Genesis is probably the most New Testament Book of the Old Testament. Much of its truths are left idle until the New Testament picks them up and expounds them. Such significant events as the Flood, Adam and the fall of mankind, are not mentioned again in the Bible until the New Testament. It contains such "New Testament" faith concepts as Creation (Heb. 11:3); Preservation (Gen. 6-8 ~ 1Thess. 5:23; 2Pt. 2:4); and Justification (Gen. 15:6 ~ Rom. 4:3), to make it almost appear out of place if it were not for the fact that it is the Book of Beginnings.
Genesis begins what Revelation finishes. It forms the basis for the Bible's symmetry (i.e., the Bible has a beginning and a finish which have numerous parallels and similarities. For example, Genesis begins in Heaven, moves to a created earth, then a Garden. Revelation begins in Heaven, talks about a new earth, then describes a Garden [Rev.22:2]). Without the Book of Genesis nothing in this world would make sense. There would be no answer at all for sickness, pain, suffering, or death. With the dying controversy over the Genesis account of creation ("dying", because increasingly, Darwinism is being seen as a historical theory without any basis of sustainable evidence causing many agnostic scientists to acknowledge the probability of a Creator), the Genesis account stands with solid grounds for trustworthiness and reliability. Tragically, Genesis also remains as a testimony to the fact that it could have perhaps been not only the Book of Beginnings, but also the final Revelation to mankind. For if man had never fallen, possibly the only document that would have been remotely necessary, would be the accounts in Genesis 1-2.
RELIABILITY OF GENESIS AS AN HISTORIC DOCUMENT
Far from being a Book of myths and morals, Genesis is an historical document inspired by the Holy Spirit. We must always be careful to treat it as such. When analysing the Bible, the disciplines required to do so are different to those necessary for pure science.
1. If you came home to discover that your bath tub was full of warmish water, how could you calculate how long that water had been in the bath for?
a) Measure its depth and width, take its current temperature, and multiply them.
b) Check the current temperature of the water and guess.
c) You couldn't, unless you had documentation, or eye witness accounts, as to when it was filled.
Genesis was written approximately 1500 B.C. probably by Moses. Estimates of how far back the opening chapters of Genesis refer to vary from 4000 B.C. to 8,000 B.C.. How could Moses have known what took place at the point of creation? A very simplistic answer would be to say that the Holy Spirit told him. There is tremendous truth in that statement, yet it fails to convince an objective inquirer. For many years Genesis was seen as nothing more than a book of myths. One of the main reasons for believing this was the belief that Moses could not have had access to any records because writing was only a relatively late invention. However, archaeological discoveries have now shown that writing could very well be original. Excavations have shown that not only was writing a flourishing art form during the time of Abraham, but there were also libraries, and universities storing large quantities of literature. One city in ancient Babylon was "Sippar" which means City of Books. Its ruins were excavated during the 1880-90's and 60,000 tablets of literature were discovered including a library of 30,000 tablets.
The Weld Dynastic Prism discovered in 1922 just north of Ur, contains the then known history of the world including the accounts of the ten generations of kings prior to the Flood. It was written about 2170 B.C., 100 years prior to Abraham.
One particular tablet known as the temptation seal pictures a man and woman looking miserable and being closely watched by a serpent. It clearly depicts a knowledge of the events of the Garden of Eden story and was written about 1,000 years before Genesis was written.
Abraham himself probably kept records of his ancestry. An indication that Moses may have had access to these is that Genesis seems to be framed around ten lists of genealogies. Perhaps the records that Abraham kept were added to by each successive generation. Therefore, most scholars now consider that Moses had some access to records that had been written prior to Genesis being written. This would have been complemented by the Holy Spirit revealing prophetically details of the past. The belief that the Bible was given to us by divine revelation is a fundamental doctrine to Christians from which it is ackowledged that it has an authority not equaled by other religious writings. The idea that Genesis is just a myth can no longer be accepted on even objective grounds.
2. Although archaeology confirms the message of Genesis, there have, as yet, been no discoveries bearing the names of the original Bible characters. This is probably because-
a) journalists hated Hebrews and didn't want to give them any publicity.
b) nomadic Hebrews were of little importance to overall world events at the time.
c) Abraham wasn't talking to the media that millennium.
