Biblical Book Profiles- Genesis

As part of my work has been enrolled in the Leaders: Program. This is some of the work that I have done. These are biblical book profiles that I will be working on, I will be putting these up once a month. Use them and enjoy them!

Book: Genesis

Author: Mosaic Authorship (disputed in some circles)

Date: Approx. 1450-1410 BC

Subject: First of five books known as the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). Genesis deals with: creation, sin, the beginnings of civilizations, and the foundations for the formation of Israel as a nation.

Purpose: The book of Genesis is the beginning of all things. The purpose is to show the beginning of our human history, not necessarily the planet itself (1:2 suggests something that may have existed before, but Genesis never seeks to answer that question). Genesis begins with all things being created, then shows humanity enslaving themselves to sin, the emergence of the nations of the world, the beginning of Israel, and how the problem of sin needs a solution.

Outline:

1-2: Creation. God creates all things, and mankind is the pinnacle of creation. All is declared to be “good”.

3: Sin enters the world through disobedience of Adam and Eve, all mankind is tainted with sin, and Adam and Eve are cast out of the garden.

4-6: Sin effects mankind in so devastatingly that God sends flood in judgment

7-8: God rescues man through Noah and his family

9: God vows to never again destroy the world through flood

11: God confuses common language by introducing the worlds language and scatters everyone on earth.

12: Introduction of Abraham: significant promise from God to be a great nation, and all the nations of the world would be blessed through him.

17: Promised reiterated

21: Isaac is born

22: Abraham takes Isaac to sacrifice foreshadowing of God sending Jesus to be a sacrifice for all, Abraham again had the promise of blessing given to him.

26: Isaac receives the same blessing and promise that was given to Abraham from God.

25-29: Jacob is born, receives birthright and blessing designated for the firstborn, through deception and trickery. Marries Leah and Rachel.

30-32: Jacob’s 12 sons are the future 12 tribes of Israel

35: Jacob and family move to Bethel, and God gives the promise of Abraham and Isaac to Jacob

37: Joseph, Jacob’s youngest son is sold into slavery and sent to Egypt. Entire account of being in Egypt made to mirror Jesus’ ultimate rescue of mankind.

39-47: Joseph moves from slave into the second most powerful person in all of Egypt. God uses him to rescue family, and most of the world by preparing for a worldwide famine.

48-50: Jacob is dying and blesses his sons. He gives a blessing to Judah that points to Jesus coming from his line of decedents.

Biblical Theological Contribution: This is an extremely important book in terms of its theological contribution. As it is literally the beginning of everything; creation, origin of sin, beginning of the promise of rescue, it is also full of grace, and full of forgiveness.

Creation and Origin of Sin

Genesis gives us a look at how God had created the world and everything in it. Humanity has its beginnings with Adam and Eve. God also gave Adam and Eve a purpose for existence; caring for the garden, and a command to be fruitful and multiply. They were given one law to follow, which was to not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (2:16-17). This law was disobeyed through temptation offered by the “snake” (that is, the devil). As a result of this, we have our first major theological understanding of man, sin and death. Which were introduced to humanity by one act of disobedience of eating the fruit which they were forbidden to do, and sin and death became an intricate part of every human that was subsequently born (8:21).

As Genesis continues to unfold, we see just how deeply sin affects humanities actions, and relationship with God. In chapter 3, God confronts Adam and Eve about their disobedience, and as a result ejects them from the Garden of Eden. Our first practical display of broken relationships marred by sin, comes from their children Cain and Able. Out of jealousy, Cain kills his brother Able.

Genesis continues to unfold the deep effects of sin, in the narrative with Noah, to the tower of Babel, to the depravity of Sodom and Gomorrah, to the distrusting of the promises with Abraham, to the deception with Jacob and Esau, and finally the selling of Joseph into slavery. All of these accounts show how deeply sin effects relationships between many different family members, with others, and more importantly the relationship between God and man.

Atonement, and sacrifice

We also see in the narrative account of Adam and Eve a measure of grace and love from God. He covers them with the skins of animals, not letting them remain in their “nakedness” (both literal, and figurative of their exposed deeds of sin). He also promises them, that out of their descendants would emerge one who would crush the head of the serpent.

The first children (Cain and Able), are compelled to offer sacrifice to God. Something about Cain’s sacrifice shows that sacrifice has more to do with the heart, then simply the actions. As Genesis continually unfolds, we see themes of offering sacrifices as a sign of devotion to God, and God offering favour to them as a result of sacrifice.

The most prominent display of sacrifice is shown in Abraham’s offering of his only son, Isaac (Gen 22). Abraham had been given the promise of having many descendants and had one legitimate son Isaac. He was then told to take Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice to God. Abraham did so willingly and just before he drove the knife into his son, God called to him to stop, and sent a ram. This act of sacrifice is significant in that it would foreshadow God sending Jesus as a sacrifice for man.

