Week 1 Reading Guide (Chapter 1: Genesis)
- Cross of Glory’s Home Page for The Story
- Enter the Bible from Luther Seminary – A Lutheran Perspective
- Map of Ancient Israel – Map from Inside Front Cover of The Story
- The Story – Full Timeline
- The Story – Publishers Web Site
Resources for Week 1:
This week we look at Chapter 1 of The Story, which deals with God’s good creation, humanity’s choice to reject God and go our own way, and the implications of that choice. If you don’t yet have The Story book, you can read chapters 1-4 and 6-9 of Genesis to get the same story. (The Story book is easier to understand because it has eliminated chapter and verse numbers and some of the more confusing parts, but it’s exactly the same wording as in the NIV Bible.)
Chapter 1 – Creation: The Beginning of Life as We Know It.
In chapter 1, we are introduced to the main character in the Bible. God is the main character, and is present from beginning to end, always loving and desiring to be in relationship with humanity. As we see throughout the book, God never gives up on us, even when we want nothing to do with God. In Chapter 1 we see God creating all that is, and we see God creating it good! God’s crowning achievement is humanity; we are made in the image and likeness of God.
But God doesn’t force relationships, so humanity is given free will. We can choose whether or not we want to be in relationship with God or go our own way. And when humanity first chose the latter (what is often called “the Fall”), sin and brokenness and separation enter the good world God created. That brokenness and separation affect not only our relationship with God, but also with each other, with the world around us, and even within ourselves. Everything was/is broken, and God’s plan to give us abundant life and live in intimate relationship with us was disrupted.
But God’s plan was not derailed, and God immediately set about redeeming the world and setting all things to right. Even when humanity becomes increasingly evil and corrupt, and God “regretted that he had made human beings,” God does not abandon humanity. However, by the end of the flood story, it is clear that humanity, even the best of us like Noah, cannot save ourselves. The remainder of the Bible reflects God’s actions to redeem creation, culminating in the sending of his Son. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
One more thing — remember, as we discussed in our fall sermon series on Biblical interpretation, Genesis was not written as a history book or as a science book, and should not be read as one. (This is particularly important to remember for these first biblical stories.) We want to keep in mind the literary genre of the stories in Genesis, and to interpret them like their first hearers would have understood them. Here’s a great quote from Ronald Hendel, who wrote the intro to my Harper Collins Study Bible:
“It is somewhat unfair to note the scientific inadequacies of Genesis, since it was not written to be a work of modern science. We need to learn to read Genesis as a book that speaks strongly to modern readers, but we need to read it on its terms, recognize its ancient voice, and not superimpose on it our own. It is a book of memories – of marvels and miracles, imperfect saints and holy sinners, a beneficent and often inscrutable God, and promises that bind the past to the present and the future. It tells us where we came from, not in the sense that the book is historically accurate, but in the sense that the book itself is our historical root. “
As you read, note the discussion questions beginning on page 473 of the book and/or the questions that can be found on the Story bookmark (which are also on our website). Also, feel free to consider some of the questions below:
- What strikes you most about God’s creative ability? How does God’s creativity apply to your life now?
- Several verses begin simply with “And God said, …” What does that say to you about God and God’s authority?
- What do think it means to be made in the image of God (page 2-3)? Of everything that God created, only humanity was “made in God’s image.” How does that make you feel?
- God gave humanity free will. That means we can choose what we want to do, even when our choices conflict with what God wants for us. Why do you think God would give us free will if it means we can (and will) make bad choices?
- Explain how Adam and Eve played the “blame game” (p. 5). Why do you think it is so hard for us to accept responsibility for our bad choices?
- The relationship between God and humanity has now been broken, as has the harmony between and among people. Even the earth itself no longer relates well to humanity. What examples can you think of in today’s world that reflect humanity’s and the entire earth’s brokenness?
- Despite Adam and Eve’s disobedience, God sought a way to redeem the situation and their choices. What did God do in response to their bad choice? How has God responded to you in your life when you have made choices that ignore God’s desires for you?
- When God looked at the earth and saw that it was completely evil all the time, God “regretted that he had made human beings, and his heart was deeply troubled.” (p. 8) Our hearts are often deeply troubled when we observe the horrors of this world. How might you respond to someone who asks how a good God could allow so much evil to take place?
- One could perceive God as vengeful and/or distant when reading stories like the flood. (Even us Christians may have some concerns after reading this story.) What, if any, concerns does this story raise for you? At the same time, chapter one is also filled with examples of God’s love and mercy. What examples can you identify?
- God made a promise to Noah never again to destroy humanity with a flood and God confirmed it with a rainbow. What promises has God made to you?
- In our stories, we see God pursuing Adam and Eve after they had sinned, and God pursuing Cain even as Cain was steeped in anger. Can you think of a time in your own life that God has pursued you? How did God’s pursuit affect your relationship with God?
- When you look at the lives of Adam, Eve and Noah’s family, how do you think God felt about their disobedience? Did it drive God away or drive him to try new ways to connect with them? Can you think of some ways that God trying to reach you?
What questions came up for you while you were reading this chapter?