As students and teachers of God’s Word, it is important that we are able to demonstrate good spiritual discipline. An important part of that discipline is the study of Scripture. As teachers, we owe it to our students to be well prepared so that we can help them in their walk with Christ.
I can think of no better way than through the study of the Holy Bible. As educators, we have the responsibility to make the words of the Bible “come alive on the pages.” Through research and proper exegetical exercise, we are able to accomplish this. We must properly prepare the text so that our students understand the message that God wants to convey to us.
Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 2:15 to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (KJV). The word “study” in Greek means “to make effort, be prompt, give diligence.” When we study the Bible, we have to focus on making sure that we are looking at the Scripture in its proper perspective. That means using available tools to get a clear understanding of what that Scripture means. But first and foremost, we must allow the Scripture to interpret itself before seeking outside resources.
The Biblical Story
The Bible tells a story. In essence, it tells us the history of salvation. From the beginning of time, Jesus Christ, our Savior, was coming to redeem us from a life of sin and death. The Bible tells the story of how this came to pass. Key events and people in the Bible help us to understand the great sacrifice that God made so that we can see Him again one day.
The Bible is full of lessons that we need to learn to understand the truth. For clarity, we need to begin our study at the beginning. Genesis, the first book of the Bible, sets the tone and the pace for the story. It introduces us to key concepts and themes that continue throughout the Bible. Although many themes are introduced in Genesis, four are key to our understanding of the Bible: Covenant, Sin and Redemption, Salvation, and Faith. Let’s take a look at each so that we can understand their importance to our lives and those of our students.
Theme 1: Covenant
A covenant is defined as a binding agreement between two parties that creates a new relationship. Oftentimes, a promise is involved as well. In a biblical covenant, the agreement is between God and man. The covenantal relationship is carried throughout the entire Bible.
The explanation of covenant begins in Genesis 6 with Noah. God was about to destroy the world and everything in it. He decided that Noah, along with his family and two of every animal species should be saved, so He instructed Noah to build an ark to survive the coming flood. Once the ark was built, Noah’s family and the animals entered and were shut in for forty days and nights. When the waters subsided, the ark was opened and all that were inside came out. God promised Noah that He would never destroy the earth with water again (Genesis 9:8–17). He gave them a symbol, the rainbow, as a seal of what He had promised.
The concept of covenant continues in Genesis 12 with Abram. God instructed Abram to leave the land he was in and go to an unfamiliar land. God was going to bless him and make his name great. Without hesitation, Abram prepared his family and belongings, and journeyed to unfamiliar territory. He did not know where he was going, but he trusted God enough to do as told. As a result, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, which means “father of many nations.” God was going to make Abraham a great nation with many descendants. This was a miracle in itself because Abraham had no children. God kept His Word and a son was born
to Abraham and Sarah in their mature age.
God was establishing the lineage of Abraham that would have some of the greatest people of the Bible, such as Jacob, Joseph, David, and ultimately Jesus Christ. These men went on to further establish the covenant with God’s people and prepare their ancestors for Jesus.
The theme of covenant is significant because it helps us to understand what God is doing in the midst of His people and demonstrates His love for us. God will always remain true to His Word, and we must be truthful on our end. He prepared the way to send His Son to earth so that sin and death are no longer powerful over us. The Great Covenant will be fulfilled in the return of Jesus Christ.
Theme 2: Sin and Redemption
The next theme we see in Genesis is Sin and Redemption. God created Adam and Eve, placed them in the garden, and gave them full responsibility to tend to the garden and all its contents. The only instruction they received was not to eat of the tree in the middle of the garden (Genesis 2:17). The serpent came along to speak with Eve and told her that what God had said was not the truth. She disobeyed the
Lord and ate the forbidden fruit. Because of this act, sin entered the world. Adam and Eve had sinned against God and defied Him. Now they had to leave the comfort of the only home that they had ever known and were forced to fend for themselves.
Death had entered the world; separation was present. But a Redeemer was in place! Jesus Christ was to come and take eternal sin and the consequence of death from us (Genesis 3:15). He would come and die on the Cross to restore our relationship with God. But until then, a mediator, in the form of a priest, would intercede on behalf of the people. Sin would still be present, but now we had another opportunity to get it right in the eyes of God.
Salvation would be possible because of what Jesus was coming to the earth to do. We first see mention of salvation with Noah and his family. When God decided He was going to destroy the earth and its inhabitants, He secured Noah and his family in the ark. The ark was their salvation as it protected them during the Flood and kept them from facing death.
As born-again believers, we must understand that salvation comes through Jesus and Jesus Christ alone (Acts 4:12). Since one of the most important themes in Scripture is salvation, we as teachers must be clear on this topic. Our students must realize that accepting and acknowledging Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the only way to expect to see Him again.
Theme 3: Faith
Faith is interwoven throughout the Bible. We can see the first mention of this theme in Genesis. According to the Word of God, part of faith is belief in the one, true God without actually seeing Him. Faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). We obtain faith by the power of our own freewill. It distinguishes who belongs to God and who does not. Faith keeps us until the end, because we know that we will
see Him again and live with Him forever. We must be steadfast in our faith, the very thing that keeps us going from day to day.
Our first example of this great faith is Noah. He was told by God to build an ark to protect himself and his family from the rain that was going to destroy everything. Noah had never seen rain, but by faith, he built the ark and had it ready to go when destruction came. As believers, we have to understand that God loves us and will give us His best. But we must strive to be obedient and live by faith.
Abraham also exhibited faith. By faith, Abraham moved his entire family from the familiar to the unfamiliar. God promised and gave him a son, Isaac, despite the obstacles that appeared to be present. By faith, Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son of the promise. Because of Abraham’s faith, God established a covenant with Abraham that would last for generations, culminating with the birth of Jesus Christ.
The book of Genesis provides us with a wealth of insight as to who God is. When studying Genesis, note the many “firsts” that occur. All of them help us to realize who we are and who we may become. Our students will find great value in the work that we do to help them understand these important principles, as they provide guidelines for how we should live. Our students must never shy away from any book in the Old Testament, because we need to understand our beginning in order to embrace our future.