Jesus in Genesis
Once we have seen that Joseph is a picture of Jesus, we can see Jesus in many other places throughout Genesis. Joseph is a model of God’s response to faith in him, and his story demonstrates how God can take a person’s life and use him to deliver his people from their need, lifting him up to be Savior and Lord.
The genealogies in Genesis are in fact the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you read Matthew 1 and Luke 3 you will find in the genealogies there names from the book of Genesis. Jesus is of the line of Seth, which comes straight down to the son of Mary. Thus anyone who is in Christ is also reading their own family tree. These are the most important ancestors we have, because through faith in Christ we have become sons of Abraham.
When we examine the characters in Genesis we can see similarities to Jesus. We have noted Joseph already, but let us go back to the time when Abraham was told to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. He was told to go to a specific mountain called Moriah. Years later that same mountain was known as Golgotha, the place where God sacrificed his only son. Genesis 22 tells us that Isaac was Abraham’s only beloved son – and we have seen already how Isaac was in his early thirties by then, strong enough to resist his father, but he submitted to being bound and put on the altar.
God stopped Abraham at the crucial point and provided another sacrifice, a ram with its head caught in thorns. Centuries later John the Baptist would say of Jesus, “Behold the “ram” of God that takes away the sins of the world”. The word “lamb” is often applied to Jesus, but little, cuddly lambs were never offered for sacrifice – the sacrifices were one-year-old rams with horns. Jesus is depicted in the book of Revelation as the ram with seven horns signifying strength – “a ram of God”. God provided a ram for Abraham to offer in place of his son, a ram with his head caught in the thorns, and God also announced a new name to himself: “I am always your provider”. At that same spot another young man in his early thirties was sacrificed with his head caught in thorns. Do you see there a picture of Jesus?
It is also worth looking carefully at a strange encounter Abraham had with a man who was both a king and a priest. He was king over the city of Salem (which later became Jerusalem). When Abraham was on his way back from rescuing his family after they had been kidnapped, he arrived with the spoils from the enemy near the city of Salem. This was then a pagan city, nothing to do with Abraham’s Godly line. He was met by the strange figure of Melchizedek, who was both a priest and a king, a very unusual combination, never found in Israel. This “King Priest” brought out bread and wine as refreshments for Abraham and his troops and Abraham gave him a tenth of all the spoils of the battle, a tithe of the treasure. In the New Testament we are told that Jesus is a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.
And what about Jacob’s ladder? When Jacob ran away from home he slept outside at night with his head on a stone and dreamt of a ladder (actually more like an escalator). The Hebrew implies that the ladder was moving, and that there was one ladder moving up and one ladder moving down, with angels ascending and descending. Jacob knew that at the top of the ladders was heaven, where God lived.
When he woke he promised to give a tenth of everything he made to God. The giving of tithes was not part of the law until the time of Moses. (Jacob’s offer of a tenth of his possessions was more in the nature of a bargain with God: you bring me back home safely and I will give you a tithe. It is not, however, possible to bargain with God – God makes a covenant with you, not the other way round – and Jacob had to learn that the hard way later.)
Centuries later, when Jesus met a man called Nathaniel, he said to Nathaniel, “I saw you sitting under the fig tree. I noticed you and you are a Jew in whom there is no guile, no deceit.” Nathaniel asked him how he knew this. Jesus replied, “You think that is wonderful, that I know the details of your life. What will you think if you see angels ascending and descending on the son of man?” He is saying, “I am Jacob’s ladder, I am the link between earth and heaven. I am the new ladder.”
ADAM AND EVE
Further back, in Genesis 3, God made a promise in the middle of his punishment of Adam and Eve. He said to the serpent that the seed – or offspring – of the woman (seed is masculine in the Hebrew) would bruise the serpent’s head, even while the serpent bruised the offspring’s heel. Bruising a heel is not fatal, but bruising a head is and this is the very first promise that God would one day deal Satan a fatal blow. We now know who it was who bound the strong man and spoilt his goods.
In Romans 5, Paul tells us that as one man’s disobedience brought death, so one man’s obedience brought life, implying that Jesus is a second Adam. It was in the Garden of Eden that Adam said “I won’t” and it was in the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus said “not my will but yours be done”. What a contrast! They each began a human race: Adam was the first man of the homo sapiens race; Jesus was the first of the homo novus.
We are all born homo sapiens, and through God we can become homo novus. The New Testament talks about the new man, the new humanity. There are two human races on earth today: you are either in Adam or you are in Christ. There is a whole new human race and it is going to inhabit a totally new planet earth – indeed a whole new universe.
One of the most remarkable things said about Jesus in the New Testament is that he was responsible for the creation of the universe. The early disciples came to see that Jesus was involved in the events of Genesis 1. As John said at the start of his Gospel, “without him nothing was made that has been made”.
When we read Genesis 1, therefore, we find that Jesus was there. God said, “Let us make man in our image”. Jesus was part of the plurality of the Godhead.
We have known for several decades now that the earth’s surface is on flat plates of rock floating on molten rock, and that these plates are constantly moving, rubbing against each other to cause earthquakes. When it was discovered that these plates moved to form the land masses we have today, the scientists needed to coin a new word for the plates. They called them “tectonic plates”. In Greek the word tectone means “carpenter”. The whole planet earth on which we live is the work of a carpenter from Nazareth – and his name is the Lord Jesus Christ!
So we finish our studies in Genesis where we began, with creation. God is indeed answering his problem of what to do when humans rebel. The solution is Jesus Christ, through whom the world came to be, for whom it was made, and by whom we discover the answer to all our questions.