366 • Genesis 1–11


Greg Barber

This year we are going to journey through the entire bible chronologically together as a church. Reading the entire Bible in a year.

  • Why should I?
  • What could I get from doing it?
  • What could I learn?
  • How could it shape me?

Good questions… You and I need to work through those personally. Own those answers for yourself. I know how reading the Bible often goes from personal experince. 

It often looks like this:

The Bible is not a simple list of right and wrong. It is not irrelevant for your life. I believe the bible is important and relevant for us as a community. The bible exists to help us understand the character of who God is and how He relates to humanity and how we should relate to Him.

I guarantee there will be ups and downs for you in this reading. There will be things that make complete sense. Other things that just seem super weird and strange. That’s ok. It’s not a moment to give up. That’s why we want to do this together. So we can help each other through this commitment. To help each other through understanding. In a moment when you miss, when you stop, when you skip then get up and try again. We can do it. 

It’s 2016! Wow! New year.

New year’s resolutions

  • Lose weight
  • Read more
  • Less TV
  • Get in shape
  • Work more
  • Work less
  • Get out of debt
  • Start a business
What is the key to a successful resolution?
  • I am in
  • I am going to do it
  • I mean it
  • I am saying publicly
  • I am going to make a life changing decision

But then you:

  • Miss going to the gym
  • Eat a Snickers bar
  • Eat 4 Snickers bars
  • No time to read this week, this month

Great, I failed. I am a failure. So I am just going to quit. 

A key to successful resolution is not perfect or never failing. The key is getting up again, trying again. Failing and getting up and going again. 

again and again and again…

They key is committing in spite of failure. The only way to end a resolution is to give up. Failure does not mean the end. 

What is happening inside of a person that is giving up when there is a small failure?
What do people feel upon failing in a commitment? What do you feel?

Today, as we start this series 2016 • 366, this week’s reading is Genesis 1–11, which is a kind of weird accumulations of stories with lots of implications for humanity. It’s important that as we read we try to understand the theme of the story. What is it that God is teaching us in Genesis 1–11?

GENESIS. The beginning. The easiest book in the Bible to find. Genesis literally means the origin or mode of formation of something. The beginning. 

I like the book of Genesis, because there are several stories. I like stories. 

  • Creation
  • Fall
  • Cain kills Abel 
  • Noah
  • Tower of Babel 

I like story. It is easy for me to grab onto them and grab a singular point, but what is going on when we look at these stories together. What is the theme? What is the point? 

Today we are looking at this portion of Genesis that is pre-Abraham. We will look at Abraham more in the weeks to come. But today we look at this first portion of Genesis 1–11. 

Genesis 1 and 2 is the creation narrative. There is a lot of debate about the creation story. 

  • Did it happen in a literal 7 days?
  • Did it happen through a big bang? 
  • What about the dinosaurs?
  • Did Adam have a bellybutton?

Setting aside the subtleties, we do see God as a creator, a maker taking what is chaos or lacking order or form and making order, form, perfection, the world, the garden. This place is a place where humans can thrive. God looks at His creation and says, “It is good.”

In Genesis two we meet Adam and Eve. The first humans. Created in God’s Image. 

Genesis 1:27
27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Physically? Eyes? Hairline? Stature? Skin tone? Cheekbones?

John 4:24
24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Maybe more practically in attribute. Humanity is created and meant to reflect the character and attributes of God. It is a likeness mentally, morally, and socially.

God then says to humanity, take this likeness of God and go and reproduce, fill the world. Rule the world. Bring out it’s greatest potential. Enjoy this perfect world, enjoy this perfect garden, but then we see in Genesis two a choice. God entrusts humanity by giving free will. 

Genesis 2:9
9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground — trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:16–17
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

God is asking humanity to trust him on this one. God is to be trusted as the giver of the moral line between good and evil. God to this point was trusted by his creation, by humanity. This tree represents this line. Will people trust God, or will people choose to not trust God, and define good and evil for themselves. 

Adam and Eve have a free will and they can choose. So then in chapter three this mysterious creature appears onto the seen and begins to talk with Eve. 

Genesis 3:1
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The serpent tells a different story then God tells:

“God is holding you back. You could be like Him (They already were… They where created in the image of God…). Just eat from the tree. You won’t die. You will truly live!”

Rather than choosing to trust God, Adam and Eve choose to trust themselves. They eat the Fruit. In this moment sin has entered the building. Sin defined as an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law.

