Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Genesis Chapter Four

The fourth chapter of Genesis deals with the beginning of division among mankind. As soon as there were brothers, there was strife. One of the brothers was a godly man, who heard the word of God, accepted it, and yielded fruit in accordance with spiritual growth. The other heard the word of God, did not understand it, and the wicked one came and took the seed of the message from him. There is much to be learned from Cain and Abel. Abel did what God desired, and approached God in the manner that was commanded, and he was accepted. Cain, who must have heard the same command that Abel had heard, rejected the notion that God only respected one approach of fellowship and worship. He had the idea that any road to God will suffice. He came with an offering of his own election and in the clothing of his own righteousness, and was refused.

Cain was the prototype of every soul that followed who would invent their own approach to God, and blatantly ignore what He has made known; that to truly come to God and be accepted, one must come through the path the cross of Jesus Christ has made. It is Christ’s obedience, offering, and shed blood that makes us right with the Father, and satisfies the righteous demands of divine justice. Abel understood this much: that the death of the finest of his flock was construed in God’s eyes as payment for Abel’s sins. When Abel approached the Lord thereafter, he did not have to fear judgment. One had already died in his stead, and the shed blood covered his sins. He could quite literally come in the esteem of another. Jesus Christ so satisfied God’s justice that Christians may approach the living God without fear. When the Father looks on His adopted sons and daughters, He sees the righteousness and obedience of His Son. We are partakers of His holiness, and accepted in the Beloved. We are accepted for the Beloved’s sake! If Jesus Christ is permitted to enter Heaven, then we know we too, through faith in Him, have open access to the throne of God.

It may be that while Abel was the first man in Paradise, awaiting the victorious descent of our Lord after His crucifixion, Cain was the first man in Hell. Cain’s progeny were the first to establish what we presently refer to as civilization. He was the first city builder. His descendants became shepherds, musicians, and metalworkers. One was a poet; perhaps the world’s first. Cain and his seed were also the first to rebel against God’s clear command to, “fill the earth and subdue it,” Genesis 1:28, repeated to Noah in Genesis 9:1. Like Nimrod would later do, he built a city and pioneered arts and sciences for ease and comfort, whereas God said that by the sweat of our brow would we earn our food. Where mankind sees progress, God sees a wilderness (Revelation 17:3, 18). Why? All of Cain’s endeavors, not to mention those of his family, were divorced from Him and His leading. There is a verse in Romans that elegantly describes this generation most appropriately: “Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened,” Romans 1:21.

Cain’s lineage is briefly described, until the time of Lamech and his children, who were likely contemporaries of Noah and his sons. While Noah was faithful, and found grace in God’s sight, humbly working to build the ark, Lamech was busy ambitiously building on Cain’s foundations. Here we have a parable of our Lord lived out in these two men. “Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great,” Luke 6:47-49. Like the ark which would bear Noah and his family to safety, the Lord Jesus Christ is the only shelter from the impending wrath of a holy God. Are we like those who scoff at the sound of coming calamity? Do we make light of the justice of God? When God gave His Son to die for our sins, He could give no more. He has made a universal appeal to believe in Christ for redemption and salvation. Anyone found in Christ will not suffer the penalty their sin deserves, for Jesus bore that penalty for us, when He died in our place at Calvary. Anyone who is not washed in the blood of the Savior, like Cain, will find their polluted and perverted offering rejected by God, who already clearly outlined the only method of approach He acknowledges: one that brings glory to the Son of God. I pray that anyone reading will choose wisely.

4:1 Cain…I have gotten a man from the Lord.
The name “Cain” means “acquire.” It is implied that Eve named Cain, and when she named him, she might well have believed that she received from the Lord the promised Seed that He had spoken of in the garden. Abel’s name (Cain’s brother; see verse 2) means “morning mist,” and by extension “breath,” or, “something of no substance.”

