The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis

The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis

by Nancy Guthrie


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This ten-week study helps readers understand the book of Genesis through a Christological, redemptive-historical lens. Book 1 in the Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament series.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781433526251
Publisher: Crossway
Publication date: 07/28/2011
Series: Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament Series , #1
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 345,353
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Nancy Guthrie teaches the Bible to women at her church, Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Franklin, Tennessee, and at conferences worldwide. She and her husband, David, are the cohosts of the GriefShare video series used in more than 10,000 churches nationwide and also host Respite Retreats for couples who have experienced the death of a child. Guthrie is also the host of Help Me Teach the Bible, a podcast from the Gospel Coalition.

Read an Excerpt


Teaching Chapter

The Beginning in Light of the Ending

Have you ever seen the movie The Sixth Sense? It's the one with Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment, who whispers through trembling little lips, "I see dead people." I know; it's a strange movie. Honestly, it is not my kind of movie. When I first saw the previews for it, I wrote it off as out of my preferred realm of reality. But my husband, David, said it was one of his favorite movies of all time, and so when it was finally free on TV, for the sake of marital harmony and togetherness, I watched it with him. And I have to say, I came to understand his appreciation for it. If you haven't seen it, go rent it this weekend and see for yourself what I mean. No spoiler alert needed here; I won't tell you how it turns out.

Suffice it to say that The Sixth Sense is one of those movies that, when you come to the end, you immediately think, Okay, I need to watch that again. That's because something so significant is revealed at the end of the movie that you realize this knowledge will change everything you thought you were seeing and understanding throughout the entire movie as you watched it the first time. You want to watch it a second time with the knowledge of what was hinted at but not revealed until the end. It's like when you get to the end of a whodunit, and you are so surprised by who did it that you want to watch it again to look for the clues you missed.

So why am I starting a book about Genesis talking about the movie The Sixth Sense? Because it illustrates why we want to start our study of Genesis at the end of Jesus's earthly ministry. Something is revealed in a final scene of Jesus's life that makes us want to go back to the very beginning of God's story and read it again in light of what we know now. Now that we've seen clearly what was hinted at but hidden, we want to start at the beginning and trace the story, looking for what we missed the first time because we didn't even know to look for it.

So today we begin at the end, and next week we'll continue at the beginning! We start at the end because it was at the end of his earthly ministry that Jesus himself made clear to his disciples that the whole story of the Old Testament, beginning in Genesis, had always been all about him.

Seeing Jesus

Let's look at the final chapter of Luke's Gospel, Luke 24. The chapter begins with several women going to Jesus's tomb. Even though Jesus had repeatedly told his disciples that he was going to "suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised" (Luke 9:22), when the women saw that his body was gone and reported it to the apostles, reminding them that he had said he would rise, the apostles didn't believe them.

Right after Luke records this finding at the tomb, he tells us about two of Jesus's followers who were walking to the village of Emmaus. Likely they were walking home after traveling to Jerusalem for Passover. After witnessing what happened to Jesus in Jerusalem, they were confused and sad and disappointed that the one they thought had come to save them had been humiliated and crucified, and, in their estimation, soundly defeated by the political and religious establishment.

As they walked and talked, Jesus came alongside and walked with them. I don't know why they didn't recognize him except that Luke tells us "their eyes were kept from recognizing him" (Luke 24:16). Evidently God purposefully wanted to keep them from recognizing Jesus, perhaps so that they would not become so caught up in him actually being alive that they would not be able to think through what he had to teach them. Jesus asked them what they were talking about, and they explained that they were talking about Jesus of Nazareth,

a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see. (Luke 24:19–24)

"We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel," they said, with obvious disappointment. They thought they had understood who Jesus was and what he came to do. But because they actually misunderstood who he was and what he came to do, they completely missed him!

Do you think you have Jesus figured out? Have you, at times, found yourself profoundly disappointed because Jesus has not done what you expected him to do?

Sometimes, when we think we've got Jesus all figured out, we simply can't hear or can't see that our understanding is distorted or diminished. And sometimes we think we have Jesus figured out when really all we've done is create in our own minds the Jesus we want, the Jesus we can be comfortable with. We read the Bible and take what we want, shaping for ourselves a Jesus who is passionate about what we are passionate about, and skeptical about we are skeptical about, condemning what we want to condemn.

