For this series I will be using a resource book by Henry Morris entitled The Genesis Record (Baker Books, 2009). This class will not do a line by line study of the book of Genesis' 50 chapters but rather will try to select important sections of the book to discuss and analyze. We will cover the entire book and hopefully review the major ideas and teachings.
My objectives for this study will be threefold:
- Build your faith in this book as an inspired work of God.
- Answer some of the commonly asked questions about Genesis.
- Understand the importance and purpose of this book as part of the Bible.
Importance of the Book of Genesis
Every book of the Bible is inspired by God.
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
- II Timothy 3:16
Thus Genesis is important but some books contain information that helps us understand other parts of the Bible and thus are foundational.
In the New Testament, the gospels and the book of Acts are such books. In the Old Testament no other book is more fundamental to understanding not only the Old Testament but the New Testament and the rest of human history and condition as the book of Genesis.
The reason for this is that Genesis is the book which contains the vital information concerning the origin of all things and therefore the meaning of all things. These things would not be accessible to us if God had not revealed and preserved them in the book of Genesis (which means Origins).
Historians and scientists can only speculate about the origins of life, culture, nations, etc. but the bible actually contains this information so we can look back and see an accurate picture of the world at its beginning, before recorded history by man.
The "Origins" of Genesis
The book of Genesis describes in detail 14 origins that cover the beginning of time to the formation of a people to carry out God's plan of salvation. These origins are the foundations from which we can understand our societies as well as our environment and spiritual conditions:
1. Origin of the universe
Only the book of Genesis accounts for the origin of matter, space and time. Every other religious system, scientific system or philosophy begins with eternal matter or energy in some form that is somehow developed into our present state. Only the Bible gives an account of where original matter came from.
2. Origin of order and complexity
Universal observation has stated that orderly and complex things tend to naturally dissolve into disorder and decay. For example, nature, people and objects all fall apart eventually. Genesis provides the source for the establishment of the original order and complexity of life. This is important because all we are able to study is the rate of decay, not the origin of order.
3. Origin of the solar system
Science can count and study the stars but has not found a satisfactory explanation for their beginning. The "Big Bang" is the best they have come up with but no one can explain what caused it and what was there to blow up in the first place. The "Big Bang" is not a cause, it is an effect. Genesis explains when and how the solar system was created, and why it was created.
4. Origin of atmosphere and hydrosphere
The combination of liquid water, oxygen, and nitrogen in an atmosphere that can sustain life has only been found in its present state on the earth. Genesis explains the how, who, and why of this unique mixture here on earth.
5. Origin of life
How living systems could develop from non-living chemicals continues to be a mystery to materialistic philosophers and will always be. Genesis explains the process and order of the appearance of living things on the earth, from inanimate to animate.
6. Origin of man
Genesis provides the true answer as to the origin of man. Universal observation states that complex things tend to decay and become disorganized but in the face of this, evolutionists try to explain that in the midst of this universal experience, the most complex and orderly creature, man, has actually achieved the reverse of this trend and has come from decay and disorder to become complex and orderly.
Genesis explains the origin of man as a perfectly complex and orderly being at his creation and then joining the creation in its eventual demise, and also gives the reason why.
7. Origin of marriage
Again, Genesis records the universal and stable institution of marriage and the home in a monogamous, patriarchal stable society. Polygamy, infanticide, adultery, pedophilia, divorce and homosexuality all come later as this original model began to disintegrate.
8. Origin of evil
The cause and effect model is demonstrated in Genesis showing how evil not only entered the world (a concession to free-will) but also how it caused the ultimate degeneration of a world originally created as perfect. Genesis not only explains the origin of decay through evil but introduces God's ultimate plan to deal with the evil in the world.
9. Origin of language
The gulf between the chattering of animals and the abstract, symbolic systems of man is completely unbridgeable by the evolutionary process. You can teach an animal to mimic sound, repeat conditioned responses but you cannot have him give an opinion or tell time. Genesis accounts not only for language in general but also national languages in particular.
10. Origin of government
Genesis gives the account of the development of the orderly maintenance of society. It refers to every stage in this process: patriarchal, tribal, national, global.
11. Origin of culture
It describes the beginnings of the main entities which we now associate with organized culture: urbanization, agriculture, metallurgy, animal husbandry, music, writing, navigation, education, textiles, and ceramics.
12. Origin of nations
Scholars today recognize the unity of the human race. The problem is how distinct nations could develop from one race and language. Only the book of Genesis explains this in an adequate fashion.
13. Origin of religion
There are many different religions in the world but all share the idea that there must be an ultimate truth and direction in life. Genesis explains the origin of this characteristic of man's consciousness as well as the origin of true worship and the true God of all origins.
14. Origin of the chosen people
No other people have had such a long and sustained historical background. Genesis gives the origin and purpose that this nation was to play in God's overall plan. The book of Genesis is the foundation of true history, science and philosophy because it describes where we came from and how we arrived at where we are today.
Genesis and the Bible
Not only does Genesis provide a foundation for our understanding of the created world and society but it is also a foundational book for the understanding of the rest of the Bible.
I do not state that as just a personal opinion but the Bible also makes this point:
- People like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, are continually referred to throughout the rest of the Bible. Without Genesis we would not know their role or purpose in God's plan.
- There are over 200 quotations or allusions to Genesis found in the New Testament.
- Every one of the New Testament authors refers to a passage in Genesis 1 to 11.
- Jesus refers to Genesis 1 to 11 at least six different times.
I say this because there is a great effort in the world and sometimes by some in the church to mythologize the book of Genesis, especially the parts dealing with creation.
Genesis was written as a sober and fact based history of the origin of the world and man. When we try to reduce any part of it to myth or allegory we undermine our faith because the foundation of our faith begins in Genesis.
II Timothy 3:16 includes Genesis 1:1 to the end.
If you are watching online this lesson on line you can open the "Lesson Notes" icon that accompanies lesson #1 in Genesis and see an interesting list of dates. These dates mark the time when certain scientific discoveries have been made. Next to these you will find the Bible verses where these discoveries are mentioned in detail centuries before being discovered by scientists.
- Bible reference NASV
- The Genesis Flood, by Henry Morris