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THEOLOGY OF GENESIS

Member’s Book

Leaders and Members’ Basics www.TheLAMBofCA.com House Church Training Materials for Central Asia See page 47 for the full curriculum

THEOLOGY OF GENESIS

Table of Contents
THE FOUNDATION OF SCRIPTURE.................................................7
In the Beginning .......................................................................................................... 9 Relationship to Other Scripture ..............................................................................10 The Guiding Hand of Moses...................................................................................11 “Toledoth” .................................................................................................................12 Keys to Unlock the Book.........................................................................................13 Themes of Genesis....................................................................................................14 Blessing and Cursing.................................................................................................15

THE CREATOR AND THE MASIH................................................... 17
The Revelation of the Masih....................................................................................19 The Seed of the Woman...........................................................................................20 The “4 x 4” Method..................................................................................................21 The Creation ..............................................................................................................22 The Sovereign Creator..............................................................................................23 What Creation Reveals..............................................................................................24 The Crown of Creation ............................................................................................25

THE PROMISE AND THE COVENANT ......................................... 27
Adam and Eve ...........................................................................................................29 Temptation and Fall of Man....................................................................................30 The Good News of Genesis ....................................................................................31 Noah and the Ark......................................................................................................32 The Flood...................................................................................................................33 The Tower of Babel ..................................................................................................34 The Covenant Keeping God ...................................................................................35

THE STORY OF THE PATRIARCHS ................................................ 37
The Father of Faith ...................................................................................................39 The Test of Obedience.............................................................................................40 God Laughs................................................................................................................41 3

THEOLOGY OF GENESIS

Two Life-Changing Events ......................................................................................42 Sold into Slavery ........................................................................................................43 A Miraculous Reunion ..............................................................................................44 Spiritual Application for Today ...............................................................................45 For Further Study and Training in Righteousness ................................................47

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How to Read and Study this Book
Greetings. As you start your study of the “Theology of Genesis,” you will see that the book can be read in one month. The book has 28 chapters, which are divided into 4 units. As you study, let us call your attention to three parts of the book, which are as follows: Meditation: At the beginning of each unit, you will see two verses on which to mediate and apply to your life during the week. Personal Thought Questions: There are seven chapters in each unit. You can read a chapter a day or as many as you feel you have time. Usually, there are questions near the end of each chapter about which you will want to think and pray. Discussion Guide: At the end of each unit, you will find questions for church or small group discussion. These will help you and your church better evaluate what you have learned during the week. One method is for one person to read a question then have the group discuss the question. As disciples of Isa Masih, we want to be complete, equipped for every good work. God has “prepared in advance” good works for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). These are His good works, which He continually works in and through us. However, in order to do any good work, we must know God’s Holy Word and apply His Word in our lives. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). No matter how much we know about God’s Word, if we do not apply what we learn, Scripture will never benefit our life. The Scripture is “God-breathed.” We are to read it, memorize it, meditate upon it, and use its teachings to guide our conduct. To help your study, read Genesis this month as you read the “Theology of Genesis.” If you will read two chapters per day, you can easily finish Genesis before you complete the book.

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THE FOUNDATION OF SCRIPTURE

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Meditate upon and apply these Scriptures to your life this week: 1. Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” 2. Genesis 2:4 – “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.”

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In the Beginning
The Hebrew title for this first book of the Bible is “bereshith.” This title means “in the beginning.” The Hebrew word for “beginning” also can have the meaning of “first,” “best,” or “chief.” Sometimes in the Old Testament, it has the meaning of “firstfruits.” This first book of the Bible has this title because of the ancient Jewish custom of naming books by the first word, or words, of their text. The Greek title, [given by the translators of the Greek Old Testament at the time of its translation about 250 BC], is “Genesis,” which means “origin.” They gave the book this title based on the contents of the book. Both titles, “in the beginning,” and “origin,” are appropriate since the book is about the beginnings, or origins, of history. The book of Genesis begins the Torah. “Torah” means “Law.” The Torah is the first division of the Hebrew Bible, which consists of five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Judaism and the early church followed the Hebrew tradition, which divided the Old Testament into three sections: The Law, the Prophets, and the Writings [or, “Psalms”]. Concerning the Hebrew Bible, Isa said to His disciples, “…This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44). Scholars call the first section of the Bible the “Law” because the focus of these first five books is the covenant law that God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 20). It also covers the events of Israel’s journeys from Sinai to the plains, where Moses delivered to Israel the covenant law a second time in the Book of Deuteronomy. As stated above, the word “torah” usually means “law,” but sometimes it has the more general meaning of “instruction.” These five books were to instruct the people of God as they tried to live faithfully under the Mosaic covenant. The more common name for this collection of five books is the Greek word Pentateuch. This is a combination of two words – “five” and “book” – indicating that it was a book made up of five parts. Think for a few minutes about Isa’s words to His disciples recorded in Luke 24:44.
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Relationship to Other Scripture
Genesis is the foundation of the whole Scripture. The Word of God does not try to tell us what became of all peoples during the early centuries after creation. It only indicates the origin and direction of the early branches of the human race. During the earliest times, the fundamental ideas of God choosing a people for Himself and beginning to work out His holy purposes began to appear. For example, consider Seth, son of Adam and Eve. His name means “the appointed one.” He replaced Abel, continued in his godly steps, and became a worshiper of the LORD – Yahweh. Genesis is the foundational book to the rest of the Bible. The important theological doctrines that first appear in Genesis include the doctrines of God, creation, man, sin and salvation. Genesis teaches the importance of atonement by substitution [see page 31], the blood sacrifice, and faith in God’s revelation of Himself to man. Genesis also records the first prophecies of the Masih in the Bible. It predicts that the Masih would be born of the seed of a woman (Genesis 3:15) through the line of Seth (Genesis 4:25). The predictions continue that the Masih would be the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 12:3, 21:12 and 25:23), and that He would come from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10). [For further reference, please read Matthew 1:1-3 and Luke 3:37 in the New Testament.] Genesis covers much more time than any other Bible book. It opens with the words, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) and closes with “So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten…” (Genesis 50:26). Thus, the book of Genesis, the first book of the Torah, covers thousands of years. God created man in His image to live forever. However, because of sin, man became destined for the grave and died. When Genesis ends, the reader anxiously wonders how God will deliver the nation of Israel, and us as individual sinners, from slavery. We anticipate the Creator God’s great redemptive work to bring us back to Himself. Do you think it is important that key doctrines related to man’s salvation are first established in Genesis? Why or why not?
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The Guiding Hand of Moses
Moses wrote and compiled the Book of Genesis in the Wilderness of Sinai. Biblical evidence points to this fact. First, Isa clearly assumes that Moses wrote Genesis when He said, “because Moses gave you circumcision” (John 7:22). Since Genesis 17 mentions the reason for circumcision, Isa must have been referring to Moses’ writing. Second, both Jewish and Christian traditions agree that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, in the Sinai desert, probably around 1400 BC. Moses wrote Genesis to encourage the Israelites as they prepared to enter Canaan, the Promised Land. The contents of Genesis would have been significant to them. It explains why their ancestors went to Egypt, why their nation was destined for the Promised Land, and why Yahweh had revealed Himself so dramatically to the nation of Israel in the wilderness. Bible references show three reasons why Moses is the author of Genesis and the entire Torah (the first five books). First, the books contain references to Moses as the author, such as Exodus 17:14, 24:4–8, 34:27, Numbers 33:2 and Deuteronomy 31:9, 22. Second, there are at least thirty references in the Old Testament to Moses as the author of the Law. [Note: Also, there are at least ten titles given to the Law of God, such as “The Law,” “The Book of the Law,” “The Book of the Law of Moses,” and “The Book of Moses.”] The third reason is that Moses is the key man in the first five books of the Bible. Therefore, he was the most qualified person to write the books. The specific geographical and historical details require the author to know the events described very well. Finally, these New Testament references show that Moses wrote the Torah, the five books of the Law: “The book of Moses” (Mark 12:26) “The Law” (John 7:19) “The Law of Moses” and “The Law of the Lord” (Luke 2:2224 and John 7:23) Specifically, why do you think God had Moses write the Torah?
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“Toledoth”
The careful structure of Genesis reinforces its message. The first section, creation (Genesis 1:1–2:3), is set up in two parts of three days each. The creative works of the first and the fourth days are parallel to each other. For example, on the first day God created light and darkness, while on the fourth day He created the sun and moon to govern the periods of light and darkness. On the second day, the “expanse” [or, “heavens”] divided the waters, while on the fifth day God created the inhabitants of the sky and water. On the third day, dry land and vegetation appeared while on the sixth day the LORD created land-dwellers to consume the vegetation. Thus, even the literary structure emphasizes God’s plan and control over all creation. After the first section, the phrase “These are the generations of,” or, “this is the account of” (Hebrew–“toledoth”) divides the book of Genesis. Each occurrence of this word marks a new stage in God’s development of a chosen people. This very important word occurs thirteen times in the first book of the Torah: Genesis 2:4, 5:1, 6:9, 10:1, 10:32, 11:10, 11:27, 25:12, 25:13, 25:19, 36:1, 36:9 and 37:2. Genesis 2:4-4:26 presents the story of mankind as a whole. After judgment upon mankind, the word “toledoth” appears repeatedly to remind us that God chose a man from each family (for example – Seth, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) to lead in preserving and carrying on the godly line. It is also clear that the partnerships of the patriarchs — Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Rachel — were part of God’s plan as well. The parallel structures of the stories themselves emphasize the passing of God’s covenant promises from one generation to the next. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all traveled to Egypt [or the Negev area]. Moreover, all three men endured tests followed by covenant renewals. Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel all suffered from barrenness, but each experienced God’s grace in bearing children. These children would play a major role in the building of a nation. Take a few minutes and read the verses throughout Genesis where you find the word “toledoth.” Do you recognize the pattern?

