The 365 Day Devotional Commentary


Reading 4

NEVER AGAIN Genesis 9–11 “I now establish My covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature” (Gen. 9:9–10).Noah and his sons carried the seed of sin with them into the new world. But now God introduced another theme which, with that of Creation, sin, and judgment, echoes through the Old Testament. It is the theme of promise; of a divine commitment to human beings made despite what we are rather than because of what we are.


God permitted man to prey on the animal kingdom, but not on other human beings (9:1–7). He made the rainbow a sign of His promise never again to cut off all life by a flood (vv. 8–17). Yet the act of Noah’s son Ham shows that sin was still imbedded in human nature (vv. 18–29). The roots of ancient nations are traced (chap. 10), and the origin of differing languages explained (11:1–9). A genealogy draws attention to a man who will be pivotal in God’s grand plan of redemption—Abraham (vv. 10–32).

Understanding the Text

“I will surely demand an accounting” Gen. 9:1–6. In this brief but critical paragraph, God makes society responsible for individual behavior. Men are responsible to enforce God’s prohibition against murder. The words “whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed” supports proponents of capital punishment by commanding society to execute murderers. The rationale, “For in the image of God has God made man,” is stated. Human life is of such ultimate value that no lesser penalty for taking life can signify how important each individual truly is. The same paragraph lays the foundation for human government. Lesser powers (such as making regulations that promote well-being) are implied in the “accounting” God requires of us for punishing murderers. Covenant Gen. 9:9. This vitally important Old Testament word indicates a formal, legally binding commitment. God’s promise to never again destroy all life with a flood was not lightly made. “Saw his father’s nakedness” Gen. 9:22. Here the NIV interprets. The Hebrew original reads “uncovered his father’s nakedness.” Just what this phrase suggests is uncertain, but the seriousness with which Genesis treats the event indicates that Ham did more than catch a glimpse of an uncovered body. The delicacy with which Shem and Japheth treated their father (vv. 23–24) is a reminder to us of the modesty with which Scripture treats sexual matters. “Cursed be Canaan” Gen. 9:24–27. The “curse” uttered here did not cause Canaan’s future condition, but predicted it. Old Testament curses and blessings are often predictive, though pagan peoples considered curses magical utterances which could cause harm to enemies. There is no suggestion here that Canaan participated in his ancestor Ham’s act. Yet the moral flaw seen in Ham developed through the centuries into the gross immorality practiced by the Canaanites, who practiced ritual prostitution by both sexes as a part of their religion. Let’s open our lives totally to the cleansing power of God. He can remove even the small flaws that might otherwise be magnified in the lives of our children. “This is the account” Gen. 10:1–32. Genesis uses both language and land areas to identify ancient peoples. While exact identification is difficult now, many of these names of peoples and nations have been found on ancient inscriptions. “Settled there” Gen. 11:1–4. Most agree that the tower built at Babel was a ziggurat, a stepped structure which in ancient times was often topped by a temple. Perhaps the words “reaches to the heavens” implies the early institution of idolatrous worship. Yet the text suggests a different sin. The tower was to be a symbol of racial unity, so man should “not be scattered over the face of the whole earth” (v. 4). But God had specifically told Noah and his sons to “fill the earth” (9:1–7). It may have seemed like a little thing. Yet it was important to God’s plan for man to multiply. Here too is a lesson for us. All that God says to us is important. We need to be sensitive to every command. “Confuse their language” Gen. 11:5–9. What an indication of God’s sense of humor. Can you imagine the next morning, one of the workers saying, “Hand me another brick, will you?” And his friend hearing, “Xpul Kodlyeme kakkadoke, seppulvista?” And can’t you see the people, milling about in search of others they can talk with and understand? Soon the speakers of different languages found each other, and each group drifted away to settle in its own territory. In this gentle way “the Lord scattered them over all the earth.” God often responds this way to our disobedience. He sends no lightning bolt, causes no great suffering. Instead He gently and sometimes humorously changes the direction of our lives. It’s hot in Dallas in the summer. One young couple, feeling a call to the ministry, enrolled in the seminary I attended. They arrived in August, and were greeted by a heat wave in which temperatures reached 112 degrees. After two days, the young man’s “call” melted away, and they left town. How God must have chuckled. Like the confusion of tongues, His heat wave had “scattered” a couple who were not where they were supposed to be. Perhaps you can look back too and see gentle ways God has redirected your life. How gracious God is. How good God is not to break out in anger every time we wander from His intended path. “Became the father” Gen. 11:10–32. Genealogy was vitally important to the Hebrews. In Hebrew genealogies “became the father” often means “was an ancestor of.” Also, Hebrew genealogies often skip generations, just naming significant ancestors. There is no way to tell from genealogies like this how many generations or how long a time passed from the first person named in a list to the last. Instead the genealogy points us to the truly important persons in Bible history, here preparing us to meet Abraham.


