From the Editor’s Notebook: Pointers on the Pentateuch, Genesis

From the Editor’s Notebook

W. Ross Rainey

Pointers on the Pentateuch

Genesis: The Book of Beginnings

Key Word: Beginning.

Message: Man’s sin met by God’s salvation.

Key Verses: 1:1 — “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” 3:15 — “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”


In many ways Genesis is the most important book in the Bible. Every great truth springs from this book, just as great and mighty oaks spring from little acorns. E. W. Bullinger has said: “Genesis is the seed-plot of the whole Bible, and it is essential to the true understanding of its every part. It is the foundation on which the Divine Revelation rests, and on which it is built up. It is not only the foundation of all Truth, but it enters into and forms part of all subsequent inspiration; and it is at once the warp and woof of Holy Writ.”

Genesis is written in the historical style. It is fact, not fiction; prose, not poetry. This is the book of beginnings where we have the beginning of everything except God. As W. Graham Scroggie has picturesquely commented, Genesis is the “beginning of the universe, of life, of man, of the sabbath, of covenants, of nomenclature, of marriage, of sin, of redemption, of death, of family life, of sacrifices, of nations, of government, of music, of literature, of art, of agriculture, of mechanics, of cities, and of languages; indeed, of everything we know. As to its limits, it is only the beginning; there is here no finality. It is a kind of daybreak book, a wondrous dawn … it is the small window through which may be seen, beyond the dark valley, the Land of Delights.”1 Genesis may correctly be called the book of births, for in it we have the family tree of the Jews. The great prophecy-promise of Genesis 3:15 suggests the “New Birth,” pointing to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the work of redemption He would accomplish.

Genesis is the first of the five books of Moses, known as the Pentateuch and also called “the Law” (cf. Matt. 22:40; Luke 24:44; John 10:34). The New Testament unanimously ascribes the human authorship of Genesis to Moses (cf. Matt. 19:8; Mark 12:26; Luke 16:31; John 5:46), though he undoubtedly incorporated sacred traditions handed down from the patriarchs, there also being traces of an editor’s hand —probably Ezra’s.

Time-wise Genesis covers a period of some 2,369 years. It is both interesting and instructive to note that, in Genesis 1-11, God takes only seven chapters to cover 2,000 years in relating the origin of the universe and race, while from Genesis 12 through the balance of the Old Testament another 2,000 years is covered in telling the story of Abraham and his family.


1. Generation (1-2)

2. Degeneration (3-11)

3. Regeneration (12-50)

Genesis may also be outlined from the standpoint of seven notable men brought before us in its chapters:

1. Adam — Promise (1-3)

2. Seth — Substitution (4-5)

3. Noah — Resurrection (6-11)

4. Abraham — Pilgrim (12-23)

5. Isaac — Christ (24-26)

6. Jacob — Discipline (27-36)

7. Joseph — God’s Perfect Man (37-50)

Notable Notes

Harold Fortesque, when a junior reporter for a great London newspaper, turned in an embellished account for a social function he had been assigned to cover. Proud of his efforts, he awaited the editor’s comments. “Cut it down to one sheet!” he was told. Protesting, Fortesque argued that this would be impossible. “Young man,” barked the editor, “you have evidently failed to observe that the story of Creation is told in just ten words: ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and earth’”! The very first verse in the Bible confronts us with the wonder of the Book of books; it is both simple and sublime.

Stressing the importance of Genesis, G. Campbell Morgan has said that “the whole system of the Christian religion depends upon the accuracy of certain statements made in this book.” He cites the fact that in Genesis we have recorded seven “permanent values”: Theology (the science of God), Cosmogony (the science of the Universe), Anthropology (the science of Man), Sociology (the science of Society), Hamartiology (the science of Sin), Ethnology (the science of the Races), and Soteriology (the science of Salvation), all these subjects being dealt with “fundamentally and not finally.”2

Eric W. Hayden has said of Genesis: “Here in this book God’s nature is revealed, His universe described, man’s responsibility declared, society’s inter-responsibility recognized, sin as man’s failure affirmed, racial disunity attempted, salvation explained.”3

The name “Genesis” is one of Greek origin, stemming from the Septuagint (LXX) translation of the Old Testament Scriptures. As its name implies, it is a book of beginnings, the beginning of creation, life and the human race, marriage, the family, the state, nations, civilization, history, law, government, penalty, worship, covenants, the call of God, the elect people, promise, prophecy, language, literature, mechanic arts, fine arts, science, poetry, and of all else we know (to amplify a little of what has already been quoted from Scroggie).

