Don’t you love when you go somewhere for a party or a potluck, and when you leave the host is shoving leftover cookies in your hands? Or other desserts? Or burgers or deviled eggs? The good stuff from the party go home with you so you can keep enjoying it long after the party is over.
The book of Genesis has hosted us for 2 years. And like a good host, as we are walking out the door it has given us armfuls of goodies to take with us as we leave.
How do you put an end to the book of beginnings? How do you leave Genesis appropriately? How has Genesis made you a stronger Christian? How has your faith in the Scriptures been strengthened after studying this book? How has your confidence in God grown because of Genesis? How much more clarity on the rest of the Bible do you have after this first book?
Today I want to put forth SIX lessons to leave Genesis with. If Genesis equips us for reading the rest of the Bible, and for living a life of faith, then here are SIX things we need to gear up with for the journey.
(#1) GOD IS THE CREATOR
First, God is the Creator. Genesis has taught us to worship God as the Creator. The whole Bible begins with those epic words, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In 14:19 Melchizedek said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, the Creator of heaven and earth.”
In six 24 hour days, the Creator made the heavens and the earth; the land and the sea; the fish, the birds and the land animals; the sun, moon and stars; the plants and the trees; the light and the darkness. And then He made man and woman in his image and his likeness and placed them in the Garden He made for them. God looked at all he had made and declared it “very good.” (1:31). From beginning to end the Bible insists that God must be worshiped as the Creator. Romans 1 says, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.” The first book of the Bible emphasizes God is the Creator, all the books from then on emphasize it, and Revelation ends the Bible with a scene in heaven around God’s throne where creatures are bowed down before God worshiping Him as Creator: “You are worthy our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
APPLICATION: Worshiping God as the Creator is the foundation of a holy life.
Genesis not only taught us God is the Creator, but He created His creation so that creation could also create. He blessed all he had made so that it would itself multiply and grow on the earth. Trees, shrubs, fish, wild animals, livestock, crawling creatures, birds and the highest creature: man, would all reproduce after their own kind. God didn’t start with a whole population of humans. He didn’t have a whole city of thousands or tens of thousands of humans. He started with two. And from those two he wanted the whole world blooming with people.
APPLICATION: Whatever undermines God’s command to man to increase upon the land is sin. Abortion is sin not only because it murders image bearers, but also because it defies the original creation mandate of human beings multiplying and filling the earth. Homosexuality and lesbianism defy the same command as they are not just “unnatural” and go against God’s created order but they are behaviors incapable of reproducing human beings and filling the earth. The pleasure of reproducing is for the practical result of creating the next generation of humanity and filling the earth with mankind. Overpopulation fears and satanic designs to control the human population are in direct defiance of God’s command to fill the earth with humanity.
(#2) GENESIS IS REAL HISTORY
Genesis is real history. The only way to treat Genesis in a way worthy of God is to treat it as real history. God really did create the universe and everything in it in six days. Adam and Eve were real humans created fully formed and mature and they really violated a command God gave them which we call the Fall where sin was introduced into the human condition and the earth was cursed. A real, world-wide flood occurred and killed all life on earth except Noah and his family who survived through a real ark. There was a real tower of Babel, a real divine dispersion of humanity and confusion of languages, a real annihilation of a real Sodom and Gomorrah, a real Abraham, a real Isaac, a real Jacob and a real Joseph. And everything Genesis tells us about all these people, places and events are true.
APPLICATION: We do not treat Genesis as myths or legends. To do so means we don’t have faith. Hebrews 11:2 says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what is visible.” Notice those words, “BY FAITH.” The opposite is true too: “By scoffing we understand the world and all life to have evolved over billions of years through natural selection and random mutations acting on chance.”
APPLICATION to the APPLICATION: Leave Genesis with an even greater conviction that its testimony of earth and human history is just as it says.
APPLICATION: If you don’t treat the past as true, you won’t treat prophecy as true. Since the Bible’s testimony about the past is true history, so is the Bible’s testimony about the future. If you you sit there and allegorize away or mythologize away what the Bible says about the past, you can also do that with what is said about the future. Yet you have zero basis for doing either. In other words, if you don’t treat the past as true, you won’t treat prophecy as true.