The Sign of the Covenant(Gen. 9:8–17)

The covenant is a key to grasping what the Old Testament teaches about the character of our God. In Old Testament times a covenant (Heb. brit) was a formal contract, intended to make an agreement legally binding. In international affairs a covenant was a treaty. In a nation’s life it served as a constitution. In business a covenant was a contract. In personal relationships it was a commitment. Most covenants in ancient times were two-party agreements. That is, each person or group involved specified what he or she would do to carry out the agreement. If one side failed to perform, the agreement was broken, and the other side was no longer obligated. But look at God’s covenant with Noah. It is pure promise! God made no conditions. There are no “ifs.” Instead God simply said, “I now make a commitment to you and your descendants. Never again. Never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” Whatever humanity may do, God remains committed to this promise made to Noah. The text tells us that the rainbow is to serve as a reminder to God of this specific covenant promise. But the rainbow means something else to us. Rather than a reminder of a specific promise, the rainbow is a reminder of the character of God and the nature of our relationship with Him. The rainbow reminds us that God comes to us with promises, not demands; that God in grace makes commitments to us that do not depend on our performance. We may fail God, but God will never fail us. Only in Jesus do we fully understand. Only in Christ’s promise of eternal life to all who trust Him do we grasp the full wonder of God’s grace. Yet we sense something of it here in Genesis. And each time we see a rainbow, we are reminded. The God who promised to never again destroy all life with a flood is the God of promise, the God of grace. The commitments that He makes to us in Christ are promises that will never fail.

Personal Application

The next time you see a rainbow, let it remind you of God’s amazing grace.


“God did not make the first human because He needed company, but because He wanted someone to whom He could show His generosity. God did not tell us to follow Him because He needed our help, but because He knew that loving Him would make us whole.”—Irenaeus

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary


Reading 3 THE CLEANSING FLOOD Genesis 6–8“I will wipe mankind . . . from the face of the earth” (Gen. 6:7).The bright promise of God’s original Creation had been blighted by human sin. Now Genesis introduced a theme which echoes throughout Scripture. God is moral judge of His universe. God will not shrink from His responsibility. God will surely punish those who sin.


Freed from restraint, men dedicated themselves to evil, and a saddened God determined to cleanse the earth (6:1–8). Noah, earth’s sole righteous man, obeyed God’s command to construct a gigantic ship (vv. 9–22). After Noah’s family and breeding stock entered this ark, God caused a Flood which wiped out all other people and animals (7:1–24). A year later Noah’s family emerged on a cleansed earth (8:1–20). After Noah worshiped, God promised not to destroy all life again—until the day of final judgment (vv. 20–22).

Understanding the Text

“Nephilim” Gen. 6:4. The meaning of the term is uncertain. Some take it to mean giants, produced by a union of fallen angels (“sons of God” being His direct creations) and human women. While verses 1–2 and 4 are obscure, the thrust of the passage is clear. Human wickedness reached new heights until “every inclination of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil all the time” (v. 5). “Grief and pain” Gen. 6:6. Note the text does not say “anger and outrage”! God takes no pleasure in punishing those who sin. Instead He is deeply pained—by the hurt His creations cause one another and by the necessity of punishing persons made in His own image. “A righteous man” Gen. 6:9. When applied to human beings in the Old Testament, “righteous” and “blameless” never imply being without sin. Instead they are used to portray persons who respond to God wholeheartedly and who honestly seek to please Him. Only Noah merited this description. “450 feet long” Gen. 6:15. The ark was a massive ship even by modern standards (see illustration). It was intended to carry breeding pairs of various animal kinds and provisions for them, as well as to bear Noah and his family. Many different models of the ark have been designed, but the text gives us insufficient information to accurately portray the giant boat. The illustration on this page gives some sense of the size of the ark in relation to ancient and modern vessels. “Everything . . . that had the breath of life in its nostrils died” Gen. 7:22. Many debate whether the Genesis Flood was local or universal. Certainly the text suggests a cataclysm, with subterranean and atmospheric waters surging on an earth wracked with earthquakes. The statement that “all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered” has been taken by one side as evidence that the Flood was local, for there is not enough water on earth to top such peaks as Everest, Ararat, and McKinley. The same statement is taken by the other side as evidence for a universal Flood. The pressure of the waters may have caused earth’s then unstable surface to thrust up modern peaks and to depress seabeds. Yet this debate obscures the point the text emphasizes. Three times Genesis 7 repeats it. “Every living thing that moved on the earth perished” (v. 21). “Everything on dry land . . . died” (v. 22). “Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out” (v. 23). The Flood is not fodder for geological debate, but history’s great affirmation that God is mankind’s judge—and that God will judge sin. The tossing seas on which Noah’s ark floated are a reminder to keep before the eyes of those who scoff and follow their own evil desires. Peter calls on such persons to look back—and then to look ahead. “They deliberately forget that. . . . the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:5–7). The Genesis Flood is history’s grim reminder that sin merits divine judgment, and that sinners will be judged. “Never again” Gen. 8:21. After a year in the ark (cf. 7:11; 8:13), Noah emerged to worship the Lord. At that time God made a solemn commitment never again to destroy all living creatures “as long as the earth endures” (v. 22). Complete and cleansing judgment is now reserved for history’s end.


