Sunday, May 20, 2018

Genesis Post 15 - More Ponderings on Cain (Chapter 4)

My last post examined the story of Cain and Abel. There are a few more details to the story that I want to ponder.

So where did Cain get his wife? Aliens?

The idea of incest is so off-putting to our culture today, we don't like to think about it.  Many have come up with alternatives to Cain marrying his sister, including the idea of aliens.  Or maybe you have heard about Lilith?

One theory is that Lilith was Adam's first wife, but she refused to submit to him.  According to the myth, she then left him and went on to have children by the devil, one of whom became Cain's wife.  But this is complete folklore, and cannot be backed up by the scriptures at all.  Lilith is a dark figure in mythology, and a hero of radical feminists and pagan goddess worshipers alike.  'Nuff said.

What do the scriptures say?

We were told in Genesis 3:20,
And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

Not some living... all living.  Back then, the genetic line was still pure, so there would be nothing wrong with marrying a sister.  Even Abraham married his half-sister, Sarah.  The practice was not prohibited until the Moses Covenant was given at Sinai.  I imagine that by then, significant genetic mutations had worked their way into human DNA.

Adam and Chava (Eve) had been commanded to go forth and fill the earth, and they were doing just that.  Jewish tradition says that they had 33 sons and 23 daughters.  Again, this is not scriptural.  Genesis 5:4 simply tells us that Adam had sons and daughters.  We don't know how many, nor do we know Chava's age when she went through menopause.  (600?  700?  How does that work when one lives to the ripe old age of 900 years?)

The second half of Genesis 4 gives us details about Cain and his descendants.  Cain's first child was named Enoch, and eventually this became the name of the city that Cain built when his wandering days were over (as mentioned in my previous post).

Scripture then records the names of Cain's son, grandson, great-grandson, great-great grandson, and then it pauses to elaborate on Cain's great-great-great grandson, Lamech, and his family.

Lamech, we are told in verse 19, had two wives. This is the first instance of polygamy recorded in the scriptures. The area was full of people, because Cain had built a city.

Lamech's wives names were Adah, and Zillah.  The meanings of their names are interesting.  Adah means ornament and Zillah means shade or shadow.  Did the second wife live in the shadow of the beautiful first wife?  It brings to my mind two wives - sisters married to the same man - who show up later in Genesis.

The people of Cain's city were quite accomplished.  His descendants invented metal tools and weapons, along with lovely musical instruments.  Today when we think of the iron age, the centuries of 1200-600 BC come to mind.  But here we see an ancient iron age, even before the flood.

Tubal Cain hunting an antediluvian beast?

The world took a while to catch up to this, because all was lost in the flood. Man had been advancing in the arts, science, and technology, but the flood caused a major setback to it all.  Perhaps if the flood hadn't taken place, there would have been computers and cell phones in the time of Yeshua.

I can't really figure out what is going in in verses 23 and 24. Obviously, Lamech had killed somebody who hurt him, and it seems that he then made up his own curse (like God did for anyone hurting Cain).   However, Lamech made his curse 70×7 if anybody killed him.  Was he suffering from a case of one-upmanship over his great-great-great grandfather?  There is no mention of God being involved in Lamech's oath.

Genesis wraps up with Adam and Chava bearing a son named Seth as a replacement for Abel.  Seth then had a son, and we are told that at this time, men began calling on the name of the LORD.

This idea of calling on the name of the LORD:  there are two basic viewpoints on this; one good, and one bad.

We are told in other places of scripture that we are to call on the name of the LORD.  This is a very good thing to do, if we are seeking after Him with our whole heart.

But there is evidence that people began to call on the name of the LORD in a negative way, profaning His name.  Jewish interpretation of this verse says that men began to profane the name of the LORD, although the word profane is actually not in the original Hebrew.

The Jews teach that this antediluvian (fancy talk for pre-flood) iron age was a time of statues and idolatry. That’s why they say that the name of the LORD was profaned. And scripture does indeed continue with an account of the increase of wickedness prior to the flood.

Even today, the Jews do not pronounce or write the YHVH, the name of the LORD.  The most common title for God that I hear from Jewish people today is HaShem, which literally means The Name.  They also eliminate the vowel when they write out the word God or Lord as a sign of reverence.  Perhaps you've seen this - L-rd or G-d.  The practice goes back to this verse in Genesis.

So how do we handle this contrast as believers? Let’s do both. Let us call on the name of the LORD. And let us never, ever profane the name of the LORD.

