We trust that you and your family had a wonderful and Christ-honoring Christmas! We hope the memories made were special and that you were able to focus as a family on the inexpressible gift of Christ. But now that Christmas is behind us, we naturally turn our attention to the new year. Whether reviewing the events of the past year or debating what resolution to try to tackle this year, it’s a time to ponder new beginnings. Such thoughts got me thinking about another “beginning” — the beginning of the Bible.
If you open God’s Word and start reading on page 1, it won’t take long at all for you to find the word “beginning”! Aside from John 3:16, no Bible verse is more well-known than Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” That simple statement initiates a section of Scripture that is foundational to our faith. If these truths are so central, should we not intentionally expose our children to them?
Genesis chapters 1-11 (from creation to the Tower of Babel) present simple realities about God, us, and our relationship to him. Here we learn about how things were supposed to be in this universe—and why they’re a mess instead. In a sense, we find the central core of absolute truth in these chapters in the form of timeless and central realities our kids can understand. These are truths that we are responsible to teach them, to show them. Let’s investigate together how we can use this section of Scripture to do just that. Let’s use the weapon of these “beginning” chapters help our children construct a foundation of God’s reality!
Approaching Genesis 1–11 with your child
This section of Scripture is especially pertinent for young believing minds that are just beginning to grow in their faith. As you begin a new year, I’d suggest that you consider taking the opportunity at some point to take a brief journey through these chapters as a family. Encourage your children to read them with you. Look for timeless foundational truths together. Discuss them together. Take a chapter at a time if needed; there’s plenty to find! Show them that the foundational truths we believe are not complicated, and they’re right here—pure gold right on the surface and presented in a captivating narrative!
I’ve attempted to provide a basic guide for this journey of discovery below by presenting five truths. They’re certainly not exhaustive but I trust it hits the main highlights.
I’ve tried to write the outline in language that even younger children can understand. You can utilize this list in numerous ways; you could give your children the five overarching truths below and task them with finding evidence for them in the chapters (perhaps a good exercise for older kids), or you can simply read verse by verse and point out these core truths along the way. Either way, your children can find them and understand them! And they’re truths that can enable them to stand for a lifetime on God’s timeless truth in the face of falsehood.
Truth 1: The God of the Bible is the great Creator.
He alone is God. We see this right from the first verse. The story of everything starts with him and only him. John 1:3 backs this up (in reference to God the Son in particular): he is the source of literally everything. He is the only uncreated entity in the universe.
He owns everything. If you make something, you own it. It’s yours. As the maker of everything, God has the prerogative to do whatever he pleases to any part of creation. When we read these chapters, we may wonder things like “why did he not keep Satan away” or “why did he choose to destroy it all”, but in the end it’s all his. He can do what he deems best with all he has made.
He is in charge. Right from the start, in the very act of creation itself, God is issuing commands. And every part of creation responds by fulfilling his word. This truth becomes especially clear and pertinent to us as we read about Day Six of creation. He gave mankind commands to obey (1:28-30) and boundaries to abide by (2:16-17). He also made humans male and female. That is a timeless truth that cannot be altered or reinterpreted—because he is in charge.
Everything he does is perfect. Throughout chapter 1 each act of creation is described as “good” or “very good” (1:31). That isn’t just true of God’s initial acts of creation. This is a timeless truth. Everything that God does is good. Everything he does is also just, shown through his cursing of creation in ch. 3. Even the completeness of his judgment through the Flood shows his perfection (7:19-24). He always does what is good, just, right, and perfect.
Truth 2: The one true God made mankind special.
We bring him glory in a special way. While all of creation was made for God’s pleasure, he put a special imprint on people when he created us. He made us in his image (1:26-27), which means that we reflect him. We resemble Him in certain characteristics and personality, we represent Him in creation, we communicate with him uniquely, and we can relate to Him in a special way. He owns us, we resemble Him, and we represent Him. We were created to be uniquely God-centered creatures. All these aspects bring God pleasure and glory.
We spread his glory in a special way. Andrew French’s two-part article from earlier this month covers the dominion principle (1:28) in detail, so I heartily direct you there for far more well-written and thorough synopsis and application!1 But simply put, to quote his article, “fundamental to our humanity is God-intended work”. The God-ordained work we accomplish on this earth glorifies him.
We can be close to him in a special way. As a result of our creation in his image, we can know him personally. Adam and Eve enjoyed this from the outset of creation, and the account of Enoch in 5:24 shows us that, even though the Fall has marred the closeness enjoyed in the Garden of Eden, we can still enjoy intimate fellowship with God.
Truth 3: Man’s choice to sin affects everything.
Creation is broken. The Fall has relegated creation itself to corruption (6:12). Mankind’s sin results in creation’s suffering. Everything God created as good is now subject to collapse and decline—because of sin.
People are broken. Humanity’s plunge into disastrous brokenness is starkly noticeable in these chapters. Created for God’s ends, people now reject God’s worthy rule through disobedience (ch. 3). They show shocking presumption when pursuing selfish ends (6:2). They display a disastrous tendency toward self-sufficiency (11:2-4). Lamech’s blatant vengefulness disproportionate to what was done to him—not to mention his polygamy—reveals how low mankind fell, and how quickly he got there (4:23-24).