Blameless among the People of His Time(Gen. 6:9–22)

Noah is one of the most impressive men of the Bible. He lived in a totally corrupt society. Yet he himself was committed to godliness and succeeded in living a blameless life. Even more impressive is the fact that when told by God to build a giant ship in a time when rain was unknown (2:6), Noah immediately set out to do so! Noah and his sons cut and shaped ton upon ton of beams to form a keel and skeleton. They sawed uncounted thousands of planks for siding. They planted, gathered, and stored crops to serve as food for themselves and the animals God would bring when His time was right. And all the time they must have suffered the ridicule of their neighbors, who came to listen to and scoff at mad Noah’s predictions of water about to fall from the sky and destroy them all. How long did Noah and his sons labor? Genesis 6:3 tells us. When God made His decision to judge, mankind was given 120 years. It was during that time Noah and his sons accomplished their herculean tasks. And during all that time Noah bore the jokes made at his expense. He ignored the loud whispers he was intended to hear. And he kept on working, surrounded by the tittering laughter of his neighbors. Despite it all, Noah remained faithful. He had heard God speak. And Noah “did everything just as God commanded him.” Chris, the teenage son of our pastor, Richard Schmidt, can understand the pressure on Noah. In the locker room he was ridiculed for his determination to remain sexually pure. “It’s what I believe,” he said, “and it’s what I’m going to do.” Probably you can understand too. There are so many in our modern world who laugh at people who have heard God’s voice and try to do “everything just as God commanded.” Imagine! Noah knew just that pressure, from everyone, and for 120 years! Yet Noah remained faithful. And you and I can remain faithful too. Peter gives us a special insight into what Noah’s faithfulness meant. Yes, Noah’s faithfulness to God’s word meant deliverance for himself and his family. But 1 Peter 3:19–20 suggests that by the agency of the Holy Spirit Christ Himself spoke through Noah in the long decades that “God waited patiently” for Noah to finish his assigned task. How important our faithfulness is. As we like Noah bear up under the pressure brought on us, Christ by His Holy Spirit speaks through us to the very persons who laugh and doubt. And this time, they may respond!

Personal Application

Our faithfulness when others jeer speaks more powerfully than the words of the most gifted preacher the world has ever known.


“Sin is first pleasing, then it grows easy, then delightful, then frequent, then habitual, then confirmed; then the man is impenitent, then he is obstinate, then he is resolved never to repent. And then he is ruined.”—Bishop Leighton

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary


Reading 2 THE ENTRANCE OF SIN Genesis 3–5

“I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (Gen. 3:10).One of the great mysteries that puzzles philosophers is solved in Genesis 3. Sin is no unexplained remnant of humanity’s supposed rise from beastiality, but a heritage flowing from Adam’s fall. Yet the focus in these two chapters is not on the fact of sin, but on its consequences.


Eve succumbed to temptation and induced Adam to disobey God (3:1–6). Overcome by guilt and shame, the pair ran from the Creator God who loved them (vv. 7–10). God found them and explained the consequences of their act (vv. 11–20). God Himself offered history’s first sacrifice (v. 21) and led them from the Garden (vv. 22–24). Adam and Eve lived to see sin’s consequences in their own family as Cain killed his brother Abel (4:1–16). Lamech, Cain’s descendant, represents the sinful society that emerged (vv. 17–26). Here lies the foundation of the Christian doctrine of “total depravity.” Man is not as bad as he can be. But mankind, separated from God, is as bad off as it can be.

