Twice a year our Bible Study groups get together for a fellowship meal and three hours of intensive study. The last time we met we delved into what the Parables told us about God’s grace. This May we will be studying grace in the book of Genesis. As I’ve been preparing for the Sunday afternoon study I’m quickly coming to the conclusion that we will be hard pressed to make our way much further than chapters three and four of Genesis.
It is amazing on how much there is to learn in the Bible. We think we understand the Bible and have a fairly good grasp of its teachings and then we embark on a bit of a specialized study and realize how much material there really is that somehow we have skipped over. It’s that way for me regarding Genesis. It is a fun book to read with all the great Bible stories and the obvious references to grace in the stories like Abraham going to sacrifice Isaac are not hard to pick out. But the book is much deeper and more subtle than we think.
Let me give you an example of what I’m getting at. In Genesis chapter three after Adam and Eve have chosen to listen to Satan their eyes are open to the understanding of good and evil and they have separated themselves from God so they hide. God comes walking in the cool of the evening and calls to them, “Where are you?” (3:9) In those three words our understanding of God is awakened and security and comfort pours over us. No matter how far we try to flee from God and how hard we try to hide from Him He always calls, “Where are you?” We may move a long ways away from God but He never abandons or separates Himself from us. He is forever calling us back to Him so that we may walk together in harmony once again.
In Chapter four we have the story of Cain and Abel and the introduction of murder into the world. Once again God calls out to humanity. He asks Cain a very simple and straight forward question, “Where is your brother Abel?” (4:9) Of course God knew what had happened, that Abel was dead murdered by his own brother Cain, but God is stating something deeper. He is reminding us that we are all our brothers keepers and have a responsibility for each other.
In these two questions, “where are you?” and “where is your brother?”, God is rebuilding our broken relationships that stem from the fall of Adam and Eve. God is inviting us back into harmony with Himself in the first question. He longs for us to come out of our hiding and enter into relationship with Him once again. In the second question God is reminding us that our relationships with our fellowman is broken and we need healing towards each other.
In these two questions God is calling us “to love God with all our hearts,” and “love our fellowman as ourselves.” (see Luke 10:27) Of course this becomes the theme of the rest of Scripture with God constantly leading us back to harmony with Him and with each other. Through Genesis to Revelation we encounter the call to come home to the Garden and walk once again with God in the cool of the evening. We see how God makes that possible through His amazing gift of Grace and the power of reconciliation that leads from the Cross through the pleadings of the Holy Spirit into the life of a repentant sinner.
In Genesis it seems we are introduced to every major theme and doctrine of Scripture. Everything becomes expanded upon and explained more fully throughout the Bible but the germ of the concepts of the plan of salvation is well laid out in this first book of the Bible.
I know I am excited to continue my studies into this book over the next few weeks leading up to our Sunday afternoon study. The love of God never ceases to thrill me and encourage me on my spiritual journey. For years I believed the third and fourth chapters of Genesis were about the fall of humanity and the rest of the Bible was the story of redemption, but now I understand that God won’t even tell us about the fall without weaving redemption through those verses. God is good!