BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF GENESIS
The purpose of biblical theology is to make known, GOD’s sovereignty over all things. The specified purpose of the book of Genesis is to take us back beyond the pages of recorded history, and reveal to us, the very origins of the universe, and the human race itself. The thrust of the message of this book is to help us to understand, who we are, where we came from, and how that search for those answers must begin and end with GOD.
The book of Genesis traces the creation of the universe back to a personal GOD, and portrays human beings as unique and special creations of that personal GOD. It explains the origins of sin and evil, affirms man’s moral responsibility, and lays the foundation for a “doctrine of redemption” through CHRIST JESUS. It also lays out the concept of what the Christian Church (a separation of GOD’s people unto themselves, while living in the world), would be like, with the example of the community of Israelites living in Goshen (the community of GOD), which was located in Egypt (which represented the world).
Genesis also explains the origins of the Jews, GOD’s chosen people, who were to serve as a channel of blessings for all mankind. The Jews trace their origins back to the towering figure in their history known as “Abraham”. Abraham is the direct recipient of what is now known as “the Abrahamic Covenant”, which is the origin of “the promise” of GOD’s continuing purpose of eventual “salvation” that is now available to all mankind through JESUS, the CHRIST, and has been worked out over the process of time.
The book of Genesis also lays the foundation for the understanding of all Scripture, as the entire bible speaks from its contents. It clearly defines how GOD was, is, and always will be the only wise GOD, and, how HE cares uniquely for us as HIS greatest creation, “human beings”. However GOD must and will, always judge sin, even though HE has set in motion, a process that can bring even sinners back to HIM through repentance and acceptance of a MESSIAH, HIS SON, WHO would snatch us, quite literally, from the permanency of the grave, which we have dug for ourselves in this world.
Because of JESUS’ vicarious sacrifice, “death” (permanent separation from GOD) is no longer permanent for those who believe on HIM. Now, through repent and our acceptance of HIM, we can re-enter into a personal relationship of friendship with GOD the FATHER in Heaven, and can be led into eternal life by the HOLY SPIRIT, WHO has come to dwell in every body that is willing to accept what JESUS accomplished, not as GOD, but rather, as a 100% human being under GOD.
THE ACCOUNT OF CREATION
In Genesis chapter 1, we see GOD, in the beginning, exercising HIS creative powers and authority to, quite literally, speak the universe into existence. And after creating the earth, GOD created “the 24-hour day” using “a short span of light”, that HE called “day”, coupled with “a short span of darkness”, that HE called “night”. HE then allowed this 24-hour period to perpetually, automatically repeat itself over and over again, even until this day that we now live in.
In this chapter of Genesis, we learn how, from day 1, GOD uses “divisions” and “distinctions” in order to fulfill HIS divine purpose for the world.
· On “Day 1” - GOD separated “the light” from “the darkness” (Vs.1-5).
· On “Day 2” – GOD separated “the atmospheric waters” in the heavens above, from “the terrestrial waters” of the earth beneath (Vs.6-8).
· On “Day 3” – GOD separated “the land” from “the seas” (vs.9-13).
· On “Day 4” – GOD further distinguished “the night” from “the day” by appointing the sun to preside over the daylight hours, and the moon and the stars to govern the night (Vs.14-19).
· On “Day 5” – GOD created and distinguished between the various animal life by making the fish to reside in the waters of the earth, and the birds in the skies (Vs.20-23).
· On “Day 6” – GOD makes HIS greatest distinction of all, as HE makes a difference in how HE created man, and how HE created animals (both livestock and wildlife) (Vs.24-31).
On the sixth day, after GOD had “spoken into existence” all the universe and earth, and fashioned from the soil, all types of animal life, bird life, and marine life that were to dwell upon the dry land of the earth, the air, and the sea, in dramatic fashion, HE suddenly changed HIS “creation method” when HE created man. Here, like with the other animal life, instead of speaking man into existence, HE formed him from the dust of the earth, and then, instead of leaving man without “a human spirit”, as he had done with all HIS other animal creation, GOD decided to embody mankind with HIS own “image” (tselem), or, “nature” (of an invisible GOD).
