly is not denied. Perhaps the best explanation of the plural form is the “plural of majesty” – but even that doesn’t discount the possibility for the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In fact, those ideas become even more plain through the rest of Chapter 1.
  4. The overall point is what this eternally-existent God was doing at the time of the beginning. There came a moment when the beginning actually ‘began,’ and God “created the heavens and the earth.” Question: Is that a summary statement of the rest of the chapter, or a singular statement of a specific act? There’s probably a bit of both. The actual formation of the heavens and earth is seen throughout Chapter 1, but there’s at least some action that takes place, because there is stuff for God to work with in vs. 2…

2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

  1. What was everything like in the very beginning? Genesis 1:2 tells us. God existed, He created all the matter in the universe, and it existed as unformed waters – not chaotic (though some scholars describe it that way), but definitely formless. It was “void,” empty of everything…a logical description, considering that nothing had yet been created. God created a bunch of stuff, and was preparing it for use.
    1. Because of the formlessness of the earth, some well-meaning Christians suggest a “gap” of time between verse 1 & verse 2. They suggest that 1:1 states that God created everything as He intended it to be, but something must have happened for it to be thrown into a formless, empty state. This Gap Theory suggests that this was the result of a cosmic battle between God and Satan, and this was the moment that Satan rebelled against God, and was cast out of heaven like lightning (Lk 10:18). His fall to earth (along with 1/3 of the angels) destroyed the creation of God & thus had to be re-formed in 1:2-19.
    2. It is an interesting theory, and it certainly would provide an explanation for when Satan did fall, and why he was already prepared in Chapter 3 to tempt Adam and Eve to sin, as he had done. It could also potentially explain the “millions of years” seen in various forms of carbon-dating. Yet there are (at least) two problems. (1) The fossil record is not explained at all, considering that the earth was “empty.” There were no dead animals to experience fossilization. (2) There is no grammatical indication of a break of any kind between vss. 1-2. In fact, the grammar indicates the opposite, as 1:2 begins with a conjunction (“and”), indicating a continuation of the previous thought. The Gap Theory (though well-intended) falls short, and actually provides more problems than answers.
    3. Do we know when Satan fell? No…but we know he did fall, and that is enough. We need to be careful in our Bible interpretation to be silent when the Scripture is silent, not inventing answers where there are none.
    4. Are there explanations for the millions of years proclaimed by carbon-dating and other forms of radiometric dating? There are fundamental questions regarding the assumptions used in formulating radiometric dating, including whether or not the nuclear decay rate of atoms are truly constant at all. If the assumptions are wrong, then the conclusions are wrong. For those interested, there is an abundance of scientific literature written from the perspective of Bible-believing Christians. Though these scientists are often marginalized, their arguments are worth heavy consideration. (Recommended resources: Answers in Genesis – answersingenesis.org, Institute for Creation Research – icr.org, Creation Evidence Museum – creationevidence.org)
    5. At a certain point, a simple decision needs to be made: Will we, or will we not, believe the Bible? What has proven itself true throughout the ages: the knowledge of man, or the revelation of God? Man’s knowledge & understanding changes with the times and cultures. At some points, it affirmed the Biblical record – at other times, it veered away from it. We’re now at a point in time when the culture is telling us that biological men aren’t necessarily men, nor are biological women, women. (Which camp denies basic observable science?!) Yet the Bible has been proven correct over & over. Given enough time & evidence, the Bible always proves true. Choose to believe the word of God! 
  2. So that was the state of the world as God prepared to fashion everything in the universe. What was the state of God? Genesis 1:2 tells us “the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.” We know that God the Father is invisible, being spirit (1 Tim 1:17, John 4:24). Yet the 3rd person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit, sometimes appears in visible form – such as a dove, at the time of Jesus’ baptism. (When He again, came down over the waters in order to come to Jesus.) Here, God the Holy Spirit hovered in true presence, just prior to creation. Question: Where was Jesus? If God the Father is mentioned in 1:1, and God the Spirit mentioned in 1:2, where is God the Son? He may be unmentioned in Genesis, but there is no doubt that the Scripture shows Him as fully present in this moment. John 1:1–3, “(1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” God the Father, Son, and Spirit were all 100% present at creation. One God, three Persons – all equal, unified in purpose, character, and power, yet eternally distinct in Persons. It is a mystery, but one from which the Bible does not shy away. If we are to know this God, we need to know Him as He is, and He has eternally revealed Himself as Trinity.
    1. The whole Godhead was fully involved in the act of creation, and He is just as fully involved in the act of salvation. Father, Son, and Spirit all have roles in our forgiveness & eternal life. We might not understand it fully, but we can still appreciate it & worship Him for it!

That’s all prelude. What follows are the six days of Creation – the seventh day (the Sabbath rest) is traditionally included in Chapter 2. God has set the preparations…now He works.

  • General creation (3-13); Day 1: light (3-5)

3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

  1. Notice the Scripture has not yet mentioned any stars. From whence did the light come? This alone has caused some to question the Biblical account. Again, we have to start with a position of trust. If we can believe 1:1, then everything else is a piece of cake. If we believe the resurrection of Christ, then everything else is an absolute certainty! There are two primary explanations for the light. (1) Although stars are not yet mentioned, some suggest that God created the stars at this point; they simply cannot be seen upon the earth until Day 4. This is possible, and still upholds the Biblical account. Or (2) the light that is seen isn’t that of starlight, but God’s glory. This seems far more plausible. The Bible says that God dwells in “unapproachable light,” (1 Tim 6:16), and that in the eternal state of heaven that no sun nor moon will be required, for the light of the Lamb of God will be our light (Rev 21:23). God is so amazing, that glory shines forth from Him – enough to light up the whole universe if He so chooses! Whatever this light is, God still determines a cycle for it, showing a distinction between Day & Night.
    1. In the process, we get insight to the Hebrew understanding of days. The traditional Hebrew way of counting time is to go from evening-to-morning. Their Sabbath starts at sundown on Friday, and continues until sundown on Saturday – a full 24 hours, from evening on one day all the way through the morning and afternoon the next.
    2. This also helps us understand how the death of Jesus could be counted as 3 days. If He was crucified at 3pm on a Friday, that’s one day – Friday sundown starts day 2 – Saturday is day 3, and Jesus is risen from the dead prior to sunrise on Sunday.
  2. Upon the creation of this first thing, God decides that “it was good.” The word is “tov” (טוֹב ~ mazel tov = good fortune), an extremely common word referring to something good, pleasant, or desirable. It could refer to beauty or moral excellence. The context here (as in all the initial acts of creation) is that this was God’s perfect desire. God wanted it this way, and it was so. What God does is good, because God is good. He is the source of all goodness, and the very definition of it. We know what good is by looking to God. And the opposite is true as well. We know what is bad when we do what is contrary to God. When our lives look more like the world than they do Jesus, that’s bad – but when we are transformed by God’s word and God’s Spirit more into the image of Christ, that’s good. We ought to want what is good. (And if we don’t, we should pray that God would change our wants & desires!)
    1. The point here (which will be made repeatedly through the chapter) is that when God first made it, it was all good. This was the ideal – something that is sadly lost due to sin, but thankfully, something that will be recovered after Jesus’ glorious return!
  3. BTW – This was Day 1. Should we interpret these as literal 24-hour days, or day-ages (as in some contexts of the Day of the Lord)? Unless we have clear indication from the text otherwise, the strongest theological position is that of literal 24-hour days. Arguments can be made for other interpretations, but they include pretty big leaps and assumptions that aren’t driven from a plain reading of the text. The same wording in any other context outside of Genesis 1 would unquestionably refer to 24-hour days, so there’s no reason to interpret Genesis 1 any other way. (Again, it’s a matter of faith. We either believe the Biblical record, or we don’t.) Question: can someone still be a born-again Christian and not believe in a literal 6-day creation? Yes…but why would you want to? A Christian puts him/herself in a tenuous position when we start being the judge of when to take Scripture as literal or figurative. Properly speaking, the Scripture itself should be the judge! Context is clear as to when something is symbolic or narrative/historic…and there is little in this context that indicates anything other than literal narrative. We need to be careful to submit ourselves to the teaching of the Bible & not vice-versa.
  • Day 2: heavens (6-8)

6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” 7 Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.

  1. What exactly is a “firmament”? This is a far less common word in Scripture, and often refers to a surface, expanse, or plate of some sort. In some contexts, it refers to a beaten metal plate, which (not by coincidence) was how the ancient world viewed the heavens above them. It was what hung in the air, in which the stars rested. Here, the Scripture is not saying that a large metal plate hung above the earth; Moses (by the inspiration of God) simply used the best word to describe the heavens to a people with rudimentary understanding of the far recesses of space.
    1. Some have theorized a type of sphere that originally surrounded the earth that eventually collapsed during the flood of Noah, helping to fully flood the earth. 6-7 certainly open the door to that possibility, but there’s no real way of knowing. The same word is used in Ezekiel 1:22-26 to describe the firmament above the heads of the living creatures seen by the prophet…thus, it was something still in existence beyond Noah.
  2. The best clue we have as what this firmament was is simply the text of Genesis 1 itself: God called it “heaven.” This isn’t “heaven” as in our eternal dwelling place with the streets of gold, and where there is no more crying or sorrow; this is “heaven” in terms of our atmosphere & beyond. This was the separation of the waters. The Spirit of God hovered over them on the earth, and the stuff of the sky was then separated. Why separate “the waters from the waters”? Because when speaking about the atmosphere of the earth, that’s a very accurate description of what exists in the sky versus what exists on the surface. After all, clouds are nothing more than condensation of water that already exists in the sky. Water (H2O) is an essential element of our atmosphere. The water cycle that results from it is part of what makes life possible on planet earth. (God certainly knew what He was doing in Creation!)
  3. The most important part of Day 2? God commanded it to be done, “and it was so.” God spoke, and it happened. Of course the same thing happened on Day 1, but this time the Scripture is explicit. God need not pick up hammer & nail to put something together; all that is required is His word & will. That’s what makes Jesus as God the Son so essential to the creation process. He is the Word of God – the very expression of His nature & will. The Father speaks as the Spirit is present, and the Son accomplishes the work. 
  • Day 3: land & life (9-13)

9 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

  1. Again, this is an act God describes as “good.” Not only were the waters of the atmosphere separated from that of the earth, but the waters upon the earth had boundaries set as land rose and fell to create massive mountains & undersea valleys. Dry land appeared for the very first time in history – a necessary step if mankind was to have a place to live.
  2. Although God declared the work good at this point, He wasn’t yet done for the day. 11…

11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 So the evening and the morning were the third day.

