Hi friends, during the second semester Friday Fellowships of this year, the student Bible study groups of GFI had the opportunities to read and think through the first eleven chapters of the Bible. Some of the students would like to share what they have learnt and how it may shape the way they are living their lives. Please keep checking this post as more testimonies will be added soon later.
I learnt a lot from the study of Genesis. I thought I knew, but I didn’t. I have read the book of Genesis for so many times, since I was in sunday school. But there were some details that I didn’t realise. Like the story of creation, God really did make everything on purpose. He made 6 days without randomness, from ‘skeletons’ in first 3 days, to ‘contents’ in the next 3 days. The same pattern even from different stories that seemed well purposefully prepared, not carelessly made. About God, who is justice yet merciful at the same time. And some things that I thought that it was in bible, but just human’s own interpretation. Those things remind me that reading the Bible is not like reading novels that you’ve got the same story each time you read. New things can be learnt each time we read. It is indeed a continuous sequence. God opens new things beyond mind can even imagine, and more to come.
Kriska G. Budiman
The Book of Genesis is one of the most mysterious and easily misunderstood books in the Bible. These last few months we, students, had the opportunity to explore the first 11 chapters of this book and learn of its true purpose. Growing up in a Christian family, the stories in Genesis have always been “truth” for me. I took these stories at face value. It’s easy to read a book without asking why it is written and just absorb whatever is written in it literally. However, that is not how we should read the Bible. God has a purpose in writing each book of the Bible (and no, that purpose is not to become a best-seller or make money out of it). Even the first page of the Bible describes how our God is a purposeful God.
In verse 2 of Genesis, it is said, “the earth was without form and void.” And what did God do? I think most people know the story of how God created things on Earth in 6 days. I learnt this in Sunday school, I’ve known about it since I was small. I thought there was nothing more to get out of this story except that God is a powerful God. How wrong I was. In the Bible Study, we looked at the six days of Creation by dividing them into a table like below:
Putting aside my amazing drawing skill, I wonder if you realised what God did here. In day 1 to 3, God created form to the formless world. Then in day 4 to 6, He filled the previously void Earth. Moreover you can also see that the day corresponds with one another, day 1 with day 4, day 2 with 5, and day 3 with 6. This shows that God creates things with a purpose. He is a purposeful God. Knowing that He is a purposeful and powerful God, He is then also praiseworthy.
Many people tend to fall into the trap of reading Genesis literally. I certainly did before. But when you take the time to analyse the way the book is written, you’ll soon realise that Genesis is nothing like a scientific book. In fact, with all its patterns and repetitions, it is more like a poetry. That is why we cannot use Genesis to argue about creation theory, because Genesis and scientific book are two different books, written in two different styles, talking about two different things.
Another important thing we learn is the definition of sin. When asked to define sin, we tend to list the bad things that people do. Looking back to the Fall in chapter 3 of Genesis helps us remember what sin really is. It is rebellion against God.
Adam and Eve ate the fruit because they were enticed by the promise of “being like God” (Gen 3: 5). It is easy to point our finger at Adam and Eve and blame them for everything, but in reality we are also like them. The bad things that people and we ourselves do in this world are symptoms of sin, but the root is our desire to be our own god and rebelling against the Creator. The result of sin then is death. We see this clearly in chapter 5, that although the names mentioned here all seemed to live very, very long, their description all ends with “and he died” (except for Enoch whom God took).
However, the falling of humanity into sin was by no means out of God’s control. The book of Genesis was not written to detail how the world was created, but it is to tell of God’s characters and the beginning of His plan, which the rest of the Bible will then unfold. What is this plan? One hint we got is in God’s curse to the serpent in verse 15 of chapter 3,
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Who is this offspring? Certainly neither Cain nor Abel nor Seth did this. As we read the Bible beyond Genesis, we will later see that this offspring that finally defeated the serpent (devil) is Jesus. Jesus was God’s plan all along.
As we read about Adam’s descendants and Noah’s story (Gen 4-9), we see that humanity continued to sin and became worse. The story of the flood is to remind us that God takes sin seriously, and also that purging the Earth is not the solution to sin, because in Genesis 9:18-29 we soon see humanity’s fall to sin again. It is also interesting to note that Ham’s descendants would later become enemies of Israel.
Our Bible study series ends with the story of the Tower of Babel, where humans once again desire to match God. They built the tower because they wanted to make a name for themselves and reach the heavens. Interestingly in verse 5 of chapter 11 it is written that God had to “come down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built.” No matter how high a tower they try to build, it will never reach God. And when God said that “nothing they propose to do will now be impossible for them”, He meant it in terms of our ability to think up of ways to rebel against God.
The story of Babel ends in a not so encouraging note, but it is a good thing that the Bible does not end there. As we continue to explore the Bible, we soon see that God is able to use even bad things for good and that He is always the one in control of everything. The book of Genesis is just the beginning of God’s plan and the rest of the Bible tells of the progression of that plan, with its climax in the story of Jesus being the solution to sin. However, the plan is not fully completed yet. Not until Jesus comes again for the second time.