The Old Testament Presents... Reflections of Christ
by Paul R. Van Gorder
Genesis is the seedplot of the Bible. Called by the Jews bereshith [meaning, ''in the beginning''] and by the translators of the Septuagint version ''generation,'' the book gives us the only true history of the origin and early life of man. In it are the seed-principles of all subsequent revelation. Genesis centers around seven prominent persons in pairs. First, Adam and Eve; second, Cain and Abel; third, Enoch and Noah; fourth, Abraham and Lot; fifth, Ishmael and Isaac; sixth Esau and Jacob; and seventh, Joseph and his brethren.
The book of Genesis can be outlined according to persons, divisions, dispensations, and covenants. I will use a very simple outline based upon the following words:
  1. Generation
  2. Degeneration, and
  3. Regeneration.
GENERATION (chapters 1 and 2) --
This book written by Moses has scriptural proof of its authenticity in the corroborating words of our Lord. Repeatedly Christ quoted from Genesis with the words, ''Moses wrote of Me,'' ''Have ye not read in the book of Moses,'' or ''For Moses said.''
It is interesting to note that Genesis contains the basic truth of five great sciences:
  1. Theology, the science of God. ''In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth'' (1:1). ''And God said, let Us make man in Our image'' (v.26). Elohim, the name used for God in Genesis 1:1, is a uni-plural noun. The plural pronoun ''us'' is followed by the verbs ''created'' and ''said'' in the singular. This term expresses both the person and the eternality of God.
  2. Cosmogony, the science of the universe. ''God created the heaven and the earth.'' Genesis declares that the whole universe came into being by the will and act of God.
  3. Anthropology, the science of man. The book of Genesis teaches that man was made by the creative act of God. He did not evolve, as modern theory proposes.
  4. Sociology, the science of society. Genesis tells of the formation of the first societal unit, the family, based upon the marriage relationship. Genesis records the enlarging of the circle of sociology into nations.
  5. Ethnology, the science of the races. The book of beginnings gives a record of the origin, division, and development of the races of man.

    A number of other cardinal doctrines have their roots in the book of Genesis. This leads to the second division of the book.
DEGENERATION (chapters 3-11) --
The germ truth of the doctrine of sin, called hamartiology, is found in Genesis. Here we are introduced to Satan, the one who first rebelled. His entire character is infiltrated with subtlety and deceit, and he successfully tempted our first parents. Adam's sin resulted in the murder of Abel by his brother Cain, and the rivulet of iniquity soon became a torrent. The climax of man's sin and rebellion was reached at Calvary, for the biblical record tells us, ''For of a truth against thy holy child, Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the nations, and the people of Israel, were gathered together'' (Acts 4:27).

Now, let's look at the third division of the book of Genesis.
REGENERATION (chapters 12-50) --
In the seedplot of the Scriptures, Genesis, is found the beginning of soteriology, the doctrine of salvation. In fact, Genesis introduces us to this subject, which is found in all 66 books [of the Bible]. The scenario opens in Genesis with the story of sin and death entering God's world; it closes in the last book, Revelation, with the portrayal of the new heavens and new earth in which no trace of evil can be found.

The story of salvation in Genesis is found under two headings: prophecy and types.
1. Prophecy -- The first prophetic utterance of time is Genesis 3:15, and it foretells the coming of Christ the Redeemer and His victory over Satan. The writer to the Hebrews said, ''Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same, that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil'' (Hebrews 2:14).
Jehovah made this promise to Abraham: ''In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed'' (Genesis 12:3). To Jacob, God said, ''And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed'' (Genesis 26:4). And in a prophetic blessing to Judah, Jacob predicted, ''The scepter 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'' (Genesis 49:10). The fulfillment of these prophecies is recorded in Luke 1:32 and Revelation 5.
2. Types -- ['Types' are pictures or illustrations of spiritual truth.] In his first epistle, Simon Peter declared that the prophets, who spoke of the grace that should come, searched ''what manner of time the Spirit of Christ who was in them did signify, when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow'' (1Peter 1:11). And where in Genesis do we find the Lord Jesus Christ pictured, both His sufferings and His glory? With your Bible opened and notebook and pen in hand, I suggest to you the following possibilities, and urge that you study the Scripture passages carefully.
Who can plumb the depths of the great types and analogies given to us in the book of Genesis? For your personal study, I would suggest similar possibilities in Eve, Enoch, Rebekah, and the theophanies (the pre-incarnate appearings of the Lord Jesus) such as occurred on the plains of Mamre in Genesis 18.
The book of Genesis begins with the creation by God: ''In the beginning God...'' It ends with a coffin in Egypt (50:26). At the very beginning of the human race, we see the sad failure of man and the gracious provision of God. The first great promise of a coming Redeemer is found in Genesis 3:15. That promise leaps the centuries and finds its fulfillment in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman.
Genesis is indeed the seedplot of the entire Bible!

See the Book Notes on Genesis. for a verse by verse study of this book.

Return to table of contents for ''The Old Testament Presents... Reflections of Christ,''
written by Paul R. Van Gorder, Copyright 1982 by RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI.
Used by permission [within The Book from].
Further distribution is not allowed without permission from RBC.

For another brief look at this book of the Bible,
see the related chapter in Christ in All the Scriptures, by A.M. Hodgkin.

Go to The Book opening page.