This “image”, or, “nature”, is in reality, a set of “communicable attributes”, or qualities, that would make man compatible with GOD, and be able to be “the only figurative representative” of GOD, here on earth. GOD wants man to have fellowship with HIM, and always seek to worship and obey HIM, deeply desiring those things that are pleasing to HIM only, at all times.
And so GOD then breathed into man, the breath of life, and from that day forward, man became a living person and began to embody the elements, or attributes of “GOD’s OWN Nature”. Mankind became “personally” related to GOD through HIS nature which includes Life, Personality, Wisdom, Love, Justice, Truth, and Holiness. He became a living “person”, having a “personality” just as GOD does.
These communicable attributes provides man with the spiritual capacity we need in order for us to have fellowship with GOD, and enter into a personal relationship of friendship with GOD. Without these qualities we would be just another animal, like wildlife, livestock, and all the other domesticated animal life forms.
When GOD said “let us make man in our own image”, HE, being an invisible Spiritual GOD, was not talking about a “physical image”. “We do not look like GOD”, because “GOD doesn’t have a physical image”. JESUS tells us in John 4:24 that “GOD is SPIRIT” and so, the only way that we can resemble GOD is to act like HIM by incorporating HIS spiritual attributes into our everyday behavior and existence. We must resemble HIM Spiritually.
We are required by GOD to use those communicable attributes of HIS to reflect HIS “image” to others through our behavior, the same way the coming CHRIST would do during HIS first advent. These attributes also equip us with the capacity to care for ourselves and GOD’s other creation, similarly to the way that GOD cares for us.
After perfecting man for HIS service, GOD then blessed us and instructed us to multiply ourselves and “replenish” (“male” – pronounced “maw-lay” in the Hebrew, and it means “to fill again”, or “refill”) the earth (v.28). That command from GOD suggests that there was something here before mankind, and the earth we now know. In fact, it is true that many archeological finds have been discovered to show that human, animal, and plant life, and even the universe can go back millions of years.
The phrase “in the beginning” suggests just that, “that GOD was already here in the beginning”, or, in fact, before the beginning was, there had to be GOD. HE’s the ONE WHO got the ball rolling, and so, HE had to be already here before the beginning. This is too great for us to understand because we can only think in “linear time”, however, by telling Adam and Eve to “replenish the earth”, that tells us that GOD already had put something here before HE decided to start all over again with the creation of earth and mankind as we see it today. It suggests that everything began with GOD, and not that, everything began with us.
In addition to providing us with the wonderful reproduction system that HE fully intended for us to take advantage of, GOD also commanded us to subdue all of HIS creation, and to maintain full responsibility and dominion over it (Vs.26-28). GOD then set up all of HIS human and animal creation with an almost unlimited vegetarian diet (Vs.29-30), with one distinction or restriction of course, and that is that we not eat of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”, which was planted in the center of “The Garden of Eden” along with “the tree of life”.
GOD evaluated each of the first five days of HIS creative work that HE had spoken into existence, and at the end of each day HE called HIS work “good”. However, near the end of the sixth day, HE physically created and formed man from the dust of the earth, and when HE had finished making man, HE called HIS work, “very good”.
GOD, our CREATOR, seems to have invested much more time into the creation of man than HE did in all of HIS other creations, and as a result, HE expects much more from us than the rest. The intricate details that GOD embodies into every living thing clearly suggests that HE deliberately and strategically placed each and everything here on earth, and, in the heavens above, with great vision, and, with great purpose. And man, and everything else, was made specifically to serve GOD in a predetermined special way, according to “a superiorly wise plan” that we need not fully understand or comprehend, but rather, must go forward with it, by faith.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander