Summary: Reflections on the general themes of Genesis
Trust and Obey
For this morning’s message, I take no specific text. Instead, I invite you to reflect on the material that we have surveyed in our brief excursion through the first book of the Bible. My desire in this series of messages has not been to explain every mystery or to defend every word of the book. I have tried to present it as the great story it is! A book like Genesis must first be understood as the whole, before it is dissected into its parts.
Ex.- What sense would one gain in dissecting a heart if he had no idea of a complete body and the function of the heart in that body? When someone appreciates the centrality of the heart as the blood pump for the body, he can then go ahead and dissect it and appreciate its chambers, valves, and complexities.
Genesis is a story, a sweeping epic, that tells us about God’s creation, God’s covenant, and His mastery of history! The book quickly carries us from the opening grand statement...
"In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the earth," to the story of the choices of Adam and Eve that severed our intimate relationship with our Father Creator, and into the story of a man who was chosen by God to reveal Himself and His ways to the world.
In the unfolding of the plot, we learn details of Abraham’s family; both rogues and saints, about their seemingly random choices that had effects none could anticipate, and that ultimately God used it all to accomplish His plan.
It’s a story of order emerging from chaos under the guiding hand of the Lord. It’s the stories of people who endured famines, battled enemies bent on their destruction, and shot themselves in the foot over and over with dumb and/or sinful choices. In the process they were kept and guided by God, though many of them did not see His hand at the time.
Joseph emerges at the end of the book, a true hero. He foreshadows the coming of the Savior, Jesus, hundreds of years in the future. His righteousness, his survival in the faces of unbelievable opposition, his graciousness to those who tormented him, and especially his consistent faith in God are high points in the book. Hopefully, his righteous obedience inspires us to the same!
Genesis does not put a nice summary at the end to explain it all. That is left to us. The question we must ask in order to glean instruction from this story is: Why did God preserve the story and what is He teaching us by telling it?
John Walton wisely observes: "Biblical narrative is often content to show us what God is like without detailing what we are to do about it." (1)
Certainly, some parts of the Bible story are more easily understood and applied than others.
The parables and teachings of Jesus are surely much easier to grasp with understanding than are the complex laws recorded in Leviticus.
The Psalms that call us to worship are easier to own than is the apocalyptic vision of the Revelation written by John.
Never the less, we learn that
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
With the revelation of the Holy Spirit and the diligence of study, we can know what God desires of us, even from an ancient story like the one that unfolds in Genesis.
As I thought and prayed this week, I asked: So what does this story ask of us?
IF we read Genesis as a declaration of God’s mastery of chaos and His development of His redemption plan, then our first response must be: Submission.
Bear in mind that it is our LIFE that is the RESPONSE.
We cheapen the concept of submission by reducing it to a moment when we raise our hand at the end of a church service while the music plays and the pastor pleads! To think that a person has totally submitted his/her life in such a gesture is the height of folly and self-deception. That is not to say that moments of decision are unimportant. It is critical that when our hearts are stirred and our minds are challenged, that we say and unequivocal "YES" to God, but the moment’s choice has lifetime ramifications!
Likewise, to think that submission is simply having a moment of insight that moves us to a higher level of spiritual awareness, that helps us to tune in to the ’other’ realm, again is to miss the mark. A spiritual buzz can be found in a lot of places. A generation ago, Dr. Timothy Leary suggested that tripping on LSD was a way to expand one’s sense of the mystical spirituality of the world, but I don’t think any of us would suggest that Leary lived a life that was submitted to God! I fear too often we Christians seek the same kind of buzz but by using safer methods of emotional stimulation and/or psychological manipulations. As long as we can ’feel the Presence of God,’ we think we are living a life approved by Him. Wrong!