Genesis 1-11: Its Foundational Nature, Context, and Special Relevance for Israel

Genesis 1-11 is the introduction to the rest of the Bible.  In its original context, when it was first given in the Book of the Law, Genesis 1-11 introduced the nation Israel to their place in the world.

When Moses received the Law, he substantially had the materials we know as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  Advocates of the “documentary hypothesis of the Pentateuch” notwithstanding, Scripture, including the very words of Jesus, attributes authorship of the first five books of the Bible to Moses (Matt 8:4, 19:7-8; Mark 7:10, 12:26; Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:46-47, 7:19; Acts 6:14, 13:39, 15:5; 1 Cor 9:9; 2 Cor 3:15; Heb 10:28).

The exodus of Israel from Egypt marked a huge turning point in their history (chronicled in the book of Exodus).  They began as a people because of a miraculous fulfilled promise of a son to Abraham and Sarah.  They multiplied to become a large number of people.   God rescued them from slavery in Egypt, and would bring them to the land he promised Abraham.

When God raised up Moses, his chosen prophet and leader, He gave Moses instructions to pass on to the nation.  They needed to know their history and background in order to prepare for the challenges of going in to a new land.  When one reads Genesis 1-11 with the knowledge of Moses’ authorship and the timing of Israel receiving the book, it helps one see some particular angles of relevance.

Israel was coming from Egypt and heading into Canaan.  Both places were inhabited by people with polytheistic religions with many immoral and wicked practices.  Genesis presents the creation of the world by ONE sovereign, almighty, all-wise God, who is before and who reigns over all of the things He created, and who sets the standards by which we live and the grounds on which we approach Him.

Genesis is an inspired history that, among other things:

  • presents one God, not many gods (chapter 1).
  • shows us the character of God.  He is active; omnipotent; wise; good; merciful; involved; authoritative; righteous; patient, and more.
  • presents man as the special creation of God, made in His image, to carry out His commands (1:26-28).
  • reveals God as the Creator and rightful Definer of the parameters of marriage and sexual activity (2:24-25).
  • gives man a pattern for a work week with a day of rest, recognized in the Ten Commandments (cf. chapter 1 with Exod 20:11).
  • shows the origin and effects of sin, which is disobedience to God that resulted in much human suffering and in death itself (chapter 3).
  • shows that failure to live in submission to God’s rule results in banishment (chapter 3).  It happened to Adam and Eve (placed in and then expelled from a garden they didn’t make) and it would happen to Israel if they did not keep God’s commands as they went to Canaan (Deut 28).
  • reveals the inability of man to cover his own sin and the need for a God who takes initiative, promises to defeat our enemy, promises a Savior, and who covers our sin through the death of an innocent victim (all in chapter 3, and ultimately fulfilled in Jesus).
  • shows God is pleased by faith in Him (Chapter 4).
  • shows the blessing of walking with God and calling on Him (Chapter 4-5).
  • demonstrates the propensity of mankind to forget the true God (Chapter 5).
  • reveals mankind is universally sinful and deserves universal judgment (the Flood, chapters 6-9).
  • shows Canaan was cursed (chapter 9).  Good for them to know that as they’re going into Canaan land to conquer!
  • shows nations and languages originated from God’s judgment on man’s pride at Babel (chapters 10-11).
  • shows that Abram (Abraham) had a definite historical connection that could be traced back to the first man, Adam. (Genealogies in chapter 5, 11).
  • demonstrates that Israel and all other nations and people came from the same human background, as far as Adam/Eve and Noah/his wife were concerned, but Noah’s descendants became the ancestors of more specific people groups.  Yet all these are made in God’s image.

These points were especially pertinent to the nation as they were about to conquer a culture that distorted and perverted many of these ideas.  The content of Genesis 1-11 (the history of the world up to the time of Abraham) calls into question those who claim Genesis was written far later than the days of Moses.  The truth of Genesis was truth the people needed to know and heed as they obeyed God’s commands and took the Promised Land.


