In August of 2022, a group of women from my local church body began a study in the book of Genesis. We have been meeting weekly, covering one chapter each week. We’ve already completed journeys through Paul’s letters to the church in Thessalonica, the book of Daniel, and the gospel of Matthew, so when I learned that we would go all the way back to the beginning, I was thrilled. It was actually in studying Matthew that I longed to dig deeper into the Old Testament, so there’s no better place to begin than the beginning.
For that reason, I have chosen to use 2023 as the year my Friday Focus posts will look at this wonderful treasure—thus the title: Gems from Genesis. Each week, I’ll pull out precious bits of treasure that impacted me in my study, and I trust will you as well. Today, we’ll start with an introduction to the book, and then next week begin chapter one.
One of the things that has made a great impact on me in these deep dives into God’s Word is thinking about the intended audience of each book or letter. In most cases, we know to whom a book is directed, but sometimes we don’t. However, when we do, I’m amazed at the new insights I gain when I think about how the words were received by the people of that time.
This holds true for Genesis. Moses, writing to the people of Israel, is giving them, not only a record of history but one with purpose. It’s a reminder that God initiated everything, beginning with creation, and that he chose and set apart a people for himself. Think about it—here is a people, survivors of forty years in the wilderness, holding now vague memories of exile in Egypt, but also not really sure who this God is that led them to the promised land. They have a lot to learn, and God has inspired Moses to leave behind five books that will form the solid foundation of their faith.
This book will give them an understanding of their ancestors: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They will see their good sides and bad. This is no white-washed history, but a transparent revelation of a people who were not worthy in and of themselves, yet still chosen by the One True God to be set apart for his purposes.
A Span of Time Like No Other
Genesis is unique in its timespan—over 1,000 years! Genesis sets the stage for the entire Bible; and in fifty chapters, we move from the moment of creation to the death of Joseph in Egypt. I like how the Bible Project describes the book: “God’s plan to rescue and bless his rebellious world through Abraham’s family.”
We learn that the God who gave man and woman value by making them in his image, also gave them purpose:
I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.Genesis 12:2-3 CSB
So, this trip through Genesis will be some ride and stir up more treasure than I’m able to share in a few lines each week, but if there is anything I want to accomplish through our focus on this book, it is that the gems I bring each week will serve to whet your appetite to dig even deeper for yourself into this treasure of God’s Word.
Grace and Peace