An Introduction to Sunday School and the Genesis Class:

Posted on January 19, 2013. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

“Answers To Life’s Crucial Questions”

January 20, 2013

Bryan E. Walker


Read: Please open your Bibles to Matthew 28:19-20; I will be reading from the ESV.


Matthew 28:19-20      Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

(Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)




Greeting: Good morning and welcome to the Genesis Class! This morning’s class is going to be an introduction to Sunday School, an introduction to the Genesis class, and a review of what we have already studied over the past 5 years, as well as looking at the book of Genesis in light of the gospel and briefly outlining our course of study for the semester.

Introduction to the Class


  1. I.                   What is Sunday School?


What has Sunday School been to you in your past? What is Sunday School? What should Sunday School be? The Church exists to glorify God by fulfilling the Great Commission; the Sunday School then, or small group ministry, is the organization of the local church whose purpose is to fulfill the Great Commission. The Sunday School is to reach people with the gospel, minister to their needs, and teach them so that they become disciples who will then reach and teach others.


In our worship services we worship and praise God, thanking Him for the salvation he has given us, and proclaiming that salvation as we preach the gospel. A worship service is both Celebration of our Great Saviour and Proclamation of the message of salvation. Some discipleship does occur during worship as we preach through Bible books systematically, applying the text to our lives, but there is a need for more intimacy and accountability that only a small group can provide. Here at Redeemer, those small groups are our Care Groups, but the Sunday School should also be a significant part of the life of the church as we hold each other accountable, fellowship with one another, build each other up, and reach out to others with the gospel while teaching the Bible. Sunday School provides a more focused time of Bible study than the Care Group time but also includes some fellowship and care as well as outreach.


Our church calls Sunday School “Discipleship Hour”, NOT Sunday School. I am 53 years old and have always been a Baptist and what happens at 9:30 am on a Sunday morning in a BaptistChurch is Sunday School. I am not going to change my vocabulary at this late stage in my life. That being said, I agree with the meaning behind the words “Discipleship Hour”. We are not here to just teach a class, not to just teach Bible content; rather, we are here to make disciples. At RedeemerChurch then, the adult Sunday School is to assist and augment the Care Groups in outreach, ministry to one another, and in the making of disciples.



  1. II.                What is Genesis Class?


Genesis Class is simply a class on the book of Genesis. Presumably, if we ever actually finish Genesis and move on into Exodus, we will call the class Exodus Class. Our founding pastor, Tim Presson, asked me to start the class so that those who wanted an ongoing, deep, Bible study would have a class. We chose the book of Genesis because I had previously preached through the book over about a 5 year time span and it is the first book in the Bible and is the “seedbed” for the rest of Scripture. If you want to understand the rest of the Bible, start with Genesis. Recently, the Elders have decided to have two Bible book study options for Discipleship Hour to go along with Dusty’s Christian Living class, so now we have a NT class, Acts, and this OT class.



The book of Genesis is the dramatic overture for God’s symphony of Scripture, Eternity, and History; it is the seedbed for the major doctrines and themes of the rest of the Bible. From the eternal, pre-existent Trinity to the Creation of the Universe and the purpose of man, from the problem of evil, the fall of man, and God’s judgment on sin, to God’s glorious plan of redemption in Christ through the history of one particular family and the restoration of all things to the glory of God Alone- Genesis is the beginning point. Join us in studying Genesis and see the salvation Christ offers displayed in the life of Joseph; be challenged and encouraged by the examples of the patriarchs as they face real life tragedies, dilemmas, and temptations; and be convicte to boldly proclaim the gospel as we see God’s sovereignty proclaimes in the challenging final 15 chapters of Genesis!


In the past, Sunday School at Redeemer was focused primarily on Teaching as the Care Groups were looked to as the evangelistic and discipleship arm of the church. We are not going to take anything away from the Care Groups, but we are now adding some of those significant responsibilities Back to Sunday School. We want Sunday School, Discipleship Hour, to be about fulfilling the Great Commission by taking the gospel to the lost, inviting them in to Bible study and making disciples. Along the way we will do serious, in depth Bible Study, get to know and encourage each other, and have some good old fashioned fellowship.


Those of you who have been in Genesis class previously know that the class has been primarily lecture/discussion with some application along the way. We are changing the structure of the class a little bit in order to include more accountability for our application, more of a role for direct outreach, and more ministry/care/fellowship within our group. We will not be replacing your Care Group in any way, but we will seek to get ourselves, and others, more involved here. We are here to make disciples. A disciple is a person who has been saved by Jesus, is committed to following Jesus, is becoming like Jesus, is bringing the good news about Jesus to others, and helping converts in their discipleship.


