This is the fiftieth and final chapter on the book of Genesis. In the course of this study I have relied on the Book of Genesis itself, going over every verse in the 50 chapters (1,533 verses). Genesis, at 50 chapters is the fourth longest book in the Bible (Psalms is the longest followed by Isaiah and Jeremiah).
I have also relied on the work by Dr. Henry Morris called the "Genesis Record" which is a good commentary on the book of Genesis. In the preparation of this course I've read over 700 pages of resource material and have produced over 600 pages of handwritten notes.
It would be impossible to review the entire book in this last chapter but, if you have noticed, at the end of every chapter starting at chapter seven I have included brief application lessons. In keeping with that process, I would like to summarize the entire book by offering what I believe to be the top three lessons from Genesis.
Lesson #1 – Genesis is Inspired
We spent many chapters of this book studying the first verse and early chapters of Genesis because these contained the information that explained key ideas that help us make sense of our world:
- When and how the world was created, as well as by whom and why.
- The origin of humanity. The true image of God – one man and one woman.
- The cause of evil and death – disobedience of God's laws.
- The reason for the condition of nature – the global flood.
- God's ultimate purpose for mankind – to save mankind from sin and give him eternal life.
All of these ideas are outlined and explained in the book of Genesis and no other book contains this information in an ordered and purposeful way.
In recent years the attack against the Bible has been focused on the book of Genesis for the simple reason that if you can discredit the foundation, then the entire structure will come tumbling down. Some have offered other theories to explain all of this and have claimed that the Bible is in error because it does not agree with their theory. In response to these, many Christians have begun to change their view of Genesis in order to accommodate those modern theories. For example:
- Genesis is partially inspired, everything except the creation story is inspired.
- It does not really mean what it says, it is only symbolic.
People do this because they cannot answer some of the questions and problems brought forth by the doubters and disbelievers (fossil records, etc.).
There have been doubts and complex questions throughout history and the interesting thing to note is that when those things were resolved, the answers always confirmed that the Bible was correct and not whatever popular theory of the day was attacking the Bible.
Recently Time magazine reported that scientists studying the DNA of ancient human fossils discovered that man originated from one small and concentrated group in one region fairly recently (they say 250 thousand years ago). This contradicts evolutionists who claim humans evolved spontaneously in various geographic areas over millions of years. Their discovery is much more in line with the Genesis account than Darwin's account.
If we live to be 1,000 years old there will be other theories and other attacks to undermine the foundation of God's Word, we should not be surprised or afraid or discouraged.
New questions, new difficulties, new doubts, but if we did live a 1,000 years we would see a pattern that has existed for thousands of years: disbelievers, scoffers, doubters come and go, but Genesis remains to teach us the true nature of our world, our society and our God.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.
- Isaiah 40:8
Lesson #2 – God is Gracious
They say that the Old Testament reveals the Father, the Gospels reveal the Son and the rest of the Bible reveals the Holy Spirit. This is fairly true because in the book of Genesis we see the promise of the Son and indirect references to the Holy Spirit but chapter after chapter of the Father creating as well as dealing with man in good and bad times.
The one thing that shines through all of these many chapters is that God, God the Father is gracious. Gracious means several things:
- Generous – we see His generosity in the world He makes. Not some blank, bland, uncomfortable place, but a mind boggling assortment of colors, types, shapes and sounds that we could not experience even if we lived 1000 years. There is more here than we need.
- Thoughtful – what He gives and creates is done with the thought of every living creature in mind. Our most mundane acts and needs are carefully provided for.
- Merciful – if anything, Genesis teaches us that God is loving, kind and merciful. He devises a plan to save the man who rejects Him, destroys his own life and causes the ruin of the beautiful creation that God had given him. In every story from Adam to Noah to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob we see the very same scenario:
A majestic, mighty and merciful God dealing kindly and patiently with weak, sinful and stubborn people. He never gives up, He never loses patience, He always pursues His ultimate goal of bringing people out of this fallen world into the heavenly place where He lives.
Many have an image of God as a tyrant, a judge, a demanding angry father, but they did not get this image from the book of Genesis. From the calm and inquiring voice confronting Adam and Eve in the garden to the reassuring presence encouraging Jacob to go into Egypt to join his long lost son, Genesis reveals an unbroken image of God, our Father, who cares for His sons and daughters and plans for their ultimate happiness, just like earthly fathers try to do.
Later on, when the Israelites become a nation and continually rebel directly against God and we see Him repeatedly discipline them, this image of graciousness is less evident, but here, in Genesis, as mankind is in its infancy, we see God the gracious and tender Father leading His children in their first steps leading to maturity.
Lesson #3 – Salvation is by Faith
Some people actually think that the idea of salvation being by faith is an idea introduced only in the New Testament. They wrongly conclude that in the Old Testament people were saved by the Law. The error here is that the Jews, especially the Pharisees, began to think that they could be right with God by meticulously keeping the Law, especially the ceremonial law of sacrificing, food and tithing, etc. This was never so. In Genesis God establishes the one and only way that a person could be saved (become right with God and avoid condemnation because of sin).
5And He took him outside and said, Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be." 6Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
- Genesis 15:5-6
The only way, from the very beginning, to be right with God is to believe Him. If someone believes Him, this faith will motivate obedience, trust, etc. God promised that He would send someone to pay the price for sin and the entire Bible is the story of how Jesus eventually came and did this.
In Genesis God required that a person believe Him in order to be acceptable, in the New Testament God requires that people believe in His Son Jesus Christ in order to become acceptable and, therefore, saved from condemnation because of sin.
In Genesis God required obedience as a way of acting out faith, this included circumcision and following God's lead as to worship, conduct and service. In the New Testament God still requires obedience in the form of baptism and following God's lead as to worship, conduct and service.
Genesis is the beginning and from the very beginning God has required man to believe what He has said and trust Him regardless of the circumstances.
Genesis is the beginning of the story of how man pleases God, comes to know God, is saved by God, all through the act of believing and taking Him at His word.
This is our final chapter in a long and in-depth study about the book of beginnings:
- A book that comes from God
- A book that reveals a gracious God
- A book that shows us that faith is what ultimately saves us
- Summarize Genesis in one sentence and explain why?
- What are major lessons learned from Genesis?
- What are some major expressions of faith in Genesis and what does this teach us?
- Read James 1:1-8 and discuss how it relates to the overall life of the major characters of Genesis.