God’s Promises in Genesis show the way to the Messiah. We see Him in creation and we see the foretelling of His coming through the descendants of Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph, seeing God’s Promises in Genesis fulfilled in Jesus.
Genesis is Called the book of beginnings
The Biblical law or principle of First Mention, which is the beginning of a concept or promise in the Bible, is an important part of understanding the Bible and seeing the continuity of God’s Word from the Old Testament into the New.
One of the most remarkable evidences of Biblical unity is the internal consistency, and
no where is this internal evidence more strikingly evident than in a phenomenon which students of the Bible refer to as “The Law of First Mention,” which simply means that the very first time any important word is mentioned in the Bible [usually, of course, is in Genesis, the first book of the Bible] Scripture gives that word its most complete, and accurate, meaning to not only serve as a “key” in understanding the word’s Biblical concept, but to also provide a foundation for its fuller development in later parts of the Bible. NetBibleStudy.com ***This is not a ‘secure’ site.
This Principle of First Mention is also explained here in BibleStudy.org along with the Progressive Principle. As you ‘progress’ through the Word you see God revealing His full truth.
An interesting application of the First mention hermeneutical principle comes from the verse discussing (if obliquely) the coming Savior and Messiah in Genesis 3:15. This verse is considered the first prophecy in the Bible. BibleStudy.org
I will put animosity between you and the woman, and between your descendant and her descendant; he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15 CJB. The first ‘you’ being referred to is the snake or the devil. The ‘He’ referred to is believed to be Jesus, the seed of Adam and Eve. It is also true that the seed is all of us.
As you read the various prophecies concerning a Savior, see what Jesus did, and look at what Paul said in Romans about this verse in Genesis, you see the ‘complete’ picture and fulfillment of God’s plan. The “adversary’ is, of course, satan.
And God, the source of shalom, will soon crush the Adversary under your feet. Romans 16:20 CJB
Therefore, since the children share a common physical nature as human beings, he (Jesus) became like them and shared that same human nature; so that by his death he might render ineffective the one who had power over death (that is, the Adversary)and thus set free those who had been in bondage all their lives because of their fear of death.
Indeed, it is obvious that he does not take hold of angels to help them; on the contrary, “He takes hold of the seed of Avraham.” This is why he had to become like his brothers in every respect — so that he might become a merciful and faithful cohen gadol (High Priest) in the service of God, making a kapparah (sacrifice) for the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:14-17 CJB
The first words of Genesis are, “In the beginning.” Of course, the first thing is the creation story where God says “let there be,” and light, the moon and sun, the oceans, and mankind and each thing comes into being as God simply says ‘let there be.’
The book of Genesis is a book full of First Things, both good and bad. As you study the Book of Genesis, be sure to have a Reference Bible handy so that you can look up the verses that relate to the verses in Genesis.
God’s Promises in Genesis Begin with Creation
We just saw the first promise of hope and salvation from the terrible results of sin in Genesis 3:15. The promise is that He – a masculine pronoun – would crush his – the serpent’s – head. Jesus set us free from sin and death and from the control of satan as we choose to believe in and live for Him. Satan’s head was crushed but only Jesus’ heel was bruised One is a death blow, the second is a temporary wound.
This is the first mention of a hope that mankind could be free from the results of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. As you progress through Genesis, you see other references to a coming Messiah.
Jesus in Genesis
According to the Apostle Paul, the first place we see Jesus is in Genesis 1. In Genesis 1:26 God said, “Let US make mankind in our image or likeness.” Us is plural and here we see the first inference of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5 ESV
Jesus was and is the Word. He was there with God in the beginning.
The Holy Spirit in Genesis 1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was unformed and void, darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water. Genesis 1:1-2 ESV
Here in the first 2 verses of Genesis we see the Holy Spirit’s presence during creation. The ‘ruach’ which is a feminine pronoun meaning breath, wind, or spirit – moving air.
Now that we see the importance of first mentions in the Bible, we can look at the first of God’s Promises in Genesis and the importance of them to mankind. Here is the first mention of the Holy Spirit or Spirit of God. We also see God the Father.
The Trinity in genesis
Another important concept is introduced here – the Trinity or the Triune nature of God. The Trinity consists of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We see all of them at work in the planning and actual creation.
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, in the likeness of ourselves; and let them rule over the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the animals, and over all the earth, and over every crawling creature that crawls on the earth.” Genesis 1:26 CJB
Note the plural, “Let us.” We have already seen the involvement of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in creation and now we see them in the creation of mankind. These ‘first mentions’ are vital to your understanding of the work of the Trinity throughout the Bible. Each one is a separate and distinct person, yet they are one.
We understand this as we look at how we were created. We are body, soul, and spirit. Each part has a separate role and yet they depend upon one another and are united in one being.
What Does Genesis 3:15 Mean?
I (God) will put animosity between you (satan) and the woman, and between your descendant and her descendant; he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15 CJB
In Genesis 3, God’s promises in Genesis continue as we see the temptation and fall of mankind when they listen to the voice of the serpent, or satan. They had been warned and given specific instruction. Eve failed to understand the implications of the power she was offered. The Tree of Life, which sat at the center of the Garden bore fruit and satan told her that it was ‘desirable to make one wise.” However, God had been specific in His instruction not to eat the fruit. Adam and Eve ate together and we see the continuing evidence of the consequences today.
They immediately experienced fear and God pronounced the curse on satan, the woman, and the man. Genesis 3:15 is thought by most scholars to be the first promise of the Messiah, Jesus, as the one who would bruise, or crush, satan’s head. While it is open to interpretation, it is entirely reasonable that this is the meaning of Genesis 3:15 – the first promise of the Messiah in the Old Testament.
