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  • Pastor Jason

What to do with Genesis?

For the more scientifically-minded, Genesis is notorious for creating a lot of problems. Infamously, many go to Genesis to debate evolution, the age of the earth, historical accuracy and reliability of the Bible, and the list goes on.

My personal feeling is that these sorts of questions, while they may have a place and some value for believers to consider and think about, are ultimately the wrong questions and wrong motivation when it comes to reading Genesis for devotional and theological purposes.

Here are a few thoughts that may be helpful as you're reading Genesis (currently or in the future)...

  • For any of the "history books" in the Bible, it's important to remember what the purpose was for writing theses stories down to begin with; Genesis, and similar Biblical books, were never intended to be a strict, scientific account of history. I will often describe these books as a theological interpretation of real historical events. Modern expectations of historical studies are that events are captured, documented, and re-told as factually accurate as possible with virtually no bias or preference whatsoever. In other words, what we are looking for in history today is a complete absence of any significant interpretation of the meaning of the events that took place. But one of the major goals of the Bible is to reveal and make known what God has been doing since the beginning of time and what we can learn and know about God through those events. The Bible is all about interpretation and the meaning of the events! And when interpretation becomes the primary goal, factual accuracy, in some way, takes a back seat to truth. The Bible is most interested in connecting the dots over the long-term and helping us better see and understand who God is.

  • Genesis is a book of beginnings. To borrow a term that has become increasingly common thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Genesis is Israel's - and by extension all God's people, people of faith - origin story. Genesis and the following five books (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua) shows where and how God introduces himself to his people and lays the foundation for how we interact and relate to him.

  • In relation to the story of Job, Genesis begins to flesh out the answer to question and issue at the heart of Job: What is being done about the reality of suffering and evil in our world? Genesis shows why suffering/evil/sin exists, and also offers the very first reference to Jesus (Genesis 3:15) in recorded history. We then get to see God actively begin his redemptive work through his chosen people, the descendants of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-9).

  • The timeline of events in Genesis is extraordinarily condensed, covering (very conservatively) at least 1,000 years of human history. Again, it's the big picture that the author of Genesis was concerned with, not every tiny little detail of everything that has ever happened between Adam & Eve and Joseph.

  • As you read Genesis, stay focused on what is being revealed about the relationship between God and people of faith. At the end of the day, our relationship with God is the #1 thing that determines the shape of our life right now, and our future hope. All the laws, rules, expectations - everything! - is ultimately built upon relationship. Stay locked on to that. If you find yourself getting lost in the text, refocus by asking yourself, "What does this tell me about my relationship with God, or the kind of relationship God is calling me into with him?"

Genesis is a big book. You won't grasp it all on a single read-through. But don't worry, want needs to stick now, will. And the next time you read it, you'll remember quite a bit more than you realized and new insights will emerge and layer on top of previous ones. Have fun!

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