  1. Sometimes we think that life appeared when animals appeared, but plant life is just as much a miracle as animal life. Nowhere else in the universe have plants been found (even basic spores, though the search is frantic for it). God declared life for planet earth, and life appeared. All grass, flowers, shrubs, and trees appeared. According to a British report in 2016, scientists estimate around 391,000 species of plants around the world (https://news.mongabay.com/2016/05/many-plants-world-scientists-may-now-answer/), not including things like algae, moss, etc. We live in an incredibly diverse world, where plant life is able to exist in regions we cannot (bottom of the ocean, middle of the desert), all of which are designed by God to help support animal life on earth through the process of photosynthesis. Without the plants, we would have no oxygen. Yet God ensured we would have everything we need for our survival. Truly this was “good”!
  • Specific creation (14-31); Day 4: stars, sun, moon (14-19)

14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.

  1. Light was created on Day 1, but either stars were created on Day 4 or at least they were finally seen. Interestingly enough, this was the first act of creation made with a stated purpose. “Let them be for signs and seasons…let them be for lights…” The stars do not sit in the universe at random locations as the result of mere chance; they were intended to be there, and to remain there by God. For thousands of years in cultures all over the world, the stars have been used for navigation and calendar purposes, exactly as God designed them to be.
  2. Of course “stars” are not the only lights in the sky. There are planets, meteors, comets, moons, and more. Two of which apply specifically to planet earth. 16…

16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

  1. The Sun and Moon are both in view at this point. The Sun is obviously the closest star to us, and provides not only light for the day, but exactly the right amount of heat and gravitation we need for life to exist. If the earth were much further from the sun, water would freeze; if it were much closer, water would burn up. Likewise, the moon is precisely located for our tidal system, vital for much of the life that exists in the seas.
  2. As with the other heavenly bodies, the sun and moon also have a God-given role: “” Apart from mankind, they are the only other things in creation with a Divinely-commanded dominion. Man has it over the earth; the sun & moon have it over the day & night. And in a very real sense, they do. We determine when night begins by “sunset,” and morning by “sunrise.” We have control over much on this planet, but we cannot control the earth’s daily rotation on its axis, nor its annual trip around the sun. God may have described it poetically to Moses in Genesis, but what is described is absolutely true.
    1. Consider the difference between Genesis & other creation accounts of other religions. This doesn’t describe a Hindu god that basically dissolved into everything living, nor of Greek gods driving the sun across the sky in a chariot. The account in Genesis is profoundly simple and logical. Does it go into every single scientific detail? No, but that’s not why it was given. It was given to point us to our Creator, and it does precisely that with scientific accuracy.
  • Day 5: sea creatures (20-23)

20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

  1. You might notice that the second half of the creation week parallels the first half. Whereas Day 1 saw the creation of light, Day 4 saw the creation of stars & heavenly bodies. Day 2 saw the separation of the waters; Day 5 sees the creation of sea creatures to fill those waters. (The same parallel will be seen with Day 3 & 6: dry land, and the creatures to live on it.)
  2. Here, it is the multitude of sea creatures and birds that is created. Of note is that (like the plants before them), each one is created “according to its kind.” This is absolutely and directly opposed to the theory of total evolution, which basically states that life came from nothing, and from one creature, everything else came into being. (“From goo-to-you.”) The Bible expressly teaches the opposite. God created all manner of life, each one according to its kind. That does not mean that adaptation (what some might term “micro-evolution”) does not exist. It certainly does, and is observable. In fact, it is downright Biblical. For example, from one family (Adam, to Noah), came every single family in human history. Yet how much variety of physical appearance is found among humans? Tall/short, stout/skinny, dark/light – if we were to classify people as we do pets, we would come up with a name for every single variety. 100% of that is evidence of adaptation – yet we are all We are all according to our kind: the human kind. Though we differ in appearance, we do not differ in terms that matter. (Which ought to do away with racism of all sorts!)
  3. This same sort of idea is what is taught regarding all life. God created each one according to its kind. He could create the first canine, and let adaptation run its course with all dogs – or in this case, with the fish & birds. There is marvelous adaptation found among fish & birds today, some of which was observed by Charles Darwin when he first wrote about his faulty theory of evolution (in regard to the Galapagos finches). Yet adaptation is not evidence against special creation; it is the result of God’s special creation. He created all life according to its kind, and He set life to flourish from that point forward.
  4. In fact, that much is commanded…

22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

  1. Although the sun & moon were created as rules for the day & night (1:16, “rule” is actually a noun in the Hebrew; not a verb), the first command spoken by God directly to His creation is to animal life. They were to “be fruitful and multiply.
  • Day 6: land creatures & mankind (24-31)

24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

  1. What God did with the sea, God did also with the land, as He commanded the land animals to come forth. Again, each one was according to its kind, each one happened at the command of God, and each one was good. A quick Google search indicates that there are over 7.7 million species of animals on earth (surely inclusive of land, sea, and air) – a massive number. How that divides out into various “kinds” is something God alone knows, but He created each and every one. It truly is mind-blowing when we stop to think of it. The vast majority of the species on earth are insects (the “creeping things”), which scientists today estimate a number of 10 quintillion (a 10 with 18 zeroes following) alive on the planet, comprising the largest biomass of any other animal. (And out of all that, God still knows you by name & counts every hair on your head!)
  2. FYI: “cattle” (KJV & NKJV) is an all-inclusive term for animals as a whole. ESV & NIV says “livestock,” which is probably a better idea, though there’s no real distinction for domesticated farm-animal in this context. The general picture is that simply that if it lives upon the earth, God created it on Day 6.
  3. Out of all of this, there was one land-creature that stood out from the rest…one that was not created alongside other animals, but was created specially apart from them: Mankind. 26…

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

  1. Let it be said that Man is no mere animal! Evolutionary science would tell us that men & women are nothing more than a higher form of ape, and of no more value than a fish of the sea. The Bible shows us something expressly different. We are set apart from the rest of God’s creation, being made in the very “image” of God. The word “image” is interesting, in that it is sometimes used to refer to idols, as in an image that was made by men to reflect their idea of their false god. Here, it is God that makes the image, and God alone is able to make it rightly! Just as Jesus is the true image of God (Col 1:15), mankind is made in the image of God, according to His likeness. Of course Jesus is divine (something which we are not & can never be), but Jesus is the perfect expression of God. God’s original intent for us is that we would have reflected Him as well. Yet it is from that, which we fell.

27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

  1. What is stated as a summary in 1:27 will be picked up in Chapter 2 in great detail. At this point, all that is said is that male & female were both created in the image of God (one not being of any more value than the other), but it is the idea of God’s image that is emphasized in repetition.
  2. People have value. All people, everywhere. There is not one race more valuable than another, nor one sex, nor one baby. All of mankind is descended from this original male & female (Adam and Eve), and just as they were made in the image of God, that imago dei has been passed down to us. The animals were made after their own kinds, but humans were made after the image & likeness of God. We are truly unique on this planet, and this is something we dare not forget. To do so encourages hatred, murder, abortion, discrimination, and self-mutilation. If men & women are not made in the image of God, what stops us from treating one another as any other animal might be treated? If we are not made in the image of God, what makes us better than any other animal, or deserving of more respect? To destroy the idea of the image of God in man is to destroy the very concept of humanity.
  3. On the proactive side, consider what this does to our notions of evangelism. Why is it we should strive to share the gospel with every man, woman, and child on the planet? Because each & every one of them was made in the image of God. How can we sit back casually and simply do nothing as fellow humans fall to an eternity of hell & torment? Each one of those individuals is a human created and beloved by God – and we have the good news that would save them! (Let us get to work!)

28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

  1. Just as the sea & air creatures were commanded to multiply, so are the humans. Undoubtedly, within this is a command to the land animals, but the specific wording here is to the man & woman. They too were to “fill the earth,” but God had more in mind for them than simple population: He wanted them to have dominion. Whereas the sun & moon were given as rules for the day & night (noun), the man & woman are commanded to rule the earth (verb). They were stewards, into which God gave the responsibility of the planet & every creature on it. (Sadly, this was a responsibility largely abdicated after the fall.)
  2. This gives credence to some extent of sound environmentalism. Although we need to be careful of false claims from those who worship creation rather than the Creator, we ought to be careful to be good stewards of the creation given us by God. We can use the land, but we should abuse it. Animals are for our benefit, but not for our cruelty.
  3. How was the earth to be used? Much of it was for food…

29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.

  1. Interestingly, the original God-given diet for humans was vegan. And it wasn’t just for humans, but for all animal life. Even those animals we would automatically assume to be carnivorous (like lions and wolves) originally ate plants. Not that this should be surprising – the Bible tells us that something similar will take place during the Millennial Kingdom, as the lions will live with fattened calves, and wolves will lay down with lambs (Isa 11:6). What had been given in the Garden of Eden at the original creation will one day be restored.
  2. Is a vegan diet commanded today? No – It’s a matter of personal choice. Groups that compel it upon their followers ignore plain Biblical teaching that allows the consumption of meat after the flood. (Some might claim that was the one good thing to come out of the flood!) Even so, if we’re looking to how God originally created us, our original diet was vegan…something which proved to be extraordinarily healthy for Daniel & his three friends in Babylon. (Dan 1)

31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

  1. Out of everything that God had declared was good, Day 6 sees a notable difference. Here, God saw that it was “very good.” ט֖וֹב מְאֹ֑ד ~ Exceedingly good. At this point, God sees His work as complete, and He was totally pleased. This is what He had intended from eternity past, and it had now come to fruition.
  2. Good news & bad news. The good news is that it actually remains this way for a time; the bad news is that it was lost in Genesis 3. But there is still good news beyond that: it’s all coming back! Everything that was lost will one day be regained, and the new creation (new heavens & new earth) given by God will not only be populated by righteous people free from sin, but redeemed people freed from sin. And God will be glorified forever & ever!

