Introduction
Dr. Joe Temple

Genesis Introduction and Outline Divisions

Our first lesson on the book of Genesis will consist of some introductory facts on the book which I think will be beneficial for us to have. I am sure that some of you, perhaps all of you, have studied the book of Genesis at some time or other. Some of these basic facts may not be new to you, but it is necessary for us to present them for the benefit of those who do not have them. All of us can refresh our minds profitably along this line, I think.

The Inspiration of Genesis

We want to say by way of introduction that we are not going to spend our time discussing the book of Genesis from a higher criticism standpoint. You are well aware, I am sure, that the book of Genesis has been the tramping grounds of the so-called “higher critics” ever since anyone first began to doubt the authenticity of the Word of God. We will not discuss it from that standpoint, save to say that we believe the book of Genesis is the inspired Word of God. We believe this book because we believe what is recorded in II Timothy 3:16:

II Timothy 3:

16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

We also believe the truth that is given to us in II Peter, chapter 1, verse 20:

II Peter 1:

20…no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

They wrote what the Holy Spirit dictated to them to write. If we believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, then it is quite beside the point that some of the so-called “high intelligence” have come along and doubted the authenticity of the Word.

Moses As the Author

We would like to say that we are of the school of thought that believes that Moses is the author of the book of Genesis. If you have read very much about the book, you know that some people, even conservative people, are in doubt as to who is the author of the book.

We believe that Moses is the author for two reasons. First, the Jews believed it. It was the accepted teaching of the Rabbis that Genesis was written by Moses. It was verified, and to me this is the conclusive argument, by the Lord Jesus Christ while He was on the earth.

There are perhaps sixty quotations from the book of Genesis in the New Testament. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself used fifteen concerning the inspiration of the book and Moses as the author.

Christ's Reference

You might like to turn to just one of those as an illustration of what we are talking about, so that when you run across some of the others, you will recognize them. Turn to chapter 24 of the Gospel of Luke, and notice the very last paragraph. The Lord Jesus Christ in one of His resurrection appearances told His disciples:

Luke 24:

44…These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

The Hebrews divided their Bible, which for the most part is our Old Testament, into three divisions which are suggested here: the law, the prophets, and the songs. The books of the law were the first five books of the Bible. You will notice that the Lord Jesus Christ refers to them with the words, “…written in the law of Moses,…” which would indicate that Moses was the author of the book of Genesis, and that the Lord Jesus Christ accepted him as such.

When Moses Wrote Genesis

Since Moses is the author of the book of Genesis, we are quite interested to know exactly when he began to write the book. You are aware that what is recorded in the book of Genesis happened long, long before the day of Moses. I would like to suggest a thought that I accept. It is that Moses sat down to write the book of Genesis after his experience at the burning bush. There is reason to think that. It will become clear if you will turn to the book of Exodus, chapter 3, verse 14:

Exodus 3:

14And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

God's Name

This sounds strange to us because it is not everyday language. God is saying here, “My name is I AM.” That sounds like a strange name, but turn over to chapter 6 of the book of Exodus, verse l. These two passages of Scripture should be taken together:

Exodus 6:

1Then the Lord said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.
2And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord:
3And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, [notice this]by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.
4And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.

These verses of Scripture, boiled down into very simple language, say that until God appeared to Moses in the burning bush Jehovah was not known as the name of God. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not know God by that name. They knew God by the name of God Almighty . But at the burning bush, God was revealed to Moses as I AM, or Jehovah, and from that time forth, Moses spoke of Him in that way. That is the name that is used for God in the book of Genesis. It follows that the book of Genesis, if it were written by Moses, could not have been written before that time, because the name Jehovah was not known up to that time.

Explanation of the Time Element

This would mean that Moses (I am speaking from a human standpoint now. I have already asserted that I believe in the inspiration of the Word of God and the direction of the Holy Spirit in the writing of the Word.) had to rely on word of mouth concerning the things that are recorded in the book of Genesis, because the things that are recorded from verse 3 of chapter 1 to the last verse of the book cover a period of some 2300 years. You will notice that I am excluding verses 1 and 2 of chapter 1. The reason for that we will discuss in other studies.

The Longevity of Moses

You may be wondering how there could have been an accurate record of things that occurred over a period of 2300 years if there had been no written record of those events until Moses wrote them. If you will keep in mind the longevity of the people who lived in the age of the book of Genesis, you will understand that it would not have been difficult at all. These men lived a long, long time. It was not a matter of going back as many generations as would be the case today.

If we should try to report things that happened over a period of 2000 years, we would have to go back to our great, great, great (We would run out of greats, wouldn't we?) grandfathers to have the word-of-mouth explanation. But that was not true in the age covered by the book of Genesis.

So much for the authorship of the book of Genesis. I believe, then, that spiritually speaking, the Holy Spirit is the author of the book of Genesis. Humanly speaking, Moses is the author. I do not think there can be any doubt about it.

