As we read through the Bible this year, it’s good to have some information about what we’re reading. The Bible isn’t like other books we read: Each separate book of the Bible has a backstory and a cultural context that is critical to understanding. It’s also good to know how the Bible fits together; specifically, how the Gospel (the main message of Scripture) is found in each book. I’ve written these short previews so that you can have some basic information as you read. I hope it’s helpful. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you have!
All In Study Notes: Genesis
Genesis is the first book of the Bible. Its name comes from the Latin word meaning “origin.” The Jews called it bere’shith or “In the beginning.” In Genesis, we read of the world’s creation, the fall of humanity, a worldwide flood, and the creation of a new people who will redeem the world. There are several genealogies tracing the lines of Adam, Noah and Abraham.
Themes to look for:
- We matter to God. We are made in His image, hand-carved from the dirt. In 1:26-28, He gives us a purpose: we are meant to bear His image and rule the world in His name.
- We have a sin nature. “East of Eden” is a common theme: Adam and Eve went East, Cain went East, the people who built the tower of Babel migrated East, Lot chose the land to the East. This is the Bible’s way of showing how we tend to run away from God and His will.
- God defies our expectations: In the ancient world, the oldest child was considered most important, and was made head of the family. Yet in Genesis, several times God chooses younger siblings over the older ones: Abel over Cain, Jacob over Esau, Joseph over His brothers. Ephraim over Manasseh.
- Our God sees us. See 16:13. A rejected slave girl (Hagar), a barren woman (Rebekah), an unloved wife (Leah), and a forgotten prisoner (Joseph) all testify of this.
- God is in control, wait for Him. Noah waiting patiently in the Ark, Abram and Sarai waiting 25 years for their child, Joseph’s understanding of God’s plan in 50:20.
Hints of the Gospel in Genesis:
- The first messianic prophecy in Scripture: 3:15. Jesus is the Son of Man who was wounded, but crushed the head of our enemy.
- God clothes Adam and Eve, takes away their shame, just as Jesus would one day clothe us in His righteousness, taking away our shame.
- Noah and his family are rescued from the floodwaters by Ark, just as we are rescued by a cross.
- In Genesis 12, God’s promise to Abraham is that in Him, “All nations will be blessed.”
- In Genesis 22, one of the most difficult stories in the entire Bible, we see this note of grace: “God will provide a lamb, my son.” God provides a lamb in place of Abraham’s son. Later, God will provide His son as the lamb in our place.
- Judah goes from being the one whose idea it was to sell Joseph into slavery, to the one who offers to give His life to save Benjamin. Book closes with a surprise: 49:10, God will use Judah, not Joseph, to bring redemption.