Conclusion:

So much more could be said, but may what was said drive us to worship! That’s really the point of Genesis 1: worship. It’s not a chapter meant to divide, or to be endlessly debated. It’s a chapter meant to take us to the feet of Jesus in worship. This is the God who made us in His image, and declared us good. This is the God who prepared for us a home in which to live, and is preparing an eternal home for us in His presence. This is the God who gave us a responsibility on earth, and who has a glorious plan for our future. This is a God worthy of our worship!

The Book of Beginnings, pt 2

Posted: December 18, 2014 in Genesis, Route 66
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Route 66: Genesis, “The Book of Beginnings, pt 2”

By its very title, Genesis recounts the very beginning of everything about our faith.  It is most definitely is not the beginning of God, but it IS the beginning of God’s promise to send Jesus to right everything that mankind made wrong in our sin.

Review: God created the world, and it was good.  God created man and woman, and they were good.  Man and woman sinned, and it was bad.  So bad, that death came into the world, and that death spread to every single human being that followed (including you & men), which is why we need a spiritual birth through faith in Jesus Christ.

Mankind was spared the curse of eternal life without God, and was forbidden from the Garden of Eden, where they would eventually grow old and die.  Man continued to sin against God in horrible ways, while God kept the promise of the future Messiah alive, even as He judged the entire world through a global flood.  Noah and his sons (and wives) survived, and the promise of Jesus carried on through them.

That promise is eventually given to one particular man, and a future family of his that he would not even see a glimpse of for many decades to come: Abraham (then just Abram).  Despite his misgivings and missteps along the way, Abraham had faith in God’s promise, and God was true to His promise.  Abraham would become the father of many nations, but the most important one would start through Isaac, born to him at 100 years of age.

We left off with Ch 22, and Abraham confirming his faith in God.  After so many years of waiting for this particular son, God now commanded Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice upon the altar.  No doubt confused and terrified, Abraham was nevertheless obedient, trusting that God was even able to raise the dead.  God had promised a nation from Isaac, and that meant Isaac had to live long enough to bear children.  So Abraham was faithful – and so was God.  The Angel of the Lord stopped Abraham at the last possible moment, and Isaac’s life was spared.  God had provided a substitute sacrifice there on Mt. Moriah…just as He would provide a substitute sacrifice centuries later on Mt. Calvary.

Ch 23 – Abraham’s only possession in the land. 
Abraham had long been promised the land, but it was ultimately to go to his descendants.  The one parcel of real estate he actually owned was one he purchased as a burial cave for Sarah.  The locals tried to take advantage of Abraham’s wealth, but Abraham proved himself once more to be a morally upright man who honored God in all of his dealings.

Ch 24 – Isaac’s bride.  
His son is of age, and Abraham sends his trusted servant back to Ur to find a bride for Isaac.  The servant makes the long trek, miraculously finds the right family, and persuades them to send Rebekah back to be married.  Rebekah actually makes the choice for herself, and goes to be Isaac’s wife.  It is a wonderful picture of the Holy Spirit’s work in calling Christians to be saved and be the bride of Christ.  Just as the Holy Spirit seeks us out, convicting us of sin, righteousness, and judgment, all to bring us to a point of readiness to put our faith in Christ, so did Abraham send his servant to find a bride for Isaac.  (In the process, the promise of the Messiah is preserved because Abraham ensures his son will have a family of his own, and not one from among the corrupted people among whom he lives.)

Ch 25 – Isaac’s descendants; Esau’s birthright.
Genesis now follows the line of Isaac, and sets up the conflict between his twin sons: Esau and Jacob.  Jacob is presented as a trickster, and Esau as carnal.  Esau despises the right of the covenant that was his as the first born, and sells it for a bowl of stew.  Although Jacob isn’t yet a man of faith, he at least saw what was truly valuable.  Esau missed out on the opportunity he had to experience the grace of God.  The covenant had been extended to him, and he refused the grace of God, seeking after the temporary carnal pleasures of the world.  His belly may have been satisfied for a night, but his soul missed out on the rest and peace of God.

Ch 26 – Isaac vs. Abimelech; God’s provision. 

  1. Unlike his father, Isaac never went to Egypt, but he did fall prey to some of the same doubts and fears.  Dwelling at the very edge of the land (truly pushing the boundaries God had given), Isaac lied about his wife Rebekah, just as Abraham had lied about Sarah.  In the grace of God, God protected the wife of the son just as He had the wife of the father, and the local king was prevented from taking Rebekah for himself.
  2. Isaac tried to put down roots there, but was prevented from doing so.  Foreigners (presumably from the Philistines) repeatedly encroached upon the wells he dug, and Isaac eventually retreats back to the center of the land God had given.  At that point, he experienced peace and the protection of God.
    1. Be careful not to push the boundaries God had set up for your protection!  Far better to be in the center of His will…

Ch 27 – Jacob tricks Isaac for blessing. 
Jacob had already been given the birthright by his brother Esau, but not by his father.  When it came time for Isaac to give his personal blessing prior to his death, Jacob disguised himself and received the blessing that was intended by Isaac for Esau (but intended by God for Jacob).  Isaac passed onto Jacob the covenant promises of God, that all the nations would serve him, and much to Esau’s dismay there was no blessing left for him.  He had already missed his opportunity, and now it was confirmed.  No amount of tears would change the reality of what he had lost.  (Don’t miss the opportunity you have to experience the grace of God!  You never know which opportunity will be your last.)

Ch 28 – Jacob flees & has a vision in the wilderness. 
Due to his trickery, Jacob had to run for his life, and he went to the land of his mother to find a wife and family. (This time having properly received the covenant blessing from his father.)  While on his way, he had a vision of angels ascending to heaven and descending to earth, and knew he was in the place God had chosen for himself.  Jacob was not quite a man of faith himself, but he was on his way.

Ch 29 – Jacob meets and marries Leah and Rachel. 
Jacob arrives at his ancestral home, and meets the girl of his dreams.  Unfortunately, he encounters someone more crafty than himself, and his uncle Laban tricked him into marrying Rachel’s older sister Leah.  Jacob ends up marrying them both, and works several years for their father in lieu of a dowry payment.

Ch 30 – Jacob’s sons, and Laban’s continued trickery. 
The account of the sons of Jacob actually begins in Ch 29, but it carries over into Ch 30, and the jealousy between the two sisters in seen in full bloom.  Leah feels rejected, and Rachel cannot yet bear children.  They each provide their handmaidens to Jacob as wives as well, in order to keep up the competition of bearing children.  Soon, Jacob as 11 sons and a highly dysfunctional family.  He knows he needs to leave to return home, but Laban attempts to trick him into perpetual servitude.  It doesn’t work, as God blesses Jacob.  (Why?  Because God is a God of grace!  God is a God of faithfulness!  God promised the Messiah to come from Jacob’s line, and to give him the land that God had showed Abraham.  God needed to bring them back in order to have it come to pass.)

Ch 31 – Jacob flees Laban. 
Jacob knows Laban won’t ever willingly let him go, so he loads up his family and runs away.  Laban pursues him, willing to kill him, but is restrained by the Lord from doing so.

Ch 32 – Jacob prepares to meet Esau & wrestles with God. 
As Jacob gets closer to home, he knows he’s going to have to see Esau who wanted Jacob dead the last time they met.  Jacob sends multitudes of presents ahead of him as peace offerings, and goes to sleep.  In a dream, Jacob wrestles with a heavenly Man, and refuses to let go until this Man blessed him.  This was none other than the Lord God (the preincarnate Jesus Christ), and finally Jacob had come to personal faith.  His name was changed to Israel, and he was finally ready to face his brother.

Ch 33 – Jacob and Esau reconciled. 
Jacob’s worst fears were laid aside as Esau approaches him in peace.  Esau invites Jacob to dwell with him, but there Jacob is still cautious about him (probably rightly so), and they go their separate ways.  (God demonstrates He is good to His promises!)

Ch 34 – Dinah is attacked, and Simeon & Levi take revenge. 

  1. It’s a sad event in Jacob’s family history.  His daughter Dinah is taken by a young man of the land named Shechem (there is debate whether she was raped, or they lay together out of wedlock).  Shechem seems to genuinely love her, and Jacob seems genuinely disinterested.  Two of his sons decide to take the matter into their own hands and they command Shechem’s people to be circumcised.  While the men were still healing, Simeon & Levi attack and slaughter them.
  2. This is something that Jacob remembers the rest of his life, and still disapproves of when he gives his final blessing prior to his death.  The sad part is that it could have been avoided if he had been more engaged.  His refusal to honor God in his home by his leadership showed itself with terrible results.

Ch 35 – Jacob returns to Bethel; Rachel dies in labor. 
Finally Jacob returns to the place where he had originally had the vision of the angels, and he renewed his faith.  God appeared to him, and reaffirmed the covenant promises (including that of the future Messianic king to come from his line). 

Ch 36 – Genealogy of Esau & Edomites. 
This is a bit of a side-bar, simply demonstrating the origin of the Edomites and that they were the cousins of the Israelites.  The contention between Esau and Jacob carried over between Edom and Israel, with Edom being a constant thorn in Israel’s side.