Understanding the Text

“He said to the woman” Gen. 3:1–6. Satan’s approach to Eve is a classic model of the reasoning that leads us into sin. God’s command not to eat of one tree in the Garden (2:17) established a standard. Satan attacked this standard in three ways. Satan questioned the existence of the standard: “Did God really say?” (3:1) Satan cast doubt on God’s motives for establishing the standard: “God knows that when you eat . . . you will be like God” (v. 5). Satan denied the consequences of violating the standard: “You will not surely die” (v. 4). Yesterday I saw a debate over pornography on CNN’s “Crossfire,” and saw Satan’s arguments marshalled once again. An ACLU lawyer ridiculed the idea that even gross pornography is wrong. He claimed censorship of pornography would deny readers their rights and pleasures. And he claimed that no harm would come through filling the mind with pornographic images. Our only protection against evil is the belief which Eve abandoned. We must affirm what God has said. We must be convinced that His standards are not intended to deny us pleasures but to protect us from harm. And we must realize that tragic consequences will follow violating God’s standards of right and wrong. “Die” Gen. 3:4. In the Bible “death” is an all-encompassing term. It describes the end of biological life. But it also describes man’s psychological, social, and spiritual state. When God warned Adam not to eat the forbidden fruit, He explained, “When you eat of it you will surely die.” Adam’s sin brought “death” in all four of its meanings. Biologically the process of aging began when Adam sinned; a process that led to the death of the first pair and to the physical death which stalks every human being now. Psychologically Adam and Eve were stricken with guilt and shame, expressed here in their sense of nakedness (3:7). Socially Adam and Eve were set at odds, blaming each other for their act. The harmony they had known was broken by strife (vv. 11–13). Spiritually Adam and Eve were alienated from God, and this created a sense of fear. The God of love had suddenly become an object of terror (vv. 8–10). No human being is as bad as he or she might be. But all human beings, the victims of sin’s legacy of physical, pyschological, social, and spiritual death, are as bad off as they could be. We’re familiar with all these aspects of what the Bible calls “death.” Each is a witness—a billboard—announcing loudly that sin is a reality with which we must deal. “They sewed fig leaves together” Gen. 3:7. The phrase portrays man’s first, futile effort to deal with sin. Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves. Yet they knew their attempt to deal with sin was a failure. How do we know? When Adam and Eve heard God nearby, “they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the Garden” (v. 8). Try as we may to deal with sin by our own efforts, deep down we human beings retain a sense of guilt and shame that witnesses to our lost condition. There never has been, and never will be, a human being saved by his or her own works. “God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife” Gen. 3:21.This simple statement is filled with symbolic significance. It is referred to as “history’s first sacrifice.” God Himself took the life of an animal to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve. Note that God made the garments. We cannot deal with sin. God Himself must act. Note that blood was shed. Here, as in Mosaic Law’s system of sacrifices, several lessons are taught. Sin merits death. Yet God will accept the death of a substitute. There was no merit in the blood of bulls and goats slain on ancient altars. Animal sacrifice was God’s visual aid, preparing humanity to recognize in the death of Christ on Calvary a substitutionary sacrifice that does take away sins. “God banished him from the Garden” Gen. 3:23. Driving out Adam and Eve was an act of grace, not of punishment. The first pair was banished lest they “take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” It would have been horrible beyond imagination for Adam and Eve to have lived on through the millenniums, forced to witness the wars, the injustice, the suffering that flowed from their original act of sin. How appropriate Isaiah’s words might have been, engraved over the forbidden entrance to Eden: “The righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death” (Isa. 57:1–2). “Cain was very angry” Gen. 4:1–16. Adam and Eve could not avoid observing this evidence of the spiritual death they unleashed on their descendants. When God accepted the sacrifice of Abel and rejected Cain’s offering, Cain was filled with anger. Cain lured his brother “out to the field,” where he attacked and killed him! What a heartrending experience for Adam and Eve! One dearly loved son killed by another. And they knew that ultimately the fault was theirs! Adam and Eve had themselves introduced into history the sin that expressed itself in Cain’s hostility and murderous act. The story of Cain and Abel raises several questions. Why did God reject Cain’s offering? The rabbis concluded that Cain offered God rotting fruit. A better explanation is that Abel, in making a blood sacrifice, followed a prescription that God had given Adam and Eve when He first clothed them in skins. In offering produce Cain suggested that his best was good enough to offer God. God’s reminder, “If you do what is right” (v. 7), supports this interpretation. Cain knew the right way to approach God, but was unwilling to do so. Why did Cain kill Abel? Anyone who sins and refuses to accept responsibility is likely to seek a scapegoat and be hostile toward that person. The truly good person is most likely to attract the hostility of the wicked, for his or her very goodness reminds the wicked of their sin. Where did Cain get his wife? If Adam and Eve were the only humans, and Cain and Abel their only children, where could Cain obtain a wife? The answer, of course, is that Cain and Abel were not Adam and Eve’s only children. Genesis 5:4 says they “had other sons and daughters.” Cain and Abel are the only two mentioned in Genesis 4 simply because the story is about them! We can assume from 5:4 that a rather large community of Adam’s children, and perhaps even his children’s children, existed before Cain attacked his brother. All these questions, however, divert us from the emphasis the writer of Genesis intends. The death that God announced would follow disobedience has struck not only Adam and Eve, but has been inherited by their children! Sin has corrupted the race of man, and we all live with the tragic consequences of Adam’s fall. “I have killed a man for wounding me” Gen. 4:23. Genesis 4 continues to trace the consequences of sin. A descendant of Cain named Lamech violated the divine order for society by marrying two women. He then justified murder, explaining that the man he killed had wounded him. One woman was no longer viewed as a man’s partner, but women had become subservient, objects for a man to use. Injustice was rationalized, and murder was viewed by the proud as fair recompense for insult. In this passage we see society itself being torn from its moral foundations. There is more than a touch of irony here. Genesis 4:19–22 describes achievements of Lamech’s sons. One gained control over the animal kingdom (v. 20). Another introduced those aesthetics we humans associate with “culture” (v. 21). Another learned to wrest metals from the earth and shape them to man’s use (v. 22). Is there any invention, are there any heights, that humanity cannot achieve? Today we live in an amazing world. We send men to the moon, unmanned probes to distant planets. We focus radiation to destroy cancer cells, and flood the market with medicines that prolong life. We fill the airwaves with music, hurtle along highways in machines that are complex beyond our ability to understand. Yet despite all our achievements in the material universe, our society remains marred by suffering and sin. Cigarette companies responsible for the early deaths of 380,000 persons a year freely promote their product. The drunk and drug-impaired crash those complex machines into other human beings. Major free-world corporations help terrorist nations to construct chemical warfare plants. Child abuse and murder, wars and rumors of wars, fill the pages of our newspapers. Yes, man can achieve wonders in the material world. But humanity is spiritually dead, unable to overcome the pull of sin or to avoid its awful consequences. Again, we are not as bad as we might be. But, without God, we remain as bad off as we could be. All this is taught and demonstrated in Genesis 3 and 4.