Genesis 1= All things created good.
Genesis does not try to be a science manual when it comes to explain how things were created. However, none of its contents contradicts science. Nor does true science contradict it. It is written from a religious perspective. Recently I heard a Melbourne University professor (of Earth Sciences),who was publicising the upcoming National Conference for the Australian Sceptics Society, state that those who hold to the Genesis account of creation are "cultists". He said that only "science" could tell us how things begun, and since "science" did not agree with the Genesis account, the Bible is wrong (or at the least mythological in its approach to beginnings). He categorised creationists in with spoon-benders, U.F.O. seekers, and mystic healers. He sincerely gave some very sound advice about each of these other issues and other such pseudo-religious groups. But when asked by the radio interviewer if he thought churches were wrong in teaching the Genesis account, he claimed that the churches are fully supporting him, and that they too feel that creationists are actually to be seen as a separate cult.
Space does not permit us to delve into the issues involved with the creation verses science debate. Needless to say that those who hold to the inspiration of Scripture see no conflict at all. Therefore, we will examine briefly the principles involved for unravelling the so called "debate". Theologians genuinely differ in their interpretations of the Genesis creation account. As this study guide will attempt to show, it is possible to take the Word of God for face value, yet totally discount some popularly held beliefs.
3. The Bible says that God commenced creating the earth around 4004 B.C. in-
a) Genesis 1:41
b) Genesis 2:1
c) Page 2
d) No-where does the Bible say that God commenced creation in 4004 B.C.
Some of the more commonly held theological views of the creation account include-
(i) Literally six consecutive 24 hour days of creative activity.
(ii) Gap theory. There was a gap of unspecified time between Genesis 1:1, and 1:2, followed by six consecutive 24 hour days of creation.
(iii) Day = Age theory. Perhaps the days were not literal days. The Bible speaks of a week being equivalent to 7 years (eg. Daniel 9) and days being like a thousand years to God (2Peter 3:8).
(iv) 24 hour days separated by ages. When God created, it was literally a 24 hour day, but each creative day could have been separated by eons of time.
(v) Theistic evolution- God was the first cause who set in motion the evolution of all things
Each of these opinions are held by godly people. Because someone does not hold to our particular view, this does not mean they are less spiritual, or liberal/fundamental than us. At this stage, I am most comfortable with something between (i) and (ii) allowing for John 1's "beginning" being earlier than Genesis 1. In a later study we will see why the date of 4004 B.C. is extremely improbable if not impossible as the date of creation of the earth or Adam.
4. Which view do you hold to and why? Do your views differ from those mentioned above?
The other principle we need to determine regards the definition of "science".
5. Look up a dictionary and note how they define "science"-
It's generally viewed that science is: a theory provable by experiment. If you had a theory, it is not strictly science until you can prove it. This demands an experiment that is readily repeatable. In this sense, history is not a science, because the exact events can not be repeated. Therefore as one writer puts its, it is impossible to prove scientifically that Napoleon ever existed . When a scientist makes a statement about theology and claims that his comments are based on "scientific proofs", he is not speaking about true science. The Bible offers little rational reasoning for the "how" of creation. In summing up this Genesis account, Hebrews says-
"By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible"
6. Who does Genesis immediately focus on?
7. The term beginning refers to what?
8. What was happening prior to Gen. 1:1? (Prov. 8:22; Jn. 17:5, 24)
Although the opening verses of Genesis are written simply, their truths have filled volumes and kept theologians busy for centuries. The opening verse is probably the most recurring thought throughout the Bible- God is Creator of everything. The Bible is particularly revealing to mankind the message about their Creator. Therefore, there are no details given of the angelic hosts that were created before mankind, because this is not written for angels- but for mankind. The second verse begins to explain what happened in the first. This appears to be a writing style throughout the first few chapters as well as an indication of how God works (creates then forms). Note the following chart-
THE EVENTS OF CREATION
'CREATED' / OUTLINE:
FORMED FROM / DETAIL
From without form and void into something that was good. (1:2)
Day One: Light and Dark (1:3-4)
Day Four: Day and night (1:14-16)
Day Two: Sea and sky (1:7-10)
Day Five: Fish and birds (1:20-22)
Day Three: Fertile earth (1:11)
Day Six: Creatures (1:24-25)
Chapter two explains how Mankind was formed.
