Main Characters: God, Adam –> Abram (renamed Abraham) –> Isaac –> Jacob (renamed Israel) –> Joseph
God creates the world and all its inhabitants. Sin enters the world through deception and disobedience. Sin grows until God is so grieved by what his creation has become that he decides to destroy it and start over. He found a man named Noah who was faithful and instructed him to build an arc (a big boat) so that two of every type of animal could fit in it. One male and one female. The flood waters came and destroyed everything that was not on the boat and God established his first covenant, the rainbow, as a promise that never again would flood waters destroy the earth. Through Noah, all humans on earth exist today.
Time continues and so does God’s plan. He finds a man named Abram who is faithful and tells him that he will make him into a great nation and increase his number more than he could ever count. God establishes a second covenant with man through Abram that he will give them a certain track of land as a promise for Abraham’s descendants. A third covenant came through Abram along with a name change. His new name was to be Abraham and the covenant was that all men should be circumcised as a sign that they are set aside for God.
Sodom and Gomorra a city so evil and the outcry against it so severe that God sent his angels to destroy it bringing only Lot’s family out. Lot’s wife disobeyed God and looked back at the city and she was turned into a pillar of salt.
Abraham has a son Isaac. God called on Abraham one day to give the ultimate sacrifice. He wants Isaac as a burnt offering. Abraham is distraught but will not refuse his God and is faithful. Just about the time the knife was going to fall onto his son, God stops Abraham in a dramatic scene and says to him “Do not lay a hand upon Isaac”. Then perfect lamb appears to take his son’s place.
Isaac grows old and is tricked into blessing Jacob, the less favored of his two son. Bitterness ensues but Jacob has the blessing of God with him. One day he is going along a path instructed to him by God and he was going to have to cross his brother. Jacob is terrified and has a crafty plan to get through the encounter unscathed. As he sent his people ahead of him, God meets him alone and they fight through the night. Jacob would not relent so God touched his thigh and disable him but seeing that still Jacob would not give up, the fight ended. God then renamed Jacob and gave him the name Israel.
Jacob, now called Israel, had twelve sons, one of whom is named Joseph. Joseph had a dream where he would be greater than all his brothers and even his father would be subject to him. The brothers despised this and plotted to kill him. One brother however, wanted to spare his brothers life and suggested they sell him. So Joseph was sold as a slave and ended up an assistant to Potiphar, Captain of the Guard of Egypt. But one day Potiphar’s wife wanted to sleep with Joseph because he was well built. He turned her down and angered her. She then made a false claim against him. He was thrown in prison where he again made his way into a great position and was placed in charge of the inmates. Having a knack for interpreting dreams, he is summoned by Pharaoh to interpret his strange dreams. When he did so, Pharaoh placed Joseph in charge of all of Egypt to prepare for the coming famine. He became second only to Pharaoh himself in power but Pharaoh differed to him in everything.
The great famine hits and everyone flocks to Egypt for help, including Joseph’s brothers and father. They become reunited and move to Egypt under Joseph’s power just as it was in his childhood dreams. They thrived in that time and Joseph was able to see three generations come after his children before he died. Up until then, Egypt was a safe place for Israel’s descendants because of God through Joseph.
Everything has a beginning and in Genesis we see the beginning of everything.
Adam and Eve Eat of the Fruit
Everything is created perfect but sin enters through deception and disobedience. Sin causes God to separate himself from us because he cannot reside where there is sin.
We learn the many generations that lead from Adam to Noah.
Corrupt and Evil People
God is grieved at His creation because man has become so corrupt and evil so he decides that he will destroy what he has made and start again through Noah.
God gives Noah instructions on how to build a boat large enough for his family, all the different kinds of animals on the earth, and food.
God causes the earth to be flooded and all that live dies, all except those living on the Arc. Then, when all the destruction was complete, God caused the waters to subside.
God’s First Covenant with Man: The Rainbow
“And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of the flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud, and I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.” (Genesis 9:11-16 ASV)
Noah died and many descendants came from him and are listed.
Tower of Babel
People, all who spoke the same language, worked together to build for themself a great city and a tower that would reach to the heavens. God saw in their heart that they wanted to do this to be like God and decided to confuse their language and scatter them throughout the world.
More genealogy is presented leading to one of the most significant people in the old testament. Abram
Abram was called by God to leave his home country and said:
“…Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3 NIV)
So Abram set off as God told him to do.