Ch 37 – Joseph’s dreams, and betrayal by his brothers

  1. To this point, the narrative of Genesis has followed the main family lineage of God’s covenant promise of the Messiah.  First, God chose Abraham, and Genesis followed him through the line of Isaac (not Ishmael).  Out of the sons of Isaac, Genesis followed the line of Jacob (not Esau).  Those other lines were addressed briefly, but they weren’t the main focus.  The main focus was only upon the line that would bring forth the covenant nation, and thus the promised Messiah (the seed of the woman, who would right everything that went wrong in the original Fall).  For the majority of the rest of the book, that focus will change a bit.  It remains on the covenant nation (the children of Jacob/Israel), but apart from a brief event in Ch. 38, the focus will be on a particular son of Jacob: Joseph.  The line of Joseph does not bring forth the Messiah, but the person of Joseph definitely prefigures the Messiah.  What we see in Joseph is a parallel of what we will later see in Jesus: his humility – betrayal – suffering – exaltation – redemption – grace.  All through Genesis, we have been shown the covenant promise of the coming Messiah; in Joseph we get a glimpse of what the Messiah will actually look like.
  2. Joseph was the 2nd youngest son of Jacob, and he was the favorite child.  Jacob clearly showed favoritism to him, and it caused all kinds of contention between he & his brothers. “…They hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.” (37:4)  If the favoritism from dad wasn’t bad enough, Joseph began having dreams that pictured his brothers bowing down to him in homage.  In fact, it wasn’t just his brothers, but his parents as well…something that even made Jacob sit up and take notice.  For this, his brothers hated him even more (37:8), but his father filed it away in his mind for later. (37:11)
  3. All of that sets the stage for a terrible betrayal.  The sons of Israel were tending the sheep far from home, and Israel unwisely sends Joseph out to them alone as his messenger & reporter.  Not only is he hated for his position and dreams, but now he will be made the family tattle-tale.  As he draws near to his brothers, they conspire against him, determining to murder him – stopped only by the eldest brother Reuben, who convinced them to just throw him in a pit, thinking that he could later rescue the boy (37:21).  They did so, and apparently Reuben left in the meantime, and while they’re having lunch (in front of their brother who is hungry and thirsty), a group of Ishmaelites come by and it is decided to sell Joseph to them as a slave (and not even a very valuable slave).  Reuben returns, find the boy to be gone & grieves, and the brothers conspire once more to lie to their father, saying that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal.  They are finished with Joseph, or so they think.  Joseph is still alive, having been sold to an Egyptian officer by the name of Potiphar.

Ch 38 – Judah and Tamar. 

  1. The narrative will return to Joseph in a moment, but a brief look is taken at the family line that actually leads to the Messiah: that of Judah.  The entire event is one of disgrace for Judah as a patriarch, but one of grace towards his daughter-in-law Tamar.  Tamar was married to one of Judah’s sons who sinned against the Lord, and died.  According to the tradition of levirate marriage, Tamar married the son next in line, who also sinned against the Lord, and died.  Judah promised Tamar that he would give her to the next son when he became of age, but then neglected his promise.  Time passes, Judah doesn’t do anything, and Tamar decides to take her fate into her own hands.  She disguises herself as a prostitute, and is hired by Judah.  Judah impregnates her, and she disappears with Judah’s pledge of payment, but not any money.  Judah doesn’t know what happened to the “prostitute,” and keeps quiet out of shame.  Later, Judah discovers that Tamar is pregnant, and become indignant, demanding that she be burned for her “crime.”  Using the pledge she kept, Tamar proves that Judah is the father, and Judah acknowledges her righteousness.
  2. All of that is pretty seedy, and goes to show that the patriarchs of the Hebrew faith weren’t any more righteous than anyone else.  They were all sinners in need of grace!  But what’s the point in including this terrible story of incest and deception?  It all leads to the Messiah.  We see it in some of the most-skipped verses in Matthew: Matthew 1:2–3, "(2) Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. (3) Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram." []  Notice who is included in Jesus’ family tree: Tamar.  She is only one of four women explicitly listed (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Mary…Bathsheba is implied, but not listed by name), and each of them have scandalous backgrounds.  Tamar pretended to be a prostitute; Rahab WAS a prostitute.  Ruth (like Rahab) was a Gentile.  Bathsheba was a participant in adultery.  Mary was an unwed pregnancy.  ALL of them are included in the lineage of Jesus.  All of them are enshrined in Scripture as women used of God for His glory, and to bring about the salvation of the world.  These women would have been thrown away by the world, but they were treasured by God, and He showered them with grace!  Why was the story of Judah and Tamar included?  To show the grace in the lineage of the Messiah…to show the greatness of our God in the middle of our rotten sin.

Ch 39 – Joseph in the house of Potiphar. 

  1. The narrative returns to Joseph, now a slave in the household of Potiphar, the Egyptian captain of the guard.  Because of Joseph’s faithfulness, he has risen to the head of all the slaves, and Potiphar entrusted his entire house to Joseph’s stewardship (39:5).  It’s a great example to all of us to work our jobs as unto the Lord. (Col 3:23)
  2. Things are going well until Potiphar’s wife lusts after Joseph and tries to lure him into committing adultery with her.  Joseph had the opportunity to sin in abundance & probably get away with it, but he chose to honor the Lord instead.  He made the decision not to sin against God (39:9).
    1. Victory over temptation always starts with the decision not to sin.  We cannot decide to make that decision in the hour of temptation, because then it will be too late.  Decide to honor the Lord NOW, and you will have the strength to honor the Lord when the time comes.
  3. Finally Potiphar’s wife traps Joseph into the act, and Joseph literally flees from the house naked, the wife having caught his waist garment in her hand.  Humiliated by him, she lies to her husband and has Joseph thrown in prison for an attempted sexual assault.  Things seem to be getting worse for Joseph, but he is just as diligent in prison as he was in Potiphar’s house, and he rises in the ranks among the prison.

Ch 40 – Joseph in prison

  1. Time passes, and Joseph meets two household servants of Pharaoh: the butler, and the baker. (No mention of a candlestick maker. J)  Pharaoh was angry with both of them, and threw them into prison.  One night they each experienced dreams, and Joseph (having a bit of experience with dreams) was able to interpret them, giving all the glory to God. (40:8)  It was good news for the butler who would be restored to his position in three days, but it was bad news for the baker who would be executed in three days.  The dreams came true exactly as Joseph said, but although the butler promised to remember Joseph, he forgot him. (40:23)
  2. At this point, things look pretty bad for Joseph.  He’s been betrayed – he’s been sold into slavery – he’s been lied about & thrown into prison – and now he’s been forgotten there.  Joseph seemingly did everything right and honored the Lord, so why does it seem like the Lord had forgotten him?  God hadn’t forgotten Joseph; God was just waiting for the right time.  One thing that Joseph’s story makes abundantly clear is the sovereignty of God.  All these things seemed to go wrong for Joseph, but God had a plan in the midst of everything, and God would cause all things to work for good.
    1. That is reflected in the earthly ministry of Jesus.  Not much seems to be going Jesus’ way.  He was born into poverty among a family with a blemished reputation.  He was raised in obscurity, and even after His ministry began, not even His brothers nor His hometown believed Him.  For a time, Jesus had vast multitudes following Him, but they soon departed, and Jesus was left with only 12 men.  Even they abandoned Him the night of His arrest, and one had betrayed Him to the authorities.  Jesus was taken, wrongfully convicted, beaten, tortured, and killed in the most horrendous way imaginable.  If we stopped there, it would seem as if everything that could have gone wrong with Jesus, did go wrong.  Jesus had lived perfectly, giving glory to God, and all He received in return was suffering.  Did God forget His Son?  Absolutely not.  God had a plan for His Son, which was made abundantly clear three days after the cross when Jesus rose from the grave.  All of those terrible things, God used for good, and used for the glory of Jesus.  Our very salvation is based upon the horror turned to joy in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
    2. If God did it with Joseph, and if God did it with Jesus, then what makes us think that God won’t do it with us?  We tend to lose faith, and put God on a quid-pro-quo relationship.  If we do something for God, we expect God to do something for us…and if we don’t get our blessing the way we wanted, then God did something wrong.  No.  God is God; we’re not.  God is sovereign, and He knows what He’s doing.  He has His own plan and His own timing, and we need to trust Him.

Ch 41 – Joseph interprets the dreams of Pharaoh and rises to power.

  1. Joseph wasn’t merely forgotten by the butler for a few days or weeks; he stayed two more years in prison (41:1).  But at that time, there was another person who had a confusing dream: Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.  Pharaoh called upon his servants and magicians to interpret the dream, but no one could do it.  That’s when Pharaoh’s butler had his “Aha!” moment, and remembered Joseph.  Joseph is cleaned up & brought to Pharaoh, who asks for help, and Joseph declares that God will give the interpretation (41:16).  Pharaoh tells Joseph his dream, and Joseph is able to see that it is a prediction of Egypt’s future.  There would be seven years of agricultural abundance, followed by seven years of famine.  The wise thing for Pharaoh to do would be to find a wise man to administer the food rations for the nation, in order that Egypt would not perish. (We can almost imagine Joseph hinting at himself!)
  2. Pharaoh believed Joseph, and determined that Joseph was just the man that was needed for the job, and raises him up to be Egypt’s prime minister (or equivalent).  No one would be greater in all of Egypt than Joseph, apart from Pharaoh himself.  In an instant, Joseph went from forgotten prisoner to the most powerful man in the most powerful nation on the planet.  (THAT is what the grace of God can do!)
  3. What Joseph actually does as prime minister is to initiate a massive tax program, storing up the abundance of crops in cities around the land of Egypt.  When the years of famine began, Joseph was now in a position to sell the food back to the people: not to the Egyptians only, but to the foreigners who came for help.
    1. It may not sound like the most compassionate program to our ears, but we need to remember these were different times and different cultures.  This was something that had never been done before on a national level, and Joseph’s plan was pretty shrewd and wise for the times.
    2. We need to be careful not to judge their culture by our standard.  The bottom line was that people did not starve to death, which would have been the normal outcome for times of famine.  Not only did the Egyptians live to face another day, but so did many people from other nations.  And that takes us to Ch 42…