When we talk about God creating, we mean He created from nothing (Heb. 11:3). He appears to work like a sculptor. Starting with a lump of clay (after creating it), He then proceeds to form it.
9. Can you see how this might have relevance for your relationship with God?
10. After God had finished creating and forming, how did He describe His creation? (1:31)
There is nothing evil about creation. Some have regarded all that it is physical to be so hopelessly corrupted that it must be incurably evil. Yes, creation is corrupted, but not hopelessly, nor incurably. God created everything good.
11. Think about God's original creation. How would you describe mankind's environment?
The close of chapter two could very well have been the close of the entire Bible. Everything God gave mankind was perfect and very good. Even mankind was perfect. Adam and Eve could look forward to a never ending life of joy and fulfilment as they basked in their fellowship with God, themselves, each other (and others) and nature. Man could walk freely around the earth without fear or pressures of time. This was God's original intention
. 12. Mankind enjoyed perfect harmony with-
a) _ _ _. b) _ _ _ _ _ _ _. c) _ _ _ _ _ _. d) _ _ _ _ _ _.
Perhaps already cast out of heaven (or perhaps he was about to fall by tempting Eve which would have been an act of pride on his part), Satan now apparently sought harm against the God he wanted to overthrow. Using a serpent, he beguiled mankind.
13. What was Satan's original strategy for leading mankind into rebellion? (Gen. 3:1)
14. What was God's warning to mankind if they rebelled? (Gen. 2:17)
15. What was Satan's reply to God's warning? (Gen. 3:4-5) Does he still operate this way?
16. What was Adam and Eve's response when they heard God walking in the Garden? Why did they respond this way?
The tragic interruption to the Bible's description of harmony meant that mankind was now deserving of death. Some have suggested that the kind of death God was warning about was a spiritual death because Adam and Eve didn't die physically when they disobeyed- therefore they must have died in their spirit . But the Bible says that it is the spirit that gives life to the body (James 2:26). So, I prefer to see God's grace. God had said they would die the day they disobeyed. This is exactly what they did. Immediate death was exactly what they deserved. That penalty has never changed. Sin deserves instantaneous punishment of the strongest kind because it is the most offensive act a created being can do to his Creator. But then, as now, God displays His nature as a God of grace ~ "But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more" (Rom. 5:20 ). Adam and Eve's sin was atoned for in the short term by the death of the animals required to make skin coverings for them (yet another display of God's grace).
17. What were some of the consequences of sin for mankind?
The terrible results of sin where transmitted into all the descendants of Adam. Two of his immediate children that the Bible cares to tell us about, are described as making sacrifices to God. With Cain's second rate offering being rejected by God (either because it was not a blood sacrifice, or it was not the best, or "first", of his crops), he became angry toward his brother Abel (Gen. 4). Cain then killed Abel, and eventually fled where he married a sister we are not told about. From this incident we see again that Hebrew writing style was often reflective on a previous statement made, and not necessarily chronological. A statement could have been made well before many other statements, the style in Genesis is that this previous statement could be elaborated on later. Examples of this include Genesis 1 stating that God made man and woman. Further narrative takes place into chapter two, then more detail is given of the event mentioned in chapter one. So it is with Cain marrying. The incident between Cain and Abel may not necessarily be in chronological order, thus making way for Cain to marry a sister of his we are not told about.
Man's sin and rebellion against God, reached a point where God's heart was broken. Although the LORD'S heart was broken over the wickedness of man, it was not God's immediate response to destroy mankind.
18. What does Genesis 6:3 suggest the Holy Spirit was possibly doing among mankind?
In that same verse God makes a declaration about the length of men's lives'- "Yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years". Reading through Genesis causes us to observe that people lived very long lives prior to the flood. Adam lived 930 years. Seth lived 912 years. Methuselah lived 969 years. Why were people able to live such long lives before the Flood? It has been suggested that prior to the Flood it never rained. We read earlier of a mist that would water the earth (2:6). Something obviously took place to enable rain to come down upon the earth. Perhaps with this atmospheric change, yet another result of mankind's sin contaminating God's creation, something was altered that had previously been in place to keep harmful (ageing) sun-rays from affecting mankind.
