One of the primary goals of ICR is to call as many people as we can "Back to Genesis" as the foundational book in which to find answers to the problems of life and death. We're on solid ground when we do this, because that is exactly what the Lord Jesus Christ did after His resurrection.
"What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?" (Luke 24:17) was the question Christ asked two of His followers as He joined them walking home one evening. Not recognizing Him, Cleopas then told Him sadly how their master, Jesus, had been crucified and buried; but now His body was missing from the tomb, and they and the others didn't know what to do.
Then, after Jesus mildly rebuked them for not knowing and believing their Bible, we are told that "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27). Although they did not yet recognize the resurrected Christ, their hearts "burned within them" (see verse 32) while "He opened the Scriptures to them," and they heard a more wonderful Biblical exposition than anyone had ever heard before.
And note that He went back to Genesis to begin! In the Old Testament there are numerous explicit references to the future Messiah who would redeem the lost world, but there are none in Genesis--none, that is, that speak directly of His substitutionary death and bodily resurrection. Yet Genesis is where Jesus began as He expounded to them all the Scriptures concerning Himself
Therefore, He must have shown them instead some of the beautiful types and shadows of these great events, as revealed through the lives of the ancient patriarchs. Perhaps we also can discern some of these types as we study the book of Genesis.
Adam and His Bride
For example, note the beautiful manner in which Adam and Eve were created. Adam's body was carefully and lovingly molded by God Himself out "of the dust of the ground" (Genesis 2:7), without father or mother. Then "The LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam." This was not merely an anaesthetized sleep to deaden pain, for there was as yet no pain in God's "very good" world. To all appearances, however, it was a sleep at least simulating death and, while Adam was in that "deep sleep," God opened Adam's side and "took one of his ribs."
However, the word translated "rib" (Hebrew tsela) seems to mean something more than just a rib-bone. It occurs more than forty times in the Old Testament and is only translated "rib" here. It is most frequently translated "side." Evidently God opened one of Adam's sides and took some of his flesh as well as his bone. From these He made Eve, and presented her to Adam as his bride. Adam then exclaimed: "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh" (see Genesis 2:21-23).
Now when Adam's side was opened, no doubt blood flowed out as well. Thus Adam "died" and shed his blood so that, when he arose from his deep sleep, he would have a wife to love and cherish all the days of his new life.
The symbolic teaching of this great event at the beginning of history is explained by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:25, 27, 30. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; . . . That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, . . . For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones." Christ's side was opened, and His blood was shed, that we who love Him might become His spiritual Bride.
"And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening [that is, `life-giving'] spirit. . . . The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven" (I Corinthians 15:45, 47).
Noah and the Ark
Another wonderful type in Genesis is the account of Noah and the Ark of safety which he prepared to save those who otherwise would have died in the Flood (see Genesis 6:5-8:19). Noah here is a type of the heavenly Father (in fact, he was the human father of all people on the earth today), and the ark is a type of God's provision for deliverance from His own just wrath on sin.
Noah "prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world" (Hebrews 11:7). The very waters of the Flood which drowned all the ungodly antediluvian population bore up the Ark, "wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us . . . by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 3:21).
In fact, the glorious resurrection took place on the anniversary of the very day when the Ark finally rested on the mountains of Ararat after the Flood had fully performed its mission--that is, "in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month" (Genesis 8:4). The seventh month of the ancient civil calendar had been designated by God as the first month of Israel's religious calendar, and the Passover sacrifice was to be slain on the fourteenth day of that month (Exodus 12:2, 6). "Christ our passover (was) sacrificed for us" (I Corinthians 5:7) and, three days after He had shared the Passover supper with His disciples, He rose from the dead "on the seventeenth day of the seventh month."
Because Noah prepared the Ark which endured the beatings of the Flood on its own structure, thereby protecting those within its walls, the refugees were delivered from the old world and emerged to a new life. Similarly, "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17). Like those in the Ark, we "have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us" (Hebrews 6:18).
Abraham and His Son
Perhaps the most beautiful type in Genesis is the record of Abraham and Isaac. "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, . . . Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure" (Hebrews 11:17, 19).
The account itself is found in Genesis 22:1-19. It is a remarkable testimony to Abraham's strong faith (note Romans 4:20) that, in a time when no one had ever come back to life after dying, Abraham believed that God would raise his own beloved son from the dead.
This was especially shown when he told the two young men who had accompanied him and Isaac to wait for them, assuring them that "I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you" (Genesis 22:5). He fully intended to obey God in sacrificing his son, but had such strong faith in God's promises (e.g., Genesis 15:5, 6) that he believed God would then restore him to life.
That he did indeed rise from the dead "in a figure" assures us that the experience was intended by God to serve as a type of the sacrifice and resurrection of His own beloved and only begotten Son.
Abraham thus is a type of the heavenly Father willing to sacrifice His own Son, and Isaac is a type of the beloved Son willing to be sacrificed to do the will of His Father. Isaac was not a little lad at this time, but a strong young man, easily capable of escaping if he wished, but the Scripture says twice that "they went both of them together" (Genesis 22:6, 8) to the place of sacrifice. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (I John 4:10).
Other Types in Genesis
Perhaps these were among the wonderful teachings from Genesis shared by the Lord Jesus with the two disciples as they walked along together on that evening after His resurrection. There probably were many others too. There is the great protevangelic promise of Genesis 3:15, for example, assuring us of the ultimate defeat of the evil one who now has "the power of death, that is, the devil" (Hebrews 2:14).
The blood of Abel, shed by his brother Cain, also foreshadows Christ, whose blood was, in effect, also shed by his brethren (note Matthew 27:25). Abel's blood "crieth unto me from the ground," God said (Genesis 4:10), but we listen now "to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel" (Hebrews 12:24).
Then there is the lovely story of Isaac and Rebekah, along with Abraham's servant, sent into a distant country to find a bride for his master's son (Genesis 24). In the typology implied, Isaac pictures the Son after He has returned from the place of sacrifice to stay with His Father, the servant represents the Holy Spirit sent into the world to find and prepare a Bride (that is, the Church) and Rebekah, of course, represents the Bride.
We cannot know for sure whether these were among the passages expounded by the Lord Jesus, but they certainly could have been. There well may have been others in Genesis also, as well as throughout the Old Testament, as Jesus opened to them "in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27). Like the experience of the two disciples on the road to their home in Emmaus, so today our own hearts also "burn within us," as we learn to seek and find the Lord Jesus Christ, not only as our great Creator but also as our sin-bearing Savior and ever-living Lord in Genesis and all the Scriptures.
* Dr. Morris is Founder and President Emeritus of ICR.