Overview of Genesis, Part 1
In this episode, Pastor Harrell begins an overview of the book of Genesis.
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The Full Transcript
Welcome to The Bible for Life Podcast, where we are passionate about leading and equipping people in a growing relationship with Jesus. In today’s episode, it’s part one of Pastor Harrell overview of the Book of Genesis. And now with today’s study, here’s Pastor Ken Harrell.
I’m excited to begin this series of podcasts that are going to take us book by book through the Bible, and they’re going to be in different segments. We’re not going to do all 66 one right after another. I’m going to begin today and I’m going to take the first seven books from Genesis all the way through Judges, but I want to say this at the beginning, the purpose of this is to give us an overview of each book.
We’re not going to get into the details and the nitty gritty, but rather the purpose is so that when we come to the end, we’ve got a good grip, a good handle, on how the Bible all meshes together. You see the Bible is one book and within it, there are 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New Testament, and the purpose is to help us to be able to see an overview. So when you think of the Book of Genesis that I’m going to begin with today, you have an understanding of the Book of Genesis. You’ve got kind of an outline in your Bible. And so stick with me as we go through and begin our series of going book by book through the Bible. So let’s begin.
He was only a boy. He was raised in Henning, Tennessee. The best years of his life were spent, he says, at his grandmother’s knee. She told him stories of well, his heritage, and those stories took him back to her grandparents and on beyond to their grandparents, and as far back as even to the 1700s. Well, when this young man became an adult, he was intrigued by those stories and he wanted to document their authenticity. So he began a pursuit, a pursuit that would take him half a million miles, three continents, two oceans, and twelve and a half years later, our nation was learning a new definition for an old word, roots. Not that which grows under a bush or a tree or a plant, it meant one’s origin, one’s beginning. And Alex Haley led many of us to pursue the roots of our own lives.
I remember when I was a little boy, my dad and I traveled to our national roots. I remember him taking me to Williamsburg, Jamestown, Mount Vernon, and so many other historical places. And even today, when I stand in those places, something happens to me. It’s the roots of our nation. I also remember as a little boy seeing the house where my dad was born there in the hills of Tennessee. He was one of fourteen children, and I remember the day of when my dad pointed and said, “Son, see that house? That’s where I was born.”
KI remember him taking me to the one room schoolhouse that he attended for the first eight years of his education through the eighth grade. I remember him walking me down a hill a long ways in the back of his house to a spring, and that’s where they would have to go down and take pails and buckets and get their water and then bring it all the way up and carry that heavy water all the way up.
To me, those are… That’s nostalgia, wonderful memories. That’s my roots. I remember family reunions and the chickens and the eggs at my grandma’s place. I remember milking cows. You see the hills of Tennessee, that’s where my roots were. And what the roots were to Alex Haley and what our roots are as a nation, and what the hills of Tennessee means to me, the Book of Genesis means to the Christian. It’s the book of our roots.
You see, folks, everything starts in the Book of Genesis. Everything has its foundation. It’s the book of beginnings. Now over the centuries, critics have leveled an assault and it’s going on today in a heavy way against those first ten words in the Book of Genesis, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” And the reason for that assault is that if they can destroy those first ten words, then they destroy our faith.
You see, even the critics see the value of our roots. It’s a battleground that’s going on today. The Book of Genesis it’s like me saying to you, “Look, that’s where you begin.” Now let me talk about meaning, the name of the book itself. It may surprise you that that a Hebrew book has a Greek title, but the word genesis, the title was given to it in 250 BC by seventy scholars that put together the Septuagint that translated the Hebrew text into Greek.
You see, the Greek language, that was the language during that 400 year intertestamental period, from the end of Malakai to the beginning of the New Testament, and if they didn’t have it in Greek, then there was no Bible to read. It was interesting also to find out that the word genesis, genesis, the Greek word genesis, it’s translated in the New Testament, birth or beginning. And you see it two times, first in the Book of Matthew in the birth of Jesus, second in the Book of Luke, it’s the birth of John the Baptist. So Genesis means beginning. It’s the idea of begetting or giving birth to or starting.
Now let me take you on a quick trip through the Book of Genesis and just hang with me right here. You see in chapter two, you see the genesis, the beginning of the heaven and the earth. The Bible says in Genesis chapter two, “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth.” In chapter five, you see the beginning of man in verse number one, “This is the book of the genealogy of Adam.” Chapter six, the beginning of Noah, “This is the genealogy of Noah.”
