Theology is for every mom and the best way to study theology is to study God’s Word, the Bible. So here on Naptime Theology we’re going to go through the Bible one book at a time. Today let’s start with an overview of Genesis.
Genesis is the very first book of the Bible. The opening to God’s story of redemption and the foundation on which all of God’s plans develop.
The Theme of Genesis: God Begins
The main theme of Genesis is “God Begins.” The Word Genesis literally means beginning. And, to clarify, it doesn’t mean that this is where God begins. But that Genesis is where God begins the world.
Even in that main theme, we already see that this story is not about us. It’s about God beginning the world. It’s His story from the very first verse.
Of course, the most important story in Genesis is the very first one, Creation. So we must start there. My college professor would say, “If you get the beginning right, everything else will fall into place.” And that’s what I hope to do as we study Genesis together.
Creation | Genesis 1-2
So, in the opening chapters of Genesis we have the creation account. The easiest way I’ve found to remember the days of creation is like this: Days 1-3 God created spaces in the world – the light and darkness, waters above and below, and the land separate from the waters. Then on Days 4-6 God created creatures to fill those spaces – the sun, moon, and stars on day four, fish in the sea and birds in the air on day five, and the animals and humans on land for day 6. And then on day 7, God rested. Did He have to rest because He was so tired? No, He rested on the 7th day to set a precedent for us. He wanted us to know that we will need rest and we should rest just like He did.
The Hebrew of Genesis makes it very clear that these are literally 6 24-hour days in which God created the entire universe. And it is here that we have the first opportunity to trust the Bible and the God of the Bible because the creation account has no scientific explanation. The universe was supernaturally created by God and, therefore, won’t have a scientific explanation or description. That makes this account primary in our thinking, because we must trust that what the Bible says is true from the very beginning.
Herbert Spencer, an English philosopher, biologist, and staunch evolutionist who would later influence Darwin recognized that there are five manifestations of all scientific phenomena: time, force, action, space, and matter. I listened to a sermon recently where the pastor pointed out that the very first verse of the Bible has all five of these manifestations of scientific phenomena. For time the Bible says, “in the beginning.” For force the Bible says, “God.” For action the Bible says, “created.” For space the Bible says, “heavens.” And for matter the Bible says, “earth.” That tells me that God has got the science part covered. He’s doing something supernatural that only He can do.
Hebrews 11:3 helps us understand that we will need faith in order to believe the creation account as told in the Scriptures. It says, “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” We believe in the creation account by faith, not by science. And it is our first chance to do so, making it primary.
Creation is Simple
The creation account is not only primary because it’s about our origins, it’s simple. God created the universe. Man simply cannot create things. There’s that old joke about the man who challenged God to a contest to see who could make a man out of nothing. God agreed to the challenge and said that the man had to go first. As the man stooped over to pick up some dirt, God said, “Get your own dirt!” Man can only make, God is the one who creates.
That’s the simple part of the creation account in Genesis. But it’s not only simple in Genesis 1-2, it’s simply put in other verses of the Bible. Verses like John 1:3, which says, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from HIm nothing came into being that has come into being.” And Psalm 148 where all creation is praising their Creator and verse 5 says, “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created.” It’s that simple, God commanded and the world was created.
Why Create the Universe?
Okay, so we know that God created the universe from nothing. But now we must ask the question, “Why did God create the world?”
Well, thankfully, we have the answer to that question in the Bible as well. Ephesians 3:8-11 says, “God … created all things so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
God created all things for His glory. And that glory points man to God. And man is only redeemed by God. So, following that logic, God created the world to ultimately bring redemption to fruition and to glorify Himself. Redemption is why the whole world exists. Isaiah 46:9 says, “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me.” God is God and He is to be glorified through redemption.
What Is Our Response to Creation?
Now let’s pause here and think about that. God created the whole world by His command. He didn’t need dirt or anything to help Him. He just did it. And He did it to ultimately bring about redemption and glorification of Himself in Jesus. Doesn’t that amaze you? It amazes me. And I think the only response we should have at such news is to stand in awe of our Creator, He is to be feared and worshipped. I think we should remember Psalm 33, verses 8-9, which say, “Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke and it was done; He commanded and it stood fast.”
