Humanity in the Beginning…

January 2, 2019 at 2:15 PM

You’ll hear me mention this subject repeatedly throughout this year. The subject is reading God’s Word on a daily basis. I’m not trying to make you feel guilty (though I recall how guilty I felt during the times I was not conscientiously and daily reading the Bible). My goal in mentioning the importance of reading His Word daily is to help Christians understand that reading/studying the Bible is the main way in which we come to know more of God and His plans for this world. I cannot stress it enough.

If you do not currently have a daily reading plan for the Bible that you use, let me suggest this page as a place to start:

If you go there, you’ll notice all types of Bible reading plans from 3 months to two years, chronological to book-by-book and many others. Choose one and just go for it. It’s only January 2 so you really only have a couple of days to catch up or you can simply start with today’s date and continue. The important thing is to follow-up with one plan and stick to it. I guarantee that you will notice a difference in your understanding of Scripture in a short amount of time. You’ll also notice that each year you start fresh, you’ll begin to see things you had not previously noticed in your Bible reading.

Case in point was in today’s Bible reading: Genesis 4-7. I “knew” the facts of these chapters, but I decided to do some more study and opened a few commentaries to help me get a greater sense of the meaning of the biblical text.

Genesis 4 introduces us to brothers, Cain and Abel. Those names are virtually known to everyone because they are often used in figures of speech, although the origin of those names – apart from being in the Bible – isn’t often too well-known or understood.

While we are tempted to see the situation that evolved where Cain ultimately became the first murderer in human history, what really stands out is God’s grace in this situation.

Notice verse 1 tells us that Adam “knew” his wife (a clear euphemism for sexual intercourse). Eve became pregnant with a son who would be called “Cain” upon his birth. Verse 2 tells us that Eve later gave birth to Abel, but we don’t know how much older Cain was compared to Abel.

Verse 2b jumps ahead to the time that both of these young men had grown with Cain working the soil (farmer) and Abel tended flocks. Notice verses 3-4 simply assume that these men knew about worshiping God and provides the result of this knowledge; how worship looked to each of them.

In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.

So Cain, because he was a farmer, thought that bringing fruit from the soil would satisfy the Lord. Abel, on the other hand, brought fat portions from the firstborn of his own flock.

Which offering was better? Certainly Abel’s was because of the “blood” that was spilled in the killing of a live animal in order to use part of it as a sacrifice to God in worship. It cost Abel something and it cost the animal as well. Because Abel had to kill one of his flock, it meant the animal could no longer be used either to impregnate other animals of its kind or become impregnated. This was a “loss” to Abel, a loss he understood and yet did not withhold from God.

Where did Abel learn about this? Surely from his parents, Adam and Eve. They had seen God do this exact same thing shortly after they had fallen when the Lord came to them in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Some commentators believe there that God did not actually kill an animal, but created a dead one specifically for the purpose of using its skin to create clothing for Adam and Eve. That seems absurd to me especially considering the fact that the New Testament tells us without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:11 ff).

Yes, God used the skins to make clothing for Adam and Eve (and likely in the process, they also learned how to do it for themselves after their banishment from the Garden), but the main goal of God killing, then skinning an animal was to “cover” their sin of rebellion. The picture created by God sacrificing an animal was not lost on them.

Please consider the fact that both Adam and Eve were likely the smartest people who ever lived (aside from Jesus). They were perfect (though untested) at their creation. Their genes – unlike ours – were flawless, which would also account for the fact that their bodies lived for as long as they lived (Adam lived to be 930 years old; Genesis 5:5).

Notice also that people didn’t necessarily start having children until they were in their hundreds (Genesis 5), with the possible exception of Adam and Eve, who likely began having children right away after their banishment from the Garden (Genesis 3). It just seems that during that period of time before the Flood, people lived a great deal longer but it’s as if their “childhood” to “teenager” to “adulthood” was greatly stretched out, unlike ours. This will also be the case during the coming Millennial Kingdom following the Tribulation/Great Tribulation and the physical return of Jesus.

Getting back to Cain and Abel, even though they were likely both taught the proper way to worship God, which included bringing the correct type of sacrifice to Him, Cain decided that was too hard, too inconvenient, so he simply brought to God what was on hand.

Notice the text tells us that Cain likely did not even bring “the firstfruits” of what he grew. “In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord” (Genesis 4:3 NIV). The text says that Cain brought “some” of what he grew. Had he brought firstfruits, the text would likely have said that because it uses that reference regarding Abel.

And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock (v 4)

The very next sentence, the end of verse 4 and into verse 5 notes God’s reaction to both Cain and Abel and their respective offerings.

The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

There were at least two reasons God “looked with favor” toward Abel. First, Abel brought the correct offering, and second, Abel brought from his firstfruits. Cain did neither of these things. He did what was thoroughly convenient for him so that he ended up simply going through the motions. Cain’s heart was not in it. He was doing what he did possibly out of fear or legalism. He may not have wanted to get on God’s bad side so he figured he’d bring something but it is clear that he really did not care if what he brought was the correct offering or not.

Abel, on the other hand, was careful to bring God the correct offering. Obviously, to do so meant that Abel’s heart was in the correct place and because of his correct heart attitude, Abel did what was right. Just like James tells us faith without works is dead and the opposite of this is faith with works is alive. When we do things from the proper heart attitude, we do so because we love and believe God. This is what is counted as “righteousness” toward us and Hebrews 11 details this attitude.

