The Unity of The Bible: Genesis
These posts will be concise, because time is of essence to me, and I must spend much more time learning and ministering in my churches than I do blogging.
Genesis sets the tone for the rest of the Scriptures. That is seen in a number of ways, as will be evident by the repetition by the subsequent books of the themes initiated by God in Genesis. It is also seen in that Jesus refers to Genesis on more than one occasion for the purpose of teaching the people. Not only does that show the role of the Pentateuch in Jesus’ theology, but also the foundational nature of the book of beginnings. It is also seen in the fact that God created the heavens and the earth, then place man in paradise in Genesis; which theme is re-enacted by God creating new heavens and a new earth and placing man in paradise once again in the eschaton as seen in the book of Revelation.
It all begins with the assertion that God was before matter and time. In fact, God created matter and time. Thus He is Master and God of all matter and time. He is even God of animals and the heavenly bodies. This is why we shall find that He, and not they, is to be worshiped.
Out of the desert of an earth that was formless and empty, by Divine fiat, the earth was filled.
God is benevolent and kind, as seen in the fact that He sees His creation as good, and then blesses it.
God also blesses man and commands him to fill the earth.
Man is placed in a garden and given great permission to enjoy it. Only one prohibition is given.
Sin enters the world because man fails to trust and worship God, but rather believes the lie of the serpent and worships himself by seeking to elevate himself to the level of God.
Because of sin man is cursed and the earth is cursed.
God promises one who will come to deliver mankind and break the curse. Eve believes this promise and has hope that it will be fulfilled in Cain. After the murder of Abel and the curse of Cain, Eve still believes the promise, but seems to think that there’s greater chance of fulfillment through Seth. The emphasis is that she has faith that God will keep His Word.
The birth of Noah shows this anticipation of the promised Son. His father thinks that Noah will give them comfort and deliverance from the curse.
The world gets worse and worse, so God destroys it and reduces it to a wasteland. God, out of the wasteland, brings forth the earth and a new beginning for humanity. This is a parallel of the creation account of God bringing order out of chaos and filling the earth. Noah and the earth are blessed once again.
Noah proves that he is not the promised seed, because he, too, sins and brings a curse upon his descendants.
Man again seeks to exalt himself and make a name for himself. God curses them and scatters them so that they will go and fill the earth per His command.
Abraham is called and given the promise of having a name, and all being blessed through Him. This shows the expectation of the promised seed/Son of Genesis 3:15 is going to come through Abraham. The curse will be reversed through Abraham/Abram’s Son. The God who created all out of nothing will create of Abraham a great nation.
Abraham will be seen as one who fails and sins, too. Yet God graciously delivers him as he did Adam and Noah.
Abraham believes God and it is counted to him for righteousness. Abraham believed just as Adam, Eve, and Noah believed. Faith did not begin with Abraham, but he is the one who is set forth as our great example of faith.
Out of the wasteland of the barren, desert bodies of Abraham and Sarah a son is brought forth; ;just as God created order out of chaos in the creation of the world.
Abraham shows that his faith is in the Creator who is able to create ex nihilo (out of nothing) and raise the dead when he prepares to offer Isaac as a burnt offering to God. Because of Abraham’s faith, God promises that He will create a great nation of him, give him the earth, and will cause his seed (singular) to bless all the earth.
From this point on, the narrative shows the growth of the seed/family of Abraham. It is interesting to note that God continues to show ways in which He will use the least expected (just as one would think God would create using matter, though He actually did what we would not naturally think, and created matter itself.) and chose Isaac above Ishmael, second-born Jacob above first-born Esau, and young Joseph over the other eleven brothers.
Joseph is sold into slavery and ends up in Egypt. Out of the idolatrous barrenness of Egypt and the literal barrenness of famine, and the figurative barrenness of Joseph’s life (having been sold apart from family into slavery, then falsely accused and thrown into prison, yet exalted to great power) God shows His creative power and wisdom once again.
It is instructive to see that there is also the eschatalogical promise/prophecy of Jacob concerning his sons. Out of Judah is to come a lion and the ruler. This, we shall see, is a promise of the coming seed, the son of Jacob, the seed of Abraham.
When Joseph’s brothers appeal to him for mercy he declares his faith in God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is this:
God meant his decent into Egypt for the preservation of the life of Israel so that the seed-stock would be preserved.
When Joseph gives command that he not be buried in Egypt, he expresses his faith in the promise of God to Abraham and sons that they would inherit Canaan. Not only so, but he expresses faith in the promise of God to bring them out of Egypt where they were, by that time, servants to Pharaoh.
In other words, Joseph’s command concerning his body and burial is based upon faith in the promise of God to raise up a seed to deliver, and that He will raise that seed up through the family of Abraham. It is also based upon the fact that He will do so through the family of Israel in the land of Canaan. Doing so in the land of Canaan is another form of creation ex nihilo: God will create a great nation who worships the Creator, and He will do so in a land that is filled with people who worship idols instead of the Creator. Out of the wasteland of idolatry will be made a nation who worships the One true God.
In short, the themes established in Genesis are as follows:
God is before all and God and Master of all.
God creates ex nihilo.
God is benevolent.
God blesses all, but has cursed all because of sin.
God promises one who will break the curse and bring blessing.
Out of the family of Abraham God will create a nation and a seed. He will do so in the land of Canaan.
See introduction to this series here.