‘The great aim of Genesis is to set before us the history of the creation of the world and to set God before us in His work’ (John Calvin)
In the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is a famous painting entitled: ‘Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?’. It is one of the best known works of the French artist Paul Gauguin. Questions of origins have been important throughout history and remain much discussed in the media today.
The word “Genesis” means ‘origin’ or ‘beginning’ and the book of Genesis gives the only true and reliable account of the origin of all things. In Genesis we are told of the origin of the Universe, the origin of order and complexity, the solar system, the atmosphere, life itself, mankind, marriage and the family, sin and death, languages and the nations. This list is non exhaustive.
GENESIS IS FOUNDATIONAL
Genesis is foundational to the rest of the Bible and it has been noted that if Genesis were to be taken out of the Bible, then the Bible becomes incomprehensible. In the New Testament there are at least 200 hundred quotations or allusions to Genesis. On many different occasions, the Lord Jesus Christ quoted from or referred people and/or events from Genesis. He spoke of the Creation (Mark 13:19), male and female created at the beginning (Mark 10:6), marriage (Matthew 19:5), the devil (John 8:44), Abel (Matthew 23:35), Noah (Luke 17:26), the flood (Matthew 24:39), Abraham (John 8:58), Lot’s wife (Luke 17:32), the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 10:15). In fact it is impossible to call into question the historicity of Genesis without calling into question the reliability of Jesus Christ Himself.
GENESIS IS DOCTRINALLY IMPORTANT
It has been called the ‘seed bed’ of Christian doctrine, since all the major doctrines of Scripture are found in Genesis in seed form, e.g. man made in God’s image, death the consequence of sin, justification by faith alone, the Messiah born of woman, descended from Abraham and of the tribe of Judah etc. In Romans 4, 5, 8 and 1 Corinthians 11 and 15 the key arguments stand upon a Genesis foundation.
WHO WROTE GENESIS?
The first 5 books of the Bible are called the Law (Torah) of Moses and traditionally are accredited to him. This was accepted by the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 24:27,44). Moses is one of the main characters in the last 4 books (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). In the case of Genesis however the book appears to be a compilation of earlier written (narrative) accounts. It is probable that the original documents can still be recognised by the key phrase” These are the generations of…’ which occurs 11 times in Genesis. In this respect therefore the Book of Genesis would be like the book of Kings and Chronicles: a later compilation of earlier, firsthand accounts.
In chapters 1-11 of Genesis the narrative is based around 4 major events: the Creation, the Fall, the Flood and the tower of Babel. In chapters 12-50 the narrative is centred around 4 key people: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. 1990's World Champion Welsh hurdler, Colin Jackson, said, "It was always important to get off to a good start." Getting off to a good start in the Bible begins with a correct understanding of Genesis.