Genesis is a book of beginnings. In it, we find the creation, humanity, the flood, the story of redemption begins to unfold, and the nation of people is promised to Abraham. God begins to set things in order very quickly, and certain things established in Genesis carry through the entirety of Scripture. For example, Malachi 3:6 says, “I am the Lord; I do not change.” It’s easy to assume that before Exodus twenty, there was no law, but we will see several things established in Genesis that the law codifies.
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
Genesis 1:27-28 TLV “God created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the land, and conquer it. Rule over the fish of the sea, the flying creatures of the sky, and over every animal that crawls on the land.”
Genesis 2:21-24 TLV “Adonai Elohim caused a deep sleep to fall on the man and he slept; and He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Adonai Elohim built the rib, which He had taken from the man, into a woman. Then He brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh from my flesh. This one is called woman, for from man was taken this one.” 24 This is why a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife; and they become one flesh.”
The family is the first institution God established, and it is important to Him; this is why genealogies are so prominent in Scripture. The enemy has always tried to destroy the family. The first murder is between two brothers, Cain and Abel. Much of the sin in Scripture takes place within the family unit or outside in a way to destroy it. We must stand guard for the protection and sanctity of our family and families around us. God was clear about what constitutes a family, and any deviation from what is outlined in Genesis is to be rejected.
THE SABBATH FOR REST
Genesis 2:1-3 TLV “So the heavens and the earth were completed along with their entire array. 2 God completed—on the seventh day—His work that He made, and He ceased—on the seventh day—from all His work that He made. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, for on it He ceased from all His work that God created for the purpose of preparing.”
Much debate has been had in the Church over the Sabbath, but the bottom line is God established it for our good. Rest was turned into a burden in the time of Jesus, but that is why He constantly healed on the Sabbath and had discussions with the Pharisees on the correct observance of the holiday.
The Sabbath was even in place in the wilderness before the Ten Commandments were given. Exodus 16:22-30 TLV “On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each individual. So all the leaders of the community came and informed Moses. 23 But he said to them, “This is what Adonai has said. Tomorrow is a Shabbat rest, a holy Shabbat to Adonai. Bake whatever you would bake, and boil what you would boil. Store up for yourselves everything that remains, to be kept until the morning.” 24 So they set it aside until the morning, just as Moses instructed, and it did not rot nor were there any worms. 25 Then Moses said, “Eat that today, because today is a Shabbat to Adonai. Today you will not find it in the field. 26 You are to gather it for six days, but the seventh day is the Shabbat, and there will be none.” 27 Yet on the seventh day, some of the people went out to gather and they found none. 28 Adonai said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep My mitzvot and My Torah? 29 See, Adonai has given you the Shabbat, so on the sixth day He gives you the bread of two days. Let every man stay in his place, and let no man go out on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.”
While I do not advocate a legalistic observance, the very thing Jesus corrected, the fact is, we all need rest, and that is why God instituted the Sabbath. Yes, we have spiritual rest in Christ, but our bodies still need physical rest, and that is why God instituted the blessing of sabbath rest, which the enemy has been trying to turn into a burden ever since.
TITHING AND GIVING
I’m writing a blog, not taking up an offering, so before you say I want your money, I don’t. The tithe, just like the Sabbath, is not a legalistic issue. Giving a tithe is a way to show love and honor to God. He established the tithe from the beginning.
Genesis 4:1-7 TLV “Now the man had relations with Eve his wife and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “I produced a man with Adonai.” 2 Then she gave birth again, to his brother Abel. Abel became a shepherd of flocks while Cain became a worker of the ground. 3 So it happened after some time that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to Adonai, 4 while Abel—he also brought of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. Now Adonai looked favorably upon Abel and his offering, 5 but upon Cain and his offering He did not look favorably. Cain became very angry, and his countenance fell. 6 Then Adonai said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, it will lift. But if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the doorway. Its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
How did Cain and Abel know about giving? Adam must have said something to them about it. Could it be that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a form of the tithe? Scripture does not say how the tithing principle was given, but it is in place from the earliest record of Scripture.
Genesis 14:18-20 TLV “Then Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine—he was a priest of El Elyon. 19 He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by El Elyon, Creator of heaven and earth, 20 and blessed be El Elyon, Who gave over your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”
Genesis 28:20-22 TLV “Then Jacob made a vow saying, “If God will be with me and watch over me on this way that I am going, and provide me food to eat and clothes to wear, 21 and I return in shalom to my father’s house, then Adonai will be my God. 22 So this stone which I set up as a memorial stone will become God’s House, and of everything You provide me I will definitely give a tenth of it to You.”
Tithing and Giving were established by God so that we would have a way to honor Him and bless others. Of course, anything can be abused, and the subject of tithing and giving has been. However, that does not change the fact that it has been a principle from the beginning. Giving has always been an issue of the heart, which is why Cain’s offering was rejected.
CLEAN AND UNCLEAN ANIMALS
Genesis 7:2-3 TLV “Of every clean animal you shall take with you seven of each kind, male and female; and of the animals which themselves are not clean two, male and female; 3 also of the flying creatures of the sky seven of every kind, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of the whole land.”
Noah was before the law, so how were there clean and unclean animals? As we have seen, God’s character and ways were present and established before it was in the form of written law.
Gentiles are indeed free to eat as they desire. However, it is not true that Jesus nullified the dietary laws; neither did Peter’s vision nor Paul’s comments. Jesus took issue with the demand for ceremonial washing, not the food itself. Peter’s vision likewise was not about food but willingness to accept Gentiles in the faith. Paul also did not come against dietary laws but instead said do not judge someone whether they do or do not eat, whether they do or do not observe feasts.
ESTABLISHED FOR BENEFIT
Tithing, Sabbath, and clean versus unclean animals are generally seen as a law issue, but as we have seen, each was established in Genesis before there was a written law. This affirms the fact that God’s character and ways are consistent. When we read Genesis through Deuteronomy, we need to read with the lenses of blessing and grace. The Old and New Testaments are not opposed to each other; they are two parts of a whole. Noah found grace in the eyes of God, and Galatians says we are blessed with believing Abraham. Abraham is our father in the faith. Let us read Genesis and the entire Old Testament with the lenses of blessing and receive the instruction God intends for us.