The book of Genesis is about “beginnings.” Like any great story, the characters and plot need introduction; Genesis fills this need in the story of the bible. Here, we meet a Creator God who shapes and connects and gives roles. We meet the man and the woman, and through them the people of both Israel and the nations that surround them. The man and woman are given a special place in the creation: they continue God’s work of creating, sustaining, nurturing and guarding.
By the third chapter, Genesis takes a tragic turn as the man and woman listen to a voice other than the Creator’s and pursue an agenda of their own choosing rather than the one given by the Creator. This leads to the expectation of another major character in the story, one who will wrestle with the serpent and deal with what went so wrong in the garden. We will catch glimpses of this promise from time to time in the Old Testament, but for now the promised one is a vague and fleeting idea.
Genesis is a series of halting starts and stops. The creation ends in banishment from the garden, the first son of Adam in the death of his brother, the world after the flood is tainted by Noah’s son, and finally there is the Tower of Babel. God is creating, but no one seems particularly interested in cooperating. Then in Genesis 12, the creation takes another turn: the Creator begins creating a nation (or rather nations) through a single man and woman.
All of these things are held together by a series of genealogies (all the “sons of” statements at the end of Genesis 4 and 5 for example). As the scope of the book narrows from the entire creation to the fate of the descendants of Adam and Eve to the story of a particular man and woman, these genealogies connect the parts to each other. Enjoy the beginnings…all of them!