Introduction

Genesis (Chapter 1 to 11) – Be Basic
– Presented on 3 May 09 by the Young Adults ‘B’ Class (Teachers:Tan Suan Boo and See Hwee Peng)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, – Ephesians 1:3-4

Earth

Introduction to Genesis:

Genesis presents the literary and theological underpinning of the whole Scriptures. If we possess a Bible without Genesis, we would have a “house of cards” without foundation or mortar. We cannot insure the continuing fruit of our spiritual heritage if we do not give place to its roots. The first verse declares a present transcendent Creator-God, a cornerstone of the entire biblical revelation.

 

Title:

The English title, Genesis, comes from the Greek translation meaning “origins”; whereas, the Hebrew title is derived from the Bible’s very first word, translated “in the beginning”. Genesis serves to introduce the Pentateuch and the entire Bible. The influence of Genesis in Scripture is demonstrated by its being quoted over 35 times in the New Testament (NT) and hundreds of allusions appearing in both Testaments. The story line of salvation which begins in Gen. 3 is not completed until Rev. 21 and 22 where the eternal kingdom of redeemed believers is gloriously pictured.

Author and Date:

While:
1) the author does not identify himself in Genesis and
2) Genesis ends almost 3 centuries before Moses was born, both the OT (Ex. 17:14; Num. 33:2; Josh. 8:31; 1 Kin. 2:3; 2 Kin. 14:6; Ezra 6:18; Neh. 13:1; Dan. 9:11, 13; Mal. 4:4) and the NT (Matt. 8:4; Mark 12:26; Luke 16:29; 24:27, 44; John 5:46; 7:22; Acts 15:1; Rom. 10:19; 1 Cor. 9:9; 2 Cor. 3:15) ascribed this composition to Moses, who is the fitting author in light of his educational background.

A specific ordinance like circumcision on the eighth day, which is first introduced and explained in Gen. 17:12 (as well as in Ex. 12:48 and Lev. 12:3), is referred to in the NT (John 7:23) as part of the law of Moses. In support of Moses’ authorship, the information needed to make the book of Exodus intelligible is supplied by the book of Genesis. It is in Genesis that the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are spelled out, the promises so frequently referred to in the other books of the Pentateuch as being fulfilled by the momentous events of the Exodus and the Conquest of Canaan. Moreover, the fact that Ex. 1:1 begins with the word “And” (Hebrew) suggests that it was intended to follow some preceding book.

An additional consideration is found in the requirements of the situation confronting Moses as he sought to write out a constitution for the theocracy of Jehovah shortly to be established in the Promised Land. It was absolutely essential to national unity for the Israelite people to have an accurate record of their own national origin in Abraham and God’s covenantal dealing with him and his seed. While materials which the author used for the composition of this book no doubt came to him from five to six centuries before his time, prior to Jacob’s migration into Egypt, nevertheless Moses seems to have served as a Spirit-guided compiler and interpreter of the pre-existent material which had come to him in oral and written form.

No compelling reasons have been forthcoming to challenge Mosaic authorship. Genesis was written after the Exodus (ca. 1445 BC.), but before Moses’ death (ca. 1405 BC.).

Background and Setting:

The initial setting for Genesis is eternity past. God then, by willful act and divine Word, spoke all creation into existence, furnished it, and finally breathed life into dust which He fashioned in His image to become Adam. God made mankind the crowning point of His creation. That is, His companions who would enjoy fellowship with Him and bring glory to His name.

The historical background for the early events in Genesis is Mesopotamian. While it is difficult to pinpoint precisely the historical moment for which this book was written, Israel first heard Genesis sometime prior to crossing the Jordan River and entering the Promised Land.

As show on the slide, Genesis has 3 distinct sequential geographical settings. (ca. 1405 BC.).

Genesis has 3 distinct, sequential geographical settings:
1) Mesopotamia (chaps. 1–11);
2) the Promised Land (chaps. 12–36); and
3) Egypt (chaps. 37–50). The time frames of these 3 segments are: (i) Creation to ca. 2090 BC.; (ii) 2090–1897 BC.; and (iii) 1897–1804 BC.
Genesis covers more time than the remaining books of the Bible combined.

Historical and Theological Themes:

In this book of beginnings, God revealed Himself and a world view to Israel which contrasted, at times sharply, with the world view of Israel’s neighbors. The author made no attempt to defend the existence of God or to present a systematic discussion of His person and works. Rather, Israel’s God distinguished Himself clearly from the alleged gods of her neighbors. Theological foundations are revealed which include God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, man, sin, redemption, covenant, promise, Satan and angels, kingdom, revelation, Israel, judgment, and blessing.

