Greetings, everyone – God’s joy and peace to you on this Tuesday, welcome to another edition of EDiBS, and welcome to a brand new study series today as we launch into part two of our time in the book of Genesis! It’s great to be with you as we continue our look into this deeply foundational portion of the Bible, one which not only apprises us of the beginning of all things, but most assuredly points us to the New Beginning that is ours in the coming of our promised Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. This second section of study, in fact, will bring that promised Savior into explicit focus as we look to the life and times of Abraham and his journey as a person called into relationship with the Living God.
As always, thanks so much for coming along today! Let’s pray as we begin.
Almighty and everlasting God, Father Son & Holy Spirit, we proclaim your great worth this day as we bow in your presence. You are high and lifted up, so far beyond our thoughts and so far above our ability to grasp the true sense of your holiness and righteousness. We declare your perfection – knowing even so that we cannot fully comprehend the vast nature of what that truly means. And yet we are in awe of you, and we worship you, and we stand amazed at your love for us – a love so great that you would send Jesus to us in order that we not perish but have everlasting life. Please bless the hearing of your Word now. May it find its mark in our hearts. In Christ’s name we pray, amen.
As we get things started today, we’ll be transitioning back into Genesis by returning to where we left off at the end of chapter 11 and connecting it with where we are now at the beginning of chapter 12. Our focus this session: from mostly events to mostly people.
The Lord had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.
I want to take you back to Monte Cristo today. Not the island in the Mediterranean, but the sandwich in your local diner which, if you remember my first mention of it a year or so ago, happens to be one of my son’s favorite meals. Back then, we talked about what makes a Monte Cristo sandwich so good, and the answer we found was a relatively simple one: ingredients that come in two sets of four.
In the first foursome you’ve got the foundation: smoked ham, smoked turkey, and two different cheeses. The second set of four ingredients is a little more nuanced, but it enfolds the first set to bring everything together. First there’s the sweet white bread, which is paired with the meat and cheese. Second is the rich egg batter, in which the bread, meat and cheese is dipped before it’s deep-fried. Once the sandwich comes out of the fryer, the third ingredient is added: a dusting of powdered sugar. And finally, completing the second set of four ingredients is the side of raspberry preserves served as a condiment. Put it all together and you have a tour de force of decadence that, surprisingly, is neither too heavy nor too sweet. I’m not sure how it happens with so many rich ingredients, but at the end of the day the sandwich is a balanced one that really works…and it’s really good!
So why in the world did we spend time at the beginning of a Bible study a year ago talking about a Monte Cristo sandwich, and why are we talking about it again now? It’s all about those two sets of four — a formula that works. Two sets of four, each complementary to the other. Two sets of four, fashioned into a carefully ordered recipe that together bring richness and balance. That’s the Monte Cristo, to be sure…but it also happens to be a helpful template for something far greater: the general structure of the book of Genesis!
The reason I originally likened the structure of this first book of the Bible to a popular restaurant sandwich was to give you a strong visual that you could immediately call to reference no matter where you might be in the text. Once you’ve got that in place, the world is your oyster: you can feast as deeply, as elaborately, and for as long as you want on any portion of a given passage.
What, specifically, are the two sets of four connected to Genesis? The first set has to do primarily with events, and the second has to do primarily with people. Let’s look at them just briefly, because as we do, we’ll see that as we’ve come to the next section in our study of the book, we’ve come to a transition.
The first set of four is, again, a set of four events. Are there people involved? Yes, but as a whole the events take precedence over the people.
Event number 1: Creation (Genesis 1-2).
Event number 2: The Fall (Genesis 3-5).
Event number 3: The Flood (Genesis 6-9).
Event number 4: The Rise of Nations (Genesis 10-11).
We covered these primary events in our look at the first 11 chapters of the book, and at the time we called them foundational events, marked moments in the history of all that has happened since God spoke the universe into existence.
Now, as we begin the next leg of our study in Genesis, we’re moving into that second set of four. Are there events which take place? Of course, but once again, there are four particular people who take precedence over any series of events.
Person number 1: Abraham and his great journey of faith (Genesis 12-24).
Person number 2: Isaac, and along with Isaac, his family (Genesis 25-26).
Person number 3: Jacob and his topsy-turvy, knock-down drag-out life (Genesis 27-36).
Person number 4: Joseph and his own perilous, but ultimately powerful, journey. (Genesis 37-50).
The lives of these four men, beginning here in chapter 12 and going through to the end of the book, are definitely a more nuanced grouping with more ins and outs and pandering and positioning than the event-centered section we saw in chapters 1-11. But the lives and stories of these four men — as well as all they represent and point to with respect to types and foreshadowings of the coming of Christ — enfold and bring together the overarching message not just of Genesis itself, but of the whole Bible: A Redeemer is needed, a Redeemer has been promised, and indeed, a Redeemer is on the way. That’s a powerful thought — and it’s something we’ll be coming back to over and over again as we study each day.
As we wrap things up for the day, you’ve probably already surmised that here in Part Two of our study series, our focus will be almost exclusively on Abraham. Things are going to start off with a bang and we’ll hit the ground running, with lots of things to challenge us as we go through chapters 12-24. Later, in Genesis Part Three we’ll work our way through the lives of Isaac and Jacob, and finally, our fourth and final installment of the series will follow the life and times of Joseph.
As we begin this new section this week, remember that there’s a richness of ingredients here in Genesis. The Four Important Events which we covered in our initial time in Genesis now lead us into the lives of four important people. What’s the big deal? In all of them, brought together as they are in this special way, we are shown both our need for and the promise of a Savior.
Genesis is a book that, in showing us the reality of who we are, warts and all, also shows us the hyper-reality of the love of God in Christ, who has loved us and made us His own in spite of it all. That’s rich indeed…really good!
Have a great day everyone, and God-willing, I’ll see you again tomorrow to pick things up in earnest. Until then, the joy of the Lord be your strength!