What does all this mean specifically? First of all, what this class has always been, a deep, slow, verse by verse study of the book of Genesis, it will continue to be. We have been studying the book for 5 years and have only made it through ch.35. We will be speeding things up a bit, however, as the Elders and I agree that we want to reach Exodus sooner rather than later. There are 15 chapters left and we have 16 weeks in this semester so the goal is to finish Genesis this semester. Another difference in my teaching will be some application/study guides that I hope to pass out weekly. My actual class notes are always available on my blog: but I hope to give you some practical homework and study guides for application as well.


Secondly, in an effort to make disciples here and not just teach the Bible (but Bible teaching is clearly a major part of making disciples!), we will take some time each week to apply what we have learned and hold ourselves accountable for what we say we are going to do. This may mean breaking up into small groups for a few minutes each week, depending on the size of the class.


Third, we will make an effort at memorizing some verses from Genesis and related verses throughout the Bible so that we get the bigger picture of Genesis ingrained in our souls along with the structure of the Genesis story itself. This will be a big part of our application time. Scripture memory is hard work and some of you may be using the church’s plan or have one of your own. We will work on this together and at the least the program I have in mind will help you understand Genesis more and how it fits in with the rest of the canon.


Fourth, we will keep an ongoing prayer list that will emphasize praying for the lost people we know. We will also pray for each other during the various trials and crises we face throughout the semester and pray for each other as we seek to apply God’s word to our lives and become more Christ-like.


Fifth, We will develop a Prospect List of people we know who are lost, un-churched, or seriously under-churched, and seek to pray for, invite, visit, and share the gospel with them. This will include everything from encouraging each other to share the gospel with others at work, in the neighborhood, in our extended families, etc. to inviting lost people over for an evangelistic dinner party, cook out, etc. We might try to evangelize an apartment complex in the area or do door to door visitation. Bottom line: like the Church in America as a whole, we are failing at carrying out the Great Commission and we need to fix this.


Sixth, we will deliberately seek to get to know one another more deeply and care for one another. If you are facing a challenge, struggling, need some help, we want to know about it and see if we as a class can join with your Care Group in helping you.


Seventh, we will definitely fellowship together. We will do this by scheduling some lunches together for after church right here in our room or the Fellowship Hall if it is available. In another effort at making this class all about making disciples, I want to make myself more available to you as well. I will take a bit more of an aggressive position on reaching out to you to encourage you in your walk and to seek encouragement in my own walk with the Lord.


Now a word about punctuality: If we are going to add a bit more material, and include more time for prayer, accountability, scripture memory, planning on reaching the lost, THEN we will need to start class on time at 9:30. I, the teacher, have been bad, very bad, at not starting on time. To an extent this is because at 9:30 we have only a few of our number seated and ready to begin. From now on I will begin promptly at 9:30 as long as there is one (1) student here. I have been late to SS myself too many times! Everyone is welcome to still come in when you can, there will be no chastisement for being late. Parents of small children have numerous challenges…we have been there, done that!


Finally, as always, feel free to ask questions throughout the study. If the question is off on a rabbit trail, I might follow it for a while if it is a big enough rabbit. If the question is not as pertinent to the main text we are studying then I will likely give a very brief answer or delay answering it until after class. I will have to be a bit more outline driven than I have been in the past since the Elders and I have agreed to finish Genesis this semester, so I will guide our discussions to that end and make time after class to have more discussions.


Introduction to Genesis


Please open your Bibles to Luke 24:13-35.

      That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

      So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

(Luke 24:13-35 ESV)


My actual title for the study of Genesis is: Answers to Life’s Crucial Questions because this book gives us answers to such crucial questions as: Why is there something instead of nothing? What was before the beginning? Is there a God? What is man? Why is there evil in the world? Where is the world headed? Is there any hope? Genesis gives us some universals, some objective truth, True truth, with which we can then properly understand the particulars and relate the particulars of our lives to that which is eternal and unmoveable. Genesis reveals God to us, points out our sinfulness and then directs us to Christ for salvation.


We read from Luke 24 to start a study of Genesis. Why? Because in vs. 27 Luke tells us that Jesus began with Moses and all the Prophets and “he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” The Scriptures all point to Jesus and the Lord himself began with Moses, implying Genesis and the Law. This will be one of our key hermeneutical goals, we want to understand Genesis so that we can know Jesus and share Jesus better. The gospel is in this book of Moses.


Another hermeneutical key is in 1Cor. 10:6, 11 “Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did….Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction….” The Old Testament, and Genesis in particular, has many practical lessons for our sanctification. We are studying real people who faced challenges and with whom God was dealing. We can be encouraged and warned by their examples.