Abram introduced to the Land
God brought him into a land and made a promise to Abram that his descendants would possess it and then he continued to journey at God’s direction.
Tension between Abram and his nephew Lot
Abram and his nephew Lot begin to have some tension. They were traveling together and both had large flocks and their hearders began to quarrel. It was determined that the land could not support both of their flocks and so they decedid to part ways. Lot was given the opportunity to choose where he would go and Abram agreed to go the opposite way. So Lot chose a land near the city of Sodom and Gomorra where wicked people lived.
Lot and his People are Captured
War broke out among various kingdoms in the region where he lived. Lot and his people were captured and carried away. One person escaped and was able to send word to Abram about his nephews capture. Abram assembled his men and went to rescue lot and save all that belonged to him.
God’s Second Covenant with Man: The Promised Land
God came to Abram and tells him that he will establish a covenant with him.
God tells him that the number of his descendants will be too numerous to count and that they will inherit the land. However, they will have to wait 400 years.
At this point I think it is worth noting that God tells Abram that the reason for waiting is because the people’s sin who currently inhabit the land had not yet reached its full measure. You see God is patient with people, but these people are later destroyed with viciousness through Abrams descendants as promised by God in order to obtain the land.
This is where many people who question our faith say that our God is a murderer, calling us to slaughter innocent people to push his agenda. This is not the truth. The truth is God is long suffering and gives people space to repent. But only so much space before He comes swiftly down with perfect justice.
During the 400 year period, God tells Abram that his descendants will be enslaved in Egypt and subsequently the Egyptians would be punished for their harsh treatment. This is the foreshadowing of the Exodus, the second book in the Old Testament.
Sarai tries to Accelerate God’s Plan
Sarai who is Abram’s wife was still unable to conceive and so she decides to do her husband a favor. She steps outside of God’s timing by giving Abram her slave Hagar. Hagar becomes pregnant and then resents Sarai. In turn Sarai is upset with her husband Abram. Abram doesn’t want the blame so tells Sarai to do with Hagar as she pleases. So she mistreats her slave causing her to flea.
God finds Hagar and tells her to go back and submit to her mistress and that he has heard her pleas. God tells Hagar the he will cause countless descendants to come from her son who was to be called Ishmael.
God’s Third Covenant: Circumcision and a New Name for Abram
Another covenant is made. The covenant of circumcision. God said to Abram:
“I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” (Genesis 17:1-2 NIV)
“As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham,for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:4-8 NIV)
God renames Abram to Abraham. He reiterates a former promise that Abraham will be the father of many nations and of kings. That the land he currently lives in will belong to him.
Then he tells Abraham:
“As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. (Genesis 17:9-11)
This circumcision of the flesh is similar to the circumcision of the heart that comes later with Christ. It is a mark, a symbol of faithfulness to God. You can think of the word holy here. It means to be separate or separated. When the people were circumcised, they became separated from the world and God recognized them as His people.
Later in the new testament we will see that God’s mark will allow the angel of death the pass over us (those who have been marked by the holy spirit). Throughout the Old Testament you will see more and more parallels with the New Testament.
“My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” (Genesis 17:13-14)
Here again is an important parallel to remember for the New Covenant in the New Testament that we receive through Christ Jesus.
Three Men Visit Abraham
Abraham (the wanderer formerly known as Abram) was sitting by a tree and saw three men approaching.
Abraham recognized who they were. They were the Lord and two of his angels. They tell Abraham again that he will have a child by Sarah. Sarah doubts because they are both very old but the angel re-assures that it will happen by that time next year. As the men begin to leave, the two angels talk with the Lord and discuss whether to hide what the are about to do with Sodom and Gomorra from Abraham. Then Abraham pleads and negotiates with the Lord not to destroy the city if ten people are found righteous. The Lord agrees.
Sodom and Gomorra Destroyed
Sodom and Gomorra destroyed. Only Lot was found righteous and his people were given the opportunity to flee the land before it was destroyed. The number of his people were less than ten so according to the Lords agreement with Abraham, the Land would be destroyed. Only Lot, his wife and two daughters were allowed to escape. They were told not to look back but his wife did not listen and was turned into a pillar of salt for her disobedience.
I think this symbolizes our sin. We are called to “repent” which means to turn away. Perhaps to turn, walk away, flee and not look back upon it. Sin will be destroyed and our heart should not long for it.
