Lesson 2: Genesis: The Book of Beginnings

Old Testament Survey

The first book of the Old Testament is called “Genesis.” “Genesis” means “beginning” or “origin.” Thus, the book of Genesis is the book which tells about the beginning of all things. In Genesis we learn that God was “in the beginning” (1:1). He existed before all things for He is the Creator of all things.

Some of the “beginnings” recorded in Genesis are: (1) the heavens and the earth; (2) all plant, animal, and human life; (3) all races, nations, and languages; (4) agriculture, music, arts and crafts; (5) marriage and the family.

The beginning of God’s plan to save man is also recorded in Genesis. This plan includes the beginning of (1) sin; (2) sacrifice; (3) prophecies of the coming Savior; (4) the nation through which the Savior would come; (5) the tribe from which the Savior would come.

Genesis is the foundation of the five Books of the Law. It is also the foundation of the entire Old Testament. In fact, it is really the foundation of all the Bible. If the book of Genesis were removed from the Bible, the rest of the Bible would have no meaning. We would not be able to understand the plan of salvation, or the need for it.

Genesis Refutes the Theory of Evolution

Evolution denies that God created all things. It says that man gradually developed from lower forms of life. Genesis, however, teaches that God created man fully formed. Also, it teaches that man was created in the image of God (1:27). God created man, as well as all animal and plant life, with the ability to bring forth after their own kind (1:11,12,21,24,25). Evolution says that everything evolved over thousands of millions of years. Genesis, however, clearly teaches that God created the world and everything in it in six actual days (1:31; 2:1; Exodus 20:11).

First Eleven Chapters Are the Cornerstone

Just as the cornerstone is essential to the foundation of a building, the first eleven chapters of Genesis are essential to the whole book. The New Testament supports the truthfulness of Genesis, chapters 1-11. If these chapters are not true, then we cannot believe the New Testament. Jesus spoke of the beginning of the creation and the origin of marriage just as they are taught in Genesis (Matthew 19:3-9; Mark 10:6-10). Genesis tells of Eve’s being tempted. Paul confirms this in Second Corinthians 11:3. Paul said Adam was the first man in First Corinthians 15:45 just as Genesis teaches. Peter mentions the account of Noah and the Great Flood which is found in Genesis (1 Peter 3:20,21; 2 Peter 3:5,6).

The fall of man into sin is recorded in the third chapter of Genesis. The very first promise of the coming Savior is given in verse 15. The Savior, who would bruise the head of Satan, would come of the seed of the woman. This is a promise of the virgin birth of Christ. It is also a promise of His victory over Satan by dying on the cross and rising from the dead.

Chapter 4 tells of the murder of righteous Abel by his brother Cain. Chapter 5 records the genealogy (family history) of Seth. Jesus came into the world through this family. Chapters 6-8 tell of the great worldwide flood which was sent as a punishment for man’s sins. Only Noah and his family found grace in the eyes of God. They were saved when they obeyed God by building an ark (ship). Chapter 11 tells of the tower of Babel where the many different human languages began.

The human family history of Christ begins in Genesis. The important links in it are Adam, Seth, Noah, Shem, and Abraham.

Abraham’s History: Chapters 12-25

Abraham was selected by God to begin the chosen nation through which the Savior would come into the world. He left his home in Ur at God’s request. He went to the land of Canaan which God promised to give to his seed. He and his nephew Lot separated because they had so many cattle there was not room for them to live together. Later Abraham rescued Lot when he was captured in war. On the way home he was met by Melchizedek, the king of Salem (Jerusalem). Abraham gave gifts to him. Melchizedek blessed Abraham.

God had promised Abraham that in his seed would come the One who would bless all the earth. However, Abraham and Sarah had no children. Sarah suggested Abraham have a son by her maid Hagar. This showed her lack of faith. Ishmael was born to Hagar and Abraham, but God did not accept him as the Promised Seed through whom the nation would come. When Abraham and Sarah were very old, their faith had become stronger. God then gave them a son who was named Isaac. Abraham’s strong faith in God was shown when he was willing to offer Isaac as a sacrifice when God commanded it (Genesis 22; Hebrews 11:17-19).

Sarah died at the age of 127 years. She is the only woman whose age is recorded in the Bible. Abraham lived to be 175 years old. He was buried in the Cave of Machpelah beside Sarah.

The History of Isaac: Chapters 25-27

Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, gave birth to twin sons. They were named Esau and Jacob. Because Esau was born first, the family headship should have passed to him. However, he was unworthy of it (Hebrews 12:16,17). Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentils (beans). Jacob deceived his father Isaac into giving him the blessing. This made Jacob the head of the family. It meant that God’s promise would be fulfilled through Jacob’s children.

The History of Jacob: Chapters 28-50

Jacob went to Padan-aram for a wife. On the way he stopped at Bethel where he had a dream of a ladder into heaven. Here he made a vow to God. In Padan-aram, Jacob fell in love with Laban’s daughter, Rachel. He agreed to work for her for seven years. Laban tricked Jacob and gave him Leah instead. Jacob then worked another seven years for Rachel.

Jacob and his two wives, Leah and Rachel, and their maids, Bilhah and Zilpah, had a family of twelve sons and one daughter. The twelve sons became the heads of the twelve tribes which formed the nation of Israel. Judah, the fourth born son, became the one through whose seed Christ came (Genesis 49:10).

The family line of Christ is now: Adam, Seth, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah.

The Story of Joseph: Chapters 37-50

Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son. He unwisely showed this by giving Joseph a beautiful coat. This made his brothers jealous. They sold him into slavery in Egypt. Joseph was a righteous young man. Even though he had many troubles, God blessed him. Eventually he became the ruler of all Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. God used this to save His people from a great famine which came all over the world. Joseph brought Jacob and his brothers and their families to Egypt where there was food. Jacob died in Egypt and was taken back to Canaan to be buried. When Joseph died in Egypt at the age of 110, he knew God would return His people to the Promised Land. Therefore, he left his instructions that his bones should be carried there and buried.

Joseph’s life shows how God works providentially. God can overrule in the affairs of men to bring about His will. He did this in order to place Joseph in the position in Egypt where he could save His people from starving. God still works providentially today. We cannot always see or understand it, but God works in the lives of His people to bring about what is best for them (Romans 8:28).

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    Fill in the blanks:
  1. The first book of the Old Testament is called
  2. Genesis means or origin.
  3. Genesis is the of the entire Old Testament.
  4. Evolution that God created all things.
  5. Man was created in the of God.
  6. God created the world in actual days.
  7. blessed Abraham.
  8. was born to Abraham and Hagar.
  9. Sarah died at the age of years.
  10. Isaac's twin sons were and .
  11. At Jacob had a dream of a ladder into heaven.
  12. The two wives of Jacob were and Rachel.
  13. Jacob also had children by and , his wives' maids.
  14. was Jacob's favorite son.
  15. Joseph's life shows how God works .
  16. Check the correct answer.
  17. True    False Genesis tells about the beginning of all things.
  18. True    False Evolution and creation teach the same thing.
  19. True    False It took millions of years for life forms to evolve on earth.
  20. True    False If Genesis, chapters 1 to 11 are not true, then we cannot believe the New Testament.
  21. True    False The first promise of the Savior was given in the Garden of Eden.
  22. True    False Sarah is one of only three women who have their age recorded in the Bible.
  23. True    False Esau was unworthy to be in the lineage of Christ.
  24. True    False The twelve tribes of Israel came from Jacob's sons.
  25. True    False Jacob gave Joseph a beautiful horse.
  26. True    False God placed Joseph in Egypt so he could save His people from starving.
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