4:4 [Abel] brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.
The first act of shedding blood had taken place right in the Garden of Eden, chapter 3:21. This had likely been a lamb, the likes of which Abel was presently bringing before the Lord. It would seem that God had a localized presence in those days, to which Cain and Abel could bring their offerings, to be accepted of Him. If this were so, it may have been at the gates of Eden where Peace Offerings were made before the Lord, like the priests would slaughter the sacrifice before the door of the tabernacle, Leviticus 3:2. Since Adam and Eve were eye witnesses of God killing an animal sacrifice to clothe them, it seems fairly obvious how Abel acquired knowledge on what type of offering to bring before God. Likewise the fat of the offering was always burned on the sacrificial fire, Leviticus 3:3-5. As it is plainly stated in Scripture: “all the fat is the Lord’s,” Leviticus 3:16.

4:5 Cain was very wroth (angry)
Cain is not well spoken of in the New Testament. John says that he was of the wicked one (Satan), 1st John 3:12. John also states that Cain’s works were evil. Since his only work noted was the offering of the first fruits of the earth, one must beg the question of why such an offering was evil. First, both Cain and Abel must have known that the firstlings (or finest) of the flock was what God commanded to be brought to Him for sacrifice. Blood atonement was necessary for covering their sins, long before the days of Moses and the priesthood of Levi. Cain had to have known this, but ignored the reality of the command. He, like so many moderns today, fully believed that he could approach a holy God any way he wished. “All roads lead to God” had its foundation in Cain’s wicked offering of fruit. Besides bringing a faulty sacrifice, he was angry when God rejected him. He was proud, failing to acknowledge his need to obey God, and do what he was commanded; and then becoming angry when his offering was rejected. Jude writes that anyone who denies the salvation of Jesus Christ, and their need to be washed in His blood to be reconciled with God has gone in the way of Cain, Jude 11.

4:7 sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
The NKJV reads: “sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” This is a strange echo of what God said to Eve in Genesis 3:16. Eve’s desire would be for her husband, Adam, yet he would rule over her as head of the household. Likewise, sin was to be subordinate to Cain. Its desire was for him, that is, to rule over him; yet he was to rule over it. Yet the only way man may rule over his sin is through the new birth. We are to deny our self, take up our cross, and walk (after Jesus.) We will rule over sin only be allowing Another to rule over us. Otherwise, sin is our master, and we serve sin, to do its lusts, Romans 6:16. Note what God says to Cain: sin les at the door. One cannot ‘resist the devil’ until one submits to God, James 4:7. When you leave the sheltering presence of the Lord, sin lies at the door to have you. For the free thinker you are enslaved by the indulgence of your flesh. For the Pharisee, you are enslaved by overbearing pride, marveling at how very upright you are. Sin deceives and kills daily. Sin lies at the door and whispers, “one little lie to get ahead won’t hurt anyone;” or, “one tryst with that woman won’t matter in the long run.” But every sin that is not covered by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ is a sin you are answerable for. And you are answerable to a holy God.

4:8 Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
It is possible that Abel was God’s first prophet. There is a passage in Matthew’s gospel, in which Abel is spoken of by our Lord: “You are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets…I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes, some of them you will kill and crucify…that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, to the blood of Zechariah…” Matthew 23:31, 34-35. No matter the case, Abel was a preacher of righteousness, and it is not too difficult to envision what he and Cain were talking about in the field. Since they were in the field, it might have been that Cain visited Abel in his pasture after his offering was rejected by God. It may have been that Abel tried to exhort his brother to pursue a right relationship with God, and it led to bloodshed. The seed of the serpent was first exhibited here, 1st John 3:12. Abel was a type of Christ, the seed of the woman, and he was persecuted by Satan, through Cain, in order to thwart the plan of God. Cain perhaps could not fathom why sin was so repugnant to God, or why the Lord chose such an extreme method of putting it away. Now, after slaying his brother in anger and pride, we may all behold the wages of sin, Romans 6:23.