For the next post, click here.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Genesis Post 14 - Cain and Abel (Chapter 4)

We now move on to chapter 4, and the story of mankind continues. Chava gave birth to her first baby. Genesis 3:16 said that in childbirth she would have pain, and indeed, in pain she had Cain.  (Why does the song The Rain in Spain come to mind here??)

Genesis 4:1 is loaded with goodies that we don't see in the English, only the Hebrew.

The first thing that I noticed is that the covenant word ET is used three times! ET - spelled aleph tav - is the very signature of the Messiah, which I have addressed previously here.

My version reads thusly:
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.”

The meaning of the Hebrew translates something like this: I have acquired a man with YHVH, or I have acquired a man - YHVH.

Cain means acquire. Chava understood the LORD's promise and believed that her firstborn was the fulfillment of the that promise back of Genesis 3:15. She thought that Cain was the promised seed, the redeemer, the Messiah. She knew that the promised redeemer would be both human and divine, and therefore believed that she received the child with the LORD. She had no reason to believe that YHVH's story would be thousands of years in the unfolding. She simply believed that it was time for it to happen, just as promised.

In fact, Chava was so sure that Cain was the Messiah, that she named her next son Abel, which means vanity. In other words, the first one is acquired with God, but the next one is vanity. Talk about "mom always liked you best"...

Abel also means temporary, as in his life would be short.

We know the story. Sadly, Chava would soon find out that Cain is not the God-man, the promised Messiah.

The kids grew up. Adam taught them about the LORD. And then one day, scripture tells us that they made an offering to the LORD.

These two sons offered two different sacrifices, and we see two different responses by God for these offerings.

And then we have a murder.

Abel was a shepherd. Cain was a farmer and grew vegetables. He was working the cursed ground that was filled with thorns. He brought in an offering from that cursed ground, and he had worked very hard to provide that offering. But Abel brought a firstborn lamb from his flock.

Let me pause for a moment and ponder why Abel was even a shepherd in the first place. Humans did not become meat eaters until after the flood. Yes, the sheep provided fleece for clothing. But I also believe that Abel was raising sheep for the purpose of sacrifice to the LORD. A reminder of the necessity of bloodshed for atonement.

The LORD accepted Abel's offering. The Hebrew means that he gazed upon or regarded it. Cain's offering was rejected - the LORD did not gaze upon or regard his offering of grain that he worked so hard to provide. 

At face value, this doesn't seem very fair. But there is an underlying truth here. Our own works don't save us. It is the blood of the firstborn Lamb that provides our atonement, or covering. We saw that same truth depicted when Adam and Chava tried to cover themselves with fig leaves, but the LORD intervened and covered them instead with animal skins.

When Cain's offering was rejected, the Hebrew tells us that Cain's face glowed with anger. He was red-faced mad, and his countenance fell. God asked, “why are you so upset? If you do the right thing, you’ll be fine."

Cain most likely knew that his offering was wrong. Adam had probably taught him the proper way to worship YHVH. He should have obtained a proper offering from Abel. He knew what was right, and did not do it.

Then the LORD told Cain, sin is crouching at your door, and desires to rule over you (the same word given to Chava in Genesis 3:16, when her desire would be to rule over her husband) but you must master it (rule over it), meaning that effort must be made on Cain's part.

Again, we see choice offered to man in the Bible. This is the first choice that is demonstrated after the tree fiasco in the garden. The whole Bible is about choices. You are not a robot, you have a choice.

The Holy Spirit empowers us to make right choices. You can’t say, God made me do it, or the devil made me do it. In the end, you’re responsible, and you did it.

What about this idea of sin ruling over us? We cannot serve two masters. Either we allow sin to rule over our lives or we allow the Holy Spirit to rule over our lives and our sin nature. And in doing so, we develop the fruit of the Spirit... love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is a lifelong process.

Cain did not heed the warning to master his sin. Verse 8 says that Cain talked with Abel his brother, and then they went out to the fields, where Cain murdered his brother. His sin had mastered him. The Hebrew suggests that Cain coaxed Abel out to the field for the very purpose of murder.

So the Lord came to Cain and said, "Where is your brother?" Now we have the first lie in scripture… "I don’t know. Am I my brother's keeper?"

Verses 10 and 11 continue: 
And He (the LORD) said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.

What does blood crying out from the ground mean? I believe it is figurative; a cry for justice, just like the souls under the altar in Revelation 6:9 (I don't believe the vision is depicting actual beheaded people under a literal altar in heaven).

Cain becomes the first cursed man. Remember, Adam and Chava themselves were not cursed in the garden, but the snake and the ground were cursed. And now Cain was cursed from the very ground that received Abel's blood from Cain's own hand.

