Saturday, 15 January 2011

Questions in Genesis, answers in Jesus?

I posted this earlier, but deleted it as I wasn’t happy with it going up. I wanted to repost it, though in a slightly modified form, as I still think the point is worth making, and it is this:
Supposing you were the evangelist Philip in Acts 8, going up to the Ethiopian Eunuch’s chariot, and supposing you asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” and supposing he still said, “How can I, unless someone explains it to me.”
So far, so good. I reckon most readers of this blog could cope with applying Isaiah 53 to Jesus. But suppose the scroll he was reading from was not Isaiah but Genesis — specifically Genesis 1 onwards. Would you still be able to do (or even try to do) what Philip did in Acts 8:35:
Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
Now you might object that Genesis 1 is not about Jesus in the same way Isaiah 53 is about Jesus, but isn’t all the Old Testament ultimately ‘about Jesus’? Doesn’t Luke tell us of the disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus that,
... beginning with Moses ... he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
And isn’t ‘Moses’ here a reference to the Pentateuch, and doesn’t that begin with Genesis 1, and doesn’t that begin with the same words as John’s gospel: “In the beginning ...”?
My suspicion, however, is that very few of us would think, if we were approached by someone with questions about Genesis, that we should start solving them by explaining about Jesus. So is Genesis exempt (at least until you get to 3:15)? Or is there something useful we can say?
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  1. Hi John,
    You wouldn't be asking this question if you had been following for the last 15 days. Glen Scrivener is blogging his way through 365 phrases from the King James Bible, beginning with Genesis 1. He's up to Genesis 2:17 and it has been Christ-saturated all the way. It's really very good!

    Tim V-B

  2. Well, since all three persons of the trinity are involved in Creation, I should think that including Jesus “in the beginning” would not be that big a problem - at least now that we’ve read your post and are prepared :-)

  3. How about...God made Adam two promises, eternal life and the knowledge of good and evil, through the act of eating the fruit from one of two trees, one tree for each promise. If Adam ate the fruit of the first tree he'd live forever, the second tree he'd gain the promised knowledge but be summarily executed. When Adam ate the wrong fruit, God did not break his promises, he gracious let Adam live, then fulfilled the promises in his eternal Son. Jesus took the execution for sin we all deserve, kept the law we'd all broken and now supersedes the tree of life such that all who feed on him by faith will live forever, even though they die. For more see

  4. Meredith G Kline, Images of the Spirit is a great place to start. He recalls the theophanic Glory(as we just saw on epiphany 1) and the presence of God "hovering" over the water.

    Here is a great article,I hope this is helpful.

  5. I think trying to spot Trinitarian references in the OT material ain't the way to go.

    But Paul (Col 1) and John (John 1:1-18)seem to give us a pretty good guide.

  6. Thanks for the Kline reference(s). You'll see he gets a plug on this blog here:

  7. I would say that Gen 1:26ff. is essential for understanding the incarnation. That human beings are made in the image of is foundation for God taking the form of a human being in the person of Christ. Eternally committed to taking on human flesh, God made human beings in his image. Gen 1 seems quite important for that.

    Also, following the Christ hymn in Col 1, we might want to emphasize that the good God who created all things and upholds all things is present to do a work of new creation in Christ. The God of the first creation in Gen 1 is also the God of new creation in Christ.

    Matt O'Reilly
    Jay, FL

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  9. This is what I meant to say, John.

    Genesis is about Jesus and His Kushite ancestors. The genealogies are His ancestry, beginning in Gen. 4. He is the descendant of the Horite ruler-priests whose lines exclusively intermarried.

  10. I ended up doing this the other week in response to a question on science and religion.

    What does it mean for humanity to be created in the image of God - possibility of relationship with God - fall - Jesus - possibility of restoration - in order to be truly human we need to be trusting Jesus...

    Alternatively: "God made us so we belong to him" and carry on from there.