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Keys to Unlock the Book
Genesis answers the question, “Who are we, and where did we come from?” God the Creator revealed Himself to a people about to enter a land filled with false gods. God confirmed His selection and sovereign preservation of this nation facing hardships in a new land. Most importantly, Genesis reveals that God set apart Israel from the very beginning. This knowledge provided motivation for Israel to stay free from idolatrous practices surrounding them. Genesis tells of God’s election of Israel to a unique covenant relationship with Him, in order to bless a fallen world. The book of Genesis has two parts. The first part (chapters 1–11) serves as an introduction to the second part (chapters 12–50). This second part is perhaps the book’s main event—God’s sovereign work in Abraham and his descendants to accomplish His will for all nations. The introduction (chapters 1–11) provides four keys that unlock the rest of the book and the rest of the Bible. These four key concepts presented in Genesis 1-11 are very important for understanding the Word of God. The four keys to unlock the book are as follows: First–The God who entered the lives of Abram and Sarai is the same God who created the universe. He is the only true, living God. He is the Creator and Savior of the world. Second–All people have rebelled against God, their loving Creator. Man inherited a state of sinfulness (his sin nature) from Adam after his rebellion in the Garden of Eden. Third–God judges the actions of all people. God, by sending the Flood, made it clear that human wickedness is not acceptable. He will not let evil rule over His creation. Fourth–Sin continues to plague all humanity—even after the Flood. Although the Flood did not wash away sin, God has a plan to save man from his own evil deeds. He has revealed that plan to us through His perfect Word. How would you explain the unique covenant relationship that God established between Israel and Himself?

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Themes of Genesis
God’s special creation was man. Human life is above all created life because it has God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Man is unique. He gets his breath directly from the Lord (Genesis 2:7). Man was to enjoy his privileged and responsible position as governor and ruler of the earth. However, man’s joy, and his fellowship with God, changed because of sin. Now, man is a sinner condemned to death, but God has shown mercy by providing salvation and eternal life. From Genesis 3, we observe the necessity of the sacrifice of blood and substitution. These two important themes carry over to the Gospels, culminating in Isa’s sacrificial and substitutionary death on the cross for sinners. After chapters 1-11, we begin to see God’s formation of the nation of Israel and His protection of them. The methods God used to call out and shape this nation form these four minor themes in Genesis: Sovereignty—God appears first as sovereign Creator and Ruler. His power over history and the actions of His people reappear throughout Genesis as He preserves His chosen ones. Covenant—God uses the “covenant” (Hebrew–“berith”) continually to separate one man. From the beginning, God selects one man from each family to continue His godly seed. He “covenants” with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Redemption—Isa, the “seed of the woman,” fulfilled the prophecy of Genesis 3:14-15. He crushed satan’s head and redeemed His chosen people from slavery to sin. The Threat to God’s Plan—Satan and his seed struggled to destroy the chosen family. Sin, famine, war, and nearby nations tried to stop the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises. However, God prevailed because of His sovereign power. Throughout the Torah, we see this theme: God fulfilling His covenant promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:1–3) through the birth of the nation Israel (Exodus 3:13–17). Meditate on God’s covenants and read Genesis 2:16-17, 9:9, 12:1-3, 26:2-5, and 28:13-15.
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Blessing and Cursing
The themes of “blessing” and “cursing” occur often in Genesis. Blessing means life and prosperity. Cursing means death, loss of the land and ruin. The basis for God’s blessing or cursing is the obedience or disobedience of His people. First, God blessed Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:28) with the ability to “be fruitful and increase in number” and with the privilege to rule with Him. God gave them children. Sin stained God’s relationship with Adam and Eve and He cursed the serpent and the ground (Genesis 3:14, 17). Then, Cain murdered Abel and God cursed Cain (Genesis 4:11). After Cain murdered Abel, God preserved a righteous lineage through Seth (Genesis 5:1-8). Man became wicked and again God cursed the ground as He sent a flood (Genesis 7:17–24). Though the LORD flooded the earth because of its wickedness (Genesis 6:1–8), He rescued Noah and his family. God also gave Noah His blessings of life and fruitfulness (Genesis 9:1). However, the Lord scattered Noah’s descendants because of their sin in building the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1–9). After the dispersion, God continued His blessings. He choose Abraham in order to bless him and through him to bless the world. These promised blessings (Genesis 12:1–3, 18:18, and 22:18) included a homeland and many descendants. The blessing of Abraham continued through Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 26:3-4 and 28:13-15). Jacob blessed his twelve sons and thus Israel, who were his descendants (Genesis 49:28). This is perhaps Genesis’ main story—God’s plan to bless all nations through Abraham’s descendants. God called him to become the father of a new nation that would be God’s tool for blessing all peoples. Even though Abram and Sarai were old, God began His plan of redemption with them. Genesis tells how God’s blessings flowed into their lives. Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Rachel all walked in faith with God. The book of Genesis ends as Jacob blessed his twelve sons (Genesis 49:1-28). Why do you think God gave the same command to Adam and Noah to “be fruitful and increase in number?” (Genesis 1:28 and 9:1)
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Discussion Guide
1. Discuss with your house church group this question: Do you think it is significant that the title for the first five books of the Hebrew Bible (the Torah) has the general meaning of “instruction?” 2. Discuss this question: How would you try to explain, to a nonbelieving friend, that Genesis is the foundation book for all Scripture? What Scriptures would you want to use to help explain this? 3. Present this challenge to your house church: Who can correctly list the ten different titles for God’s Law as given in the Scriptures? Then, discuss these titles. Which ones have significant meaning in your culture? 4. Discuss the parallel themes that you find in creation. In other words, discuss the parallels between the first and third days, the second and fourth days, and the third and sixth days. How is this helpful to you? 5. Discuss the four keys to unlock the book of Genesis. Then discuss this question: Do you think that, if you discuss the four keys with an unbelieving friend, this might be a good way to share the Gospel? Why do you think so or why not? 6. Discuss the importance of the themes of the blood sacrifice and of substitution. Why is it important that these themes appear early in the Old Testament? Choose one of the four “minor” themes and discuss its importance to your house church today. 7. Discuss the themes of blessing and cursing. Discuss what you believe to be the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promised blessings through Abraham and his descendants.

