Section One: Genesis [Life Comes from God]

Section One: Genesis, Life Comes from God

The inspired book of Genesis is a book of beginnings.  Genesis is a book, especially in its early chapters, in which we see God always pushing for LIFE because God is always about LIFE.  Even as we begin we must see that LIFE is what God is doing and creating.  Chapter one in Genesis is a beautiful poem, most likely by Moses, in which he eloquently puts forth the absolute Truth that God brought light, life, and order from darkness and emptiness.  To put it another way, life, in general, is about what God is doing (God-centered) and not what we are doing (man-centered).

If you are unfamiliar with the Book of Genesis, it can be outlined and highlighted in terms of our focus as:

  1. Adam and Eve: God Brings Life (Genesis 1-2)
  2. Adam and Eve: Sin and the Fall (Genesis 3-5)
  3. God says “I’ll send help” and Life Goes on in Hope (Genesis 3:15)
  4. The World Drowns in Sin, Flesh, and Hopelessness (Genesis 6-11)
  5. Promise to Abraham in Covenant (Genesis 12-23)
  6. Family History of Abraham (Genesis 24-36)
  7. Extended History of Joseph (Genesis 37-50)

Life Comes from God, Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:10-15

Soon after the Creation accounts in Genesis 1-2, the reader of Scripture comes upon a reply from Adam to God in Genesis 3:10 which states: He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid’” (NIV 1984).  Because of sin (Genesis 3:7), the natural state of human beings is now one of fear, nakedness, and a broken relationship with God.  It is important for us to note, even at this juncture, that human beings have struck out on their own away from the life God provided.  God provided life then and provides life now.  Sin is the movement of human beings away from God (the Giver of Life).

What has occurred with sin entering Creation can be described as…

…a break of trust between human beings and God.

…the way of living being made crooked, difficult, and cursed.

…truth being muddied with lies and half-truths.

…a loss of direct access to the Tree of Life which is potential eternal life with God.

This break of trust (a wonderful way of thinking about sin in action) between human beings and God results in Adam and Eve being naked, guilty, and hiding because innocence and righteousness had left them.  Immediately after Genesis 3:10, Adam and Eve start laying blame which eventually even comes back to God…in Whom they had lost trust.

What is the point of this?  What does John 14:6 have to do with any of this?  Here is where a switch in our traditional thinking and theology needs to take place in terms of sin and separation from God.  Usually, Christians only think about Genesis 1-3 in terms of death, nakedness, and shame.  This is all completely true and completely relevant.  However, what should not be overlooked is the loss of LIFE, which only comes from God.  Loss of God through sin means a loss of LIFE.

The LIFE lost is eternal life.  Human beings were given, by God, the capacity for innocence and sinlessness.  This was the life that was lost when sin was chosen over God. Innocence was forfeited in the act of sin.  God warned Adam and Even that human beings cannot remain in life in such a condition because sin leads to death, which is a consequence of the loss of that honor.  LIFE is not something we are in, but something in us.  LIFE is in God alone and will remain so forever.  Only by being connected with Him may we truly have LIFE.  Human beings are not immortal (and I don’t think we ever were) because we had unrestricted access to the immortal God who was willing to share immortality with us[1].  1 Timothy 6:16 states that God alone is immortal.  In John 10:14-18, Jesus tells us that He is the Good Shepherd with the authority to lay down His life and to take it up again.  Jesus can make this statement because LIFE is inborn in Jesus as the Son of God.  The Apostle John unmistakably states in 1 John 1:2 that Jesus is eternal life.  The point is we had access to the tree of life before sin and now that Jesus has dealt with sin (more on that later) we have access to eternal life again if we will turn from sin and eat of eternal life.

Theologically and even practically, Jesus is needed in the beginning of human existence as the way, the truth, and the life which is why Genesis 3:15 proclaims and prophetically predicts, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (NIV 1984).  This passage is the first promise that Jesus would come and would crush Satan.  Jesus was always the plan (way, truth, and life).  We can clearly see that God had not given up on Adam, Eve, and the rest of humanity that would come after them.  Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15) was the plan to provide a way to LIFE for human beings who had walked away from God and gone their own way.

Life Comes from God, Noah and Righteousness in Genesis 6:5-8

Adam and Eve bore children who populated the earth.  Some worshiped God (“call on the name of the Lord” in Genesis 4:26) and some did not.  In fact, Genesis 6:5-8 tells us, The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.  6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.  7 So the LORD said, ‘I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.’”  8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD” (NIV 1984).

These verses from Genesis 6 are descriptive about what was going on amongst the human beings descended from Adam and Eve:

“wickedness” (Hebrew word “‘ra”) meaning “bad, evil”

“inclination” (Hebrew word “yester”) meaning “framing, intellectual framework”

“heart” (Hebrew word “labe”) meaning “inner man, mind, will, understanding”

“all the time” (Hebrew word “yome”) meaning “day, yesterday today and tomorrow”

“regretted” (Hebrew word “naw-kham”) meaning “to be sorry”

“troubled” (Hebrew word “‘atsab”) meaning “to hurt, to vex, to grieve”

The human beings that had filled the earth, by and large, had walked away from God and were living their existence apart from Him.  In the midst of this sin horror, a small glimmer of hope is seen in the person of Noah.  Noah is a man who is seen as righteous because of his obedience.  Noah is a man who is seen as righteous because of his trust in God.  Through the example and life of Noah, God enables us to see that He had not given up on human beings.  God had not given up in offering LIFE to us.