Sovereignty of God:

Genesis also tells us that God is completely sovereign in all situations. He chooses those who He will, He uses the messiest of all situations to display His glory. Throughout Genesis, God also does not always choose those who man would choose. This is seen in the narrative of Cain and Able (also with Jacob who was the second born, and Joseph who was the last of 12).

One of the amazing lessons that shows God’s sovereignty, is that in the last narrative found in Genesis, Joseph was sold as a slave to Egypt by his brothers, and God uses this particular situation to call Israel out of slavery. This in turn will foreshadow our own rescue out of slavery to sin.

Promises:

Although this is more thoroughly detailed once Israel becomes established as a nation, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all given important promises that can be found initially beginning with Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve are promised to one day have a child that will “crush the head of the serpent” (3:15). Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all promised that the families on earth would be blessed through them, they would have many descendants, and their descendants would be given a land for them specifically (12:3; 15:5; 18:18; 22:17-18; 26:4; 28:14).

This is a significant theological contribution because Genesis shows us the beginning of these promises. We do not see the complete fulfillment of these promises, and yet they are deeply woven into Scriptures. The promise of blessings and cursings, the promise of being a great nation, a blessing to the world, and of a promised land are huge themes that get developed throughout the bible. It is in Genesis that we find their beginnings.

Gospel Significance:

The gospel significance of Genesis cannot be underscored as we have quite literally, the beginning of the “good news”. The beginning where God lovingly creating the world, declaring it good, and mankind as the pinnacle of creation. We see the intended outcome of man working to expand the garden, simply enjoy creation, being fruitful and multiplying, and to just enjoy being in God’s presence.

We also see the origin of sin. Tempted by the snake in chapter 3, Adam and Eve follow their own desires in disobedience of God’s command. This creates separation from God as a result of their own actions. Since this point we (humanity) are banned from the garden, man’s relationship with God is permanently severed, and we are now searching for (and need) a means to get back into that relationship with God.

Adam and Eve’s children Cain and Able point to the deep effect of sin when God disregards Cain’s sacrifice in favour of Able’s. This creates a jealousy in Cain in which God warns Cain that “sin is crouching at the door” (4:7). Cain ultimately kills Able in a tragic fit of sibling rivalry.

Throughout Genesis we witness numerous narratives with God choosing specific people that had tremendous promises, and also incredible displays of faith. We also however witness the reality of sin nature as each one of these people that God chooses, fails to wholly trust and surrender in God’s provision or protection. This theme is woven continually to the end. It reveals the deep effect that our sin nature has in regard to our relationship to God, even for those who are declared righteous.

Genesis is the set up for the bigger Gospel story of rescue and redemption. Genesis traces Israel’s beginning from a single family line, eventually culminating to Jacob having 12 sons, who become the 12 different tribes of Israel. They are then brought into Egypt through Joseph’s story of being sold as a slave to Egypt. Joseph then brings the rest of the family into Egypt as welcomed and celebrated guests. This sets up a bigger story of rescue that would mirror the story of Jesus’ rescue of the world.

Genesis plays the vital role to set up why all of humanity needs to be rescued from sin. Shown of course through the narrative of Adam and Eve. Genesis imperfectly ends how it began, being taken out from a land that was destined to be theirs, placed in a strange land. It is thus, God’s design to see Israel brought back to the land that He had promised to them.

Personal Reflection:

I take a great deal of comfort knowing that God chose people who were not really very “pure”. All characters failed on some level and we see that God still chose them. One of the worst deceivers (Jacob) is used as the father of all the heads of the tribes of Israel. The heads of Israel are conceived in some sort of weird competition between the two wives of Jacob and their two handmaids. God used this begin the formation of Israel, His chosen people, (even the line that Jesus was descended from (Judah) had his own share of sin with Tamar (Gen 38)).

I think that sometimes the idea of righteousness is equated to whether or not someone is acting “morally” or not. Genesis begins by saying this is clearly not the case. The forefathers of Israel are clearly not always “moral” but their hearts are somehow humbled in a way that Scriptures declare them righteous.

It is also challenging that their faith in God’s promises are not always in direct relationship with whether or not God actually gives them the solution right away. I think of Abraham having to wait for so long to see a child come from Sarah. He fails to wait when he fathers a child through Hagar, but God reiterates that the child is to come from Sarah.

To have the promise, that he would be the father of many, and then only to have one son from Sarah. It seems crazy! Then Isaac and Rebekah seem to multiply the number by having twins, but still a small family in comparison to the promise, (Jacob was really the only ones who actually had many children). Yet faithfully, they trusted that God would fulfill all of His promises.