Genesis 12-50: Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and Joseph

Family Fun Challenge: Traverse the Course

Ag: Genetics – Genesis 30

Field Trip: Stephen Foster State Park – Georgia
                    17515 Hwy 17
                    Fargo, GA

Christ, Canaan, & Children:  Blessing on All Nations

So far, we have read how mankind rebelled against God over and over – in the Garden, before the flood, after the flood, etc. However, we are about to see God’s plan of redemption begin to unfold.

Let’s start with a quick review using The Bible from A to Z poem:

A perfect creation till sin entered through man,

But One was coming, redemption His plan.

Big boat God provided when He judged mankind.

Babbling builders’ homelands reassigned.

To be honest, it’s not looking good for mankind at this point, but we will quickly catch a glimmer of hope as we unpack the rest of Genesis and see what God has planned. Yes, it’s a lot for one month, but most of your kids probably already know the stories. Therefore, we will be focusing on God’s plan of redemption through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s families and mostly discussing one of my favorite stories in the whole Bible found in Genesis 15!

Let me set the scene for you. God has called Abram from his homeland, and Abram and Lot have gone their separate ways. Abram’s name is still Abram, and he still has no children even though God promised to make him a great nation. Chapter 15 begins with him discussing this detail with God, and God telling Abram God is his reward (a reference back to Abram not taking a reward from the king of Sodom for recusing Lot and the others in chapter 14) and his offspring will indeed be as numerous as the stars. In 15:8, Abram asks for proof, and God gives it to him the form of “cutting a covenant” with him.

Before we can go any further, we need to pause and be sure we have a good understanding of what a covenant is, especially in Abram’s day, or we may miss the point of this story like I did for so many years.

We often equate covenant with today’s word contract, but the difference between the two words can help us understand a covenant better. A contract includes a way for the contract to be “broken.” In other words, as long as the one breaking the contract pays the predetermined penalty, fine, etc for breaking the contract, all is well. The other party is free from their obligations in the contract.

A covenant on the other hand is a treaty or alliance between two parties with no way “out.” If one party does not uphold their duty to the covenant, it does not free the other party from their duty. In other words, it is morally wrong to break a covenant even if the other party did not “keep their side of the bargain.”

Wow! That’s a big difference, and it puts a covenant in a whole other category – more like promise keeping than a contract.

Now let’s look at the word “covenant” itself. The original word comes from a word that means to eat which has the connotation of cutting and choosing. (Remember, in translation, we don’t always have a this word = that word situation. It’s more like this idea = that idea so use that word. Also remember Hebrew had several thousand less words than English, so one idea (word) had several uses.)

Putting these two ideas together – a promise with no way out and cutting and choosing – we can better understand why they called it “cutting” a covenant in Abram’s day. The rest of the story will give it even more meaning.

Based on the method to cut or sign the covenant we are about to see take place in Chapter 15, we know what is about to happen is the making of a Suzerain – a covenant where a more powerful king/party agreed to protect a less powerful king/party in exchange for their loyalty, service, etc. When they cut the covenant, they would literally cut animals in half and then walk between them to signify “let me be cut in half like these animal if I break this covenant.” This was serious business….a lot more than a hand shake or a signature nowadays. It was like taking a death oath on oneself.

Before we continue, we need to be sure we understand one more image. What do smoke and fire often represent in the Bible? God. (In the wilderness, when the Tabernacle was finished, visions such as Elijah’s, Ezekiel’s, the tongues of fire at Pentecost, etc.)  Keep that in your mind as we proceed.

Now back to Abram…

He still did not have any offspring even though God promised to make him into a great nation and all the nations/families of the earth shall be blessed through him in chapter 12. God told him again in Chapter 15 he would have offspring as numerous as the stars, and Abram now asked for proof.

This is where cutting the covenant comes into the story. God, obliviously the more powerful king, told Abram, the lesser party, to cut some animals in half and lay the halves across from each other. Then Abram fell in a a deep sleep (like Adam in the garden). While he was sleeping, “a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram” – Gen 15: 17-18 ESV.