The Name of the Book of Genesis

Perhaps we should have a word or two concerning the name of the book of Genesis. The name was taken from the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, a translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek by seventy Greek scholars. They gave to the first book of the Bible the name Genesis, a translation of the Greek word for origin.

The Hebrews called it by a different name. They took the first three words of the text, “In the beginning,” which are expressed by one Hebrew word, raysheeth, and they referred to this first book of the Bible not as Genesis, but as the book of Raysheeth.

That leads us to say that the first four words of the book of Genesis, “In the beginning God,” are actually the keynote of the entire book. This book settles, once and for all and forever, the question as to the origin of the universe in which we live, and it traps forever in the hearts and the minds of men the realization that God is in everything, and that God is behind everything.

God is in creation. God is in history. God is in providence. God is in human life. All of these things are illustrated in the book of Genesis itself.

General Analysis of Genesis

Whenever we study a book, we like to have a simple analysis of the book. We like to break it down and see exactly how it is put together, because we believe that if we know how the book is put together, we will be able to understand it the better as we read. Every book can be broken down in a general way, and then it can be broken down in a more specific way. I would like to make some general suggestions about the analysis of the book of Genesis.

There are fifty chapters in the book. If you are familiar with it at all, you know that you could divide it distinctly—not equally, but distinctly—into two parts. If you want the simplest analysis of the book, you have it right here: It is a book that can be divided into two parts. The first division of the book would include the first eleven chapters, and the second division of the book would include chapters 12 through 50.

Two Divisions of Genesis

These two divisions—and they are very simple—can be remembered in this way: The first portion of the book deals with the story of the human race. The entire story is compressed into eleven chapters. Those eleven chapters cover a period of 2000 years. Let that sink in because that is a tremendous thing. Only God could recollect all that. Only God could compress into eleven chapters 2000 years of history. And this is what He did.

The remaining 39 chapters, 12 through 50, tell the story of one family. Eleven chapters, the whole human race. The remaining portion of the book, one family—the family of Abraham. The book is built around the lives of four men: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.

Chapters 12 through 50 cover only 300 years. Think about that. Eleven chapters, 2000 years. Thirty-nine chapters, only 300 years. It is an amazing thing, which bespeaks the assurance we all ought to have in our hearts concerning the authenticity of the Word of God.

Genesis As an Aisle

You might remember the simple analysis which I have given you if you will think about the book of Genesis as a long aisle. You could start at the beginning of the aisle and walk up eleven chapters. You could then look back and trace the descent of one man. If you looked forward 39 chapters, you could trace the descendants of that one man.

Go stand in chapter 12 and look back. You will read of the descent of Abraham—how Abraham appeared on the stage of the world. Then look through the remaining 39 chapters, and you read of the descendants of Abraham. Thus, in a very general way, you can divide the book of Genesis.

The Particular Analysis of Genesis

Besides a general division of the book of Genesis, or of any book for that matter, there is a particular analysis. I speak of a particular analysis because I am of the firm opinion that every book in the Bible has an outline which has been placed there by the Holy Spirit. You may make as many outlines of the book of Genesis or any other book as is consistent with your understanding of the book. That is a good way to learn. Just outline and re-outline it. But in every book in the Bible there is an outline which the Holy Spirit has placed there, and if you will find that outline and read the book on the basis of that outline, you will always have a clear understanding of it.

“These Are the Generations”

There is one phrase in the book of Genesis which is used ten times, and which makes it possible for us to divide the book into eleven divisions. That one phrase is, “These are the generations.” The word generation is a translation of the Hebrew word toledaw , which is a word that always refers to what is to come next, never to what has just been presented.

Therefore, whenever you see the words, “These are the generations,” you realize that what is to come next is important. In other words, the phrase, “These are the generations,” is an introduction to a new division of the book. If we follow this little phrase through the book of Genesis, we will find that the book is made up of an introduction and ten individual divisions.

The Introduction of Genesis

Let's get back to the book, and let me point out to you the verses which mark the divisions of the book. You might like to indicate them in your Bibles in some way, so that when you come to them, you will remember that you are entering a new division. Let me suggest that the introduction of the book begins with verse 1 of chapter 1, and goes through verse 3 of chapter 2. In Genesis, chapter 2, verse 4, we have the beginning of the first division:

Genesis 2:

4These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,

This begins the story of what transpired on this earth that God had brought out of chaos. You remember that verse 1 of the book tells us about a perfect earth. Verse 2 tells us about an earth that was suddenly plunged into chaos and disorder. The remaining verses, up through verse 3 of chapter 2, tell us how God brought order out of chaos. Then we are introduced to the part of the book where God begins to work on this earth.