Through the obedience of Noah (6:22), the flood (7:1-24), and the eventual exit from the ark (8:1-22) we see a snapshot of the greater purpose (biggest picture) of God with human beings.  Noah obediently trusted in God and he and his family got to enter into a new LIFE through the death around them.  God showed that His plans were about giving LIFE.  Jesus Christ came and through His death human beings have new LIFE.

This is not a connection that we make, but one that has been made in the pages of Scripture.  The Apostle Peter (1 Peter 3:18-22) shares with us about the “days of Noah” when he writes, For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, 19 through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison 20 who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,  22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him” (NIV 1984).  Clearly Peter connects the LIFE giving God in Genesis 6 with the LIFE giving Savior on the Cross and His Resurrection.  God offered LIFE to Noah and his family through the ark of wood.  God offered/offers LIFE to us through the cross of wood.

Life Comes from God, Abraham and the Covenant in Genesis 15:1-21

God was not finished explaining in the Book of Genesis that He is all about offering LIFE.  Genesis 11 records for us Noah begat Shem who begat Arphaxad…add some more “begats” in there…until we meet a key man in the plan of God named Abraham.  Human beings were scattered over the face of the earth.  God chose from the line of Shem a man to be a blessing to all people (Genesis 12:3).

In the days of Abraham, we find God continues to offer LIFE by enacting a covenant with Abraham, which is ratified and confirmed in Genesis 15.  Genesis 15:9-11 records for us, So the LORD said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.’  10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half.  11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away” (NIV 1984).  Abraham (this was before God changed his name in 17:5…it is the same person) made a treaty with God.  By dividing this animal and walking through the path of blood, a formal agreement between parties was made[2].  The parties agreed that if they violated the agreement they were agreeing to be cut in half like the heifer, which is a sentiment echoed in Jeremiah 34:18[3].  Abraham and his descendants were now entered into a LIFE giving relationship with God…this is the covenant.  This is a serious agreement in that Abraham was agreeing that he would be “cut in half” or “destroyed” if the agreement was broken.  God certainly would keep up His end of the deal.

What we should note at this point is that both parties in an agreement would walk between the parts of the heifer.  Both parties were obligated because they both walked the path of blood together.  Once having walked between the pieces of the heifer, Abraham would be obligated with his life.  We find something amazing in Genesis 15 which underscores the point that God is all about offering LIFE.  Abraham was filled with “thick and dreadful darkness” (Genesis 15:12) because of the seriousness of the agreement.  Abraham has a vision in which he sees, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces” (Genesis 15:17, NIV 1984).  God Almighty appeared and walked through the pieces for the both of them.  Instead of making Abraham walk the path of blood between the pieces; God’s presence (flaming torch) walked the path for him.  God says in that moment, “I will pay if and when this covenant is broken.”

Who does God think He is when He acts for both parties?

God.

What is God offering?

Life.

Why would God do that?

Love.

How did God accomplish this?

Jesus.

We must see that God is the only One with LIFE and therefore He is the only One who can truly make payment for the broken covenant relationship.  Total destruction is the result of breaking the covenant with God.  Only God can offer LIFE in response to the death.  He does this through Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

Life Comes from God, Extended History of Joseph in Genesis 50

In the last part of the first book of the Bible, we find the life and times of Joseph the son of Jacob the son of Isaac the son of Abraham.  Joseph is one of twelve sons, but held the distinct honor of being his father’s favorite child.  This was not a fact hidden from his other brothers.  His brothers willfully sell him into slavery.  Through a series of providential unfortunate events, Joseph goes from being favored son to slave, to favored slave, to prisoner, to favored prisoner, to prime minister.  Joseph found favor through God wherever he found himself.

The last chapter of Genesis is where we are going to stop for a moment and pause.  Jacob dies (Joseph’s father) and his brothers are deeply concerned that he will turn on them and wreak havoc for selling him into slavery.  Genesis 50:15 shares with us, “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him” (NIV 1984).

What happens next shows the type of LIFE that God offers that can only be found in Him.  True LIFE can only be found by accepting God in faith and following after Him wholeheartedly.  Genesis 50:19-21 reports for us Joseph’s reaction to his brothers’ worry: “But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?  20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.  21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them” (NIV 1984).

The LIFE that God offers is one that travels heavily through the land of forgiveness.  It did for Joseph in Genesis 50.  Joseph was freeing his brothers from the guilt they felt and from the penalty that was due them for what they had done against him.  Jesus Christ would ask later for God to forgive the very people who were nailing Him to the cross (Luke 23:34).  Jesus Christ set people free from guilt as well by paying the penalty and offering LIFE in its place.

What do You and I need to understand?

This first book in the Bible is the opening statement of God that LIFE is what God is doing.  LIFE is what God is offering.  LIFE through Him is the only life that matters.  From the breath of God at the Creation of human beings to the pathway of forgiveness, which healed a broken family, God is all about offering LIFE to His Creation.  Human centered activity is not life…it leads to death.  Human centered decisions do not lead to life…but separation from God.  Human centered priorities lead people away from the LIFE that God offers.

 

[1] Even if the authors disagree on the immorality of the soul, what is not up for debate is the eternal promises of the immortal God who promises eternal life for those found in His Son Jesus Christ.  God promises to share His eternal life with anyone who accepts His Son.

[2] Walton, Matthews, and Chavalas.  The IVP Bible Background Commentary.  InterVarsity Press. 2000.  Page 48.

[3] Smith.  The Pentateuch.  Restoration Press. 1989. Page 117.

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