The Holy Spirit - Learning from Genesis
‘Genesis’ means ‘beginning’. These opening verses challenge us to get our priorities right - (a) The priority of God (Genesis 1:1). God comes first. Before anyone else is mentioned, He is there. (b) The priority of God’s Word (Genesis 1:3). God is the first to speak. Before any human word is spoken, there is the Word of the Lord. (c) The priority of God’s Spirit (Genesis 1:2). All was ‘empty’, all was ‘darkness’, yet the ‘Spirit of God’ was at work, and transformation was set in motion. Here, we have God’s priorities, set out in the Bible’s first three verses - Putting God first and listening to His Word, we are to pray for the moving of God’s Spirit, ‘hovering over’ our lives to transform them.
God is pleased with what He has done (Genesis 1:4,10,12). This is the pattern of God’s original creation. It is to be the pattern of our life as a ‘new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). God speaks to us and we say, ‘Your will be done’ (Matthew 6:10). We say, ‘let it be to me according to Your Word’ (Luke 1:38). God looks on such obedience, this ‘walking in the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:16,22-23), and He sees that it is ‘good’ (Micah 6:8).We read of the separation of the light and the darkness, the separation of the waters and the dry land, and the fruitfulness of God’s creation (Genesis 1:4-14). There are lessons for us here. We are to ‘walk in the light’ (1 John 1:7). We are to let the Spirit’s ‘living water’ flow in us (John 7:39-39). Walking in the light, letting the living water flow – this is the way of fruitfulness.
The waters teemed with living creatures (Genesis 1:20-23). The land produced living creatures (Genesis 1:24-25). Here, we have a picture of life. There is life where the living water of the Spirit is flowing freely among God’s people (Ezekiel 47:5-9). This water brings life to the land (Ezekiel 47:12). Moving with the flow of God’s Spirit, we are to pray that ‘the water of life’ will flow freely ‘for the healing of the nations’ (Revelation 22:2).
We read of ‘the breath of life’, producing ‘a living being’ (Genesis 2:7). Separated from God through our sin, we have become spiritually dead (Ephesians 4:18; 2:1). Through the Spirit, we have been ‘born again’. This new birth is brought about by the breath of life, the wind of the Spirit (John 3:5-8). (Galatians 6:14).
The act of obedience is an act of freedom. In Christ, we are set free to obey God. God says, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden’ (Genesis 2:16). He does not then say, ‘You are free to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.’ He says, ‘You must not’ (Genesis 2:17). The act of disobedience is not an act of freedom. By choosing the way of sin, we show that we are in bondage. We are not free. We are the captives of sin, and we need to be set free – by Christ (John 8:32,36). We come to know God, choosing good rather than evil, as we follow the way of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:16; Hebrews 5:14).
Temptation is not sin. It only becomes sin when we do what the tempter suggests (Genesis 3:6). Temptation comes from ‘that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan’ (Revelation 12:9). Satan reverses the priorities of God, God’s Word and God’s Spirit. God is ‘our Father’ (Matthew 6:9). Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). Satan quotes and questions God’s Word (Genesis 3:1). He not only questions God’s Word . He contradicts it (Genesis 3:4). Satan is spiritual, an evil spirit. We must be aware of his schemes, and, in Christ, we must take our stand against his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11). When Satan says, ‘Did God really say?’ (Genesis 3:1), we must wage war for God, filled with His Word and Spirit (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
Enoch’s life was characterized by grace, faith and obedience. The life-story of so many others could be told without reference to God. Enoch’s story was the story of God at work in his life. So many life-stories end with the words, ‘he died’. Enoch’s life on earth points beyond itself (Genesis 5:24). Enoch had ‘walked with God’ (Genesis 5:22,24). Building his life upon the God of grace, Enoch had, by faith, stepped out of this present world and into ‘what we hope for’, ‘what we do not see’ (Hebrews 11:5,1). What a testimony Enoch left behind him! Not much is said about him, but what power of the Spirit of God there is in these few words!
‘The blessing of Abraham’ refers not only to the ‘land’ (Genesis 28:4). There is also ‘the promise of the Spirit’ (Galatians 3:14). We are to live ‘by the power of the Spirit’, and not ‘according to the flesh’ as Esau did when ‘he went to Ishmael (the child of Abraham's unbelief...)’ (Genesis 28:9; Galatians 4:29).
Rachel rejoiced in the gift of a son, her son (Genesis 30:23-24). We rejoice in the gift of the Son, God’s Son. Through the Spirit of God’s Son living in our hearts, we are God’s children and He is our Father (Galatians 4:6).
Joseph spoke with divine authority because ‘the Spirit of God’ was living in him (Genesis 41:38). God was at work in Joseph, enabling him to forget his hardship and to be fruitful in his affliction (Genesis 41:51-52). This is the work of divine grace - a reversal of human expectations. By God’s grace, hardship and affliction lead not to bitterness and resentment but to a deeper love for the Lord.
As God’s purpose moves forward, Joseph's brothers are being changed from men who sold their brother into slavery to men who will welcome him again as their long-lost brother (Genesis 37:28; Genesis 45:15). God wants to change us - ‘Jesus, You are changing me, By Your Spirit You're making me like You. Jesus, You're transforming me, That Your loveliness may be seen in all I do.You are the potter and I am the clay. Help me to be willing to let You have Your way. Jesus, You are changing me, as I let You reign supreme within my heart’ (Mission Praise, 389).
God blesses us ‘with blessings of heaven above, blessings which are mighty beyond the blessings of the eternal mountains, the bounties of the everlasting hills’ (Genesis 49:25-26). He does this for us in Jesus Christ, the fulfilment of the divine purpose within which Joseph was privileged to take his part. ‘God... has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places’ (Ephesians 1:3). What blessings He has given to us - the forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit, eternal life (Ephesians 1:7,13-14)! ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits’ (Psalm 103:2).