Introduction of Divisions

Will you turn with me to chapter 5:

Genesis 5:

1This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;

Here we are introduced to the section that deals in a special way with Adam and his descendants, and their influence upon the earth.

Look at verse 9 of chapter 6:

Genesis 6:

9These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

Here we are introduced to that phase of human history in which Noah was the outstanding character.

Look at chapter 10, verse 1:

Genesis 10:

1Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.

This introduces us to the beginning of the nations of the world as we know them now.

Look at verse 10 of chapter 11:

Genesis 11:

10These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood:

Here we are introduced to Shem, among all the sons of Noah, in a special way. We will see before we are through with our study of the book of Genesis that Shem was the forbear of the Jewish nations.

Look at verse 27 of chapter 11. Some of these divisions are very brief. Some of them are much longer. But when you read, you will find that this is a natural analysis of the book:

Genesis 11:

27Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat lot.

Here we are introduced to Abram, who will become one of the outstanding characters in the book. Here we are introduced to the man about whose family the rest of the book is written.

Now make a big jump to chapter 25, and look at verse 12:

Genesis 25:

12Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham:

Why should Ishmael be so important that he would deserve a portion of the book of Genesis all by himself, separate from everything else? Because Ishmael was Satan's attempt—it became a very forceful one—to ruin the plan of God to bring the Savior into the world. He would need some special attention.

But not too much, because if you will look at verse 19 of the same chapter, you will see our phrase again:

Genesis 25:

19And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham begat Isaac:

Ishmael and Isaac, the son of the handmaid and the son of the free woman, became the two channels through which God began to deal with the world. The book of Galatians is written primarily upon the lives of these two boys, Ishmael and Isaac, the son of the handmaid and the son of the free woman.

Will you turn to chapter 36:

Genesis 36:

1Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom.

Here we are introduced to another thorn in Israel's flesh—another attempt of human hands to interrupt the plan of God.

Will you notice chapter 37, verse 2. This verse introduces us to the last section of the book:

Genesis 37:

2These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.

This last section deals with Joseph, whose life, incidentally, is the clearest type of the Lord Jesus Christ in all the Word of God.

If you will follow these suggestions, you will have a simple picture of how the book of Genesis can be divided and correlated one section with the other. I believe that this is the outline which the Holy Spirit has placed there.

Book of Origins

The book of Genesis is a book of origins and a book of beginnings. I would like to leave with you a few of the spiritual truths which are in the book. What we have said up to this point has been more or less mechanical, and we believe necessary, if we are to understand the book. But there are some spiritual truths in the book.

Some? Well, many. As a matter of fact, every great doctrine in the Bible has its seed planted in the book of Genesis. Every great doctrine in the Bible is found in seed form in the book of Genesis and amplified somewhere else in the Word of God.

We will not have time to examine every great doctrine, but I do want to suggest a few of the more familiar ones, so that you will be able as you read the book—and I hope you will read and reread it—to look for the seeds of great doctrines and great spiritual truths.

Example of the Trinity

For example, the doctrine of the Trinity—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—is introduced in the book of Genesis, chapter 1, verse 26:

Genesis 1:

26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Did you notice? God said, “Let us.” Elohim said, “Let us make man in our own image.”

To whom was He speaking, “Let us”? He was speaking to the other members of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ, for all three members of the Godhead were present in the creation of the world.

Accepting the Trinity

You may be a bit troubled about the doctrine of the Trinity, but we do not have time to go into it. Even if we did, you would not understand it. You would still have to accept it by faith. There is not a human illustration that can accurately present the truth of the Trinity. Some of them help. Some people have used the idea of the egg—the shell and the yoke and the white of the egg—and it is helpful, but it is not certain. This is one truth that you must accept because the Bible declares it. God can be three Persons and yet One.

Speaking of the Trinity, we recognize that God has manifested Himself in different ways at different times. One of the ways in which God has manifested Himself is in human form. We refer to that as the doctrine of the incarnation. The Lord Jesus Christ came to the earth in human form and made Himself visible to human eyes. The doctrine of the incarnation is introduced in general and in particular in the book of Genesis. That is why the Jews really had no excuse for not accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as their Messiah when He came.

The Incarnation of Christ

Will you notice chapter 3, verse 15. God, speaking about the Lord Jesus Christ, said to the serpent who was responsible for the introduction of sin into the world:

Genesis 3:

15And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

The serpent, of course, was the Devil. The Devil took upon himself the form of a serpent and brought sin into the world, so God said He would put enmity between the serpent and the woman—that is, enmity between the human race and the Devil.

Then He said, “The seed of the Devil and the seed of the woman will be at odds.” Who is the seed of the woman? The Lord Jesus Christ. Who is the seed of the Devil? The Antichrist. We read in verse 15:

Genesis 3:

15And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed [the Antichrist] and her seed[Jesus Christ]; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel[Jesus Christ's].