This class is supposed to study Genesis in order to discover what the text says, to understand what God was doing in the lives of the key players at the time, what it meant to Israel in Moses’ day, what its cultural setting and background was, how the book relates to the rest of the Pentateuch and the Old Testament, how the text points us to Christ, and how it relates to the New Testament, what doctrines are taught in the text, how it relates to us in our post-modern, post-Christian age of science, how the text relates to other world religions, how we can use the text in evangelism and apologetics, and we will seek to apply the text in our personal lives on a daily basis so that our obedience and love towards God will grow and mature.


We will study Genesis in order that we may be equipped to delight in God’s glory and declare that glory to our neighbors and to the nations whose beginnings we will be studying. That is taken from the purpose statement of Redeemer, but I would like to explain it a little bit. I am here to assist in equipping you to worship God fully, to walk with Jesus, and to share Jesus with others. If all that happens is that I give lectures or sermons about Genesis, and you are spiritually entertained for an hour  every Sunday, and you come out feeling good and saying, “Well that was a nice class” then I have failed. I don’t want to have a “nice class”. I believe that Genesis is unique in the Scriptures in regards to providing us with answers to some of life’s most basic, fundamental, and crucial questions. I want to equip you to be able to answer those questions. Not just to grow your faith, but so that, like Peter wrote in 1Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you,” you will then be ready to answer the questions of others who are lost and need to hear about Jesus. I want this class to equip you to delight in God’s glory. Genesis is full of wonder and awe, mystery and practical things, grace and law. We will see the first worship service recorded and what its results were. We will be in fear of God as we look at the consequences of sin. And we will rejoice in our Savior who dies in our place to save us for himself, by his grace. Hopefully, we will each partake of the tree of life.


Quick Survey of Genesis: Now I want to see how much you know about Genesis.

 Has anyone here ever had a serious study of Genesis before? Anyone recall a pastor preaching through Genesis?

1)Title- The title of this book, Genesis, comes from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) title meaning Origins. The Hebrew title comes from the first word in the text, “In the beginning”. Waltke writes, (p.17) “Happily, both titles are appropriate, for this book deals with beginnings and origins, broadly of the cosmos (1:1-2:3), of humanity and the nations, and their alienation from God and one another (2:4-11:32), and of Israel (12:1-50:26), God’s new initiative to save the world.” Genesis is quoted 35X in the New Testament and alluded to hundreds of times throughout the rest of the Bible.


2) Who is the author of Genesis? How do we know that? When is the last appearance of Moses in Scripture?

            Strictly speaking, the book of Genesis does not mention an author, however, Moses is considered the author of not just Genesis but of the Pentateuch, the first 5 books of the Bible, also called The Law or the Law of Moses. But how do we know that? Jesus tells us in John 7:19, 22 “Has not Moses given you the Law?” v.22 “Moses gave you circumcision (not that it was from Moses, but from the fathers).” And again in vs. 23 Jesus refers to the Law of Moses. These verses look back to Genesis 17 and Lev.12:3. John 5:46 Jesus says that “Moses wrote of me” In Acts 15 there are a couple of references to the custom of Moses and the Law of Moses. In Luke 24:27, the key text that we began today’s class with, says that Jesus began with Moses and all the Prophets. See Mark 12:26, John 1:45, Romans 10:5, 2Cor.3:15. These verses refer to the Pentateuch in general, but not to Genesis in particular.

            In Nehemiah 13:1 and 2Chron.25:4 refer to the Book of Moses. 2Kings 21:8 refers to the Law of Moses.

            In Exodus 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Num.33:2; Deut. 31:9 we see Moses commanded by the Lord to write down these things in a book. And in Exodus 33 we see that Moses would frequently meet with the Lord in the Tent of Meeting “and the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face…” In Exodus 20, the Ten Commandments,

            Moses’ last appearance in the Bible is Matt.17:3 and Luke 9:30 although Moses is mentioned in Rev.15:3.

            One of the things that irritates me as I read books about the Old Testament or about Genesis is when authors, even some of my favorites, refer to the author of Genesis as “the author” instead of Moses. The more I have studied the book through the years the more I am convinced that it is the work of one brilliant man, a genius, named Moses, inspired by God the Holy Spirit. While I think there is some obvious minor editing after his death but I think Moses is responsible for 99.99% of the book, not some committee named JEDP hundreds of years later!

