Genesis provides the historical foundation for the entire Bible and the basis for the Pentateuch. Moses, the author (Matthew 19:8; Mark 7:10), traces the history of the universe from God’s perspective. The account is selective according to Moses’ purpose to encourage the Israelites assembled on the Plains of Moab to trust in their faithful and omnipotent God enough to conquer the Promised Land.
The events Moses records in Genesis take the reader from Eden to Egypt and cover thousands of years from Creation to Abram’s family (1-11) and then the 300 years from Abram’s covenant with God to the death of Joseph (12-50).
Moses moves the story forward through the phrase “the generations of” (toledot in Hebew, and translated “the account” or “record). It divides the book 10 times (36:9 repeats 36:1) beginning with the person named, who may not be the primary character of the section, and closes with that persons death (2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12; 25:19; 36:1; 37:1).
Genesis introduces the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-3) as God’s solution to a self-destructing humanity bent on devastating destruction. The first eleven chapters surface the desperate need of the Covenant. The remaining chapters unfold the outworking of the covenant through the lives of the four Patriarchs of the Hebrew faith—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.
God is the luminary of Genesis as the narrative reveals His place in the origin of the universe and the birth and life of the believing community He powerfully and faithfully delivers. Of His own choice and due only to His love and mercy, He established Israel as the means of blessing the undeserving families of the earth in response to Abrahams’ faith.
Imagine the impact this view of history had on the children of the generation that refused to believe God at Kadesh-barnea (Numbers 14). Far more than a gaggle of slaves slinking back home. Moses wanted them to see themselves as the chosen people of the living God with a glorious and eternal destiny! Genesis, the book of beginnings, has encouraged believers since the post-Exodus generation by providing God’s exciting perspective on their role in history.
I hope you’ll listen to the audio of this podcast because Genesis tells the story of a gracious God encouraging His worn out and enslaved people. The purpose of Genesis is clear: People of God, trust your all-powerful and faithful Lord.