Isaac is Born and Circumcised
Isaac is born to Abraham through his wife Sarah as promised by the Lord. She grows displeased with Ishmael because Ishmael is the first born and greatly loved by Abraham. She does not want him to have any part of the inheritance of Isaac so she wants Abraham to send him and his mother away. This was stressful to Abraham and hurt his heart because he loved his son Ishmael. But God told him to not worry about his son Ishmael, that God would make him into a great nation because he was Abraham’s offspring. So they were sent away.
Abraham Faithfulness to God is Tested: His Son to be Sacrificed as A Burnt Offering
Abraham is tested when God tells him to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac as a burnt offering to God.
“Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” (Genesis 22:2 NIV)
Abraham does as God wishes binding his son and placing him among the wood. Then he lifted his knife and was about to slay his son when God stopped him and said:
“Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” (Genesis 22:11-12 NIV)
God then provided a ram to be sacrificed. This is a foreshadowing of God providing his Son (Christ) for a sacrifice that occurs in the New Testament.
Sarah, Abraham’s Wife Dies
Sarah, Abrahams wife died. He purchased a field and a cave as burial lands and buried his wife in the cave. This would become the common burial grounds for those who come after Abraham that we will see later.
Abraham Sent His Servant to Get A Wife for Isaac: Rebekah
Abraham sent his servant back to his old land to find a wife for his son Isaac. The servant did as requested and brought back a virgin woman named Rebekah. Isaac took her into her mothers tent and married her and was comforted.
Abraham died and was buried in the same place as his wife Sarah. It is of note here that Abraham, before he died, remarried and had more children but left everything to Isaac.
An account of Ishmael’s line is given here too. Twelve tribes are established through his twelve sons. They lived in hostility towards each other.
Focus is shifted from Abraham to Isaac and His Desendants
Rebekah gives birth to two sons, twins. One named Esau and the other Jacob. While still in the womb, the two quarreled and so Rebekah sought answers from God. He told her:
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:23 NIV)
The two grew up and Esau was favored by his father Isaac over Jacob because he was first to be born and because his father loved the wild game he brought home. Rebekah favored Jacob.
Esau came home starving one day from hunting and asked for some of the food being prepared by his brother Jacob. Jacob convinced Esau to give him his birthright in exchange for it. Esau agreed.
Isaac Gives His Blessing to Jacob
Jacob takes Esau’s blessing by tricking Isaac into believing that he was Esau.
Esau pledges to kill Jacob after his father dies and so Jacob at the request of his mother he flees.
Jacob Works to Obtain His Wives and Has Twelve Children
Jacob agreed to work for Laban, a person who’s land Jacob was temporarily living in, for seven years in exchange for Rachel a woman he loved and wanted to marry. At the end of seven years instead of being given Rachel, Jacob is given Leah who was the older sister and he married her. Then Jacob agrees to work for another seven years to obtain Rachel for a wife. Then he marries her. He makes love to both of them but loves Rachel more.
Jacob ended up having twelve children from four women. His two wives and their servants.
As he lives and labors for this man for twenty years, while increasing his wealth in livestock, Jacob finally decides to flee the land with all his possessions. He is pursued by the Laban family but then they realize that their good fortune was because God’s protection was over Jacob and they entered into a treaty.
Jacob Wants to Meet with His Brother Esau
Though Jacob wants to meet with his brother, after he sent word to him, the messenger came back with bad news. His brother was on the way but four hundred men were also with him. This scared Jacob and he went and prayed for God to protect him.
Jacob Wrestles with God and Gets a New Name
During the night, before going to meet his brother, Jacob got up and sent his wives and servants ahead of him. When he was alone he fought with God. Jacob was brave and kept fighting so God touched his hip to cause a weakness. Yet Jacob still would not give up. At day break God said let go, but Jacob refused unless God blessed him.
God blessed him and gave him the name Israel
“…because you have struggled with God and humans and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:28 NIV)
Jacob Meets His Brother
There ended up being no hostility between the two of them. But Jacob still was cautiously pacifying his brother to let him pass by. His brother insisted that he join them but Jacob convinced Esau that for the sake of the flock and children that he would move a slower pace to meet them later on. But his real intention was to pass by and safely make his way to another land.
Isaac and Rachel Die
Rachel, in the process of bearing Jacob’s twelfth child died. Soon after, Isaac, Jacob and Esau’s, father also died at a very old age. They buried their father in the same place where Abraham and Sarah were buried.
