The point of this post is to give you some pointers that might be helpful in your reading of Genesis.
1. Creation. The creation story is written to tell you the “who” of creation. If you are the original audience (Israel, waiting to enter the promised land) what is your understanding of Genesis 1-2? Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” serves as a summary of chapters 1 & 2, but more importantly it is a powerful theological statement. The main point would be that God is Creator. The creation is his. We are his. He has the right to make claim on our lives about the type of people we are to be; what we are to do; how we are to worship him only; etc.
2. Book layout. Genesis divides between chapters 11 & 12.
Chapters 1-11 contain early human history mainly focusing on four topics: creation (1-2), origin and spread of sin (3-5), the flood (6-9), the nations after flood (10-11). The primary purpose of chapters 4-11 is to trace the godly lineage (Adam -> Seth -> Noah -> Shem -> Abram) through which redemption will come.
Chapters 12-50 contain the beginning of God’s unfolding plan to redeem humanity from its sin. This plan centers on Abraham (12-25:18) and his descendants, Isaac (25:19-26:35), Jacob (27-36), and Joseph (37-50). Look for the concepts of faith, God’s sovereignty, and the failings of human effort in chapters 12-50.
3. Reading a character. When reading a story we often tend to try and find ourselves within it. Let me state it clearly: The hero of the Bible is God. The Bible is God’s self-revelation to us. It is his book. It is about him. Please don’t make yourself the hero of the story. Here’s a prime example I’ve heard many times: we take the story of David and Goliath and end up talking about how we can slay our metaphorical giants. No and no. Let it be about God and his work. When you read about Abraham and the well known characters in Genesis, ask these questions instead…
1. How was God working to create faith in the character’s life?
2. What weaknesses did the character need to submit to God?
3. What things did God do in the character’s life that were counter-intuitive to how we normally expect the world to operate?
Here’s a link to the introductory post on general guidelines for reading the Old Testament.