(#3) FEAR GOD AS THE JUDGE
Genesis taught us to fear God as Judge. In Genesis 18:25 Abraham pleads with God and calls him, “the Judge of all the earth.”
Genesis is full of examples of God being the judge of evil.
- After the Fall, standing there in the Garden, with the three violators (Adam, Eve, Satan), God executed judgment against each one of them. Adam was going to have his relationship with his wife and his working of the earth frustrated. Eve was going to experience pain in labor and her instinct would from then on be to undermine her husband’s headship. Satan would be destroyed by the coming seed of the woman, referring to Jesus the Redeemer.
- Then, evicting them from the Garden was another act by God as Judge against them.
- Banishing Cain was God being the Judge against him for his sin of murder.
- When God looked on Noah’s generation he judged it as evil and deserving of death, “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. So the LORD said, ‘I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created.” So God used the Flood to destroy all of mankind on the earth because as Judge that was his determination.
- Humanity was congregated at Babel but God determined that was evil and scattered them all over.
- As the Judge, God burned Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes, never to be rebuilt. And just to clarify: this was not because God felt they showed poor hospitality towards strangers, like the progressive false Christians like to say. No, it was because of the violent sexual perversion of the city, most clearly displayed when they wanted to homosexual gang-rape the two angels of the Lord. Which on one level you could say was not very hospitable. “Sodom and Gomorrah,” Jude says, “gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” No, they were not burned to the ground and made an example for all human history because of hospitality. It was because they flew the PRIDE flag.
APPLICATION: So in leaving Genesis, let each of us know that we know that God is the Judge
(#4) TRUST GOD IS FAITHFUL
Fourth, Genesis has taught us that God is faithful. “Many men claim unfailing love but a faithful man who can find?” Proverbs says. Or Numbers 23:19, which is one of the most treasured words in Scripture: “God is not a man that he changes his mind or a son of man that he lies. When he speaks does he not act? When he promises does he not fulfill?”
God’s faithfulness simply means that God is will in fact do what He has said he will do. He was Faithful to Jacob and just like he said he was “always with him wherever he would go.” While Laban unfaithfully cheated Jacob, God was faithful to protect him. God was Faithful to Joseph while his brothers, Potiphar’s wife, the cupbearer were unfaithful to him. Faithful to Abram even when Abram wasn’t always faithful to God. Faithful to Hagar when Abram and Sarai weren’t faithful to her.
God’s faithfulness is behind the prophecy of a coming Redeemer who would be the seed of the woman and the seed of Abraham. God’s faithfulness is behind the birth of Isaac, a promise that a childless Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for and trusted God would give them that child. God’s faithfulness is the reason he brought the Flood like he said, and his faithfulness is the reason he spared Noah. He was faithful to Abraham’s request to spare Sodom if there were 10 righteous in the city. Since there weren’t 10 righteous in the city he was faithful to his word that he would destroy it. Yet in the midst of that God was faithful to Lot – and Abraham his worried uncle – to bring Lot and his family safely out so they weren’t swept away with Sodom. God’s faithfulness is seen in His promise that Abraham’s descendents would be mistreated in a land where they were strangers and then God would deliver them and replant them back in the land he promised them. God’s faithfulness is seen in his making Abraham name a great name, bringing forth many nations and kings from his body, bringing one particular nation forth that would inherit Canaan – the nation of Israel. His faithfulness is seen in bringing that one particular person from that one particular nation, a person through whom God would bless all nations. That person we know is Jesus Christ.
All throughout Genesis we have seen a God who is faithfully blesses, who faithfully follows through on his promises, who faithfully protects, who faithfully stays by when suffering, hardship and adversity come our way, and remarkably, He is a God who despite the unfaithfulness of man is Himself faithful to man.
(#5) GOD IS A SAVIOR
Fifth, Genesis is sending us away with a picture of God as our Savior. In the face of man’s unfaithfulness God is faithful. God mercifully saved Cain from being killed by giving him a mark that would prevent any other humans from killing him. God is the Savior is seen in an ark floating on top of the worldwide flood. God is the Savior is seen in Lot and his family fleeing to the mountains as burning sulphur rains down on the towns behind them. God is Savior is seen in God saving Jacob’s family from the famine through Joseph in Egypt.
