Text: Genesis 1:1-31, Genesis 2:1-25, Genesis 3:1-24, John 1:1-5
There’s something captivating about new beginnings. They arrive laden with hope and wrapped in promise, expectation strapped optimistically to their backs. The slate is clean. We hold our breath and look for the right words and best intentions to populate the page.
I once had a boss who had us write down a list of personal and professional goals for the new year as part of our year-end duties. He was the inspiring type, with a positive outlook and a successful business, and I made my list accordingly—ambitious goals only, and the bigger, the better.
I remember looking at that list and feeling a rush of emotion, like it was a long overdue promise to myself. I remember feeling hope and the fleeting yet earnest belief that circumstances can match desires if only we write them down and check them off. And I remember finding that folded-up list in my bedside table about six months later and scanning the length of it to find I’d accomplished none of my big, ambitious goals to date. Not even one.
New beginnings are laden with hope, and they should be. But on what or whom do we place that hope?
The book of Genesis is full of new beginnings. It reveals the beginning of the heavens and the earth, of humanity and marriage, of sin and nations and languages—the beginning of our need for a Savior. All of our brokenness—all our unfulfilled hopes and broken promises—begin here, in the first book of the Bible.
But Genesis is also a book of covenants. Covenants are agreements that define the relationship between God and humanity, the first being the Covenant of Creation (or Covenant of Life) when God created man (Genesis 2:16-17). But unlike the promises we make to ourselves and each other, God’s promises are, by His very nature, unbreakable. His faithfulness is never subject to our own (2 Timothy 2:13).
When Adam and Eve’s sin broke that first covenant, the Covenant of Grace was set into motion—a 2000-year journey of God revealing His faithfulness again and again to an unfaithful people. From Noah and Abraham to each generation of Abraham’s descendants, God kept His word even when they didn’t keep theirs. This achy and redemptive generations-long narrative helps us understand the beauty of—and the need for—the New Covenant in Jesus Christ (Luke 22:20, Hebrews 9:15).
With nearly every page-turn of Genesis—from the Fall to the Flood, from Babel to Sodom and Gomorrah—we will see God keep His promises and confirm His covenant with men and women along the way. When we dare to read this bold and beautiful book in its entirety, a foundational truth comes into view: God’s covenant with His people is ongoing, everlasting, and unbreakable, and it is forever fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As we walk through the pages of Genesis, may we learn to loosen our grip on our best efforts and well-intentioned works and cling only to the hope lovingly and mercifully secured for us by our covenant-keeping God.