The three great gaps which science and evolution cannot bridge (viz., the origin of matter, animal life, and man) are bridged in Genesis, the words “God created” standing at each of these three bridges in Genesis 1:1, 21 and 27. Ninety-nine per cent of the book’s purpose is to reveal the “Who” of creation; one percent to tell the “how” of creation.

The word “generations” indicates the successive divisions of the book and the gradual concentration on one line of ancestry — Israel (cf. 2:4, 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12, 19; 36:1; 37:2).

By placing together the first five and the last four words of Genesis, we have a parable of ruin wrought by sin’s entrance into the world: “In the beginning God created” — “a coffin in Egypt.”

Genesis 1 and 2 tell us what God did; 3-11 what Satan did; and 12-50 what the God-man, Christ, would do.

Seven outstanding events are recorded in Genesis: the world’s creation, man’s creation, the fall, the flood, the pioneer of faith —Abraham, the migration to Egypt, and the coming of the Saviour.

In this great book of beginnings the LORD JESUS CHRIST is revealed as THE SEED. And it is a book wherein we see the failure of men met by the faithfulness of God.

“But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Rom. 5:20) .

For The Year Ahead

I want a principle within,
Of jealous, godly fear;
A sensibiliy to sin,
A pain to feel it near.

I want the first approach to feel
Of pride, or fond desire;
To catch the wandering of my will,
And quench the kindling fire.

From Thee, that I no more may part.
No more Thy goodness grieve,
The filial awe, the fleshly heart,
The tender conscience give.

Quick as the apple of the eye,
O God, my conscience make;
Awake, my soul, when sin is nigh,
And keep it still awake.

If to the right or left I stray,
That moment, Lord, reprove;
And let me grieve my life away,
For having grieved Thy love.

O! may the least omission pain
My well-instructed soul,
And drive me to the blood again,
Which makes the wounded whole.

—Author Unknown

The Annual Meeting

On October 31st, 1987, the Annual Meeting of FOOD FOR THE FLOCK INC. was convened at Don Valley Bible Chapel in Toronto. It was the unanimous decision of the committee to continue to publish “Food for the Flock” magazine through 1988, looking to our Lord for His continued wisdom and material provision. As our readers may have gleaned from past reports, we publish and mail the magazine on an extremely thin financial margin, but we rejoice and give hearty thanks to our Lord that in His great faithfulness He has enabled us to uninterruptedly publish “Food for the Flock” for 33 years. Thus it is with this same dependence on Him that we commit ourselves to still another year of publication.

It should be noted that Mr. Donald K. Steele of Lakefield, Ontario, is the new associate editor, this responsibility having been left vacant since the Home Call of Mr. James Gunn in 1983. Mr. Steele has served on the “Food for the Flock” committee for several years, even as it has been my joy to know Don since he was in his teens. He currently serves as an elder in the assembly at Lakefield and is employed as a grade school teacher at Norwood. He has written many articles which have appeared in the magazine over the years, his latest having been published in the September-October 1987 issue. We look forward to working together to bring you the best that we can in edifying, challenging, Christ-exalting written ministry.

Over this past year many personal expressions of encouragement and appreciation from home and abroad have been received relative to the helpfulness of the magazine in the lives of God’s people. These not only gladden my heart but provide fresh impetus to forge ahead with the tasks at hand.

As editor, and on behalf of the committee, we join in expressing our sincere appreciation to our readers for your participation with us in helping to carry on this good work. Also we invite you to make any suggestions and/or kindly criticisms whereby we may be better able to serve you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Brethren, pray for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:25).

—W. Ross Rainey, Editor

1 W. Graham Scrogie, Know Your Bible, I, p. 21.

2 Eric W. Hayden, Preaching through the Bible, p. 13.

3 Ibid., p. 13.