The first 11 chapters of the Book of Genesis are what we might call ‘proto-history.’ That is, they are not history in the sense that they do not relate to us actual physical events of the past, rather they present to us basics truths in story form that are the result of centuries of reflections upon certain basic realities and experiences of human life. The stories of Gen. 1-11 convey an understanding of why human experience is the way it is. Yes, God created the world, but the exact process He used is unknown to us. What we have in Gen. 1-2 are two different ways of viewing the creation of the world.

In Chapter 12 we begin reading about the history of the Jewish people proper. It is very interesting to note that the very call of Abraham is presented in the form of a promise, or more correctly three promises of God to him. These are the promises of land, blessing and descendants. These promises are the keys to understanding the Old Testament and even to some extent the mission of Jesus. As the Scriptures relate to us the history of the Jewish people we find that these three promises keep turning up at critical stages. This is evident in their understanding of God giving them the Promised Land (of Israel) as their own. (We also saw this theme after World War II with the Zionist movement fighting for a state of Israel). It is also seen in the preoccupation with genealogies. From whom you are descended is important. It is also present in their understanding of themselves as the Chosen People of God. God has chosen them to receive special blessings not destined for other people of their time.

From a Christian point of view Jesus is the fulfillment of these three promises. Through the gift of salvation He blesses us with the gift of being restored to our original status of sons and daughters of God. Thus we are all descendants of Abraham through faith. Secondly, He blesses us even more with the gift of the Holy Spirit by which we are to live our newly restored status. And thirdly he opens up for us the gates of heaven and we are able to enter our heavenly homeland. This fulfills the promise of land.

When we read the Scriptures, let us keep in mind these three promises> I think they can help us understand what
The sacred authors are trying to convey to us.

How much effort do I put into understanding the Scriptures? The amount I put in will govern how much I receive.

Lord Jesus, the Bible is a coherent collection of writings detailing your actions in the lives of your people. Help me to understand your mind and heart by increasing my understanding of the Scriptures.