Some who would say they have Jesus figured out have settled on a Jesus who was primarily an agent of change in the social and religious system he entered into, while others have settled on Jesus primarily as one who taught people to be loving and accepting and tolerant or simply good citizens of the world.

As I see Jesus more clearly, he shows me my false assumptions.

Isn't it interesting that we feel free to take so much liberty with defining who Jesus is and what he came to accomplish?

Have you ever had someone sum you up? You know what I mean — they took a little bit of what they know about you and made some leaps and assumptions and proceeded to declare something like, "You are one of those creative types who can never be anywhere on time or do things the same old way," or, "I can tell that you are the kind of person who would never try something so adventuresome." And have you sometimes thought to yourself, "What are you talking about? That's not who I am! That is not what is important to me! Who do you think you are to define me?"

Where We Must Look to See Jesus

Jesus is about to tell these two followers where to look if they want to truly see and understand who Jesus is. But he seems a little frustrated — the kind of frustration a parent has with a child who has been told something a thousand times, and yet it seems the child has never truly listened:

He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Luke 24:25–26)

These followers had heard Jesus teach and witnessed him perform healings and challenge the Pharisees, and ultimately they had seen him carry his cross to Calvary. But more than that, they had spent years as children studying the Torah under the Rabbi and years in the temple listening as the scrolls were opened and read from. Jesus was saying that if they had really listened to what the prophets wrote, and if they had gone beyond listening to examining it, processing it, and truly believing it, they could have understood that the one God had promised to send to them would save them through suffering, because that truth is interwoven into the entirety of the Old Testament.

Jesus was saying that they should have understood that his crucifixion didn't negate his identity as the Messiah but confirmed it, because the death of the Messiah was predicted in the Old Testament. In fact, each portion of the Old Testament anticipates Christ's suffering and glory in its own way. In our study of Genesis we will see that the very first promise in the Old Testament of an "offspring," or descendant of Eve, points directly to his suffering. God said that the Serpent will "bruise his heel" (Gen. 3:15). So, from the first time a Savior was promised in the Old Testament, it was clear that this Savior would suffer.

But it is not just specific promises or prophecies that point to Jesus's suffering. More profoundly, the whole of the Old Testament was designed by God to provide a context within which we can understand the necessity of the suffering and the certainty of the glorification of Christ. In fact, without the Old Testament foundation of fall, curse, law, sacrifice, temple, priesthood, and salvation, then the cross, resurrection, and glorification of Christ would make little sense.

So Jesus said that if they had really taken in and believed what the Old Testament prophets said, they would have seen and understood that indeed he was the one they had hoped for who would redeem Israel — they would have understood that this redemption would be accomplished not through strength but through weakness, not by a conquering king but by a suffering servant.

Jesus was not content, however, to leave these followers with just this generalized pointer to what all the prophets had said. Luke writes: And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27)

Take this in and think it through. To explain to these followers who he was and why he had to die, Jesus did not start with his birth, or his sermon on the mountain, or his wrangling with the Pharisees, or the plot against him facilitated by Judas. Jesus opened up Genesis and Exodus and Leviticus and Psalms and Hosea and Isaiah and all the way to Malachi, showing them, "This is who I am ... this is why I came ... this is the curse I came to bear ... this is the mercy I came to show ... I am the blessing God promised ... I am the sacrifice God provided."

As Jesus worked his way through the writings of Moses and the prophets, he didn't merely point out specific prophecies that he fulfilled, which is what my understanding of how the Old Testament points to Christ has been limited to for most of my life (i.e., that he would be born in Bethlehem and that he would enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey). And he didn't use Old Testament characters or situations as examples to instruct the two disciples on how to live the life of faith, which is how many of us have always heard the Old Testament taught.

It is doubtful that he turned to the story of Noah and began teaching them that they needed to obey God even when it meant going against the crowd. More likely he turned to the story of Noah, the one whose name means rest, and said, "Hide yourself in me like Noah and his family hid themselves inside the ark and were saved from the judgment." He didn't turn to the story of Abraham offering Isaac and tell these disciples that they needed to be willing to give up what is most precious to them for their God. Instead, perhaps he said something like, "See how this father was willing to offer up his only son as a sacrifice? Can you see that this is what my Father did when I was lifted up on the cross?" He didn't turn to the story of Joseph to teach them that they should flee temptation. More likely he said something like, "Remember how Joseph became the one person that everyone in the world came to for food in the famine? That's me. I am the bread of life, the one to whom all men and women must come to find life."