Did you see it?! God, the more powerful party walked between the pieces by Himself. He basically said “let me be like these animals” if this covenant is broken. I will completely take the punishment, the curse, the death oath by myself if the covenant is broken!! Wow! Pause, and let that sink in a few minutes.

Now, fast forward that to Genesis chapter 22 where God says “take your son, you only son Isaac, whom you love…and offer him there.” Then God provides the ram for the sacrifice instead. Connect that to John 3:16 where God gave his only beloved son, and we can see the pieces falling into place.

The Greater Party took the curse for the lesser party. God told us way back in Genesis 15 He would take our punishment when we, the lesser party, broke the covenant, and He did so at the cross. There is no greater grace!

The story line from Chapter 15 just keeps getting better as we trace God’s promise and grace through the son God did give Abraham and Sarah and through that son’s offspring. Genesis ends with the amazing story of how, despite all the favoritism, jealousy, cheating, and deception of the previous chapters, God sent Joseph ahead of his family to prepare a place for them. Joseph tells them at the end of Genesis: “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that may people should be kept alive” – Genesis 50:19 ESV.

God’s plan are for our good! How can they not be when He so plainly says He will take the punishment we so clearly deserve and then does so at the cross.

C & D from The Bible from A to Z poem sum it up pretty well:

Christ, Canaan, children: blessings on all nations.

God takes man’s punishment for Covenant violations.

Daddy’s boys with a favorite each round,

But only through one will a Savior be crowned.

Then letter E gives us a preview for next month:

Egyptian slaves they became to their dismay,

But salvation was planned all along the way.

Amazing grace over and over. To God be the glory because He deserves it!

Take a moment to count your  blessings and thank God for the grace He has bestowed upon you and your family over your lifetime.

How does Genesis 15 – 50 point to Jesus?

  • Jesus is the source of the “blessing on all nations” promised in the covenant with Abraham.

  • God took the curse, the death oath, the penalty we should have to bear for breaking the Covenant when He offered His son as the Perfect Substitution for us.

  • God’s provision of the substitution of the ram for Isaac, “Abraham only son whom he loved”, foreshadowed God’s provision of Jesus as the sacrificial lamb on the cross.

  • God using the evil act of his brothers to send Joseph ahead of his family to prepare a place for them foreshadowed God’s use of the crucifixion for our good.

  • Account after account in these chapters remind us “how all things work for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” – Romans 8:28.Are you called?

Be sure to join us next month as we follow the “smoke and fire” from the first Passover to the first Passover in the Promised Land.  It’s a long, hot journey…



Genesis 30:41-43 ESV

41Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding, Jacob would lay the sticks in the troughs before the eyes of the flock, that they might breed among the sticks, 42 but for the feebler of the flock he would not lay them there. So the feebler would be Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s. 43 Thus the man increased greatly and had large flocks…

These verses come in the middle of Jacob’s story – after he tricks his brother but before he wrestles with God and reconciles with his brother on his way back to the Promised Land. His name means “heel holder” or “supplanter”, and he’s still up to his old tricks in this part of his story.

Jacob had a just made a deal with his father-in-law Laban to receive all the spotted and speckled goats and the black sheep in the flocks in return for taking care of Laban’s flocks. Laban, who was a mighty good tricksters in his own right, removed some spotted, speckled, and black animals from his flock later that day and sent them three days away with some of this sons therefore reducing the number of animals giving birth to the animals that will be Jacob’s. The trickster got tricked again, but he still had a “trick” up his sleeve.

I don’t know about the superstition or the science behind all he did, but I do know God apparently blessed him because he ended up with “large flocks.” The point of the story is he set it up so the strong animals would be spotted/speckled/black and Laban’s animals would be the weaker animals. This brings us to genetics, the study of heredity or genes. Jacob obviously had some understanding of genetics to know it was possible to control the color of the flock.

To better understand genetics, we need to first understand some basic biology.

  • A gene is a unit of hereditary information located in a certain position on a chromosome (coiled chains of DNA). If you lined up all the DNA in one corn cell end-to-end, it would be six feet long!