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THE CREATOR AND THE MASIH

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Meditate upon and apply these Scriptures to your life this week: 1. Genesis 1:27 – “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” 2. Genesis 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.”

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The Revelation of the Masih
Isa Masih fulfilled the prophecies of Genesis. The birth of Isa (Matthew 1 and Luke 3) completed the genealogy that began in Genesis 5 and continued in Genesis 11. Isa, the Lord, is the ultimate “seed” promised to Abraham (Genesis 12:1–3 and Galatians 3:16). Isa alone, by His perfect obedience, satisfied the law’s demands and died in our place. Now, we may live in Him. All who are baptized into the Lord Isa and are united with Him by faith are Abraham’s descendants, or, “Abraham’s seed” (Galatians 3:26–29). The prophecies, types, and symbols in Genesis show that God is writing a history that is leading His children to a perfect rest in Isa Masih. In the beginnings of Biblical prophecy, God Himself proclaimed that the woman’s offspring (seed) would crush satan (Genesis 3:15). That offspring is Isa and His church (Romans 16:20). The gift of the bride, Eve, to Adam looks ahead to the gift of the church to Isa (Genesis 2:18–25 and Ephesians 5:22–33). Moreover, the priesthoods of Melchizedek and Isa are alike (Genesis 14:18–20 and Hebrews 7:1-28). The nation of Israel, redeemed out of slavery in Egypt, found life, rest and refuge in the Promised Land. Likewise, the church, redeemed out of the world, finds life, rest, and refuge in Isa Masih. The first Adam lost paradise but the Last Adam, Isa, restored it. All of this marvelous history reveals that the focus of Genesis is ultimately upon the Savior – Isa Masih. Genesis reveals the Masih. Moreover, consider the Biblical fact that Isa, the living Word of God, and Savior, was very much involved in creation. Think about the following New Testament Scriptures that speak of Him as Creator: “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). “For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16). Which Scripture verses would you choose to explain to a nonbelieving friend that the book of Genesis has revealed Isa Masih?
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The Seed of the Woman
Genesis 3:15 anticipated the ministry of Isa Masih. The offspring, or “Seed,” of the woman who will crush the serpent’s head is the Lord, Isa Masih. He, and only He, is the “Seed” of Abraham mentioned by the apostle Paul. For, as the apostle wrote: “…The Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is the Masih” (Galatians 3:16). The LORD God Almighty willed and planned that the Masih would come through Abraham. God gave wonderful promises “to Abraham and to his seed” (Galatians 3:16). For example, Isaac’s birth was not according to the ordinary course of nature but by divine promise. Isaac was the “child of promise” and now we believers “…like Isaac, are children of promise” (Galatians 4:28). As mentioned earlier, Melchizedek is the mysterious king-priest of Genesis 14:18–20. Since the Lord is both King and High Priest, the Letter to the Hebrews makes the appropriate identification of Isa in Hebrews 6:20. God made glorious promises to Abraham, and Isa is the fulfillment of those promises. Much of the Bible rests upon the covenant with Abraham and its fulfillment in Isa Masih, the Lord. The dramatic story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac at God’s command looks ahead to the cross, the central event of the New Testament. Carefully read the words of Genesis 22:2: “…Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains…” This reminds us of God’s willingness to sacrifice His only Son for the sins of the world (John 3:16). Finally, Jacob’s blessing upon Judah anticipates the coming of “Shiloh.” “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people” (Genesis 49:10). Bible scholars identify this “Shiloh” to be Isa Masih. Paul wrote that we are “like Isaac.” In what way are we like him? What does the phrase “children of promise” mean to you personally?
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The “4 x 4” Method
We will study Genesis by a “4 X 4” method. We shall examine in detail the four fundamental events and stories. By using this method, we shall effectively cover the main doctrinal truths in Genesis. The four fundamental events (in bold letters) of: The creation – Creation of the heavens, the earth, life upon the earth, and the creation of man (1:1-2:25) The temptation and fall of man – man’s first sin and the world before the flood (3:1-5:32) The flood and the table of nations – (6:1-10:32) The dispersion of mankind (tower of Babel) and the genealogy of Abram (Abraham) – (11:1-32) The four fundamental stories of: Abraham (12:1 - 23:20) – This is the story of Abraham’s call, his battle with the four kings, his covenant with the LORD, and his test of obedience as he offered up Isaac. Isaac (24:1 - 26:35) – First, his father’s servant goes to find a wife for Isaac. We read of Abraham’s death and the birth of twin boys (Jacob and Esau) to Isaac and Rebekah. God affirms His covenant with Isaac, just as with Abraham. Jacob (27:1 - 36:43) – This story begins as Jacob deceives his father and then flees to Haran. God affirms His covenant with him and he marries Leah and Rachel and has 12 sons. After 20 years, he returns to Canaan. Joseph (37:1 - 50:26) – Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. He endured slavery and prison and rose to power in Egypt. He reunited with his brothers, forgave them, and brought the whole clan to Egypt to survive famine. Genesis ends as Joseph dies in Egypt. This week, take time to share with a friend the outline of Genesis by the “4 X 4” method.