Yet there is no greater way to see God as Savior than the profile of the Savior God planned. The very same day Adam sinned God declared his plan for salvation. In speaking to the serpent God revealed his future plans for a man who would come who would be wounded by the serpent but who would kill the serpent. Then we see a man, Abraham, chosen by God. From this man who was old and had no children God brought forth descendents as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the shore. He brought from that one man one nation in particular. Then from that one nation God brought forth one man in particular. And that man, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Son of God, was the promised Savior of the world.
APPLICATION: Genesis taught us to expect Jesus Christ. Do you expect Jesus Christ? Do you expect Him to come? He is coming!
(#6) GOD’S PLANS CENTER ON ABRAHAM’S DESCENDENTS
God’s plans center on Abraham’s descendents. The way to read the rest of the Bible is to focus on Abraham’s descendents.
First, there are the physical descendents, the people of Israel. Genesis has detailed for us their origins in the Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The OT centers on their history with God and their land. Throughout the OT the nation was Messianically expectant – meaning they were living each year expecting the coming of their Ruler, their Prophet, and their King. So Abraham’s physical descendents were the chosen nation to bring forth the Messiah into the world. Or as Romans 9 says, “There’s is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship, and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah…” God bestowed incredible privilege on Israel, and one of those privileges was they would bring forth the Savior of the world.
Second, we must focus on the singular descendent who was to come. He is the “seed of Abraham.” Galatians 3:16 explains, “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say, ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ.” The seed of Abraham was one person God was referring to: Jesus Christ. Everything God was doing was through Jesus Christ, and Jesus would be a descendent of Abraham by the flesh. Now, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed to all nations and peoples, so that peoples from all nations will believe and make up this new community called the Church. Jesus is THE offspring of Abraham and through this single offspring would come the blessings God spoke of to Abraham that were promised for the nations. Now that Christ has come, and now that the Gospel of Christ is proclaimed, the blessings are going out to all nations as people all over the world are putting their faith “in Christ” and therefore being considered “in Christ” and thus partakers of blessings. Those blessings include: pardon of sins, a righteous standing before God, the Holy Spirit, eternal life, future heirs of the world. Speaking of that, the blessing of all nations will not be fully fulfilled until Christ returns. When Christ comes back the Bible says the physical descendents of Israel will repent and receive their Messiah. The nation that rejected him will receive him. The New Covenant is about Israel first, not Gentiles. We are partakers of it “first” you could say, but we will be “last” you could say, when Israel finally is made right with God. They will be first among the nations in the coming kingdom and in that day all the fullness of blessings for all the nations will be given. But not until that day. Israel, the physical descendents of Abraham, must become spiritual descendents of Abraham. That will happen at the coming of Jesus Christ when he comes back in glory to establish his glorious rule over the entire earth as King of kings and Lord of lords.
But then Abraham has another category of descendents aside from the Jews and aside from Jesus. Those are people who have faith like Abraham, regardless of their ethnicity. Since Abraham is forever known by God and man as the man of faith, we learn that anyone who has faith is also a descendent of Abraham. Any Gentile who believes on Jesus Christ now becomes a child of Abraham. Any Jew who believes on Jesus becomes a child of Abraham. Turn to Romans 4 with me and notice verse 16, ….. The point here is that God always had in mind that Abraham would have physical offspring and spiritual offspring, those who are his descendents in the flesh and those who are his descendents in the faith. Galatians 3:29, “If you belong to Christ [by faith] then you are Abraham’s offspring.”
What you see in the NT is a distinction between Jews who have faith and those that don’t. In other words, all Jews are physical descendents of Abraham, but not all Jews are spiritual descendents. All Jews share the same blood with Abraham, but not all Jews share the same belief in God. This distinction, if you fix it in your mind, will keep you from making the error of thinking Gentile Christians are the “New” or the “True” Israel, like many people err. Those Jews who have faith in Jesus Christ, are children of Abraham both in the flesh and in the faith. They are the true Jews. Romans 2 really explains this well, that if a Jew is only a Jew “outwardly,” or physically, then they are not really Abraham’s descendents. Romans 9 says, “Not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendents are they all Abraham’s children.”