Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Relevance Of Genesis For Today

Genesis, most people will immediately conjure up a scene of a talking snake, a poisonous apple and a naked couple. It sounds more like a fairy tale than the start of a book that we should be basing a faith on! But can we start to base our faith in the stories from the Bible when one of the first ones seems as far-fetched as this? Well this is of course just one of the stories, Genesis is one of the longest books in the old testament with 50 chapters and spans a time period of thousands of years so surely there must be something in there for us to make sense of today?

The people of Genesis

Adam & Eve were weak-willed, Cain was a murderer, Noah was a drunk, Abraham was selfish, Sarah was a liar, Jacob was deceitful……..the list could go on. These are not traits that are confined to history though. We can recognise these traits in ourselves and the best Christians among us today. But that doesn’t mean we have no worth in God’s kingdom.  These people were loved by God and some of them he used to begin the fulfilment of his eternal plan. Abraham and Sarah especially; Sarah had way passed her child-bearing age, but God’s promise was fulfilled and she bore a son Isaac. Abraham was told his people would be blessed with land it took 400 years for Abraham’s descendants to reach that land, led by Moses. Neither Abraham, Isaac, Jacob nor Moses made it into the Promised Land.

Can God use me?

God doesn't fulfil his plans through only the best qualified people; he chooses the people to fulfil his plans then qualifies them.  This may mean years of waiting patiently for us.  We may never see what God starts in us realised in our lifetimes but never the less if we are obedient to his call it can lead on to great things for our future generations that we may never know about in our human lifetime. Looking back on the characters God used in Genesis we can see very little difference in humanity today, the world is full of liar’s, cheat’s, drunk’s, murderer’s, but we are all God’s children, he has a purpose in mind for each one of us, with prayer and talking with other Christian’s and reading our Bibles we may be able to discern what that plan is.  Some of us may never even know the purposes we have begun to fulfil, it may be through our children that our work is completed, but be sure if God wants to use you, he will! And he will enable you to be used, so we shouldn’t feel like we aren’t worthy, capable, entitled etc. God is in control and what may seem impossible to us, is very possible to Him!

So, is it History, Story, Law, Theology?


If we reject the historicity of the book of Genesis we reject the authority of the entire Bible. If Genesis is not true, we can’t trust the testimonies of those prophets and apostles who believed it was true. In the Old Testament, Adam is mentioned in Deuteronomy, Job, and 1 Chronicles. Noah is mentioned in 1 Chronicles, Isaiah, and Ezekiel. Genesis 1-11 is directly referred to in the New Testament, and each of the New Testament authors refers somewhere in his writings to Genesis 1-11.  These references are never alluded to as myths or allegories.
Genesis means "beginnings" or "origin," so God has had recorded for us the only reliable account of the origin of the universe, the solar system, the earth, the atmosphere, and the oceans, humanity, good, evil, language, law, culture and religion. So Genesis 1-11 is of such foundational importance to all history that without it there is no true understanding of us or our world. Comparing it to other Creation accounts such as the Babylonian Enuma Elish account, whereby many gods were argumentative and destructive and made man for their own purpose or the multiverse theory whereby we just happened to end up in the universe that had managed to at the right time combine all the right particles to create a universe such as this; I think the account we have in Genesis is clear and concise and makes sense of the world we know and live in today.
There are certainly many great stories in Genesis that make the characters come to life for us, mapping out their backgrounds and their ancestry. Following their complicated plots with the exciting twists and turns; it certainly makes it an easier book to read, but does this make it look like a work of pure fiction? If Genesis were purely a story, would the writer have gone to such lengths to have recorded the genealogies of Adam, Noah, Shem, Ishmael, Jacob, Esau etc? These genealogies help to back up the history of the first book of the Bible.  Again as with the first 11 chapters, the remaining chapters of Genesis get a mention in the New Testament.  Paul and James both quote Genesis 15:6(NIV) “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” In Acts Stephen’s speaks of when God first called Abraham in Mesopotamia to Jacobs’s burial in Canaan in the tomb purchased by Abraham for his ancestors. So the New Church leaders were recounting the stories of the original patriarchs of Christianity.
It would be difficult to categorise Genesis as law. The 10 commandments didn’t come until Exodus 20. However the Hebrew word ‘torah’ conventionally translated as ‘law’ derives from the verb ‘yarah’ to ‘teach’ or ‘instruct’. And Genesis is full of teaching and instructions! It gives us examples of behaviour that should be imitated, such as Abraham’s faith; and mistakes that should be avoided such as Cain’s anger and bad attitude.
God is making it clear to us throughout Genesis, that he had a plan for humanity and the world from the off. He loves us to the point of sacrifice. He shows grace in punishment to us. He is fair and just and merciful. Above all He wants to interact with us, He is interested in us, and we are His children. Parts of Genesis anthropomorphise God enabling us to really understand how He feels when we please Him or anger Him, so to study Genesis theologically we can really get to know God our Creator, our Father and our Saviour.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I just came across your blog by doing a bit of blog-surfing and I'm glad I did! I've added myself as your newest follower, and I hope you'll check out my Christian devotional site as well

    Have a blessed day!

    In Christ,
    Dakota - A Look at Life from a Deerstand