Genesis is part of the first five books of the Bible known as the Pentateuch and it has been historically accepted that the author of the Pentateuch is Moses.
Genesis is the book of the beginning: without it, nothing else in the Bible makes sense. It documents the beginning of the universe and everything in it including the earth, vegetation, animals, and humans. It also documents the beginning of sin when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6).
Genesis also documents the beginning of several covenants God made with His people including Noah (Genesis 9:13) and Abraham (Genesis 17:9-14). The most significant covenant God made in the book is His promise to defeat Satan and restore the broken relationship between God and man (Genesis 3:15). The birth of sin and God’s plan of redemption introduced in chapter three lay the groundwork for the rest of the Bible.
At 50 chapters, Genesis is one of the longer books of the Bible; it covers thousands of years of human history in the first eleven chapters. In chapter twelve the pace slows down with the introduction of and focus on Abram (later renamed Abraham) and his descendants, especially his grandson Jacob and his twelve sons in chapter 27.
The book ends with Jacob and all his family, servants, and livestock living in Egypt. Jacob’s second-youngest son Joseph arrived in the country years earlier as a slave after being betrayed by his own brothers (Genesis 37:12-36). By the end of the book, Joshua had become the equivalent of prime minister being second in command to Pharoah.
After the death of Jacob, his ten oldest sons feared that Joseph might retaliate against them because of their betrayal and his power. After they appealed to him not to harm them, he responded with a deeply theological statement in Genesis 50:20:
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
It is important to note that the verse does not say “you meant evil against me, but God used it for good.” That would imply that God reacted to what Joseph’s brothers did to him. Instead, it says, “but God meant it for good”, emphasizing that the brothers’ betrayal was God’s plan all along – not a reaction – and that His plan was always for good.
This introduces the theological concept of God’s sovereignty, meaning He is in control of everything. Since God was in control when Joseph was sold into slavery, then it is true that He was in control when Adam and Eve fell, too. Paul later says that God chose His elect “before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4)” through Christ. God was not surprised when His creatures fell.
Reading Genesis helps us to see and believe that ultimately everything is under God’s control. That truth is first introduced here and runs throughout the rest of the Bible.