Genesis is where it all begins. It’s our origin story. In fact, the word “Genesis” means “in the beginning.” And packed into its 50 chapters is a whole lot of adventure, tension, and ups and downs. There are also some pretty neat people in there. People just like you and me in that they were ordinary people God used to do extraordinary things.
Moses, who we will get to know more about next week in Exodus, is believed to have authored the book sometime between the Exodus and his death. You can break the book into two parts:
Primitive History (chapters 1-11): includes Creation and three major events: the fall, the flood, and the dispersement of nations.
Patriarchal History (chapters 12-50): includes the history of the four men who fathered the nation of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph
We are going to follow these distinct events and people in our breakdown of Genesis. Let’s dive in and explore the Bible.
CREATION (CH. 1-2)
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (1:1)
What we know about our Universe today wouldn’t exist without God, our Creator. He spoke all things into existence—everything that exists is the work of His hands. Let’s take a look at the Creation timeline:
Day 1: God created Day and Night
Day 2: God created Heaven
Day 3: God created Earth with dry land and seas, and all Vegetation
Day 4: God created the Sun, Moon, and Stars
Day 5: God created all Sea Creatures and Birds
Day 6: God created all Land Creatures and Man
Day 7: God rested
Man was created in the image of God, to rule over the earth. His name was Adam and after naming all the animals, he found no suitable mate for himself. Then God put him into a deep sleep and from his rib, created woman (Eve).
For a moment, I’d like to point out that in chapter 1 verse 26 God said: “Let us make man in our image.” This “us” referred to is the Trinity—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If this is a new idea to you or you’ve always wondered what that really means, to put it plainly, God is one in three persons. So, God is one eternal being manifested in three persons. They all have a different role and work in perfect harmony.
SIN ENTERS THE PICTURE (CH. 3)
After God created Adam and Eve, they lived in the Garden of Eden in wonderful intimacy with God. They had access to everything they needed except for one tree. One tree was off limits—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The reason being, it held the knowledge of sin.
One day in the garden Satan appeared in the form of a serpent and struck up a conversation with Eve. He asked her, “Did God actually say…” Satan inserted doubt and led Eve to question God. When Eve saw that the tree produced beautiful fruit, she took an apple and bit out of it. Then, she passed it on to Adam and he took a bite. Instantly, Adam and Eve became fully aware of sin. Together, both sharing equal blame for the event.
When they became aware of their nakedness they fashioned garments out of leaves and when God came looking for them, they hid in their shame.
The cost of this mistake could fill pages we don’t have but essentially sin had entered the world and death became the reality for all. So did shame, pain, sickness, difficulty and much more. As a result of what they had done, Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden. In addition, Eve was told childbearing would become painful and Adam would toil away in hardship to provide for his needs and the needs of his family.
This sin has passed down to all of mankind, except Jesus. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”
Sin brought all the unlovely in the world and there were natural consequences for the actions of Adam and Eve. But God had a plan for their redemption, and ours, that we will explore more later in this series.
NOAH AND THE FLOOD (CH. 6-8)
Adam and Eve had children and the earth began to populate. Eventually, civilizations began and corruption brewed. In fact, the wickedness was so bad that God became sorry for creating mankind and decided to wipe them from the planet. However, one righteous man—just one—chose to worship God and He decided to spare this man and his family. This man was Noah.
God told Moses to build an ark that would provide refuge to the man’s family during a catastrophic flood. Noah worked tirelessly to build the ark. When it was done, God brought a pair of every animal to the ark and along with Noah’s family, they all boarded the ark.
Then the rain came, and lots of it. Although it only rained 40 days and nights, Noah and all on the ark were actually on it for a total of 378 days by the time the flood subsided. Once they stepped back onto Earth, God told them to be fruitful and multiply. It was also here that Noah built an altar to the Lord and God promised He would never again destroy mankind with a flood. He put a rainbow in the sky as a reminder to us all of His promise.
TOWER OF BABEL (CH. 11)
God told Noah’s family to multiply and multiply they did. Eventually, a civilization formed under a leader named Nimrod and they gathered to build a tower to the heavens. Collectively, their pride ushered in rebellion. By building a tower (called Tower of Babel), it was assumed they could do just about anything. But God saw their pride and to humble their hearts He confused them with language. People scattered across the earth in groups based on their language and that’s how people groups spread.
ABRAHAM (CH. 12-25)
Abram, or Abraham as he was latered name, is the Father of Israel. The great patriarch of God’s chosen people. But Abram wasn’t born into a godly home. No, Abram was born in the wicked nation of Babylon to a father who served false Gods.
But a time came when God revealed Himself to Abram and called the man to follow Him. And Abram followed. But what should you know about Abram? Let’s take a brief look at his life.
His Journey to Canaan
Abram left Ur in Babylon with his family (including his wife, Sarai) because God told him to go to a land He would show him, which would have been Canaan. However, for some reason, Abram stopped just short of Canaan and settled in a town called Haran.
After some time there, God appeared to him and told him two things: one, God would bless Abram and two, to take his family to Canaan. Along with his wife and servants, he took his nephew Lot and Lot’s family. But at some point a famine hit Canaan and they all traveled to Egypt. After a run-in with the pharaoh Abram took his family back up to Canaan and it was here Lot and Abram split up. Eventually, Lot was captured by foreign forces and Abram rescued him.
