Where We’ve Been // Understanding Genesis

Exodus is the second in a series of five books called the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. It is meant to be read as the continued development of the story of God’s people that began in the book of Genesis. Exodus starts with the transition word “Now” suggesting that the story is picking up where Genesis left off with the story of Joseph. In order to understand where we are going in Exodus, we need to know where we’ve been.

The Bible is not primarily meant to be read in small, bite-sized chunks. Imagine buying tickets to a symphony and listening to the first few bars of Beethoven’s 5th, and then the conductor stops, turns around, and tells you to come back next week for more. You don’t listen to a symphony or read the Bible just to remember the experience but to be swept up in the grand sweep and flood of it

Any comprehensive understanding of the people and the God of Exodus begins with the story of Genesis, and the story of Genesis begins with the story of creation. 

Entering the Story// God Creates

In the beginning, God creates the universe and everything in it. He creates the stars and the sheep and the shrimp. All of it. And all of it is “good”. He also creates man and women whom He says are “very good”. He commands Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply and to rule over His creation. But soon, the man and the women fall leaving sin to enter the world

When sin had corrupted the creation, Adam and Eve were banished from paradise. As humanity spread, the world also became more and more polluted by the power of sin. Rather than turn His back on humanity completely, the Lord decided to start over with Noah and his family. 

Generations later, another faithful man of God steps into the story. God calls Abram out of his home in Haran. Besides his willingness to respond to God’s call, there is no indication of Abram’s worthiness to receive this special favor. God’s gracious action continues as He promises that Abram, now Abraham, will become a great nation and inherit a blessed land and that, through his ancestors, the entire world would be blessed. 

Abraham had a son named Isaac and Isaac had a son named Jacob, who had 12 sons. Of his 12 sons, Joseph was Jacob’s favorite. Because of their jealousy, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt. Even though his brothers meant to harm Joseph, the Lord intended their actions for good and used Joseph to save many lives as the Pharoah’s second in command during a famine. While God’s people remained in Egypt at the end of Genesis, Joseph continued to point his people back to God’s future promise of a land of their own.