Chapter 10 verse one, “These are the generations of the sons of Noah.” When you get later on into chapter 11 right after the Tower of Babel is destroyed, the Bible says in chapter 11 of Genesis verse 10, “This is the genealogy of Shem.” And from Shem, you get … The Jewish lineage begins in verse 27. It says, “This is the genealogy of Terah and Terah beget Abraham,” who was the beginning of the Hebrew race. You see, that’s the Genesis of the Jews. In Chapter 25, “This is the genealogy of Ishmael.” Verse 12. In verse number 19, “This is the genealogy of Isaac. Chapter 37, “These are the generations of Jacob.”
Now why in the world have I gone through all of these verses? Now listen carefully, because that’s the major phrase in the Book of Genesis. “This is the genealogy of.” Or, “These are the generations of.” Or, “These are the roots of.” You see, the Book of Genesis is the book of beginnings. Whatever begins, folks, begins right there in Genesis. In the Book of Genesis.
Now listen, you find the beginning of prophecy, the beginning of man, the beginning of time, of matter, the beginning of sin, the beginning of the plan of God, the beginning of the Jews, the beginning of the family, the beginning of the husband and wife relationship, the beginning of children, the beginning of life, of judgment, the beginning of the Messiah, and the promise of his coming. It’s all right there.
W. Graham Scroggie said the first 11 chapters of the Book of Genesis is the seed plot of the Bible. Everything flows out of the Book of Genesis into the rest of the Bible and everything else in the word of God finds its beginning right there in the Book of Genesis. Now the Book of Genesis is part of the first five books in the Bible, it’s called the Pentateuch. We call it that. Penta means five, and the word teuch means in Hebrew tool. It carries the idea of that which is useful, or the five useful books, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Jews call it the Torah or the law.
Now the author of the Book of Genesis is Moses, and he obviously received the revelation from God itself. But what I want to do quickly is I want to take you and show you the relationship of the Book of Genesis with the other four books in the Pentateuch. In the Book of Genesis, you’re going to see the record of rebellion. The Book of Exodus, it’s the record of deliverance, where the Jews are delivered miraculously by God from the bondage that they had over them … That the Egyptians had over them in Egypt.
In Leviticus, it’s communion, it’s the record of communion. The Jews come to Mount Sinai and they learn how to commune with God. In the book of Numbers, it’s a book of directions. Key word is directions. In Numbers, we’re going to see how the Lord removes the old generation and brings on the new generation and direction through the wilderness. And in Deuteronomy, it’s a book of instructions. Deuteronomy means second law, and you’re going to see in the Book of Deuteronomy, there are seven sermons in which God instructs the people.
God presents himself in Genesis as he’s sovereign. In Exodus, his omnipotence. The plagues, the parting of the Red Sea. In Leviticus, God is holy. Like Isaiah said, “He is holy, holy, holy,” which in the Jewish way of thinking means God is infinitely holy. And in the Book of Leviticus, he is approachable by blood because Leviticus 17:11 says, “The life of the flesh is in the blood.” And we’re going to see the sacrificial offerings that they had to have in approaching a holy God. In the book of Numbers, God is just, and the Book of Deuteronomy God is faithful to preserve his people through years of rebellion and bondage, bringing them into the land there and that begins the Book of Joshua. That’s how the Book of Genesis fits into the five books, the Pentateuch.
Now let me give you a general outline of the book. This will give you some handles, I think, to grab hold of. Chapters, 1 to 11, that’s the beginning of the human race, and it spans from eternity past up until you’re introduced to a man by the name of Abraham. Chapters 12 to 50, that’s the beginning of the Hebrew race, the chosen race, and God settles his attention on one people and that’s the Jews. And he traces them and really in somewhat of a careful detail through the life of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.
Now you may be listening to this podcast, going to work, on a break, you may be on a treadmill, you may be mowing the grass. I’d encourage you to listen to it again where you can get your Bible and a piece of paper and on that piece of paper, I would encourage you, and even now, just take a line, have a piece of paper on your mind and draw a line right down the middle. On the left hand side, put chapters 1 to 11, on the right hand side, put chapters 12 to 50. Chapters 1 to 11 spans a period of 2,000 years. The next 39 chapters spans a time period of 300 years. The emphasis in chapters 1 to 11 is on events. The emphasis in chapters 12 to 50 is on people.
The four major events that you see in those first 11 chapters, the creation, fall, flood, and nations. You’ve got the creation, the fall of man, the flood, the word God brings judgment on the earth, and the nations that follow. In the last 39 chapters chapters, 12 to 50, you’ve got four major people. You’ve got Abraham and his son Isaac, and one of his sons, Jacob, and one of his sons, Joseph, and you come to the end of the Book of Genesis and you finish the life of Joseph, and the last verse tells us that he died at the age of 110.
