Table of contents
Like a good detective, let's examine this book.
The Book of Genesis is one of the most important beginnings in the history of... well... everything. The first two chapters alone have been more hotly debated than almost any other piece of literature. Some have called it allegory and others have claimed it to be historically accurate to the point they claim to know the location of the Garden of Eden. Here's what you need to focus on... this is the history of the beginning of the story God is telling in time and space. It is not a story of perfection. It is a story of just how messed up mankind can be when we turn away from God. Ultimately, God's goal is to provide a way back to the Garden of Eden and the destruction of sin.
🙏 Jesus in this Book
(Every book reveals the glory of God, revealed in Christ Jesus)
- The Creator and Promised Redeemer. The Seed of Woman to crush the head of the snake
- God's promises to redeem and bless his people
- The three falls of creation: Garden, Genesis 6, Tower of Babel
- God begins again with the family of Abraham
- Abraham's long journey to discovering God's will
Who wrote it: Moses
Who is the original audience: The Israelite nation.
Where are we: Moses is likely writing this while the nation is in the desert region called the "Wilderness of Sin." He is writing about pre-history until the nation of Israel arrives in Egypt to escape the worldwide famine. Abraham's story begins in approximately 2091 BC and the story ends with Joseph's death in approximately 1805 BC.
When was it written: The exact dates are a bit of a controversy. This is mainly because it is still debated on the Egyptian exile timeline. So, bottom line, we are unsure. We know it couldn't be before 1445 BC. This is the major conclusion for when the Exodus took place.
What is the big idea: The first part of Genesis focuses on how we all got here and how we got into this mess. The second half is God's long journey toward redemption through one family.
Why is this book important: Without a good foundation, a house cannot stand. When building a house, they will spend more time making sure that the foundation is good before they do anything else. Once the foundation is secure and solid, you can build the house with confidence. The book of Genesis is like that. Through understanding Genesis, we can pick up on the foundational principles that shape and mold everything we are today. This is what makes the book of Genesis one of the most important pieces of literature in world history.
How can I apply it?: There are so many things we can pull from Genesis. Here are a few:
- God plays the long game. When mankind fell into the garden, God began working on redemption. That redemption plan is still working itself out today. When things take time to develop in your life, don't give up. God is playing the long game but is always faithful.
- God's Word is not about perfect people. It's about people. I love how the Bible doesn't tell one perfect story after another. It talks about mankind at its worst. Therefore, don't expect your life to be perfect. Just keep moving forward and getting better every day.
- God's relationship with Abraham wasn't built on perfection. It was built on trust. Abraham got it wrong A LOT. However, God didn't give up on Him. He won't give up on you either.
Quick Thoughts on Each Chapter
Today is the day. We are beginning the Old Testament. This is the beginning of God declaring His goodness to all. The Bible is not a science book, but contains the truth of science. We don’t hear every single step God took in creation, but we hear the overview of how He did it. God’s majesty on display.
If chapter one was the overview of creation, chapter two is a closer look. We see a lot more about what day six looked like.
This is the story of the fall of mankind. Can you imagine the disappointment of God when He called to Adam and heard excuses. God knew where Adam was. He wasn’t wondering about his physical location. He was searching for the location of his heart.
We see the first genealogy in the Bible. There is also the story of Cain and Abel. Among the many lessons we can learn, perhaps the most important is the condition of Cain’s heart. When his gift was not accepted by God, his response was not to turn toward God but away. God is not looking for perfection but a heart that is turned toward Him.
This is the craziest genealogy in the Bible. There are many reasons put forward for why these people lived so long. Some say it had to do with the atmosphere and environment of the pre-flood Earth. No matter… these folks are old.
The world has gone crazy. What follows in this chapter is one of the most bizarre in all of scripture. Fallen angels having babies with people. What?!! Anyone who says the Bible is boring skipped this chapter.
Some have said the flood covered the whole Earth. A few say it was a regional flood. No matter your view, the end result was the same. All land dwelling life outside the ark is destroyed.
Think about how difficult it must have been for Noah and his family to see everything they knew destroyed. Following God does not always mean it will be easy. But, God promises to be with us through it all.
The flood ends. The world is saved because of God’s grace and Noah’s willingness to follow God’s ways. Every time we see a rainbow we can celebrate God’s promises.
Lots of people and descendants. No matter where you are from, this is our family. We are all related.
The Tower of Babel is mankind’s effort to continue to disobey God. In response, God confuses their languages in order to compel obedience. God is about to turn to Abraham.
Can you imagine what it must have been like to leave all you have ever known based on a promise? Wow. Abraham was willing to follow the Lord and God used Abraham’s faith to change the world.
God asked Abram to leave everyone and go. He mostly did this but took his nephew Lot. Unsurprisingly, Lot becomes an issue. I have noticed God will not always stop us from compromising His instruction. He will also not stop the inevitable fall out of those compromises.
Abram saves Lot and then we see him being blessed by the King of Salem, Melchizedek. There is a lot of mystery surround this person. We do know the book of Hebrews connects Him to Jesus. Was it Jesus in disguise? Is the author of Hebrews just saying Jesus is connected because Salem is a form of the word “peace” and Jesus is the King of Peace? I encourage you to do more study.