The garden was perfect, was easy, was utopia. But now it is over and the spiral away from utoptia begins and continues. Genesis 3–11 is repeated results of failure and of God’s grace in the midst fo failure. God’s desire to return His creation back to the garden. God’s character begins to be revealed through these stories. 

The consequences of choosinf to not trust God begin to snowball for humanity. Adam and Eve can’t trust each other. They feel insecure. They feel shame, and they cover themselves with clothing. Adam and Eve lose a level of intimacy with God. They hid from God in the garden. God can’t find them.

“Why are you hiding, what did you do?”

Adam and Eve then bring blame into the equation.

A: That woman gave the fruit to me

E: The serpant tricked me

Immediate consequences

SNAKE

Genesis 3:14–15
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

WOMAN

Genesis 3:16
16 To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

MAN

Genesis 3:17–19
17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

The garden is over and the spiral continues. Brothers Cain and Abel enter the scene. Cain is jealous of Abel. God had asked for an offering and Cain’s was good in the eyes of God and Abel’s was not. A moment of failure by Cain, but it was not over for him.

Genesis 4:6–7
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Cain gave in and chose to kill his brother, which leads to Cain building a city where all kinds of evil happens. A nasty guy named Lamech, was the epitome of the sin of this city,

Genesis 4:23–24
23 Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. 24 If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.”

Leading to this strange moment where there is this reference to the sons of God marrying the daughters of men. 

Genesis 6:1–4
1 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days — and also afterward — when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

Was this literal angels or supernatural beings having children with humans or just kings that saw themselves as being sons of god having children with commoners? It doesn’t really matter, but what is known is that these people building kingdoms that were filled with violence, filled with immorality, filled with corruption. God was troubled. 

Genesis 6:5–6
5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.

God resolved to wipe out His creation. 

Genesis 6:7
7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created — and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground — for I regret that I have made them.”

BUT

Genesis 6:8
8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

So God washes the world, his creation clean of the evil with a great flood, preserving humanity and animals through one family. The family of Noah. After the flood it’s all new again. God tells Noah and his family to go and fill the world. 

Genesis 9:1–3
9 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

God promised to not destroy it all again in this way again. He creates a covenant with Noah, with all of humanity. 

Genesis 9:11
11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

Things are looking good. Second chances always work great. Humanity surely won;t squander this chance. Then Noah plants a garden, gets smashed drunk. While naked in his tent something happens with him and his son Ham. A new moment of sin, shame, brokenness, broken family, broken relationship. The chaos continues, leading to the city of Babble. 

Genesis 11:3–4
3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
  • Human rebellion on display
  • Human arrogance on display
  • Human sin on display

God intervenes again and scatters humanity. 

These stories are crazy, weird, wild, complex, and complicated, but we see again and again God giving humanity a chance to do right in this world and humans keep failing. We live in a good world that God made that we have made bad. We, I, rather than trusting God, choose over and over again to trust self. Leading to conflict, violence, broken relationship, distance from God, shame, guilt, sin and ultimately death. 

In the midst of humanities constant and continual failure. God, right from the beginning is shwoing His character as God who wishes to restore perfection. So, what is God going to do? How is he ultimately going to restor his creation?

Romans 6:20–23
20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What is the most interesting part of Gen 1–11 for you?

At the end of our reading we are left kind of confused. Did god fail in his creation? Was it really not good, like he claimed? These are valid questions, however I think if we get stuck trying to decide if God was just dumb and ignorant in his creation of humanity we may miss the point of the story. This story is not about a dumb God that can’t seem to make his people do what he wants, rather I believe story tells us about the character of God as a being who loves his creation desperately, who wants relationship with humanity, who is running after humanity, who refuses to give up on his creation.

So today ass we just started a new year with new resolutions, a new bible reading plan, a new start, new opportunity, new beginnings. A great time to succeed, and great oppertunties to fail. And in that moment of failure to really quit and give up. But hear right in the beginning of this book, the Bible. We do see failure, but we also see a God who does not give up on humanity. 

What does it say about the character of God that He chooses not to give up on humanity?

Take It Deeper Questions:

Read Genesis 3

  • Share a story of when you got in trouble as a child.
  • Share a story of being forgiven or forgiving someone else.
  • How is this story told/explained to children?
  • What does shame cause people to do?
  • What could hiding from God look like for a person in your world?
  • How do consequences of sin and forgiveness of sin come together?
  • What does it say about the character of God that He chooses not to give up on humanity?

This post was adapted from a message shared at Corner Church by Scott Woller, Greg J Barber, and Justin Mederich 

Genesis, Trust, Fall, Adam and Eve, Creation, Cain and Abel