Genesis

Genesis is the book of beginnings. It records the beginning of time, life, sin, salvation, the human race, and the Hebrew nation. It begins with primeval history centered in four major events: the Creation, the Fall, the Flood, and the dispersion of the nations. Genesis then narrates the history of four great patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.

Title: The English title, Genesis, comes from the Greek translation (Septuagint, LXX) meaning “origins”; whereas, the Hebrew title is derived from the Bible’s very first word, translated “in the beginning.” Genesis serves to introduce the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Old Testament), and the entire bible.

The influence of Genesis in Scripture is demonstrated by its being quoted over 35 times in the New Testament and hundreds of allusions appearing in both Testaments. The story line of salvation which begins in Genesis 3 is not completed until Revelation chapters 21 and 22, where the eternal kingdom of redeemed believers is gloriously pictured.

The title, Genesis (Greek, “Beginning”), was applied to this book by the Septuagint. The Hebrew title (bereshit) comes from the first word of the book in Hebrew (“In the beginning”). The book is divided by 10 units (toledot) under the rubric: “These are the generations of.” Thus, some have suggested that Moses had access to the patriarchal records.

Authorship – Date: With very few exceptions, Jewish and Christian scholars alike believed that Moses wrote Genesis. His authorship is supported by the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Palestinian Talmud, the Apocrypha (Ecclus. 45:4; 2 Macc. 7:30), the writings of Philo (Life of Moses 3:39), and Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 4:8:45; Contra Apion I.8.

Moses life extended 120 years (Deut. 34:7). The first 40 years (1525–1485 B.C.) he spent as Pharaoh’s son, learning the wisdom of the Egyptians (Acts 7:22). He spent the next 40 years (1485-1445 B.C.) in the desert of Midian as a shepherd (Exodus 2:15; Acts 7:30). The final 40 years (1445-1405 B.C.), he spent wandering in the Sinai wilderness with the children of Israel (Deut. 8:2). He very likely wrote all of the books of the Pentateuch after his call to lead the people out of Egypt, as recounted in Exodus 3. This would have been in his last 40 years of life, during the wilderness wanderings.

Background – Setting: The initial setting for Genesis is eternity past. God then, by willful act and divine Word, spoke all creation into existence, furnished it, and finally breathed life into a lump of dirt which He fashioned in His image to become Adam. God made mankind the crowing point of His creation, i.e., His companions who would enjoy fellowship with Him and bring glory to His name.

The historical background for the early events in Genesis is clearly Mesopotamian. While it is difficult to pinpoint precisely the historical moment for which this book was written, Israel first heard Genesis sometime prior to crossing the Jordan River and entering the Promised Land (ca. 1405 B.C.). Genesis has 3 distinct, sequential geographical settings:

(1) Mesopotamia (chapters 1-22);

(2) The Promised Land (chapters 12-36); and

(3) Egypt (chapters 37-50).

The time frames of these 3 segments are:

(1) Creation to ca 2090 B.C.;

(2) 2090-1897 B.C.; and

(3) 1897-1804 B.C.

Genesis covers more time than the remaining books of the Bible combined.

Historical – Theological Themes: In this book of beginnings, God revealed Himself and a worldview to Israel which contrasted, at times sharply, with the worldview of Israel’s neighbors. The author made no attempt to defend the existence of God or to present a systematic discussion of His person and works. Rather, Israel’s God distinguished Himself clearly from the alleged gods of her neighbors. Theological foundations are revealed which include God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, man, sin, redemption, covenant, promise, Satan and angels, kingdom, revelation, Israel, judgment and blessing.

Genesis 1-11 (primeval history) reveals the origins of the universe, i.e., the beginnings of time and space and many of the firsts in human experience, such as marriage, family, the Fall, sin, redemption, judgment, and nations. Genesis 12-50 (patriarchal history), explained to Israel how they came into existence as a family whose ancestry could be traced to Eber (hence the “Hebrews”; Gen. 10:24-25), and even more remotely to Shem, the son of Noah (hence the “Semites”; Gen. 10:21). God’s people came to understand not only their ancestry and family history, but also the origins of their institutions, customs, languages, and different cultures, especially basic human experiences such as sin and death.

Because they were preparing to enter Canaan and dispossess the Canaanite inhabitants of their homes and properties, God revealed their enemies’ background. In addition, they needed to understand the actual basis of the war they were about to declare in light of the immorality of killing, consistent with the other 4 books that Moses was writing (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). Ultimately, the Jewish nation would understand a selected portion of preceding world history and the inaugural background of Israel as a basis by which they would live in their new beginnings under Joshua’s leadership in the land which had previously been promised to their original patriarchal forefather, Abraham.

