In chapter 3:5-7: The serpent convinced Eve to eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden so that her eyes may be opened and will know good and evil. Eve believed that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. After Adam and Eve gave in to temptation and ate the fruit, sin began. God had already made everything, and He saw that everything was good for them to live contently and most importantly, completely dependent on Him. There was no need to obtain wisdom, because with wisdom comes the knowledge of evil which was completely foreign to both Adam and Eve before the temptation. A common question is, why have a tree in the garden if it cannot even be touched? The entire concept of law and order is the fact that there are certain things people can do and certain things people cannot do. If people were able to do anything they wanted, there would be no justice and that would contradict God’s image, because God is Just.

In chapter 2:25, we read that “Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame.” After the sin in Genesis 3:8-10, both Adam and Eve heard God and hid because they were naked and afraid. Fast forward to chapter 42 within verse 9, “nakedness” is also considered “weakness.” After Adam and Eve sinned, they became weak. This fact provides excellent insight into the concept of our weakness points out God’s strength. The Bible is full of affirmations of God’s unlimited knowledge. When God asked Adam where he was, God was not unaware of the couple’s location and what had transpired in the garden. The passage describes God as a parent who instructs His children with restoration as His purpose. Adam and Eve had clothed themselves in sin and God uncovered their sin with great disappointment and punished them by taking them out of Eden, cursed the grounds, and mandating physical labor in order to survive. God could have given up on humanity right then and there, but He didn’t. God is Love, and He cares so much for humanity that it is written shortly after He declared His punishment to Adam and Eve, we read in Genesis 3:21 that “The Lord God made clothing out of skins for Adam and his wife, and He clothed them.” Although the human couple would die, it was ultimately merciful to deny them the tree; otherwise they would live forever in a sinful and painful world. God graciously provided for their new environment outside the garden and ultimately for their eternal salvation through the promised “seed.” Despite the great sin and His disappointment, He still cared for them and watched out for them, just as He still cares for us, and watches out for us.

In chapters 6-9, people became so wicked, that God decided to start over with just Noah and his family, since Noah was the only righteous person at that time. We all know the story of Noah and the great flood, what I would like to point out is in chapter 9:12-17. The passage provided new meaning to the rainbows appearance as “the sign of the covenant” in which God swore that he would never flood the earth again. Just as in the Old Testament, the people looked at the rainbow to remind them of God’s goodness, the New Testament and today, we look towards the Cross for salvation.

From chapters 12-25, we read about Abram who later is called Abraham, which means, “Father of a Multitude” and is the father of all believers. “To note that God blesses Abraham because of his obedience does not alter the fact that God’s covenant with Abraham is unconditional—based on God’s promise rather than Abraham’s fulfillment of some obligation. But a covenant is, first of all, a relationship between persons—in this case, human and divine. Within that framework, obedience always brings about divine blessing and disobedience always results in the enactment of a curse, or judgment.”

In chapter 27:1-29, Though the Lord had told Rebekeh that her older son, Esau, would serve her younger son, Jacob, that in no way excuses the elaborate deception on the part of Rebekeh and Jacob to defraud Esau of his blessing as the older son. Instead of trusting the Lord to accomplish what He had promised, Rebekeh took the matter into her own hands, much as Sarah had by giving Hagar to Abraham in chapter 16. The entire principle is common even today. Instead of trusting and waiting for the Lord, we take things in our own hands, and sure enough, the outcome is not what God, or us wanted to happen. We want things to be done our way and at our time, but we never seem to learn that life would be so much easier if we take everything to the Lord and pray and wait for Him.

In chapter 32, Jacob wrestles with God and after winning, God declared Jacob’s new name to be Israel because Jacob struggled with God and with men and have prevailed. The concept of a Christian “wrestling with God” during particularly difficult or fearful times originates in this passage. Though Jacob physically limped away from this unexpected struggle, his new divinely given name, “Israel,” indicated that “he struggled with God” and prevailed, growing spiritually in the process. Always remember that if you are going through a difficult time, hold on to God and in His time, you will come out of the struggle stronger and wiser.

