What if you only had the book of Genesis to read from?

What gospel or good news would you find?

Photo: S.A.L.
Photo: S.A.L.

If Genesis was a book all by itself, it would be a very strange book. Stranger than it is now for sure. If Genesis was a book, not as part of the Bible, it would seem very unorthodox compared to other literature. Think about it.

Where would you put Genesis on your book shelf? Would it be with the Greek mythology, like the Odyssey or the Iliad? Or would it be better suited to sit with the history text books you had to buy for your Intro to Middle Eastern  Affairs class? But it could also be a philosophy book, seeing as it is filled with life lessons and unique understandings as to how the world works. So where do you put it? By itself, a separated book of Genesis, doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. Or does it? The direction and purpose of the book aren’t self evident and only work in the context of the corresponding books, no?

I don’t know. I thought so when I sat down to read the book of Genesis. But upon reading  I found that there were amazing nuggets of truth that needed to be shared. Some were things I was already aware of but didn’t realize that they had their origins so far back in the biblical narrative. Others I had never seen before.

There are more than this, but I noticed two truths in the book of Genesis that can stand on their own feet. Two truths that all believers should know and understand in their hearts. Two life altering realities that Genesis has to share with us, things that we would be able to hold onto if Genesis was the only book we ever read.

1. God does not choose favorites.

Back in my Sunday School days I was under the impression that God loved Israel. My idea wasn’t unfounded. When you look at the Scriptures, God is moving heaven and earth to create and establish the nation of Israel. God was making promises starting at Abram (or Abraham) through the generations up to Joseph and his twelve brothers.

Talk of a great nation, children as numerous as the stars or the sand on the beach, a blessed and chosen people fill the pages of Genesis. It seems to make sense that God had chosen a favorite people group in the nation of Israel. But, that is not the case.

Look at these two different portions of Scriptures.

“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand (Genesis 14:18-20 NKJV).'”

“And Abraham journeyed from there to the South, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar.  Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, “Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a righteous nation also? Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.” And God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.  Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours (Genesis 20:1-7).””

These two portions of Scripture are very unique if you ask me. Why? What do I see?

Here are two men, Melchizedek and Abimelech, who were not Israelites. They were not Jews, they were not related to Abraham or his family in any way that we are told in Scripture. What struck me as amazing is that these two men have a relationship with God.

Look at those verses again if you don’t believe me. Melchizedek is the High Priest of God Most High. A high priest, a position in the yet to be established tabernacle and later temple is already a thing. This man Melchizedek was a man that would have stood before God on behalf of his people and communicated, prayed, everything that an Israelite high priest would later do.

Abimelech is laying down for the night and he has a conversation with God. It isn’t surprising to Abimelech when God calls to him, it doesn’t seem to be very abnormal for him. What does seem to be abnormal is what God is doing and saying to Abimelech. But that only makes sense if Abimelech has a working knowledge of who this God is and what He is like.

These two collections of verse stand as evidence to say this, to share this truth with those that read the Genesis account.

While this Genesis account is about the nation of Israel, God has not neglected and forgotten about the “other” people. While God was making a covenant with Abraham, Issac and Jacob, God was still working at revealing Himself to other people in other nations. God does not choose some people to be His and leave the others to fend for themselves. God does not have favorites. He loves all His children the same way. This is a powerful truth that we see starting to root itself in Genesis that flows throughout the rest of the Bible.

God does not play favorites.

2. God is the only one who can save us.

While this is a truth that we see throughout the rest of the Bible, it isn’t one that you would immediately think of if you were only to read the book of Genesis. But it is there, and it is in such a place in Genesis that it really leaves the reader with a giant sense of hope. Read it here.

“And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here (Genesis 50:24-25).” 

Photo: quinn.anya
Photo: quinn.anya

If Genesis was just another book on the shelf, I would apply the same logical treatment to it that I would any other book.  And logic, and experience, tells me that the most important information is always at the end. The homicide detective finally solves the murder and relays all the crucial information and how it all fell into place at the end of the book. The hero finally rescues the damsel in distress from the evil sorcerer at the end of the book. At the end is where all the best stuff happens. And if it isn’t the conclusion to a wonderful mystery or thrilling adventure tale, it is at the end where all the life lessons are shared and left for the reader to think about.

At the end of Genesis, the last leader of Israel is laying on his death bed. His family is all gathered around. There is a stillness felt because this is the end of the story. What will happen from this point on? Will Israel be left to live in a land not their home? Who is going to lead them back after the famine?

Joseph gathers what strength he has left to share the most important information with his family. God is going to save you. God is going to be your salvation. There will come a time when you will no longer be stuck here in this place that is not your home. The one that will do this, the one with the power and might to bring this joyous reality into being is our God.

This is the last message that is shared in this book. It ends sadly with the death of the dreamer Joseph but it leaves the future of Israel in the hands of someone more powerful than the second to Pharaoh. The future, known and unknown, is all in the hands of God and He will bring you out. God is your salvation.

This  is the message of the whole Bible. The whole reason that Jesus came to earth. Jesus came to save us, to redeem, to take us from a place that was never meant to be our home and lead us back to where we should be.

How fitting and how beautiful it is that God included this marvelous truth in the book of Genesis.

 

Read The Gospel According to Exodus here.

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