Are we only learning about the Bible, or really reading it? Let’s take a look at Genesis and creation.

I was not always the best student when I was in school. There are plenty of times where I was assigned a reading, such as in English classes, and instead I just “learned about” the book. I read a bit, but more so found summaries and essays that were helpful and were ultimately shortcuts to the reading.

I could get through school easily enough like this with minor consequences, such as I was 36 when I finally read the Great Gatsby, rather than a teenager. But that sort of reading creates a bad pattern. A pattern that I think many of us can follow when it comes to the Bible. We may learn about it, while not really reading it. And we miss things.

Take for example this week’s reading from Genesis. We are doing the first five chapters, and even if you tried to read the Bible before and only got a few chapters in, you’d already have read the creation account.

But are we really reading? You’ve likely learned about it and it is even a point of controversy in and outside the church. There are arguments about creation theories and many wonder if the Bible conflicts with science. So we are familiar with the Biblical account of creation, but are we reading it? For instance, have you noticed the way that there are two creation accounts? That chapter 1 (and a bit of 2) speaks of creation one way, then chapter 2 goes over it some of it again, with a different style? Why is that? What is the purpose of these two chapters? Those are great questions to dig in as you read! What does God want us to learn from these opening chapters? Are we seeing God’s omnipotence? The goodness and beauty of creation? His purpose? Our purpose?

I don’t point this out to scold anyone for not noticing something in Scripture! Rather it is an exciting invitation to read. God’s Word is full and it is rich. It can be unexpected and comforting and challenging. Even in the familiar opening chapters of Genesis there can be a new word that God will bring to us by his Spirit.

Not to end with a contradiction to what I began with, but here are some resources to help us learn. A video introduction to Genesis and an article that tries to tease out the differences in those chapters of Genesis, just to get you thinking. I offer them not as a replacement to read, nor as something that is on par with the Bible, but as a help and invitation to read the Bible more deeply.

What is the Relationship Between the Creation Accounts in Genesis 1 and 2?

The Bible Project – Genesis 1-11

Several Introductions to the Bible

This week’s reading is titled “Introductions.” We had our introductions to what the Bible is with brief readings from Hebrews and 2 Timothy.

When you read the passage in Luke you get an introduction to a way in which we can read the Bible. Jesus himself shows us that throughout all of Scripture we see him. He instructs disciples soon after the resurrection using the Old Testament and reveals all that those books say about him. Jesus didn’t come into the picture of God’s great plan late in the game. Jesus Christ was always the plan–before this world was even made we were chosen in him, as it says in Ephesians 1.

Then we turn to Genesis and are introduced to creation. Genesis has two accounts of the creation with the second one coming in chapters two and three. There we are introduced to the greatest of God’s creations, human beings, but then quickly we see how far we fall.

God made us and gave Adam clear instructions for how to live in the garden alongside God. But temptation comes when the serpent questions God’s word. “Did God really say that?… Oh, you won’t really die if you do that.” Adam and Eve do not believe the truth of God and believe the tempter. They exchange truth for a lie. The serpent wasn’t even holding something out that was an obvious treachery. The promise was for something akin to wisdom; it was to be like God. But in their pursuit of something good in the wrong way, they sin. And with sin there is consequence. There is shame, there is alienation, and there is curse.

Although God is the one who is wronged, he still seeks to provide even in the midst of passing out judgment. God is the one who clothes his children and he then in chapter three of Genesis promises one who will come for the serpent. Many see Christ as the offspring who will bruise the serpent from Genesis 3:15.

East of Eden

At the end of this introduction Adam and Eve are cast east of Eden, out of the garden and its gates are shut to them, with angels guarding the tree of life. What is next for them? Has God rejected the pinnacle of his creation, leaving humans on their own on earth? The good news that we know is that God does anything but leave us. God would one day come and be among us and there would be another tree of life. And on that tree Jesus Christ would die for us, giving us his very own life–a life abundant and eternal.

Before Jeremiah was a twinkle in his father’s eye


We immediately get into a passage in Jeremiah 1 that is well known, at least relative to other texts from Jeremiah. In verse five we read:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…

In it we see God’s sovereignty over creation and time. We find comfort being known by God, and that he knows us before we ever have a chance to seek him. Before we even have the ability to turn to him, he knows us.

But it is great to look beyond this one line to see how this truth plays out. God wants his prophet Jeremiah to rely on God to fulfill his call. Jeremiah worries that he is only a youth, so how is he to be a prophet to the nations? But doesn’t he realize that God already knew that when he called him–he knew all things about Jeremiah before Jeremiah was even born. God says do not worry that you are young, for I will give you the words. Just follow my command. I will be with you. Verse nine even says that God will put the words in Jeremiah’s mouth. What then will he lack?

If he is worried that he’ll have to go it alone, all Jeremiah should do is look back–God knew him before he was formed. And he can look ahead–God will continue to be with him. God has not left his side and will remain with him making him capable of the great work that is prepared for him. There is no time Jeremiah can think of or imagine in which God is absent from the picture.

In a similar way that Jesus talks of Abraham in John 8, God could say here that before Jeremiah was, I am. God was by his side before he even had a side, before he had a body. Therefore Jeremiah can rely on this God who holds these plans securely in his own hands. He need not worry about what he may lack and instead focus on all that is perfectly provided by God.