The First Book of Moses
“The Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country… to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:1–3).- Genesis 12:1-3
Since the dawn of human history, mankind has sought to understand where the universe came from and what our purpose is within it. Philosophers and scientists alike continue to ponder these deep questions about our existence as they investigate the origins of the universe. Yet these inquiries are not limited to those in professional academia. All people at one time or another contemplate whether or not life has an ultimate purpose.
The answers to these questions have varied widely from person to person and from culture to culture. Some have believed that the universe was created from a war between gods who are as flawed as human beings. Others insist that life as we know it is really just the result of a cosmic accident and has no ultimate purpose or significance.
Thousands of years ago, the ancient Israelites asked these same questions as they suffered under the hand of Pharaoh. And in His providence, the One who created all things and who alone gives life meaning answered these questions through the pen of His servant Moses. Today we begin our study of Genesis, which will occupy our attention for the next two years.
This first book of the Bible is certainly the most well-known part of the Old Testament, if not the entire canon of sacred Scripture. Its stories and figures are familiar even to those who are not believers. Some of the greatest literature and art of Western society finds its inspiration in the narratives of Genesis.
However, this book is no ordinary piece of writing; it is the very Word of God. This Word was originally given to the ancient Israelites in order to reveal their origins and to show how God ordained their leaving Egypt to possess the land of Canaan. Yet this nationalistic focus cannot be separated from the broader purposes God has for mankind. For as today’s passage indicates, God’s purpose in establishing His people Israel and giving them a good land was to bless all the families of the earth. This purpose is fulfilled ultimately in the Lord Jesus Christ, but His story cannot be understood fully unless we first understand this book of beginnings.
Take some time this week to read through the book of Genesis in preparation for our study over the next two years. Ask the Lord to help you read these familiar stories closely, helping you understand the truths about His character and purposes He has revealed in this first book of the Bible. Find someone who is willing to discuss what you are learning from Genesis and who will help keep you accountable in your study of it.
Passages for Further Study
Gen. 1:27–28; 8:20–9:17; 15; 50:24