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Series Theme: Why Read Books of the Bible: Genesis




Why Read Genesis: In the ‘Contents' that follows it is easy to assume that the book is all about people and in some senses it is, but it is people interacting with God.

Creation: Modern people struggle with the first three chapters as to whether they are strict history or myths or legends designed to convey principles. Without doubt there are question marks over the meaning of occasional verses,but possibly not so many as over alternatives that the world offers, and such questions do not detract from the overall integrity and veracity of the book.

Sin & Separation: The early chapters explain the concept and consequences of ‘sin' as revealed in the Bible.

The key question throughout is, “What does this tell us about God?” and also, “What does this tell us about mankind?” Without these chapters we are left speculating how mankind has the characteristics it has, both good and bad. One of the amazing things to note, is that although God separates mankind (Adam and Eve) from Himself, after they have sinned, He is clearly there in the background, and, from time to time, interacting with specific individuals, for their blessing.

Relationships: This revelation becomes more clear from chapter 12 onwards as we see God blessing the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac & Jacob, again and again, despite their stumbling approaches at faith.

Abraham is revealed as a nomad from Mesopotamia who steps out with an embryonic faith, often still showing more self-concern than faith, but who eventually comes to the position of realising that God is in control and does mean what He says about his future and the promised land of Canaan. He is known as the father of faith and a friend of God (Jas 2:23).

Isaac follows in the same footsteps as his father, sometimes getting it right, sometimes not, but still holding to the fact that he is the outworking of the ongoing plan of God through this family in this land.

Jacob is named twister and shows through much of his early life how apt that name was. However by the end he is transformed. Not only is he very wealthy, and also the father of a family of twelve sons and one daughter, but is without question a godly man of faith whose name has been changed to Israel. What is most remarkable is that even though God knows him to be a twister, He chooses him over his slightly older brother, Esau, who turns out to be indifferent to God. God clearly knows our potential.

The final story of Joseph shows a spoilt brat who is given prophetic pictures by God and because he handles them in such an immature way, they only add to the hatred his ten brothers have for him. A horrendous story follows, of being sold into slavery in Egypt, and then cast into prison over a period of about thirteen or fourteen years, but ends up with him being appointed to the right hand of the Pharaoh of Egypt and becoming saviour of at least what we would call the Middle East, courtesy of the gift of dream interpretation from God. By the end of the story he is revealed as having an amazing understanding of the sovereignty and providence of God.

The book ends up with the family of Israel living in Egypt where we will find them some four hundred years later going through one of the greatest events of Israel's history, the ‘Exodus' from Egypt, to go and take and recover the Promised Land of Canaan. No one who wants to understand the Old Testament history of Israel can do it without Genesis. And amazing read for the person with an open heart of a learner.

Two other things to note: First, family trees appear from time to time showing the growing family. Second, the use of names with meanings again and again throughout the book.




PART ONE: Creation, Fall & ongoing Consequences: Gen 1-11

Ch.1 –The ‘big picture' of Creation

Ch.2 – Focused creation, God lays down the ground rules for the use of Eden.

Ch.3 – The Fall

Ch.4 – Cain killing Abel

Ch.5 – The family tree from Adam to Noah.

Ch.6-9 – Decline of mankind and the Flood

Ch.10 – The nations that are formed after the Flood

Ch.11 – Building the tower of Babel; the family tree of Shem


PART TWO: Relationships: Gen 12-50


PART 2A: Gen 12-25: Abram's Story

1) Opening

Ch.12 - The Call, going to Canaan and on to Egypt

2) Problems with Lot

Ch.13 - Abram & Lot separate

Ch.14 - Lot gets taken in a local conflict & Abram rescues him

3) The Lord's Revelation, the Couple's Failure

Ch.15 - The Lord's Covenant with Abram

Ch.16 - Hagar has Ishmael

4) Interactions with God

Ch.17 - Reassurances & Circumcision

Ch.18 - Visitors, Reassurances & Intercession

5) Failures of this family

Ch.19 - Lot & the destruction of Sodom

Ch.20 - Abraham & his failure with Abimelek

6) Ongoing

Ch.21 - Isaac born

Ch.22 - Abraham tested through Isaac

Ch.23 - Death & burial of Sarah

Ch.24 - Abraham's servant finds Rebekah for Isaac

Ch.25 - Abraham's death

[Isaac appears in his own right from chapter 25 on, but appears in these earlier chapters in his early role as Abraham's son, born as a miracle.]


PART 2B: Gen 25-28 – Isaac's Story

Ch.25 - Esau & Jacob born to Isaac; Esau sells Jacob his birthright

Ch.26 - Isaac in the Land

Ch.27 - Isaac's blessings of his sons

[Isaac & Jacob overlap in that much of Isaac's story involves the early years of Jacob. Isaac's death is found in chapter 36]


PART 2C: Gen 25,28-36 – Jacob's Story

Ch.27 - Jacob steals Esau's blessing

Ch.28 - Jacob leaves for Haran & dreams of God

Ch.29 - Jacob tricked into marrying both Rachel and Leah

Ch.30 - A race for children and sheep & goats

Ch.31 - Jacob leaves & is caught by Laban

Ch.32 - Jacob prepares to meet Esau; wrestles with God

Ch.33 - Jacob meets Esau

Ch.34 - Dinah & the Shechemites [An aside]

Ch.35 - Moving through the Land

Ch.36 - Esau's Descendants; death of Isaac

[We see more of Jacob in the latter part of Joseph's story.]


PART 2D: Gen 37-50 – Joseph's Story


Ch.37-40 Joseph in tough times

Ch.37 - Joseph sold into Slavery

Ch.38 - Judah & Tamar [An aside]

Ch.39 - Joseph & Potiphar

Ch.40 - Joseph in Prison: Two dreams & interpretations


Ch.41 Joseph saves the world

Ch.41 - Joseph & Pharaoh: Joseph implements the rescue plan


Ch.42-45 Joseph tests the brothers

Ch.42 - Joseph meets his brothers

Ch.43 - The Brothers' Second Visit to Egypt

Ch.44 - Judah takes responsibility

Ch.45 - Joseph Revealed


Ch.46-50 Settling in Egypt while holding the faith

Ch.46 - Jacob & Family go to Egypt

Ch.47 - Jacob settles the family in Egypt

Ch.48 - Jacob blesses Ephraim & Manasseh

Ch.49 - Jacob blesses all the sons; Jacob dies

Ch.50 - Jacob buried in Canaan; Joseph eventually dies