Online Sunday School. Review of “Beginnings: the Call of God in Genesis. (Kerygma)

 

In the beginning God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

 

Many, many days later, Biblical storytellers, writers and editors pondered the answers to many questions

 

Where did everything come from?

 

What does God want from creation?

 

Why are people alienated from God and each other?

 

Why is there evil? 

 

Why are there divisions among tribes and languages of people?

 

What is God doing in the world today to carry out God’s purpose.?

 

The early Genesis stories describe the Sovereign Call of God

 

Later stories are about the patriarchal families who are the ancestors of God’s people Israel.

 

In the first creation story, God speaks, and creation occurs. God sees that creation is good.

 

God creates humankind “in God’s image” God blesses them and says “be fruitful and multiply, and have dominion over all the other living things.

 

In the second creation story, God created man from the dust of the ground. God created a garden in Eden for man to till and keep.

 

God commanded the man not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or he would die. God created a woman to be his companion.

 

Instead of Adam and Eve talking with God, a snake talked to them about God.

 

“’You will not die if you eat, for God knows that your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

 

Adam and Eve ate, Afterward they hid, and blamed someone else. Sound familiar?

 

But God did not kill Adam and Eve. God expelled them from the garden but also clothed them.

 

  God’s relationship with God’s creation is both sovereign and gracious.

 

Cain and Abel were the first brothers in the Bible.

 

God preferred Abel’s sacrifices, making Cain angry and resentful.

 

God said to Cain “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if not, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

 

Instead Cain murdered Abel. God confronted Cain, took away the fertility of the soil and made him a wanderer. But God also placed a mark of protection on Cain so that no one would kill him.

 

  God’s relationship with God’s creation is both sovereign and gracious.

 

Noah was a righteous man among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God

 

But the rest of humankind did evil in their hearts and minds. It grieved the Lord to his heart that he had made humankind.

 

God gave Noah instructions to build an ark. God sent a flood to destroy the rest of creation. But God remembered Noah and the waters subsided.

 

God made a covenant with Noah never to send another flood to destroy humankind. God also instructed them not to kill each other.

 

God’s relationship with God’s creation is both sovereign and gracious. God makes promises and keeps them.

 

Afterwards Noah’s descendants were not much better than their predecessors. They became the nations of the world.

 

Some of them said “Come, let us build a tower with its top in the heavens and let us make a name for ourselves.”

 

But God confused their language so that they could not understand one another’s speech and scattered them over the face of all the earth.

 

Years later, Christians after Pentecost remembered this story.

 

 

God’s relationship with God’s creation is both sovereign and gracious. God makes promises and keeps them.

 

The second part of Genesis is the story of Patriarchal families

 

The people in the patriarchal families are flawed, like we are. They were cowardly, conniving and unfair as often as they were faithful. But God worked through them to bless humanity

 

Abraham embraced the call of God.

 

Abram and Sarai were old and childless but were very rich in possessions. They lived far away from Canaan.

 

The Lord told Abram, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. 
And I will make my covenant between me and you.
“Go from your country to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Abram went

 

The Lord also told Abram, Your wife shall have a son to be your heir. Look toward heaven and count the stars. So shall your descendants be.

 

 

Your name shall now be Abraham; which means “I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations.” And I will give to you the land where you are now an alien.

 

Sarah laughed because they were both so old. But Isaac was born to them.

 

 

God surprises us, defies our expectations, and creates a community of faith.

 

God tested Abraham and said, “Abraham!” Take your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering.

 

Abraham went as God commanded. Would you?

 

On the way to the altar Isaac asked “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 

 

Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”

 

Abraham bound his son Isaac, laid him on the altar, and took a knife to kill his son.

 

But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Do not lay your hand on the boy, for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son, from me.”

 

Abraham saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son

 

Years later, Christians remembered this story pondering the temptation of Christ, the crucifixion and the resurrection.

 

God tests in sovereignty and provides in graciousness.

 

Jacob was conflicted by the call of God.

 

The 12 tribes of Israel descended from Jacob’s 12 sons. Jacob was not particularly heroic or even moral, but God blessed him anyway.

 

Jacob struggled with his elder twin brother Esau, even as they left the womb. Jacob disguised himself as Esau and tricked their aging father Isaac out of his blessing.

 

Jacob feared Esau’s revenge and fled to his uncle Laban.

 

Jacob and his uncle connived and cheated each other in numerous ways. Jacob fell in love with Laban’s daughter Rachel and worked seven years’ for her. However Laban then told him he must marry his older daughter Leah first, and serve seven more years for Rachel.

 

At Bethel, Jacob dreamed of angels climbing a ladder between earth and heaven. God promised Jacob “I am with you, I will keep you and I will bring you back to this land.”

 

Later while awaiting a feared encounter with his vengeful brother Esau, Jacob encountered and wrestled with a mysterious figure, perhaps a man, or an angel, or God.

 

They wrestled to a draw, Jacob received a blessing and a new name “Israel” which means “you have striven with God and with humans and have prevailed”. But Jacob also received an injury that caused him to limp.

 

When Esau encountered Jacob, Esau did not take revenge on his brother, but instead embraced and forgave him.

 

The characters in the story are not really in control. God is in control.

 

Joseph followed the hidden call of God. 

 

Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son. Jacob gave him a coat as a symbol of superior rank. Joseph dreamed his brothers would bow down to him.

 

Joseph’s brothers hated him. They planned to kill him, threw him in a well, then sold him into slavery, and told Jacob that an animal had killed him.

 

Joseph was sold to Egypt, was unjustly imprisoned and forgotten for several years. Then Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, where God was warning of an upcoming famine. Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of preparing to store food.

 

When the famine came, Jacob sent Joseph’s brothers to buy food in Egypt. They needed to go before Joseph, who recognized them and intimidated them.

 

However eventually Joseph identified himself, embraced his brothers, and had them bring Jacob and his family to Egypt under his protection.

 

Joseph forgave his brothers. “Do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves. Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good,”

 

God chose one people for the sake of all. To the world in its rebellion and alienation, God promised blessing and restoration. God chose Abraham and his descendants as bearers of that promise for all peoples. They had done nothing more than others to deserve God’s favor, but God loved them and made them God’s own. We acknowledge God’s freedom and grace. Though we are unworthy, God has made us God’s own in Christ.” [Presbyterian Declaration of Faith , Chapter 3 (1977]