Being childless is a big deal. It was an even bigger deal in this culture. The greatest desire Abram probably had was to have a son and heir. Give gives him this promise. Not only does God promise Abram a son, but also tells of the difficult future his family will have. But, it ends with Abram’s family finding peace. God never promises us the absence of difficultly. He promises to go with us through it all.
One of the biggest “head slap” moments in history. However, let’s not judge Abram and Sarai too quickly. How many times have we read a promise in God’s Word but decided He was taking too long? Have you ever been guilty of trying to help God out? Me too.
God changes Abram’s name to Abraham by adding ‘ha.” Abraham is the “father of many.” Every time someone said his new name, they will be reminding Abraham of God’s promise. Also, the phrase “ha” is one of the syllables in the covenant name of God, Yahweh. This text also talks about circumcision. This became a distinguishing symbol of Judaism and a sign of their covenant with God. I encourage you to study it further to see why it is medically important as well. God knew what He was doing, of course.
What opens as an interesting visit from angels becomes a conversation with Abraham and God as He intercedes for Sodom and Gomorrah. What can we learn from this text? God speaks to us. (He didn’t have to tell Abraham where the angels were going.) God listens to our requests. (God allowed Abraham to talk with Him about it.) God is patient. (My kids still employ this negotiation tactic. It takes a lot of patience to endure. Lol) God is merciful. (God promises mercy if only 10 are righteous. That is merciful.)
This is a difficult chapter not only because it speaks of destruction, but because of how it has been used in debates. For a long time, anti-LGBT folks have said it was destroyed because of what you will read. Pro-LGBT have said it was for lack of hospitality. I’ll let you decide. In verse 13, the angels say it is because the “outcry against this place is so great before the LORD…” Clearly there is a lot of evil going on in this city that was expressed through their desire to abuse the angelic visitors. There was an underlying heart issue happening that expressed itself through attempted violent sin.
Have you ever heard someone excuse a lie as a ‘half-truth?’ Have you ever been guilty of this yourself? Me too. Instead of trusting God, Abraham decided to take matters into his own hands… again. This time, he uses a half-truth. The expected result is, when you play fast-and-loose with facts, everyone looses.
Miracles Fulfilled and unfortunate consequences. God fulfills His promise to Abraham with the birth of Isaac. Unfortunately, the consequences of their sin is represented by the presence of Hagar and Ishmael. While we can all agree they should have come up with a better way to do it, the answer for sin is to always separate yourself from it. Hagar was innocent so God promises to take care of them as well. In God’s ultimate justice He always shows Himself faithful.
This chapter blows my mind. I love both my girls and cannot imagine what I would do if God asked me to give them up for Him. Ultimately, we know God had no intention of taking Isaac. He wanted to make sure Abraham realized where the boundaries are. It can be so easy to let God’s gifts take the place God Himself.
Sarah dies. Abraham is intent on having a place to honor her in burial. He will not allow them to simply give a burial site away. He wants to pay for it. This is a great lesson for us. It’s always a blessing to be honored and blessed with gifts, but pay your own way when you can. It shows honor to everyone involved.
This is a great story of God’s faithfulness. It also shows the great heart of Rebekah. It would have taken many trips to water all those camels and several hours. This was not a simple kind gesture. This would have messed up her whole day. We are also introduced to a man named Laban. He will come up again in the future.
Did you know Abraham married again? Her name was Keturah. She was able to give Abraham even more children. We also see the birth of Esau and Jacob. Esau gives up his “birthright.” In a jewish home, the oldest received the greatest share of inheritance. It was his birthright. This now passed to Jacob for a bowl of beans.
The lesson we can learn from in this chapter is… people follow what you do and not what you say. Isaac follows the same patters of his father. This means he worships God. This also means he lies when it will get him out of trouble. The lesson. Be sure you teach those who come after you not only with words, but with actions. Otherwise, they will follow what they see you do, not what they hear you say.
Great lesson to be learned. When it’s hard to see what’s ahead, trust what you hear and not what you feel. Trust in what you can hear from God’s Word and not always what feels right. Feelings are great but make terrible leaders.
Jacob has his first encounter with the spiritual world. He sees God is active in the world and promises to honor Him with a portion of everything gained in life. This is something God still asks of us. We are to worship Him by placing Him first in everything. It’s not about our stuff. It’s about our love of our stuff. God wants us to love the Giver more than the gifts.
What a mess. It was common for a young man to have to earn the right to marry a young lady. The horrible issue is Laban tricking Jacob and having Leah go along with it. My heart breaks for Leah.
Family drama. It appears Jacob is being taken advantage of by Laban in several ways. Verse 27 says Laban knew he was blessed because of Jacob. However, instead of blessing, Laban continues to abuse the relationship.
It’s chapters like this that help us realize the Bible is inspired by God. If it were merely written by people, I would have left this one out. Jacob flees Laban and is pursued. They finally settle their differences and agree to part ways in peace.
