In the Beginning, God - Part 12
From Part 11
We finished our discussion of Genesis 3 in Part 11. We now begin to take a close look at chapter 4. But first a refresher of Part 11.
The love of God and the longsuffering of God are unparalleled. He deserves all the honor and glory for a life pulled out of the fire.
Finally, chapter 3 ends in expulsion. Adam and Eve were sent from Eden away from the garden. They forfeited their forever paradise. This was not a punishment. It was protection. Had the couple continued in the garden and ate of the tree of life, eternal death would have resulted. “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever” (Genesis 3:22). The couple would have lived forever, but they would have lived forever in sin, separated from the loving God who first gave them life.
The First Parents
Genesis 4 brings us to a new experience. In Genesis 3:16 we read, "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow, thou shalt bring forth children;" Now the fulfillment of that promise is about to take place.
Never before had woman experienced motherhood. But Eve, whose name means the mother of all living, was about to become just that. God promised to multiply her sorrow in childbirth. The Hebrew word translated sorrow (עִצָּבוֹן) has to do with the idea of worrisomeness, that is, labor or pain: - sorrow, toil. Childbirth would not be easy, but it would be rewarding as it would be Eve's responsibility and privilege to raise her children for the Lord. Children can also bring heartbreak as we shall see soon.
Not only does God tell Eve that He will multiply her sorrow, but He also mentions that in sorrow she will forth children. This is a different Hebrew word. The word, sorrow (עֶצֶב), here usually means painful toil; a grievous pang (either in body or mind). Childbirth would not only bring physical pain but emotional pain as well. What mother does not worry and brood over her children? And it is a lifelong task. Still, the rewards generally outweigh the pain and toil of raising a family for God.
As was mentioned, Genesis 3:15 gives us the first promise of a conquering Messiah to come, one that would defeat sin and death once for all. Tucked safely away in the womb of Eve lay a son. Could Eve have been thinking this would be the promised Messiah?
I have heard that thought raised as a possibility. Eve named her first-born Cain, one that was gotten or acquired from the Lord. Could she had been considering the thought that this was the promised one? Time would show that Cain was neither the Messiah nor one that would follow God's ways.
In Eve's mind, might Abel be the Promised One? I find this unlikely. As we look at the root of Abel's name, we see the name Eve chose for her second son deals with emptiness and vanity. It can also mean something transitory and unsatisfactory. Surely she would not have been thinking of the Savior of mankind.
In the second verse of Genesis 4, we see that as the boys grew, they took on different occupations. Abel took on the role of a shepherd. Cain became a farmer, tilling the ground and bringing forth God's abundance of crops. This forms the backdrop for the wicked sin that will soon take place. It was time for the boys to present an offering to the Lord.
Humanly, it would make sense that the boys would sacrifice the work of their own hands, Cain bringing the fruit of the ground and Abel bringing a lamb of the flock. A blood sacrifice was required. We read in Genesis 4:3 and 4, "And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:"
God required a sacrifice after the pattern He initiated in Genesis 3:21. The life of the flesh is in the blood according to Leviticus 17:11. And so it is. I am told George Washington died from a treatment called blood-letting. It seems that it was the belief of attending doctors that bad blood had infected Washington. The cure would be to drain the blood by placing leeches on his body and allowing them to suck the bad blood from his body. It was not the bad blood that killed Washington. It was the leeches removing the blood from his body. Be that a true account or not, the fact remains, the life of the flesh is in the blood.
Sinful blood cannot atone for sinful man. Only innocent blood can replace the sinful blood of man. Only innocent blood can give innocent life. Something wonderful happened at the Cross.II Corinthians 5:21 tells us, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
Jesus became our sin on the Cross. The pure, holy Son of God became our putrid, ugly sin. His innocent blood falling to the ground in place of our own blood. it is time we realize our rightful place was to be crucified, to suffer eternal death for our never-ending sinful ways. Sinful blood should have flowed from our hands, our feet, our brow, our back - each person answering for their own sin. But, no. It flowed from His.
Sin carries a horrible price tag. We may think we are not that bad, that by doing the best we can, we can earn favor with God. We tend to compare our lives with others and come to the conclusion, "I'm not that bad." Truth be told, I am. You are. We are told in Romans 3:10 and 12, "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one."
The standard is not others. Yes, we may shine if we compare ourselves to others, but they are not the standard whereby we are judged. The standard is a holy, righteous God, a God that is perfectly pure and without a spot of sin. He is the standard - a standard to which we have failed to live up to.
This standard cannot allow sin in His holy presence. We are all without hope, that is until the Standard (Jesus Christ) substituted His innocent life-giving blood for our sin-stained life-robbing blood. It is up to each person individually to accept His wonderful gift of love, His gift of redeeming His lost creation to be with Him forever. I will not belabor the point, but my friend, despite what you may think or believe, hell is still real. It is there for those who reject the Standard and His great love.
Going back to II Corinthians 5:21, we are not only told that Christ became our sin, but the wonder of wonders is this, "that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." He became our sin, and if we but come to Him in faith admitting our terrible guilt and repenting of a life filled with wickedness, He will make us righteous in the sight of God. Will we still sin? Absolutely! But when God the Father looks at us, He sees us through the precious, pure, life-giving blood of His Son. He sees us as righteous.
As a picture of the Messiah yet to come, Abel shed the innocent blood of a lamb and presented it to God (Genesis 4:4). Cain, on the other hand, in his rebellion, brought the fruit of his own sinful hands, harvested from the cursed ground - an offering that God could not accept (Genesis 4:5).
In God's loving way, He asks this question of Cain in verse 7, "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?" God is still reaching out to Cain, offering him the opportunity to repent and make things right. God's love still reaches out to us. We can either come Christ's way or bring our own offering as Cain did and face the terrible thought of being rejected.
Are you trusting in the fruits of your own hands? Several years ago, Lifegate Baptist Church visited our town door to door and took a survey. The survey was meant to help us get a handle on the spiritual pulse of our community. We asked the question, In your opinion, how does a person get to Heaven? We then gave multiple choice answers from which our neighbors could choose. These were the choices: baptism; good works; love your neighbors; church membership; trust Christ; live a good life; keep the Ten Commandments; other.
The only correct answer is to trust Christ. Although the others listed may be good (and they are), they are still the works of our own hands. It is a way sinful man tries to bridge the gap between himself and his Creator. it is not a matter of how we attempt to bridge the gap. It is completely a matter of how Christ bridged the gap, and that took place at Calvary.
© 2018 William Kovacic