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Genesis Chapters 1 to 11 have plenty of big stories. A speed summary shows that Chapter 1 is the creation story; Chapter 2 introduces Eve; Chapter 3 introduces the serpent, the big lie, death, and the promise of the messiah; Chapter 4 introduces Cain and Abel, and the generational transfer of evil from Adam to his descendants.

The big stories continue in Genesis Chapter 5, showing the growth of human population after 1500 years, with Noah as the tenth generation from Adam; Chapter 6 shows the spread of evil and wickedness, and God’s judgement to cleanse the earth; Chapters 7-9 shows how God cleansed the earth but redeemed the family of Noah; Chapter 10 shows how human population recovered after the flood.

We come to the marvelous Genesis 11; it opens in verses 1-9 with the world having one language, and those living in the city of Shinar (founded by Nimrod, grandson of Ham in Genesis 10) building a single central government – God said, ‘not a good plan’, and scattered the people. There is more to say here, but that is for another day.

Genesis 11:10-26 is the masterfully crafted story of Shem the son of Noah; this second part of Chapter 11 seems unimportant, until you do the calculations of the people’s ages, and realize that Shem was still alive after Abraham had died. Shem lived for 600 years, he died when Jacob (grandson of Abraham) was 50 years old. The ages provided here is a treasure for Bible scholars – through this we know that Noah died just 2 years before Jacob was born; so Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had a first hand account of the flood from Noah and Shem who were there!

What does this speed summary tell us about the character of God? Genesis 1 and 2 says God is good; Chapters 3 and 4 shows the patience and love of God for humanity; Chapters 5 to 10 shows the good judgement and mercy of God; Chapter 11 shows God’s wisdom in ensuring that Shem (and Noah) lived long enough to be a living witness of the flood to Abraham, a tenth generation descendant.

Why has God made this huge investment of himself to humanity? Solomon says “When all has been heard, the end of the matter is: fear God [worship Him with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is almighty God] and keep His commandments, for this applies to every person” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 Amplified Bible).

Lord, help us to see the story about you, in the book of Genesis, Amen!

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