Genesis is the book of beginnings and it is the foundation for the remainder of the Bible. Genesis opens revealing how God created a good earth. His masterpiece was mankind, and they lived in harmony in the Garden of Eden. Man was forbidden to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. At this point and time, God is the one who determines what is good and evil and the temptation is to become like God, not just knowing but determining for themselves, what is good and evil. The temptation is to become independent and autonomous from God. Genesis will tell us story after story of people who begin creating their own version of good and evil and the result is that good earth is no longer good. God hits the reset button in Genesis 6-9 with the flood, but the Noah and his sons rebel against God in chapter 10.
Genesis 11, tells the story of the tower of Babel and how the people plan to make a great name for themselves by building a tower that reached the heavens. They believe they can live and never be scattered. I believe the author of Genesis is playing on the idea of Genesis 3 when man is evicted from the garden. Babel is the ultimate act of defiance where man is trying to create their own “garden” and be their own god. The result is that God scatters them by confusing the languages.
Genesis 12 picks up with God promising Abraham that he will make Abram’s name great and through him, all the nations will be blessed. We find out in Revelation that all the faithful will be gathered and live in the New Jerusalem. So instead of man coming together to make their name great God picks a 75-year-old man and 65-year-old woman who cannot have children to build a nation. God’s plan is to make sure that everyone knows that he is the architect of this great nation. Twenty-five years will pass before Abraham has a son making it even more evident that God is the one making Abraham’s name great.
Genesis then tells the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. There are some weird stories of sin, and these are not stories that we should moralize. These are stories to demonstrate that humanity constantly rejects God, but God is faithful to the promise made to Abraham. Joseph gives a beautiful summary of this in Genesis 50: 19-20, “Do not be afraid! Am I in place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today.” Even though we intend to do harm (evil), God is faithful and rescues his people.
Genesis is the template for the remainder of the Bible. Man rebels and asserts his independence, creating his own morality, but God is faithful to his people. We leave Genesis anticipating to discover how God will win the hearts of mankind and be reunited with his people.