Jesus didn't work his way through Genesis to point out what we must do for God, but to help us to see clearly what God has done for us through Christ.

As we read the Old Testament, we don't want to merely make observations about the behavior of the godly and godless and then try harder to be like the godly and less like the godless. Instead, we must realize that there are no true heroes in the Old Testament. No one is perfectly and persistently pleasing to God — the judges aren't strong enough, the kings aren't good enough, the prophets aren't clear enough, and the priests aren't pure enough.

The Old Testament serves to point out our cavernous need for a better law keeper, a better judge, a better prophet, a better priest, a better king. Jesus must have looked Cleopus and his companion in the eyes that day, and said, "That's me. I'm the one the whole of the Old Testament points to. I'm the one God intended to send all along."

The Old Testament is an uncompleted story, a promise waiting for its fulfillment. And Jesus is that fulfillment. It must have been amazing to sit with Jesus himself, like those two disciples did, and hear him clearly make the connections. I wish Luke had written a run-down of exactly what Jesus said, because I would like to know! But the fact that this conversation was not recorded for us does not mean we cannot discover these connections ourselves. They are there to be found in the pages of the Old Testament for all who will invest in looking for them. That's what we will do in this study of Genesis.

What It Will Take to See Jesus

As Jesus walked and talked with these followers, they must have been amazed at how he had so much of the Torah committed to memory and such a thorough grasp on its meaning — especially in the ways it pointed to the Christ. It served to make them hungry for more, so when they got to Emmaus, they asked him to stay with them. Then Luke records:

As I see Jesus more clearly, he answers my stubborn questions.

When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. (Luke 24:30–31) As Jesus took the bread, blessed it and broke it, perhaps they recognized him because they had been there on the hillside when Jesus did the same thing and fed five thousand people (Luke 9:16), or perhaps they had been there a few nights before when he did the same thing in the upper room with his disciples (Luke 22:19). But it seems to be more than that. This seems to be a work of God done in their hearts and minds. Their eyes could see him. Their hearts burned as they listened to him work his way through the Old Testament.

Isn't this what we want? We don't want to read little bits of Scripture and take away an inspirational thought. We don't want to pluck out Scriptures that make us feel good regardless of whether we're reading them in context. We want to understand the big picture of what God has done and is doing in the world. But more than that, we want our hearts to burn in recognition that this is not just a story outside of us, but a story God is accomplishing in us through Christ!

God, open our eyes to see Jesus!

Make our hearts burn in your presence!

We do not want to settle for dry doctrine or factual knowledge about the Bible. We want the Word of God to do its work in us, burning away the impurities in our hearts; we want sparks of new insights to fly; we want the flames of our passion for God to be fanned into a raging fire. We want our hearts to melt at the beauty of Christ.

How will this happen? We will go to the Old Testament and read it through gospel eyes. We will ask God to open our eyes to see Jesus, to give us the ability to recognize him in the people, the promises, the stories, the symbols, and the shadows of the Old Testament.

Evidently this is exactly what happened to the disciples. A few days after his conversation with the two followers on their way to Emmaus, Jesus appeared to the rest of the disciples and said to them:

These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. (Luke 24:44)

Then, once again, he did what he had done a few days before:

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:45)

First he opened their eyes to see him and made their hearts burn as they listened to him, and then he opened their minds to understand the Old Testament. That's what we want. We want our eyes to be opened to see Jesus in the Old Testament. We want our hearts to burn as this revelation kindles in us a fresh passion for Jesus. And we want our minds to be opened so that we understand the Scriptures. We want to see God's plan to save sinners through Jesus Christ in all of its vast wonder. We don't want to settle for our disjointed collection of Old Testament Bible story knowledge and all the tips on trusting God that came with it. We want to see the big picture of God's salvation and truly understand this glorious mystery now revealed.

How We Will Come to Understand Jesus

It becomes evident in the book of Acts that after Jesus opened the minds of the disciples to understand the Old Testament Scriptures, they did indeed grasp the big picture of why Jesus came, died, and rose from the dead. They finally saw his coming in context of God's unfolding plan of redemption. And throughout the apostles' sermons recorded in Acts, we discover that they presented the gospel of Jesus — not beginning with his birth or with his teachings or with his death but beginning in the Old Testament.


