How can Jesus be seen in the book of Genesis?
I think there are at least six ways.
1. Jesus is the Co-Creator (Gen. 1-2).
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
(Gen. 1:1 NIV)
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness...
(Gen. 1:26 NIV)
The plurality of Gen. 1:26 (i.e., us, our) speaks to the involvement of Father, Word/Jesus and Spirit in the creation of man.
John leaves no doubt in our mind as to Jesus' involvement in creation:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. ... 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:1-3, 14 NIV)
2. Jesus is prophesied as the serpent-crusher.
When Eve and Adam sinned in the Garden instigated by Satan's deception, GOD told the serpent:
14 ... “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
(Gen. 3:14-15 NIV)
Thousands of years later, in the first century A.D., Paul encouraged the Romans, saying:
20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
(Rom. 16:20a NIV)
Likewise, the Hebrew writer says:
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—
(Heb. 2:14 NIV)
3. Jesus is the Sustainer of the righteous.
Noah and his family were saved from the sin-purging waters of the flood.
Abraham was saved from a heritage of idolatry and numerous dangers in the lands of Canaan and Egypt.
Isaac was prospered for his righteousness, as was his son Jacob.
There can be no covenant between GOD and man without the cleansing blood of Jesus which purifies the righteous by faith.
4. Jesus is the purger of evil.
A great myth exists today that GOD is somehow different than in the beginning—that now He is a God of love as opposed to His former nature as a God of wrath.
Furthermore, the myth is extended and propagated by the misconception that mere intellectual belief in Jesus is sufficient to obtain GOD's favor and forgiveness.
Neither are true.
From the beginning, Jesus has expected His followers to obey Him and live a holy life, abstaining from evil. This is not about perfect sinlessness, but about the attitude we maintain about avoiding sin. We must hate sin and hate the idea of our committing sin.
GOD—Father, Word/Son and Spirit—is entirely united.
Thus, Jesus was intimately involved with the purging of sin from the earth through the worldwide flood, the dispersing of the people at Babel, and the fiery rain of destruction upon Sodom and Gomorrah.
5. Jesus is the covenant facilitator.
There is perhaps no more important event recorded in Genesis than that of the covenant GOD made, first with Noah, then Abraham, Isaac and eventually Jacob.
The only way GOD could have fellowship with sinful man is by way of a Savior—a perfect, atoning sacrifice which could bridge the gap created by sin.
GOD could look forward in time and foresee that Jesus would be that sacrifice. It was only because of Jesus that these covenants could exist.
6. Jesus is the wrestler with Israel.
In Gen. 32, we find the following fascinating series of events:
22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.
(Gen. 32:22-32 NIV)
Here, it seems that GOD appeared to Jacob in the form of a man and wrestled with him and Jacob overcame Him.
In verse 28, Jacob says this Person was GOD.
Given this and similar appearances, such as in Josh. 1, I consider this to be Jesus—God the Word—who wrestled with Jacob.
If correct, I conclude that this is a foreshadowing of GOD's (and therefore Jesus') wrestling with the children of Israel, all the way up through Jesus' generation and the end of the physical nation of Israel in 70 A.D., as well as every righteous person's spiritual struggle with sin and GOD's wrestling with our weak nature.
Interestingly, in this metaphor, Jesus is seen both as the Righteous Judge and as the Victory-enabler by which we overcome GOD's just character (which is opposed to our sin-filled flesh).
What a beautiful image!
Praise GOD and praise Jesus!