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Forest and the Trees

Forest and the Trees

We are now about halfway through Genesis as we read through the Bible together. This is a good time to step back from the individual stories in order to gain a better picture of the larger story.

1) The Bible contains a unified message. Each night at bedtime I read my children The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones.  What I like about this children’s Bible is how Sally Lloyd Jones demonstrates how each Bible story unfolds from the very beginning until Jesus returns to make everything new. The author, and many others including me, grew up viewing the Bible more as a collection of stories rather than as a grander narrative. In an interview with Mrs. Lloyd Jones, she explained how although she grew up going to church and reading the Bible, she never connected the Old and New Testaments. The Jesus Storybook Bible is her attempt at making sure children understand how the Bible is connected by a central theme.

The Book of Genesis, which means “beginnings,” opens our story about how God created everything perfectly. By the third chapter, man and woman rebel against God’s only rule and shatter the paradise they live in. From the very beginning, God promises to make things right. The remainder of Genesis and the Old Testament is the continuation of how He accomplishes this end.

2) Genesis introduces monotheism – When we look at books of the Bible it is helpful to understand the answers to certain questions. Who was the author? Why is he writing? Who is his audience? What is he trying to convey? What genre of literature are we reading? These questions help us better understand the passages we read.

Genesis, as far as we know, was written by Moses. The contents of Genesis, as well as the other four books that make up the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) were written for the Hebrews who were slaves in Egypt. The Hebrews at this time had lived in Egypt for 400 years. Many did not know the history of their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob. They were raised in a polytheistic culture that taught that everything came from Egyptian gods and that the gods were not much better than humans.

The writer of Genesis sought to change their thinking by first showing that Yahweh is the one true God who created everything.  The sun and the moon were not gods but rather creations of God. In Genesis 4 some of the genealogies include tidbits such as “And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such that handle the harp and pipe. And Zillah, she also bare Tubal-Cain, the forger of every cutting instrument of brass and iron” (Genesis 4:21-22).  This told the Hebrews that it was not the gods that had provided and taught men these things but other men who themselves were created by the one true God.

3) A major theme of Genesis is separation. In the beginning God separates day from night, water from dry land, living from the non-living, man from the earth, and woman from man. After the fall God separates man and woman from the garden. God separates the godly line of Seth from the rebellious line of Cain. Eventually Seth’s line mixes with Cain line and the earth is over run by wicked and violent people so God separates Noah to preserve the human race. At the tower of Babel God comes down and separates the languages so mankind cannot unify against him again. God separates Abraham from his family and later Abraham from his nephew Lot. God separates the godly family line and chooses Isaac over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau.

One of the last things you will notice in the Book of Genesis is Jacob’s prophecy over his sons in which he names Judah as the line from which God will raise a king and “the scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the rulers staff from between his feet” (Genesis 49:10). The remainder of the Old Testament gives the history of this family line.

To be holy means to be separate. God is showing how He separated the Hebrew people as His people to accomplish a purpose on the earth. His purpose was to separate a family line to bring the promised Messiah. Separation is a theme you should look for throughout the scriptures as you continue to read.

For Genesis, and the rest of the Bible, remember to look for some of these larger themes. These will help you understand and appreciate the message of the Bible.

-by Pastor Shawn Martin

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