Many are the times I’ve heard the question asked “Where should I begin when reading the Bible?” That’s a significant and important question considering its length and depth. It can certainly seem daunting, yet it deserves due examination and a thoughtful response. I have often heard the reply suggesting to begin in the Gospel according to John. I have suggested it on one or two occasions myself, admittedly without giving my answer the diligence it deserves.
Are there merits to John’s gospel in this, or any other, regard? Absolutely! As a matter of fact and extremely pertinent significance, the first four verses pack quite a spiritual punch and leave one begging for wisdom. It reveals right away the paramount truths of Jesus Christ’s identity as the Word of God, His communion with God, His shared essence and divinity with God, His creation credits, that He Himself is light and that He is invincible, among other things. That is a good place to start. But is there a better, more pointed and revelatory beginning for the genuine seeker or new believer? Yes!
In just the last couple of days the Lord revealed to me (and it shouldn’t have been a newsflash) that the origin should be just as He fashioned it- in the book of Genesis. Some may suggest reading John because it is in the New Testament, because John also wrote the intriguing and increasingly timely book of Revelation, because of the gospel’s detailing of the Lord Jesus’ baptism and the beginning of His public ministry, His first miracle, its explanation of the need to be born again from and by the Spirit of God and other wonderful insights, lessons and truths which are foundational to the committed and sincere Christian life.
But starting our journey there is kind of like going to see “God’s Not Dead,” “War Room,” or even “The Passion of the Christ” and taking your seat in the theater an hour into the movie. Is it good? Yes. Does it capture your attention? Sure. Does it make you want to see it again or tell others about it? Definitely. But it leaves you with some questions that you wouldn’t have otherwise, it makes the story incomplete, and it gives you an inaccurate perception of the overarching account that the author or director has carefully sequenced so that what you walk away with not only makes sense but is satisfying, fulfilling and informative. Except that this isn’t a work of fiction or based on a true story—it IS the firsthand, factual, fully-engaging account.
Genesis—the word actually does mean “beginning”—tells us plainly how the world first came into being in detail (debunking atheistic, scientific, and other ungodly theories and explanations). It covers the sun, moon and stars along with their purpose(s). It tells of how the trees with fruit and vegetation as food sprouted up. It mentions the birds, sea life, livestock and other animals, reptiles and, last but not least, man. It reveals how we were made in God’s image, how we were given the directive to procreate, to subdue and have dominion over the earth, and it even sadly reports how sin entered the world and the lasting effects it has had and continues to have today. If we start reading elsewhere, we will hear the Gospel and how it is truly God’s gift to mankind but we will neither understand nor appreciate it because the crux of the Good News is forgiveness of sins, salvation from them and eternal life! And this is empty if it lacks the knowledge of sin itself and how the world was never created to be this way. This is proven when you tell someone that “Jesus died for you” or how they need to be saved. They might be thinking to themselves or even ask aloud, “Why did He die for me and why is that significant?” or “Saved from what?” The Almighty Father has revealed to us in His wisdom and in perfect order: Creation, the Fall, Rescue and Restoration; four “acts” to a play, if you will. It was written rightly beginning with the first, in order, to the last.
Genesis also reveals to us the consequences of sin, of disobedience to God’s perfect plans and purposes. Many people today wrongly believe that work is a curse; it is not. We were always intended to do so as part of our managing, cultivating, caring for and having dominion over the earth. It is only as a consequence of sin that man shall have to work the ground (soil, earth) “by the sweat of [our] face” (Genesis 3:17-19). And did you realize that the intense pain of childbearing is a direct result of Eve’s having obeyed Satan rather than God when she ate from the forbidden tree? And that the perverted use of the colors of the rainbow by the LGBT community was actually a sign in the heavens from God to Noah that He would never again—no matter the level of corruption on the earth, even as it is today—allow the waters to “become a flood to destroy all flesh”? Chapter 9, verses 14-15 promise, “When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh.”
Chapter ten tells us how all the nations of the earth descended from Noah. Chapter eleven tells how, because of pride and sin in general, those same nations were scattered over the whole earth and how the beginning of diverse multiple languages came about. Chapter thirteen first hints at when sodomy and the unnatural “gay” lifestyle arrived on the scene of human history, “Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.” Chapter seventeen shows God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah that in their old age they would give birth to a son which they were to name Isaac. This son was to be the firstborn of many, many, many people that would become known as God’s chosen people even to this day- ISRAEL. Isaac was the seed of the promise (you can see in chapter sixteen the unordained birth of Ishmael by Hagar; he is the seed of the flesh- ungodly people. Many believe that Isaac is the Judeo-Christian offspring, and that Ishmael is the Islamic offspring).
Chapter nineteen refers to the homosexual men who said to Lot (Abraham’s nephew who resided in Sodom) concerning the two angels in human form who visited him to tell him to leave because they had been sent by God to utterly destroy the city, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them.” The verb “know” here in Hebrew/ Aramaic is the word Yada, meaning to have relations with, intercourse with. Chapter twenty-one talks about the actual birth of Isaac and many, many more wonderful spiritual truths and accurate, historical accounts which are told all the way through the end of the book in chapter fifty. All of this in just the first book of the Bible, Genesis.
This first book in a list of sixty-six all together is enough, alone, to attest to the relevance of the Bible through all of human history up to, including today and into what’s left of our future. Interested? Read on. God bless you!