Genesis - Introduction

Scripture Passage: 
Genesis

NOTE ABOUT BOOK TITLES

Even those who believe that the very words of scripture have been preserved, still have trouble with the titles of the books of the Bible. We are told that Acts is not really the Acts of the Apostles; that Revelation is not really The Revelation of St. John the Divine; and that Hebrews is not The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews. We may not correct the text but we still have to correct something so the titles are game.

Although I recognize that the titles were not part of the original text, I do believe that they are part of the providential process by which God has given us the Bible we now have. The titles are very ancient. I do not say that they are inspired. I call them providentially preserved. I just accept them as they are until someone really proves differently. I do the same with chapter and verse divisions and with subtitles and postscripts. I take them at face value. So far, I have not been disappointed.

Therefore, it makes sense that our study of the book of Genesis begins with its formal title. The Old Testament titles of books are not the same as they were in the Hebrew. But they are very old and they are very helpful if we will listen to their instruction. The full English title of Genesis is The First Book of Moses Called Genesis. This title shows us three things about the book.

  • It is written by Moses.
  • It is his first book (of five).
  • It is called Genesis.
  1. Written by Moses 
    1. He Wrote it by Divine Revelation 
      1. God revealed His truth directly to Moses.
      2. Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
      3. Therefore, Moses did not have to be there. It does not matter that the events of Genesis One occurred 2500 years before the time of Moses and before the first man was created.
    2. He Wrote by Divine Direction 
      1. God told Moses what to write down
      2. 2Peter 1:21 “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
      3. Therefore, Moses could say things that a man normally would not or could not say about himself. Notice four unusual things Moses spoke of concerning himself.
        1. He described his birth (Exodus 2:1-2)
        2. He noted that he was the meekest man on the earth; Numbers 12:3 “(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)” Only divine direction could make this statement possible.
        3. He described his own rebellion (Numbers 20:11-12, 24)
        4. He described his own death and burial (Deuteronomy 34:5-8); only possible by divine revelation.
  2. The Five Books of Moses 
    1. Titles
      1. Pentateuch
        1. Scholarly name
        2. Means five books 
      2. Torah
        1. Jewish name
        2. Means law 
      3. Law of Moses
        1. Biblical name (Ezra 3:2; Ezra 7:6; 1Corinthians 9:9)
        2. Biblical references to “law of Moses” – 21
          1. Old Testament: 14 times
          2. New Testament: 7 times 
    2. One of the major divisions of the Hebrew Bible (see Luke 24:44
      1. The Law of Moses
      2. The Prophets
      3. The Psalms
    3. The Five Books 
      1. Genesis
        1. The book of beginnings
        2. Genesis is related to these words: generations, generate, genes
        3. Theme: Creation (Genesis 1:1
      2. Exodus
        1. The book of departure
        2. Theme: Redemption (Exodus 6:6; Exodus 12:13) 
      3. Leviticus
        1. The book of the Levites
        2. Theme: Holiness (Leviticus 11:44-45; Leviticus 19:2; Leviticus 20:7-8
      4. Numbers
        1. The book of numbering (as in census-taking)
        2. Theme: Wanderings (Numbers 14:33
      5. Deuteronomy
        1. The book of the second law (this is the meaning of Deuteronomy)
        2. It is not a second law in the sense of a new law, but in the sense of a summary, repetition and application of the Mosaic law
        3. Theme: Obedience (Deuteronomy 7:6-11)
  3. The Book Called Genesis 
    1. A Book of Beginnings
      1. Of the universe
      2. Of life
      3. Of man
      4. Of marriage
      5. Of sin
      6. Of language
      7. Of government
      8. Of civilization
      9. Of nations
      10. Of Israel
      11. Of blood redemption
      12. Of messianic prophecy 
    2. Book Statistics 
      1. 50 Chapters
      2. 1533 verses
      3. Average length of chapter: 31 verses 
    3. Book Divisions 
      1. The beginning of the human race
        1. Central character: Adam
        2. Chapters 1-5
      2. The beginning of civil government
        1. Central character: Noah
        2. Chapters 6-10 
      3. The beginning of the Jewish nation
        1. Central Character: Abraham
        2. Chapters 11-24 
      4. The beginning of the twelve tribes
        1. Central character: Jacob (Israel)
        2. Chapters 25-36 
      5. The beginning of the Egyptian sojourn
        1. Central character: Joseph
        2. Chapters 37-50 

CONCLUSION

Genesis tells of origins. It sets the stage for the rest of the Bible. It has the root of every major doctrine in the Bible. It establishes the good guys and the bad guys. It points to blood redemption and the coming Messiah. It lays the foundation for the battle between God and Satan; between Satan and Israel. The problems and conflicts revealed in Genesis are not solved until the book of Revelation and the end of time as we know it.

QUESTIONS

  1. How many words in the full English title of Genesis?
  2. How many letters in the word Genesis?
  3. What personal quality of Moses does he record that would be contradictory apart from divine revelation and direction? (see Numbers 12:3)
  4. What does Penteteuch mean?
  5. What does Torah mean?
  6. How many times does the phrase “law of Moses” occur in the New Testament?
  7. Jesus referred to the Old Testament as having how many major divisions? (see Luke 24:44)
  8. What are some other words that are related to the word genesis?
  9. Genesis is a book of ________.
  10. What is the theme of Exodus?
  11. The name Leviticus is related to what other Bible word?
  12. What are the numberings in the book of Numbers?
  13. What does Deuteronomy mean?
  14. How many chapters are in the book of Genesis?
  15. Who are the five central characters in the book of Genesis?
David Reagan

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 21:18

The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.