The book of Genesis stands at the beginning of the Scriptures and the Pentateuch.
- The book of Genesis was written by Moses originally for the nation of Israel after they had escaped from Egypt.
- Mostly likely it was written and delivered before the people were to enter the Promised Land and conquer the Canaanites.
- This was obviously a frightening time for many of them. They needed to know the promise God had made to them and to be assured of His ability to keep that promise.
- It serves as an introduction to the books of Moses and to the rest of the Bible as well. It helps the Israelites understand how and why God chose them and how He intended to use them.
- Genesis is about how the world began, where the world went wrong, and how God plans to fix what man has broken.
- A key word for remembering what Genesis is about is the word, beginnings.
Like all beginnings, the book of Genesis plays a very important role in understanding the rest of Scripture.
- It tells us where we came from.
- It teaches who God is and what He is like.
- It shows us what the world was designed to be like and where our problems came from.
- It teaches us about God’s holy judgment of sin.
- It points to Christ through promises of salvation and the promises He makes to His people.
- It reveals God’s ability to keep His promises in spite of great obstacles.
- It gives us categories to understand the work of Christ. For example, the New Testament writers often talk about Jesus’ work as being that of the last Adam.
- Genesis is quoted from over 200 times in the New Testament. In fact, chapters 1-11 is quoted more than 100 times in the New Testament. It is actually quoted word for word over 165 times in the New Testament. Thus, it is not surprising that Genesis gives the foundation for all the great doctrines of the Bible.
As you study the book of Genesis, be looking in particular for:
- God: The hero of the book of Genesis is God, and this is our first introduction to God in the Bible. You will be able to learn a lot even from stories you may find at first confusing, if you simply ask yourself, what can I learn from this story about what God is like. One of the key truths to learn from Genesis about God has to do with His sovereignty. The stories of Genesis make it clear there is one God who rules the world and He is in absolute control.
- Grace: Bryan Chappell explains, “I see Genesis as providing the original statement of the grace principles that are in the rest of Scripture. So when I study the book of Genesis, I’m really looking for those grace connections. How is God showing us that he’s providing what we cannot provide for ourselves? . . . How is God showing his grace to a fallen people, and beginning to unfold that plan of how he will rescue them? So I’m looking for the principles of grace that will be exploded in the rest of Scripture—but just in their nugget form—in the book of Genesis.”
- Promise” In Genesis, God begins unveiling the way in which He is going to go about saving HIs people. Keep your eyes open for the hints we find throughout the book of Genesis as to exactly how He is going to do that.
When you read Genesis keep in mind some of the following suggestions:
- Look at Genesis 1:1-2:3 to help you understand God’s purpose in this world.
- Keep in mind the big picture. Genesis is part of a bigger story. And what we see in Genesis is the beginnings of God’s plan for fixing what man has broken. Genesis 3:15 provides the first glimpse into God’s great salvation plan.
- Also pay attention to some of the themes that run throughout the book:
- The basis of man’s relationship with God is His sovereign grace, not what man deserves.
- Faith in the promise of God is foundational for blessing from him.
- Promise of a special offspring. (Genesis 12:1-3:15:1-20)
- God’s absolute faithfulness to His promise despite the crazy circumstances of life.
The story Genesis tells can be divided very simply:
- The beginnings of the world, Genesis 1-11: 4 Big Events: Creation, fall, flood, Babel
- The beginnings of Israel, Genesis 12-50: 4 Important People: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph
Or alternatively, you could be a bit more specific:
- The origin of the world: Genesis 1
- The origin of the nations: Genesis 2-11
- The origin of Israel: Genesis 12-50
Or even more precisely, you could organize the book of Genesis according to the author’s own arrangement.
- Each new development in the history is introduced by the phrase “This is the family history of” or “These are the generations of…” This statement serves like a chapter heading or a section heading in our modern books.
One commentator thus outlines Genesis like this:
History of heaven and earth: 2:4-4:26
Family history of Adam: 5:1-6:8
Family history of Noah: 6:9-9:29
Family history of Noah’s sons: 10:1-11:9
Family history of Shem: 11:10-26
Family history of Terah: 11:27-25:11
Family history of Ishmael: 25:12-18
Family history of Isaac: 25:19-35:29
Family history of Esau: 36:1-37:1
Family history of Jacob: 37:2-50:26