The Book of Genesis
Date of Writing: Approximately 1500 B.C.
First Readers: Recently freed Israelite slaves
Where was Moses: Likely South of Edom (below the Dead Sea), during the wilderness period
Major Themes: Creation, Fall, Flood, Covenant, Redemption
(1) Creation – God Made Heaven and Earth Out Of Nothing Genesis 1:1-2
(2) 7 Days – Genesis 1:3-2:3
- Day One: Light and Dark are separated v. 3-5
- Day Two: Firmament separates air from water v.6-8
- Day Three: Dry Land and Plant Life v.9-13
- Day Four: Sun, Moon and Stars become Lights in the Firmament v.14-19
- Day Five: Zoology and Biology abound v.20-23
- Day Six: Human Biology becomes God’s Vice Regent v.24-31
- Day Seven: The Sabbath becomes a Blessing v.2:1-3
(3) Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden — Genesis 2:4-25
(4) Satan Accuses God of Wrong Doing — Genesis 3
- Eve believes the lie and sins
- Adam joins Eve and sins
- Adam and Eve hide
- Satan is judged, no salvation made possible for him
- Adam and Eve are judged, blood sacrifice and salvation made possible for them
(5) Adam and Eve’s Messy Family — Genesis 4-5
(6) Noah’s Righteous Life and Flood — Genesis 5-9
(7) Confusing Tongues and The Tower of Babel — Genesis 10-11
(8) The Life of Abraham and Sarah — Genesis 12-23
(9) The Life of Isaac — Genesis 24-26
(10) The Life of Jacob — Genesis 27-36
(11) The Life of Joseph — Genesis 37-50
Quick Summary of Genesis
Outside of the gospels, Genesis is arguably the most important book in all scripture. Correctly understand it, and much of the bible comes into focus. The book unfolds in an interesting way. Chapters 1-4 reveal a creation/fall narrative. Chapters 5-9 record the events of a cataclysmic global flood, a story full of redemptive themes. Chapters 10-11 wonderfully illustrate depravity. Chapter 12 – 50 introduces Abraham, a figure so dominant every page in the bible will feel his footprint. With Chapter 37, Joseph arrives, the only true Christ-Like person in the entire Old Testament.
Creation: Two Acceptable Views
The first acceptable view of creation is 7 Day Literalism, more popularly known as Young Earth Theory. In this view the seven day formation takes place within 24 hour literal days, ending with a Sabbath rest.
This view excludes any evolutionary data.
A philosophical defense of 7 Day Literalism is seen in William Lane Craig’s Cosmological Argument. In this view a series of simple questions are asked.
- Was there a beginning?
- Was the beginning caused?
- Was the beginning personal?
Biblically, the answer to each of those questions is yes. The affirmation of each point leads to a foundational argument favoring a divinely made cosmos. Genesis reveals a personal God powerful enough to cause the universe to instantly begin simply because he willed it to be so.
The second view of creation is often called the Gap Theory, although some prefer the phrase The Interval. William Gray Barnhouse formulated the interval theory by asking a simple question, “When did Satan fall?” The answer seems to appear in the text under verse 2, where the earth is formless and void. Under the interval view, during this gap of time Satan rebelled, was judged by God, and the rest of the 7 day creation is a re-creation of God’s intended design. Somehow pride caused Satan’s fall. How all that came about is not completely clear. Its possible Satan found out he was no longer in charge, God planned to make mankind and impart to them God’s own image and likeness, granting them divine authority, even over angels.
This view also excludes any evolutionary data.
Genesis can be understood by looking at the main Patriarchs found in the text. Filling the pages of the book are Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and lastly Joseph.
Explained as a righteous prophet who agitates against a wicked culture, builds an enormous boat capable of holding the animal kingdom and his family, and allows God to close the door of his famous Ark.
Living in his youth along the border of modern day Iran/Iraq, after hearing the vaguest command from God, “Go to the land I will show you,” he leaves and walks the fertile crescent ending up in the land of modern day Israel.
He and his wife are not morally perfect. They compromise their faith in a number of instances. Most profoundly in the birth of Ishmael, where Sarah invites her young servant girl to act as a surrogate. God intervene’s and reveals that in their most elderly age, Sarah will in fact give birth to the promised child, who is to be named Isaac.
As a teenager, Isaac allowed his father Abraham to offer him as a sacrifice to God. In the recorded dialogue, Isaac inquiries about the sacrifice. Abraham famously says, “God will provide for himself a lamb for a burnt offering,” (Genesis 22:8). Isaac will marry Rebekah, she will give birth to twin sons, Esau and Jacob. The younger Jacob will buy Esau’s birthright, and then steal his sovereign blessing. Decades will go by before reconciliation takes place.
The later third of the book revolves around Jacob’s dramas. He is deceived on his wedding night, and consummates a marriage with Leah, a woman he never wanted. He does however marry Rachel, the woman of his dreams. Complicating matters, the girls are sisters. God smiles upon Leah, and she easily produces children, but not so for Rachel. Each sister will give a servant girl to Jacob, and each servant girl will produce an heir.
12 sons are born and 1 girl, only two belong to Rachel (Joseph/Benjamin).
The 12 sons become the 12 tribes of Israel.
Joseph is strongly Christ like. In his youth he has dreams about God’s power and authority resting upon him. His half-brothers attempt murder upon his life, but instead sell him into slavery, where Joseph ends up in Egypt. Joseph’s prophetic dreams continue in prison and eventually lead to him interpreting a most disturbing dream for Pharoah. As a result, Joseph is made Prime Minister of Egypt, and experiences great success.
The book ends with Joseph reconciling with his brothers and reuniting with his father and younger brother.