By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer
As I read through the Bible chronologically once again this year, I’ve decided to write up my thoughts just as if I were doing a book review. Each book of the Bible will have its own review. To read more, visit my blog: sarahelisabethwrites.com
“In the beginning…” are the classic words that open this historical text that gives the biblical account of the beginning of creation, the beginning of life, the beginning of the earth itself. No other book compares to the depth and range of this phenomena. But it doesn’t end with the creation and death of the first man. It follows his descendants through time and space on an adventure unlike this world will ever see again. From the first bite of sin, to the flood that destroys creation’s beginning, to the covenant made with Abraham, the father of Israel.
Through the life of Noah, to the tower of Babel. Through Jacob’s deceptions and wrestling with the Lord. Through the lies, the truths and the in-betweens. Abominations, salvation, grace. All compiled into one solid storyline that starts at “the beginning.”
The rich quality of this text is unwavering as it wraps up on a cliffhanger of sorts. The sons of Israel reside comfortable in the land of Egypt in a seemingly safe and prosperous place. But it is not where they are supposed to be. Or are they? We look for answers in the sequel, Exodus.
The Book of Genesis covers so many topics, such a long timeline, it’s hard to take it all in just with one reading. Or three or five, or a dozen. This wasn’t my first time with this book, though I well remember my first adult reading of it and being struck with the breadth and width of the story itself. It contains much of what is never preached or taught in church. It tells nitty-gritty, disgusting yet intriguing tales of fallen humanity and God’s ultimate mercy.
Tightly woven from beginning to end, this chronological book sums up the earliest days of man and introduces the world to God’s chosen people. That in itself shows that God can use anyone, anywhere, anytime, no matter their past or present.
On a personal note, one verse stuck out at me like never before. In the midst of genealogical research and study of my Choctaw heritage, and just completing a book on the Trail of Tears, this verse held special meaning:
“And the name of the second he called Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.’” Gen. 41:52 (NKJV)
Why is this verse so special? One of my grandfathers walked the trail at age twelve. Once settled in Indian Territory, grown and married, he named his firstborn son Ephraim.
The story of Joseph has always been a favorite of mine. What a page-turner life he had and what an attitude he had about it. Always finding the good and trusting in God. Someone once said Joseph’s wrong was not going back to Canaan, that he remained in Egypt because of the prosperity and position he held, and that caused the bondage and great affliction the children of Israel had unnecessarily. Perhaps. But in reading this story again, I saw no place where God called him back to Canaan, and Joseph refused that calling. In fact, he instructs before his death that his bones are to be carried home someday. Was the bondage in Egypt a part of God’s plan to hold together and flourish His chosen people rather than them scattering over the face of the earth? I wonder, though haven’t studied this in depth.
In the end, you know there is much, much more to the story. That it truly is just the beginning.
Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer is a freelance writer and flash fiction master. Read more about her journey at www.SarahElisabethWrites.com