DEVOTIONAL“Because You Ate”(Gen. 3:8–19)

The dialogue between God and Adam lies at the heart of these tragic chapters. God found Adam and questioned him. Adam’s words revealed the fact that this was truly the story of a Fall, despite the claim of some that eating the forbidden fruit was a step upward. Adam was now afraid of the God whose image he bore (v. 10). Adam was aware of his guilt and felt shame (v. 10). Adam refused to face reality and attempted to shift blame for his act to Eve (v. 12). Eve too would not accept responsibility (v. 13). God then announced consequences that must follow the choices made by each actor in the Genesis 3 drama. It’s important to see the consequences not as some arbitrary punishment but as a necessity required by the moral nature of the universe God created. The serpent that loaned his body as a vehicle to Satan lost his beauty (v. 14). Stripped of illusion, sin is always ugly and degrading. Satan won the hostility rather than the allegiance of the human race (v. 15). Unlike the angels who fell, mankind will not willingly form ranks behind Satan in his mad warfare against God. Satan also is destined to be crushed by One to be born of the fallen race (v. 15). In a moral universe, it is impossible for evil to triumph. The consequences to Eve were physical, psychological, and social (v. 16). Some understand “increase your pains in childbearing” to indicate a more frequent menstrual cycle. “Your desire will be for your husband” indicates a new psychological dependence that will replace Eve’s original sense of strong personal identity. And “he will rule over you” introduces for the first time the idea of hierarchy: that in a sinful universe human beings will struggle to gain dominance over one another, and that women will be forced by society into subservient and depersonalizing roles. Here the cause is not the morality of the universe, but the distortion caused by sin itself. When Adam and Eve abandoned submission to God’s will to assert their own independent wills, conflict became inevitable. Adam too would suffer, this time from the distortion sin caused in nature (vv. 17–19). Work became toil, and life a struggle against nature. In all these things we see further evidence of the ruin sin brings. Yet we also sense a note of hope. What Adam did, Christ has and will repair. When Jesus comes, nature itself will be liberated (Rom. 8:18–21). But you and I can experience liberation even now! No, not from the physical changes caused by the first sin. But we can be liberated in our relationships. We can be liberated from competition in our homes and churches, and through mutual submission to God’s will regain the harmony that reigned before the Fall. We can be liberated from the desire to establish our own superiority by dominating others. In Christ we can be liberated too from blaming, from hatred, and from doing injustice. The dark picture drawn here as sin’s consequences are defined reminds us of what once was before the Fall. That image of what man has lost informs us of the kind of persons we are called to be in Christ, and of the bright future Christ promises to the people of God.