            When you compare Genesis with other writings of the time period 1000-2000BC you find that there are a lot of similarities as well as pointed dissimilarities. This substantiates the age of Genesis and increases our confidence that Moses is the author. Some of the things that Genesis has in common with other writings of the time period include: the creation account in the Enuma Elish and the flood account in the Atrahasis Epic as well as the Epic of Gilgamesh. As we saw when we studied these stories, it seems at times that Moses is writing directly to confront the false ideas of his day, to counter these myths with the real story. Liberal to Moderate scholars will say that Moses was obviously borrowing from these older stories and using them to put his spin on them. I say that with God’s inspiration Moses was correcting the false stories that were rooted in the historical events which Moses describes. The era of the Patriarchs from ch.11-50 gives us a lot of customs that are good matches with what other writings of the period tell us, again authenticating the text of scripture with objective, outside evidence. This includes things like the names Abraham, Jacob, the people called the Amorites and Hittites, the granting of a birthright and even the sale of the inheritance. The idea of adopting a slave when you do not have an heir is shown in other ancient texts as is the presenting of a female slave to a woman’s husband when you are infertile is demonstrated as well, and is included in the famous Code of Hammurabi.


3) About when was Genesis written? The conservative estimate is around 1450-40 BC which is the approximate date for the Exodus, but most Scholars (some conservative as well as liberal scholars) look at the Exodus as being around 1200 BC. The conservative dating is based on biblical chronology which is reasonably precise here. According to 1Kings 6:1 the exodus occurred 480 years prior to the start of the Temple construction in the early years of Solomon’s reign (966BC) which is consistent with Ex.12:40-41 which says Israel was in Egypt for 430 years. And using the genealogies and dates of the kings of Israel and Judah you can basically work backward from a few known dates such as 722BC when Assyria took Israel captive and 586BC when Judah fell to Babylon. The dating of the Exodus to 1200 BC is rooted in the science of archeology which sees strong evidence for an invasion of Canaan at that level in the digs. I would suggest that a 200 year difference between the Bible dates and the evidence from archeology is an insignificant difference when you are talking of things that old. More liberal scholars place the composition of Genesis and the Pentateuch at around 550BC. Now why did I tell you that? We need to know that most of the world does not see things the same way that we do and that in many cases they have good reasons to support their point of view. We ought not to fear the challenges from those who see things differently than us; we need to use their opposition to spur us on to better study as well.

            Now there are some problems with the biblical dates as far as a lot of scholars are concerned. As I said, archeological data tends to put the Exodus closer to 1200 BC. In Gen.47:11 Pharaoh Rameses is mentioned and so some scholars point to that as a sign the Exodus happened in the 13th century BC instead of the 15th century because according to the best histories of Egypt that is when the name Rameses occurs. But that reference can be explained as a later explanatory comment added in a day when people would understand the reference to Rameses. None of this worries me too much because there is a tendency with the Hebrews of using dates and genealogies for making theological statements rather than making them primarily precisely dated documents. You can see this fairly easily by comparing the Matthew and Luke genealogies of Jesus with the OT genealogies. The difficulty is not with the text, it is with our 21st century scientific quest for exact precision with numbers, dates, etc. that is the problem. See Collins, Science & Faith Crossway. 2003 (pp108-109).

            What am I telling you? I believe that Genesis was written by Moses during the Exodus, and I think the biblical date of around 1440 is reasonably accurate, but I am not going to get wrapped around the axle over a couple of hundred years difference by the majority of mainstream OT scholars.

            But here is a more serious question than simply asking when Moses wrote Genesis: Is the Bible historical? Is it grounded in real space and time? Does that matter? When you look at other world religions other than Judaism-Christianity, history doesn’t much matter. Since the entire Koran is claimed to have been received by direct revelation to Muhammad from the angel Gabriel one part at a time, you cannot say that it is historical like the Bible. Similarly, the Book of Mormon is claimed to have been received by Joseph Smith complete. The Book of Mormon purports to be a history of the lost tribes of Israel in America and Christ’s visit to them, its manner of presentation is non-historical and none of it is verified by any other historical sources or by archeology. Hinduism stretches back into the age of myth and legend. So really, the Bible not only claims to be history, it has been produced in history. Why did God do it that way? Why not simply dictate it completely or drop it down from heaven in gold plates? The Bible is a messy, disturbing book; not quite the systematic theology with answers to all of our questions in a nice orderly way that we would like. God created space and time and God has chosen to act in space and time. God is real and chooses to act in real people’s lives and have them write it down using their writing style, their vocabularies with their backgrounds. Jesus showed up in the normal way, as a baby, and grew up in history, participated in real life, and died and was resurrected at the apex of history. Therefore, the Bible, including Genesis, is historical; it records real events with real people. It is not myth or legend.