Genesis 12:1-3 established a primary focus on God’s promises to Abraham. This narrowed their view from the entire world of peoples in Genesis 1-11 to one small nation, Israel, through whom God would progressively accomplish His redemptive plan. This underscored Israel’s mission to be “a light to the nations” (Isa. 42:6). God promised land, descendants (seed), and blessing. The 3-fold promise became, in turn, the basis of the covenant with Abraham (Gen. 15:1-20). The rest of Scripture bears out the fulfillment of these promises.

On a larger scale, Genesis 1-11 set forth a singular message about the character and works of God. In the sequence of accounts which make up these chapters of Scripture, a pattern emerges which reveals God’s abundant grace as He responded to the willful disobedience of mankind. Without exception, man responded in greater sinful rebellion. In biblical words, the more sin abounded the more did God’s grace abound (Romans 5:20).

On final theme of both theological and historical significance sets Genesis apart from other books of Scripture, in that the first book of Scripture corresponds closely with the final book. In the book of Revelation, the paradise which was lost in Genesis will be regained. The apostle John clearly presented the events recorded in his book as future resolutions to the problems which began as a result of the curse in Genesis 3. His focus is upon the effects of the Fall in the undoing of creation and the manner in which God rids His creation of the curse effect. In John’s own words, “There will no longer be any curse” (Rev. 22:3). Not surprisingly, in the final chapter of God’s Word, believers will find themselves back in the Garden of Eden, the eternal paradise of God, eating from the tree of life (Rev. 22:1-14). At that time, they will partake, wearing robes washed in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 22:14).

Genesis is the foundational book to the rest of the Bible. Its important theological themes include the doctrines of God, Creation, man, sin and salvation. It teaches the importance of substitutionary atonement and of faith in God’s revelation of Himself to mankind. It also records the first messianic prophecies of the Bible predicting that the Redeemer would be born of the seed of a woman (3:15); through the line of Seth (4:25); a son of Shem (9:27); the offspring of Abraham (12:3); Isaac (21:12); and Jacob (25:23); and from the tribe of Judah (49:10).

Genesis covers more time than any other book in the Bible. It opens with the words: “In the beginning God created” (1:1), and it ends with “in a coffin in Egypt (50:26). Thus, it covers the whole plight of man, who was created in God’s image to live forever, but because of sin became destined for the grave. The book leaves the reader anxiously anticipating the redemptive intervention of God.

Share – How to spread the Good News

One of the first steps we all should take as followers of Jesus is to be baptized. This is how we follow Jesus’ example of being baptized and how we publicly proclaim that we are followers of Him. It is an illustration of how we identify with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. This does not save us as no works of our own can do that. Being baptized is an important symbol of what has happened to our lives and hearts as someone that has trusted Jesus.

We are called by Jesus to share the Good News and make disciples of others. It is not a suggestion or an option but a command. We know this sounds scary and it is hard to think about how to talk about God with those that may not know or believe in Him. Therefore, start with some basics.

We must live our life genuinely in service to God so we are not seen as hypocrites. Start praying for those you want to share with and that you believe don’t know Jesus. Keep in mind that you are not asked to save anyone but rather share the Gospel. Only the Holy Spirit can open eyes and hearts to God’s truth.

When you get that opportunity to bring this up, don’t be afraid. God is with you and wants to help. Don’t feel like you need to know the answer to every question. Focus on sharing your story and the difference God has made in your life. Use simple words in explaining how we are all sinners and in need of forgiveness.

Use “we” and “us” to let them know you are no different and just blessed enough to have heard the Good News and accepted Jesus. Don’t expect results immediately. Be faithful and let God use you in the amazing process of Him revealing himself to others. Finally, you have no idea how long God has been working on you, so don’t get discouraged if it takes a while with others.

Connecting – Understanding the importance of community

God did not design you to live alone. We are all created for community. We are stronger when we are living with others and not trying to do life alone. This is especially true as a new believer. You need other believers around you to encourage, teach, pray and worship with you. Your decision to follow Jesus is an awesome event in your life. Think about who you know that is a follower of Jesus and share this with them. Ask if you could talk with them more about their faith journey.

The Bible’s original Greek word for church is translated as gathering or assembly. The idea being that followers of Jesus would gather to live in fellowship with one another. They would be united by Jesus, study God’s word, love one another, encourage each other through difficult times, help each other grow closer to Jesus and live as a Christian family.

Another aspect to community is the concept of serving the “body of Christ.” The idea is that each follower of Jesus is part of the universal body and we each serve a different purpose that together makes us whole. We are called to care for one another and recognize that if one suffers we are all hurting.

We should think about how to use our time, our talents and our treasure to serve God. You have a role on this community of believers and you need to spend time thinking what it may be. This coming together and serving the greater good is how we flourish and serve God well.

Listening – Hearing what God has to say

Everyone that has ever prayed to God has wanted a clear answer to some request or question. Often those answers are not what we expect or when we expect them. The key to finding and understanding those answers is making time to listen to God. We have to be very intentional when we listen so we actually hear what God is saying. The Bible talks about how Jesus found time away from everyone else to just be with God.