    John Allister

  11. Can I recommend "The Meaning of the Pentateuch" by John Sailhamer (IVP, 2009)? I won't summarise (partly because I'm still reading it), but his thesis is that the Pentateuch is intended to show the inadequacy of the law as a way of salvation, and to point to the coming of the Messiah.

    Stephen Walton, Marbury

  12. It is exciting how many believers are exploring these questions. The beauty of the Hebrew Scriptures is often overlooked when we discuss matters of salvation, but the presence and importance of Jesus throughout the Bible is clear when we know what to look for.

    Emily Dixon
    Oklahoma, US

  13. Hi Michael,
    What do Paul and John guide us in? Seems to me they spot trinitarian stuff all through Moses. If they're "good guides" shouldn't we follow their lead?

    Glen Scrivener,
    Eastbourne, UK

  14. Paul seems to see creation as pointing to new creation. Thus Adam is a type of Christ(Roms 5) and Adam and Eve intentionally prefigure the union between Christ and his Church. Creation itself is formed by God speaking (the Word). Furthermore the first word he speaks is 'Light'. All adumbrations of the gospel.

    We also have a tale of two trees. One is grace (the tree of life) and the other of responsibility (knowledge of God and evil. While I do not agree with the above comment that Adam was promised eternal life (a fancy of covenant theology) he was free to eat of the tree of life and forbidden to eat of the tree of responsibility. We are immediately into gospel categories.

    If I were speaking to a non-christian, however, I would not make any of the above comments (well maybe, at a pinch, the last one). I would simply wish to point out that a good God made a good creation which man turned into a wasteland when he turned away from the God who had given him everything. It was an act of supremely irrational rebellion but then in the last analysis all sin is irrational.

    Gen 3:15 would be the point where a good God shows himself to be a gracious God who provides hope and so we arrive at Christ for an unbeliever.

  15. Christ is all over Genesis.

    God creates by His Word and His Spirit hovers over the face of the deep.

    Let US create man in OUR own image. That's a portrayal of a conversation within the Holy Trinity, including God the Son.

    In 3:15, we get the promise of one who will crush the serpent's head, Who will be Eve's Seed - but not Adam's.

    Abraham had three angelic visitors and we are told explicitly that they were God. One God, Whom Abraham saw as Three.

    And on and on, throughout the entire O.T.

  16. You go, girl! And you've hardly scratched the surface. There is also Oholibamah, ancestor of Moses and David and archetype of the Virgin Mary.

    Actually, Anastasia, the promise of Gen. 3:15 was made concerning the "Woman" - not Eve - as Eve isn't named until verse 20. This is both promise and prophesy concerning the Theotokos. And Abraham's ancestors, to whom the promise was made, believed it enough to maintain the purity of their lines by exclusive intermarriage.

    The kinship pattern of the rulers listed in the Genesis genealogies shows two lines of descent. One is traced through the cousin/niece bride who named her first-born son after her father. Example: Namaah, Lamech the Elder's daughter,(Gen. 4) married her patrilineal cousin Methuselah (Gen. 5) and named their first-born son Lamech. This pattern, which I call the "cousin bride's naming prerogative," is found with the names Joktan, Sheba and Esau, among others.

    The other line of descent is traced through the first-born son of the half-sister bride, as Sarah was to Abraham. The ruler-priest lines of the two first-born sons intermarried, thus preserving the bloodline of those to whom God made the promise that a woman of their people would bring forth the Seed who would crush the serpent's head and restore Paradise.

  17. One expression I really hate is "You go, girl." :-(

  18. Great point! Thanks for posting! :)

  19. Non-Rev Mark Gillespie20 January 2011 at 09:38

    'One expression I really hate is "You go, girl." :-(' - Doesn't it rather depend on who is is being said to?

    Anyway, I can still remember the thrill, as a young Christian, of realising that Genesis was all about Jesus. Right now I'm studying Exodus - and it's full of him, too!