Some have suggested that the one hundred and twenty years referred to here, means the length of time Noah was to take to build the ark. In other words it was prophetic.
19. Based on these two references, why couldn't the above statement be true? Gen. 6:10; 11:10
The Flood would have to be the most evident event today of ancient history. It would have moved around the world like a huge skyscraper of water so fast that it caused unsuspecting animals to be swept into an ice-age.
THE TOWER OF BABEL
Once again the sinfulness of mankind nearly manifests to a potential climax. Unity is powerful. It can be used for either good or evil. In this instance it was about to be used for some unmentionable evil. Against the background of this worldly unity, Scripture is quite deliberate in highlighting the united aspect of the Tri-une Godhead "Come, let Us go down and..." (Gen. 11:7).
20. What was it that unified the world at this point of time? (Gen. 11:1)
a) An international treaty among the world leaders.
b) A common language.
c) An extensive road and transport system.
The incident of the Tower of Babel helps us to identify the origins of Babylon, which will feature quite strongly in latter passages of the Bible. Because man's heart is continually bent toward evil, he is easily corrupted when placed in a threatening position of being the odd man out. Unity is good when it is of God (Ps. 133:1). However, when men attempt to use it to further their own evil cause, God steps in. The Tower of Babel was destroyed, probably not because God was opposed to big buildings, but because of what it represented- man's attempts to exalt himself above God. When man submits to God, unity becomes a potent weapon against the enemy. In fact the Church is the ultimate display of God's ability to unify men who would ordinarily never associate (N.B. Eph. 3:10).
BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING
Genesis 12 - The emergence of a nation.
Genesis closes its account of God dealing with the whole human race (and certain members of it in particular) and now begins to focus exclusively on one family and its succeeding three generations. The family of Abram was to commence the most significant event toward God's ultimate plan of expressing His Kingdom on earth. The selection of Abram was accompanied by a tremendous pronouncement of blessing-
"I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." Genesis 12:2-3
21. Who are the descendants of this promise? (Gal. 3:7-9)
GOD'S RELATIONSHIP WITH ABRAM
We've already mentioned that it was via a legal process that God "atoned" for Man's sin by the slaying of animals. This will become clearer to understand as we go on. But the sacrificial death of animals became the means by which people's sin was atoned for from the earliest of times (note nearly every ancient culture has some trace of this truth). One man in particular that God desired to have a close relationship with was Abram.
22. What did the LORD tell Abram to do in Genesis 15:9-10.
This is one of the clearest original examples of a covenant that we have in our Bible. The word "covenant" means to make a life-long agreement together. It is similar, but not the same, to the word testament. If someone makes a testament, they agree to give someone particular things in the event of their death. This is a life-long agreement after the death of the one making the testament (the "testator", note Hebrews 9:17). The terms of a covenant are effectuated upon the death of the Testator. When God made a covenant with Abram, they would have followed the commonly accepted practice of the day. When two people wanted to make a covenant, they would do the following-
-Agree to make a covenant together.
-Agree on the terms of the covenant.
-Agree in the presence of witnesses on the penalty for breaking the covenant
-Celebrate the covenant over a feast.
-Exchange weapons and an identifiable article of clothing.
-Take on the other's name into their name.
-Make a cut in the flesh of both parties and let the blood mingle (like blood brothers).
-Bring into the covenant some promise of blessing to be honored upon the other.
When Abram and God first started to enter into a covenant together, the ceremony was simple. The details are found in Genesis 15. Abram and God agreed to make a covenant together, (since Abram got the animals ready for sacrificing, Gen. 15:10). The terms of the covenant were for Abram to follow God in obedience (Gen. 17:1). The penalty for breaking the covenant was displayed by the slaying of the animals. In effect what they were saying was- if either of us break the covenant, then what we're about to do to this animal, may it be done to us! The meal together was possibly celebrated in Genesis 18:8. This signified friendship and fellowship. From that point on God became Abram's Protector, often getting him out of sticky situations (Gen. 20). The exchange of names happened when God became known as the God of Abraham, and Abram became Abraham. The ah insertion into his name came from the Hebrew word for God- YAH (Isaiah 38:11). The promised blessing from God was that He would multiply Abraham's descendants greatly and give a land to live in as an inheritance.
