Genesis Series: Introduction

January 12, 2014

Introduction to Genesis

Gen 1:1, John 1:1-2

Intro:  A young preacher was to preach his first sermon.

He asked an old preacher for advice.

The old preacher said, “You want a good introduction. A good introduction gets the attention of the people.”

The young preacher then asked the old preacher if he knew a good introduction. The old preacher said, "There is an introduction that I have used frequently and it has always got the attention of the people. When you get up, look at the people and tell them that the best years of your life were spent in the arms of another woman. Pause for a few seconds and then tell them that woman was your mother.”

The young preacher asked, “Are you sure that will get their attention?”

The old preacher answered, “Young man, it's a sure-fire attention getter. It always works. But let me warn you to tell your wife about it before you use it.”

The Sunday came for the young preacher to preach his first sermon.

He was scared to death.

He had also forgotten to tell his wife about his introduction.

Nervously he looked out at the congregation and said, “Folks, the best years of my life were spent in the arms of another woman.”

He paused. Folk’s mouths fell open. People gasped all over the building. His wife jumped up out of her seat and started to the pulpit.

He was already scared to death and when he saw the reaction of the people and saw his wife storming up the aisle, it really rattled him. He stuttered and said, “And to save my life, I can't remember who it was.”


Genesis.  The introduction God gives us to Himself.  Our story begins here. In this book we have the story of our Patriarchs.  It begins with Adam and then Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jospeh.  This is not just the story of Israel, it is the story of God’s chosen people and as Christians we can read this as part of our story. 


Genesis 1:1 is where we begin to hear about Jesus Christ.  All of the OT bears testimony to the coming of Christ.  The Gospels, which reveal to us what Jesus said and thought, turn back and bear witness to the truth of the OT and it’s authority to guide, instruct, and judge all of life.  The Bible is one story.


The theme of this one story, that begins in the beginning and goes throughout Scripture and in all of life is this:  PPT creation-PPT fall- PPT redemption.  I would like you to be attentive to this theme for the next 18 months or so as we make our way through the book of Genesis.


As I shared with the kids, it’s good to know where we have come from.  Knowing our past can often help us make sense of our present.  One of the best blessings for me this Christmas season arrived in the mail the day after the 25th.  A little background:  I grew up as an only child.  My parents divorced when I was 3 and my father died when I was five.  He had been married before and had fathered 7 children in that first marriage, giving me 6 half-brothers and one half-sister that I was barely aware of until I was in seminary.  It’s a long story, but the day after Christmas a letter from my half-sister, Rue Dene, came in the mail with a picture of all my siblings when they were young and stories about each of them and my father.  Some of the stuff I knew and other information helped random pieces plunk into place.  What a gift to know a bit more of my past.  It helps explain some things!


Looking at Genesis will hopefully be like that for us as the family of God.  Our Patriarch, Moses, is the one who wrote down these words.  I like to think of him sitting around the campfires at night listening to the family leaders telling these stories over and over again for 40 years as they wandered in the dessert.  And he knew he needed to write them down for future generations.  And I wonder if, because he did not grow up in a home telling these stories, if he listened with astute interest to make sure that the stories had the same elements at each fire.  And then, being a talented writer, he began to pen them.  This is our history.  Written by someone who knew God intimately.  Moses saw some crazy God-events in his life: the plagues, the Red Sea event, God acting in his life and in the life of the wanderers in the dessert, meeting God in the cloud on Mt. Sinai to receive the Law of God.  He used those 40 years wandering in the dessert wisely.  He listened to the stories of his people – always focused on the activity of God – and he wrote them all down.  Thank you Moses!


Let’s be looking for what we can learn about how God relates to us and how we relate to God as we walk through this history of our past and these words that speak to our present and even our future.


Genesis and Science

I am not studied enough nor is it my desire to pit the Biblical account of creation, the flood, etc. against science.  But we will start from the point that the Bible is not myth.  We will not try to refute science but we will seek to understand and discern the meaning of the biblical text.  Our task will be:  

To study Genesis as God’s Word and as human words, in harmony with the whole of Scripture and according to the characteristics of its language.[1]

Are you all good with that?  Accepting Scripture as truth does not mean we have to understand it or prove it all and make perfect sense of how everything works.  God is mystery.  We are a mystery. Turn to the person you’re sitting next to and remind them that they are a mystery!  My task is to walk us through what it says, in the context it was written and draw out how we might apply what it says to our lives.


In the beginning

So let’s start!  And don’t worry, we’re not going to do just one verse a week!  But today we are looking at Genesis 1:1 PPT which says: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.


In this sentence we have an important when, who, and what.


When?   In the beginning, before anything else, prior to the first event.  This is the start of the telling of the history of the world.  This is the inauguration of all else that is to come until the world shall be no more.  This is a significant moment in time.


I want to throw in another verse here that also speaks of this same time.  PPT John 1:1-2 says: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.


Here too we have a when, a who, and a what.  I want us to see the connection between creation and Christ right from the beginning.  To help us keep in mind the relationship between the OT and NT.  To help us remember that this is one story being told and it all starts with “In the beginning”.


Who?  God.  God is the initiator, the beginner, the starter.  And however you need to settle it in your mind with science, if we believe that Scripture is the truth, we have to believe that it all began with God, who had a plan and a vision and a desire to bring all things into being. 


Look back at what John says, there is another “who”:  “the Word”.  We know that John’s mission was to tell us the story of Jesus.  He starts as far back as he can with the truth of who Jesus is.  He is the Word.  And not only was he with God in the beginning, he was God in the beginning.  And in this we catch a glimpse of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son, existing before time began.


This is the God we can know personally through Jesus.  This is the God who sent the Holy Spirit to live in us and empower us to be obedient to Him and to know Him.  This is the God who created humanity, watched humanity fall to sin and redeems humanity over and over again.


This is the God who knows you and calls you by name and saves you from your sin.  We have a relationship with the One who created the universe.


What? created the heavens and the earth  Before there was time, God, created.


This is how our story begins.  God the Father and God the Son creating the world.  This is how Scripture begins, with this marvelous introduction. 


The word Genesis, which is the Greek translation means “in the beginning” and is the best title for this whole book which is all about beginnings and beginning again (don’t forget the creation-fall-redemption model). 


Think about your own life.  When have you experienced the cycle of Creation-Fall-Redemption.  What stage are you in now?  Is God doing a new work in you in this new year?  Has he got you engaged in becoming the new person he has called you to be?  Rejoice!  Or are you at the bottom.  Have you fallen from grace?  Are you wandering away from God?  I encourage you to stop right where you are and know that there is forgiveness and there is hope for you.  Are you at the place of redemption where you know God has picked you up and is dusting you off and putting you back on the path you are meant to be walking?  Walk on.


Concl.  Genesis is the beginning of our story.  This fleshes out why we are here, how we are here, who we are here for.  My prayer is that as we go through this book we learn to love God more; we see Jesus more clearly; and we experience our call to be the people of God more distinctly.  Amen.



[1] Henri Blocher,  In the Beginning, The Opening Chapters of Genesis. (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1984) 27.