            Because the Bible is historical, and our faith depends on the veracity of the events recorded in the Bible, we will have a difficult time presenting our faith to our contemporaries. We live in a post-historical age; the age of the X-box. How many of you own an X-Box? You are all responsible for the end of civilization! (LOL) A post literate society that now entertains itself more with games than even movies. When I was a kid the preachers lamented the demise of reading. Now we are witnessing the demise of movies and the rise of electronic games being the primary carriers of culture. (Come Lord Jesus!) So we have to transmit our historical faith, rooted in ancient history, to a generation that thinks Mario Brothers is ancient history.

            Read Francis Schaeffer Genesis in Space and Time, preface. Read Psalm 136 as a backdrop for the historicity of Genesis.

Psalm 136

            Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever.

            Give thanks to the God of gods,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever.

            Give thanks to the Lord of lords,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            to him who alone does great wonders,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            to him who by understanding made the heavens,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            to him who spread out the earth above the waters,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            to him who made the great lights,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            the sun to rule over the day,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            the moon and stars to rule over the night,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            and brought Israel out from among them,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            to him who divided the Red Sea in two,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            and made Israel pass through the midst of it,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            to him who led his people through the wilderness,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            to him who struck down great kings,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            and killed mighty kings,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            Sihon, king of the Amorites,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            and Og, king of Bashan,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            and gave their land as a heritage,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            a heritage to Israel his servant,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever.

            It is he who remembered us in our low estate,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            and rescued us from our foes,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            he who gives food to all flesh,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever.

            Give thanks to the God of heaven,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever.

(Psalm 136 ESV)



4) To whom was Genesis written? Clearly the Hebrews were an oral culture for the most part although they were among the first of peoples to have writing, and hence are known as people of the Book. The histories that Moses writes were first oral stories passed down for generations. Very likely even the stories from Genesis 1-10 were passed down from Adam, Cain, Seth, Noah etc. But Moses, inspired by the Holy Spirit, brought these stories together and “preached” them to his people.

            Moses was founding a nation and the people of Israel needed a common history, common language, and common faith in order to become a true nation. Moses preached Genesis to his people and wrote it all down for the future generations, including us.  I referred to some passages earlier (Exodus 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Num.33:2; Deut. 31:9) where the Lord commands Moses to write these things down.

            Moses then, is not just giving the people of Israel a written history, he is also speaking prophetically to their future. He is pointing Israel to what God is going to do in their lives as a nation. As we study this book we will see that Genesis is linked to the rest of Scripture all the way down to Revelation which speaks to our future as well. The book is both a human and divine book. This book is for Us, here, now, today! And for our children, and should the Lord tarry, our children’s children.


5) How is Genesis divided and structured?

Standard Outlines of Genesis:

Primeval History with Four Big Events 1:1-11:26

  1. a.      Creation ch.1-2
  2. b.      The Fall and Spread of Sin ch.3-5
  3. c.       God’s Judgment Upon Sin and Grace to Noah ch.6-9
  4. d.      The Dispersing of the Nations ch.10-11:26

                                    Patriarchal History with Four Great Men 11:27-50:26

  1. e.      Abraham 11:27-20:18
  2. f.        Isaac 21-26
  3. g.      Jacob 27:1-37:1
  4. h.      Joseph 37:2-50:26

The next way to outline the book uses the toledoths of Moses

Prologue, 1:1-2:3

1. The Generations of the Heavens and the Earth 2:3-4:26

2. The Generations of Adam 5:1-6:8

3. The Generations of Noah 6:9-9:29

4. The Generations of the Sons of Noah 10:1-11:9

                                          5. The Generations of Shem 11:10-26

                                          6. The Generations of Terah 11:27-25:11

                                          7. The Generations of Ishmael 25:12-18

                                          8. The Generations of Isaac 25:19-35:29

                                          9. The Generations of Esau 36:1-37:1

                                          10. The Generations of Jacob 37:2-50:26


Another way to examine Genesis is with a geographical outline. Where does the action happen? What is the geographic flow of the book?


Genesis 1-11 takes place in Mesopotamia, the fertile crescent, which is the birthplace of Western Civilization.


Genesis 12-36 takes place in Canaan and Syria/NW Iraq.


Genesis 37-50 takes place in Canaan/Egypt.

The parts of Genesis we will study this semester are toledoths 9 and 10, the generations of Esau and Jacob. The main character will be Joseph, the 11th son of Jacob.


6) What are the key verses of Genesis?