23. From that point on, and based on Genesis 18:17-19, what sort of relationship do you think Abraham had with God?
24. Note the tremendous blessings promised to Abraham. Undoubtedly the biggest blessing he had was his intimate relationship with God. Read Galatians 3:29 again and note who today is in line to receive Abraham's blessings. Do we too have to make a covenant with God?
From the calling of Abram to the birth of his son to Sarai, the Bible tells us of Abram's trust in God. He believed what God had said He would do through him. This took place over an extended period of time and it's worth noting how old Abram was each time the LORD spoke to him. It was in Genesis 17:5 the LORD renamed Abram to Abraham ("Father" of many nations) just prior to the birth of his son to Sarah. In chapter 18 the LORD renews His promise to Abraham about having a son. Immediately after this event, the angels that represented the Presence of God appeared to Abraham before they were about to go and destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Presumably two angels went to Sodom and the other went to Gomorrah. But it's here we see Abraham the prophet (N.B. Gen. 20:7) interceding for those towns. While many people consider that the prophet's exclusive role was to speak for God, many overlook the deep communion that the prophet usually had with God. It can be observed with all the prophets, that they very much felt their message before they gave it. This led them to usually talk it over with the LORD before giving it. In this way we see that the role of a prophet is as much to interced for those he's speaking to as it to preach to them.
25. Where does Genesis introduce circumcision? How long after Abram's initial calling was it? How long was it after he was declared righteous by God?
The birth of Isaac was to be the first of recorded births by a woman who was barren. This shows us that God had a special investment in this lineage. The Bible uses a certain economy-of-words in describing selected events. In every case where a barren woman is described as giving birth to a child, we see God's direct intervention and then consequent investment into the life of that person.
26. Although Abraham enjoyed a special friendship with God and was obviously a man of great faith, how did God test his loyalty? (Gen. 22) Does this have any relevance for the New Testament believer?
Being quite old, Sarah thought that having a baby at her age was rather funny, so she named her son Laughter which is what Isaac means. He grew to be more like his mother than his father . Rather than treated like a normal son, Isaac appears to have been given the upbringing of a spoilt child, who never learnt to fully be a man who could fight for himself. Note the later incidents over his late father's wells. Rather than fight to defend and regain them, he chose to walk away and let others have his property (Gen. 26:17-22).
ISAAC CHOOSES REBEKAH
The typology in this incident is rich. Abraham, typical of Father God, sends his servant, typical of the Holy Spirit, into the world to find a bride for his son, typical of Christ. We know that the Holy Spirit is now calling and drawing many people to know an intimate relationship with the Son of God. There is also a principle here for those seeking to get married: keep your eyes on doing what God has called you to do and He will organise "the match-making" as the Holy Spirit directs your path (cf. Matt. 6:33; Prov. 3:5-6).
27. Read Genesis 24:42-46 and Judges 6:36-40. Gideon's fleece incident is seen by many as an act of disobedience and unbelief. How do the actions of Abraham's servant differ from Gideon's?
28. What was the blessing given to Rebekah? (Gen. 24:60) How has this been fulfilled?
What sort of a childhood would Isaac have had? We're not given much detail. But it appears that Isaac grew under the shadow of having very old parents, who "molly coddled" their only son. By the time he himself is old, the Bible paints a picture of very fat, lazy man who has probably lost his sight due to obesity . Ironically though, he shows the tenacity to pray as his father did when it came to his own wife giving birth. Perhaps this was the one quality he passed on to Jacob(?).