Ch 42 – Joseph’s 1st encounter with his brothers

  1. The famine extended far beyond Egypt, all the way to Jacob and the children of Israel in the promised land.  Facing hunger, Jacob sent 10 of his sons to Egypt to find food.  He made a point to keep Benjamin with himself (42:4), which seems to indicate that Jacob had been suspicious of his other sons regarding Joseph’s fate.  The 10 brothers make to Egypt, and come before Joseph, but they don’t recognize him.  Undoubtedly Joseph was now dressed as a nobleman of Egypt, and had aged over the years.  Joseph recognized his brothers immediately, and made the decision to act as if he was a stranger (42:7).
  2. Joseph accuses them of being spies, and being caught off guard, the brothers reply that they are just 12 normal guys – one brother being back at home, and one brother now dead.  Joseph uses the confession to put a test to them: if they were telling the truth, then they should bring the other brother back to Egypt, and then he would believe they weren’t spies.  He gave them enough food to go, with the knowledge that they would have to return for more, imprisoned Simeon, and sent the rest of them on their way.  The brothers take their circumstances as proof that they had not gotten away with their evil deed to Joseph, thinking that they would have to now pay some terrible consequence for their crime.  Meanwhile, Joseph not only sent the brothers back to Canaan with food, but with all of their money as well.  Once the brothers discover the money, they become even more frightened, thinking they would be accused of theft.
    1. Question: all of this time, Joseph has acted in righteousness.  This is the first dishonest act we’ve seen from him, and it’s presented as something that is just.  What’s going on here?  There’s no doubt that Joseph is acting dishonestly, but he needed to know how best to judge his brothers.  For all he knows, they may have killed Benjamin or sold him into slavery too.  Joseph is in a position to exact justice, but he is waiting to see what exactly needs to be done.
  3. The brothers return to Jacob & tell him what happened, and Jacob refuses to send Benjamin with them.  Reuben (who had tried earlier to save Joseph) seems to act nobly, but really acts foolishly & offers to kill two of his own sons if Benjamin doesn’t return from Egypt.  Is Reuben trying to take responsibility?  Perhaps.  The problem is that he acts from his flesh, rather than the righteousness of God.  Offering his two sons to be killed wouldn’t bring back Benjamin, and it would only rob Jacob of two of his grandsons.  It doesn’t solve a thing; it just makes things worse.
    1. When things go wrong, we don’t need worldly solutions; we need Godly ones.  We need the wisdom of God, and the only place we can find that is through the word of God and through prayer.

Ch 43 – Joseph’s 2nd encounter with his brothers, specifically Benjamin

  1. Time passes, and the famine doesn’t ease up.  Soon, the family of Israel had run out of food and they were faced with a terrible choice: send Benjamin to Egypt, or starve.  Jacob is still resistant about Benjamin being involved, and that’s when Judah makes a far better offer.  Judah doesn’t offer up his sons; he offers up himself.  If Benjamin was to be taken, then Judah promised to substitute himself for Benjamin’s life (much like Jesus substituted Himself for us).  Only with this, did Jacob agree.
  2. The 10 brothers return to Egypt, taking gifts and double the money they had originally brought, with the hopes that they could convince the Egyptians that they hadn’t stolen anything.  Once they arrived, they were assured that the money in their sacks was a gift from God, and they were brought to Joseph & Simeon.  Joseph was so overjoyed when he saw his brother Benjamin, that he had to run out of the room before he burst into tears.  Joseph had a meal brought to them, and to their astonishment, he had the brothers seated in birth order, and fed them in abundance, with Benjamin receiving 5-times the amount of food as the rest of them.

Ch 44 – Joseph’s test of his brothers

  1. With all of this done, we might think this would be the end of the story & we would read how they lived happily ever after.  Not yet.  Joseph had one more test for his brothers.  He was overjoyed that Benjamin was still alive, but there was still a question of whether or not the hearts of his brothers had changed.  Were they still evil opportunists, or had they ever repented of their past crime?  Perhaps they would abandon Benjamin as they had abandoned Joseph years before.  Joseph had to find out, so he put his brothers through one final test.
  2. Once again, he sent the brothers away with food and money, but this time he had a special cup placed within the pack of Benjamin, basically planting evidence on him that he had stolen from the disguised-Joseph.  The brothers were headed back to Canaan when the Egyptian soldiers overtook them and accused them of theft.  They denied the charge, agreeing that if anyone was found having this special cup, that the person would be a slave of Egypt.  It was found with Benjamin, the brothers grieved, and they all returned to Joseph.  Joseph confronts them on the “crime,” and that’s when Judah intercedes for Benjamin, pleading that Joseph would take him instead of his brother.

Ch 45 – Joseph revealed to his brothers

  1. Joseph is overwhelmed by the actions of Judah, and can no longer restrain himself.  He commanded all of his servants to leave, and he finally revealed himself to his brothers. (45:1)  It took a bit of convincing, but the brothers finally recognized Joseph for who he was, and realized that they were saved.  Joseph told them what had happened to him, how he was now 2nd in command of Egypt, and how he would provide for the needs of their families when they moved to Egypt.  Permission was granted by Pharaoh for the Israelites to move to the best of the land, and the brothers went back to collect the clan.  Jacob was understandably overwhelmed to learn his son was still alive, and it was likely the only thing that would have caused him to leave Canaan to live in Egypt.  (What Jacob thought about the other 10 sons’ lies of the past is left unsaid.)

Ch 46 – Jacob/Israel goes to Egypt. 
The whole clan makes the trip, with God first speaking to Jacob in a dream promising to continue to make him a great nation.  This was the plan of God at work, and Jacob did not need to fear going there.  All totaled, there were 70 people of the house of Jacob that now lived in Egypt…a number that would grow quite a bit!

Ch 47 – Jacob meets Pharaoh; Joseph deals with Egypt. 

  1. As the patriarch of the family, Jacob met personally with Pharaoh, asking to be made shepherds in the land of Egypt.  Pharaoh grants permission, and allows them to dwell in the land of Goshen.  This does a couple of things for the fledgling nation of Israel: (1) It keeps them alive! (2) It keeps them separate, with a distinct identity.  Because they performed a task the Egyptians did not want to do, and because they lived separately, the Israelites were not assimilated into the Egyptian population.  It gave them time to “incubate” as a nation, and grow to the point God wanted them to grow, until He brought them out of the land back to Canaan.
  2. We’re also given the details of how Joseph managed the time of famine for the rest of Egypt.  He continued to sell food back to the Egyptians, and when the money ran out, they gave Pharaoh their livestock, and eventually their lands.  They promised their servitude to Pharaoh if they would just be given food.  Joseph agrees, and sets up a tax of one-fifth of all their produce (which actually sounds pretty good, compared to some tax rates today).

Ch 48 – Jacob’s blessing on Joseph’s sons

  1. Jacob was 130 years old when he first came to Egypt (47:9), and an untold amount of time has passed & he prepares to die.  As he does so, he desires to give out his prophetic blessing, as he had once received years ago from his father Isaac.  The first to come is Joseph, who brings the two sons that were born to him in Egypt: Ephraim & Mannaseh.  Jacob takes them as his own sons, giving them a direct blessing as sons – thereby giving Joseph the double portion of blessing that would normally belong to a first-born son.
  2. Interestingly, though Joseph guided the hands of the now-nearly blind Jacob upon his sons, Jacob switched his hands at the last moment.  Just as Jacob (the younger) had received the larger blessing from that of his older brother, so did Jacob give the larger blessing to the younger of Joseph’s two sons.  Ultimately, this was the will of God, as Jacob was prophesying over them as to what God would do through their nations in the future.

Ch 49 – Jacob’s blessing on the 12 tribes. 

  1. Jacob goes on to bless the remainder of his sons, and the blessing/prophecy he gives speaks not only to the failings of his sons in the past, but the grace of God that would come upon them in the future.  The blessing has two high points, seen in (1) Judah, and (2) Joseph. 
  2. As for Judah, Jacob realizes that the future Messiah will come from his line.  Genesis 49:9–10, "(9) Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; And as a lion, who shall rouse him? (10) The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people." []  To this point in the Bible, nothing has yet been said about the Messiah serving as a king over His people, but that is exactly what Israel/Jacob prophesies about the Lion that would come from the tribe of Judah.  He would be powerful – He would be a lawgiver – and He would bring peace (Shiloh).  That is exactly who our Jesus is: He is the sacrificial Lamb of God who is more powerful than any lion – He is the King of kings – He is the Prince of peace.
  3. As for Joseph, Jacob had already blessed him through his two sons, but he goes on to bless him, acknowledging how God used him to save their family, and predicting how God would continue bless him, and cause him to be honored…which is exactly what happens.