4:10 the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
It is written that the blood of Jesus Christ speaks of better things than that of Abel’s spilt blood, Hebrews 12:24. Christ’s blood speaks of reconciliation with God, cleansing from sin, and eternal salvation. Abel’s blood spoke of an innocent man murdered for his devotion to the Lord. Abel’s lone voice at that moment might have been reminiscent of the souls under the altar in Heaven, who said, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Revelation 6:10.

4:13 My punishment is greater than I can bear.
Cain did not express remorse, guilt, or sorrow for having murdered Abel. He was sorry that God was driving him from His presence, and that the rest of his life would be spent as a fugitive, running and hiding from other men for fear that they would kill him as he killed Abel. There is no logical reason to conclude that anyone would have sought out Cain to kill him; but perhaps this was a murderer’s conscience accusing him. Like Esau, who sought for repentance but could not find a place for it (Hebrews 12:17), Cain did not have a genuine desire for repentance. There was no room in a heart filled with him to allow room for repentance to have its life changing work. In the end Cain’s last recorded words in Scripture reveal a mindset that was wholly bent on his own needs and desires. Despite that, God was wonderfully merciful in condescending grace toward a man (like us) who did not deserve it.

4:14 every one that findeth me
I just want to note this little portion of the verse. Cain is incidentally testifying that by this point in the narrative of Genesis there was obviously more than him and his parents alive around Eden’s vicinity. Otherwise his fear of being hunted and killed for his crime would be strange indeed. Though Seth is the next in the genealogy of Adam’s bloodline of sons, there is no saying that they did not have daughters, or that Abel also had children through a sister. In fact, grown children of slain Abel would have been the most terrifying prospect for Cain to have considered at this point.

4:15 And the Lord set a mark upon Cain
The Hebrew word for “mark” is “oth,” and may also be translated “sign.” Whatever the mark may have been (I will not speculate because it is fruitless), it served one major purpose: it displayed God’s will that in the time prior to the Flood, no man was to take the role of executioner upon himself. There was yet no avenger of blood, no cities of refuge, and no established government to wield capital punishment. Though the command to execute murderers would be given to Noah after the Flood (Genesis 9:7), God prohibited such activity in this day, reserving the judgment of ungodly men for Himself. All such ungodly men would be executed, as it were, with the onset of the worldwide Flood, and only those who sought refuge under the wings of Jehovah would be spared His wrath. Though Cain might have believed that his troubles were finished, the stamping of this mark, or sign, in truth were a symbol of trouble’s beginning. As God declared, “Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; their foot shall slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things to come hasten upon them,” Deuteronomy 32:35.

4:16 Nod, on the east of Eden.
The name “Nod” means “wander,” which describes the lifestyle of Cain after leaving the presence of God. Though Cain left the land of his nativity, he did not perpetually wander, as the name of the land implies. He married, bore a son, and built a city which he named after his son, verse 17. This is another internal proof that the pre-Flood earth was already populated with enough people to house a city, which could have had hundreds, thousands, or more dwelling within it. This again shows the contentment of Cain in his judgment. The psalmist writes, “Their inner thought is that their houses will last forever, their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names,” Psalm 49:11. When someone does not have God, they make something else their “god,” (marriage, children, accomplishment, religion, etc.) Cain is the human founder of our present world ideology; while Satan who was back of Cain, is the true ruler of this present evil world, and the god of this world system, 2nd Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 1:4.

4:18-20 Enoch…Irad…Mehujael…Methusael…Lamech…Jabal…
Cain had many progeny, as did Seth, his contemporary. Yet when we arrive at Seth’s bloodline (Genesis 5) we find not only the names of his descendants listed, but their ages at death. Here, where Cain’s kin is listed, we do not find any such ages. Why? I am convinced that all of the above were, “Dead in trespasses and sins,” Ephesians 2:1, and were dead even while they lived, 1st Timothy 5:6. There was no need to note the ages they died at, because in God’s eyes they were never truly alive. “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life,” 1st John 5:12. If we don’t have the matter of our eternal welfare and destiny taken care of, nothing else in the course of this world holds any meaning. It all perishes, just like we do. Solomon summed up the experience and vexation of life outside of God: “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind,” Ecclesiastes 1:14. There is a better way than this, and Jesus Christ died for our sins to provide that way. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life,” John 3:36. Cain and his progeny made many accomplishments in their time, but they were not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Cain had made the poor exchange of trading his soul for the world. Jesus once inquired what this profits a man. The answer to this rhetorical question is simple: nothing.

