Murder. Sex. Betrayals. Deception. Intrigue. Death. Destruction. Wrath. Incest. Sexual Brokenness.
Welcome to the book of Genesis.
When I have read Genesis up close and personal, I’ve seen how dark and dreary much of the story of God’s people really is, from page one.
We tend to stay above the mess when we discuss this book. We talk about (and bicker about) the creation narrative, we discuss the Flood, the Tower of Babel, Abraham, and Joseph.
There is a place for that. Absolutely. I don’t believe young children need to be immersed in the chaos.
That being said, there is a place for slowing down and sitting in the darkness of these narratives.
Have you ever read through the book of Genesis slowly? Have you ever studied it with the help of a commentary or Bible study guide? Or is your familiarity with Genesis limited to the Sunday school stories you heard growing up?
I want to encourage you and invite you to look closely at this beginning book of the Bible.
The first thing you need to grasp when you read the book of Genesis is that this is not a history textbook. If you read the book of Genesis like a history textbook, you will be confused and asking a thousand questions about the text. The book of Genesis leads to a whole litany of questions that it doesn’t answer.
The book of Genesis is not primarily telling history in regards to facts and figures, dates and locations.
Rather the book of Genesis is inviting you to encounter God.
Genesis is inviting you the modern Christian to find yourself in the story of God’s people and to encounter the God who made everything, who gave grace in the midst of disgusting sin, who called and chose a family to be His own.
Genesis is inviting you the modern Christian to find yourself in the story of God’s people and to encounter the God who made everything, who gave grace in the midst of disgusting sin, who called and chose a family to be His own.Tweet
The book of Genesis is not to be read like a modern novel either. Genesis is full of drastically different genres. There are genealogical lists, prayers and petitions, poems, and copious amounts of stories focused on particular people in specific circumstances (see Basic Bible Commentary: Genesis).
We also have to remember that the contents of Genesis were likely passed down from generation to generation orally before they ever came to be written down.
That being said, we see in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) itself acknowledgments that Moses wrote down certain laws, as well as the existence of historical accounts (again, Genesis is not one):
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.” – Exodus 17:14
That is why the Book of the Wars of the Lord says: “. . . Zahab in Suphah and the ravines, the Arnon – Numbers 21:14
I would love to read the Book of the Wars of the Lord. That would be such an interesting history book.
We don’t have that though.
What we do have is a theology book, a family history, a story of God and His people.
The book of Genesis is all about God’s relationship with His people. See more on this below:
My blog, YouTube channel, Facebook page and podcast will all have material out of the book of Genesis in the coming months (with more personal lessons and thoughts interspersed).
I encourage you again to put away the felt board Sunday school stories and instead dive deep into the dark narrative that is the book of Genesis, the story of God and His people.
In His Name,