Ch 50 – Jacob’s death, and Joseph’s grace to his brothers

  1. Jacob is actually recorded dying in 49:33, but Ch 50 picks up with Joseph receiving permission from Pharaoh to travel to Canaan to bury his father in their family’s ancient tomb.  All the land mourned with Joseph, and Jacob was honored on a national level.
  2. Upon their return from the funeral, Joseph’s brothers begin fearing for their lives again, thinking that perhaps Joseph had been kind to them only out of respect for their father.  They lie (once more), claiming that Jacob had commanded Joseph to forgive them for their past sin against him.  Joseph wasn’t fooled by their lie, but he also didn’t intend to punish them.  Jacob had seen the hand of God in it all, and proclaimed God’s sovereignty over the entire affair.  Genesis 50:19–20, "(19) Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? (20) But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." []
  3. It’s amazing that God would allow that kind of evil to befall Joseph, but it’s true.  God did allow it (though God did not cause it), and God in His power was able to use it for His glory and purposes.  How so?  Follow the promise of God through Genesis:
    1. God promised the seed of the woman to eventually defeat Satan and reverse the Fall. (3:15)  Yet that promise didn’t disappear with Abel’s murder by Cain, but continued on through Seth. (5:6)
    2. Mankind was entirely deserving of death, and God judged them, but maintained His promise by keeping one family alive, through whom the promise of the Messiah would come: Noah & Shem (9:26).
    3. From Shem, God chose the person of Abram to bring the Messiah (12:3), and despite Abram’s fears among Egypt, and Sarai’s manipulations with Hagar/Ishmael, God continued to bring forth His plan exactly as He saw fit through Isaac (17:19).
    4. When Isaac came, his life seemed to be in danger by God’s own command to sacrifice him, but God spared his life even then and provided a sacrifice of His own (22:8).
    5. Isaac seemed to be pushed out of the land, but God continued to provide for him, and affirm His covenant with him and his descendants. (26:24)
    6. God continued to affirm His covenant promise of the Messiah, and this blessing was passed on to Jacob, despite Esau’s desire to kill him (28:3-4).
    7. God preserved Jacob during his time with Laban, and God brought Jacob back safely into the land of promise (32:28).
    8. Through all of this, God had kept His promise of the Messiah alive.  How could this promise now perish because of a famine in the land?  God wouldn’t allow it.  Thus He put one of Joseph’s sons in a position of high authority in a nation that had an abundance of riches.  Everything that befell Joseph was used by God for the salvation of Joseph’s family, and ultimately for the preservation of the promised Messiah.  God will not let His promises disappear in vain – especially not those concerning the Lord Jesus Christ!

Conclusion:
Genesis ends with a nation preserved, but a nation that is not really quite a nation yet, because it’s not in its home.  What happens next?  That’s where Exodus picks up. 

We look at Genesis, and we see what God did right, and what man did wrong.  The remainder of the book (and the remainder of the Bible itself) is dedicated to showing how God makes every wrong right again, through Jesus Christ.  The first thing that was required for a future Messiah and King was for a nation to be born.  The 2nd half of Genesis shows the start of that nation.  Once mankind itself was preserved past the global catastrophes of the flood & the Tower of Babel, then the focus of the Bible narrows to one particular household.  That household would be the start of a larger family.  That larger family would eventually blossom into a nation of 12 tribes.

All of this was done to preserve the promise of Jesus, and in the process we get a glimpse of the person and grace of Jesus…and we rejoice!

Route 66: Genesis, “The Book of Beginnings, pt 1”

“In the beginning…” Those three words are all that is required for people to know you’re referring to the book of Genesis.  “In the beginning God…”  The addition of the fourth word is all that is required for us to believe what the book of Genesis says, and understand what it’s all about.  This is indeed a book about beginnings, but even the beginning had a beginning.  Before anything existed at all – before there were any “beginnings” whatsoever, there was God.  God is before it all, and thus He is the first One mentioned.  He is the central figure of the book of Genesis, the Bible as a whole, and the universe itself.  If we can come to grips with God at the forefront, than everything else is a piece of cake.

Genesis is the beginning of the Bible, given to us by God so that we would know the beginning of all things.  In Genesis we see the beginning of the universe – the beginning of humanity – the beginning of marriage – the beginning of work  – the beginning of rest – the beginning of deception – the beginning of sin – the beginning of death – the beginning of the gospel promise – and the beginning of the fulfillment of that promise through God’s covenant nation, and much more.  The book of Genesis shows us the beginning of grace, and the love of God for humanity as He reaches out to restore what Mankind destroyed in the fall.  From the moment sin entered the world, God immediately moves to right what went wrong, and the remaining 47 chapters in Genesis are dedicated to show how God went about it.  “Genesis” is not the beginning of God; but it is the beginning of God’s gospel.  Our salvation finds its very root in the pages of Genesis, and thus its importance cannot be overlooked by the Christian.

Author:
The English name of the book comes from its title in the ancient Greek translation, the LXX, and is simply a transliteration of the word for origins/birth/lineage (γενεσις).  The word is used at several points in the book, and is traditionally seen as a kind of division marker: (2:4) the origin of the earth, (5:1) the lineage of Adam, (6:9 of Noah, (10:1) of the sons of Noah, (11:10) of Shem & Terah, (25:12) of Ishmael, (25:19) of Isaac, (36:1) of Esau, and finally (37:2) of Jacob.  Indeed it does mark those divisions, though it seems that the Bible mentions some of those family lines simply to show what happened; not from any real theological importance.  The full attention of Genesis is focused on one family line in particular: the one leading to the promised Messiah.

Although modern liberal scholarship has its own theories of the authorship of Genesis, the idea that the book was written by Moses remained virtually unquestioned for thousands of years (from Hebrew history before Christ, until the 18th century).  The only real reasons to doubt Mosaic authorship (of not only Genesis, but the first 5 books of the Bible) is if someone has an anti-supernatural bias, or if someone refuses to admit the possibility that a single author could describe something by more than one name (God: Yahweh vs. Elohim, Mt Sinai vs. Mt Horeb, etc.).

As for the books of the law as a whole (generally known as the "Pentateuch"), the Bible itself affirms that Moses wrote them (though Genesis is not specifically quoted as Moses’ writing apart from the other 4 books).  Obviously Moses was not a physical witness to the events (his own birth is recorded in the book of Exodus), so he must have received his knowledge from somewhere.  It’s very possible that oral histories regarding nation of Israel and the origin of the earth were preserved, and Moses put them into writing.  It’s even possible that some written form of these histories may have been made, and compiled by Moses when he wrote the book (that’s one possible theory regarding all of the various genealogies: perhaps they mark off different ancient sources).  The idea that Moses relied at least in part upon other previously written/oral histories doesn’t take away from the argument that he wrote the book.  Someone had to do the work in compiling it all in one place, and history has long argued that Moses was the one who did it.

Keep in mind that "oral" history does not necessarily mean "inaccurate" history.  We can fall into a trap of thinking that Moses (and other writers) were far removed from the events they wrote about.  That simply isn’t true.  Although the length of each generation’s timeline is not much discussed beyond the book of Genesis, we know that Moses was the son of Amram, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham.  Although Moses grew up in the house of Pharaoh, he was nursed by his biological mother (Jochebed), who surely taught him his family history, and Moses would have been able to learn much more from his brother Aaron, and perhaps even had the opportunity to meet his biological father Amram.  Due to the length of lifespans the Bible does tell us, it is quite possible that Amram knew Jacob – Jacob surely knew Abraham – Abraham could have known Shem or Noah (who survived into his day) – Noah lived in the days of Enosh – and Enosh surely knew his grandfather Adam.  Moses isn’t as far removed from primeval history as we might otherwise imagine!

Of course, over all of this we need to remember the doctrine of inspiration.  Moses did not write the book out of pure historical research.  He was inspired and guided by God the Holy Spirit.  Anything that came down to him through historical lines passed first through the divine inspiration of God before being placed in the Holy Scripture for us today.  We can know that what we have is accurate, because it came by the inspiration of God.

Importance & acceptance:
The fact that the book of Genesis is inspired Scripture is important for us to remember as we look at the book. Genesis has come under all kinds of scrutiny today, both from those outside the church & even from people within the church.  Attempts are made to divide the book into what is truly historical & what is purely theological.  We need to be absolutely clear on this point: the Bible itself never makes that distinction.  We cannot (and should not) deny the fact that the book of Genesis teaches theology, and does so from a certain point of view, without apology.  Yet that does not mean that Genesis is anything but historically accurate.  The Bible can teach theology and history at the same time, and compromise on neither.  The history may involve the supernatural – but if the supernatural really did happen, then the only inaccuracy would be to not speak of it.  Thankfully, the Bible is accurate about all of these things, and records it the way it happened.

Should there be any doubt among Christians as to whether or not to accept the Biblical account as it stands in Genesis, we need to remember that much of what we read in the New Testament is directly founded on teaching originating in Genesis.  In Revelation, we read of a pure river of life, and a tree of life, and a lack of a curse (Rev 22:1-3) – all of that is a direct reconciliation of what we read in Genesis 1-3.  In Revelation 20:14 we read of the death of death; in Genesis 3:19 we read of the origin of death.  In Revelation 12:9 we read of Satan who is called the serpent of old; in Genesis 3:1 we see the serpent in his original form.  In Romans 5 we read of how death spread to all men through Adam, but the free gift of grace is available to all men through Jesus Christ.

In fact, Jesus Himself taught the truth of Genesis from a literal, historical point of view.  When addressing the Pharisees, who attempted to trap Him in a theological argument concerning divorce, Jesus responded from the book of Genesis.  Matthew 19:4–6, "(4) And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ (5) and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? (6) So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”" []  If Jesus believed and taught the words of Genesis, we would be well-advised to do the same!

Question: Can someone be a born-again believing Christian without believing in the literal words of Genesis?  Yes.  But they do so without a solid Biblical foundation.  The plain meaning of the words of Genesis have to be intentionally reinterpreted (or even ignored) to attempt to reconcile the Bible with any theory of evolution (be it theistic evolution or otherwise).  So yes, someone can be a Christian and reject the first 10 chapters of Genesis, but he/she is a Christian in conflict.  It’s far better to be on solid Biblical ground, than to seek to maintain our reputation in the eyes of the world.  If Christians are not hated for their stand on Genesis, then we will be hated for other reasons – Jesus made that clear (Jn 15:18-19).  Why not simply hold to the plain teaching of the Bible, knowing that God will never be proven wrong?

TEXT
Although the text can be broken up by the various genealogies, it’s probably better to look at Genesis from a more thematic point of view.  Remember that the overall message of the Bible is this: God rights every wrong through Jesus Christ.  The book of Genesis provides the foundation for that.  First we see what God made right – then we see what Man did in making it wrong – after that we see what God did to begin His plan to make it right again.  That means we need to have the creation of everything, and also the creation of the people through whom God would bring Jesus.  That gives us two broad divisions: (1) The beginning of the world, (2) The beginning of the nation.  The first section covers everything from creation, the fall, the flood, and the spread of humanity.  The second section deals with the beginning of God’s chosen covenant people: the nation of Israel.  The first brings up the need for the second, because it is in the fall of mankind that creation is corrupted, and God’s eternal plan is to set it all right through Jesus Christ.  But for Jesus to come according to God’s plan, then a nation has to be born – and therein is the book of Genesis.

