Genesis is a long book, full of stories, people, trials and triumphs. I’ll be skipping over a lot, so I encourage you to read through it yourself.
The purpose of “The God of” Challenge is to find more facets of His being and personality. Reading through Genesis, I noticed this about God: He is committed.
By committed, I mean He’s in it for the long run — whatever it takes to save humankind. And how do I know this? Read on!
One rule. Just one little rule. Don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The first humans, Adam and Eve, were going great until the snake suggested the fruit would make them like God. Their desire to be god was a great betrayal, implying that the true God wasn’t doing a good enough job.
Despite being wronged so, as God casts them out He gives a promise. While on that day the snake succeeded, a human would take the ultimate victory. From the very start, God had his eyes facing forward, into the future.
The Great Flood
We all know of Noah and the Ark. The word became so wicked that God decided to start again, wiping out all life with a flood. But Noah, his family and the animals were saved on a large boat. This story is curiously common throughout cultures.
You could think Noah saved humanity. But God exists out of time. So He knew that, from Noah, Abraham and the chosen nation of Israel would come. He also knew how many times Israel would turn from Him. While God knew humankind’s pattern of rebellion, He still chose to save Noah.
…Then the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth…” — Genesis 8:21
How great is God’s love, His commitment to the human race? He could’ve chosen to periodically sweep the earth, clearing out the wicked. But His heart lies not in our destruction, but our salvation.
One Man, One Nation, One World
A few generations down, God singles out a man: Abraham. This man and his wife Sarah would start God’s chosen nation, Israel, which would ultimately fulfil God’s plan to save the world.
“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.” — Genesis 12:2
Abraham is known as a great man. And to be chosen by God to start His holy nation, he must’ve been. But there were a few bumps along the road.
While Abraham left his father’s house to follow God, he failed to trust that God would provide protection (Gen 12:11–20). Twice (Gen 20:1–11). He and Sarah also doubted that God would make a nation of them, since Sarah was barren and old. They both laughed when God promised a son.
Isaac, The Promised Son
True to God’s word, Sarah gave birth to Isaac. A miracle. But then God sets the ultimate test of faith. Abraham had waited years for this heir, but God tells him to sacrifice the boy. And, knowing that God provides all things, even his own son, he takes Isaac to the alter.
And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” — Genesis 22:12
God stopped Abraham before he killed Isaac, and provides a ram to be sacrificed. And this story isn’t just a one-off. God is committed to providing for all. While He spared Abraham from having to give up his precious son, He took on that fate himself. God’s own son, Jesus, was sacrificed for the salvation of all.
God cares for the unloved, the castaways. Before Isaac, Abraham had a son, Ishmael, by Sarah’s servant Hagar. When Isaac was born, Hagar and Ishmael were cast out. God affirmed Isaac as His chosen lineage, but rescued Hagar and Ishmael from the wilderness and blessed the discarded heir.
Later in Genesis, Jacob’s wife Leah was also unloved; her husband was more attracted to Rachel. So God gave Leah four sons, while Rachel remained barren. Leah’s sons Levi and Judah actually became the two most important lineages, leading to Jesus.
From Brokenness to Salvation
God’s chosen line messes up a lot. Isaac’s sons fought over inheritance, Jacob tricking his father to receive the blessing. Jacob was later tricked himself: instead of marrying the woman of his dreams, Rachel, he got her older sister Leah. He married both, leading to another family wrought with division.
When Rachel finally gave birth to Joseph, Jacob showered so much affection on him that Joseph’s brothers were jealous. So jealous that they ganged up and sold Joseph to slave traders.
Joseph’s story a 10-chapter, inspiring journey from slavery to overseer to prisoner to prison worker and finally second-in-command over Egypt. All the way, Joseph demonstrates amazing faith in God.
“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” — Genesis 50:20
God never gave up, despite the brokenness and inability for the growing Israel to live up to His standard. In fact, He used their failures to bring humanity one step closer to salvation. Instead of abandoning the selfish, jealous brothers, God lifted Joseph up and saved them all from famine.
What Else Does Genesis Say?
The overarching message from God in Genesis is that He is committed. But there are other lessons woven into the story, two of which really stood out to me.
The Seventh Day
Most are familiar with the seven-day creation story. Even if you can’t remember what happens each day, you probably know how the final day went:
…and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. — Genesis 2:2
This verse gets me every time. I have a tendency to overexert myself, to always be busy, always working on something. Yet, if I am made in the likeness of God (Gen 1:26–27) — who, amazing creator of all things, decided rest was necessary — how arrogant am I, trying to live without it?
When I fall back into the habit of overworking, Genesis 2:2 reminds me of the different lifestyle I was created for.
God wants us to repent of sin. We’ve all heard it, usually quoted from the New Testament. Oddly there seems to be a general belief that the God of the Old Testament is all woe-and-punishment. But let’s go right back to the start. The first sin.
“…Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” — Genesis 3:11
Surely, as God, He knows the answer. So why does He ask? From the start God gave humankind the chance to repent. This is speculation, but I wonder how differently things would’ve turned out if Adam and Eve had repented instead of playing the blame-game.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel, your brother?”
He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” — Genesis 4:9
After Cain kills Abel, God gives him the chance to confess. When Cain refuses, God reveals that He knows the truth, and curses Cain. From the beginning of sin, God has called us to confess and repent.
Despite humankind’s failures, despite the long journey ahead to reach salvation, God keeps His promises and strives towards a good future. God is committed to His children — us. This is the God of Genesis.