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Article 2014-11 - Ten Foundational Themes in Genesis

Chapter 2: Ten Foundational Themes in Genesis


This lesson is of vital importance for the entire course. We now discuss ten major themes in Genesis which we find throughout the whole Bible. The correct understanding of these themes is very important for all who seek to preach the gospel of the Kingdom close by and far away. In all following chapters one or more of these themes will show up.

What are these themes?

When we follow the story of the Bible and see how Adam and Eve sinned, we wonder: where does sin originate? Without an understanding of the origin of sin – our first theme – it will be difficult to find the right remedy for man’s sin problem (our second theme). In order to save man from his sin, God developed a rescue plan. This is our third theme. God makes saved man into His partner to save others: our fourth theme. Some people do not want to accept God’s salvation, and rather find their own solution;

theme five. Because of that we see many problems as a consequence of sin, namely conflicts between brothers and that is theme six. In the seventh theme we look at God’s solution for man’s sin problem and what happens when man rejects that solution we see in theme eight. In theme nine we see that God always has all nations of the world in mind when He works out His salvation plans. He was never interested in just one people. Finally, in theme ten we see that God always fulfills His plan through a son of promise. In Genesis we see several of those, fore-shadowing Jesus Christ, the great Son of Promise. Let’s sum up these ten themes again:

  1. The origin of sin
  2. Man’s sin problem
  3. God’s plan is: saving sinners and sending them
  4. Man’s part in God’s plan
  5. Man-made solutions for the sin problem
  6. Conflict between brothers
  7. God’s solution for the sin problem
  8. Forfeited salvation means judgment
  9. God’s plan encompasses all nations
  10. God’s covenant with the son of promise

As we will see, each of these themes occurs many times in the Scriptures, but here I only give a short description of each, before working them out in a more detailed way over the following chapters. Notice how closely the themes are related!

Theme 1: The origin of sin

We will not run ahead of the biblical narrative. But when we see how Adam and Eve are tempted to sin by the serpent and how that serpent is then being rejected by God, we understand that a God-opposing force is jeopardizing God’s plan by using people. That is still true today and some knowledge of our enemy is necessary for us, to fight God’s war with Him. It is this same enemy that still keeps whole peoples in his grip, even today.

Theme 2: Man’s sin problem

Sin is such a problem, that no man can save himself from it or from its consequences. Sin is horrible enough in itself, but the consequences, eternal punishment, far away from heaven is too awful for words: it is hell. The good news is that God has provided a way out of the problem. The Bible speaks about this and motivates evangelists and missionaries to share its message everywhere.

Theme 3: God’s plan is: saving sinners and sending them

Nobody knows the depth, the seriousness and the awful consequences of sin better than God. Because He is a loving God, He was the first to organize a rescue plan for fallen humanity. With great compassion He looks at every single individual as well as to all the nations of the world. He chose not to do this job alone, but invites all He saved, to help save others as well.

Theme 4: Man’s part in God’s plan

Everywhere in the Bible we see how God calls people to send them on a mission. He gives them assignments to save, exhort, rebuke, encourage or warn people. Many who obeyed God’s mission for their lives later became missionary senders. God has built a multiplication principle into His strategy: adding up is not good enough: He wants  multiplication and exponential growth.

Theme 5: Man-made solutions for the sin problem

Part of man’s sinful inclination is that he either denies that sin is sin, or he tries to save himself from it. The sinner loves to hide from the dangers of sin, pretending it isn’t there. Or alternatively, he tries to pull himself out of a slimy pit by his own hands. Human efforts that try to save from sin are pathetic and idolatrous.

Theme 6: Conflict between brothers

The Bible is a book about brotherhood. It gives us examples of physical brothers, of family members, of countrymen or fellow-citizens that either seek to destroy each other or seek to bring the other back to the Father. In the positive stories we see examples of missionary endeavors that teach us principles for our evangelistic outreaches, close by or far away.

Theme 7: God’s solution for the sin problem

It is remarkable that God always gives only one solution for the sin problem. He is the God of the one way. With Him there are no multiple options to be saved – as if man qualifies to decide if and how he wants to be saved. God’s solution is perfect, but it must be clear that it is the only one.

Theme 8: Forfeited salvation means judgment

Laying down rules is one thing, but maintaining them can only be done by instituting consequences. Man is a sinner and therefore lives separate from God. God offers salvation, but if man does not accept it he has to face the consequences: a judgment that consolidates his temporary condition into an eternal infernal one.

Theme 9: God’s plan encompasses all nations

Some believe that God is interested in only one people group. At first that was Israel, then it became the church. In reality God was always interested in the salvation of every individual of every people group on earth. It was one of the first things He said to Abraham: ‘In you I will bless all the families of the earth…’ Many Psalms express God’s desire for all nations too.

Theme 10: God’s covenant with the son of promise

God chose to work via one person and bless many others through him. Genesis shows this principle. People were chosen, who received a son. The son carried the promise and developed into a nation on which the promise rested, until God’s own Son became the carrier of the promise of salvation for everyone in the world who believes in Him.


Memorize these ten foundational themes.

In the next lessons we consider how God shaped them in the book of Genesis. But since these are foundational themes for world missions, we will see them repeated over and over. Before the end of the course you will have learned to recognize them, whatever Bible book you read. These themes will help you learn reading God’s Word with missionary eyes. God has a missionary nature, He sent His Son to be a missionary, and the Son has sent us to be missionaries with Him. So, the Bible is a missionary book, and should be read as such!

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