I was thinking about this as I prepared the introductory lecture to our Community Bible Study of the book of Genesis. After reading and thinking, and then reading some more, about the content and organization and theological meaning of the book of Genesis I came to a clarifying realization. It turns out that Genesis is a collection of family stories.
Yes, Genesis communicates profound truth about a supernatural God, but it does so through the stories of God’s interactions with very natural families. The first pages of the Bible introduce us to a Creator God who designed a dazzling universe, arranged for the planet earth to support life, created that life, and then, wonder of wonders, desired intimate relationship with the man and woman he had created.
Genesis communicates the heart of God through a series of family stories, each introduced by the phrase, “This is the account of…” which is a translation of the Hebrew word “toledot.” I like the alternate rendering, “This is what became of…” Genesis tells the stories of “what became of” Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob among others. Their lives started out like many of ours, lacking direction and handicapped by personal failures. Yet, through God’s work in and through ordinary families, their stories became eternally significant.
If I were to write a memoir of “what became of” my life, I would want it to speak of a life that grew from emptiness to fulfillment, pointlessness to purpose, and from preoccupation with myself to single-minded focus on God. I am still learning how to live such a life, for the transformation of a human heart is a long-term project.
It’s just like God, the One who could write in the sky, to write in our hearts instead.
Have you experienced the hand of God in your life? In your family? What have you learned about him in the process?
P.S. Since I’ll be immersed in Genesis for the foreseeable future, I will likely post on material from Genesis in one of my twice-weekly posts. Feel free to read along!