Descendants of Esau (Father of the Edmoites)
Genealogy of Esau’s descendants who became the edomites. They came to power before any of the Israelites (descendants of Israel otherwise known as Jacob).
Until now, we have only met Joseph in passing in the scripture and I have not yet mentioned him until now. He is the son of Jacob (who God renamed Israel) and was born of his wife Rachel. Remember that he had two wives and that the two wives each had one slave. Each wife gave their slave to Jacob for him to sleep with. From these four women, Jacob (Israel) had twelve children. Joseph was younger than most of the others and highly favored by his father because he was born to him at an old age to his favorite wife. This special treatment was not well received by his brothers so there was already animosity among them.
One day, Joseph had a dream and he told it to his older brothers:
“Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” (Genesis 37:6-7 NIV)
They hated him even more because of this asking him if he really thought they would bow down to him. Then again Joseph had a dream and told his brothers and his father:
“Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” (Genesis 37:9 NIV)
Again they hated him because of this dream he had and even his father rebuked him.
Joseph Sold as a Slave
One day Joseph was sent by his father to be with his brothers. When they saw him coming they plotted to kill him. However, instead of killing him, they sold him to a caravan of Ishamaelites who in turn sold him to Potiphar who was Captain of Pharaohs guard. Because God was with Joseph, he excelled and was very successful with the responsibilities he was given. So Potiphar eventually put all his possessions under his care.
Potiphar’s wife saw how well built Joseph was and wanted to sleep with him, but when he refused her, she lied and said that he tried to rape her. This angered Potiphar and so he had Joseph thrown into prison.
Joseph again prospered because God was with him and so even in prison he found favor with the warden and was placed in charge of all that happened there.
The Cup Bearer and the Baker
While in prison, the cup bearer and the baker were put in the care of Joseph while in prison because they offended the king of Egypt (pharaoh). One day both of the men had dreams and only Joseph was able to interpret them. He told the cup bearer that he would be restored to his old position, but that he must remember him to get him out of prison. He told the baker that he would be killed. Both came to pass as Joseph told the two men, but the cup bearer did not remember Joseph.
Pharaoh had a dream and called on Joseph to interpret it. Joseph told him that God would bring to Egypt seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. So it was suggested by Pharaoh that Joseph, being under the protection of God, should be put in charge of all of Egypt. As the Pharaoh said:
“You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” Genesis 41:40 NIV)
Famine Hits Everywhere
As revealed in the dream, Egypt had seven years of abundance that Joseph carefully managed by storing up part of every harvest. Then at the end of those seven years the famine came and was so severe that people in Egypt and all around Egypt came and purchased food from him.
Joseph’s Brothers are Sent to Egypt by Jacob (Israel their Father) To Buy Food
Joseph’s brothers were among those who were sent for food by their father Jacob. When the brother’s arrived, Joseph recognizes them but they do not recognize him (Remember that Joseph was the brother that was sold into slavery). He struggles fiercely with emotions but keeps it together. Then he tests them. Joseph sends the brothers, minus one for assurance, to get his brother Benjamin and bring him to Egypt. Jacob protests this but ultimately gives in because he really had no other choice. When they returned Joseph filled their sacks up with food, but also put his cup into Benjamin’s bag. This was designed to bring the bothers under investigation and fall under his authority.
Joseph Reveals Himself
When he could no longer stand it, Joseph reveals who he really is to his brothers. He wept aloud and his brothers could not say anything because of fear. They trembled because Joseph’s power was matched only by Pharaoh himself. He told them not to fear because God used those circumstances for His good. Pharaoh heard of all this and was pleased. He told Joseph to send them off to gather the rest of the family to Egypt where he will give to them the best of the land in Egypt. So Jacob (who is Israel) and all the descendants moved into Egypt.
The famine eventually spreads into Egypt as well and so the Egyptians slowly began to sell all of their possessions to Pharaoh in exchange for food. When they no longer had any money, livestock, or land, they sold themselves as slaves to Pharaoh.
Jacob (who is Israel) Gives Blessings then Die
Jacob (who is Isreal) having lived to an age of 147 years old is about to die and gives blessings to his children then took his last breath and was buried as he requested with his fathers and wife.
After his fathers death, Joseph lives to see three generations of his children live. Then he died at age 110 and told his brothers that God is faithful and will bring them out of Egypt to the land promised to his fathers.
The End of Genesis