Personal Application

What indications of the Fall do you see in your own relationships with others? Be encouraged! Christ died to deliver you from just these consequences of sin.


“We are establishing an all-time world record in the production of material things. What we lack is a righteous and dynamic faith. Without it, all else avails us little. The lack cannot be compensated for by politicians, however able; or by diplomats, however astute; or by scientists, however inventive; or by bombs, however powerful.”—John Foster Dulles

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary


INTRODUCTION Genesis is the first of five books written by Moses during the Exodus period, about 1450-1400 B.C. Using as sources direct revelation from God and the written and oral traditions of his people, Moses surveyed history from the Creation to his own day. The Book of Genesis is divided into two parts. Genesis 1–11 tells of God’s dealings with the whole human race from Creation to the time of Abraham, about 2100 B.C. Genesis 12 introduces a vital theme. God makes a covenant with one man and with his descendants. God will work through this man, Abraham, and his family, Israel, to reveal himself to humanity and ultimately to provide a salvation available to all. OUTLINE OF CONTENTS

I.God’s Dealings with the Human RaceGen. 1–11
A. CreationGen. 1–2
B. The FallGen. 3–5
C. The Flood and aftermathGen. 6–11
II.God’s Dealings with Abraham’s FamilyGen. 12–50
A. AbrahamGen. 12–25
B. IsaacGen. 22–27
C. Jacob and EsauGen. 25–36
D. JosephGen. 37–50


Reading 1 THE CROWN OF CREATION Genesis 1–2“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).Each day’s work of Creation closes with the divine evaluation, “it was good.” Only the work of the sixth day, on which the Lord created humanity, earned ultimate approval—“very good.”


God created the heavens and the earth (1:1). The orderly process described here moves from formation of a unique setting for life (vv. 3–19), to populating earth with animal life (vv. 20–25), to the creation of beings in God’s own image (vv. 26–27). Man, the crown of the completed Creation, is destined for dominion (vv. 28–31). Genesis 2 returns to examine more closely these beings intended to be the crown of God’s Creation.