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The Creation
“Creation” was God’s action in bringing the natural universe into being. The Word declares, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:3). The Word clearly says that Isa is the Author and Sustainer of creation (Colossians 1:15–17 and Revelation 4:11). Isa, the Living Word, reveals God in the written Word and in nature (John 1:1–3 and Psalm 19). A scientist may claim that matter just “came into being” or that life “happened,” or that all complex forms of life “gradually evolved” from lower forms, but he cannot prove this. The pagan nations of ancient times believed that matter was eternal and that the “gods” evolved from natural processes. However, the Bible teaches that God existed before creation and that He spoke the world into existence out of nothing. The main story of His creation is in Genesis 1-2, although God as Creator is a theme in the prophecy of Isaiah 40–48. In the beginning, the earth was formless and empty. God’s first act of creation was to bring into being the great watery “chaos” described in Genesis 1:2: “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” God then spoke light into existence and divided light from darkness. He made the “sky” and filled it with stars and planets. He made “land” and “seas” and created grass, vegetation, and trees. Then, God filled the earth, the seas, and the air with living creatures. Each living thing was to reproduce “according to their kinds” (Genesis 1: 11, 12, 21, 24 and 25). There is no suggestion of gradual evolution. We cannot breed a cow into an elephant. The LORD created man on the sixth and final day of creation. Man was to rule over creation. Genesis 1:26 says, “…God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, in our likeness….’ ” What does the image of God mean? God is spirit, so it is more than physical likeness. God created man “in His image” means we are like God because we have a spirit and can have a spiritual relationship with the Lord God. Find Scriptures in Isaiah 40-48 that speak of God as Creator.
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The Sovereign Creator
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The beginning words of the Bible reveal to us that there is only one Creator God and He has always existed. The Bible does not attempt to prove God’s existence, only stating that He exists. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- His eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen…” (Romans 1:20). Many of the pagan nations of the ancient world had their own creation stories. However, in these stories, their gods evolved out of natural processes. Ancient people believed that the material universe was eternal, and it brought their gods into being. Genesis declares that God existed before creation and is in full control of the physical universe. He called the world into being by His Word. His power is absolute. God is sovereign and does not share His power with other supernatural beings. God is Creator and He is the only being capable of making something from nothing. The Hebrew verb for “create” always and only has God as its subject. The phrase “God created” occurs three times in Genesis 1 (verses 1, 21, and 27). Moreover, just as significant, the phrase “God said” occurs nine times in Genesis 1 (verses 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, and 29). Its frequency reveals its significance by stressing the way in which God created. He simply spoke a word (Psalm 33:6, 9 and Hebrews 11:3). God revealed to Moses how He created all things, and Moses described this in Genesis. According to Genesis, God made the world and all that is in it within the space of six days. He declared it all to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31). On the seventh day, He rested from His work. Moses was not writing a scientific journal. However, as God’s Spirit moved him, He gave a revelation of spiritual reality. His primary emphasis was upon God the Sovereign Creator and His purpose. Moses did not simply focus on the process by which God created the world, but upon the One who creates and controls the process. Think about the “creative power” of God’s Word (Romans 4:17). Do you believe that Isa can “create something from nothing” for you?
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What Creation Reveals
Since God created the universe out of nothing, it belongs to Him. It is His and will always serve His purpose. He shaped creation without any interference or help from anyone and one day He will bring His creation to its desired end. No earthly power can stop God or His purpose. He will complete the process that He started in creation and that He revealed in Scripture. Our hope as believers rests in the sovereign power of the Almighty God who created the world. Now, let us look at some of the main points revealed about God the Creator through His creation. What does creation reveal to us about our God? It reveals at least five significant things to us about Him: His wisdom and power – “By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding He set the heavens in place…” (Proverbs 3:19) [In addition, please see Job 38–41.] His glory – “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1) His attributes and qualities – “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…” (Romans 1:18–20). His love for man – “…What is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; You put everything under his feet...” (Psalm 8:4–6) His providential care for those He created – “Comfort, comfort My people, says your God” (Isaiah 40:1). Isa Masih, when He lived on earth, saw the loving hand of our Father everywhere, even in flowers and birds (Matthew 6:25–26). In these next few days, look about you and in Scripture and see what the LORD’s creation reveals to you. Write your thoughts on a piece of paper. If possible, share these with a friend.
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The Crown of Creation
Man is the crown of Creation. There was a “divine conference” among the members of the Godhead before the LORD created man. This did not occur at any other step of the creation process. Some of the angels had already rebelled against God, and He certainly knew what man would do. Yet, in His love and grace, He molded the first man “…in His own image…” (Genesis 1:27). This does not refer to the physical appearance of man. As mentioned [page 22], this most likely refers to man’s spirit so that man can have a relationship with the Almighty God (Ephesians 4:24 and Colossians 3:10). God gave man the ability to rule over the earth. This was creation’s highest position. This helps to explain satan’s attacks, for Lucifer had once held this position and had wanted an even higher position. Lucifer wanted to have the place of God in the world. Thus, he tried to take the place of God in human lives. Moreover, he succeeded in one way. Man, because of his sin, lost his rulership over the earth (Hebrews 2:14–17). However, Isa, the Last Adam (Romans 5:12-21), has regained it for us. When on earth, Isa proved He had dominion over all creatures (Luke 5:1–11 and Matthew 17:24-27). After God created Adam, He placed him in the Garden of Eden. There, God decreed the first man and woman (Eve) to worship Him and rule the earth. God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If they did, they would know what it meant to participate in evil. The result would be that the happy life of Eden would be taken away (Genesis 2:15–17). God had created Adam, the crown of creation, and he was perfect. However, sin ruined Adam. Man is now born a sinner, and his life is purposeless and empty. Man must be “born again” in order to find his purpose in Isa. When we discover that purpose, we also discover that we are “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Moreover, we are royalty [“a royal priesthood” – 1 Peter 2:9] under God’s rule. We can “reign in life” through Isa Masih our Lord (Romans 5:17). As new creations, we are now truly the LORD’s crown of creation. Do you see any significance to the “divine conference” of the Godhead that the Bible mentions in Genesis 1:26?
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Discussion Guide
1. Compare the gift of the bride, Eve, to the bridegroom, Adam, with the gift of the church to her Bridegroom, Isa Masih. Discuss the comparisons of the first and last Adams, and Melchizedek and Isa Masih. 2. Divide into small groups and discuss the following passages of Scripture: Genesis 3:14-15, 22:1-18, Galatians 3:16, 19, 29, and Galatians 4:28-29. [If possible, each group will take one passage and then, after sufficient discussion, share with the larger group.] 3. Discuss the “4 X 4” method. If you were leading a Bible study on Genesis, which parts of the book would you emphasize? Which stories do you think most effectively communicate to your culture? 4. Discuss Genesis 1:26-27. What kinds of ideas exist in your culture regarding God’s creation of man in His image? Is this a new concept for most people in your area? Does this help you when you share the Gospel? 5. Discuss the relationship between the phrase “God said” [occurs nine times in Genesis 1], and these Scripture passages: Proverbs 18:21, Matthew 10:32-33, Luke 4:33-35, and Romans 10:8-10. 6. Discuss the five significant things that creation reveals to us about the LORD. Would you add something else? In your culture, which of these would have the most significance in discussions with a non-believer? 7. Discuss with your house church group various ways in which Isa proved His dominion over creation. Since Isa regained dominion over the earth, how do we, as “new creations,” claim now what is rightfully ours?

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THE PROMISE AND THE COVENANT

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Meditate upon and apply these Scriptures to your life this week: 1. Genesis 3:21 – “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” 2. Genesis 6:9 – “This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.”