The final section of this chapter is amazing. Many scholars believe this is no mere angel. This is possibly a theophany… meaning God appearing in a human form. You can tell by how Jacob responds. He says he saw God and lived to tell about it. I’ve experienced what poets call the “dark night of the soul.” During these moments, it feels like I am literally wrestling with God. On the other side of it, I am changed forever. Have you ever experienced something like this spiritually?
It appears Jacob and Esau are able to make amends. God has blessed them both and they part company in peace. Jacob is finally back in his homeland.
Soooo… Just because the Bible reports it doesn’t mean the Bible supports it. What happened to Dinah was terrible. Jacob’s sons respond in kind. Not a good look. However, the Bible is not full of perfect people. We all need a Savior. That is why Jesus came.
The first thing God tells Jacob to do when he moves back home is to establish a place of worship. Every time we move into a new season of life (marriage, children, new job, etc), it is important to first prioritize our time with God. If not, our relationship with Him can take a backseat to our more pressing demands. This is not good because He is the Source of our Strength. If you find yourself constantly tired and no amount of sleep can help you catch up, perhaps it is your soul that is tired. Perhaps it is time to prioritize your time with God so you can regain your spiritual strength.
On the surface, this can appear to be one of those boring chapters about someone else’s family. However, remember these family lines were important because they establish ownership over land and succession of thrones. It is also important to realize that, even though we do not know these people and their names are quickly forgotten, God knows each of them and has recorded their name in His book. He feels the same way about you.
Joseph has one of the most compelling stories in the Old Testament. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to have been completely removed from everything I knew and sold into slavery….. by my own family. The important thing to remember is that God was and still is faithful. He may have been forgotten by his family but God did not leave him. Maybe that is something you need to remember today as well.
Here is another chapter that makes me thankful for God. He doesn’t shy away from difficult situations and doesn’t let us think for more highly of those in the Bible than we should. These people were part of the plan of God, but still human and messed up big time. What a mess! (For those who are keeping up with our King Jesus series, remember Tamar from chapter one?! She made it into the lineage of Jesus!)
Joseph is innocent yet thrown into prison. Potiphar was the captain of the king’s bodyguard so he is probably placed in the prison close to the palace where those who have angered the king go. This is also how he meets people in the next chapters the eventually lead to his encounter with the king. Even though it is extremely tough to do, always be careful to trust the Lord when placed in unfair circumstances. It could be the exact place where God will do a great miracle in your life.
Even though Joseph is in prison, he is still blessed. God not only has given him favor with the guards but with spiritual gifts as well. Delays, unexpected trouble, and hard times have no power to remove God’s goodness from your life.
Imagine how difficult those two years must have been. I wonder if Joseph got his hopes up every time he saw someone approach the prison only to be let down. However, when the time was right, God moved him from the prison to the palace in one day. Can you imagine? He woke up in a jail cell and went to sleep that night in a palace suit. Wow!
Things have a way of coming full circle. The brothers who sold Joseph into slavery now need to buy his help. The Bible doesn’t cast judgment on whether or not Joseph’s treatment of his brothers was right. It only reports what happens. Either way, you cannot blame him for being less than trusting of his brothers.
This has to be so difficult for Jacob (now called Israel.) He’s lost his son Joseph and now he has to risk the lives of the rest of his family. Often God is doing more than we realize in difficult situations. Imagine you were Benjamin. Would you have been willing to go?
What a turn of events! Earlier, the brothers were willing to sentence Joseph to death and never regarded how it would effect their father… or Joseph. Now, they willing to forfeit their lives for the sake of their brother and father.
Have you ever been surprised? Perhaps you didn’t think you would pass a class and did… maybe someone proposed… maybe someone gifted you with something you didn’t expect. Whatever the surprise, I can bet you were not more surprised than the brothers when they discovered that this harsh Egyptian leader was Joseph! I wonder if any of them passed out cold right then. Lol
Have you ever moved to a completely new area? Even with the prospect of seeing his son again, Jacob was possibly nervous about the unknown. God shows up and assures him there is no need to be afraid. God reminds Jacob that He is the God of his father. Our way of saying that could be, “Do you remember how I was always with your dad? I’ll do the same for you.” That’s a great promise for us too.
We can see Joseph’s great leadership. Remember where he learned it all? God is now using all those years of training as a slave in Potiphar’s house and in prison to save a nation. I wonder how God is forming you right now? Perhaps you are having to walk through difficult seasons. Could it be that God is adding tools, skills, and rhythms that you will use one day to make a bigger difference than you ever knew was possible? You will only find out if you don’t give up.
Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons. When you meet with people, are you quick to offer blessings or opinions?
Happy Thanksgiving. Jacob is about to die and takes time to speak to each of his sons. No matter what happens today, take time to speak to each person you come in contact with. There’s no telling how much they might need it.
Verse 20: This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Joseph was able to see his life through the lens of Heaven. He realized that, no matter what comes our way, God is able to use it for our ultimate benefit. How could that apply to your past? Joseph had some really dark things happen. However, God was able to still use it to steer him in the right direction.