Here we are introduced to the truth concerning the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ as the seed of the woman.

Christ's Coming Through Abraham

Turn now to chapter 12, verse 3, as the prophecy becomes more intense:

Genesis 12:

3And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee [literally, in thy seed] shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Further study of the Word of God will reveal that the seed of Abraham is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is in Him that all the world is blessed. We have first the seed of the woman, speaking of the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, and then we have the seed of Abraham, referring to the fact that He was to come as a member of the Jewish race.

Turn, please, to chapter 49, verse 10:

Genesis 49:

10The sceptre [the sign of ruling and reigning]shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Shiloh is another name for the Lord Jesus Christ. Here we find that He is not only the seed of the woman, not only the seed of Abraham, but He is more particularly the seed of Judah.

Can you not see now why it should not have been too difficult for the Jews to recognize Jesus as their Messiah? He was the promised seed of the woman. He was the promised seed of Abraham, and even to the very tribe from which He should come, He was the promised seed of Judah.

The Wiles of Satan

Go back to chapter 3 and notice verse 6, in which the wiles of the Devil, the deception of the Devil, was unveiled, was brought out in the open. The practice of the Devil has never changed from that day to this. Really there is no need for any of us to say that we have been taken by surprise. That is what the Devil wants. God unveiled him right here in the book of Genesis:

Genesis 3:

6And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

The Devil was responsible for causing the woman to think three ways about the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden. That was the only tree of which God said, “Do not eat of that. You can have everything else in this garden, but do not eat of that tree.” When the Devil told Eve three things about that tree, figuratively speaking, her mouth began to water.

The first thing he said was, “That tree tastes good.” The second thing he said was, “That tree looks good.” The third thing he said was, “That tree will make you wise. You will know as much as anyone else around here. You will not be an old shut-in and an old dummy. You will be wise. You will be hep to what is going on if you eat of the tree.”

An Example in I John

Go with me to the first epistle of John, and you will see that the Devil has not changed his tactics one bit. He still does things exactly the way he did in the Garden of Eden. God unveiled him there so that we would know exactly what to expect:

I John 2:

15Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16[Listen carefully now]For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Did you notice those three things? Look at them again. What was it he said? “The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” What did the Devil say that day in the book of Genesis? He said, “The tree is good for food.” That is the lust of the flesh. It satisfies the physical appetite. He said, “It is pleasant to the eyes.” That is what the Devil said. What did he say here? The lust of the eyes, the desire of the eyes. He said, “It will make you wise.” What it the third thing here? The pride of life.

He has not changed his tactics. He was introduced to us in the book of Genesis as the liar that he is, and he has remained a liar all down through these years.

Justification by Faith

Turn back to the book of Genesis as we are introduced to a doctrine upon which the New Testament is based, and about which most of the New Testament is written. I refer to the doctrine of justification by faith. The doctrine of justification by faith is introduced to us. The seed is planted, here in the book of Genesis, in chapter 15, where we find the promise that God made to Abraham for his descendants. God said to Abraham that he would found a great nation, so great it could not be numbered. Abraham's response is found in verse 6:

Genesis 15:

6And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

That is justification by faith. You believe God, and you are counted righteous. The literal rendering of this verse is, “He counted it to him for righteousness.” God considered him righteous. That is justification by faith.

Intercessory Prayer

Even such a thing as intercessory prayer is introduced in the book of Genesis and amplified elsewhere in the Bible. Notice chapter 20, verse 17:

Genesis 20:

17So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children.

Here was a man by the name of Abimelech. He was in bad shape, and God said, “You ask Abraham to pray for you. It won't do you any good to pray. I am not going to listen to you. But you ask Abraham to pray for you, and I will listen to what Abraham has to say.”

And Abraham prayed. That is intercession, when you pray for someone else. Abraham prayed for Abimelech, and God heard him.

The Coming of Christ

Even the truth concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for the Church and with the Church is planted in seed form in the book of Genesis. This will be a victorious note, it seems to me, upon which we can close our discussion. Notice chapter 5, verse 24:

Genesis 5:

24And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

We have only that verse of Scripture, and we do not know what happened to Enoch. All we know is that God took him. But turn over to chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews, and the Holy Spirit tells us the end of the story. He tells us that Enoch was translated that he should not see death, which means that he went on without dying. He was caught up to meet the Lord, and that is a perfect illustration of the Rapture of the Church. One of these days, in due season, God will come for us to take us home to be with Himself.

I referred earlier to chapter 49, verse 10. Here is found the seed of the doctrine of the Second Coming of Christ, visibly, bodily, to this earth to rule and reign. It is not amplified here. The seed is just planted:

Genesis 49:

10The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

This means that all the nations of the world will subject themselves to Him.

These remarks as an introductory lesson to the book of Genesis will prove profitable. The foundation needed to be laid.


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