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Adam and Eve
Everything in Creation “was very good” (Genesis 1:31) except the loneliness of Adam. “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’” (Genesis 2:18). Thus, we realize that three foundational reasons for marriage are: To provide companionship–“It is not good for the man to be alone.” To carry on the race–“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number…” (Genesis 1:28). To help one another and bring out the best in each person – “I will make a helper suitable for him.” The word “helper” (Genesis 2:18) refers to one that meets his needs. Adam was alone, without a “helper.” This shows the difference between animals and human beings whom God made in His image. Therefore, God made the first woman out of the flesh and bone of the first man, and He “closed up the place with flesh” (Genesis 2:21). The verb “made” in Genesis 2:22 is actually the word “built,” as one “builds” a temple. When God made Eve from Adam, it showed the unity of the race and the dignity of the woman. Adam had named all the animals (Genesis 2:19), revealing man’s intelligence and speech. Now, he called Eve “woman” (Genesis 2:23). [The Hebrew word is “ishshah,” meaning “out of man.” This relates to “ish,” meaning “man.”] Thus, God had created Eve and, like Adam, she was perfect. Now, the LORD desired that Adam and Eve establish their home, unite with each other, and become “one flesh.” Isa Masih spoke about this desire when He said, “Haven’t you read…that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘…A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Genesis 2:24 and Matthew 19:4-6). Think about the three reasons for marriage. In your culture, do both believers and non-believers accept all three reasons?
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Temptation and Fall of Man
Satan, not God, tempts people to sin (James 1:13). Lucifer was a beautiful angel who rejoiced at creation (Job 38:4–7), but his pride led to sin and God judged him (Isaiah 14:12–7 and Ezekiel 28:11–19). Later, satan disguised himself as a serpent and deceived Eve. He does not appear to people as he truly is. He is the evil one who deceives and lies and murders (John 8:44, 2 Corinthians 11:3, and 1 Timothy 2:14). What was satan’s target? It was Eve’s mind (2 Corinthians 11:3). Satan attacks God when he attacks our minds because man’s mind is a part of his creation in God’s image (Colossians 3:9–10). What was satan’s strategy? He wanted Eve to doubt God and His Word and thus weaken her faith. Satan questioned God’s Word, denied His Word, and substituted his lies (Genesis 3:1-5). He suggested that God was not truthful and honest and was keeping Adam and Eve from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil so they could not become like Him. This was a lie and it caused her to doubt God. The temptation sounded wonderful. Satan said, “…you will be like God…” He had wanted to be like God (Isaiah 14:14). He had even offered Isa Masih “…all the kingdoms of the world…” if only Isa would “bow down and worship” him (Matthew 4:8-9). Then we see the tragedy. Eve did not believe God’s Word but she gave “…the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:27). Adam sinned and judgment came upon the world (Romans 5:16–19). Immediately, there was guilt. They tried to cover themselves by their works, but God did not accept the garments. Sadly, Adam and Eve lost their desire for God’s fellowship. God approached them and they hid. Sin had broken the fellowship and brought guilt, fear, shame, and blame of others. The woman’s judgment was pain in childbirth and she became subject to her husband. Man’s judgment involved his work. The toil in the field replaced paradise (Genesis 3:16–19). Work is not sinful, but sweat and toil reveal man’s fall (Genesis 2:15). The Bible says that all creation is cursed and in slavery because of sin (Romans 8:18–25). What else does the devil target besides our minds? Can you give some Scriptural examples to prove this?
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The Good News of Genesis
Genesis reveals the first proclamation of the Good News. God promised a Masih, a Redeemer from the woman’s “Seed.” God gave Good News, the Gospel, that the woman’s Seed (Isa) would defeat satan and his seed. Man’s history then divides as satan and his seed oppose God and His family. God Himself “…put enmity…” (Genesis 3:15) between the two families and He will end the war when satan is cast into hell (Revelation 20:10). The Bible tells of this war and the “Gospel” is the story of Isa’s victory over satan through the cross. The Gospel that Adam heard was God’s words of Genesis 3:15. God said that man would die and Adam physically died. He had died spiritually because sin separated him from God. However, the LORD promised a Savior through the woman and Adam had believed that. The consequences of sin (death) remain, but God saves those who trust in Him and lets them escape the eternal consequences of hell. Adam and Eve had tried to cover their sin and shame (Genesis 3:7), but it was inadequate. God did not accept their good works. However, God provided an adequate covering. The LORD Himself made skins for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). This was the first atoning sacrifice for sin. It was a picture of Isa’s death on the cross as our “covering” for sin. To cover sin, God demands an atoning sacrifice of blood, the offering of innocent life for the guilty. [“Atonement” is the act by which God restores a relationship of harmony between Him and man. “Atone” means “cover” or “reconcile,” as when Isa covered our sins through His sacrificial death on the cross.] Thus, God did it all – Adam and Eve did nothing. After judgment for this first sin, God provided a way of salvation. God’s grace atoned for the sin, the guilt, and the shame of man. God “covered” man. The “garments of skin” are symbols of our salvation through Isa’s work on the cross. Garments often picture our salvation (Isaiah 61:10 and Zechariah 3:1–5). The prodigal son was given “the best robe” when he came home (Luke 15:22). Garments of self-righteousness and good works are simply filthy rags in God’s eyes (Isaiah 64:6). How would you tell the Good News of Genesis to a friend?
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THEOLOGY OF GENESIS