Jesus bruised the head of satan, taking power away from him but not completely removing him from earth. The devil bruised Jesus heel. In other words, he caused a temporary injury which resulted in Jesus’ victory over death and hell and the power of satan.
As you continue through Genesis, you see the promises of a future Messiah in the form of forerunners who were examples of the coming Messiah, Jesus. You also see many promises God made to those who loved Him and remained true to their faith. As we look at these people, we see not only the history of mankind, but, also, examples of walking in faith.
God’s Promise to Noah
Noah is famous for building an ark, gathering two of every animal, creeping thing and bird into the ark along with his family. They alone survived on the earth. After the waters subsided and the Ark rested on one of the mountains of Ararat. When everyone had departed the Ark, God gave this promise to Noah:
Noach built an altar to Adonai. Then he took from every clean animal and every clean bird, and he offered burnt offerings on the altar. Adonai smelled the sweet aroma, and Adonai said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, since the imaginings of a person’s heart are evil from his youth; nor will I ever again destroy all living things, as I have done. So long as the earth exists, sowing time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.” Genesis 8:20-22 CJB
This promise was followed by God set His rainbow in the cloud as a sign for the covenant between God, every living creature, and man.
God’s Promise to Abraham
Abraham was a great man of faith and God’s promises to him foretell God’s promise to us. In Genesis 12:1-3 NKJV, God makes His first promise to Abraham.
Adonai said to Avram (Abraham), after Lot had moved away from him, ‘Look all around you from where you are, to the north, the south, the east and the west. All the land you see I will give to you and your descendants (seed) forever, and I will make your descendants as numerous as the specks of dust on the earth, then your descendants can be counted. Get up and walk the length and the breadth of the land, because I will give it to you.’ Avram moved his tent and came to live by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hevron. There he built an altar to Adonai. Genesis 13:14-18 CJSB
God separated Abraham from his idolatrous family to make him and his descendants a messianic nation. Abraham obeyed God and began the journey to the Promised Land. Along the way he met up with Melchizedek, King of Salem. We know nothing about Melchizedek except that he mysteriously appears to bring bread and wine to those who had fought a hard battle against their enemies. He also blessed Abraham and Abraham gave him one tenth of all the goods they had retrieved in the battle.
We don’t see another mention of Melchizedek until the New Testament in Hebrews 7. I won’t quote the entire section but will include this one verse which helps you see how Melchizedek, a type of Christ, pointed to Jesus, I would encourage you to read the entire chapter to get a bigger picture of what the author’s point was as he wrote to the Christians in Rome.
There is no record of his father or mother or any of his ancestors—no beginning or end to his life. He remains a priest forever, resembling the Son of God. Hebrews 7:3 NLT.
By Genesis Chapter 22, we see that Abraham’s son, Isaac, has been born and God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only Son on an altar. Abraham built the altar, placed the wood, lay Isaac on the altar and raised a knife to kill Isaac. But God intervened. The Angel of the Lord called out and told him to stop while affirming Abraham’s great faith and fear of God. God sent a ram to be sacrificed instead, another type of Christ.
Out of that incident, the Angel of the Lord spoke to Abraham again saying,
He said, “I have sworn by myself — says Adonai — that because you have done this, because you haven’t withheld your son, your only son, I will most certainly bless you; and I will most certainly increase your descendants to as many as there are stars in the sky or grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants will possess the cities of their enemies, and by your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed — because you obeyed my order. Genesis 22:16-18 CJB
Here again, we see the promise of the seed through which all the earth would be blessed, foretelling the coming Messiah through the descendants of Abraham. Jacob, Abraham’s descendant was also promised ‘a company of nations and kings’ who would descend from him.
God’s Promise to Joseph
Joseph was the beloved son of Jacob who had a dream, seeing himself being raised up and his brothers bowing to him. They hated him for his dream and possibly his pompousness. Rather than killing him, they sold him as a slave and lied to their father, telling him that an animal had attacked and killed him.
Joseph went through many hardships until the dream came true and his brothers bowed down to him, not knowing he was. He was the humble and second most powerful man in Egypt. Joseph became the savior of his entire family and of the nation of Israel. God’s promise to him in the dream came to pass. Jesus was descendant of Joseph who was used by God to fulfill His promises to Abraham and to all the inhabitants of the earth.
Genesis ends with the death of Joseph after forgiving his brothers and promising to take care of them.
But Yosef (Joseph) said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Am I in the place of God? You meant to do me harm, but God meant it for good — so that it would come about as it is today, with many people’s lives being saved. So don’t be afraid — I will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he comforted them, speaking kindly to them. Genesis 50:19-21 CJB
God’s Promises in Genesis Came to Pass
While Abraham never saw all he had been promised (Hebrews 11:13), he maintained his faith in God’s promise to him. He knew that God would bring his descendants into that land of milk and honey. In the same way, we know that Jesus was the ultimate fulfilling of that promise. Through Him, all the nations of the earth are blessed and all who believe can enter heaven. He was the ultimate sacrifice.
God’s promise for blessing to flow down from generation to generation includes us. In Christ, we are blessed and so the promises of Genesis are promises to us today.
As you read the book of Genesis, take time to really ponder all that this book means. It is not just history, it is also foretelling and giving glimpses of the future Messiah through the lives of God’s people. The New Testament refers to Old over 695 times. The two are one book.
As you read the Old Testament, I want to refer you to an article in Worth Beyond Rubies. The writer, Diane Ferreira is a Messianic Jew who beautifully explains the continuity of what we refer to as the Old and New Testaments. I know you will enjoy reading and gain great insight by gaining you a far better appreciation of the Tanakh. Old Testament vs. New Testament will show you the unity of the two.
Study the Book of Genesis with this free Bible Study Guide you can download. This one is for beginners but works for everyone. Study God’s promises in Genesis. If you have questions or need help, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.