Purpose of this study outline:
For us to explore and see God's richness and understand the Grand Narrative of the Bible.
The first 6 chapters of Genesis serve as the core foundation of the rest of Scripture.
The Old Testament, or Tanakh, makes up about 76% of the Bible. If we do not properly understand the Old Testament, we will not understand the New Testament as intended. The Old Testament was shadowing what the New Testament is revealing.
To grow in our understanding of God, making our walk with Him more meaningful and intentional in this life in preparation for the new life to come.
Chapters 1-2 - “Behold, it was very good”
Creation - known as our “cosmic story,” this is a grand narrative about the origins of the universe and our beginnings. Everything was intentionally created by God for a purpose; it's not a mistake, not an accident, not a temporary trial run. It was created to last forever.
Purpose and intention?
To declare His glory and display His wonders (Psalm 19:1).
To show His divine nature, invisible qualities, and eternal power (Romans 1:20).
To dwell among His creation and for humanity to rule and enjoy the earth (3:8; 1:26-27). Keep this concept of “God dwelling among us” in mind.
Everything He created was “very good” (1:31, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.”). “Very good” in Hebrew means “exceedingly excellent” or “abundantly excellent.” Everything was made in 6 literal days. The evolutionary theory and the creation account cannot coexist. Evolutionary theory is a chaotic, by-chance event; the creation account is intentionally designed and done in a purposeful order. God declaring things as “good” and “very good” shows us He’s the moral law Giver and determines what’s good and not good.
God “rested” - rest is a crucial word to understand. Keep “rest” in mind.
"Rest" in this context has nothing to do with God tiring out or being exhausted and everything to do with Him completing, blessing, and sanctifying His work and delighting in it (2:3).
“Rest” in the Hebrew is šāḇaṯ. It means to cease from one’s labor. This concept of Him resting on the seventh day will serve as a law for the people of Israel, known as the Sabbath Day.
This Sabbath Day will serve as a shadow for something wonderful (we’ll get to this later!). Jonathan Mark Hicks beautifully wrote, “God’s rest is His delight and joy in His creation; He enjoys what He created and blesses it through His presence within it.” When God “rested,” He ceased from His work and came to walk among His creation, observing everything with pleasure (3:8).
Humanity - the crown of God’s creation. Image bearers of God. We are not animals, but image bearers of the Creator (1:26).
Image-bearer is known as the Imago Dei. “Image bearer” in Hebrew is tṣelem, which is where we get the word “idol” from or “resemblance.”
Erickson Milliard gave three ways in which we’re God’s images: Substantively - humanity sharing substances or characteristics of God. Relationally - the unifying and harmonious relationship and fellowship with God. Functionally - the work given for humanity to do as co-partnering and co-ruling with God.
Our physical bodies have value and are directly tied to our identity as being an image bearer of God. If we see the body as unimportant, we fail to see the divine intention of being physical reflectors of the invisible God. For us to live as image bearers of the Creator, we must be human. “Let Us make human beings in Our image” (1:26).
The first, original, and intended Great Commission for humanity was, “be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth. Have dominion over it and subdue it. Rule over every creature, bird, and fish . . . tend to it and keep it” (1:27-28; 2:15). We were to be co-partners with God in caring for, ruling over, filling, cultivating, and protecting His creation.
Eden’s Garden: our space and His space overlapping, or interconnecting.
No distinction was made between His space and our space for they interlocked.
Eden (and ultimately earth) served as the microcosm of heaven: a smaller idea representing the grand scheme of things (i.e. human beings representing God; earth representing heaven. As human beings are living out their first commandment: “have dominion over the earth and subdue it” they are reflecting the ultimate Rulership of God over heaven AND earth).
God was pleased to dwell among us as we ruled the earth and lived in community with Him. As God and humans were united, so was heaven and earth united. “Heaven on earth” is a popular phrase that’s not far from the truth of how it was in the beginning.
“Eden” in Hebrew means “delight or pleasure.” Thus, Garden of Delight or Garden of Pleasure can also be said. As God delighted in His creation, we were to have delight in our space.
Chapter 3 - “Where are you?"