Noah and the Ark
Biblically, the word FLOOD means a “flow of water,” as well as a deluge or inundation. The flood of Noah’s time has a special name in Hebrew, “mabbul” (Genesis 6–11 and Psalm 29:10). Noah [his name means rest or comfort], is tenth in descent from Adam. He was in the line of Seth and was the son of Lamech and grandson of Methuselah. Noah was 500 years old and had three sons–Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Genesis 5:32). The world was very wicked and God decided to destroy it. The Word describes Noah as “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). Peter called him “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). He was 600 years old when the flood came (Genesis 7:5–6). The exact meaning of the Hebrew word translated “ark” (tebah) is uncertain. It may mean, “box,” “chest,” or “ark,” and occurs only in Genesis and Exodus. In Genesis 6–9, the word occurs 26 times to describe the huge, rectangular, box-shaped vessel that Noah built. In Exodus 2, it describes the basket in which Moses’ mother placed him. This “ark” was made of gopher (cypress) wood, which the Phoenicians used in the building of ships because it was light and strong. A coating of pitch [tar or asphalt] protected the planks both inside and outside, to make it watertight. The ark had many compartments for the distribution of the animals and food. Noah built the ark in three levels since the LORD told him, “...make lower, middle, and upper decks.” The ark had both a door (Genesis 6:16) and a window (Genesis 8:6). It was much larger than many modern ships (about 140 meters long, 23 meters wide, and 14 meters high). God only intended the ark to float on the water. It was not a “ship.” Noah took his wife, his sons and their wives, and animals of all kinds into the ark with him. God commanded Noah to take seven of every clean animal (or, seven pairs) and a pair of every kind of unclean animal. After the flood, Noah and his family would use the extra clean animals for food and sacrifice (Genesis 7:1-3, 8:20, 9:3). Do you see a similarity between Enoch and Noah? Why did Noah find favor (grace) in the eyes of the LORD (Genesis 6:8)?
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The Flood
The ark was finished, and Noah gathered all of the living animals and put them into it as a place of safety. Then, the Bible says that, “the Lord shut him (Noah) in” (Genesis 7:16), seven days before the flood came. After these seven days, the waters began to cover the earth. The Bible gives a very simple yet powerful and impressive description of the great flood that came upon the earth (Genesis 7:17–24). The waters increased for a period of 190 days (Genesis 7:12, 24). At that time, “God remembered Noah” (Genesis 8:1) and caused a wind to pass over the earth and the waters began to gradually recede. Finally, the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat, in the eastern part of modern day Turkey (Genesis 8:4). After this, the waters kept decreasing until the tops of the mountains became visible. Noah and his family did not leave until they had been in the ark over one year (Genesis 7:10–11, 8:14–18). There can be no doubt that the flood was over the entire earth. The Word of God states in Genesis 7:19, “…all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered.” Thus, the flood completely covered the earth. The truth of the flood story makes us realize that the entire human race, except for one family, perished by the waters of the flood. Today, many nations have preserved the memory of a great and destructive flood, from which only a few persons escaped. Noah’s first act after he left the ark was to build an altar and to offer sacrifices to the LORD (Genesis 8:20). Previous godly men possibly built alters, but this is the first altar mentioned in Scripture. Again, we notice the importance of a blood sacrifice as Noah worshipped God. Then God blessed Noah and his sons (Genesis 9:1). Noah was now the head of a new human family, the representative of the whole race. At that time, God made His covenant with Noah. The Lord chose a natural phenomenon as the covenant sign – the rainbow. The rainbow in the cloud, that everyone under heaven can see, is a wonderful witness to God’s truth and power (Genesis 9:8-17). Take time to read and think about the story of Noah and the flood (Genesis 6-9). Is there any kind of flood story in your culture?
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The Tower of Babel
In Genesis 11, we see the origin of languages. After the Flood, “the whole world had one language” (Genesis 11:1). This shows the unity of the human family that descended from Noah’s sons. In Genesis 9, God told men to move out, “increase in number and fill” the earth but they all settled in Shinar [or, Babylon (modern Iraq)] (Genesis 10:10). This was deliberate rebellion against God’s Word. Genesis 11:4 says that they planned to build a city with a tower. Their purpose was to unite and oppose God and make a name for themselves. The same arrogance (Luke 1:51) that had inspired Eve and Adam to “be like God” (Genesis 3:5) now inspired “the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4). The Hebrew word for tower (“migdal”), appears elsewhere in the Bible as a symbol of pride that displeased God (Isaiah 2:15–17). The “tower that reaches to the heavens” (Genesis 11:4) possibly means a huge fortress with very high walls (Deuteronomy 1:28, 9:1 and Jeremiah 51:53). It may also mean a pagan religious temple that is higher than all other things around it. The builders’ directly opposed God’s command. He told them to be fruitful, increase in number, and fill the earth. Therefore, God judged them. “The Lord came down” (Genesis 11: 5) is most likely sarcasm. The greatest efforts of men were still weak in God’s eyes. The Godhead held a “conference” (Genesis 1:26 and 3:22) and decided to confuse the workers’ language. Thus, they could not work together. This was really a merciful act, for if they had persisted, a more terrible judgment probably would have followed. “Babel” means “gate of God.” [It sounds like balal, meaning “confusion.”] Scripture uses this word as a symbol of pride and rebellion against God. Genesis 11 explains the origin of languages and the beginning of racial, cultural, and family diversity. Later, Pentecost was a reversal of Babel—there was spiritual unity among God’s people. They spoke “in other tongues” (Acts 2:4) but men understood them and glorified God. One day, Isa Masih will end all divisions here on this earth and all languages will praise the Lamb (Revelation 5:13). Do you see any “Towers of Babel” in your own culture?
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THEOLOGY OF GENESIS

The Covenant Keeping God
God is a covenant making and a covenant keeping God. God’s covenant came before creation, when He planned to create a people whom He would love. Man sinned and broke fellowship with God but the LORD began to draw man back to Him. Moreover, He chose His covenant people–through the Masih–to conquer the evil one (Genesis 3:15). Central to God’s blessing was His covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:1–3 and 15:1–21). God made eternal promises to Abraham and to his descendants. These promises were the foundation for all of His future promises and covenants. Genesis is not just a beginning–it is the foundation for the rest of “God’s story.” God’s covenant with Abraham, and then with the nation of Israel, expressed His love and faithfulness to them. His covenant always emphasized the truth that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” of sin (Hebrews 9:22). The Creator had given man great freedom. Man was free to do wrong, as well as to do right. He had the freedom to reject God, or the freedom to accept Him and His divine love and forgiveness. God wanted His covenant people to bless the nations around them (Genesis 12:1–3). He promised that Abraham’s descendants would bless the earth. This was a promise concerning an eternal seed, land, and king (Genesis 13:14–17, 17:1–8, 26:2–6 and 28:10–15). The covenant relationship reveals God’s commitment to the “patriarchs” [Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob] to make their descendants a great nation. It also reveals the chosen nation’s commitment to obey Him and become a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 9:2 and 49:6). God directed His people to trust His promises and obey Him. Against all hope, Abraham trusted God to give him many offspring. Reflecting upon his strong faith, the Word says, God “credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). The covenant continued with Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, and into the book of Exodus as God delivered His covenant people from slavery. The LORD is forever a covenant making and covenant keeping God. He desires to be in covenant relationship with all of His creation. How does God want us to be a blessing to those around us?
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Discussion Guide
1. Discuss Genesis 2:23-24 and the various ways in which a man and woman become “one flesh” after their marriage. Discuss how the man and woman help and complement each other as they seek to unite with each other. 2. Discuss this question with your house church group: In your culture, what strategies do you think satan uses against individual believers, against churches, and against your government and nation? Are you praying against those strategies? 3. Note these two divine principles from the Good News of Genesis (page 31): The principle that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22) and the principle of substitution – the death of the innocent for the guilty. Discuss these two principles. 4. Discuss the reason for taking only one pair of unclean animals into the ark, but seven (or, seven pairs) of clean animals. Also, discuss the diet of man before and after the flood (refer to Genesis 7:1-3, 8:20, and 9:1-5). 5. Discuss what you think was happening around Noah and his family during the one hundred year period that they were building the ark. Do you think this might have been a prolonged period of persecution for Noah’s family? 6. Discuss the main reason why you think the LORD God so strongly opposed the building of the Tower of Babel. Use both Old and New Testament verses to back up your thoughts. Use some Scripture not mentioned in this book. 7. Discuss God’s commitment, as well as Israel’s, to keep the covenant. Read Luke 22:20 and discuss Isa’s words about “…the new covenant in My blood.” What comparisons would you make between the two covenants?