4:24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.
Five generations after Cain’s mark was given him, it was still widely known in the pre-Flood world. This verse concludes what little the Holy Spirit saw fit to record concerning the lineage of Cain. Lamech, whose name possibly means “Conqueror,” was the first recorded polygamist and poet. In fact, he recited poetry to his wives about how he had just killed a young man for wounding him. Lamech sinned in presumption, believing that he was also immune to human judgment because of God’s mercy toward Cain, James 4:16. It might have been that Lamech thought God would simply protect all murderers from retribution, misunderstanding the mercy and holiness of the Lord. “So now we call the proud blessed, for those who do wickedness are raised up; they even tempt God and go free,” Malachi 3:15. “These things you have done, and I kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you, and set them (your evil deeds) in order before your eyes,” Psalm 50:21. All of these things likely occurred as Noah was building the ark to save his household. Since Noah was born 600 years prior to the Flood there is no reason to suggest otherwise; that Lamech and Noah were not contemporaries.

4:25 Seth…for God…hath appointed me another seed
Seth’s name means, “Substitute.” Cain had killed Abel, so Eve named her next son Substitute. It is from Seth’s bloodline that Christ came according to the flesh, Luke 3:38. Eve may have begun to grasp the depth of God’s promise about the Seed of the woman by the time Seth was born. Though Abel was dead, she named Seth as his substitute, and thanked God for appointing her another seed to carry on in his stead. God’s word had been given about the triumph of her Seed against the seed of the serpent, and God’s word never returns to Him void, Isaiah 55:11. I believe a partial portrait of Eve is painted in Revelation chapter 12, where the promise of God was fulfilled in Christ, and the woman gave birth to the appointed Seed despite all the devices of the enemy to have Him killed. Though the woman in Revelation chapter 12 answers to the description of Israel more fully. Eve might have grasped this fundamental understanding about God’s view of time: “Beloved, the Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” 2nd Peter 3:9.

4:26 then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.
Other renderings translate the verse: “then men began to be called by the name of the Lord.” God’s people have always, in every age, been called by His name; see 2nd Chronicles 7:14 and Acts 11:26. Either way you look at this verse, I feel there is something of division occurring. This new method of approaching God via prayer was something new in Enosh’s day. It might have been that God’s presence, dwelling locally among the people, had been visibly removed from the earth. Men began invoking God through prayer and oaths in the name of the Lord. It is clear from the word “began,” that Enosh, and all those after him, were entering into a new relationship with God. Perhaps the population at this point was simply too large for everyone to come to a localized dwelling, if that was the case. Though there was still a universal language before the division of tongues at Babel, there was a division of hearts between those who wanted what the world offered (the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, 1st John 2:16), and those who sought God’s will. But God promises that during His thousand year reign, “I will restore to the people a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord,” Zephaniah 3:9. God will heal the division of tongues so there will be no more language barriers; all may call freely on the name of the Lord. “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord,” Jeremiah 31:34 And, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” Joel 2:32. This verse is further testimony that God’s great purpose in this world was to call out a people for Himself, to save them out of this world, and prepare them for a heavenly dwelling. God is not interested in salvaging this present earth; no, He is reserving it for fire. He is interested in rescuing sinners out of this world, bathing them in the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and bringing them before the throne of glory for eternity, where we may fellowship and worship freely. To call on someone means that you are asking their aid, admitting your need of their intervention and succor. If anyone reading has not called on Jesus Christ to be their personal Savior and Lord, today is not too late. “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart,” Jeremiah 29:13. “Today, if you will hear His voice: do not harden your hearts,” Psalm 95:7-8.

1 comment:

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