This begins week 1 in our journey through the story of God. Genesis is a book that has so much packed in that it could take months and years to uncover it all. Scholars have written volumes of commentaries that have endless amounts of useful material. The reason I say all of this is to let you know up front that we will not even scratch the surface of creation, fall or the flood in this study. But, I hope to give you some things to think about and discuss, making it worth your time.

Read Genesis 1

Creation’s mystery and its Maker call us to know the One in whom “we live and move and have our being,” as the Apostle Paul says in the New Testament. The opening section of Genesis introduces us to the Creator. He is the main character of this book, and all of Scripture is His story. The creation account is God centered, not creature centered. Its purpose is to glorify the Creator by magnifying him through the majesty of the created order. “God” is the subject of the first sentence (1:1) and continues as the thematic subject throughout the account. “And God said” is the recurring element that gives 1:1–2:3 cohesion as he is the primary actor. For this reason, one could use as the title of this first section the affirmation of the Apostles’ Creed, “God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.”

What do we learn about God in the first few verses of Genesis?

In verse 2 we find the condition of the earth is “a wasteland and empty” (the literal meaning) which provides a blank slate by which God directs his creation story. Since the earth is lifeless, God sets about creating it inhabitable and inhabited  in six creation days, or two parallel sets of three days each. Days three and six, which conclude each pair, are highlighted by the repetition of the phrase “And God said” (vv. 9, 11, 24, 26) and the God’s assessment “and it was good” (vv. 10, 12, 25, 31). There are eight acts of creation, one on each day except days three and six, when there are two. Day three commences a productive earth that provides vegetation for both animals and humans: “Let the land produce vegetation” (v. 11); day six describes its first habitation: “Let the land produce living creatures” (v. 24). Unlike vegetation and the animals, where the “land” is God’s intermediary, the second act of creation on day six (mankind) is achieved by God directly (vv. 26–27).

UNPRODUCTIVE BECOMES                                     UNINHABITED BECOMES
PRODUCTIVE                                                                  INHABITED

Day 1 Light and Darkness                                             Day 4 Luminaries
Day 2 Sky and Waters                                                    Day 5 Fish and Fowl
Day 3 a. Land and Seas                                                  Day 6 a. Beasts
b. Vegetation                                                                     b. Human: male and female

Why do you think God chose to deal with mankind directly instead of just calling it into existence like the rest of creation? What does this say about God? What does that say about you?

The Jewish and Christian creation story differs from all others in a multitude of ways. Creation for the Hindu, Native American, Chinese religions, the pagan religions described in the Bible, the Greeks and Romans, and many others, always has an evil and a good from the very beginning among the gods or the gods children or siblings. The gods of other religions are more like the humans of the Bible, reflecting human goodness and human evil. Only the Genesis account exalts God above his creation. Only Genesis gives humankind a central place in creation, as person’s made in God’s image who are deeply loved by him. Because of this the Bibles view of creation has always been viewed as radical and stands in conflict with the modern notion of random chance and order.

Have you ever heard of or read these other creation accounts? If so, what are the greatest differences you have identified?

Read Genesis 2

About the time you think that the story of creation is over, it seems to begin again. This is not another author, but a style that was common in early Semitic writing. The writer would tell the whole story as a summary, and then go back and tell it again, but this time with more detail. The closing verses has an important exchange. Adam takes a look at Eve and names her and is joined together with her. This sets us up for what we will find in the next chapter, because Adam was supposed to take care of Eve and protect her.

Why do you think God wanted us to have this second detailed account in chapter 2?

Read Genesis 3

This chapter is one of the most important chapters of the Bible as we seek to understand humankind. This is the section called “The Fall of man.”

As the section opens, there is no sin, death or imperfection in the world. God has given only one small commandment. Don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This tree is not a magical tree that would somehow bestow great powers on the one who ate of it. It served as a tangible test of obedience.

Let’s first look at the serpent. The serpent tempts Eve in the following ways:

  • He convinced her to doubt God- “Did God really say?”
  • You can be just like God with one little bite.
  • The fruit looked good for food, but like the apple in “Snow White” her disobedience in eating it revealed an invisible poison.
  • With the tempting by the serpent, Eve decided to reject God’s direction. It made no sense to her. It was God’s way of trying to rule over her life. She was smart enough to make her own decisions.

Should Eve be blamed for the sin of mankind? She was the one the serpent was talking too. How does Adam get roped into this?

Eve has been blamed for all the sin of the world by many. Even Paul said that it was Eve who ate the fruit. However, God laid the blame on Adam. Remember when I said the closing lines of chapter 2 would be important? This is why…Adam was standing next to wife and said and did nothing. It was his job to take care of her and protect her from harm, but instead he stood by and did nothing.

How could one small mistake be the ruin of all mankind?

In what ways have you seen the curse carried out in your own life?

When Adam and Eve sinned they made a pathetic attempt to cover their shame. They discover that their own shame can only be covered by God at a high price.

Read Genesis 3:21-24 again

God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. This is the first time death had come into the world when God killed the animals that would be used to cover Adam and Eve. That covering could only come with the shedding of innocent blood. This was the basis for the sacrificial system that was used all throughout the Old Testament.

What put an end to the sacrificial system in the New Testament?

As you all know it is the Sunday school answer…Jesus. His death meant that his shed blood was necessary for the covering of your sin and mine and it all started back in Genesis.

Verse 24- God drove out the man and woman from the garden. This is both an act of judgement and of mercy. The judgement came because God cannot tolerate sin in his presence, so man had to leave. The mercy came in when God said they will most surely die…that man will not live forever under the horrible curse of sin and decay. It was both good and bad.

In what ways have you seen the grace of God in your life? 

Read Genesis 4

It would have been nice if The Fall was the end of the bad stuff…but really it was just the beginning. We turn to the next chapter and we see brother hating brother even to the point of murder. Cain and Abel are the central focus of chapter 4 as we see the sacrificial system put to use.

Why did God not “respect Cain and his offering”? Why did he respect Abel and his offering?

What sort of person was Cain? What kind of neighbor would he be?

Turn to Genesis 7,8

Time has passed and we are now roughly 1,500 years after Creation. The people are not acting any better. Sin and immorality have had their way with the people. God has had enough. God determined in his heart to destroy the entire human race…but that is not the end of the story (if it was you would not be reading this right now).

God found one man named Noah who feared him and followed all that God commanded. God told him to build an ark that would accommodate two of every unclean animal and seven of every clean animal. But God also said make room for anyone who wanted to escape judgement, but no one listened. Take a look at an artists rendition of the ark.

What brought God’s wrath upon the earth?

What does this event teach you about God’s character? About man’s character?

Why did God select Noah? How was he different from the people around him?

After the flood subsided, God set a rainbow in the clouds to be a sign of the covenant between God and the earth, that he would never send a flood again to destroy the earth. God’s promise will prove to be faithful. God shows himself to both merciful and just.

If you had been on board the ark, how would you have felt about the friends and family that you knew were outside drowning? How might this influence your view of God’s coming judgment?

After learning all of this today, in what ways has God called you to believe his word, despite the beliefs of the world around you?

Please give me some feedback on this study. Was it helpful or informative? What would you like to see that you didn’t see here. I will continue to make adjustments as we continue in this series.

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