Nancy Guthrie, The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis. Crossway, 2011. 288 pp.
Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament is currently a hot topic among evangelicals. From sermon series and conferences to articles and books, many desire to understand how to see the scarlet thread that runs through the Old Testament and finds fulfillment in the Messiah’s descent to earth thousands of years ago. Among the many beneficial resources, however, a female voice has often been lacking. Nancy Guthrie has begun this work in her helpful new book, The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis. This book is the first volume in the Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament Bible study series for women published by Crossway, and it is an encouraging beginning to what will surely be a great series of studies.
Guthrie unpacks Genesis over a ten-week study designed to help the reader see Jesus in the pages of the first book of the Bible. Each week incorporates three essential parts to aid in deeper study. The first is the personal Bible reading and study time, which encourages and aids the reader with diving into the text. This is extremely helpful at the front end, giving women the freedom to see the truths of God’s Word for themselves. The second part is the teaching chapter. This is where Guthrie discusses the meaning of the passage being studied that week. The third part is for group discussion, which provides questions ranging from the details of the text to personal application. Each of these parts is crucial for truly grasping the richness of this study.
Because Genesis is such a large book, and the Bible study is only ten weeks long, the chapters cover a lot of biblical ground from week to week. Guthrie spends a great deal of time on the beginning of Genesis in the first few weeks, which lays a framework for the remainder of the study. The last five weeks of the study focus on Abraham and his lineage down through Joseph. Each chapter also includes a section on “How the Old Testament Points to What Is Yet to Come.” This section, coupled with the teaching section, provides a more in-depth look at a key theme or story in the passage discussed, and how that scenario points to the coming Messiah.
A Hope-Filled Study
Often biblical studies about Old Testament characters leave us only with a packaged list of rules, as if God has given us their lives only as examples for how to live. Noah and the animals are turned into cute dramas that we act out in our children’s ministries. But as Guthrie shows, there is something much grander going on in these early stories in the Bible. She begins the first week with a study on Luke 24, causing the reader to see what Jesus was saying about Genesis to his followers on the Emmaus Road. She writes: “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” (20). Guthrie moves the story of Genesis from empty moralism to hopeful, glorious truths about Jesus.
Each chapter includes stories and examples that help apply these truths to your life. The most moving example of application was in week nine on the life of Joseph. Through her own story Guthrie shows the abiding hope we have in the God of the Bible, even when our circumstances are grim. She provides a solid framework to think through the sufferings and injustices we face in life, exalting God’s sovereignty as our hope when darkness comes (250). Whether you are in a relatively easy season of life or in the deepest pit of sorrow, Guthrie points you to the one Joseph was meant to foreshadow—Jesus Christ (252).
There is something for everyone in this Bible study. For the woman who wants a greater grasp of Scripture through personal study to the women’s ministry leader, this study contains enough material for a variety of purposes. In an age of celebrity teachers this is crucial in helping women see that they, too, can interpret the Bible and see Jesus in every page. The abundance of Scripture and questions for deeper study both personally and corporately provide solid tools that help the reader see the richness of God’s Word for herself. This Bible study will make you dig deep into the treasure trove of God’s Word, but the work is worth it, because by it you will see the Savior.