It might be tempting to think that if you want to read about God’s redemptive plan for humanity as well as his attributes of grace and mercy, you should skip all the way ahead to the New Testament and focus specifically on the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) - after all, that is where we see the Son of God coming down in the flesh to live, die, and come back to life to defeat sin and death. However, if you skip ahead, you would miss so many examples of God’s grace and mercy and references to Jesus threaded throughout the Old Testament, including several right in the first few pages of Genesis.
First, it is important to note that scripture in the New Testament teaches that Jesus was always present. John 1:1-3 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God the Father. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” Colossians 1 also points to this reality. Now when we read Genesis 1:26 - “Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness…”, we see God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit were together in the beginning. Jesus has always been involved in the world and its creation.
Now that we understand that Jesus wasn’t an afterthought, rather he has always existed, let's look at examples of God’s grace in the first few pages of Genesis. As we saw in Genesis 1:26, we are created in the image of God. We were created to live in relationship with God and to reflect his image. Adam and Eve lived in the presence of God in paradise, unashamed - no need to cover themselves or to hide anything. Yet, we know the story - they sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, fracturing the relationship between God and humanity. Adam and Eve were tempted, and they (like we so often do) declared with their actions that they thought they knew better than God. They rebelled and ate the fruit. Genesis 3:7 says their eyes were opened, there was shame, and they knew they were naked and felt the need to cover themselves with fig leaves. The next verse shows that not only did they try and cover themselves, they also tried to hide from God.
Despite Adam and Eve blaming each other, the serpent, and God for their actions, and then attempting to fix their own problem with fig leaves, and hiding from God, God shows his grace and mercy to them. Yes, there were severe consequences for their sin (see Genesis 3:14-19), but God is also gracious and merciful in the midst of his punishment. We see in Genesis 3:21 that God made better clothes for them. This is significant because he offers a better solution to their shame by providing animal skins, requiring the shedding of blood and the sacrifice of life from an animal. While these better clothes obtained from the shedding of animal blood do not permanently solve Adam and Eve’s problem, it foreshadows a final solution in the coming of a second Adam - Jesus (Romans 5:18) whose blood is spilled to cover the sins of man. While there is definite punishment and natural consequences for their sin, God showed grace and mercy in clothing them. We also see that God banishes them from the garden and prevents their re-entry (Gen. 3:24). While it seems like a bad thing that they are removed from the paradise of Eden after eating the fruit, this was actually an incredibly compassionate action by God. We will cover more on why this is significant in an upcoming article which will be posted soon.
We also see another reference to Jesus, and how he will defeat Satan, within the first few pages of Scripture. In Genesis 3:15 God says to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Although Satan bruised the heel of Christ at the cross, Jesus crushed the serpent after resurrecting on the third day, defeating sin and death and providing an ultimate solution to the sin problem of humanity - that through faith in the work and person of Jesus Christ, we are no longer enemies of God, but rather His children. Now because of the person and work of Jesus, there is a way to live as we were made to exist: which is in God’s presence, worshiping Him forever!
There are many examples throughout Scripture of God showing unmerited favor (grace) and withholding deserved punishment (mercy) towards His people. We see the culmination of this in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and in the future promise for all of those who know him as their Lord and Savior. But don’t overlook the numerous examples in the Old Testament that reveal God’s character and point to a redemptive Savior, including several in the first few pages of the book of Genesis. Veritas, let’s be people who love all of God’s Word for all it is worth, helping us see the bigger picture of just how good our great God is!