Ch 1 – Overview of Creation

  1. Vss 1-2 sum it up in advance: Genesis 1:1–2, "(1) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (2) The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." []  The existence of God is assumed, and it is the beginning of time and creation that is taught; not the beginning of God.  God in all of His fullness has always existed, and it was in His perfect will and timing that He desired to bring forth everything out of nothing.  And that is exactly what happened.  God brought it forward through an act of His creative will, and His presence hovered above the waters.
  2. There are six days of creation listed:
    1. Light out of darkness
    2. Division of waters (heavens/atmosphere vs. oceans)
    3. Dry land and vegetation
    4. Stars of the universe
    5. Air creatures and sea creatures (birds and fish)
    6. Land creatures and humans.
  3. Objections:
    1. How does God create light prior to stars?  His glory is often described as radiant light & is independent of stars.
    2. How do we know that the “days” of creation are literal days and not ages?  Because that is the natural interpretation of the text.  “Evening and morning” are pretty specific; God doesn’t tell us there were “Evenings and mornings.”  Is it possible they could be interpreted as ages?  Yes; there just isn’t any indication that the Bible does so.
    3. Couldn’t this all be symbolic mythological teaching? After all, Days 1-3 seem to be parallel to Days 4-6.  Couldn’t Genesis 1 simply be a way of teaching that God is behind it all, and this was just the best way of communicating it to the people of the time?  That’s a stretch.  Yes, it IS possible, but if so then it calls into question how we interpret everything else in the Bible.  The best interpretation of Scripture is the natural reading.  If it reads like a poem, then interpret it as a poem; if it reads like history, then interpret it as history.  A common objection is that Genesis 1 reads like a myth – yet, how exactly is the origin of the universe supposed to read?  This is far more detailed than other religious myths about the world being placed on the back of a turtle, etc.  It’s extremely systematic in its layout, without veering into unbelievable descriptions.  It’s just that God created, and this is how He did it.  IOW, it reads like history.  Thus, it should be interpreted as history.

Ch 2 – Detail of Creation: the first humans and first marriage

  1. Before the detail is given, the Sabbath is first established on the 7th day.  God created the entire universe in 6 days, but on the 7th day He rested.  Question: did God need to rest?  Of course not – He did so specifically to call attention to this period of rest.  Genesis 2:3, "Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made." []  Why would God desire to set apart this day as being holy?  Because ultimately it would point to Jesus Christ.  Hebrews 4:10–11, "(10) For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. (11) Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience." []  God had given the Sabbath to the Hebrews as a sign of their covenant – that they would rest and trust in God for their provision.  God gave the promised land to the Hebrews to have rest from their wanderings, but the command of the Sabbath did not cease when they made their home in Israel.  Their true rest would only be found in the work of Jesus, as the Promised Messiah provided rest from spiritual labors.  We cannot work our way into the salvation of God; we must rest in the work that He has done for us in Jesus.  That is the entire point of the Sabbath day, and God provided that testimony to the rest we have in Jesus all the way back in the first week of creation.
  2. Once the 7 days of the first week are described, we’re given a more in-depth description of the creation of Man, starting at 2:4 (and the 1st mention of γενεσις).  God had created the earth, and the animals, and had planted a garden.  He provided everything that was required for the pinnacle of His creation: humans.  God formed Man from the dust of the ground (not from an evolutionary chain of other animals), and breathed into him to give him life.  God gave the man the responsibility to care for the garden (thus creating work, which was originally intended to be pleasurable), and commanded him not to eat from one certain tree, under penalty of death.  Up to this point, everything that God created, God had called “good,” but there was one thing that was not good: Adam’s loneliness.  Thus God brought the woman out of Adam’s side, and joined her to Adam in a relationship ordained by God (thus creating marriage).
    1. The Bible neither condemns singleness nor childlessness by this account – it only shows the origin of marriage.  Because God created marriage, God is the One who defines marriage, and it’s not something that is subject to the whims of our culture.  When God saw the need to create a partner for Adam, God did so specifically making someone different than Adam and complementary to Adam.  Thus He created Eve, who was taken from the man, but would complete the man into being one flesh.  Any perversion of that standard (be it multiple partners, adulterous relationships, homosexuality, etc.) is flatly outside of God’s will.  The relationship that God established is the one He established as good, and it’s not to be tampered with.

Ch 3 – The temptation and fall: the first human sin

  1. To this point, everything has been good.  Husband and wife have lived in sweet communion with God, and everything has gone according to God’s plan.  That’s when Satan appears and provides the very first temptation.  He perverts the word of God, causing Eve to question whether or not God spoke the truth.  Eve is unable to respond according to what God actually said, and she succumbs to the deception of the devil.  Unmentioned to this point in the encounter, her husband is also willing to eat the fruit of the tree and does so.  Sin has now entered the world, as the eyes of Adam and Eve were opened to what they had done.  The intimacy they once enjoyed now became shameful, and they hid themselves from God.
  2. God confronts them on their sin, and Adam and Eve confess (albeit hesitantly).  God then acts in accordance with His righteousness, pronouncing curses upon all three of them: the serpent, the woman, and the man.  To the woman, God sentenced her to painful childbirth and subjection to her husband.  To the man, God sentenced him to laborious work and death.  To the serpent, God sentenced it far more harshly than one might expect of a mere animal (though it had to crawl on its belly and eat dust), and prophesies of a greater more permanent defeat that awaited in the future.  Genesis 3:15, "(15) And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel." []  There would be a long-lasting war between that which was behind the serpent, and human beings – one that would only be resolved through the “seed” of the woman.  Problem: biologically, women have eggs; men have seed.  How could there be a “seed” of a woman?  Answer: if the woman experienced a virgin birth.  Genesis 3:15 is often called the “protoevangelium,” or “first gospel.”  A miraculous Son is promised to come according to the genealogy of humans that will one day have victory over the evil that the serpent had wrought.  This is the promise of Jesus Christ, who not only had victory over death in His own resurrection, but who gives the promise of victory over death to all those who believe upon Him as Lord.
    1. How important are the first few chapters of Genesis?  Enough to provide the very foundation for the gospel in which we trust!
  3. After the curse, God provides the very first sacrifice in the Bible, showing the need for blood to be shed for sin (looking forward to the ultimate sacrifice in Christ Jesus).  And as a result of their sin, Adam and Eve are evicted from the garden, and forbidden to eat from the tree of life.  This is the mercy of God, in that Adam may have lived forever in his sinful state.  God forces Adam to leave in that Adam will die, and thus die while trusting in the promise of the coming Savior – the very first promise of salvation.

Things move a bit more quickly from this point…

Ch 4 – Cain and Abel: the first murder.  Sin is so evil in its scope that not a single generation passes before Mankind moves from rebellion to murder.  Cain was jealous of his brother, whose offering of a sacrificial animal was accepted by God (again, looking forward to Christ), while his was not.  He kills his brother and attempts to hide his sin, which proves impossible.  God allows Cain to live for a time, but curses him to be a wandering vagabond on the earth.  Cain continued to have sons and daughters, who sadly followed in his footsteps, with one of his descendants also committing murder.

Ch 5 – Genealogy of Adam.  The family of Adam lived on beyond Cain and Abel, with Adam’s 3rd son, Seth.  The lineage continues with men living several centuries at a time, and the genealogy continues until the introduction of Noah.

Ch 6 – The Ark.

  1. With Noah introduced, the context for the times is provided.  Humans had entered into truly evil times, and God determined not to strive with man forever, having regretted that He made man at all.  He gave a timeline of 120 years, and purposed the destruction of every man, excepting that of Noah, who had found grace in the eyes of God.  Noah is described as being just and perfect, as someone who walked with God (3:9).  Obviously Noah was just as fallen as any other human since the days of Adam; but he sought the Lord God in faith, and God extended to Noah saving grace.  (Salvation has always been by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, no matter what era someone has lived.)
  2. Why did God decide to save Noah, instead of wiping out all of humanity and starting over from scratch?  Because the lineage of Adam needed to be preserved.  God had a plan to right every wrong through Jesus Christ, and He had promised to bring forth a Savior through the seed of the woman (Eve).  For that promise to be kept, the lineage of Adam needed to be preserved.  God is faithful to every promise – something that is demonstrated even in periods of world-wide judgment.
  3. God gave Noah instructions for building the ark, describing it as a massive ship that would be used to preserve the lives of both Noah’s family and that of land animals and birds.  And Noah did exactly as was commanded of him.  Keep in mind that simply believing God that a flood would come was an act of faith; much less the construction of the ark itself.  The Bible gives the indication that it had never truly rained to this point, but a mist had watered the ground (2:5-6).  Noah believed God before he ever acted upon God’s word, and it is for that reason that Noah became an “heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” (Heb 11:7)

Ch 7 – The global flood. 

  1. With the ark built, and Noah, his family, and the animals inside, God brings forth the flood.  We tend to picture it in our minds as little more than a rainstorm, but the Bible describes it in far more violent terms.  Genesis 7:11–12, "(11) In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. (12) And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights." [] The very date is recorded because it was such a monumental event.  This wasn’t a 40-day rain shower; this was upheaval of Planet Earth.  The “fountains of the great deep were broken up,” indicating massive earthquakes and sudden, torrential flooding.  Such an event would be expected to bring about a drastic change upon the earth’s surface, quickly burying animals, humans, and plants in such a way that they didn’t have time to decompose, but rather succumb to time and pressure & either fossilize or become carbon-based fuel.  We would expect to see signs of sea life on newly erupted mountains.  We would expect to see all kinds of things that we DO see within the geological record.  It was a violent event of global proportions – and an unbiased interpretation of scientific data bears this out.
  2. Why was it so violent?  Because this was the judgment of God.  We tend to put cartoon pictures of Noah’s ark in children’s books because we think of a floating zoo.  The reality was anything but cartoonish.  All but 8 humans on the earth were killed.  The wages of sin is death, and it is dramatically illustrated in the global flood.  At the same time, the gift of God is salvation in Jesus Christ…something else that is dramatically illustrated by the flood.  How was Noah saved?  By faith in God, being hidden in a place of safety by the hand of God.  We find our refuge in Christ Jesus, and we are hidden away in Him, being sealed by the Holy Spirit.