You can make a strong case for Genesis 1:1 being the key verse. If God did not exist, nothing would exist; if God did not create, we would not be here. This verse is not only the starting point for the Bible, but for answering the crucial questions of science, philosophy, ethics, and life in general. “In the beginning, God!” God is our beginning point, not man, not the natural world. Science can only take us back so far, but science cannot explain what happened to cause the Big Bang or whichever scientific theory is currently in vogue. The bottom line is space, time, and matter all had to start at the same instant, but could not have been the cause of their own beginning. To have an effect you must have an adequate cause. God pre-exists the universe according to our verse and to logic. If there was ever a time when there was absolutely nothing then nothing would ever exist. You Cannot get something from nothing and nothing can cause nothing. It is popular to say the universe was caused by Chance, but Chance is only a mathematical term and has no creative or causative powers. The beauty, the complexity, and the purposefulness of the universe Screams out that there was and is a Creator. This concept is a battle ground concept in our culture which is enthralled with naturalism, atheism, and evolutionism. Understanding the case for Creation, understanding the arguments and proofs for the existence of God are an essential part of our calling to proclaim the gospel of grace.


Genesis 1:26-28 the creation of man. Because our post-modern society has denied the Creator, we have increasing confusion about who man is and what his worth is. We are confused over such issues as abortion and euthanasia since we view man as autonomous, no longer linked to the Creator. Government is now actively promoting abortion and (in a backwards way) euthanasia. Man is now a subject to the state because freedom cannot exist apart from viewing man as being created in the image of God. Ironically, Humanism leads to all kinds of crimes against humanity.


Genesis 2:15, 19-20 shows that God gave man work to do, and science, prior to the fall as man was to tend the garden and give fitting names to all the animals. This gives meaning to work and science to all who are trusting in Christ. We can do all things for the glory of God AND for the good of mankind, for profit, for the good of animals and the earth. But- if you separate work and science from a faith in God, then work and science can become idols.


Genesis 3 It would be hard to pinpoint 1-2 verses in this chapter to adequately convey the idea of sin; Paul does well in Romans 3 and 5 to cover that topic, but this chapter explains a lot that is true about life. Why is there pain and suffering? Where did evil come from? Why is man so corrupt? These crucial questions are seldom asked in today’s political debates. But when I look at the news and see man’s cruelty and sinfulness, I have to ask, Why? Genesis 3 explains it. I believe in a real 1st couple, a real talking serpent, and a real tree of knowledge of good and evil. That first rebellious bite altered man’s spiritual standing and, I believe, our very DNA. Our culture is crumbling because we reject our Creator, and we reject the truth that we are sinners, corrupt to the core. When we present the gospel to our lost friends and family, at some point pretty early in the process, we must tell the person that they, like we, are sinners, unable to stop sinning and unable to cure themselves. The bad news of sin is part of the good news of God’s grace.


Genesis 3:15 the first prophecy of Christ who will crush the serpent’s head. Right after the idea and fact of sin comes the prophecy by God Himself that there will come a savior who will crush the serpent’s head. This prophecy of Christ points us to the solution to man’s disobedienc and rebellion. This crucial verse begins a long chain of verses and stories that present the gospel throughout Genesis. We have hope!


Genesis 6:8 Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD; the idea of God’s grace to sinners. This verse comes immediately after the LORD’s analysis of man’s heart as being ‘only evil all the time’ and God has announced judgment upon sinful man. The context of God’s grace then, is in relationship to evil and judgment upon man. God judges sin for sure, and the Flood story displays that fully, but God uses the presence of evil to display his saving grace in the lives of Noah and his family. This theme of grace and redemption through judgment is the major theme of the Bible.


Genesis 10-11 is the Table of nations and Tower of Babel. This sets the ground for the promises of God to Abraham in 12:1-3 and the gospel to the nations that is seen throughout the entire Bible (most dramatically seen in Acts 2 and Rev. 7:9).


Genesis 12:1-3 The promise to Abraham is in many ways the beginning point of salvation history in that God freely chose 1 man to begin a family and nation through whom Christ would eventually come and bring salvation to all nations. In many ways this is the key verse to Genesis.


Genesis 15:6 “Abram believed the LORD and he credited it to him as righteousness.” Salvation through faith alone! Paul explains in Galatians 3 that all who believe like Abraham are Abraham’s true children. So many people say that they do not read or study the OT because it is only about God’s wrath. They don’t like the violence in the OT. Folks, God’s love and grace towards sinners is all throughout the OT. They were not saved by works or obedience back then, they were saved by grace through faith like we are.


Genesis 16:11-12 “Ishmael shall be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers”- helps us understand Islam and world politics of today. Ishmael represents the efforts of man in that Abraham and Sarah resorted to a common cultural practice of the day to do God’s work in man’s strength. God rejects this as much as he rejected the fig leaf apron of Adam in the garden. If God promises something then He will see it through. Ishmael was the child of works, Isaac the child of promise and faith.