Understanding the Text

Create Gen. 1:1. The Hebrew word bara˒ does not mean to “make something out of nothing.” It means to begin or originate a sequence of events. Genesis affirms that God is the cause of all that exists. God, not chance, originated all life and uniquely shaped human beings. Contemplating God as Creator is a source of great comfort. “Formless and empty” Gen. 1:2. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that, left alone, any system will decay. Yet our earth contains life-forms that are highly organized and complex, far from the “formless and empty” state this universal law of nature predicts. In Russia Dr. Boris P. Dotsenko, then head of the nuclear physics department in the Institute of Physics in Kiev, began to think seriously about the nature of the universe. “It suddenly dawned on me,” he wrote later, “that there must be a very powerful organizing force counteracting the disorganizing tendency within nature, keeping the universe controlled and in order. This force could not be material; otherwise it too would become disordered. I concluded that this power must be both omnipotent and omniscient. There must be a God—one God—controlling everything” (Larry Richards, It Couldn’t Just Happen [Fort Worth: Sweet, 1989], p. 17). Later, in Canada for further studies, Dr. Dotsenko picked up a Bible. There he met the God he had decided must exist, and became a Christian. “The first day” Gen. 1:5. Christians debate the implications of “day” in Genesis 1. Some believe “day” is used loosely to indicate an age. Others, noting the “morning and evening” mentioned in the text, conclude a 24-hour day is intended. Even here there is debate. Were the 24-hour days consecutive? Or might they have been separated by millions of years? Scripture does little to satisfy our scientific curiosity. Why? Perhaps because it is “by faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Heb. 11:3). Even if the details were known, those without faith would scoff and still hold fast to their fancies. But there is another reason as well. Genesis calls us to look beyond the material to the immaterial-beyond the Creation to the Creator. Nothing should distract us from the reflection of God that we see in what He has made. “Let there be” Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, etc. All but one of God’s creative acts was accomplished by the simple expedient of speaking the word. The psalmist picks up this theme and cries, “He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm” (Ps. 33:9). The echoes of God’s speech still are heard in the creation that then sprang into being. Psalm 19 says that “the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” It adds that “there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard” (vv. 1–3). Creation’s witness to the existence of God is a cornerstone of Paul’s argument that human beings have wandered far from God. In Romans 1:20–21 Paul says that “since the Creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” They are without excuse because “although they knew God, they neither glorified Him nor gave thanks to Him.” What a reminder for you and me. As we walk by the seashore, gaze in wonder at the stars, or smell the fragrance of a flower, we are to sense God speaking to us through His creation. And, seeing Him, we are to worship and give thanks. “Let them rule” Gen. 1:26. The concept of dominion stated here is not a “right to use” but an “obligation to guard and protect.” Modern man’s responsibility for earth’s ecological well-being is stated here in Genesis, long before “advances” in modern science threatened the balance of nature. “Fruitful and multiply” Gen. 1:28. The Bible maintains a positive, healthy attitude toward human sexuality. Sexual intercourse was not, as some have wrongly taught, the “apple” Adam and Eve were forbidden to taste! Here we find evidence, long before the Fall, that God has always intended human beings to enjoy and to use their sexual capacities. “Good” Gen. 1:10, 12, etc. The Hebrew word used here has a wide range of meanings, from attractive and pleasing to beneficial and useful. God created our universe for a purpose. As it was originally constituted, the universe and all in it were ideally suited to display God’s glory and to accomplish His purposes. The tragedy of sin, introduced in Genesis 3, has warped original Creation. Even so, the beauty and value God invested in it can still be seen. “Let Us” Gen. 1:26. Some suggest the plural word, Elohim, used here of God, is a “plural of majesty.” As human royalty at times speaks of “we” when “I” is intended, so God is said to refer to Himself as plural. Christians, however, see in this earliest expression evidence that Scripture’s one God exists in the three Persons fully unveiled only in the New Testament. “A Garden in the east” Gen. 2:8. The Genesis description of Eden is significant. God not only designed Eden for beauty (v. 9), but also to occupy the time and the talents of the beings God intended to place in charge. The Garden reflects the fact that man truly does bear God’s image. Like God, Adam could accomplish meaningful work (v. 15). Like God, Adam had a capacity to create (v. 19). Like God, Adam also had freedom of moral choice (v. 16). God did not plant the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” to trap Adam, but to give him the opportunity to choose that which was right and good, even as God chooses to do good. “Suitable helper” Gen. 2:20. The phrase does not imply inferiority, for the same Hebrew word (˒ezer) is used to identify God as man’s helper in Psalm 33:20 and several other passages. Surely God is not inferior to man because He offers us help! Actually “suitable helper” teaches the full equality of women with men. It indicates that in Eve, in contrast with all in the animal kingdom, Adam found a being who fully shared his nature and thus could relate to Adam physically, intellectually, and spiritually. “From the rib” Gen. 2:22–25. The Jewish rabbis early noted that the mode of woman’s creation is significant. If Eve had been made of the original clay, Adam might have viewed her as a secondary and inferior creation. By shaping Eve from Adam’s own substance, God affirmed the full identity of men and women as persons who bear the divine image. Adam saw the implications immediately and accepted them fully. Eve was welcomed as “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” What a lesson here for Christians to take to heart!


The Image and Likeness of God(Gen. 1:26–27)

