Welcome to the start of the Bible. The whole Bible has three main themes: (1) God in relation to the world; (2) what is wrong; and (3) how it can be put right. The first eleven chapters of Genesis are a sort-of ‘prologue to the Bible’. Most of the principles on major matters are laid out. We will learn about God, creation, humans, sex, relationships, marriage, family, civilization, government, sin, death, murder, and war. Genesis gives us the teaching in a simple, historical story style. It is history but written in a very simple way.
For the sake of this background we will look at the broad themes in Genesis and then highlight one example of how to get deeper understanding from this foundational teaching. The major themes in Genesis are creation (1-2), the fall (3-4), the flood (5-9), Babel (10-11), the call of Abraham (12-38) and the descent into Egypt (39-50). Each of these sections plays a vital role in the story of God and his people and each of them is filled with stories packed with teaching and relevance for us.
By way of example, let’s look at Genesis 1-2 – The story of creation. The Bible starts with “In the beginning, God.” Genesis is about the God who created more than about the creation! What do we learn from Genesis then about the creator? God is personal (not an it but a he), God has always been there, God is powerful, God is creative, God is orderly, God is singular, God is plural, God is good, God is living, God communicates, God is like us, God is unlike us, God doesn’t need anything. Phew! That’s a lot! Remember to ask the question, “what is the teaching here?” That’s what we have to ask when we read the scriptures.
Enjoy Genesis. Read slowly, thoughtfully. Try your best to put yourself into the story. Pray. Ask God to show you what you need to know right now from what you are reading. He will, you’ll see.