In a crazy world where so many things pull at our attention, it’s important to make space to rest in God’s presence. This study is all about entering into His presence through His Word. Let’s journey together through the book of Genesis and see what we discover about God, His character, and how this book of history translates into present day. Come along for the journey!
To kick off this series, I’m throwing out a challenge. The challenge is to read one chapter a day in Scripture. Sounds pretty easy, right? But I don’t want us to blow through this. If you’re like me, sometimes daily Scripture reading can seem like one more thing on our plates. We treat it more like a task than an essential part of our relationship with Jesus.
The Bible is God’s Word, His story and His interactions with His people. It isn’t something to passively read, but something to enter in to, something to soak in.
As I’ve opened my Bible this week, I’ve been telling myself not to rush. I don’t have to get through a certain amount of text; I just want to really interact with what I’m reading and enter in with a listening heart. I want to see and know God here. So I got out my fancy, colorful, no-bleed pens and went to town. Extended thoughts were written out in my journal, and the culmination of all of my thinking and sitting on these chapters has become this week’s blog post.
Feel free to pause here and read Genesis 1-4 on your own first! When you’re ready, let’s dive in!
I absolutely love how this book opens: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (emphasis mine).
There’s something about that statement about God’s Spirit hovering over this void nothingness that gives me such hope and anticipation. I read those words and I know something amazing is about to happen.
And it does!
In the course of six days God creates everything from nothing. A void darkness becomes an incredible universe. And all God did was speak. He creates light and water and sky, the stars and moon and sun. He creates plants and trees and flowers. He makes birds and fish and land creatures. And everything He speaks into existence He declares to be good.
Then God takes creation to the next level. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (verse 26). God creates humanity, the crowning glory of creation, and He blesses them, telling them to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it. Every plant is theirs to eat, every creature is theirs to care for.
“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (verse 31).
Mmmm….Makes you just want to rest here for a while, doesn’t it? So good!
I grew up hearing all about creation and Adam and Eve, and The Fall that sometimes it just feels like old hat. But something struck me this time through that I hadn’t thought of before.
With the creation of humanity, God also creates freewill.
Among the various fruit-bearing trees in the garden, two trees are mentioned by name: The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life. Both of them are in the garden. But instructions are given about one of them: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (verse 16-17).
They could eat of every tree except the Tree of Knowledge. Every tree including the Tree of Life…
In the book of Deuteronomy, Israel is preparing to enter into the promised land and receives instructions about how to live there. As he’s finishing up, Moses shares this:
“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.”
The same choice is given to Adam and Eve. Eat of the Tree of Life and the other fruits of the garden and choose life. Or eat of the Tree of Knowledge and choose death.
God gives them the choice. Even though He made them–made us–He will not force relationship with Him. He wants to be chosen, just like we do.
Forced relationship isn’t true relationship.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made” (verse1).
Can you feel the winds changing a bit? We’ve shifted from God and man to a crafty serpent. I don’t have a good feeling about this….
He slithers up next to Eve, and begins to whisper deceit. “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
He pokes at questions and brings up doubts about her hearing and God’s character. Perhaps she had misunderstood God’s words about that particular tree. Had she considered the possibility that God was holding out on her?
Eve holds her own, even adding an addendum of her own (or perhaps it came from her husband) that she wasn’t to eat of the tree or even touch it because God said they would die.
“You will not surely die,” the serpent hissed his reply. “For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (verse 4-5).
It’s funny how the serpent seems to honor freewill here. He cannot make Eve and Adam eat the fruit. He knows they have a choice. But it’s interesting that he does use some truth. They will become like God by knowing good and evil. But what he doesn’t share is the cost of that knowledge: the loss of innocence and, more importantly, the loss of God’s presence.
I wonder how much time passed between the conversation with the snake and Eve actually eating the fruit. Did the conversation happen at the tree, and she ate right then? Or did she have a few days or weeks to mull over the serpent’s words, discuss them with her husband, and then go find that forbidden tree? However long, she and Adam both chose to eat. And in an instant, the whole world changed. Their eyes were opened, they felt shame, and the first thing they did was hide themselves.
Genesis 3:8 has to be one of the saddest verses in Scripture: “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord…”
They hid from the One who had created them, who had a habit of communing with them and walking with them.
And if that is one of the saddest, the next verse gives such hope in the midst of horrible shame: “But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?'”
Despite what they had done, He was calling out to them, giving them an opportunity enter into conversation, to confess. In the midst of sin, God was reaching out. Even in the midst of consequences, you reach out your loving hand and send Adam and Eve out of the garden. The Tree of Life is not accessible to them anymore, lest they take and eat and live in this fallen state forever.
Even what seems like punishment is protection.
I think this chapter shook me the most in my reading this week.
Things have changed since Adam and Eve left the garden. They have two sons now, Cain and Abel.
As I read, I couldn’t help but wonder what the dynamic was between humanity and God at this point. We don’t see how Adam and Eve relate to God, but we do see how their children relate to Him. One brings an offering of produce, another meat. One comes with a heart of worship, while the other comes out of a sense of obligation. Abel seemed to have a heart for God, yet his brother Cain held jealousy in his heart toward Abel.
And it’s the one who feels obligated and jealous to whom God speaks. God gives Cain a warning saying, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it” (verse 6-7).
Cain, like his parents, is faced with a choice. Will he trust God? Will he choose life? Or will he go the way of sin and choose death?
When he chooses death and murders his brother, God seeks him out again. He tells Cain of the curse he’s brought upon himself and the land he works. Cain will move about as a wanderer now. And in response, Cain whines that his punishment is too great. He blames God for what has happened to him. He fears that others will come and kill him.
“Not so!” God responds. “If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him seven-fold” (verse 15).
Despite what Cain had done in ignoring God and killing his brother, God is still reaching out with such grace and goodness. I’ve always paid so much attention to the brothers, that I never noticed God’s character being revealed in the midst of it all. He is a good God! And I truly believe that He still loved Cain, despite Cain’s choices.
In fact, if I could wrap up these four chapters in one statement, it would be that God is good and faithful. Through Creation and The Fall and Cain’s actions, God is good. He continues to show His love to His people.
So how’s that for week one of our study in Genesis? I realize that this is a lot, and not every week will be like this. Some weeks, I may just hit on a chapter or a particular point that stuck out to me, but this week it was just so rich. I hope it has wet your appetite for this book, and I hope you take the challenge to not only read my insights, but also make time to let God speak to you through this book.
Remember, don’t rush. Sit down and really think about what you’re reading. Interact with it. Write out questions and thoughts, observations and connects to the text. Take notes in a journal. Take what you read and create something out of it. Let what you read be more than just words, but let it become a conversation. And if you don’t get through an entire chapter each day, that’s fine. The goal isn’t the amount of text you read, but actually sitting down and soaking it in.
Live in His love!