The word “genesis” means origin or beginning. Written sometime between 1600 and 1300 B.C., most likely by Moses, Genesis is a compilation of stories that tell one larger story—much like the Bible as a whole.
The book starts with God’s creation of a good world. God creates humans in His image to be the rulers of His world, but humanity chooses to decide what is good and evil for themselves, rather than trust God, and their sin separates all humanity from a relationship with God.
For the next 47 chapters, God sets a plan in motion to restore that relationship through many unlikely men and women of faith.
The most prominent themes in Genesis are God’s faithfulness to save what sin seeks to destroy, and doing that through families or genealogies.
Often in Genesis, the writer emphasizes the importance of family lineage. Genesis traces the line of Adam, the first man, to a man named Abraham, whose descendants would become the nation of Israel. God chose to use the family of Abraham, as seen in Genesis 12, as His chosen people through whom His rescue plan would come to the entire world.
There is a distinct pattern of rescue seen in almost all of the stories of Genesis. God creates something good, but humanity’s sin ruins it, so God intervenes, redeems it and makes it new and good again.
There are four passages in Genesis that are key to understanding God’s purpose of the book.
Genesis 1:26: “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’”
Genesis 3:14-15: “So the Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’”
Genesis 12:1-3: “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’”
Genesis 50:19: “‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’”
How does this fit into God’s Story?
Genesis is the beginning of God’s story to rescue a broken world, eternally separated from Him.
Even as early as Genesis 3, God begins to lay out plans for humanity’s redemption, which will be fulfilled in the coming of the Messiah.
His plan is to make His people into a holy nation who will be a blessing to all other nations (Genesis 12:2-3) through the family of Abraham, which eventually grows into the nation of Israel. As Genesis unfolds, God reveals Himself as a faithful God who continually rescues and blesses those who believe and trust in Him, despite their continued failure.