One of the most stunning expressions found in Scripture lies here in Genesis 1. “Let Us,” God says, “make man in Our image, in Our likeness.” And the text continues, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” The two Hebrew words used here to define the human essence are selem, meaning “image” or “representation,” and demut, which implies comparison. When linked they make a decisive theological statement. The essence of human nature can only be understood by comparison with God Himself. We can never understand man by referring back to some supposed emergence from prehistoric beasts. In a totally unique creative act, God gave Adam not only physical life but also personhood—his own capacity to think, to feel, to evaluate, to love, to choose, as a self-aware individual. The Genesis account itself emphasizes human uniqueness. All other aspects of Creation were called into being by God’s spoken word. Yet for man God stooped to personally fashion a physical body, and then gently, lovingly infused that body with life. In order that there should be no mistaking God’s intent, God fashioned Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. Genesis is clear. Adam and Eve share the same substance. They participate alike in the image and likeness given to beings alone. This account does more than explain man’s origins. It has the power to shape our most basic attitudes toward ourselves and others. Consider. If I am made in the image of God, then I must have worth and value as an individual. It’s irrelevant to compare myself with others if my essential being can be understood by comparison with God! Knowing God made me in His image, I learn to love and to value myself. Have you ever noticed how we handle things we value? We wear the new watch or pin proudly. When we lay it aside, we do so carefully, putting it in a drawer where it won’t be damaged or harmed. If you and I grasp the value of being created in God’s image and likeness, we will come to appreciate ourselves too. We’ll refuse to be degraded by others, and we will reject temptations that would harm us physically or spiritually. Because we bear the image and likeness of the Creator, we are too significant to mar. Consider. If others are made in the image and likeness of God, they must have worth and value as individuals, whatever weaknesses they display. When I understand that every human being shares the image-likeness of God, I will treat others with respect. I learn to overlook failures and to communicate love. I realize that the existence of God’s image-likeness, however distorted by sin, means that the other person can respond, as I have, to the love of God displayed in Jesus Christ. So I reach out to him or her in love. Consider. If men and women truly share the image and likeness of God, each must have a worth and value that is independent of sex, race, or social status. When I truly understand that every human being shares with me God’s image and likeness, I begin to set aside the prejudices that drive so much of human behavior. I learn to see women as people and appreciate all they have to contribute in the family, the workplace, and the church. I become color-blind, and set aside categories like black and white, rich and poor, and begin to treat each person I meet with respect and affection. When this happens, I have learned the lesson of Genesis 1:26–27, and begun to understand how precious others are to the God who made them, and who made me.

Personal Application

“Lord, help me to look at others with new eyes. Enable me to see each person as You do, and in practical ways to communicate respect and love.”


“Remember that sharing means more than cutting a piece of cake in two equal slices. It involves your whole attitude toward the other person. Remember all the ways you are equal persons in God’s estimation; then equalize your life to fit His opinion, not that of society around you.” -Pat Gundry

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary



The Bible is an exciting book. It’s not simply a book of history or of doctrine. Nor is it a guide to moral living. The Bible is a love letter, a message from God to the whole human race, and to you. In Scripture God speaks with a very personal voice, sharing just the information you and I need to understand to develop a personal relationship with the Lord, and to deepen that relationship. In the Scripture, God’s voice speaks to us with encouragement, with comfort, with guidance, and at times with rebuke. For our every experience, for every situation, God has a personal word in His Word for you and for me. It’s this, the voice of God, His personal word to us as we live our daily lives, that this Devotional Commentary is designed to help you hear. Book after book, chapter after chapter, paragraph after paragraph, the personal meaning of the Scriptures are explained. As you read through the Bible, guided by this unique devotional commentary, you will become more sensitive to God’s voice, and hear Him speaking to you in His Word.

Commentary Features

This 365-Day Devotional Commentary covers the entire Old and New Testaments, with a clear focus on what each book and passage is saying to you, personally.The 365-Day Devotional Commentary divides the Bible into 365 daily readings, so that you can cover the whole Bible in a year. The Commentary guides each day’s reading by

(1) giving you an overview of the whole passage,

(2) giving background information on history, the meaning of key words, etc., to deepen your understanding of the passage, and

(3) providing a commentary on chapters you read which will help you focus on the personal meaning of God’s Word for today.

For those who don’t have time to explore the larger section, this Commentary selects a “core passage”that sums up the message of the larger portion of Scripture. In an Old Testament selection of several chapters, the “core passage”may be a single chapter; in a New Testament passage, perhaps a few key verses. Each day’s reading then provides a Devotional based on that “core passage,”with a specific suggestion for Personal Application and a quote from a saint of the ages. If you lack time to read the entire daily passage, just read the shorter “core passage”in your Bible, and follow it up with the Devotional and Personal Application thought in the Commentary.

What’s the best way to use this Commentary?

Each time you do your Bible reading, FIRST, read the “Overview”in the Commentary to see how the whole passage fits together. SECOND, read the Bible itself, and refer to the Commentary when you want to explore the Personal Application of a passage or event that particularly interests you. THIRD, read the “Devotional,”and spend some time in prayer. If you are hurried, read the “Overview,”and turn directly to the “core passage”on which the day’s “Devotional”is based. Read that passage and the Devotional only, and spend time in prayer.Richards, Larry:

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1990, S. 3

Author Scott Austin Tirrell

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