29. How does the Bible describe Isaac's praying to the Lord for Rebekah, and what was the result of such praying? (Gen. 25:21, New King James Version)
ISAAC BLESSES JACOB
One of the most amazing things about people, is that we are all different. No two people are alike. All this despite the fact that we each draw on just two people for our genetic make-up. How often have you seen a boy who closely resembles his father? Or a daughter resembling her mother? Occasionally we can see children even bearing the traits of grandparents, or great grandparents. Yet, God takes a part in the creation and formation of each individual. The children of Isaac should have been very similar if we were to believe that genetics is the only thing controlling a person's development. Yet they were starkly different. From birth, they displayed personalities that made them unique. When my son was born, we were very glad that he was a quiet co-operative and reasonably cheerful little boy. As he grew, these qualities developed. When my daughter was born, she came into the world screaming. We instantly noticed how different they both were even from birth. Now, she too is a delightfully cheerful little girl. When she's upset, though, she still becomes very (very) loud. From birth, Jacob was a heel catcher (Gen. 25:26). This is a nice way of saying that he was a cheater. As he grew, this trait became more noticeable.
30. Who didn't Isaac love as much? (Gen. 25:28)
Esau was a complete contrast to his father. He was aggressive, strong, skilled in hunting. Perhaps this is why Isaac loved him so much. On the other hand Jacob closely resembled his father. Perhaps this too is why his father didn't love him. Sometimes we don't like some people because we tend to notice in them what we don't like about ourselves!
31. How did Esau regard his birthright? (Gen. 25:34) What eventually happened because of this? (Gen. 27)
JACOB MEETS RACHEL
Should a man have more than one wife? Is it fair for a man to judge a woman's worth based on her looks? Can cousins marry each other? All of these issues occur in Genesis 29. Perhaps this marks the beginning of God's molding in Jacob's life. The cheater, was now the cheated. God was showing him that He was in control by bringing a sense of justice into his life. When Jacob fell in love with Rachel it was seemingly for the wrong reasons. It was God's intention for him to marry Leah. From Leah came Judah. From Judah came the Messiah. His love though for Rachel was obviously a determined one, because he worked for seven years to earn the right to marry her. Some commentators have suggested that he actually only worked seven days before his first marriage, but this is not how the text reads. It would also make the point of Genesis 29:20 lose its full impact. When Jacob found that he had been cheated, he offered to work another seven years to have Rachel also.
32. What was Laban's reply to this? (Gen. 29:27)
The context of verse thirty seems to indicate that Jacob spent the first week of his married life with Leah exclusively, then also married Rachel while honoring his agreement to serve Laban another seven years. Although polygamy was a culturally tolerated practise, it never received God's approval or blessing. For example, every case of polygamy in the Bible paints a picture of strife and tension . Fruitfulness was seen as a sign of God's approval. Leah bore six of Jacob's twelve sons. This, plus the statement in Genesis 29:31 causes us to lean toward the conclusion that Leah was God's exclusive choice for Jacob.
ORIGIN OF THE TWELVE TRIBES
Genesis (29-) 30 (35)
The Bible seems to intentionally point out numbers when describing events. From this we see that God seems to ordain events with deliberate attention to the numbers involved. Genesis lays a foundation for God's treatment of numbers. Some refer to this study as Bible Numerics. While there is obviously merit in this area of study, we must take care not to place too much doctrinal importance in it. This is the same principle we use for Old Testament types. The twelve sons of Jacob commences what many see as the Bible's use of the number twelve. The sons of Jacob formed the basis for the twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve disciples of Christ formed the basis of the government of the Church. The number four seems to frequently refer to leadership in the Bible. The number three is used to make superlative statements. Therefore, 3 x 4 draws the same conclusion as the Bible's use of the number twelve- leadership/government. As you read through the Old Testament take note of the Bible's selective description of events that reinforce that God is also defining numbers with meanings. This culminates when the Bible draws on itself in the Book of Revelation, where names, numbers and events from the Old Testament are used to communicate God's language to those that have ears to hear.
