GENESIS - Conclusion
Our next study will be the Book of Ruth. I want to briefly review Genesis and some of the applications we've made in our study. Then we'll take a quick look at the events occurring after Genesis up to the time of Ruth.
We've spent 24 weeks studying the 50 chapters of the book of Genesis. It is a long book, but considering it covers over a 2500-year time period, I suppose it really is not all that long. Genesis means "Beginning." We have seen many beginnings, starting with the beginning of the universe--the Creation. We studied Genesis 1 and 2 as a literal and accurate account of the beginning of our world. Those first few chapters were written as a classic, to fit in and be accurate for whatever level of understanding the reader is at that time.
We briefly looked at some of the problems the evolutionists have with their theory of the beginning.
We've seen that Genesis does not contradict any known scientific fact. It is historically, topographically, geographically and anthropologically correct. It is an inspired, accurate foundation for the rest of the Bible, as every New Testament writer refers back to Genesis. It is full of explanations for such questions as how and when was the origin of man, why are there geophysical imperfections in the world, and why are there imperfections at all. --Sin and Satan. Bible-believing people must not be intimidated into compromising this most excellent book.
It is not written as a history book, but as a History of Redemption. We've seen the effects of not seeking God. Satan told Eve the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil would make her wise. She got a kind of wisdom all right, but not the kind she was looking for. Now the knowledge of sin and evil entered the world and all its consequences--guilt, shame, unworthiness, hopelessness, etc.--separation from God. It's this knowledge of guilt that gives us a problem with the past, meaninglessness in the present and hopelessness for the future.
Not only does Genesis give us a look at the past, it looks forward to the future. Prophecies abound throughout the book. A study of the prophecies and their fulfillments would be rewarding. We've noted several references to a coming of Someone through whom all nations of the earth would be blessed - the Messiah, Christ. Adam and Eve are given the first hint of His coming in Genesis 3:15. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Judah are all told of the Blessed One who would come through their lineage. The whole theme through out all the Old Testament is "Someone's Coming." That Someone will fulfill all of man's needs. He will provide redemption to all who seek to be redeemed to God. With that redemption comes a freeing of guilt from the past, meaning for the present and hope for the future.
We've seen the effects of seeking God. From the story of Noah (written to adults, too) we saw that
From chapter 12 on, Genesis becomes biographical as the life stories of the leading characters are told. No effort is made to gloss over the sins and the shortcomings of the major characters, so that the biographies include stories of trickery, deception, false witness, incest, fornication and murder. When the other ancient nations wrote about their leaders, they are seen as flawless leaders and their armies never seem to lose a battle. The leaders of Israel are portrayed realistically as flesh and blood men, combining greatness with moral weakness. This makes the Israelite national literature, the Old Testament, unique among the ethnic writings of ancient civilizations.
Some 4000 years ago God told Abraham to migrate from Mesopotamia to Canaan. "I will bless you, I will make of you a great nation," God said, "and through you all nations of the earth will be blessed." God's covenant makes Abraham the founder of the Hebrew nation. That covenant is passed on to his son Isaac and on to his son Jacob. God was already laying the groundwork for His Son to come to be the perfect priest and final blood sacrifice.
Then we have an instance in which man's evil is turned to good in the drama of Abraham's great-grandson, Joseph. Joseph's envious brothers sell him into slavery and traders take him to Egypt. Eventually, after he interprets Pharaoh's dreams to mean famine and urges him to store food, Joseph becomes governor there and offers a haven to his family when the famine comes also in Canaan. In this way God arranges for the children of Israel to move to Egypt in favorable circumstances.
We've spent a lot of time looking at what Genesis has to say to us today in 1989. Let's quickly review some of those applications:
At the end of Genesis, Joseph dies. His and all his brothers' descendants remain in Egypt as Abraham was told they would in chapter 15.
Now let me quickly attempt to get us from Genesis to Ruth. Centuries after Genesis ends, the Pharaohs had reduced the Israelites to slavery, setting the stage for the book of EXODUS which we will study next fall. God's help for the enslaved Israelites came in the person of Moses, the nation's greatest leader. After bringing plagues, pestilence and disaster to Egypt through God's help, Moses finally persuades the Pharaoh to let the Israelite people leave for their homeland of Canaan and back to freedom.
After leaving Egypt, the Israelite people wander in the wilderness for 40 years. During this journey, God meets Moses on Mt. Sinai, giving him the 10 commandments and His laws in detail. The laws continue through the book of LEVITICUS.
The book of NUMBERS tells us the errant Israelites continue to fall into sin at times and even into rebellion against God's chosen leader, Moses.
At the end of his life, Moses addresses the people in the book of Deuteronomy, summarizing the history and laws of the Exodus from Egypt. He emphasizes love toward God and toward one's neighbor. DEUTERONOMY completes the first five books of the Old Testament called the Pentateuch - all written by Moses.
After Moses' death, the honor and responsibility for leading the Israelites into Canaan fell to Joshua. The book of JOSHUA tells how God delivers the land of Canaan to the armies of Israel.
Israelites will be Israelites. They had trouble finding peace in their newly returned homeland. The book of JUDGES tells how the new settlers survived during the next two centuries in a loose confederation of tribes. They are often tempted to forsake the true God in favor of the Canaanite gods. Whenever they committed this sin, God would allow enemy armies to defeat the Israelites until they repented of their disobedience. Judges includes such stories of Deborah and Gideon and Samson.
After all the blood and fury of these war stories, the love story of RUTH comes as a pleasant interlude. We'll start our study of Ruth next week and we'll see how this Moabite woman becomes the great-grandmother of King David.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR