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The State of Faith
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Renewing Your Mind


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Old Testament Survey


Key Verses


Key Chapters

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 12

Key Concepts

Generations or Account

Thoughts for Reading

When was your beginning in Christ?
How secure is your testimony?

Genesis 3:15
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Genesis is the books of beginnings. It is the foundation stories of the creation of the world and universe, of man, of evil, and, ultimately, of the Hebrew nation, the special people of God. The book is designed to show God definitely created all things. It is also a book which contains the foundation of the plan of salvation.


The title comes from the Septuagint. The Greek title is a word which means “origin” or “beginnings.” The Hebrew title is based on the first word of the book, “In the beginning.”

It is difficult to date much of the book of Genesis. While chapter 5 contains a genealogical table of lives from Adam to Noah, it is unclear if the listing is complete. A comparison of many of the other genealogies in Scripture show that writers frequently skip generations. The concept of “father/son” may be applied to grandparents or great-grandparents, rather than one’s actual father. At a minimum there are around 1400 years from Adam to Noah. On the other hand, it is unclear how many years fall between Noah and Abraham. Accordingly, it is almost impossible to date the events before the time of Abraham with any degree of certainty.

Most dating starts with known times of later events and work backwards. Those who favor a short item between Noah and Abraham, then date Noah around 2500-2600 B.C.. With a time span of approximately 1400 years between Adam and Noah (based upon the given lives of Genesis 5), these scholars place creation at about 4,000 B.C. It is, in my opinion, more reasonable to allow for more time between Noah and Abraham. Noah more likely lived around 3500 B.C. and creation would then be no earlier than 6,000 B.C. And, of course, the modern world of scientists want to date creation several billion years ago!

The Structure of Genesis


As we look at the various parts of Genesis, it will be good to have in mind an overall view of the purposes of the book. Genesis is designed to:

To understand the import of these purposes, one must understand the progression of Genesis. Genesis is more that the beginnings of creation and mankind. It is a series of “new” beginnings with mankind, the dispensations we spoke of in the Introduction section. Many of the Bible stories we learn as children come from the pages of this book. While not all represent a “beginning,” many of them do.

In brief, the beginnings look like this:

The Beginnings of Mankind
Creation 1:1-25
Mankind 1:26, Chapter 2
Sin 3:1-7
Redemption 3:8-24
The first evangelist action 3:15
Adam’s family after the fall 4:1-15
Civilization, leading to Noah – the “end” of evil 4:16-9:29
Nations, leading to the tower of Babel – the end of God’s dealing with mankind as a whole Chapters 10, 11
Abraham – God deals with one man and promises a nation 12:1-3
Isaac and Jacob – God continues to deal with individuals Gen 26-28
The twelve sons of Jacob – the beginning of the nation of Israel – God now deals with a Nation Gen 29, 30
Joseph – the preservation of the family and the beginning of the growth of the Nation Gen 39


Remember how the book begins – “In the beginning God . . .” This concept focuses on the work of the Triune God. While the Trinity is more fully developed in the New Testament, the Trinity is present in these opening verses. First, the Hebrew word for God, Elohim, is a plural word. Second, God creates while the Spirit of God hovers. Third, there are two names for God in these opening chapters, Elohim and Yahweh. Fourth, “we” speak in the creation of mankind. Notice these distinctions as we move through not only Genesis but all of the Old Testament.

The Hebrew word for “create” is a word which means to make something out of nothing. God, through His Word, called the universe and all that it contains into existence (John 1:1-5).

The attacks upon Scripture come from many avenues. Certainly in this day and age one such attack is upon creation itself. Could God have created in this fashion? Did He? The Hebrew word for “create” is used in Scripture solely for the actions of God. The Bible presents a picture of a God Who has created the universe for His purposes and continues to sustain the world for His purposes (Col 1:15-17).

Genesis is quoted over 60 times in 17 New Testament books.

It is important to understand the position of mankind in this book. As important as the creation of the world and universe may be, the emphasis is on mankind. Note that chapters 1 and 2 cover the creation, including the creation of man. At this point, with the coming of chapter 3, the emphasis is on man, not creation. Thirty-nine chapters are spent describing the lives of four men – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. The Bible is not a book of myths and legends. The Bible is a book about man and God.

One of the issues encountered with non-believers is the question of whether or not Genesis 1 and 2 are two different creation stories – or merely the same story told from a couple of differing points of view. Hebrew literature, both biblical and secular have a pattern of telling a story, then returning and retelling the story (or parts of the story) with a different emphasis or more detail. That is what has occurred in these two chapters. Chapter 1 is the entire story of creation. Then, in chapter 2 Moses retells the story of the creation of man with more detail. This adds to the comments made above that the importance of the Scriptures is the focus on man, not on creation. Recall Paul’s descriptions of those who will fall away from God.

Romans 1:21-25
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.


A major part of the relationship between man and God is the introduction of sin in the lives of mankind. Satan, through the serpent, introduces the concept of temptation and potential sin into the world. Adam and Eve accept the promises of this false god and fall into sin, a loss of fellowship with God. The pattern of attack used by Satan is the same as that used in the temptation of Christ (Matt 4:1-11) and as that used against us today. He uses the same pattern over and over again.

Look at the warning John issues to every believer

1 John 2:15-17
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

This highlights the progression of the entire of Scripture. God creates man. Man falls from grace. God institutes the plan of salvation and the entire of Scripture is the story of the implementation of this plan in everyday life.

Genesis 3:15
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Genesis 3:21
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

Civilization, Nations, and a Chosen Nation

A key to understanding the revelation of Genesis, as well as all of the Old and New Testaments, lies in God’s description of Noah and Abraham. These are men like us. They are not perfect. Noah celebrates deliverance from the flood by getting drunk. Abraham wanted to so protect himself that twice he allows his wife Sarah to be taken into the king’s harem. But, Scripture and God look at the overall condition of their heart.

Genesis 6:8
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

Genesis 15:6
And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he [the LORD] counted it to him [Abraham] for righteousness.

This is what we all strive for. Like Noah and Abraham, we all want to find grace in the eyes of the Lord. We can do this by believing in God. The use of “grace” in Genesis 6:8 is the first use of this important word in Scripture. What a powerful testimony to the faith of Noah.

Noah and Abraham also introduce us to the concept of covenants. These two covenants remain extremely important for us today. They explain why things still work and how God deals with mankind.

In the case of Noah, God made a promise not to ever again destroy the world by a universal flood. It is important to note that God makes this promise on His own, unconditionally, without any requirements on the part of Noah. Further, farmers the world around can operate in the relative security of God’s promise that the seasons will come and go on a regular basis.

Genesis 8:22
While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

Note as well, that through Noah, God instituted human government. The powers granted to man in Genesis 9:6 comprise the highest form of government, the right to take human life. The responsibility of government is a part of the dispensation of Noah which remains alive centuries after the death of this great man.

Genesis 9:6
Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

God’s dealing with mankind as a whole ended in disaster as the people try to reach to God by building a tower (Chp 11). God confounds the languages and scatters the people to the four corners of the earth. God has effectively demonstrated that mankind as a unit has no desire to relate to his creator. To continue God’s plan of salvation, our Creator moves to the other extreme. He goes to Abraham and enters into an unconditional covenant with him.

A “Hebrew”

The name is derived, according to some, from Eber (Gen. 10:24), the ancestor of Abraham. The Hebrews are “sons of Eber” (10:21). 1.

Others believe the name comes from one of two Hebrew verbs, one meaning “to passover,” as in passing over the river to enter Canaan. This may be the preferred origin, for the Canaanites would have given Abraham some description. The third idea is also one of “passing over,” but this one is more in the sense of a sojourner or passing through the country.

Genesis 12:1-3
Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

God will repeat this promise to Abraham several times (13:14-18; 15:1-21; 17:6-8; 22:15-18). In addition, the covenant is repeated to both Isaac (26:1-5), the child of promise, and to Jacob (28:13-15). Through this family, God creates a Nation that is to be a picture of what it means to be a child of God. This is the story of the balance of the Old Testament. At the same time, God promises the balance of the world, the Gentile nations, that they, too, will receive the blessings of God. It is safe to say that the entire dealings of God through the balance of the Old Testament are based upon this covenant. While we will see the covenant explained via other covenants, it remains the basis for all of the actions in the Old Testament and the basis for much of the dealings of God with the unbelieving nations in the book of Revelation.

Using chapter 12&s giving of the covenant, notice that God gives seven promises to Abraham:

God will expand upon this covenant as time passes. This expansions comes in the form of the covenant about the land (Palestinian), about the throne (Davidic), and about the true relationship with God (“New”). The relationship of the covenants look like this:


Abraham was not perfect but God accepted him as righteous because of the faith the patriarch placed in the Lord. This is what sets the followers of God apart from those who fail to accept His sovereignty. As a result, God chose the descendants of Abraham to become a special people. God commands Abraham to circumcise his family as a sign of the covenant which has been given unto them (Gen 17:1, 10-14). This becomes the special symbol to the Jewish nation.

The development of this people consumes the balance of Genesis and much of Exodus. After they have been chosen by God, they demonstrate the same patterns as Adam and Eve. They are disobedient. God remains faithful, but He also demonstrates His on-going power and control over the entire situation.