Praise God that we serve a Creator who created the whole universe from nothing.
Now that is the creation account in a nutshell. Of course, there’s more to study and learn here and I’ll link some more resources in the description of this episode. But I wanted to spend more time explaining the first few chapters because they are so vital to the rest of the book and the rest of the Bible. For if we can’t trust God in the opening chapters of the Bible, then what can we trust from His Word?
Structure of Genesis
Fall of Man | Genesis 3
After the creation account ends in chapter 2, chapter 3 brings us to the fall of man. We will get into the specifics of this chapter in another episode, but to be brief, Adam and Eve are deceived by Satan in the form of a serpent and disobey God’s command to not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They are then sent out of the garden with many consequences of their disobedience. In sending them out of the garden of Eden, God also gave them a promise that He would one day send someone from Eve’s seed to crush the head of the deceptive Serpent. They were not left without hope.
God Always Wins | Genesis 4-11
Chapters 4-11 are a series of stories that show Satan at work in the world and how God always wins in spite of his efforts. God always wins and Satan always loses.
Lessons from Patriarchs | Genesis 12-50
The rest of the book of Genesis follows the main characters of the Israelite people or the Patriarchs as some would call them. Chapters 12-50 are centered on lists of names called genealogies or toledoths in Hebrew. The toledoths are a big process of elimination that will eventually end in Jesus. Picture them like a funnel that starts very wide and gets smaller and smaller until Jesus is pinpointed at the very end. That’s why the book of Matthew opens with a genealogy leading up to Jesus. Matthew is the Genesis of the New Testament.
Reading through genealogies in the Bible can be difficult, but we must remember that every word of the Bible is written for a purpose and the genealogies do a great job of showing us that the Messiah is Jesus. And, as you read through these toledoths in Genesis, do so carefully. You may just find a small story or note that is especially encouraging. Remember that these were real people who God used to bring Jesus to the earth.
Some of the people in the genealogy get zoomed in on and we read a lot about their lives and their stories. Abraham is the first main character we read about and he teaches us a lot about faith. God promises to bless him in chapter 12 and then tests him throughout the following chapters to see if he really has faith in God or not. His ultimate test is in Genesis 22 when God asks him to offer his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice to the Lord. God stops him before killing his son and gives him a ram instead. Abraham passed the test. And that is confirmed in Hebrews 11:8.
In the following chapters, Genesis zooms in on Isaac and Jacob to teach us about God’s presence. Though Jacob is constantly scheming evil, God redeems them. The high point of Jacob’s constant wrestling with God is when he actually physically wrestles with God in chapter 32. Of course, Jacob lost and God changed his name to Israel which means, “God will fight for you.” Now instead of Jacob wrestling for himself, God graciously wrestles for him and his people, the Israelites, as we will see throughout the Bible.
Jacob has 12 sons which bring about the 12 tribes of Israel. Genesis zooms in on Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph, to teach us that God turns evil to good (remember it’s all about redemption, right?). Joseph is unjustly sent to Egypt and then to prison in Egypt by his brothers and an evil woman respectively. There is a one-off chapter, chapter 38, which tells the story of Judah and Tamar. That promiscuous event is really posing the question, “Who will be the real leader of Israel?” In chapter 38, Judah is proven to not be the leader at all. But as the chapters go on, Joseph ends up testing his own brothers to see if they have changed after all the years apart. He is placed in leadership in Egypt just in time for a famine to bring his brothers begging him for food. It’s here that Joseph tests his brothers to see, “Who will be the real leader of Israel?” and this time Judah offers his own life in the stead of another, proving he is the true leader of Israel. Jacob confirms this when, on his deathbed in Egypt, he says in Genesis 49:10 that “the scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” Judah’s line will bring the Ruler.
Remember that big funnel leading to Jesus? Well, you’ll read that it funnels down through Judah’s line all the way to the King, our Lord and Savior Jesus.
The last chapter of Genesis brings the death of both Jacob and then Joseph, the last of the main characters.
And that is the whole book of Genesis. That was a lot to cover and we could only touch on the basics, but I hope you see that this book in which God begins the world is really all about God. He is the one to be feared and worshipped. I look forward to diving into more specifics about this book of beginnings with you on future episodes.
Thanks so much for listening, have a great day!