Ch 8 – Noah’s deliverance.  The rain and torrents lasted 40 days, but the flood itself lasted much longer.  It wasn’t until 150 days later that the waters began to decrease, and 10 months passed by before the tops of the mountains were seen again.  Noah released a couple of birds to determine the availability of land.  The first was a raven that proved useless; the second was a dove that would go out and return to the ark until it found a place to live.  At that point, Noah knew it was safe, but he remained in the ark until God directed him to leave, which he did. 

Ch 9 – Noah’s covenant.  The earth needed to be repopulated, and God commanded Noah and his sons to be fruitful and multiply.  He gave the humans permission to eat animal meat, but restrained them from drinking blood.  (Not only was it unhealthy, but it was a sign of rebellion against God.)  God established His covenant with Noah and gave a covenant sign of the rainbow, as a symbol that He would never again destroy the earth by flood.  There will come a time that God destroys the earth again, but it will be by fire; not flood.  Noah’s family is described, showing the blessing of God upon Shem, the line from which will come the nation of Israel.

Ch 10 – Genealogy of Noah; Table of Nations.  From Noah’s sons, Ham, Shem, and Japheth, every nation of the world has its origins.  The Bible shows how the people eventually settled throughout the world, how some continued to follow after God, and others rebelled against God.  Yet we all have a common ancestry – we all go back to Noah, and thus we all go back to Adam, and we’re all in need of a Savior: the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ch 11 – Tower of Babel; Genealogy of Abram. 

  1. At the tower of Babel, the origin of different languages is told.  Man had once again rebelled against God, and thought itself capable of rising up to heaven.  Obviously, that was impossible, and God had no fear of man.  But to confuse men from carrying out their foolish scheme, God confused their languages and scattered them abroad.  (This is one more thing that is set right in Jesus Christ, as not only does the Holy Spirit give the gift of tongues and interpretations, but we are truly reconciled as one people in heaven, dwelling together with God.)
  2. The second half of Ch. 11 continues the genealogical line that eventually leads to Abram.  With Abram and his wife Sarai introduced, that is the family that the Bible follows the rest of the way through the Old Testament.

Ch 12 – Abram’s calling.  God graciously calls Abram (through no work of his own), and offers him a glorious promise of blessing.  Not only would Abram be made a great nation, but the promise of the seed of the woman was given to him, in that in Abram, “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (12:3)  Abram, his wife, and his nephew Lot eventually obey the Lord (it took a bit of time), and they arrive in Canaan where Abram pitches his tent and builds an altar.  He doesn’t stay long, and he goes to Egypt during a famine, where his trust in the Lord wavers a bit.  He tells a half-truth about his half-sister (who is his full wife!), and God mercifully protects Sarai from Pharaoh’s advances (and Abram’s fault).

Ch 13 – Abram’s inheritance.  Abram returns to Canaan, and is blessed to the extent that he and Lot can no longer share land due to the size of their wealth.  Abram allows Lot to choose where to go, and Lot chooses what seems better in his eyes (though it eventually leads him to Sodom), and all that remains is what God once again promises to give Abram.

Ch 14 – Abram as deliverer, and encounter with Melchizedek. 

  1. Caught up in a war involving Sodom & Gomorrah, Lot is taken captive, and Abram comes to his rescue.  Having grown in wealth and influence enough now to command a small army, Abram brings Lot out of captivity (prefiguring the deliverance we have in Christ), and Abram gives thanks to God when meeting the priest of God Most High, Melchizedek.  Abram gave the priest a tithe of all that he had received from the battle, worshipped God, and then later encountered a 2nd person: the king of Sodom, who offered Abram all kinds of blessings.  Abram refused to receive anything from Sodom, because he had already given his worship to the Lord God. (Prefiguring Jesus’ refusal to worship Satan because He would worship God alone.)
  2. Melchizedek becomes an important figure later on in the book of Hebrews, as he provides the model for Jesus’ own priesthood.  Melchizedek was both king and priest, just as Jesus is.  The priesthood of Melchizedek is superior to that of the Levites because Levi (though Abraham) paid homage and tithes to Melchizedek (Heb 7:9), thus Jesus’ priesthood is superior to all.  Jesus is the great King of Israel and High Priest of God Most High, whose kingdom and priesthood will never end.  (And Melchizedek himself may have been the pre-incarnate God Himself!)

Ch 15 – Abram’s covenant.

  1. It was after Abram demonstrated his worship of God alone through Melchizedek that God once again came to Abram and reaffirmed His covenant promise to him.  God would give him an heir, and name him a great nation.  Abram didn’t have a clue how God would do it, but he knew God could and would do it, and his faith became a model for our very salvation.  Genesis 15:6, "And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness." []  This is the verse the apostle Paul will come back to when teaching of salvation by faith alone (Rom 4:3, 22).  Abram had done nothing to save himself; all he had was faith in God’s promise.  Of course Abram’s faith moved him to action, which demonstrated the sincerity of his faith (Jas 2:23), but was not saved by his acts; he was saved solely by the grace of God.
  2. As a sign of God’s promise, God performed a covenant ceremony that was unconditional.  His glory passed through a series of slaughtered animals, demonstrating that the things God had promised, God would be faithful to perform, no matter what.  Even when Abram’s descendant would later be slaves for 400 years, God would bring them out again and fulfill His word.

Ch 16 – Hagar and Ishmael.  Abram had lapsed in faith earlier; now it was Sarai’s turn.  She tried to manipulate and rush the promise of God, and found that it couldn’t be done.  Giving her maid to Abram as a wife, Abram indeed had a son by her, but he was not the son of promise.  Sarai was willing to let Hagar and Ishmael period in the wilderness, but God was merciful.  Ishmael would not be the nation to bring the Messiah, but he would be great.  (Eventually, he would also be the foundation for the Islamic faith.)

Ch 17 – Circumcision.  Years had gone by since God first promised Abram a son.  Now 99 years old, God appears to him again and reiterates the promise – even changing Abram’s name to Abraham (“Father of a multitude”).  God had made a covenant promise earlier, and now commanded Abraham to perform the covenant sign of circumcision – a symbol of cutting away the flesh, and trusting God by faith.  Abraham believed, and obeyed.

Ch 18 – The promised son; God’s mercy with Sodom.  God once again appeared to Abraham and reiterated the promise, saying that that time was at hand.  Hearing this, Sarah doubted in her heart, and God confronted her lack of faith, giving her the opportunity to believe.  It was at this time God was ready to judge Sodom, and Abraham beautifully intercedes on their behalf, asking God to spare the city of even 10 righteous men could be found there.

Ch 19 – Sodom and Gomorrah; Lot’s immorality.  10 righteous men were not found, but God mercifully sought out the one righteous man that did exist: Lot (2 Pet 2:7).  The fact that the Bible refers to Lot as righteous is an act of grace in itself, as Lot was caught up in the midst of a terribly sinful city, and horribly offered his own daughters to a sexually perverted mob just to spare the angelic visitors that had come to him.  The angels took Lot from the city, Sodom was destroyed, and Lot’s daughters thought their family line was lost. Committing incest with their father, the family line continued, becoming the nations of Moab and Ammon.

Ch 20 – Abraham’s fear.  After everything Abraham already experienced, he once again has a lapse of faith (God still uses people despite our lack of faith!), and puts Sarah in the same situation as he had done with the Egyptian Pharaoh.  This time, it was with Abimelech, king of Gerar (20:2).  God once again protects Sarah and Abraham from himself.

Ch 21 – Isaac, Ishmael, and the mercy of God.  Isaac is born, exactly according to God’s word.  Instead of rejoicing in God’s righteousness, Sarah sends Hagar and Ishmael away again to die, and God once again shows His mercy, sparing them.

Ch 22 – The covenant confirmed. 

  1. The promised son has come, and God puts everything to the test.  He commands Abraham to take his son (his “only” son – 22:2) to Mount Moriah, lay him on the altar, and sacrifice him to God as a burnt offering.  One can only imagine what went through Abraham’s mind as he took Isaac in obedience.  The entire time, Abraham seemed to have faith that God would keep His earlier promise regarding Isaac, knowing that God could raise the dead if necessary (Heb 11:19).  Abraham raised his hand to kill his son, and was stopped at the last possible moment by the Angel of the Lord, and said God would provide for Himself the sacrifice.
    1. Once more prefiguring the sacrifice of Jesus for us.  Our lives were required for our sins, but God provided for Himself the sacrifice in the lamb of God, the Lord Jesus.
  2. God confirms His covenant once more, and Abraham forever goes down in the history books as the father of faith.

Conclusion:
We have to stop there due to time…we’ll finish up next week!

Genesis recounts the beginning of the world, and the beginning of the nation of Israel.  What had God done?  Everything that was good.  He created the Universe and all that was in it.  What had Man done?  Everything that was bad.  Man listened to the voice of temptation, and sinned against God.  And Man did it again and again and again.  God gave the sentence of death, but also gave the promise of a Savior.  That promise was seen with Adam, with Noah, with Abraham, and will continue through this one particular family.  The entire universe had fallen into sin, but God had a plan to set it right again through Jesus, and Genesis shows us how the plan was set into motion.  Narrowing it down to a single family, God shows us what His glory, mercy, grace, and deliverance look like, giving us not only the promise of Jesus, but pictures of what He will look like in the years to come.