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THE STORY OF THE PATRIARCHS

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Meditate upon and apply these Scriptures to your life this week: 1. Genesis 22:8 – “Abraham answered, ‘God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ And the two of them went on together.” 2. Genesis 50:20 – “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

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The Father of Faith
Abraham is the ancestor of both Jews and Arabs. Originally, he was Abram (“Exalted Father”). He left Ur (ancient Mesopotamia, now southern Iraq) to travel to Haran in Syria. He eventually went to Canaan where God re-confirmed His covenant with him and changed his name to Abraham, which means “Father of many nations” (Genesis 17:1-8). We call Abraham the father of faith because he faithfully obeyed God’s call and commands (Genesis 12:1-9, 22:1-18). God’s covenant to Abraham (Genesis 12:1–3 and 15:1–21) was the key by which all people would receive a blessing. Abraham’s seed and principal heir was Isa Masih, through whom God desired to bless the world (Galatians 3:14, 29). After his father Terah died in Haran, Abraham recalled Yahweh’s covenant promises and acted upon them. The Word mentions three things in Abraham’s call – he is to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household. God commanded him to leave everything and “go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). That required great faith, but he “…obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). God made several promises to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. Let us look at two of these. First is the promise to “make your name great.” This had been the ambition of the builders of the Tower of Babel. Now God will do for Abraham what others had selfishly sought for themselves. Second, God promised to bless Abraham and make him a blessing to others. The LORD said, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3). In Canaan, he “built an altar …to the Lord,” and “called on the name of the LORD” (Genesis 12:7-8). The Canaanites were wicked and they practiced idolatrous abominations (Deuteronomy 7:1-6). It is clear that, in the very place where God called Abraham, it would be hard for him to live a pure and righteous life. Throughout his days, “the father of faith” faced many difficulties. God often tested his faith. He wanted Abraham to keep his heart truly fixed upon Him. In Genesis 12:2-3, how many promises did God make to Abraham?
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The Test of Obedience
Abraham’s greatest test came at Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:1–18). There God asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac. The story of Abraham’s sacrifice of his son presents a beautiful picture of Isa’s sacrifice on the cross. In this passage, Abraham’s obedient faith teaches us how to face and overcome life’s tests to the glory of God. Abraham heard God’s Word and immediately obeyed. He knew that God’s Word is perfect and held to the promise that “…it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned” (Genesis 21:12). Abraham believed that even if God allowed him to slay Isaac, He could raise him from the dead (Hebrews 11:17–19). Faith does not need an explanation – it simply rests upon the promises of God. Abraham said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5). Abraham believed and obeyed God, even though he did not understand the test. However, Abraham fully trusted God. There was surely great pain in his heart as he walked. God had given Isaac to him, and now he must give him back. God’s gift must not replace the Giver. Abraham loved Isaac, but he also loved his God and wanted to obey Him. Abraham had experienced God’s resurrection power in his own body (Romans 4:19–21), so he knew that God could raise Isaac from the dead if that was His plan. Then, God spoke to him through an angel (Genesis 22:11–12). The LORD saw Abraham’s obedience and miraculously gave Isaac back to him. Isaac was now a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1–2). Verses 8 and 14 (Genesis 22) help us to understand the deeper meaning of this story. We read that God Himself provided the lamb; He Himself provided the blood sacrifice necessary for the burnt offering. In Genesis 22, the Bible teaches about sacrifice and substitution. God appointed these means for taking away our sin. The animal that God provided was a picture of “…the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Isa became that sacrificial lamb. Moreover, Isaac pictures humanity, which must die because of its sin. What is the most difficult test that God has ever given you?
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God Laughs
Isaac, whose name means “he laughs” [or, “God laughs”] was the only son of Abraham by his wife Sarah. God promised to make Abraham’s descendants a great nation that would become His chosen people. However, the promised son, Isaac, was not born until Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 (Genesis 17:17 and 21:5). They both laughed when they heard they would have a son in their old age (Genesis 17:17 and 18:12). Thus, they named him Isaac. On the eighth day after his birth, Abraham circumcised Isaac (Genesis 21:4) as a sign of the covenant with God. As Isaac grew up, his older half-brother Ishmael, [Abraham’s son by Sarah’s maid Hagar] was jealous of him. The bad relationship caused Sarah to send Hagar and Ishmael away (Genesis 21:8–21). The matter distressed Abraham but God told him that one day a nation would come from Ishmael (Genesis 21:11-13). However, Ishmael received none of Abraham’s inheritance. After Sarah died, Abraham had six sons by another wife, Keturah. He “sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east” and he “left everything he owned to Isaac” (Genesis 25:1-6). Therefore, Isaac would carry on the covenant began with Abraham. At the age of forty, Isaac married his cousin Rebekah, Laban’s sister (Genesis 24:67). When Isaac was sixty, he and Rebekah had twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Isaac’s favorite was Esau, and Jacob was Rebekah’s favorite. There was conflict over who would receive the birthright and carry on the covenant blessing. However, God had chosen Jacob. There was no reason for Rebekah and Jacob to deceive elderly Isaac. The Bible has many references to Isaac’s good character. It speaks of his submission and trust (Genesis 22:6-11) and his meditation (Genesis 24:63). It speaks of his love (Genesis 24:67), his peaceful nature (Genesis 26:20–22), and his prayer life and faith (Genesis 25:21 and 26:25). Stephen said he was circumcised eight days after his birth (Acts 7:8). Paul speaks of Isaac as the child of the promise and uses him and his mother as examples when discussing those justified by faith in God’s promise (Romans 9:7-10 and Galatians 4:21-31). Does it seem clear to you that the covenant established with Abraham continued through Isaac, the “child of promise”?
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Two Life-Changing Events
Jacob was born in answer to his father’s prayer (Genesis 25:21). His name means, “He grasps the heel,” or, “he deceives” (Genesis 25:26). Jacob often “grasped” the things of others, such as Esau’s birthright (Genesis 25:29–34), and his father’s blessing (Genesis 27:1–29). He bought the birthright from Esau and stole the elder brother’s blessing, although God intended to carry on the covenant through Jacob. Two great events in Jacob’s life were at Bethel (Genesis 28:10–22), and at the River Jabbok (Genesis 32:22–32). The experience at Bethel occurred when he traveled to Haran, to his uncle Laban’s home (Genesis 28:10). On the way, he stopped for the night at Bethel. He dreamed of a staircase from earth to heaven with angels on it and the Lord above it. God promised Jacob great blessings and the inheritance of the land. God said that his descendants would be “like the dust of the earth” in number (Genesis 28:14). His presence awed Jacob, and he dedicated the place, calling it Bethel (“house of God”). Over 20 years later, Jacob returned from Haran to Bethel, built an altar, and called it El Bethel (“God of the house of God”). There he received God’s blessing (Genesis 35:6–15). The experience at the River Jabbok occurred as Jacob was on his way to meet Esau, of whom he was still afraid (Genesis 32:7). He had an experience that changed him in both body and spirit. Jacob was alone at night and found himself wrestling with “a man” until dawn (Genesis 32:24). The “man” touched his hip socket and put it out of joint but Jacob would not let the “man” go until he blessed him. Probably for the first time in his life, Jacob could not win. “The man” asked him his name, and he confessed, “Jacob” (“he grasps the heel”). “The man” said, “you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome” (Genesis 32:28 and Hosea 12:3) and he changed his name to Israel (“he struggles with God”). Jacob named the place Peniel (“the face of God”). “…It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared” (Genesis 32:30). Jacob now had a new spiritual sensitivity. He deeply sensed God’s glorious presence in these two events. The LORD had changed him, both spirit and body. Meditate upon your own life-changing experiences with Isa.
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THEOLOGY OF GENESIS