33. Read Genesis 29:31; 30:1-24; 35:18 and then complete this chart (put the names in order):
Mother of Jacob's son
|Name of son||
Meaning of son's name
34. Compare Genesis 29:35 to Genesis 30:17-20. How is Genesis 29:35b an accurate statement?
Leah finished having children after the birth of Judah. The narrative wants us to ponder Judah's birth. In a way, Leah's age stopped her having the right to bearing more children. Yet in an ironic twist she is able to buy this right back by giving Rachel some of Reuben's mandrakes (30:15), thus echoing Jacob's buying of Esau's birthright also with food. Again we see the LORD's favor toward Leah when He graciously grants her two more children (Gen. 30:18, 20). After this, Rachel bears Joseph, and the background to the ongoing tension between Judah (God's choice), and Joseph is set. In all this it appears God was breaking Jacob. Jacob desperately wanted to control his circumstances without God. But God was teaching Jacob who was boss. Eventually Jacob the cheater would become Israel the "overcoming Prince of God's people" as he is taught to trust his God. After fleeing from Laban secretly (31:20), they responded by speaking to Laban.
35. What was God's message to Laban? (Gen. 31:24) 36. When Laban caught up with Jacob, how did Jacob respond? (Gen. 31:36)
The tension between Jacob and Laban was resolved when they both formed a covenant with each other (Gen. 31:43-55, refer to the section on Abraham about covenants). In a very matter-of-fact way the Bible says that angels met Jacob at he was about to return into the Promised Land. Here Scripture again reveals God's special link with certain geographical territories. Caanan was probably guarded on its borders by angels. These two angels announce to Jacob that the place he was at was called Mahanaim - "the camp of God" or Double Camp. Not only was Jacob camped there, but so was part of God's army. It was literally a double camp. In light of this it seems quite natural to interpret the incident of Genesis 32:24-32 as Jacob wrestling with an Angel of God (or probably The Angel of the LORD- known by theologians as- MELEK YAHWEH ). Shortly after this Jacob is reconciled to his estranged brother Esau (Gen. 33).
The narrative about Joseph begins here and continues to the end of Genesis. Joseph is introduced as a young boy who "dobs" (informs) on some of his older brothers while they were supposed to be minding the sheep. He was a real "daddy's boy".
37. How did Jacob respond to Joseph's report? Why? (Gen. 37:3)
38. How did Jacob show his love for Joseph? (Gen. 37:3)
The tension that was surfacing between Joseph and his brothers at this point was aggravated by his prating about the dreams he had. We assume that it was the LORD that gave him these dreams, though the text doesn't say this.
Sometimes God reveals His glorious purpose for our lives in moments of private intimacy. Perhaps God might entrust us with more if we would learn to keep His secrets as secrets. You may have heard from the LORD that He was going to use you to speak to multitudes, or that He was going to send you to some distant land to do some great work for Him. Like Mary, when she heard about her Son's destiny, some things are best treasured in our hearts (Luke 2:51). Boasting about your destiny may well alter your destiny!
39. How did Joseph's brothers react to him and how did they fool Jacob?
In the foresight of God, Joseph was sold as a slave into Egypt. With him off the scene and thus seemingly no way of his dreams being fulfilled, Satan went about to destroy God's plan for Israel. But God again was about to show His might by using this attack against Him for His ultimate glory.
40. In the process of God fulfilling Joseph's destiny, how many years did Joseph spend in prison "out of the lime-light" before God honored His dream to Joseph? How is this encouraging to us?
a) from age 25 to age 85
b) from age 17 to about age 30
c) from age 17 to age 21
JOSEPH RULES EGYPT
Time and time again God's purpose seemed to be failing. He wanted a kingdom of people to love and worship Him. Instead of getting this kind of people, He had His creation openly shame Him by disobedience. The people He created to rule the earth and be at harmony with each other, themselves, nature and God, were now devising new ways to hurt their Creator's heart. Although the special lineage was not to be continued through Joseph, God obviously had a glorious destiny for him by ensuring that the lineage would be preserved because of him. It was Joseph's passion for dreams and their God given interpretation that enabled him to comfort Pharoah with prophetic words of insight and wisdom. This resulted in Joseph being promoted to overseer of the food storage project, and virtual second-in-command of all Egypt.
41. Note Joseph's response to his terrible treatment by his brothers and jailers in Genesis 50:20. Is there a Christian parallel to this attitude? What New Testament reference could you suggest? (Start around Romans 8)
Genesis concludes with the infant nation of Israel now residing in Egypt. Soon their fortunes would change from being honored guests to being despised slaves. The backdrop is now painted for Exodus.
© 1992 - 2001 Andrew Corbett