Spiritual quiet time often is mixed in with prayer and reading the Bible. That means finding a quiet place where you can settle your heart. It means turning off all the things that compete for your attention. When we focus solely on connecting with God and hearing what He wants to share is when we receive direction, hope and answers.

There is no set time or formula for doing this or for guaranteeing results. It is about determining where you can best hear God and connect with His spirit. But also realize that God can answer you and reveal himself through many different ways including other believers, worship and your circumstances.

Once you are in the habit of listening and find what works best, you should take note of three things: (1) The time of day it is best for you to do this. (2) The place you are most productive meeting God. (3) The activities such as prayer, Bible reading, music and other things that get you most focused on God. As you learn what works best in these three areas, you need to commit to doing this in a way that is most likely to be honored by God.

Prayer – Talking with God

It is actually pretty awesome to think that we have a direct line to the Creator of the universe. We often make a relationship with God more complicated than it needs to be. If you look at your best relationships, it is usually because you care about one another, you spend time together, and you value what the other has to say. The same things hold true for a relationship with God.

Prayer is simply talking with God. It is being honest with Him but also recognizing His ways are beyond what we can appreciate or understand. One person once said that if you knew what God knows, you would answer every prayer just as He does. This means we have to accept that we won’t always understand why God responds as He does or why we don’t get everything we seek.

In fact, we should simply seek His will and the strength to accept it rather than what our own hearts may desire. He wants what is best for us and has a perfect eternal perspective. Find time each day to pray and talk with God. This will help you to start learning how to trust Him with everything in your life.

There is no formula you have to use for prayer, but many have found a simple model that works well. It is based on the acronym ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Adoration is expressing to God how great He is and how you love Him for it. Confession is admitting your sins and being accountable for disobeying Him so you can be cleansed.

Thanksgiving is thanking God for His grace and forgiveness in our lives and expressing your appreciation for everything He has done for you. Supplication is asking God for help with the things in your life that need change as well as praying for others. Find time each day to pray and talk with God. This will help you to start learning how to trust Him with everything in your life.

Reading the Bible – Learning what God thinks

Many new believers wonder how they can know what God wants them to do. God reveals Himself to us through His Word, the Holy Bible. He also shapes our hearts and lives through His Word. Learn to rest in it and find truth. Spending time in the Bible is transforming and it slowly brings you closer to God.

The Bible is God’s true word – “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The Word of God is a living and active word that we can interact with – “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

All believers, especially new ones, should read and study the Bible every day. As with any book, we must read it in context and in its entirety to truly understand its meaning and what God is saying. That can feel a little overwhelming at first, but use a simple process for getting the most out of each passage.

Ask the following three questions: What does the verse say? What does the verse mean? What does this verse mean to me? Often doing this with an experienced believer will help put things into context and increase your understanding.

Knowing what happens now that you are saved

This simple reading plan takes the next week to review your decision to follow Jesus Christ and help you start walking with Him. This practical devotional will help you start your journey with God through seven steps: KNOW, READ, PRAY, LISTEN, CONNECT, WORSHIP AND SHARE. These steps will help change your life and help you become the person God created you to be.

The plan for the next week is as follows:
Day One – Reviewing your decision to follow Jesus and what it means.
Day Two – Reading the Bible and learning what God thinks.
Day Three – Understanding how to pray and talk with God.
Day Four – Learning how to listen to God and hear his voice.
Day Five – Understanding how we are created for community and called to serve.
Day Six – Seeing how we are called to worship and praise God.
Day Seven – Learning how to share the good news of Jesus.

As part of inviting Jesus into your life, you should have heard the Gospel. This is the Good News message of the Bible. In its simplest form, God made the world and created humanity. Man was in relationship with God for the glory of God and to experience God’s love. Loving God was at the core of all things and it was good and moral.

However, that all changed when man used the free will God had so graciously provided to disobey God. That moment of disobedience, or the fall, is when sin came into the world. Sin broke man’s perfect fellowship with God and brought evil, disease and death into the world. These sins separate us from a perfect and holy God.

Our sin is the problem that corrupts the world and everything in it and we are powerless to overcome our sin apart from Jesus Christ. Our attempts to control the situation only increase the chaos around us and within us. That is why we need healing. That healing is only by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. That is the Good News – that Jesus loves us so much He offers us forgiveness of our sins and His spirit to help us change how we live.

Now that you have invited Jesus into your heart you are a child of God. It means that you are a new creation. You are God’s son or daughter and He has given your life a purpose. It means that the eternal promises of God are yours and you have been set free from sin and death by the blood of Jesus Christ! However, this does not mean life will be perfect or all your problems will disappear.

That happens in heaven. Until then, nothing can separate you from God’s love. He sees you as perfect and holy even after you mess up. Keep reading to learn how to fully trust God and have a real relationship with Him so He guides your path and draws you even closer.