If you are brand new to reading the Bible and don’t know where to begin, how about starting at the beginning with the first book of the Old Testament?
You might think, Shouldn’t I start by reading about the Lord Jesus in one of the Gospels? But actually there are several reasons why Genesis might be a better option.
Jesus himself quotes from Genesis many times, such as this occasion:
“From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh,” (Mark 10v6-7, quoting from Genesis 2). He is actually using Genesis to answer a question someone has put to him about divorce.
Nowhere else in the Bible gives such a clear picture of God’s plan of salvation, or explains the problem of Sin, suffering, the nature of human beings, the need for Jesus, or the future of the kingdom of God. That’s because Genesis actually lays down these first principle, or key doctrinal subjects. The formation of mankind from the dust of the ground is only described in Genesis – surely one of the biggest questions of life!
Genesis 3 describes how mankind brought sin into the world. Genesis 3v15 is the first prophecy in the Bible about the outcome of the battle between sin and Christ (the ultimate seed of the woman). Genesis 22 is a beautiful chapter revealing the way God would eventually provide His son as a sacrifice, foreshadowed in the story of Abraham and Isaac.
In fact the relationship between Genesis and Christ works two ways, as we are told in Galatians 3v8 that the Gospel was preached to Abraham, and Jesus acknowledges in John 8v56 that Abraham knew about him; he “rejoiced to see my day.”
Genesis is full of characters who in some way typify, or point forward to, the Lord Jesus Christ. Noah saved his whole family because he was righteous. Joseph was sent ahead of his brothers to preserve life, just as Jesus did. These are narratives simple enough for children to love and remember them, but they also contain deep messages for adults to ponder.
There is a wonderful harmony between the start of Genesis and the end of the last book of the Bible, Revelation. The tree of life appears in both, the curse, the creation of light (both natural and divine). None of these harmonies or fulfilments can be appreciated without knowing where it all started.
Finally, the creation of the physical world is linked many times with the creation of the new man through baptism into Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation,” (2 Corinthians 5v17). We miss the full import of the allusion if we aren’t familiar with the original creation record!
For more help with reading the Bible, try our Guide and our reading page.