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GENESIS - Introduction
Hebrew title: Bereshith - "In the Beginning"

Link to "Genesis" Study Guide

Genesis: Greek for Origin or Beginning, we see the beginning of the Universe, the world and all that it contains, human history, marriage, family, civilizations & languages, sin & death, worship, sacrifice, redemptive promise, and I suppose the list could go on. We see the birth of the Hebrew nation as God's chosen people, through whom God will bless this sinful world with His Messiah.

We see man & woman created after God's own image and it was good. We will see that it does not stay good. There is another force that will intervene and the whole entire collection of books that we call the Bible, from Genesis 3 to Revelation 22, will be dedicated to trying to get man back into a right relationship with God - back to the Tree of Life, back to the condition of "it was good."

The creation account in Genesis is a classic. It is not written as an historical scientific journal of those 6 days, but it is meant to be accurate, acceptable and meaningful to all ages: to the Israelites who first came out of Egypt, to the Jews of Jesus' day, to the crusaders of the Dark Ages, as well as to us today and to future inhabitants of this world. I believe it was 6 literal days.

Why was Genesis written? The authorship is attributed to Moses.
It is a reminder to the Hebrews and to us that God made us, cares for us, and has not abandoned us even when we are not what we should be, even when life is not what it should be.
God has made a promise to redeem man to Himself and He is faithful.

As we study we will see generation - the beginning of man in chapters 1 & 2;
degeneration - the fall of man in chapters 3 - 11;
and then regeneration - hope provided for mankind in chapters 12 - 50.
Throughout Genesis we see life as it is and was. Sin is not glossed over. Yet we will see faith and obedience under trying times.

What do you suppose that Moses hoped that his fellow Israelites would learn from the book of Genesis? Do you think they debated whether or not God created the world in 6 days? Remember that God gave this book to them through Moses while they were sojourners between Egypt and the Promised Land. God is about to give them the land of Canaan where Baal has been the supreme god of choice. The Israelites are about to be faced with questions of faith as they meet other cultures and other beliefs. God is telling them, "not only am I the God that gives you land, crops that you did not plant, homes that you did not build, I am the God that created that land. You have not earned it, I do not owe it to you, but as the Creator, it is mine to give. All that I give mankind is a gift. You and your people are uniquely bonded to Me through your father Abraham."

What do we learn from Genesis? I've 7 things to share.

  1. God. This is a book about God. In the beginning, God created. God is in action. We do not have a passive, unattached God at all. This is a God who works to have a relationship with what He has lovingly created. We see the nature of God: His creativity, strength, sovereignty, wisdom, anger, and compassion.
    He is called by His generic name Elohim, "God" in the 1st chapter.
    Then in chapter 2:4 we see Yahweh Elohim, "Lord God."

  2. We learn about the nature of Man after Satan enters the world. We were made in God's image, but having a mind of our own, we are fickle. We innately know there is something bigger than us. And we may marvel that some civilizations used to worship goddesses like Aphrodite, but then we spend thousands of dollars and hours upon hours on our personal appearances. Or be amused that some once worshiped the god Narcissus, but be very hung up on our own self esteem. Or we may acknowledge Jehovah God, and we can worship Him one day and stab our neighbor in the back on the next.

  3. Which leads us to the next thing we learn in Genesis: Sin. In all its ugliness and the pain that it causes, we cannot escape it. All of the suffering on earth is the result of sin. Genesis brings us face to face with sin which leads us to confess that we, too, are indeed a sinner and we disappoint our Creator.

  4. We learn about God's Promises and Covenants. God did not wind up the hands of time on this earth and then step back and watch what would happen like some kind of experiment. He stayed interactive with a purpose. God has always wanted man to have a right relationship with Him. We will see the covenant made with Noah. And the three-fold covenant made to faithful Abraham and his lineage that continues to bless mankind today. Praise God that He is a Promise Keeper. Therein lies our hope, knowing that He is faithful to keep the promise to us of eternal salvation.

  5. Blessings and Curses show up frequently in Genesis. Blessing is the work of God, giving the power to thrive. Cursing is the result of man's rebellion.

  6. After mankind is led to sin, we see the introduction of Suffering. Being God's chosen people does not exclude anyone from pain. Ask Sarah about suffering. Or Isaac. Joseph was well acquainted with the condition. Whether brought about by our own sin or someone else's, suffering should teach us all to rely upon our Heavenly Father.

  7. Family is all important in Genesis. In our study, we will witness some unbelievably mixed up family dynamics as we deal with our own family dilemmas. Moses stressed this point to the Israelites. Even if the family was dysfunctional, if God was present at all, there was love. Jesus stressed this when He summed up what God wanted from man: Love God and love your neighbor. Brotherhood. Community. Family. Fellowship. We are meant to help each other on our sojourn here on earth. I think that is why you will find this class an important part of your week.

I think you will find this old, ancient book very relevant to your life.
We need the belief of Noah, when others don't believe. A belief that might have others mocking us.

Like Abraham, we all need to step out with the assurance to follow God to that unknown land and receive His promises.

We need the faith of Joseph who endured persecution, separation from his beloved father, slavery and imprisonment, who despite all that, became a savior to his family & many others and was able to forgive all the wrongs that he had endured because he knew His God.

From our Making the Connection [applications] into the New Testament segment of our lessons beyond Genesis, we will see that God has a Promised Land awaiting us also, if we are ready to have a right relationship with Him.

Genesis is the beginning of the story of redemption. It will be a source of knowledge and devotion for you. Join us as we go back to the beginning. Back to when it was very good. Back to God.

Link to Genesis 23-lesson study

Jeannie Cole

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Ladies Bible Class, Fall 2007

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Jeannie Cole

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West-Ark Church of Christ