Creation (Genesis 1-2)
The creation account (Genesis 1-2) reveals God as Creator and everything else as created. As someone has said, there is God and then there is everything else. The gulf between the two is infinite. Mankind is the pinnacle of God’s creation, made in His image, in order to serve as His representative on earth. God set the first human couple in a garden that was a place of thoughtful provision, revelation, promise (“tree of life”), and probation. In making the Garden a place of probation, where mankind’s obedience to Him would be tested, God demonstrated that His glory lay in man’s willing, not servile, obedience.
Fall (Genesis 3-5)
When man chose disobedience to his Creator, he fell into sin and plunged the whole earth into a curse. In an amazing declaration—called the “first gospel”—God promises deliverance through a coming seed of the woman (3:15). At the core of this deliverance, as Geerhardus Vos points out, is a change of attitude (“hostility”) toward the serpent. The serpent may have won a great victory in the Garden but he will not win the war. He (the serpent) will have his followers, but so will God!
Flood (Genesis 6-9)
As mankind multiplies, God’s followers and the serpent’s begin to converge (6:1-2), jeopardizing the “seed of the woman” and God decrees the Flood, the greatest example even until now of the universal catastrophic judgment that sin brings. God, however, shows favor toward Noah and makes a covenant with him. God is so moved by Noah’s worship that He promises to never destroy mankind again, even though man continues to be sinful and deserving of divine punishment (8:21). Only a promise—uttered in response to Noah’s sacrifices—stands between man and his extinction. Noah becomes a kind of second Adam who is to repopulate and oversee the earth. Of his three sons, Shem is singled out as the one with a relationship with Yahweh (9:26). Meaning, the promised seed of the woman will come through Shem.
Tower of Babel (Genesis 10-11)
The Flood eradicated a world of sinners but it did not change man’s rebellious heart. In defiance against God, the post-Flood inhabitants work at sticking together and making a name for themselves. Their strength is in their unity. God separates them into language groups, limiting their ability to work together for evil purposes. As a result, mankind scatters over the face of the earth into various families (10:32).
Choice of Abraham (Genesis 12-24)
So mankind is irremediably sinful, choosing their own way over the Creator’s. Is there any way to call them back to their Creator? What about the promised “hostility” to the serpent and the delivering seed of the woman? How will God get the glory He deserves from earth’s scattered families?
God’s answer is to initiate a relationship with Abraham, through whom He will bless all the families of the earth (12:3). Genesis 12-24 follows Abraham as he follows God from Ur of the Chaldees to the land of Canaan. In Abraham we see a man moving “from faith to faith.” As God reveals more of Himself and His plans for Abraham, Abraham’s faith in God deepens.
Ultimately, God’s covenant with Abraham has three key promises:
1) Nations of descendants
2) A special relationship in which He would be the God of Abraham’s descendants
3) The land of Canaan as the forever possession of Abraham’s descendants (17:4-8)
But God’s promises are not just for Abraham; they are rather the means by which God will bring “Abrahamic blessing” to all earth’s families. The serpent’s hold will be shattered in the hearts of those who come to know Abraham’s God. Abraham is the descendant of Shem through whom the Seed of the woman will come. The last chapter (Genesis 24) is all about God’s faithfulness and Abraham’s reliance on that faithfulness to ensure that his son Isaac will have a non-Canaanite wife and that God’s promised blessing will be passed on to the next generation.
- What about God’s nature and His attributes is suggested by the Creation account in Genesis 1? (For example, the fact that all that God creates is “good” suggests that He is good.”)
- Why did God make the Garden of Eden a place of probation (testing)?
- In what verse do we find the “first gospel”?
- What is at the core of the deliverance promised in the “first gospel”? Explain.
- What is the greatest example of the catastrophic judgment that sin brings?
- How will God redeem earth’s scattered families and bring them back to Himself?
- List some ways in which we see Abraham moving “from faith to faith.”
- How does finding a wife for Isaac relate to the promised seed of the woman?