Genesis 17 and God’s covenant with Abraham. The covenant and promise of a child is restated and the sign of the covenant, circumcision, is given. Notice the parallels with baptism- it came AFTER Abram’s statement of faith in ch. 15, had effects in the here and now, and pointed forward to a promise that would be kept by God. It was the outward and fleshly sign of an inner trust. Those paedobaptists who fail to realize the full context of circumcision make the mistake of baptizing babies.


Genesis 22 and the story of the sacrifice of Isaac; the most complete picture of the coming Christ and his substitutionary atonement in Genesis. Here we see the hope Abraham had for the resurrection of Isaac and we see God providing a substitute. We are all guilty sinners, deserving of death, but God provides his own son as our substitute. God dramatically keeps his covenant!


Genesis 25:12-18 is the shortest toledoth and is the account of Ishmael. But notice v.18c “And they lived in hostility toward all their brothers.” This fulfills the prophecy to Hagar at the birth of Ishmael in ch.16 that we mentioned earlier, but doesn’t it describe the history of the descendants of Ishmael to this present day? We read the headlines on the DrudgeReport and we see biblical truths being lived out.


Genesis 25:19-35:29  is the account of Isaac, focusing on Jacob. Here Moses tells his people, and us, of the beginnings of the 12 tribes as he recounts the struggles between Jacob and Esau, how Jacob obtained his four wives and 12 sons. This is the founding of Israel and it is a sordid tale of deceit and sin…and of God’s amazing grace to the undeserving. This is certainly not like the founding myths of most countries that involve great heroics and daring deeds or big battles won. This a story of humble, sinful beginnings and a great God who keeps his covenant with Abraham despite all the deceitfulness and cowardice displayed by Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Leah and Rachel and the sons of Jacob. The emphasis then, is clearly on what God is doing and what God is promising to do.


Genesis 36:1-37:1 is the account of Esau, which we will study next week. The emphasis in that chapter is again how God keeps his word to Abraham and Isaac by allowing Esau to leave the Promised Land and become a mighty nation before Israel becomes a nation. We see sinful rebellion in Esau’s life but also the hope of the gospel.


Genesis 37:2-50:26 is the final toledoth of Moses and focuses on Jacob’s sons, particularly Joseph whom we shall see as a type of Christ. The stories portray Joseph as being beloved ob his father, betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery yet rising above his circumstances and providing salvation to his brothers in their need. This part of salvation history, the story of how God redeems lost man, ends with his chosen family living outside the land of Promise in the land of Egypt. In Exodus we will see that Egypt represents sin and we will see how God calls his people out of the bondage of sin into a relationship with himself as Mt.Sinai. But these final 15 chapters of Genesis set that story up.


Genesis 49:10 the blessing upon Judah wherein Christ is predicted to reign.


Genesis 50:20 Joseph reassures his brothers with the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and providence.


7) What are the major themes of Genesis?

Creation is certainly the first theme we find. In the creation account we see some subtle jabs at the pagan world in which the patriarchs and Moses and his people had to dwell as Moses contradicts the pagan accounts of creation. This theme of Creation runs through the rest of Scripture in various ways. Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God” points us to the fact that this beautiful universe declares that God is the Creator and this creations reflects the glory of God. Paul says in Romans1:20 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Creation then is not simply a fact, it is used by God to judge the hearts of unbelieving men. The main idea, The Big Idea of Creation, however, is God displaying his attributes for His Glory. The Universe exists for God’s glory and all that has happened, is happenning or will happen, is for the ultimate display of the Glory of God.


A practical use for us is obviously worship of our Creator God, but also it serves to help us confront the pagan world around us, notably in the widespread atheism and the belief in evolution. A study of Genesis helps  us answer questions like, Why is there something instead of nothing?


The idea of God as Creator beginning in Gen. 1:1 is matched in the New Testament by passages proclaiming Jesus as participating in creation, like John 1:1-5 and Colossians 1:15-17. This promotes sound doctrine which assists the Christian in numerous ways.


The Fall and Original Sin is a theme that begins in Gen.3 and carries on through the rest of Scripture. We see that evil is introduced via the serpent, not God, and that man freely chose to disobey God. The idea of fallenness is hammered home in ch.4 as Cain kills Abel, Lamech marries two women and kills a man and then in ch.6:5 “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”


We see the Patriarchs are sinners even though God has chosen this one family to bring about redemption; but time after time we see the Patriarchs fail, struggle, and sin. Evil and sin, our need for redemption is proclaimed throughout the rest of the Bible. Only Jesus is perfect and never sins; he alone is completely obedient to the Father’s will.