The “birthright” is the right of the first son to have a special blessing from his father. This blessing usually entails twice the size of inheritance as the other children’s. Further, it shoulders the responsibility of being the head of the family, the family priest, and the spiritual leader. God’s actions in choosing His leaders frequently goes against the birthright, demonstrating that God looks at the heart and is not a respecter of persons. The families of the world are continued through Adam’s third son, Seth. God chooses Jacob over the first born Esau. The Christ comes through the fourth born Judah. The early nation is preserved through the works of the eleventh born Joseph. Later, we will see the model king is the seventh son of Jesse. God simply does not work the way we want him to.

Map of Abraham&s Journey

Jesus in Genesis

We have already mentioned the presence of the Trinity at creation. The New Testament Scriptures mentioned there should be reviewed to see how active the entire Godhead was at the creation.

The Angel of the Lord is a theophany, a physical manifestation of God. Several appearances of The Angel of the Lord are found in the Old Testament. For example, the Lord visits Abraham before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19). God wrestles with Jacob at Bethel (Gen 32). These and other appearances of The Angel of the Lord are appearances of Christ to men prior to the Incarnation. Jesus was actively at work in God’s dealings with mankind long before His human birth. It should be argued that all theophanies are Christophanies, appearances of Christ before the incarnation, since we are told in John 1:18 that no one has ever seen God, that is, God the Father.

Please remember that not all appearances of angels from God are The Angel of the Lord – Christ. Some are simply messengers from God.

Prophecies abound in Genesis on the coming of Christ and His work. Genesis 3:15 quoted above is viewed as the first promise of salvation. The coming of the Christ is seen set forth in the line of Seth (4:25), Shem (9:26), Abraham (12:3), Isaac (23:3), Jacob (46:3), and Judah (49:10).

Genesis 49:10
The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Lastly, we will find Jesus in Genesis in the types of various characters. Adam is described as the first man, compared to Jesus the second man by Paul (Rom 5:14). Just as Abel’s blood sacrifice was more acceptable to God, so will Christ’s blood sacrifice be sufficient to appease God once and for all (Heb 10:14). Melchizedek (Gen 14) is seen as a type of Christ’s priesthood by the author of Hebrews (Heb 7:3).

The most complete picture of Christ in the Old Testament may be found in the person of Joseph. Consider the following similarities:

Joseph as a Type of Christ
Joseph Jesus
The well-beloved son of his father The well-beloved Son of His Father
Lived in Hebron, the place of fellowship, with his father before he was sent to his brethren Lived in Heaven, the place of fellowship, before coming to earth
His father sent him, but he was perfectly willing to go His Father sent Him, but He was perfectly willing to go
Testified against his brothers’ sin, and they hated him Testifies against men’s sin, and men hated Him
Revealed to them the exalted position he would hold in the future, and they hated him the more Revealed to man the exalted position He would hold in the future, and they hated Him the more
His brethren plot against him His brethren, according the flesh, the Jews, plot against Him
Judah sells him for 20 pieces of silver Judas sells Him for 20 pieces of silver
Was tempted and did not yield Was tempted but did not yield
Accused wrongfully Accused wrongfully
Put in the Egyptian dungeon, the place of death, with two malefactors Put on the Cross, the place of death, with two malefactors
One of the malefactors died and the other lived One of the malefactors died and the other lived – spiritually
Was raised from the place of death by the king of the land Was raised from the place of death by the King of the Universe
Was given all power in Egypt Was given all power in heaven and earth
After his exaltation took Gentile bride to share his glory After His exaltation takes a Gentile bride (the Church) to share His glory
Acknowledged to be the savior of the people and their ruler Acknowledged to be Savior and Ruler of both Heaven and Earth
All must get their bread (physical life) through Joseph All must get spiritual life through Jesus Christ, the bread of life
Gives all honor to the king and delivers all things into his hands Gives all honor to God the Father (King) and delivers all things into His hands
Knew the past history of his brethren Knew what was in man

Man is the Capstone

Genesis 1:26-27
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Genesis 2:7
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Man was created by God in the image of God. Sin has tarnished that image. The purpose of salvation is the journey of cleaning off the tarnish. And, as we have seen and will see, it is God who leads the way.

Jacob was less than a firm believer as Abraham and Noah. Jacob took four women to raise a family of twelve sons. These sons become the tribes of Israel. God changes Jacob’s name (Gen 32:28) creating a new identity for this family. God used Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph. to protect the nation. Joseph ultimately recognized his service for God, but the journey must of have been very difficult. But as Joseph ultimately tells his brothers,

Genesis 45:8
So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

Who has chosen you?

1. Easton, M. G., M. A. D. D., Easton’s Bible Dictionary, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1996.




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