Relationships are broken. Because of sin, man is tragically separated from God (3:8; 24). The harmony of even the closest of human relationships is blemished by sin, as evidenced by Adam’s blame-shifting in 3:12. Brothers turn on each other and commit murder (ch. 4). 6:11 references the earth being consumed with violence—interpersonal acts of animosity. Even man’s harmonious relationship with nature is marred (3:17-19).
God’s heart is broken. Genesis 6:6-7 shows how much man’s sin broke God’s heart. The “regret” and “grief” in these verses reveal a combination of rage and agony. God is not repenting here for something he did wrong. He sees that his creation now cannot fulfill his original purpose for it, and he can no longer allow this to continue. But he also knows it didn’t have to be this way. He loves those who have turned from him. He has invested immensely in them by imprinting his image in them. And all that brings great grief to him. He is pained by it and by the fact that he knows he must judge it. Sin breaks God’s heart.
Truth 4: Man’s choice to sin has consequences.
Sin results in pain. God curses man and woman in 3:16-19, and much of the consequences brought on Adam and Eve involve pain. Suffering, hardship, sickness, and hurting of all kinds are present in this world because of sin. In 4:25 Eve shows a glimpse into the pain she no doubt experienced when Abel was murdered by acknowledging that Seth’s birth filled a void left by Abel’s death. Sin brings agony. Of all types.
Sin results in chaos. Look at how quickly sin spiraled from a “simple” act of disobedience (ch. 3) to calloused murder (ch. 4). Sin always produces disarray and turmoil. The account of 6:1-12 portrays the end result of people doing what they please. The chaos of Chapter 11 reveals that the chaos in this world is, in part, a form of punishment. Confusion is both produced by sin and a penalty for it.
Sin results in death. As God himself warned in 2:17, sin brings death. While Adam and Eve’s physical death was not immediate, it would come after a life of physical hardship (3:16-19). Spiritual death—separation from God—is the ultimate consequence, the hardest to bear, and (as the rest of Scripture reveals) lasts for eternity. The presence of sin also cheapens the perspective of the value of human life. The first murder occurs in chapter 4. God’s image in man is marred through death (4:10; 9:5-6).
Sin results in destruction. The global flood recorded in chapters 7-8 is a description of unimaginable destruction. God cannot allow sin unchecked and unpunished. Mercy does not continue forever for those who willfully rebel against God.
Truth 5: Man’s only hope is God’s grace.
He alone can save. The Author of creation is also the Author of the plan to make it right again. As the pre-existent one, he is the only existing entity not marred by sin. Salvation must come from him because he alone has the ability to and is in a position to provide it.
He wants to save. Throughout these chapters we find evidence of God’s willingness and desire to deliver and be merciful. He provides clothing to cover Adam and Eve’s shame (3:21). He puts a mark on Cain the murderer so he would not be murdered himself (4:15). He continues to bless his people with children despite their fall. Noah finds “favor in the eyes of the Lord” (6:8). God provides meticulous instructions for the ark in 6:14-21, ensuring successful deliverance. Even his chastening in Chapter 11 serves to better enable people to accomplish his plan.
He has an unfailing plan. After every calamity he reveals that his plan is ongoing and on course. In 3:15 he alludes to his intent to deal Satan ultimate defeat. Seth’s birth in 4:25-26 shows God’s provision of a thread of faithfulness and hope. After the Flood he renews a thriving creation and his covenant with mankind (9:1-17). Even the dispersal at Babel ensured that his initial plan expressed in 1:22 and 9:1 would continue. The introduction of Abraham at the end of Chapter 11 initiates a story of covenant and redemption that would eventually culminate in sin’s ultimate Overcomer.
You can trust him. Just as God remembered Noah (8:1), so will he not fail to uphold you. His provision of the rainbow (9:16-17) shows that he wants us to hold him to his promises. He has a proven track record. He doesn’t fail. He provides all we need—both physically (1:29, 9:3) and spiritually, ultimately through the coming of Jesus (3:15).
As you study these chapters with your children, there are a few interpretational or content-related challenges that you will come upon. Two stand out in particular. First, the account of the sons of God and daughters of man in 6:1-3 can be confusing to interpret. I would recommend the notes of a good study Bible to help you navigate the explanation of this passage.
Second, you may conclude that the account of Noah’s nakedness (9:20-27) is something your children are not quite ready for. Perhaps a simple summary of the account would be preferable to a direct reading in your view as a parent. In that summary you could emphasize that Noah was still a sinner and that sin still existed after the Flood. For older children, you could explain that this incident foreshadowed what God would someday do to the pagan people of Canaan on behalf of the people of Israel (22, 25-27).
God wrote what he did at the beginning of his Word to provide far more than an introduction to his world and his truth. He provided some priceless gifts: the foundation blocks for our faith. As the faith of our children grows, let’s ensure they have those building blocks firmly in place!
Growing Fathers Team
Chris serve as an assistant pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina, with a particular emphasis on the youth and on church-wide edification. He and his wife, Larua, have two children—Patrick and Kinley.View all posts by Chris