As we embark on a study of the book of beginnings, there are several facts underpinning our study that we will not take the time to prove, though we believe they are provable: the Bible is inspired of God, it accurately records real history, it is God’s complete and final revelation of his will for mankind, it is the final authority on all spiritual and religious subjects, and it can be understood by common people.
- The first five books of the Old Testament are commonly called the “Pentateuch” (Greek: five books). The Jews refer to this section as the “Torah” (Hebrew: law/instruction).
- The book is called “Genesis” in English translations (Greek: origin or beginning). Historically speaking, Genesis covers the period from the creation of the world to the movement of the Israelites into Egypt in the days of Joseph.
- With the increased liberalism of Biblical scholarship there has come widespread rejection of Mosaic authorship of Genesis.
- However, the evidence still supports Moses as the human instrument God used to pen the book of beginnings (Exo. 24:4; Num. 33:2; Deut. 31:9, 24; Matt. 19:8; Acts 3:22).
- Is Genesis a record of actual history? Skeptics have long denied that it is. But some professing Christians now deny it, too. How should the Christian view the Genesis account? In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter?
- Jesus weighed in on Genesis. Never did he insinuate that Moses recorded anything other than historical fact (Matt. 19:4-5; 23:35; 24:37-39; John 8:44).
- The apostle Paul also weighed in on the historical accuracy of the Genesis account. He treated Genesis the same way that Jesus did (Rom. 1:26-27; 5:12, 14; 1 Cor. 15:45-47; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:8-14).
- Peter also weighed in on the historical accuracy of the Genesis account. He treated Genesis the same way that Jesus and Paul did (2 Pet. 3:1-11).
Chapters 1-11: Adam to Noah
- The book begins with God creating. He turns disorder and darkness into tranquility and beauty. He creates a world perfectly suited to sustain life and allow it to flourish. And he creates life – plant, animal, and human.
- Humans abandon their place under God and his authority and seek to live life on their own terms – and everything from that point forward begins to spiral out of control.
Chapters 12-25: Abraham
- With chapter 12, the focus narrows to one man and his family: Abram (Abraham). It will be through this man’s lineage that God will bring the redeemer into the world.
- But Abraham is as flawed as everyone else. At times Abraham shows great faith and confidence in God. But at other times he shows an amazing lack of it.
Chapters 26-36: Isaac, Esau, and Jacob
- Following Abraham’s death, the narrative begins to focus on Isaac and his twin sons: Esau and Jacob.
- Again, God shows his commitment to his covenant despite the failures and weaknesses of Abraham’s family.
Chapters 37-50: Jacob’s Sons
- Joseph summarizes this section well in two verses, 45:5 and 50:20. What’s more, those verses summarize the entire book of Genesis. God blesses, man sins, God blesses still.
- As the book ends, Jacob and Joseph are dead, and the rest of the family are in Egypt and multiplying. What will become of them? The rest of the Old Testament answers that question.