Beginning in Genesis
We call Genesis the book of beginnings not only because it tells of creation. Genesis is full of beginnings from chapter one to chapter fifty.
In chapter three we are introduced to the beginning of humanity’s demise with Adam’s disobedience and the entrance of sin into the world. In chapter ten we are introduced to the beginning of clans (large families who laid claim to and dominated particular areas), cities, kings, kingdoms, and nations. We are also introduced to the beginning of man’s pursuit of power and dominance in chapter ten.
A man named Nimrod is named as the first king ever in the history of mankind in this chapter. He was known as “a mighty hunter before the Lord” (Gen 10:9). We are told, “The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.” (Gen 10:10) It doesn’t take scholastic geographic details to figure out that this was a pretty large kingdom. But notice that this was only “the beginning of his kingdom.”
Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh were not enough for Nimrod. The Genesis account goes on to say, “From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.” (Gen 10:11-12) Again, you don’t need to be a scholar to figure out Nimrod didn’t stop until he had more than doubled the size of his kingdom. By now we are used to men and nations thirsty for more land and more power. But this is the first we see of it in human history.
The Best Beginning Ever
In chapter eleven we are introduced to the beginning of people groups right before we get to the best beginning ever. We see the Lord come down at the tower of Babel, confused their languages and scattered the people all over the earth. Thus, various ethnic people groups are born. Then, in chapter twelve, we are introduced to probably my favorite beginning of all in Genesis.
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him…” – Genesis 12:1-4a
I have always found this passage to possess a special kind of majesty. When God called Abram to leave Haran a new thing had begun on earth. This was the beginning of God’s redemptive plan for creation. Redemption did not begin on the cross. The cross is where God’s redemptive work reached its finality. Before Jesus commended His spirit into the Father’s hands He did not say, “It has begun.” He said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
If it was finished there where did it begin? Not with Jesus’ ministry. Not even with His birth. It began thousands of years earlier when one normal man (no different than you or I) took a giant leap of faith and was obedient to God’s call to move his family to Canaan.
God’s calling of Abram and Abram’s obedience was also the beginning of the nation of Israel through whom Jesus, the Savior of the world, would come. The rest of the book of Genesis focuses on God’s relationship with Israel. From chapter twelve to chapter fifty. That’s over two-thirds of the book. It is doubtless safe to say that Abram’s act of faith here in chapter twelve marks a pivotal point in God’s dealings with man.
Writing Your Own Best Beginning
There are two big things that really get me about this:
- Abram was just a normal man like me who was faithful and obedient. He didn’t see the promise fulfilled in his lifetime but he was still faithful.
- Without Abram’s faith and obedience, there would be no beginning here. God’s redemptive work in human history began with His calling of Abram but we wouldn’t see God’s redemptive work in action without Abram’s obedience.
These are two powerful faith lessons for us. Abram didn’t even see the promise fulfilled in his lifetime. (Hebrews 11:13) Even still, he was faithful because he believed and trusted God’s word. Although he did not see the promise fulfilled in his lifetime the impact his faithfulness left has extended far beyond his lifetime.
I’m not talking about the kind of impact we get from having a good moral story to tell or a good faith lesson to learn from. I’m talking about tangible impact. From his obedience comes Israel and everything we learn about God from His interactions with them. From Israel comes the Messiah and all the benefits we get from His atoning death and resurrection. From the Messiah comes the church which has forever altered the course of human history already, will continue to do so until we are joined forever with our Savior in the Father’s presence.
God promised Abram that his descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth. (Gen 13:16) Then He promised Abram that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. (Gen 15:5) Then He changed Abram’s name to Abraham declaring, “For I have made you a father of a multitude of nations.” (Gen 17:5)
That’s a tangible impact and it has been felt. Here we stand today. You and I and Israel, Gentiles, and Jews, destined for glory. We live today reaping the benefits of salvation, changing the world, changing our lives, our families and societies by the power of the Holy Spirit within us. A tangible impact that started with or normal man’s trust in God and a simple act of obedience. The best beginning ever.
You never truly know the impact you could leave on this world with one simple act of obedience derived out of your trust in God. Like Abraham, you may not see it in your lifetime but that doesn’t mean it won’t last throughout countless other lifetimes. Trust God and write your own best beginning ever.
Copyright © Lawrence Joseph Sterling 2017. All rights reserved.