Taking things slow and looking at the Bible one verse at a time, one word at a time is incredibly valuable. But just as important is seeing the big picture of each book of the Bible. The goal of this series is to cover the ‘big picture’ meaning of each book of the Bible in 500 words or less.

The word Genesis means beginning, and that’s exactly what we get in the first book of the Bible. Creation is what comes to mind when most people think about Genesis, but it’s not the only beginning. Genesis also shows us the beginning of sin, the beginning of hope, and the beginning of grace.

The beginning of the Universe (Genesis 1-2) 

In the beginning God created everything; atoms and molecules, water and land, planets and people. Everything we know is dependent on God, and so the creation account guards us from mistaking the created for the creator. The first beginning in Genesis leads us to someone outside ourselves, outside creation. He alone has the right to direct our lives, and he alone is worthy of worship.

The beginning of Sin (Genesis 3-6)

The second beginning in Genesis is the beginning of sin. Adam and Eve rebel against God in Genesis 3, choosing to rule their own lives instead of living under the rule of God. It doesn’t take long for sin’s devastating effects to work through the entire earth. Humanity is cut off from God as Adam and Eve are thrown out of the garden. Murder quickly follows, and one way or another, every human being dies (Gen. 5). In short time sin spreads so much that, “every intention of the thoughts of (humanity’s) heart was only evil continually.”

The beginning of Hope (Genesis 7-50)

In chapter seven things start to change. First, there’s a worldwide flood. God shows us that sin brings his judgement, and for a moment all hope is lost. But in the last 43 chapters of Genesis, in one story after another, God gives hope. Not everyone is destroyed in the flood. Noah survives, and that gives hope that there may be a way to be saved from death and judgement. Hope takes on more form when we meet Abraham. God makes a covenant with Abraham and promises to bless all the families of the earth through him. Abraham believes what God says and is counted righteous—it suddenly looks like there’s a way for God to undo sin. We see the blessing play out in the life of Jacob. Jacob is a trickster, a liar and a thief, a sinner. And yet somehow Joseph is loved and blessed by God. But how? Genesis ends with a big hint of how this hope works. Joseph, one of Jacob’s sons, is rejected by his own brothers, sold into slavery and taken to Egypt. Years later Jospeh became an important leader in Egypt and he finds his brothers at his feet. He can kill them or save them. He chose the latter. How it all works isn’t clear in Genesis, but three thing are there. First, there is hope for sinners. Second, there is a hint in Gen. 3:16 and the story of Joseph that we will somehow be saved by one of our own. And third, however our salvation will work out, we don’t deserve it. It is by grace.