Someone has accurately called Genesis “the seed-plot of the Bible.” The seeds of many plants are sown first in a bed that is prepared for them. When they have grown to a sufficient size and age, they are transferred to the plot of ground in which they are to grow, mature, and bear fruit. This process well illustrates the Book of Genesis. The seed-thought for every fundamental and basic doctrine of the Scriptures was first sown in it and there grew until it was transplanted, figuratively speaking, to some other portion of the Word of God, given later. This statement being true, there is no book more important to the understanding of the Scriptures than this Book of Beginnings.
Logically the biblical account assumes the existence, the power, and the wisdom of God. The finite mind cannot grasp the infinite. There is sufficient evidence throughout the universe to convince the candid mind that there is a God (cf., Psalm 19:1, Romans 1:20).
All primitive nations have their cosmogonies which are perversions of the original biblical account of the creation of the universe and the beginning of things in the world. This fact becomes evident when one realizes that these pagan accounts, when stripped of their heathen ideas and the immorality of their gods, give, in general, the same story as that which is contained in Genesis. The biblical account, without question, is the original record. It was written by inspired men of God who were eye-witnesses of the things they recorded. They did not, therefore, have to depend upon oral traditions; but, being eye-witnesses and being inspired absolutely and completely by the Spirit of God, they gave us an account of that which they knew personally from experience. There is but one exception to this general statement regarding the authors of the first thirty-six chapters of Genesis. God gave directly to Adam the account of the creation which is found in Genesis 1:1-2:3. (For a full and complete investigation of the subject, “Who Wrote Genesis?” see chapter 1 of the volume, Messiah: His First Coming Scheduled.) As to the account of the beginnings of the universe, of life, and of all things upon this earth, let me assert that the biblical record is, figuratively speaking, on the very highest plane. This position is clearly seen from the fact that it is devoid of all heathen ideas, confusion, and immorality. The basic principles of existence are clearly set forth in language intelligible to all.
According to this divine record, the Almighty called the universe into existence by a direct act of creation. As to what means He employed or how long it took Him to create it, the Bible is silent. It simply affirms that God created the heavens and the earth in the beginning. There was a time when God-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — alone existed. He put forth the act expressed by the word create, and there resulted the material universe.
According to Genesis 1:2, the earth was wrecked, becoming a “desolation and a waste.” As to who or what caused this catastrophe, the Scriptures are silent. Satan, however, being the character that he is, immediately falls under suspicion. This opinion is strengthened by certain hints found here and there in the Scriptures which tell of his rebellion.
After the earth was wrecked, there were six days of reconstruction during which God to a certain extent repaired the damage wrought and made the earth ready for man whom He purposed to create and whom He brought forth on the sixth day.
Man did not evolve from some lower form of life but was created by the direct act of Almighty God. There is a wide chasm existing between the highest form of anthropoid ape, for instance, and the least developed man. Efforts to show a connection between the animal kingdom and the human family have always resulted in complete failure.
We have also in this marvelous book the record of the beginning of sin, which is one of the fundamental facts of life. No one can understand himself or the actual happenings of daily life if he does not have a clear idea of the sin question. “Sin in the flesh” produces sins in the lives of men. Thus we see in the fourth chapter of Genesis, which narrates the beginning of the two branches of the human family, the record of the first out-cropping of sin in Cain's murdering Abel, his brother. The sinful nature of man has exacted a heavy toll in the lives of the race. The descendants of Cain sponsored a godless civilization. From the very beginning, however, they developed the fundamentals of industrial activity and the finer arts of music and poetry. But God, it seems, was left out of consideration altogether.
On the other hand, Seth and his descendants, the godly branch of the human family, put God first and laid the emphasis upon the spiritual side of life. Progress in the arts and the sciences apart from God is a curse. The leaven of the evil civilization in the line of Cain by the time of Noah, the tenth from Adam, so permeated the entire world that God was forced to wipe man from the face of the globe and to begin anew with Noah and his sons. Thus the first period of 1656 years of human life ended in disaster. When man, however, was expelled from the Garden of Eden God gave promise in His statement to the serpent that He would raise up a Redeemer for man, who would deliver him from the curse. Genesis 3:15, which contains this promise, is the text of the Bible, which reads as follows: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
Genesis 12:1-3 constitutes the cornerstone of all prophecy. This passage records the sevenfold covenant into which God entered with Abraham when he went forth out of Haran to go into the land of Canaan. According to Stephen's statement (Acts 7), God called Abram to leave his original home in Ur of the Chaldees for a place which He would show him. He went forth with his father and family into Haran and stopped there, remaining until his father died. Then God commanded him to go down into Canaan, which thing he did. At that time Abram was seventy-five years of age. The Lord entered into a sevenfold covenant with him, promising to be his God, to bless him and all who would bless him and his seed, and to curse those who would curse them. Furthermore, God announced that it was to be through him and his seed that all families of the earth are to be blessed. When this passage is accepted at its face value, one sees that the Lord has never fulfilled this promise in the proportions set forth. Since it has never been fully realized, we may conclude that He will yet make good every, item pledged. The Lord always fulfills prophecy as written and not as interpreted by the speculation of men.
Abraham is the principal actor on-the stage as set forth in Genesis 11:27-25:20. He was a man of faith who followed the Lord implicitly, although at times he did make mistakes. God used him in a marvelous way because of his yielded life and his trustful attitude.
When Abraham and Sarah were past the age of parenthood, the Lord performed a biological miracle upon their bodies and made possible the birth of Isaac. Isaiah, in referring to this historical event, says that the Lord “created” Jacob (Isa. 43:1) This was a real act of creation—as much as that of bringing the material universe into existence, because God alone can perform such an act.
The Lord created Isaac and his descendants to be the channel through whom He will bless the world. Though He has never been able, because of her unyielded, stubborn heart (Deuteronomy 29:4), to use Israel as is contemplated in these prophecies, He will yet do so when she submits to Him.
Jacob is the leading character in chapters 25:20-37:1. The Lord passed by Esau, who was of a light, flippant disposition, and chose Jacob, who was of a serious turn of mind, and who had a deep appreciation for spiritual and eternal things. The Lord did not approve of the cunning, conniving acts of Jacob, nor of the unprincipled things which he did, but He did appreciate his putting first things first and laying the emphasis upon spiritual realities instead of upon temporal things.
In the last fourteen chapters of Genesis, Joseph is the outstanding character. He was a prince among men. No adverse criticism can be brought against this man of God who held himself aloof from the world, serving his God. The Lord is looking today for just such men as Joseph in order to work in and through them. His life-story has been a blessing and a benediction to countless myriads of people. In his life, possibly as in that of few men, the invisible, guiding, providential hand of the Lord can be discerned most clearly. Truly the principle involved in Romans 8:28 was carried out in the highest degree in his case.
Genesis gives us the history of 2369 years. As indicated on the chart above, the time covered was that of six generations, for there was an overlapping of the life of Adam with that of Methuselah of 247 years; Methuselah overlapped with Shem ninety-eight years; Shem and Abraham were contemporaries for 150 years; Abraham and Isaac, father and son, overlapped in their lives for seventy-five years; Joseph overlapped with Isaac nineteen years. Hence, we could say correctly that Genesis is an account of six generations. One generation could pass on to the next whatever information it had acquired, both from the former generation and from personal experience and observation; but thanks be to God, we do not have to depend upon the traditions of men passed on from one generation to the next. The Spirit of God has given the record of those far-off beginnings, and they have been preserved to us in His holy Word.