When you come to the conclusion of the first 11 chapters of Genesis, the result is confusion and scattering. You see, they had tried to create a Tower of Babel that went all the way up into heaven and they did it for their own glory, and as a result, judgment came upon them and now there are many tribes and nations and they were scattered and a lot of the languages. You see, up until then there was only one language on the earth. When you come to the end of chapter 50, the result of the last 39 chapters is that the Jews wind up in bondage, Israel is in Egypt, and they’re in need of hope and deliverance.
Now let me give you something that I think will also assist us in getting a handle, and I want to take the chapters and break them down and then let’s look at some sections there in the Book of Genesis. Again, we’re not going to cover it in detail, I just want to kind of give you a panoramic view, but I think this will help you. Creation, chapters 1 and 2. The fall of man, chapter 3. The flood, chapters 4 to 9. The nations, chapters 10 and 11. Abraham, chapters 12 to 25. Isaac, 26 to 27. Jacob, chapters 28 to 36. And Joseph, chapters 37 to 50.
Remember, in those first 11 chapters, that’s primeval history. In the last 39 chapters, that’s the patriarchal history. The first 11 chapters covers 2,000 years, the last 39 chapters covers only 300 years. The emphasis is on four major events in those first 11 chapters, and in the last 39 for significant people. You might say, “What’s the key verse in the Book of Genesis?” I think it’s chapter 3, verse 15, where the Bible says, “God said, ‘And I will put enmity between you and woman and between your seed and her seed.'” God’s saying that to Satan. And that’s the prophecy, the first prophecy in the Bible, the coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ. But it’s the seed of the woman. And remember, the key phrase through the entire Book of Genesis, you find it over 10 times, “These are the generations of…”
Now let’s look at some of the sections and the Book of Genesis begins in verse number 1, and the book begins, notice those words, “In the beginning.” In other words, in Genesis 1:1, that’s the time when there was no matter, no nothing, and we can’t comprehend it. I mean, it’s just eternity. Nothing there. Nothing but God, the God head. I mean, there is nothing. There’s no universe, no matter, just infinity past. And you see, folks, we can’t eternity.
So let me give an illustration that maybe might put it into context. There was a time when there was no matter and we just can’t comprehend it. Suppose you had a steel ball or there was a steel ball the size of the earth, 25,000 miles in circumference. Solid steel. And every one million years, a little sparrow would come and would land on that solid steel ball, and he’d be released and land on the ball and to sharpen his beak and to fly away for another one million years. Well, by the time he had warned that ball down to the size of a BB, eternity has just begun.
We can’t fathom eternity. I mean, God dwelt when there was nothing else. He was in the beginning. Actually, He never had a beginning and by his fiat word, He created matter, He created man. God created everything in six days and on the seventh day, He rested. And in verse number 31 of chapter 1, the Bible says, “Then God saw … He saw everything that He had made and it was very good.” Nothing … In other words, God says, “Nothing can be added. Everything is there that I wanted.” I mean, land matter, light, life, sea, vegetation, man and woman, it’s all there, and it’s very good.
When you get into chapter two, now you find the detail of the creative work of the sixth day where man is created. And when you get down to verse number 8 in chapter 2, the Bible says, “The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden and there He put the man whom He had formed.” I mean, what a place. We have no concept. I mean, it was amazing. You see, at that time, the earth was watered, not by rain because there was no rain until the flood, but the water came from beneath the earth. The dew came up and it was a perfect paradise and God made woman and now there’s companionship between men and woman. There’s intimacy in their sexual lives. I mean, it’s all in the state of innocence. It’s incredible. And God said, “Be fruitful, multiply, replenish, fill the earth.” It’s incredible.
But all of the wonder and all of the innocence and all of the ecstasy of the original creation is suddenly vanished when you come to chapter three, and for the first time the devil comes on the scene and he comes in the form of a serpent, not a snake. He’s not crawling on his belly, but rather he was attractive. You see, the devil used his ability to speak through animals, and unfortunately, the woman listened to the questions that he asked.
God had given them a warning in chapter 2, verse 16. The Bible says, “And the Lord God commanded the man saying of every tree of the garden you may freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat for in the day that she eat of it, you shall surely die.” In other words, God is saying you have everything you’d ever want, stay away from that. But they didn’t and Adam took and they sinned.
You say, “How could Adam do that?” Well, the question I want to give to you today is how is it that we, I mean, being so warned in scripture week after week, Sunday after Sunday, service after service, Bible study after Bible study, and the very thing that God says stay away from, we don’t and we bite it, and the result of Adam’s sin is tragic. And we’ll pick up right there, folks, on our next podcast.
This has been the Bible for Life podcast with Pastor Ken Harrell. Thanks for joining us today and make sure you like, subscribe, and encourage others to do so as well. We can’t wait to see you again on the next episode. And remember, for the issues of life, for the rest of your life, it’s The Bible for Life.