Scriptural Analysis- Genesis Summary

Seventeen months ago I started my study of Genesis. I’ve always had a great esteem for the Old Testament, and during the last year-and-a-half I’ve realized that Genesis in particular is one of my favorite books in all of scripture. Ever since I was a child, I have loved legends and fairy tales, life lessons wrapped in a fable, and Genesis is full of that same sort of mythic storytelling. It has larger-than-life individuals, people who discover important morals, and cautionary tales.

In the beginning we had the story of Adam and Eve, and during my study I focused on how their experiences are an archetype for common experiences that we all pass through, and thus can be interpreted on an individual level. The story of Adam and Eve shows a state of innocence, the loss of that innocence, and the need to be saved from the resultant corruption. The story of Adam and Eve might be completely literal, but even if it is, it also has great value to us as an allegory of our own selves.

Then we had the decline of civilization, the prevalence of evil, and the eventual flooding of the world. I noted at the time that this was a sort of rebirth of the world, a second beginning. Also, it sets up the theme of man being prone to losing his way and that the truly faithful are a great minority.

The rest of Genesis was then dedicated to some examples of those faithful few. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph were each an island of faith in a pagan world. Though each faced different challenges, they did share common themes and patterns. In one way or another each of them was a stranger in a strange land, was taken from their usual comforts, was thrust into the wild world where they discovered the true nature of God, and each learned to trust Him above all else. They were imperfect men, but through their trials they grew into the unique identity God had called them to, often receiving a new name to signify this. And usually with those new names came promises, some to be fulfilled immediately, but some to come in God’s own good time.

Of course, this is only a brief summary. Genesis also has a tremendous number of individual lessons scattered throughout. It covers topics such as sacrifice, admitting one’s wrongs, duty, forgiveness, redemption, inner peace, patience, and faith. It illustrates how the good prosper overall, even if not in the moment. It gives example of how to live peacefully, even among those of different beliefs. It makes clear the importance of acting in accordance with one’s conscience, no matter the danger in so doing.

In conclusion, the book of Genesis teaches us how to live in honor with God and also our fellow man. It teaches by example the principles of virtue. Later on, we will have Moses and his explicitly spelled out law, we will have Jesus Christ and his clearly delineated gospel, but here at the beginning we have no formal set of commandments. This does not mean that there isn’t a law being taught, though, there absolutely is, it’s just that the reader is expected to derive what that law is from the stories. Thus, this is an interactive sort of law-giving, one that demands interpretation and application. If we don’t understand exactly why each of these principles exists, or if we don’t know how to abide by them all, that’s alright, more detailed explanation and instruction will come later. For now, though, we have enough to start living a life of faith.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 2:4-7

4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,

5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

At this point we read of God creating man from the dust, which seems confusing given that we already heard about him creating man in the last chapter. Why are we hearing about the creation of man twice? One of the interpretations is that the first account only tells of a spiritual creation. God planned and prepared everything during Chapter 1, and then in Chapter 2 we read the actual execution of that plan. Verse 5 implies this when it speaks of “every plant and every herb” as though they already exist in some context, even before having been planted and grown.

Another interpretation is that these are two accounts of the same event. One could see Chapter 1 and the first three verses of Chapter 2 as a sort of prologue, using broad strokes to describe the events that are further detailed in what follows. In either case, by the end of Verse 7 of Chapter 2 man has become a living soul, the direct creation of God, and a central actor in the story of life.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 2:1-3

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

A great work never seems complete until we have settled back and looked long and hard at what was accomplished. A garden of crops, a finished basement, a manuscript, a college diploma…all of these need a moment for us to appreciate what has been done.
The thought occurs to me that sitting back and appreciating the creations of God is an excellent way to observe the sabbath, too. After all, the whole point of this seventh day was to cap off that work of creation, so what better way to commemorate it than by immersing oneself in it?
I also want to point out that while this seventh day was the end of God’s creation, it was only the beginning of mankind’s creations. Everything that we fashion on earth is built on the foundation of what He created first. Therefore I think it wise to view the sabbath in that light, too. We should have it be the foundation of our week, the cornerstone that everything else is built upon, not a garnish off to the side of everything else.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 1:31

31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

At several points in this creation story God has pronounced His work as being good. This is the first time it is emphasized as being “very good.” Sometimes when we look back at our creative work we are also flushed with a sense of pride at what we have accomplished, surprised that something so good was able to come out of us. Other times we feel disappointed at how inferior the end result is compared to what we had imagined, either the result of lacking necessary skills or of having rushed things. In either case, we all feel that yearning to create something significant and pronounce it “very good” as our Heavenly Father did.

And this brings us to the conclusion of Genesis: Chapter 1. As we move on we will find that all this earth’s creation was merely a backdrop for the drama that would play out on it: the story of all mankind.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 1:28-30

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

These verses describe the relationship between man and nature with some very impactful language. The Hebrew root for the word “dominion” for example means “to dominate,” “to rule over,” or “to tread under.” I have brought to mind the image of a horse being broken so that it will obey the will of its rider.

And admittedly these are some hard words for me to digest. I’ve always sought to have a more peaceful relationship with animal life. I come from a state where hunting is a regular fall-time activity, one that I have absolutely no interest in taking part of.

I’m sure part of these more mellow feelings is that the animals around me are already domesticated. When I view a kitten curled on my lap for a nap I hardly feel any need to take it down a peg or two! Our relationship with animals is far removed from that of our ancestors who lived in the wild, hunted for their food, and were ever fearful of an apex predator taking their lives!

