Any discussion about beginnings wouldn’t be complete without mentioning God’s creative endeavors as outlined in the first book of the Holy Bible.
Everyone thinks about creation as the ultimate beginning. Sure, none of the other beginnings could happen without creation, but the list of beginnings in 50 chapters of Genesis stretch far beyond the creation of the world and all its trappings.
Here’s a list of things that have their root in the book of Genesis:
The World and corresponding universe
In Genesis chapters one and two, God’s amazing demonstration of ingenuity finds form as written words.
“God created the haven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) introduces it all. The rest of chapter one takes us through each of the six days of creation. Chapter two expounds on specific parts of the creative process: constructing the garden and shaping man from the soil.
Life began on the newly created earth on day three with plants and trees. On the fifth day he made the birds and fish. The sixth day he crowned creation with animals – and mankind.
“Man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7).
I picture Jesus standing in the Garden of Eden and choosing dirt the exact shade of honeyed-gold he wanted. His hands skillfully construct a human form. He walks around it, running his fingernails in all the right spots to groove and shape, lend character to this masterpiece.
Then he breathes into the nostrils of his clay sculpture. The eyes open, staring at him with awe and adoration.
It’s hard to imagine a world unscarred by death. Where we live, death happens as often as birth. In fact, mention of deaths takes priority over birth announcements.
All that began in Genesis.
Death was the penalty for eating of a specific tree. “Of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17).
It’s hard to imagine that the newly formed Adam understood what death was. Life teemed all around him. It was all vitality, color and energy. Perhaps that’s the reason why the warning from the Lord didn’t toll like a bell of doom in his ears.
He had no context.
But eventually it became his reality – and imagining the world without death became the heritage he passed to all of us.
The “fall” is one of the most familiar stories in all the Bible. No need to recount it here. When mankind sinned – by eating the fruit – they reaped the penalty of death.
But even worse, their very natures changed. Instead of seeing each other’s nakedness as natural and normal, it became a source of lustful desires.
So they tried to cover it up. And so we do the same today – always trying to hide our shame with an apron of our own design.
But it wasn’t enough then – and it won’t suffice now.
A promised Redeemer
So God promised redemption. It’s such a beautiful thing.
Man died. Life passed from his grasp. God didn’t want it to be that way forever, so He had a plan to buy it back for Adam and Eve and the generations of their children.
In Genesis 3:15, God enmeshes this promise with his curse on the serpent. It wasn’t that creature he spoke to, but the eternal entity which used it to spread his lies.
“Satan,” he said, “there’s enmity between you and the seed of the woman – forever. One day, the child born of a woman will stomp on your head. Oh, you’ll bruise his foot when it happens, but that day will seal your doom” (Genesis 3:15 – Shar-a-phrased).
God didn’t want Adam and Eve to walk through life feeling the shame inspired by their nakedness. So he provided clothes for them – at the cost of an innocent life.
“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21).
Wasn’t there any cotton in the garden? What about linen? Why didn’t God use plants to make the clothing for Adam and Eve?
Because He was reminding them of the penalty of their choice – death. I imagine them standing there and watching as God slew the animals and instantly cured their skins so they were fit coverings.
Tears must have run down their cheeks. After all, Adam had named every living thing. It would have been his pet that forfeited its life.
Marriage and family have their foundations in God – not the state and not the church. In Genesis chapter four, we learn that Adam and Eve had two sons. Surely they had other children, too, hundreds.
After all, God’s specific instructions when he created them was “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
Six verses after the birth of these sons, Moses records the first family troubles.
Cain was so angry with his brother that he killed him. In context, it sounds like Cain was angry at Abel because of the offerings.
I think it went deeper. Cain was angry because God was pleased with Abel and displeased with him. We don’t know what happened when Cain killed his brother. Maybe Abel puffed out his chest and acted proud. Or maybe he chided Cain.
We do know that Cain killed him and because of that he had to leave his family. The very first family…became a dysfunctional family. Is there any wonder we have problems with this in our society?
Genealogy and history
Chapter five is one of those chapters many people skip over when they’re reading the Bible. After all it just lists a guy and his firstborn son and how long he lived.
Genealogy and history are important teachers for humanity. A close look at this list reveals that the man whose grandson would build the ark spoke with Adam. He heard the story of the Garden of Eden and the murder of Abel straight from the lips of an eye witness.
Outstanding relationships with God
“Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord” Genesis 4:26
And so began the free will of mankind to push him close to God – or draw him further away from the Creator.
In all the generations mentioned, only Enoch, son of Jared and father of Methuselah, merited special mention in this thirty-two verse list of begetting.
He walked with God (Genesis 5:22) and it earned him two things: a shorter life on Earth and no death. Consider these rewards for a few minutes. Would you feel rewarded if you were Enoch?
In chapter six, things get pretty ugly on Earth. So terrible, in fact, that God changes his mind about populating the planet with humans. “And it repented the Lord that he had made man…and grieved him at his heart” (Genesis 6:6).
Instead of shutting the whole thing down, though, God looked around and he found one man, his walking partner Enoch’s great-grandson.
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8).
God had decided to destroy all the men on earth, but to Noah He extended the opportunity to live. Among crowds of people whose “every imagination…was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5), Noah stood out because he was a just man who walked with God.
Some people love rain. Personally, I’m not a big fan of it. The thought of a mist coming up to water the ground every night sounds like Paradise.
That could be because that’s how it actually was in Paradise (Genesis 2:6).
How can rain be a good thing when God created it as a means of judging men? Yes, it rained for nearly six weeks straight. Earth was flooded and only Noah, his family, the animals on the ark and the sea creatures survived.
Why are there so many different languages in the world?
It wasn’t always that way. Which makes sense if you know that every living person came from Adam – and Noah. Genesis 11:1 spells this out.
Men tried to make a name for themselves (sound familiar?). God decided the best way to stifle this pride issue was to confuse their language. (Genesis 11:1-9)
An everlasting covenant
Abraham was God’s friend. It’s an interesting distinction given to him above all the other faithful saints in the Bible.
God made an agreement with Abraham. Genesis 17:1-14 explains it thoroughly. This covenant will never be breached by God.
Its existence has led to centuries of turmoil in the Middle East. These are issues that won’t be resolved until Jesus Christ steps onto the Earth and settles the dispute. You can be sure that Abraham’s descendent – legitimate heirs through his wife Sarah and their son Isaac – will enjoy the covenant forever.
The nation of Israel
Genesis 35:10 records the changing of Abraham’s grandson’s name. He was the younger of twin boys. His name was Jacob – and he lived up to it. Until the Lord changed it to Israel.
Israel was a person. His twelve sons became patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel. Thus was the nation of Israel founded by God.
This is hardly an exhaustive list. Does something else spring immediately to mind? If so, I welcome you to share it.
Up next – Death: The Beginning of Life