  • DNA provides the instructions or code for what an organism is to be or do. Genes have the information for specific traits such as what color skin, hair, or eyes, whether to be allergic to peanuts or not, and whether to like cilantro or not! Genes can also determine if a person has a genetic disease like Huntington’s disease, if a dog’s hips will like give out later in life, or if plants are immune to certain diseases or conditions like a extreme dry weather.

  • Genes determine an individual’s traits or characteristics by directing the production of certain proteins. In other words, a particular gene causes a particular protein to develop which leads to a particular trait.

  • Humans have about 20,000 – 25,000 genes.

  • All humans are 99.9% identical according to the National Human Genome Research Institute.

  • Every individual has two sets of genes – one from the father and one from the mother. (Even plants have males and females although some flowers have both the male and the female organs. On the other hand, some plants only have male flowers and some only have female flowers.)

  • Genes can be dominant or recessive. Dominant genes “overpower” recessive genes and express their protein or trait. In order for a recessive gene to “work”, the gene from the mother and the father must be recessive.

  • Mankind has been manipulating genes for thousands of years through selective breeding, cross breeding and cross pollination. In other words, breeding for the characteristics or gene they want.

Cross breeding/pollination is how we have so many different breed of dogs and cattle and so many different kinds of sun flowers and day lilies. Basically, you breed or pollinate one breed with a different breed. Although sometimes the goal is just a certain color, the concept is to produce an animal or plant with the strong characteristics of each parent. There used to be a lot of trial and error – breeding different individuals until you found one that “threw” or passed on the qualities you were seeking. Today, we can do it faster through recent technology which allows us to “see” and pick the genes we want to pass on.

Before we go any further, let’s be sure we understand a couple of other facts.

There were only two of each kind on the ark. Although we do not know the exact definition or parameters of a kind as mentioned in the Bible, it was obviously two animals that could breed together. (Neither can we exactly equate kind with a certain classification of taxonomy we use today, but it is most closely similar to genus or family according to the Answers in Genesis’s website.) You cannot breed animals from two different kinds, and, no matter how many times you breed two animals from the same kind, you don’t get a new kind. They are still the same kind. For example, a horse and a donkey make a mule and a tiger and a lion make a liger.

Obviously the two individuals in each kind on the ark carried all the genetic information needed to produce the varieties of animals we see today – canines have wolves, coyotes, dingo, and countless dog breeds; equines have zebras, mules, donkeys and race horses, jumping horses, ponies and draft horses. All of these came from the two individuals on the ark just like all the people alive today came from Noah and his wife or his sons and their wives.

When genes are altered, it is called a mutation. Mutations do not produce new kinds. Mutations most often have a negative consequence such as Down Syndrome.

Mutations can lead to evolution which is “differences…due to modifications (mutations) in successive generations.” Evolution is a fact. It does happen. Kinds can adapt over time or through a mutation, but neither evolution nor mutation has led or will ever lead to new kinds.

Natural selection also happens. The strongest usually survive and therefore reproduce. At times though, there may be individuals with certain traits that are able to survive and thrive better for some reason (ex – the finch beaks on the Galapagos Islands). These traits may become more common and eventually develop into a new species but never a new kind.

Those are all natural means God created to produce variations and desirable characteristics.

Genetics engineering, on the other hand, is intentionally modifying an organism through artificial manipulation, reconfiguration, or replications of DNA or other molecules such as nucleic acids. The resulting individuals are called genetically modified organisms or GMO’s – organisms, including plants, animals, bacteria, fungi – that have been genetically changed in some way. In other words, instead of breeding/pollinating one animal or plant with a certain characteristics to another individual and seeing if the desirable characteristics will pass on, scientists can look at the chromosomes, genes, and DNA of individuals under a microscope and pick the ones they want to use and/or modify. For example, they can swap the gene for a solid white animal for one that produces spots or stripes. (Wonder what Jacob would have thought about that?) They can “cut” out one gene, splice in another, turn off a gene, and take DNA from one type of organism and transfer it to another type of organism.

Pretty cool! Nevertheless, we can play our broken record again: genetics engineering has not, does not, and will not produce new kids. It can produce variations within a kind, but the resulting individuals are still the same kind.

