“In the Beginning” is the second in this series which explores the key people, stories and themes of the Old Testament, and how they point the way to Jesus.
Introduction: Story Time
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be looking at the big picture of the Bible: the people and ideas in the Old Testament that point us to Jesus. Today, we are going to start at the very beginning – Genesis.
Display images copied from a children’s Bible of Creation, the Fall, Cain & Abel, Noah, & the Tower of Babel.
Explain that the beginning of Genesis is like ancient history… ancient ancient history… prehistory even. It’s big stories about big things that happened, right at the beginning of time. And it’s the kind of stuff you may have learnt all about in Sunday School. Think Adam & Eve, Noah’s Ark. They’re stories that you may know well.
But the thing is that they’re not just stories: they’re real people and real events that actually happened. These stories have been told over and over throughout history for a reason. These are stories with a point. It’s a big point because it’s a point about God.
Explain that we’re going to take a quick walk through of Genesis 1-11 taking some “snapshots” along the way.
Split your group into 5 pairs/small groups, and assign each group one of the stories below.
- Creation: Genesis 2:4-25,
- The fall: Genesis 3:1-24,
- Cain & Abel: Genesis 4:1-16,
- Noah: Genesis 6:1-9:17 (as this story is so long, you may prefer to have them read a paraphrased version such as in The Jesus Storybook Bible)
- Tower of Babel: Genesis 11:1-9
Get each group to read their assigned passage(s) and answer the following questions:
- Who are the key people in this event?
- What does God do/say in this story?
- What do the people do?
- What does God do in response?
- What is the point about God that is communicated in this story?
- Sum up this story in one sentence.
- Create a ‘human snapshot’ or ‘freeze frame’ of this event to show to the group.
Then gather the groups together, to show their ‘snap shot’ and briefly retell the story to the rest of the group, emphasizing what this story tells us about God.
God does, People undo, God re-does
Ask everyone: What patterns or ideas can you see running through all of these stories?
A simple way of summing it up the pattern is: “God does, People undo, God re-does”
This is a pattern that runs right through the Old Testament: God created people, with a close relationship with him, but they sinned and spoiled his creation. So he punished them but still continued to care for them and promised to look after them and sent them out with his blessing to be fruitful and multiply. Which they did. Until people sinned again and spoiled his creation. So he punished them but still continued to care for them and promised to look after them and sent them out with his blessing to be fruitful and multiply. Which they did. Until…
Explain that with Noah what we see God looking everywhere for someone who’ll choose him and working out his purposes through that person. And as we continue to read on we’ll see that this is what God keeps doing throughout the Old Testament and onwards – God doesn’t give up but chooses to go with even just the few that choose him.
God is a god who keeps his promises. Who doesn’t give up on us. Who seeks to rescue and redeem his people no matter what. And ultimately, he does this through Jesus.
Take this opportunity to share the gospel. You may like to say something like: The stories in Genesis are also our story. God has created us and wants to have a relationship with us, but just like Adam & Eve, we have each sinned over and over again, and have spoiled the great plans God has for us. But God doesn’t give up on us. He wants us to come to him and turn away our sin and – just as He’s done over and again in the past – He wants to forgive us and fulfil His purposes through us. However sin comes with a cost that has to be paid. But the good news is that God chose to pay that cost for us in Jesus. Through Jesus death & resurrection, God made the way for us to be set free from sin so that we can live with him, both now and forever.
Invite them to spend a moment in silent reflection to say their own prayer or to silently confess their sin. You could lead them in a prayer of confession from your church’s liturgy.
Assure them of God’s forgiveness and invite them to accept God’s new life through Jesus Christ.
You may like to close with a song of worship and have an opportunity for your youth to keep praying on their own/with each other. Give them an opportunity to talk with leaders if they have responded to the gospel for the first time.
Bible Reading Challenge
If you started the Bible reading challenge, check in with them on how they are going. You may like to have some motivational prizes for people who have completed the week’s readings.