God’s Convenant and the Growth of Abram’s Family
In Genesis 15 God appeared to Abram and promised that his heirs would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. At this point Abram and Sarai were childless. After sometime, Sarai became a bit impatient and in an attempt to get the ball rolling, suggested Abram marry her servant Hagar and conceive a child with her. Abram did what she suggested and with Hagar, had a son named Ishmael.
As you can imagine, family drama ensued and Hagar ran away while pregnant. But in a beautiful picture of God’s attentiveness to all people (Genesis 16), He told Hagar to return and that He would take care of Ismael.
Then in Genesis 17 we get a glimpse into a well know passage regarding God’s plan and promise for Abram. Three things happened here: one, Abram was renamed Abraham which means “father of a multitude.” Second, a covenant was established regarding Abraham’s offspring. And third, Abraham was promised that in one year he would have a son with Sarai (renamed Sarah).
Indeed, one year later and at the age of one hundred, Abraham had a son named Isaac. For many years they lived in assumed harmony and Abraham enjoyed parenthood. But then in Genesis 22 God showed up with a call. A call for Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. And without hesitation, Abraham responded. Early the next morning, Abraham took his son (who was thought to be 15-30 years old) on a journey to a mountain where he bound his son for sacrifice. Just before the act, God showed up and told Abraham he could stop.
The significance of this story is to highlight Abraham’s faithfulness. It was a test of his faith and he passed with flying colors. It’s a reminder to us to never hold something so close you would disobey God for it. To never have an idol. Abraham was blessed for his faithfulness and years later, died and passed on his legacy to Isaac.
ISAAC (CH. 21-35)
Isaac married a distant relative named Rebekah and they had a set of twin boys named Esau and Jacob. Not much is shared about his life outside of his early years with Abraham and later years with Jacob. But he was a man who faithfully served God and someone God also promised a legacy to. He continued the bloodline that would lead to the people of Israel.
JACOB (CH. 25-49)
Jacob was born grasping at the heel of his twin brother, Esau. In fact, his name means “heel grabber” or”deceiver.” It’s fairly indicative of his early years.
Essentially, Jacob was always after the birthright and blessing that belonged to is older brother Esau. He would manipulate to secure both. First, in chapter 25 he secured the birthright (a double portion inheritance and role of family priest) by leveraging Esau’s starvation. He promised to give Esau a bowl of soup for the birthright and Esau agreed. Then, in chapter 27 he stole the blessing (prosperity and the covenant line) by pretending to be Esau to his dying father. Honestly, Jacob wasn’t the most honest guy or even all that good of a person.
Esau wS infuriated and planned to kill Jacob after their father died so Rebekah sent Jacob off to live with her brother, Laban. Jacob fled, never seeing his mother again.
He found Laban and fell in love with his daughter, Rachel. Laban agreed to give her to Jacob after seven years of work. At the end of the seven years, however, Laban deceived Jacob and gave the other sister, Leah, over to Jacob. It’s thought Jacob was drunk. When Jacob realized the next morning what happened, he called Laban out. Laban agreed to give him Rachel in exchange for another seven years. The deceiver was deceived but it was this time away from home where God pulled out the old Jacob and began a new work in him. In fact, God renamed him “Israel” to indicate his new identity.
Eventually God told Jacob to return home and Jacob took his tribe back. Esau forgave him and Isaac was still alive. Over time, Jacob had twelve sons but only two with Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. Joseph became his favorite.
JOSEPH (CH. 30-50)
Joseph had dreams when he was growing up of his brothers bowing before him. When he told his brothers they became resentful and sold him into slavery in Egypt.
Joseph served his master Potiphar well and was given oversight of Potiphar’s house; his master fully trusted him. One day Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph and when he refused her she claimed he tried to rape her and he was thrown into prison.
In prison, Joseph continued to be faithful to God and a trustworthy man. The warden eventually promoted Joseph to oversee all the prisoners and it was here, while in jail, he had the opportunity to interpret the dreams of one of pharaoh’s officials.
Pharaoh had a dream he couldn’t shake and no one could interpret. The official told pharaoh of Joseph and he was able to interpret the dream that warned of a coming famine. Pharaoh then appointed Joseph to second in command of all of Egypt. Amazing, right?!
When the famine hit Canaan, Joseph’s brothers traveled to Egypt and requested help, but didn’t recognize Jospeh. But they all bowed down before him, making Joseph’s dream a reality. Eventually, Joseph forgave all his brothers and they all, including Jacob, moved to Egypt, thus reuniting the family.
WHAT WE CAN LEARN
From Creation: God has always had a plan for Creation and He intimately formed everything we know. He fashioned us in His likeness and desires relationship with us.
From the Fall: We need God—desperately. Sin has brought death and separation. However, as we will learn, God also has a plan for our redemption.
From the Flood: Sin destroys but God redeems.
From the Tower of Babel: God wants no idols before us nor pride in our hearts.
From Abraham: God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. All He asks of us is to have a willing and surrendered heart that will step out when He says step out. That will leave the comfortable for the promises of God.
From Isaac: Live a life of faithfulness.
From Jacob: You’re never too far gone from God’s grace. He redeems, restores, and renames the broken and lost. Follow Him and He will make straight your paths.
From Joseph: Be faithful with the small things. Even after multiple disappointments remain committed to God and give your all.
“So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,” for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Genesis 16:13