One other fact – The labs that produce new variations through genetic engineering most often patent their plants, seeds, etc. Farmers have to sign that they will not save seeds to replant and have to purchase seeds from the company every time they plant.

Now that we have a basic understanding of genes and genetic engineering, let’s look at some of the benefits and consequences of this technology in agriculture.


According to the FDA website: 

Most of the GMO crops grown today were developed to help farmers prevent crop loss. The three most common traits found in GMO crops are:

  • Resistance to insect damage

  • Tolerance to herbicides

  • Resistance to plant viruses

For GMO crops that are resistant to insect damage, farmers can apply fewer spray pesticides to protect the crops. GMO crops that are tolerant to herbicides help farmers control weeds without damaging the crops. When farmers use these herbicide-tolerant crops they do not need to till the soil, which they normally do to get rid of weeds. This no-till planting helps to maintain soil health and lower fuel and labor use. Taken together, studies, have shown positive economic and environmental impacts.

As a result, GMO’s can have higher yields because they are resistant to diseases and pests that would normally reduce production. Higher yields mean more income and more food. This can be especially beneficial in certain countries.

GMO that are resistant to pests mean farmer have to spray less insecticides to grow their crops. Insecticides often kill any insects hence one potential problem with the apparent reduction in the number of honey bees in the US. Less insecticides may mean better conditions for beneficial insects such as honey bees, wasps, and others.

Organisms can also be modified to grow in different climates, alter taste or color, have a longer shelf life, and may other characteristics.

Note: Most GMO animals are used for laboratory research. Scientists use them to study genes and the effects of specific genes. Examples include cows producing milk with proteins found in human milk, “glow in the dark” puppy and fish, featherless chickens, see-through frogs, and animals used to grow human body parts.

But…over 90% of the corn and soybeans grown in the US are GMO’s. Livestock often eat these grains from these plants and can end up in the food we eat.


On the other hand, we do not know the long-term effects on animals or people that consume GMO’s. We may not know for years until the generations that have used and consumed GMO’s grow up and we begin to see health problems in those individuals, or we may never see any adverse effects. We have not been using them long enough to know for sure.

GMO seeds can move from field to field via birds, farm equipment, water, etc . There is no way to know the full effects of all the possible cross pollination varieties.

Over 90% of some crops such as soybeans and corn grown in the US are GMO’s. As a result, herbicide use has actually increased as farmers plants these crops and simply spray certain herbicides to control weeds. Increased herbicide can means more run off.

In addition, some plants have become resistant to these herbicides. It works this way: Think back to what we have already discussed – through natural selection, the weeds that were not as affected by the chemical actually lived after being sprayed and produced seed that were also resistant. Their offspring that were most resistant grew the best and produced more seeds which produced more plants that were more resistant, and on and on.

Finally, in the wrong hands, GMO’s could be used to produce organisms that are not beneficial.

Now, let’s look at some GMO’s.

Pink Pineapple

Scientist produced a pink pineapple by increasing the level of lycopene, the chemical that makes tomatoes and water melon red, in the pineapples.

GM salmon

Salmon have been modified to continually produce growth hormones so they can be harvested in 18 months instead of 3 years.

GM Papaya

Scientist were able to “silence” transcription (reproduction) of the Papaya Ringspot Virus that threatened to decimate the papaya industry. In one study, GM papaya plants produced 125,000 lb/acre verses 5,000 lb/acre produced by infected plants.

Warm Weather Alfalfa

Alfalfa is an excellent source of protein for livestock, but it does not grow naturally in warmer areas such as the Southeastern US. Researchers have developed a warm weather alfalfa which means southern farmers do not have to ship alfalfa from the cooler states.

Bt cotton

Bt cotton has been altered with Bacillus thuringiensis, a common soil bacterium. The plant produces a certain protein that is toxic to specific insects. It causes the insect’s stomach to rupture – literally giving the caterpillars a “killer stomach ache”.

Round Up Ready soybeans and corn

Round Up Ready plants are not affected by Round Up – a broad spectrum herbicide. (broad spectrum-wide variety, herb-plant, cide-death – In other words, it kills a lot of plants.) Scientist modified the genes of certain plants to be resistant to the chemical, so farmers can spray Round Up on their field to kill weeds without harming their crops.


