Jon: We're walking through the book of Genesis, which is made up of these two main parts.
Tim: And the first part begins in the garden where we watch humanity spiral downward in self-destruction. And it ends in the Tower of Babel where a rebellious humanity is scattered by God.
Jon: Then the second part of Genesis zooms in and focuses on just one family.
Tim: And right in the middle is this story that links the two parts of Genesis together and helps us understand what the whole book is all about.
Jon: So how do we get from the Tower of Babel to the story here in the middle?
The Story of Abraham [00:35-02:15]
Tim: Well, after the scattering at Babel, there's a genealogy, and it follows one of the tribes all the way down to this one guy named Abram.1
Jon: You probably know him as Abraham.
Tim: And God starts making all these promises to Abraham, like he's going to bless him and give him a ton of kids. And he says that through him and his family, all the nations of the earth are now going to find God's blessing. So basically, God is trying to restore humanity back to the goodness of the garden and to his original intentions for the world. So it's like his rescue plan for humanity. And that's why the whole second half of Genesis is about this one family. And so you have Abraham, and then he has a son Isaac, who has Jacob, and then Jacob has twelve sons. And to each generation, God renews his promise to bless them and all nations through them.
Jon: So because of this promise to use this family to rescue the world, it's pretty easy to read these stories as examples of how to be a good person.
Tim: But actually, for the most part, this family is totally dysfunctional. So for example, let's go back to Abraham. This whole story is about God giving him and his wife Sarah a family, but two different times he basically gives Sarah away to other men by denying that she's even his wife. [Genesis 12:10-20, Genesis 20] And then Sarah gets impatient about having a son, and so she makes Abraham sleep with her servant girl, which then causes all of these other problems in the family. 2
Jon: So they get really old, and you begin to think that there's no way they're going to have a kid of their own. But then, miraculously, they do. It's Isaac.3
Tim: And Isaac, he has two sons, Esau and Jacob. And it seems like things are going pretty good. [Genesis 25:19-28]
The Story of Jacob [02:16-02:34]
Jon: But Jacob, the younger brother, wants the family's inheritance, which belongs to Esau the older brother. So he devises a plan where he’s going to steal it from his father Isaac, who at this point in the story is now old and blind.4
Tim: Which who does that? It’s horrible—stealing from your blind father.
Jon: Yeah, and then he just takes off.
The Story of Joseph [02:35-03:48]
Tim: So Jacob goes on from there to have twelve sons, big family. But Jacob loves his eleventh son, Joseph, way more than all the others. And so he gives him a special, technicolor dream coat. And his brothers, because of this, come to hate him.5
Jon: So much so that they plan on killing him.
Tim: But they don't. They Instead just sell him as a slave down in Egypt. 6
Jon: Now, while in Egypt, through this crazy series of events, Joseph goes from being in a prison cell to becoming the second-in-command there.7
Tim: And so Later on, the whole middle east falls into this food shortage. And Joseph's brothers, they come down to Egypt looking for food. And then when they get there, who should they find as the ruler of the whole land?8
Jon: It's Joseph, that guy they sold into slavery. But he actually saves them from starving to death.
Tim: And so here you have it. These are the great-grandchildren of Abraham who have done this heinous act to their brother, but God has transformed their evil into something good.
Jon: And that's exactly what Joseph says here in the last paragraph of the entire book. He says, "You guys planned all of this for evil, but God planned it for good to save people's lives."9
Conclusion of Genesis [03:49-04:22]
Tim: Now, these words conclude the book because they actually summarize the message of the whole story so far. Humans keep choosing evil, and we are thinking they're screwing up God's plan, but he keeps turning their evil back into good. And somehow he’s going to use this family to restore humanity back to the garden.
Jon: So that’s the book of Genesis. But we still don’t know how exactly he’s going to use this family to bring us back to the garden.
Tim: Well yeah, but this is just the first book. So that’s what the rest of the Bible sets out to answer.