The new year is a wonderful opportunity for new beginnings, new opportunities…and new mistakes! Undoubtedly, all are going to come in 2021. There are going to be great days, and not so great days. You’re going to have victories, and you’re going to have struggles. Maybe you look at 2021 and think, “Man, I’m glad 2020 is over!” Hopefully, you can look back on 2020 and see some things that you learned about God and that your relationship is closer to him now than it was a year ago. 2021 can be a building block of that relationship.
Each Friday in 2021, we will be working our way through the first 5 books of the Bible. They are known as the Pentateuch, the Torah, or the Law. No matter what you call them, they are foundational to everything else found in the Bible. From the creation of the world in Genesis 1, to the fall of man in Genesis 3, the catastrophic erasure of those who rebelled against God, the confusion God sent to undermine man’s attempts to reach God on his own terms, all the way to the story of Joseph in chapters 39-50, Genesis lays a groundwork for everything that is to come. Exodus presents a picture of God as the supremely powerful Being that He is, His care for His people, His love to guide, and His miraculous providence in the face of insurmountable odds. Leviticus demonstrates the importance of holiness and worshipping God according to His desires rather than man’s desires. Numbers illustrates the nearsightedness of man’s plans and the infinite wisdom of God’s. Deuteronomy is often called the second giving of the law as it reiterates many themes and principles from the book of Exodus, but fills in many questions so that we have no excuse in following God.
In Genesis chapter 1, we see that God created everything. In so doing, that establishes Him as the authority over what He has created. Just like an author has copyright over his or her literary works, or an inventor owns the patent to his inventions, God holds the rights and authority over everything He has created. Also, we note that God said that everything He created was good, and then as a whole, that it was “very good.”
One point of contention that many have with the Genesis account of creation is that “God probably used a long time to create the world, not literally 6 days.” If God had only said that He did it in 6 days, that should be enough, but He gives us several hints that he is not talking about vast spans of time. First of all, he lists them as days. Not as “periods of time,” “ages,” or “eras.” But maybe you still have a question about the duration of the days. He clarifies even further that “the evening and the morning were the ___th day.” How many evenings and mornings are in a day? 1 morning and 1 evening. That rules out any other interpretation of the length of time used for creation.
So if God created everything good, what happened? Genesis chapter 3 is what is known in literature as the “inciting moment.” It really begins the plot that the rest of the Bible will follow. Genesis chapters 1 and 2 served as the introduction to the characters. In Genesis 3, man chooses to do what he wants rather than what God has told Him to do. He has rejected God’s authority in favor of his own desires. This presents a battle of authorities that will stretch through the ages. From this point on, the paradigm shifts and the once perfect relationship that man shared with God has been broken, and can only be repaired by a perfect person. Since neither you, nor I, nor anyone else can fulfill that, we are presented with a problem of epic proportions. This tension is resolved with the advent and death of Christ the Messiah, but not fully realized until the return of Christ. These first 5 books can be as interesting as any novel produced by Tolkien, Lewis, Twain or Hemmingway, but they are only the beginning of the greatest book ever written.
This year, I encourage you to follow the story of God and His relationship to mankind from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. Pay attention to the details, but don’t get so caught up in the minutiae that you lose track of the story. It is truly the greatest story of all time!