If you truly love someone, don’t you want to do for them because of that love? When you don’t like a person, you might still do something and it might even fool the person, but God is never fooled and our consciences (if not seared), will give us away. We know the truth.

Cain failed. Abel succeeded, not in works, but in heart attitude, which brought about the correct choice for worshiping God.

Because Cain did the wrong thing, stemming from an incorrect heart attitude, he became angry at God for rejecting his “worship.” But doesn’t God have the right to determine how He is to be worshiped? Absolutely and Cain really had no excuse.

God even tried to intervene here, which proves His grace in the situation. In verses 6-7, God tries to reason with downcast and angry Cain. It doesn’t work. This proves several things. First, we have a free will, though unlike the perfect free will exercised by Adam and Eve (and later, Jesus). Cain’s free will was already tainted by sin, passed onto him by his parents. God still expected Cain to resist the temptation to sin. Cain deliberately chose his own path and will forever be remembered as the first murderer.

After Cain killed his own brother, Abel, God confronts Cain again demanding to know (He already knew, but wanted to give Cain the opportunity to come clean), what happened to Abel.

Notice Cain’s disrespectful retort to God when God asked Cain where his brother was: “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (v 9b).

Can you imagine how hard your heart must be to respond to ALMIGHTY God in such a way? Cain was already very far gone, yet even here, God did not utterly reject Cain or kill him for what he had done to Abel. In fact, had God deliberately struck Cain down, it would not have been fair, simply because no law had been given that said “thou shalt not kill.” This law was not actually enacted until after the Flood (Genesis 9). Yet still, it was sin and God kept a record and placed a curse on Cain making it nearly impossible for him to continue as a farmer. God said the earth would not yield its fruit to Cain and he was destined to simply wander the earth (v 12).

Of course, Cain was thoroughly upset hearing this. He felt it was more than he could bear and he also believed that once people learned what he had done, someone would come along and kill him the same way he had killed his own blood brother. Interesting how the same pity Cain feels for himself in this new situation was never shown with respect to Abel, isn’t it? This is often how sin works, causing us to feel little to no empathy for others while feeling tremendous empathy for ourselves. It is a complete reverse of the situation that God intended for humanity. With the original fall, SELF took over the throne of our hearts.

God promised Cain that He would “mark” him so that no one would try to kill him. We do not know what this “mark” was and of course, commentators are divided. It seems that any guess we might make is just a guess and since the text does not elucidate any further, it’s probably best for us not to either.

This is all God’s grace. Some might ask, “Well if God is God He knew Cain would kill his brother, Abel, so why didn’t God stop him? After all, if God is “good,” how can He truly be good if He allows evil to exist? God is under no obligation to keep evil from happening before it does. Had He done so, He never would have even started the Creation (including Satan and those who became the fallen angels).

Obviously because evil exists, God has a reason for it, doesn’t He? I’ve written a book, which delves into this area called “His Highest Purpose.” In a nutshell, every plan that God puts in motion or allows is for the purpose of bringing Him tremendous glory. It’s more detailed than that as I explain in my book, but that is the gist of things.

Cain had choices. He could have traded fruits/vegetables with Abel for one of his flock to bring to God in worship. Cain chose not to do that. Cain chose to simply bring what he had on hand and God would have to accept it. God has choices too. God had already shown and explained how He was to be approached in worship (via Adam and Eve, which they obviously passed down to their offspring). That was God’s decision to make. Therefore, coming to God in any other way violates God’s decisions and is therefore classified as “sin” (v 7). God has every right to deal with sin the way He chooses to deal with it.

After all, this is God’s Creation – the earth and all that is in it – along with the heavens and all that is in them. Since He is Creator, He and He alone has the sole right to decide how He will be approached, what method is to be used and ultimately, how salvation will look and how it is to be received.

It is the Christian’s responsibility to focus on what God wants from us. What are His expectations? How can we know when we are doing it correctly? The only way it through the reading and study of His Word.

If you consider the millions upon millions (hopefully) of Christians in this world alive now, chances are good that we all do not agree on everything, do we? Part of that has to do with the fact that not every Christian knows the Bible to the nth degree. In fact, it is doubtful that any Christian knows the Bible to the nth degree and no longer needs to study it. The various degrees to which Christians understand God is directly related to how much of His Word we have studied and understand. I’m sure when I stand before Him at the BEMA Seat, among other things, I will learn where I failed to understand His Word. In fact, all of us will. We can only hope that our misunderstandings are relegated to the area of the “non-essentials” of the faith. I certainly don’t know everything there is to know about God’s Word, but hopefully, as my life continues toward my appointment with God, I will know more and more, which will segue into a deeper walk with God in Christ.

Yes, the Bible can be studied purely from an academic perspective and many do that. I’m talking about Christians reading the Bible to come to know in a greater way the Author of that Book. Prayer complements our study of the Bible. Prayer alone is not sufficient. God gave us His Word for a reason and it is to KNOW Him and understand how to follow Him.

Cain failed miserably because he really didn’t care whether or not he actually did what God wanted and expected. Cain figured that a reasonable facsimile was good enough. It wasn’t.

Christians, let’s endeavor to seek God through the growing knowledge and understanding of His Word, which is “…quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12 KJV).

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, devil worship, Emotional virtue, eternity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , , , , .

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