Adam and Eve decided to determine for themselves what was good and evil; not follow the One who alone knows what is truly evil and truly good. Throughout the first chapter of Genesis, He declares what was good.
He showed us that He sets the moral standards.
This tree of knowledge was humanity’s choice to dethrone God, disfellowship Him, and decide for themselves standards of morality.
Sin is redefining the laws of God, redefining morality, and redefining our allegiance. As Tim Mackie so beautifully and convictingly puts it, “They rejected their blessed role as images of God, and instead claimed to be gods.” When we sin, we renounce our image-bearing status of being His reflectors, deny His existence, and be deity ourselves. We decide to self-identity and craft our definitions of what it means to be human.
Paul’s letter to the Romans rings true: we have “exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures” (Romans 1:23). Charles B. Hodge wrote, “No heresy is more insidious than to make God in man’s image” (My Daily Walk With God, p.44). Denying our image-bearing status is the foundation for every sinful action or thought we read about in history or experience today.
It was at this moment that heaven and earth and God and humanity separated. It’s no wonder why at this moment heaven and earth separated and a chasm between humans and God was set in place, “Adam, where are you?” David Lipscomb wrote, “As a pure and holy being, God cannot tolerate guilt and sin, the two cannot permanently dwell together in the universe. When sin came into the world, God left this world as a dwelling place. He cannot dwell in a defiled and sin-polluted temple.”
By sinning, we’re defiling the very presence of God, His dwelling, our habitation, and marring our image. So humans are expelled from the Garden Temple to wander and roam. To be subjected to futility, pain, toil, hardship, awaiting God’s redemption.
Chapters 4-5 - “...sin crouches at the door, its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
The inversion of God’s created order begins in full effect.
We see the first murder take place (Cain and Abel, Genesis 4:8), showing that life becomes death. We see the first polygamy (Cain’s son Lamech, Genesis 4:19), showing the original design of one male and one female becoming inverted.
God warned His creation, “Sin crouches at the door, its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Sin was to have no dominion or rule over humanity; unfortunately, man succumbed. God is actively warning humanity to be aware of the destructive power of sin and to master it as much as possible until the coming redemption of the Messiah.
Remnants of humanity’s faithfulness are displayed, showing our image-bearing status, though marred: Enoch “walked with God,” and humankind “began to call upon the name of the Lord.”
Genesis 5 reiterates the point that this book is about humankind and their relationship with Him. The first three verses emphasize the importance of humanity being created in His image.
Chapter 6 - “Humanity’s heart was only evil continually; the LORD God grieved.”
Sin’s climatic result (universal degeneracy) - when sin has fully consumed a human, it shows the results of its damaging effect on their image-bearing status.
Sin gives human beings the potential to become monstrous. We see “the world was filled with only evil continually.” Not one soul was good, save for Noah.
We see the effects of influence. The daughters of men have influenced the sons of God to forsake what little holiness was left in the world. (Note: this has nothing to do with the Sethite theory pervading theology. Seth’s line wasn’t the “holy line” and Cain’s line wasn't the evil one). Why we’ll see later on throughout Scripture of God forbidding His people to live among or seek partnership with those who are pagans. Who we surround ourselves with daily is who we will eventually become.
This chapter is about humanity, not angels. The entire book of Genesis is humanity’s history and the detrimental results of dethroning God from their lives to live a life that’s self-governed without submission to Him.
There’s an erroneous doctrine being promoted that this chapter is about angels corrupting and marrying humans, but this notion erases and changes the story of Genesis about humanity sinning by their free will and exchanging their status as image bearers to create for themselves false gods and live a life of self-pleasure without the Holy One.
Renewing the Earth. When the Creator observed His creation fully succumbed to perversion from His original design, He lamented over the earth. He then seeks to rid the world of sin and recreate it through a regenerating flood. This act will serve as a shadow for what’s revealed in the New Testament, to be discussed in a later article.
Overall, the first 6 chapters of Genesis serve as the foundation for the Grand Narrative of God’s word. When we properly understand Genesis (and the rest of the Old Testament), we will have a deeper and enriched understanding of the New. To read the general overview of the entire book of Genesis, read my previous article, “Digging Deep in the Torah: Genesis.”