Thursday, February 25, 2010

Genesis: A Portrait of Hope

You are my hope
Hope like no other
Hope like no other
Reaches to me

To me, that stanza encapsulates Genesis.

In the beginning God spoke into being His
Beautiful creation - perfect and life-filled. Then
Darkness came. And the
Deceiver was victorious. Sin replaced light. But
Do not despair. A glorious plan of hope was
Immediately put into motion.
"He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel." (3.15)

All throughout Genesis God is bringing hope & blessings. There are approximately 70 references to blessings in Genesis. In most instances God is speaking to His chosen people, the Israelites - Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob and their descendants. He blesses them financially, blesses them with children, and blesses anyone who comes into contact with them (Laban, Potiphar, etc.). Yet, not only is this certain people blessed by God but He promises to bless us through them.

"all peoples on earth will blessed through [Abraham]" (12.3)
"all nations on earth will be blessed through [Abraham]" (18.18)
"through your [Abraham's] offspring all nations on earth will be blessed" (22.18)
"through your [Isaac's] offspring all nations on earth will be blessed" (26.4)
"all peoples on earth will be blessed through you [Jacob] and your offspring" (28.14)

God brings hope to His people and hope to all nations through His people. This is the big picture of Genesis.

And yet, there is also a detailed picture: He is intent on bringing hope to individual lives. Interaction, compassion, caring, frustration, correction . . . God is intimately involved in the lives of His humans, right from the beginning. I think another title for Genesis could be The Book of Stories. Cain & Abel, Noah, Abram, Lot, Melchizedek, Hagar, Sarah, Isaac & Rebekah, Jacob, Leah, Joseph, Tamar, Pharaoh . . . (It makes me wonder what stories weren't written down. In heaven, will we hear about others who called on the name of the Lord during the time of Genesis?)

Two stories capture my attention:

  1. Hagar is the first person to give God a name: "You are the God who sees me." (16.13) El Roi. The God Who Sees. And, following custom, she marks the place where He met her, as a reminder, naming it Beer Lahai Roi, "well of the Living One who sees me." God pursues and saves a foreign slave woman and she gives Him a name. What a precious story. A story to give hope. A story to demonstrate hope.

  2. Thirteen chapters of Genesis are devoted to Joseph's story and yet not once does God talk to him directly (as He does with Abraham, Isaac & Jacob). God most certainly blesses Joseph: "When his [Egyptian] master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant." (39.3-4) God gives Joseph strength to resist temptation: "She caught him by his cloak . . . But [Joseph] left his cloak in her hand and ran out the house." (39.12) God gives Joseph dreams and also gives him answers to dreams - a gift of insight & prophecy. I see a special and different connection here. And also a picture of hope . . . hope that even after a stint of slavery & prison (and in the midst of it!), God brings purpose & life.

Do you see a theme here? I most certainly do. The promise of blessings to come, for all peoples. Life in the midst of a sinful world. Individual stories of God-interaction. Hope.

This is how I see Genesis.

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