Sold into Slavery
Joseph was the eleventh son of Jacob and Rachel’s first child (Genesis 30:24). Joseph’s brothers hated him because he was Jacob’s favorite. Their father seemed to love Joseph more than he loved them. This favoritism brought much trouble for the family. Jacob showed this favoritism by giving a special coat to Joseph, one usually worn by wealthy youths (Genesis 37:3). Joseph also had dreams that he interpreted to his brothers in a conceited way. It was not surprising that the brothers wanted to kill him (Genesis 37:4, 19–20). One day, Jacob sent Joseph to visit his shepherd brothers as they tended the flocks. The brothers decided to kill him, but Reuben persuaded them to throw Joseph into a pit (Reuben intended to rescue him later). However, when Midianite traders going to Egypt came by, Judah said, “…Let’s sell him…” and they did (Genesis 37:25–28). To hide this evil, the brothers took his coat and dipped it in blood. When Jacob saw it, he thought that a wild animal had killed Joseph and he deeply mourned. Meanwhile, in Egypt, the traders sold Joseph as a slave to Potiphar, captain of Pharaoh’s guard (Genesis 37:31-36). Joseph prospered and Potiphar put him over his entire household. However, Potiphar’s wife tempted him to commit adultery. He refused, but she falsely accused him and his master put him in prison (Genesis 39:7–20). The jailer put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners, which included the Pharaoh’s baker and cupbearer. They had dreams that Joseph interpreted for them, but when Pharaoh restored the cupbearer to his court, he forgot to intercede for Joseph. After two years, Pharaoh had dreams that no one could interpret. The cupbearer remembered Joseph and mentioned him to Pharaoh. Joseph interpreted the dreams, saying there would be seven years of abundance, then seven years of famine. He advised Pharaoh to appoint commissioners over Egypt. Surprisingly, Pharaoh gave Joseph this position of power, and he was second to Pharaoh “…in charge of the whole land…” (Genesis 41:39–43). He gave Joseph a wife and a new name, Zaphenath-Paneah, which means preserver of life. Why does favoritism create such problems in families?
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A Miraculous Reunion
Egypt prospered during the seven years of abundance and when the famine began, Joseph had “stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea” (Genesis 41:49). People from all the nearby lands came to buy food from him “because the famine was severe in all the world” (Genesis 41:57). The famine was severe in Canaan also. Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy grain. They did not recognize Joseph but he recognized them and decided to test them. He accused them of spying and said he would sell them grain on one condition: Simeon remain as a hostage until they returned to Egypt with Benjamin, the youngest brother. Back in Canaan, the brothers told Jacob of the condition, but he vowed not to send Benjamin to Egypt. However, the famine became so bad that he finally sent him. Upon arrival, Joseph treated them very well. When he saw Benjamin, he became very emotional and wept. He released Simeon, and after they bought their grain, the eleven brothers started home. On their way, Joseph’s steward stopped them and accused them of stealing Joseph’s silver cup. The steward found it in Benjamin’s sack, where Joseph had it placed (Genesis 44:1-13). The brothers returned to face Joseph, who said that Benjamin must stay in Egypt. Judah begged Joseph not to keep Benjamin, saying it would break Jacob’s heart. He offered to stay as Joseph’s slave in place of Benjamin (Genesis 44:16-34). Again, Joseph became emotional and he revealed himself as the brother whom they sold into slavery. At first, Joseph’s brothers were afraid that he would seek revenge but he convinced them that his forgiveness was genuine. He did not seek revenge. The brothers returned to Canaan with many gifts and then the whole family came to Egypt. God had worked a miracle. Joseph understood that his suffering had been God’s plan. His position of power was for his family’s good, not for his glory (Genesis 45:7–8). Joseph had been in Egypt over 90 years when he died. He made his brothers swear that they would carry his bones back to the land of promise. Thus, Joseph showed, even to the end, his trust in God. Are you willing to forgive those who have caused you to suffer?
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Spiritual Application for Today
Let us look at some spiritual lessons we can learn from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. These men looked ahead to a glorious future promise. They were “…looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Abraham teaches us that obedience leads to blessing. Abraham did not hesitate to confess his faith before the pagans in the land. Wherever he went, he built his altar (Genesis 13:3–4, 18). Abraham’s life teaches us that true faith is always tested. God wanted Abraham’s heart and He wanted to be sure that Isaac was not an idol in Abraham’s life. Abraham rested on the promises of God (Hebrews 11:17–19). God had promised many descendants and Abraham believed Him. As a young man, Isaac teaches us about sacrifice. He lay on the altar and was willing to die for the Lord (Genesis 22:9). Isaac teaches us that God answers prayer (Genesis 25:21). He and Rebekah reminded God of His promises, and God answered their prayers. The struggle of the unborn children puzzled Rebekah, so she asked God for wisdom (James 1:5). God told her that, contrary to culture, “…the older will serve the younger” (Genesis 25:22-23). Jacob teaches us about being alone with God and broken before the LORD. He wrestled with God all night. He wrestled because he was refusing to yield to the “The Man.” The Lord wanted Jacob to say, “…I no longer live, but the Masih lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). At daybreak, Jacob had a new walk, for God had broken him. His limp revealed God’s power, not human weakness. From Joseph’s life, we learn to be faithful in small things. Then God gives us greater things (Matthew 25:21). Joseph teaches us selfcontrol. He controlled his body and his tongue. This “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:23) is a sign of spiritual maturity. Joseph also shows us the value of endurance and graceful suffering as we follow Isa (James 1:2–4 and 1 Peter 2:19-21). Lastly, Joseph’s life teaches us to forgive and to discern God’s plan even in difficult circumstances. What lessons do you think God has taught you from Genesis?
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Discussion Guide
1. Discuss the difficulty of Abraham, as the oldest son growing up in a clan of idol worshippers, in obeying all three elements of God’s call to go to Canaan (Genesis 12:1 and Joshua 24:2). 2. Discuss the story of Abraham offering his son Isaac (Genesis 22). Will this story present any cultural difficulties to you if you share it with a non-believing friend? Discuss how you would talk about sacrifice and substitution. 3. Discuss with your house church group the best way that you might present the biblical story of Isaac and Ishmael to those in your culture from a Muslim background. What points would you emphasize as you tell the story? 4. Thoroughly discuss Jacob’s two life-changing events. Which of the two might be most effective in sharing with a non-believer in your culture? What can the church learn from these two experiences to help us walk with Isa? 5. Discuss how Joseph’s character developed during his years of slavery and imprisonment. Did this prepare him for leadership? How do the Scriptures show the development of his character? (Read Genesis 39:2, 21) 6. Discuss the relationship between Joseph’s forgiving attitude toward his brothers and his understanding of God’s will about his suffering. Would anyone in the group like to share a testimony of suffering that he (or, she) now understands was part of God’s plan for his (or, her) life? 7. Discuss the important spiritual lessons that the Bible teaches from the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Are there any similar characteristics that you can see in these four men? What negative characteristics in these four men do believers NOT want to imitate?

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For Further Study and Training in Righteousness
Doctrine 1. Servant Leadership 3. Personal Evangelism I (The Camel Method) 5. Personal Evangelism II (Chronological Storying) 7. Believer’s Lifestyle 9. Spiritual Warfare 11. Church Planting 13. Doctrine of the Holy Spirit 15. Bible Interpretation 17. Doctrine of Salvation 19. The Godhead 21. Spiritual Disciplines 23. Old Testament Survey 25. Stewardship 27. Personal Evangelism III Bible 2. Pastoral Letters (1 - 2 Timothy, Titus) 4. Romans 6. Theology of Genesis 8. 1 Corinthians 10. Ephesians 12. The Gospel of John 14. Acts 1 – 12 16. Acts 13 – 28 (The Ministry of Paul) 18. Exodus 20. The Journeys of Jesus (Synoptic Gospels) 22. Galatians 24. Hebrews 26. Psalms

A program of: CASALT: Servant and Leadership Training May 2005

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