Tweeting Through Genesis 1 & 2

Gen 1.1 TweetI’ve been enjoying my experiment with Twitter, tweeting some quotes from Scripture and my own meditations on the passages, sprinkled with a few insights from others.  It amazes me how much there is to think on in the Word of God, and how much there is to apply!  Here are my tweets  from @dougsmith1977 over about 5 days, from Genesis 1 & 2.


May 19

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Gen 1:1 NKJV #truth #thereisaGod #creation

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. Gen. 1:3 NKJV #truth #creation #creationexnihilo

And God said… and it was so… The pattern in Gen 1 shows the omnipotent power of God’s Word. #truth #creation #omnipotence

God created…God said…God made…God called…God saw…God blessed…Clearly, the activity of God is on display in Gen 1. #creation #God

“Praise ye the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation! O my soul, praise Him for He is thy health and salvation!” #praiseGod #creation

May 20

Days 1-3: Forming; Days 4-6: Filling. God’s power, wisdom & love on display in His orderly provision for animals/mankind. #creation #Genesis

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male & female He created them” (Gen 1:27, NKJV). #creation #truth

Days 3-6: “God saw that it was good.” After #creation of man: “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Gen 1:31).

2 key commands in Gen 1:28: multiply & manage (HT @davidpmurray ). NT spiritual parallel in Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). Both/and.

“I sing the mighty power of God that made the mountains rise, that spread the flowing seas abroad and built the lofty skies.” #praiseGod

May 21

“Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Gen 2:3 NKJV

Why 7 days? Gives man a pattern/cycle for the workweek. Cf. Exod 20:11 with Gen 1:1-2:3. #creation #7days

The Bible’s bookends-Gen 1-2: Creation of a sinless world that sin would enter. Rev 21-22: Re-creation of a world that sin will never enter.

Gen 1 & 2 are complementary, not contradictory, accounts. 1 gives chronology, 2 is a closer look at Day 6.

“I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day; the moon shines forth at His command and all the stars obey.” #praiseGod #creation

May 22

“& the Lord God formed man of the dust… & breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; & man became a living being.” Gen 2:7 NKJV

Man directly created by God; did not arise from lower life forms. Body from dust of the earth, yet God gave life by His breath. #creation

Tree of life/rivers/precious stones in Gen 2; Tree of life/river/precious stones in Rev 21-22. Restoration will be #betterthanEden one day.

Command to Adam: Don’t eat of tree of knowledge of good and evil. Consequence: in the day you eat of it you shall surely die. (Gen 2:17)

“I sing the goodness of the Lord that filled the earth w/ food; He formed he creatures with His Word & then pronounced them good.” #creation

May 23

“And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.'” Gen 2:18 NKJV #creation

Only time during creation week God says “not good” is when Adam is without Eve. Humanity is composed of male AND female, not male only.

Eve from Adam’s rib, not head 2 rule him, nor feet as doormat, but side 2B equal w/him, under his arm 2B protected, near heart 2B beloved.

The first anesthesiologist: God. The first anesthesia patient: Adam. And what a sight he beheld after waking up! (Gen 2:21-23) #creation

“The Christian is supposed to love his neighbor, & since his wife is his nearest neighbor, she should be his deepest love.” – Martin Luther

May 24

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Gen 2:24 #creation #marriage

Free Video Download: Stop Trusting Man’s Word (Genesis and Compromise)

stmwI highly recommend this video.  It’s available for free as a digital download that will play on computers and mobile devices.  Here’s the info, from Ken Ham at Answers in Genesis:

You can download this video free until Sunday night. (It’s normally $12.99 on DVD.) Share this with your friends and encourage them to download and view “Stop Trusting Man’s Word” too! Simply go to the Answers in Genesis online store and download it now. I think you’ll find a whole new level of confidence in the truth of the Bible!

The special code to use for the free download is: TRUSTING. We can’t afford to do this sort of thing too often, but right now you can download it free.