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The beginning of the story

This is part of a series of articles, describing each of the 66 books of the Bible and how it relates to the one overall story of God’s relationship with man. The story is examined in terms of the eight recurring themes below. The series cover page can be reached here.

Power &
Holiness &
Love &
Pursuit of
Care &
Rebellion & Sin;
God’s Judgment
Messiah, JESUS

The book of Genesis is traditionally considered to have been written by Moses, who lived somewhere around 1300-1400 B.C. 1 However, the events referred to go much farther back — to the beginning of time — so the information must have been conveyed orally for generations. The lineage from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was deeply ingrained into the Hebrew people’s history by the time of Moses, though. It was the glue that held the people-group together.

The literary style of the book is literal, historical narrative. The tone is matter-of-fact, even when describing obvious miracles. People and places are named in real-world context, with nothing “once upon a time” or “in a galaxy far, far away”.

This book provides the start of our story, and lays the foundation for everything that comes afterward. It includes all eight of the major themes presented in this article series.

Creation tells of God’s power and sovereignty over His world.

The Fall tells of man’s sin and the resulting judgment. It also gives the first record of a promised Redeemer (Jesus) who would atone for that sin.

Cain is another example of sin and judgment. After Cain had killed Abel, it fell to their younger brother Seth to become the one through whom the Redeemer would be born.

The Flood tells again of sin and judgment, as well as God’s righteousness and sovereign power. It also describes His protection for Noah who trusted in Him.

The Tower of Babel has sin, judgment, and sovereignty again. It also advances God’s plan: Mankind was meant to “be fruitful and multiply”, to expand outward across the planet instead of huddling in one location.

The call to Abram to leave his home for a new country also advanced God’s plan by starting the family line that would eventually include the Messiah. God’s plan, sovereignty, and care for His people shows in all of the patriarchs, Isaac and Jacob as well as Abraham. The testing of Abraham’s faith and his willingness to sacrifice Isaac was a powerful picture of the coming Messiah, God’s son being sacrificed.

Sodom and Gomorrah tell again of sin and judgment, plus protection for Lot to escape the city. It also shows God’s righteousness and grace as He agrees to spare the cities completely for the sake of only ten righteous men…but the cities’ sin was so great that those men did not exist.

God’s plan advanced again as Joseph progressed from spoiled brat to slave to household manager to prisoner to second-in-command after the Pharoah. That journey ended with a fulfillment of his prophetic dreams of leadership, with forgiveness and reconciliation with this brothers, and with the entire family living in Egypt, waiting for time to return to the Promised Land of Canaan as the prophesied great nation of Abraham’s descendants. The story shows God’s sovereignty and His ongoing care for Joseph and his family.

Notice how many of these stories have God showing the initiative. He is the one who came to Adam & Eve, to Cain, to Noah, to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. These are all examples of God pursuing a loving relationship with them.

Footnotes and Scripture References

  1. There are differing schools of thought on the exact dates.