Genesis: A God of Purpose, A People of Promise
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by Woodrow Kroll
Description: In this Back to the Bible study guide, renowned Bible teacher Woodrow Kroll examines God's sovereignty at work in the book of Genesis, from the first breath given to Adam to the last breath taken by Joseph. The sixteen lessons are designed for personal and small-group study.
eBook Publisher: Crossway Books, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: June 2009
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [290 KB]
Reading time: 123-172 min.
God created a beginning. The Bible tells us without argument, explanation or awkwardness that God started everything.
Read Genesis 1:1-:25
The Creation of the World
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
6And God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." 7And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
9ext1And God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so. 10God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11And God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth." And it was so. 12The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
14And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so. 16And God made the two great lights--the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night--and the stars. 17And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day (Gen. 1:31).
And God said, "Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens." 21So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." 23And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
24And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds--livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds." And it was so. 25And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26Then 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 birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." 29And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. 31And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
The Seventh Day, God Rests
2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
The Creation of Man and Woman
4These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
5When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up--for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground--7then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
15The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
18Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." 19Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22ext1And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said,
"This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."
24Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
We can only understand what being made in the image of God means by determining who God is. Our journey toward understanding begins with the creation. Psalm 8 parallels Genesis 1, and both define the image of man as being made a little lower than the heavenly beings. Both these chapters tell us that humans have a relationship with God that elevates them above the natural world. It enables us to have dominion over the natural world.
Note the following selected verses from Psalm 8: "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! ... When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? ... O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" (Ps. 8:1, 3-4, 9).
The teaching of man's dominion over nature is a revolutionary concept. Measure it against ancient religions that declared the gods were natural powers and man's life was embraced by this mysterious depth of nature. But the God of Israel is not a natural power. He transcends the realm of nature. He is, in fact, the Creator of all nature.
That's why the Bible begins with God and in some lesser sense, man. Though we're related to the animals, we stand as a representative or kind of a vice-regent of God's sovereignty, His kingdom here on earth. When you pick up your Bible, recognize that the reason the Bible begins with God is very simple. It's because the Bible is all about God.
hen we open our Bibles to the first page of Genesis, it's like pushing open a weathered and worn door that takes us into an artist's workshop. At first, we hear only echoes and feel only emptiness. We can't see a thing. We realize this is true not only because there is no light but because there is nothing to see. The Artist-Creator is the only presence. But not for long.
God first created a canvas, a place to fashion a great masterpiece--"the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). But this was no ordinary artist's canvas, stretched and white on an easel. This canvas was "without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters" (1:2). The Divine Artist brooded over the vast expanse He was about to fill. He considered before He continued to create.
He would fill His masterpiece with good, God decided; and He set about to accomplish His purpose. On the first day of creation, God spoke light into existence. Apparently, God didn't have to create darkness--that was the condition until light began.
In a way that teases our modern scientific mindset, God filled the universe with light several days before He created the "lights in the expanse of the heavens ... the two great lights--the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night--and the stars" (vv. 14, 16). Not only that, but God created a world full of vegetation that lives by photosynthesis the day before He created the sun that would provide the energy for the process! Was this an oversight on the part of the writer of Genesis or a wonderful glimpse at the Source and Center of everything?
For an answer, we can turn to the very end of God's Word, Revelation 21:23 and read, "And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb." The instant global greenhouse God created on day three didn't need the sun's light because it flourished under the light of the glory of God. Psalm 19:1 isn't kidding when it says, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork."
God must love patterns and rhythms because He built them into the structure of the universe. The spinning orbs rotate in precise patterns that in turn create night and day, ebb and tide. As we watch the days of creation end and begin ("And there was evening and there was morning" (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), we hear God declare that the results of His creative acts are "good" (1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). Follow the sequence of God's pattern, and He appears to be making preparations. God's actions lead to the creation of a place where someone will live. He describes that someone as man--created in God's own image. (See v. 27.) With the creation of human beings, God reaches the crown of His creativity. God's pattern had a purpose, and the purpose turned out to be us. " The Bible begins with a message about God and a message about us. He, as the
sole Author and Creator, made man and woman unique from the rest of His
creation because He has a very special purpose in mind for us." * * * *
There are five reasons why you are the crown of God's creation. First, if you trace the order of man's creation, you'll find that you're different. You're last but not least, for God gave you a special role as a steward to exercise dominion (responsible use) "over every living thing that moves on the earth" (v. 28).
The second crown-ship claim is based on the unique method of man's creation. All the way up to the end, God used His voice. God spoke everything into existence except men and women. He created man by shaping him from mud and breathing into him the breath of life (2:7). Then woman was taken from that creation into which God breathed the breath of life (vv. 21-22).
Reason three has to do with God's breath. God breathed Himself into humans (2:7). Anything that He breathes into is designed to speak of God to others. In fact, there's only one other thing that is described as "God-breathed"--God's Word. (See 2 Tim. 3:16.)
A fourth reason we are creation's crown is the pattern of our origin. Only humans were created in God's image (Gen. 1:26-27). The image of God imparts special meaning to us, a special harmony with God. It means we've been given a special design and intelligence--we're part of being created in God's image.
The fifth reason for our uniqueness is also in Genesis 1:26. We were created "after our likeness [the likeness of God]." God is not just repeating Himself. These are two similar but distinct terms: image and likeness. The first has to do with traits and abilities; the second with essential makeup. In other words, as God is a tri-person God, a tripartite being--God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit--we are also tri-persons composed of body, soul and spirit.
The Bible begins with a message about God and a message about us. He, as the sole Author and Creator, made man and woman unique from the rest of His creation because He has a very special purpose in mind for us. We are capable of communicating with God. We're capable of thinking like He thinks. God wants us to be like Him, and He wants us to think like Him. He wants us to tell the world about Him. And so He crowned all of His creation by creating us.
Romans 1 tells us that when we lose touch with God as Creator, we forget to be grateful. But if all that we are and have comes from God's hands, the least we can do is express our thanks. Put yourself where you can see some of the wonders of God's creation, and thank Him for everything beautiful that you see.
As you read Genesis 1:1-:25, consider these questions:
1) As you begin this study of Genesis, what are your expectations about what you will learn or review in this book?
2) What part of the creation sequence would you most liked to have seen happen?
3) What do we learn about God in these two chapters?
4) What do we learn about ourselves?
5) How does it affect you to know that "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5)?
6) To what degree do you think that Genesis 2:24 accurately describes the ideals in marriage?
7) Based on these two chapters, what are your impressions of Adam and Eve?