On the other hand, I do look at a mountain and feel the need to dominate it by climbing its defiant peak. I have that urge to row across a great lake, just because it’s there. I see a stretch of land and I want to break its soil and sow it with crops of my own. That yearning to surmount nature still exists, though we should keep that passion within reason.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 1:25-27

25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

One of the greatest assaults against all mankind is the academic classification of us as a species of animal. This notion that we are essentially the same as any other type of creature, just evolved differently, is one of the most damaging ideas I can think of. It is debasing. It denies our sacred and divine nature. It willfully ignores the self-evident fact that there is no other creature like people.

Yes, we are creations and animals are creations, but it is readily apparent to anyone that makes the most basic of observations that people are of a different order from animals, just as animals are of a different order from plants, and just as plants are of a different order from rocks and minerals. Even if we discard any religious argument we still have to tie ourselves in knots to deny what is self-evident: that humanity and animals do not fit in the same box.

But why we are different is only made clear when we embrace the biblical record. That indescribable quality that separates man from beast is detailed in verse 27, it is that man is created in God’s own image, male and female. This same claim is not made of any other creation, only of mankind, and it is this fact that lays beneath every elevated aspect humanity possesses.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 1:20-22, 24

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

There is an undeniable joyousness to God’s creation. “Bring forth abundantly,” “fowl that may fly above the earth,” “be fruitful, and multiply”…in these I hear a command to spread out, to explore, to uncover the beauty that God has hidden in nature.

Notice in these verses how God created the sea and populated it with vibrant life, the skies and populated it with vibrant life, the earth and populated it with vibrant life. He wanted every nook and cranny of His creation to be appreciated and adorned with life, and He instructed that life to propagate and fill the whole space around it.

After the fall animal life would become defined by a vicious struggle of life-and-death, a survival that was based on the termination of others. But as originally designed, life was meant to be a peaceful, joyful flourish.

Who Am I?- 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 18-20

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
For the body is not one member, but many.
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
And if they were all one member, where were the body?
But now are they many members, yet but one body.


For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ
For the body is not one member, but many.
Yesterday we examined how we are all creations of God. Our identity begins with what He made it to be. I believe part of the reason why our society resists this notion of being another’s creation, though, is because they fear that it takes away their individuality. There seems to be a sense that we are defined by our flaws, and smoothing them out would just leave us as generic good person #2167. Or in other words, if God is my creator me, and He made me to be like Christ, then following Him will just turn me into a carbon copy of Jesus, no longer myself.
But this is a misconception, a lie of the adversary, one that breaks down as soon as you take an honest look at genuinely good people and recognize how distinct they still are. Even if you are a creation of God, you can still be a unique creation. As Paul attests, the word “body” is singular, but it is composed of “members” which are plural and distinct.

But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
Saying that we seek unity in Christ does not mean that we all become Jesus. It means uniting with one another under a common banner, but still retaining and exercising our individuality. Yes God made you and set you, but He made you and set you to be and do something that only you could be and do. The reason that He even made you was because among all His other children He still didn’t have a you, and He very much needed a you. There is a you-sized hole in the body of the Christ that not I, not your neighbor, and not even your identical twin is shaped rightly to fill. God was the one that first baked your individuality into your bones and He isn’t about to take that way. The loss of your sins and misconceptions, will not be the loss of yourself.
In short, what the gospel intends for us is a unified diversity. If that sounds like an oxymoron, so be it. God loves to work in the impossible!

Who Am I?- Psalm 139:13-14 (ESV), Jeremiah 1:5

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.


For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee
The question of who we are must eventually come to terms with the truths proclaimed in these verses: that we are creations of God. I say “come to terms” because this notion of being someone else’s creation rubs against the grain of our modern culture. Each of us crave to be a self-made man or woman, one who doesn’t owe anything to anyone, someone who no one else has any claim on. To suggest that that we might be a creation offends a part of us.
But…it also makes another part of us very excited. For we also speak longingly of finding somewhere where we feel we belong, a calling that we were meant to fill, a situation that we were uniquely fitted for. But how do we belong, or are meant to fill, or are uniquely fitted, unless we were designed–created–by another to be so?
There is no shame in saying that we are another’s creation, but there is a humility in it.

Worthy Vessels- Isaiah 45:9 (NIV), Jacob 4:9-10

Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?

For behold, by the power of his word man came upon the face of the earth, which earth was created by the power of his word. Wherefore, if God being able to speak and the world was, and to speak and man was created, O then, why not able to command the earth, or the workmanship of his hands upon the face of it, according to his will and pleasure?
Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.


Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?
It is against our nature to be commanded by another. We seek to be independent, to do all things according to our own choosing. This is inherently a good thing, as God expects us to take the initiative for many things in our lives.
Yet at times this attitude can be taken into our relationship with Him, which is never appropriate. It is well for us to have and act upon our own ideas, but when God says He has another path in mind, we must remember who is still the master here.

If God being able speak and man was created, then why not able to command the workmanship of his hands?
Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand.

Because in the end, we already are His vessels, and no matter of gaining power and capability will ever change that fact. The greatest men and women that ever lived are still raw clay that He breathed life into. Thus we do not need to become His creations, we only need to become His obedient creations. God has given us our independence, but if we are living right, we are using it to submit back to Him.