Society does not much like having sins pointed out. The doctrine of sin is in direct contrast with the prevailing views of our culture, yet, until men know they are sinners, how can they repent and believe in Jesus? We must include the idea of each person being a guilty sinner before a holy God as we present the gospel and Genesis will help us do that.


Judgment of sin and sinners is a theme throughout Genesis that again shows up all throughout the Bible. Beginning with the original couple being ejected from the Garden in 3:23 and moving quickly to chapter 5 where the recurring phrase “and he died” shows the consequences of Adam’s choice, Genesis reveals much of God’s wrath against sin. Chapters 6-9 show the story of Noah and the Flood where God wrought judgment on all men except Noah and his family. Gen. 19 tells us the horrendous story of Lot and Sodom. But we also see more subtle forms of God’s judgment in a story like Esau in chapter 36 as he chooses to leave the PromiseLand for Seir.


The theme of judgment is certainly shown in Exodus with all the plagues upon Egypt and the various judgments upon Israel as they struggle to trust God in the wilderness through Exodus to Deuteronomy. Throughout the prophets and Psalms the theme of judgment weighs heavily and even in the New Testament and the Gospels we find a strong theme of judgment. In the book of Revelation we see plagues and bowls of God’s wrath being poured out on the earth and the final judgment before the great white throne of God in Rev.20:11-15 “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”


Redemption is, of course, the grand theme in Genesis and the entire Bible. Beginning with the prophecy in 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers, he will crush your head and you will strike his heel” we see the theme of Redemption and the allusions and foreshadowings of Christ. In things like the Tree of Life and the exchange of the fig leaves for an animal skin provided by God we see Christ and his righteousness as our salvation. In 6:8 we see that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” and this grace give for sinners pervades all the Bible.


God’s plan of redemption and his saving grace are most clearly seen in Genesis in the story of Abraham. Called of God out of Ur of the Chaldees with no explanation, Abraham receives a promise of land and descendants with the purpose of blessing all peoples on earth (12:1-3). This promise is fulfilled in Christ.


God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants is repeated several times in Genesis (12, 15, 17, 22; with Isaac in 26; with Jacob in 28). This covenant is passed down to Israel in Exodus at Mt.Sinai and goes through David in 2Sam.7. This covenant is passed down to us, and all who believe in Christ (Jer.30-33; Gal.3:6-9).


Just as Creation displays the glory of God, Redemption displays the glory of God. The aim of God is to display his glory and he has done this through Creation, Fall, Judgment, and Redemption. These themes are what we find in Genesis and in the entire Bible. Here, I believe is the Center of biblical theology. Here is a coherent story that runs from Genesis through Revelation that takes us from an earth that was without form and void, to a Garden with a perfect human couple, to exile for sin, to judgment through a Flood, to the calling of one nomadic man out of Ur to form a family throuh whom God would enter the human race in order to redeem that race. This story takes us to Bethlehem and the birth of the Saviour and to the cross where the Saviour died. Just as Abraham was confident that God would raise Isaac up after his sacrifice, Jesus rose from the grave showing us that he alone is God. This story takes us to the future, with Christ returning in his glory to reign on earth. And it all begins here, in Genesis.


As we study the final 15 chapters of Genesis we will study the text not just for what we can find out about the Patriarchs and Moses, not just the doctrinal and ethical teachings, but we will look to relate what we find to these larger themes and the gospel as well. We will be looking for things that point us to Christ, our only hope for redemption from the judgment on sin.


Next Week we will examine Gen.36:1-37:1 known as the toledoth of Esau. This chapter is a genealogy with a long list of names. Have you ever actually studied one of the genealogy chapters in the Bible before? There is a lot of good stuff there, including a link to Christmas and Good Friday. You will be surprised as we look at this long chapter and find links to King David, the book of Obadiah, the birth of Christ and the crucifixion.


Assignment: Try to read through the whole book of Genesis this week, or at least look closely at ch.36. At the start of class I will ask a couple of questions about ch.36 to see if anyone finds the links to Christ that I found.


Memory Work:

Basic– Genesis 1:1

Advanced– Genesis 1:1-5

Related Verses:

John 1:1-5; Colossians 1:15-17; Psalm 14:1; Psalm 136; Job 39; Isaiah 65:17-25; Rev. 21:1-8.



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    This blog exists to study the bi-vocational ministry, explore the Bible & Theology, and look at current events, history and other world religions through scripture, and have fun doing it!


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