Genesis 1–11 (primeval history) reveals the origins of the universe, i.e., the beginnings of time and space and many of the firsts in human experience, such as marriage, family, the Fall, sin, redemption, judgment, and nations. Genesis 12–50 (patriarchal history) explained to Israel how they came into existence as a family whose ancestry could be traced to Eber (hence the “Hebrews”; Gen. 10:24, 25) and even more remotely to Shem, the son of Noah (hence the “Semites”; Gen. 10:21). God’s people came to understand not only their ancestry and family history, but also the origins of their institutions, customs, languages, and different cultures, especially basic human experiences such as sin and death.

Nations of Genesis

Because they were preparing to enter Canaan and dispossess the Canaanite inhabitants of their homes and properties, God revealed their enemies’ background. In addition, they needed to understand the actual basis of the war they were about to declare in light of the immorality of killing, consistent with the other 4 books that Moses was writing (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). Ultimately, the Jewish nation would understand a selected portion of preceding world history and the inaugural background of Israel as a basis by which they would live in their new beginnings under Joshua’s leadership in the land which had previously been promised to their original patriarchal forefather, Abraham.

On a larger scale, Gen. 1–11 set forth a singular message about the character and works of God. In the sequence of accounts which make up these chapters of Scripture, a pattern emerges which reveals God’s abundant grace as He responded to the willful disobedience of mankind. Without exception, in each account God increased the manifestation of His grace. But also without exception, man responded in greater sinful rebellion. In biblical words, the more sin abounded the more did God’s grace abound (cf. Rom. 5:20).

One final theme of both theological and historical significance sets Genesis apart from other books of Scripture, in that the first book of Scripture corresponds closely with the final book. In the book of Revelation, the paradise which was lost in Genesis will be regained. The apostle John clearly presented the events recorded in his book as future resolutions to the problems which began as a result of the curse in Gen. 3. His focus is upon the effects of the Fall in the undoing of creation and the manner in which God rids His creation of the curse effect. Not surprisingly, in the final chapter of God’s Word, believers will find themselves back in the Garden of Eden, the eternal paradise of God, eating from the tree of life (Rev. 22:1–14). At that time, they will partake, wearing robes washed in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 22:14).

Interpretive Challenges:

Grasping the individual messages of Genesis which make up the larger plan and purpose of the book presents no small challenge since both the individual accounts and the book’s overall message offer important lessons to faith and works. Genesis presents creation by divine will, and ex nihilo (out of nothing).
Three traumatic events of epic proportions, namely the Fall, the universal Flood, and the Dispersion of nations are presented as historical backdrop in order to understand world history. From Abraham on, the pattern is to focus on God’s redemption and blessing.

Outline:

Genesis by content comprised two basic sections:
1) Primitive history (Gen. 1–11) and
2) Patriarchal history (Gen. 12–50).
Primitive history records 4 major events: (i) Creation {Gen. 1, 2}; (ii) the Fall {Gen. 3–5}; (iii) the Flood {Gen. 6–9}; and (iv) the Dispersion {Gen. 10, 11}.

The literary structure of Genesis is built on the frequently recurring phrase “the history/genealogy of” and is the basis for the following outline of Chapters 1 to 11.

I
The Creation of Heaven and Earth (1:1–2:3)
II
The Generations of the Heavens and the Earth (2:4–4:26)
A.      Adam and Eve in Eden (2:4–25)
B.      The Fall and Its Outcomes (chap. 3)
C.      Murder of a Brother (4:1–24)
D.      Hope in the Descendants of Seth (4:25, 26)
III
The Generations of Adam (5:1–6:8)
A.      Genealogy—Seth to Noah (chap. 5)
B.      Rampant Sin Prior to the Flood (6:1–8)
IV
The Generations of Noah (6:9–9:29)
A.      Preparation for the Flood (6:9–7:9)
B.      The Flood and Deliverance (7:10–8:19)
C.      God’s Noahic Covenant (8:20–9:17)
D.      The History of Noah’s Descendants (9:18–29)
V
The Generations of Shem, Ham, and Japheth (10:1–11:9)
A.      The Nations (chap. 10)
B.      Dispersion of the Nations (11:1–9)
VI
The Generations of Shem: Genealogy of Shem to Terah (11:10–26)