Jacob’s conversation with Esau in 33:10-11 is interesting: “For indeed, I have seen your face, and it is like seeing God’s face, since you have accepted me. Please take my present that was brought to you, because God has been gracious to me and I have everything I need.” Those verses highlight the fundamental concepts of being a Christian, which are acceptance and care. God has already accepted us and cares for us just as we are. Once person acknowledges this acceptance and received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then it should be difficult to keep this kind of love to oneself. When we accept others and care for them, just as God has done for us, we will see God in one another. Just recently I got a devotional email from Max Lucado that fits perfectly with this: Once there was a man whose life was one of misery. The days were cloudy, and the nights were long. Henry didn’t want to be unhappy, but he was. With the passing of the years, his life had changed. His children were grown. The neighborhood was different. The city seemed harsher. He was unhappy. He decided to ask his minister what was wrong. “Am I unhappy for some sin I have committed?” “Yes,” the wise pastor replied. “You have sinned.” “And what might that sin be?” “Ignorance,” came the reply. “The sin of ignorance. One of your neighbors is the Messiah in disguise, and you have not seen him.” The old man left the office stunned. “The Messiah is one of my neighbors?” He began to think who it might be. Tom the butcher? No, he’s too lazy. Mary, my cousin down the street? No, too much pride. Aaron the paperboy? No, too indulgent. The man was confounded. Every person he knew had defects. But one was the Messiah. He began to look for Him. He began to notice things he hadn’t seen. The grocer often carried sacks to the cars of older ladies. Maybe he is the Messiah. The officer at the corner always had a smile for the kids. Could it be? And the young couple who’d moved next door. How kind they are to their cat. Maybe one of them … With time he saw things in people he’d never seen. And with time his outlook began to change. The bounce returned to his step. His eyes took on a friendly sparkle. When others spoke he listened. After all, he might be listening to the Messiah. When anyone asked for help, he responded; after all this might be the Messiah needing assistance. The change of attitude was so significant that someone asked him why he was so happy. “I don’t know,” he answered. “All I know is that things changed when I started looking for God.” Now, that’s curious. The old man saw Jesus because he didn’t know what he looked like. The people in Jesus’ day missed him because they thought they did. How are things looking in your neighborhood?

Finally in chapters 37-50, the well-known story of Joseph and his family is told. I admire Joseph and the faith that he kept throughout his entire life. Joseph’s own brothers betrayed him by plotting to kill him because of the favor their father showed toward him, then decided to sell him as a slave to the Ishmaelites, and then was sold to an officer of the Pharaoh of Egypt. Once Joseph gained good standing with the Pharaoh, he was then framed by Pharaoh’s wife of adultery and was thrown in prison. Eventually, two of Pharaoh’s servants were thrown in prison, had dreams in which Joseph was able to interpret accurately and requested that the servants not forget about him when they left prison. Sure enough, they both forgot and Joseph remained in prison for two more years until Pharaoh had a dream in which no one else could interpret and at that point, a servant remembered Joseph, got him out of prison, and Joseph regained his status under the Pharaoh, and continued to live his life in faithfulness. In chapter 41:51-52, “Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, meaning, ‘God has made me forget all my hardship in my father’s house.’ And the second son he named Ephraim, meaning ‘God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.’” Near the end, Joseph is reunited with his father and brothers. While he holds his brothers responsible for their actions, he nevertheless offers forgiveness and urges them to forgive themselves since God used the circumstances to accomplish His wider purpose. In chapter 50:20, Joseph tells his brothers, “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people.” Joseph had long since forgiven them, recognizing God’s providential hand of protection behind what had taken place. Let us follow that example. Whatever we have been through, whatever was done to us, whatever we are going through, whatever what is being done to us, and whatever we will go through, whatever will be done to us, let us look at the Big Picture, let us pray to see God’s hand in the workings of our daily life. Let us forgive all the wrongs that were done to us and by us and “live like saved children of God—because that is who we are.” The last quote is from a good friend who commonly uses it at the end of his sermons.