Excerpted from "The Promised One"
by .
Copyright © 2011 Nancy Guthrie.
Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Before We Get Started: A Note from Nancy, 9,
Week 1: The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24), 13,
Teaching Chapter: The Beginning in Light of the Ending, 15,
How Genesis Points to What Is Yet to Come, 25,
Discussion Guide, 27,
Week 2: Creation (Genesis 1:1–2:3), 29,
Personal Bible Study, 31,
Teaching Chapter: All Things New, 38,
How Genesis Points to What Is Yet to Come, 52,
Discussion Guide, 55,
Week 3: The Fall (Genesis 2:4–3:24), 59,
Personal Bible Study, 61,
Teaching Chapter: You Don't Have to Hide, 68,
How Genesis Points to What Is Yet to Come, 83,
Discussion Guide, 86,
Week 4: Noah and the Flood (Genesis 6–9), 89,
Personal Bible Study, 91,
Teaching Chapter: What Will Have the Last Word in Your Life?, 97,
How Genesis Points to What Is Yet to Come, 111,
Discussion Guide, 114,
Week 5: The Tower of Babel (Genesis 10:1–12:3), 117,
Personal Bible Study, 119,
Teaching Chapter: A Name for Myself, 123,
How Genesis Points to What Is Yet to Come, 138,
Discussion Guide, 141,
Week 6: Abraham (Genesis 12–15), 143,
Personal Bible Study, 145,
Teaching Chapter: The Day You've Waited For, 153,
How Genesis Points to What Is Yet to Come, 168,
Discussion Guide, 171,
Week 7: Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 16–24), 175,
Personal Bible Study, 177,
Teaching Chapter: How Will I Know I Am Loved?, 183,
How Genesis Points to What Is Yet to Come, 199,
Discussion Guide, 201,
Week 8: Jacob (Genesis 25:19–35:21), 203,
Personal Bible Study, 205,
Teaching Chapter: "Unless You Bless Me", 210,
How Genesis Points to What Is Yet to Come, 226,
Discussion Guide, 229,
Week 9: Joseph (Genesis 37–50), 231,
Personal Bible Study, 233,
Teaching Chapter: Can Anything Good Come out of This?, 237,
How Genesis Points to What Is Yet to Come, 251,
Discussion Guide, 254,
Week 10: The Sons of Jacob (Genesis 29–30; 34–35; 38–39; 48–49), 257,
Personal Bible Study, 259,
Teaching Chapter: They Say You Can't Choose Your Family, 263,
How Genesis Points to What Is Yet to Come, 276,
Discussion Guide, 279,
Bibliography, 281,

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“The perfect blend of biblical scholarship and heartfelt passion, Guthrie guides us through Genesis, helping us discover for ourselves God’s magnificent plan of redemption. Her steps are sure, and her grasp of the Scriptures is breathtaking. Above all, God’s unfailing love, grace, and sovereignty shine forth from every page. A brilliant start to a very promising series.”
Liz Curtis Higgs, New York Times best-selling author, Mine is the Night and Bad Girls of the Bible

“An excellent resource for the church. Nancy explains biblical connections in a way that will be helpful to new believers as well as those steeped in the faith. I wish I had these resources years ago.”
Wendy Horger Alsup, teacher; blogger; author, Is the Bible Good for Women? and Practical Theology for Women

“The Bible is a book about Jesus. The disciples walking to Emmaus after the resurrection discovered this as Christ himself walked along with them and explained how the Old Testament pointed to the Savior. This book is the first in an important series by Nancy Guthrie and it spotlights how Jesus can be seen in the book of Genesis. I recommend this—and the entire series—to you.”
Alistair Begg, Senior Pastor, Parkside Church, Chagrin Falls, Ohio

“It’s not hyperbole to say, ‘It’s about time.’ While there are good books out there telling pastors how to preach Christ from all the Scriptures, there have been very few Bible studies for laypeople—especially for women—along these lines. Nancy Guthrie does an amazing job of helping us to fit the pieces of the biblical puzzle together, with Christ at the center.”
Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California

“Nancy takes us by the hand and the heart on an exegetical excursion to see Christ in the Old Testament…the beauty of Guthrie’s writing is that you are certain she has met him there first.”
Jean F. Larroux, Former Senior Pastor, Southwood Presbyterian Church, PCA, Huntsville, Alabama