The LORD continued with Cain's punishment, telling him that the ground would no longer produce food for him; he was to become a wandering vagabond on the earth.

God rejected Cain's offering, now the ground would reject Cain's work. Cain was told he would be a wanderer. Farmers do not wander.

Cain, who just had murdered his brother, then had the audacity to complain to the LORD that his punishment was too severe!

So God put a mark on Cain so that nobody would kill him. So why didn’t God kill Cain? An eye for an eye?

We have here an early picture of God‘s mercy. If Cain received God's grace and mercy, so can you.

Whatever mark God gave to Cain, it worked because Cain lived. God even promised a seven-fold vengeance to anyone who would kill Cain.

Someday in the near future, believers on earth during God's wrath will also be marked, and they will live, according to Revelation 7.

Cain was sent to the east, to Nod, which means wandering. But then he built the city, and named it after his son Enoch. Enoch means dedicated. Enoch's sons started naming their own sons with a reference to God. They end in EL, a shortened version of Elohim.

It seems that Cain stopped wandering when he became dedicated to the LORD, and he build a city. The curse was broken. He taught his children about God.

The same basic story will be eventually played out later on with Joseph and his brothers, and with the nation of Israel as well.

Cain was detached from his land, and was sent away but protected. Joseph was detached from his land and sent away and preserved as well. In 70 A.D., Israel was detached from her land and sent away. Israel was preserved even though the world continually tried to kill them.  And today, the people of Israel are back in their land.

No one has been able to wipe out Israel, because they have the mark on God on them as well.

This whole account between those early brothers depicts Abel as a type of Messiah. He was a shepherd, hated by his brother. He did not die a natural death, but was killed by his brother. And Abel's blood was innocent in the circumstance in which it was spilled. Sound familiar?

Hebrews 12:24 refers back to Genesis when describing the blood of Yeshua and the better covenant:
to Yeshua the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

Genesis is filled with Bible truth in seed form! It's so awesome to watch these seeds of truth grow and develop throughout the scriptures.

Stay tuned!  You can click here for the next post.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Genesis Post 13 - Kicked Out... to a Life with Thorns (Chapter 3)

We are at the point now where sin and death has entered the world.  Chapter 3 wraps up with Adam's punishment.

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:

“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.”

And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.
  (Covered in my previous post, Naked! regarding blood atonement/covering.  Pun intended.)

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Adam and his wife were booted from Paradise.

They were driven out of the eastern entrance, because that is where the angelic guards were set up, to keep them from re-entering the garden.  The LORD in His mercy was actually protecting Adam and Chava from eating the tree of life, so that they would not live forever in a fallen state, disconnected from Him.  Something had to be done to restore that relationship before that could happen.

So eastward they went, to scrounge a living from the thorny ground.  Remember, Adam himself was not cursed, but the ground was.  Scripture often gives pictures of blessings and curses, and quite often that concept is tied to the directions of east and west.  I have written about this before.  You can click here if you feel like a bunny trail, but suffice it to say that in Yeshua, our sins are as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:2, which was ironically a part of my Bible reading for today).

The one thing that keeps jumping out at me in this section is the thorns.  I keep a garden, although not a very good one.  I am not very adept at keeping out the weeds and the thorns.  Thanks, Adam.  I don't have to plant the weeds and thorns, they just show up on their own.  But I do notice that good things, like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and okra (yes, okra is good), do NOT show up on their own... they must be cultivated.  It is hard work!

What a picture of good and evil.  Evil is just there, lurking.  It shows up on its own, and we have to root it out.  Conversely, we need to intentionally sow and nurture the good and righteous things.    

Psalm 1 is a good illustration of this truth:

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

(standing, walking, and sitting come naturally, but fighting off the yucky stuff requires action)
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
(See the intentionality here?)

He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.

Trees by rivers have deep roots

In other words, stay connected to the LORD of the universe!  Make time for Him.  Talk to Him, read His word, and meditate on those words.

It is interesting to note that things like chaff, thorns, and thistles show up frequently in scripture.  They are a picture of fallen creation.  

When the LORD appeared to Moses, He appeared in what our Bibles tell us is a burning bush.  But what most translations don't mention is that it is actually a burning thorn bush.  Thorns are a picture of sin and decay and fallen man.  God is showing up as an all-consuming fire, and yet, thorny and sinful man is not consumed.

There's the gospel again!  God making a way so that we are not destroyed.

It is no coincidence that Yeshua was arrayed with a crown of thorns at His crucifixion. Through His death and resurrection, He overcame sin, death, and the fallen creation.

Hallelujah! He wins! But I am getting way ahead of the story.  Stick around!

The story continues here.