With our Genesis series in the rear-view mirror, I didn't want to move on too quickly without first reflecting on some of the big things I have learned. I hope you have gotten these out of Genesis also.
- God is the Great Initiator. He creates. He speaks. He loves. He comes to find Adam and Eve after they sin. He chooses Noah. He calls Abraham. He appears to Jacob. He makes covenants. He destroys. He saves. He works evil for Good. His initiative and power, not man’s, are what drive the story forward.
- Human beings can have a relationship with God. This can only happen by God revealing himself to us and entering into a covenant with us. We then can choose to respond by faith and obedience. Faith is believing that God is real, active, and dependable. Obedience is doing what God commands based on the assurance that he is trustworthy.
- God is in control, yet we are responsible. The writer of Genesis commends the patriarchs for their faith and obedience, yet also warns us by describing their foolish escapades.
- Sin has devastating consequences. Rebellion against God began a cascade of evil in the world. Genesis shows us the horrible fruit of that evil: murder, boasting in violence, abuse, rape, warfare, exploitation, deception, jealousy, pride, selfishness, and plenty more. The magnitude of sin is also revealed in God's judgment on the world through the flood and later his destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
- God is a redeemer. He chooses to save the world rather than destroy it. He uses messed-up, imperfect people to do his will. He is the master at weaving all events, even evil ones, into his good plan.
- God is patient. He is patient with Abraham’s family through their failures. He patiently waits for his plan to unfold. All the patriarchs waited for something. Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for Isaac. Jacob spent 20 years in “exile” in Mesopotamia. Joseph spent 21 years in Egypt before he saw God's purpose in it. God is not in a hurry!
- Human nature is universal. The culture and setting of Genesis are far removed from ours. Practices that were normal then seem shocking or strange to us. Yet the human experience rings true.
- Our understanding of God through Genesis is limited. Genesis does not tell us everything we need to know about God.It raises as many questions about God as it gives answers. But Genesis is only the beginning of the story. We need the rest of Scripture to understand fully who God is.
- Genesis points to Jesus. Genesis creates expectation for a coming Messiah. With the New Testament, we can see how Jesus Christ fulfills these expectations. He is the second Adam who will rule over creation. He is the seed of the woman who will crush the serpent’s head. He is the true heir of Abraham. He is the ram God provides instead of Isaac. He is the suffering servant, like Joseph, exalted to save. He is the Lion of Judah. Jesus is God’s final answer to the problem of sin. He carries out God's greatest work of redemption. All the questions we have about God in Genesis are answered in Jesus. All God's promises in Genesis lead to Jesus.
Take some time to reflect on what you have learned through Genesis. How has Genesis affected your relationship with God? What has challenged you or comforted you? What unanswered questions do you have?