“Every leader of small group ministries knows the difficult task of finding good material—material that causes participants to think carefully while striking a chord in the heart; material that challenges the mature Christian, while gently leading those younger in the faith into deeper truths; material that digs into the Bible and applies its treasures to our everyday lives. The Promised One manages to do it all! A meaningful, 10-week Bible study with thought-provoking questions and solid teaching, and a peek at what is still to come. I am delighted to offer this to the women in my church and look forward to the remaining books in this series.”
Jean Bronson, Director of Women’s Ministry, Fourth Presbyterian Church, Bethesda, Maryland

“An excellent resource for the church. Nancy explains biblical connections in a way that will be helpful to new believers as well as those steeped in the faith. I wish I had these resources years ago.”
Wendy Horger Alsup, teacher; blogger; author, Is the Bible Good for Women? and Practical Theology for Women

“There are many great Christian books, but not many great Bible studies. Nancy is a master of getting the Word of God into the mouths, hearts, and lives of her students. I cannot wait to share this study with my people.”
Donna Dobbs, Women and Children’s Director, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi

“How many of us have grown up in the church, learning and reciting one Bible story after the other? But how many of us can clearly connect those stories with clarity and understanding of the grand drama? The Promised One will lead this generation to clearly recognize that the Bible is God’s purposeful story—an amazing unfolding of His promised provision through Jesus, His Son, for the redemption of our wrecked and ruined world. Through this life-changing study, you will clearly comprehend God’s intent and promise of Jesus from the very first pages of the Bible through to the very end. I pray your eyes and mind will joyfully recognize Him as the Promised One, making your heart burn with a deeper and more passionate love for the Savior!”
Jennifer Adamson, Former Director of Women’s Ministries, First Baptist Orlando, Orlando, Florida

“Do you ever wish you could have listened to the conversation Jesus had with his friends on the road to Emmaus? Luke tells us that Jesus started with Moses and walked his way through the Bible and explained to them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures. Nancy has done us all a great service by carefully and precisely unpacking the teachings regarding our Savior in the Old Testament. My experience with this book has been rich and has deepened my love for the Word and for Jesus. I am in debt to my sister for this treasure of a study!”
David Arthur, CEO, Precept Ministries International; coauthor, Desiring God’s Own Heart: A Study on Samuel

“After nearly a decade of serving women in the church, I have to say that finding Bible study curriculum that compels women to fall in love with God’s Word is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of this job. Promotions for women’s materials fill my mailbox and my inbox daily, yet rarely have I found a curriculum so well written. The Promised One is full of truth, humility, and grace. Nancy leads us to the Scriptures where we find there to be one story, that of our Lord Jesus. I am so grateful for this series and I am certain it will help women come to know Christ and know Him better.”
Kari Stainback, Director of Women’s Ministries, Park Cities Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas

“Is there a need for another study guide on Genesis? In a word, yes. And this is the book. Sadly, most studies are not Christ-centered, but rather principle-centered, which becomes nothing more than a new version of legalism. Nancy Guthrie sets a new standard by being truly Christ-centered, starting with Jesus’ fulfillment of the entire Old Testament and maintaining that focus throughout the guide. Having read three of her previous books, and the Christ-centered nature of them, I expected the same top-notch quality. I was not disappointed. The proven format of personal study, teaching chapter, and group discussion highlights Christ as the center of Genesis. Her questions are not merely ‘how-to’ guides, but they bring a fresh perspective and point the reader continually to Christ. Do you want to study or teach Genesis? Then this book is for you. Guthrie has provided a valuable resource of the church.”
Richard P. Shields, Professor, American Lutheran Theological Seminary

“Because the stories of Genesis are so familiar to many, it can be easy to think we don’t need to study it again. But The Promised One enables us to read all of the familiar stories with fresh eyes so that God’s redemptive purposes through Christ from the very beginning become clear. I look forward to putting this study in the hands of the women at my church!”
Julie Wesselman, Former Women’s Ministry Director, Desert Springs Church, Albuquerque, New Mexico

“At last! Real living water from Scripture that enables us, together, to behold the Lord Jesus in His glory—this is what nourishes and matures the soul! The expositions in Genesis, the development in Scripture, the fulfillment in our Lord Jesus Christ, and then the bridge to application to now and to the blessings yet to come when all meets the final consummation in glory. So well done. O I pray Nancy’s book, as well as the series, ignites a fire that blazes from here to the Third World and strengthens all Christians everywhere to come alive in our testimony of Jesus.”
Thaddeus Barnum, Assisting Bishop, Diocese of the Carolinas; author, Never Silent

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The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
frazzled16 More than 1 year ago
I love the book I do wish she had a workbook to go with it