GMO’s are not used only in agriculture. GMOs are being utilized to study diseases, create medicines and vaccines, and countless other endeavors. Check out this MIT article for a spinach plant that can detect land mines: Nanobionic spinach plants can detect explosives:

Genetic engineering is a relatively new and growing industry. Nevertheless, it affects us on daily basis in the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and more. While this lesson does not go into the ethical or moral aspects of genetic engineering, I think it would be wise to help your children make the connection. Although there are potential benefits such as fighting diseases, etc, genetic engineering can quickly morph into “designer children” and other unethical potentials.

We should pray daily for those involved in genetic engineering and, more broadly, biotechnology. The tools are there to affect the future – both positive in the potential for more abundant and possibly more healthy food and negative with consequences we have yet to fathom. Nevertheless, we know Who holds the future and can rest assured His plans will never fail! Therefore, it is our responsibility to not only prepare our children with the information to make wise and biblical decisions but also with the information to help others understand our Creator and His purpose for all creation.



Stephen Foster State Park – Georgia
17515 Hwy 17
Fargo, GA

Date(s) –   TBD

More Information

Check out their website  for more information. 
More information about field trips can be found on this page.


 Suggested Projects/Activities:

    • Study Punnett Squares
    • Using your family’s favorite species – canine, equine, feline, etc – discuss how different breeds of animals have different characteristics – some desirable, some less desirable.  Be sure to discuss how some traits can be positive in one situation and negative in another.  Praise God for the genetic diversity He created!
    • Get creative – selecting characteristics from various breeds, design the perfect breed for your chosen species.  Be sure to give it a name that adequately describes your creation.  Have the artist of the family draw a picture!
    • Research and discuss the pros and cons of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s)
    • Research and discuss eugenics – the selection of desired heritable characteristics in order to improve future generations – typically in reference to humans.  AiG has several articles including this one.
    • Complete a science fair project related to genetics.

    • Make a display board about genetics for a GA National Fair 4H project – (check with your local agent to see if they have spots left for this year)

Bible Drill Verses


Children – 3-5 grades*

The LORD is god to all: his tender mercies are over all his works. Psalms 145:9 KJV

And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Luke 6:31 KJV


Youth – 6 – 8 grades*

Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Psalms 62:8 KJV

But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jeremiah 31: 33 KJV


High School – 9 – 12 grades*

Steps to Salvation Drill

For the wages of in is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23 KJV

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9-10 KJV

 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13 KJV

* Competition grades may vary.  See for more information.

Don’t forget to check out for ideas about sharing the truths of the Bible you learn this month and the BibleMemory app to help memorize the monthly verses.

Complete these fun family challenges as a way to help illustrate the Biblical accounts we study each month.

Traverse the Course – Blindfolded


Team members must direct a blindfolded team member through an obstacle course or maze without talking.


  • Blindfolded

  • Items to use as obstacles – chairs, buckets, rope, tape, cones, etc

How to Play

  • Note: Can be played as a family or in teams.

  • Set up a SAFE obstacle course suitable to your family and the space you have with a start and finish line. Be creative.

    Use rope or tape to makes paths/lines participant cannot cross.

    Lay a broom between two chairs. Participant must step over the broom handle.

  • Alternative: Draw or tape off a trail with several twist and turns.

  • Allow 3 – 5 minutes for family/team members to view the course and make a plan to help one blindfolded family/team member navigate the course.

  • For extra difficulty:

    • Do not allow the blindfolded member to see the course

    • Do not allow team members to talk to the blindfolded member.

  • The blindfolded team member must navigate from the starting point to the finishing line without touching, knocking over, etc. any obstacles with only the cues from their team.


  • Just as the blindfolded member had to trust the rest of the team to guide him/her through the course, so we must trust God to guide us through life and all the obstacles we will face along the way. Oftentimes we don’t know where we are going. Sometimes if feels like we cannot hear God speaking. Nevertheless, we can always trust He has our best interest in mind and always follow His direction.