1. Genesis: The Old Testament
THE BOOK OF GENESIS
Creation, the Patriarchs, and the Founding Fathers
The Spiritual Significance:
The Beginnings of Living in
God’s Plan and Purpose
Genesis is called ‘the book of beginnings.’ There are many things in scripture spoken of for the first time in Genesis. It’s hard to understand the Old Testament without knowing Genesis. Jesus referred to Genesis as actual history at least 8 times, and he says Moses wrote about him (John 5:46). Most of the Old Testament is about God fulfilling the promises made to his people in Genesis 12:1-3, which extends into the New Testament.
The world today is a mess, and so are most people. As beautiful as our world is, God cursed it in the Garden at the time of the fall of man, including the works of our hands, the growth of things, storms and fires and earth movements, etc. The Bible message, from Genesis 4 to Revelation 22, is that God is making a way out of it, if we will listen to him, and follow his prescribed ways. The ancient Jews, in the Old Testament, refused to do so, and it seems like most Christians follow their example.
THE FALL OF MAN
The forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden defined things as right and wrong, good and bad, success and failure, reward and punishment, cause and effect. This is still the mind-set most of us live in today, but the tree is still forbidden.
Due to the fall of man, we tend to trust ourselves more than God. As Paul says, “We worship the creature (us) more than the Creator” (Rom 1:25). Thus, we are more isolated than if we were living in the reality of the gospel in God’s family. We fear what we don’t understand, and we don’t understand much. We seek personal pleasure and betterment. All things focused on self tend to minimize God. This all began with Adam and Eve.
We become so self-focused and so divorced from God, things resulted in a flood. Isaiah says the cross of Jesus became like the flood of Noah. In the flood, all mankind was judged, but at the cross, God’s only begotten Son Jesus was judged for all mankind.
After the flood, people went back to their old sinful ways, disregarding God and in a sense worshiping themselves. This produced the Tower of Babel, scattering and separating people from each other and driving them out into more isolation.
God slowly began drawing a certain group of people back together as a family. This began with the Patriarchs and Abraham, and it took a long time. God wanted a group of people who would know and hear his voice, and trust him enough to live as he said to live, so they could have an abundant life of blessing.
Abraham saw that God was in control of the world, even the birth of a son when he was 100 years old. What the Patriarchs, through Joseph learned was that God was with them and he was in control. He transforms everyone — all of us — into his likeness and image, if we will live in his ways. But we can’t often see the big picture of God in the Bible because we’re so self-focused.
We all live a short time-span: and we all live the same life chapters and chronology:
(2) times of joy,
(3) times of sorrow,
Many times Genesis says, “So-and-so begat so-and-so. He lived (so many) years and he died.”
That’s the brief history of mankind on earth.
The story of God ends well for believers, but all chapters in the story of our lives are not to our liking. God is worthy of our hope, love, faith and trust, no matter what chapter of our lives we are in. As I said in the introduction, Paul refers to bad times in our lives as ‘light afflictions.’
We are influenced by earthly life. Mark says, we get trapped in, “The cares of the world, the -deceitfulness of riches, and lusts for other things” (Mark 4:19). John says the more we live in the world’s ways, the more we miss experiencing the love of God (I John 2:15).
TRUST IN GOD
But even in all of this mess, God’s purpose continues according to his plan.
The big thing in Genesis is knowing God and having faith. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph all had a great knowledge of God and strong faith. Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born, way over the age of child bearing. He’s known as the father of faith — it was counted for him as righteousness. Joseph, through all his years of hardship said, “God was with me.” Noah built a boat at God’s instruction, even when there was no body of water anywhere near him. Isaac and Jacob also exhibited faith in God.
The hardest thing we do is to learn to know God, to have faith in him and to trust him.
But this is where the spiritual life begins. Hebrews 6:1 says, “Therefore let us leave the principles of the doctrine of Christ, and let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of FAITH TOWARD GOD.”
This is talking about leaving the elementary principles of the Christian life as Jesus taught in the GOSPEL: ‘the doctrine of Christ.’ He only had one doctrine, and Paul says we should not teach nothing else (I Tim 1:3). Paul says if anyone does teach anything other than the doctrine he was commissioned by the Lord Jesus and by Abba Father God to preach, they should be cursed (Gal 1:8-9).
Thus, our faith and trust in God should be the most elementary thing we learn in our Christian lives. It should be like kindergarten, and we should never, ever forget what we learn in kindergarten. We should live with such a heart-felt trust and faith in God, and in his faithfulness to us, that we should never even have another thought about it.
But the fact is that we do. We compare natural things to spiritual things, which Paul says we should never do. But when we interpret natural things that happen on this earth (especially hurtful, painful, even tragic things), with how we view God in the spiritual realm, our faith and trust can vanish or be very tainted.
The simplest and most basic theology tells us: “Good God, bad devil.” When we learn this and live by it, then we trust God and have faith in God.
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