The Books of the Bible Covenant History | Page 2

invitation to Gen e si s The book of Genesis explains why and how one nation came to have a special role in God’s plans for all of humanity. Genesis first describes how God created a world of order and harmony as a cosmic temple, a place where he himself then takes up residence and rests from his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. It then relates how that order and harmony were shattered when people turned away from God. The book traces the destructive consequences of human rebellion and pride, showing how these filled the world with violence, injustice and suffering. This led God to condemn and restrain human wickedness through the judgment of the great flood. The book then narrows its focus down to one family. It describes how God promised to make a man named Abraham the ancestor of a great nation, and to use him and his descendants to bring the people of all nations back to himself. God renewed this covenant with Abraham’s son Isaac, and with Isaac’s son Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons, and one of them, Joseph, was able to save his entire extended family from dying in a famine by bringing them to Egypt, where God had already preserved and protected him through many difficulties. As the book ends, a sequel is clearly in view. Abraham’s descendants have rapidly grown into a group of large tribes, and they must somehow make their way back to the land God has promised to them. And so Genesis leads naturally into the story told in the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers of how the nation of Israel was formed. Genesis is divided into twelve parts by eleven repetitions of the phrase this is the account of a certain person, meaning “this is what came from” that person. These phrases each introduce natural divisions in the book that describe the descendants of the person named. In some sections these descendants are simply listed, but in others their exploits are traced in detail. The general pattern is that after briefly considering their siblings, Genesis focuses on the individuals in each generation that God is working through to fulfill his promises. This form of the book is appropriate to its story-telling function, as sibling rivalries drive much of the plot forward. The book of Genesis has been assembled from ancient materials