Genesis 7:1-5 — Go into the ark, you and your whole family. Noah did all that the LORD commanded him.
The LORD then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”
And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him.
The King James Version of verse one says that …the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Indeed the Hebrew word for “come” is used here in the original text. What does this mean? If God is directing Noah to “come” into the ark, it can only mean that God is in the ark already! He’s beckoning Noah and his family to come. This is how it always is with God. His heart is for you and for me to come unto Him. Jesus beckons you and I to come unto Him for He said, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28) This is the answer because Jesus Christ is the ark of our salvation! Coming unto Jesus is the solution to the problem of separation from God. If you haven’t already, listen to God’s heart, come unto Him. (see So Your Life Is Falling Apart)
Here’s more good news from verse one of our text. We know the Lord loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) We know that He loves the world and we know He loves individuals. But pause for a moment and think with me about this first verse in Genesis chapter 7. In verse one we see that God has obviously taken notice of Noah’s righteousness, yet He tells Noah to Come thou and all thy house into the ark… (v.1) God could have started over with just two. He’d already done it once with Adam and Eve. But He chose to save Noah’s whole family instead.
Isn’t it terrific that God desires to save not only you, but your whole family as well!
Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal… (v.2) Seven pairs of clean animals would have been necessary to account for the animals sacrificed to the Lord. Only one pair would be required for the unclean.
And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him. (v.5)
A few days ago my wife Kathy asked me to install a new thermostat.
“I did some research on the internet and it should only take about an hour,” she said.
So I dove in, removed the old thermostat from the wall, pulled out seven wires, and found that only four were used by the old model. As I read the instructions I learned that the new model used five wires.
“No big deal,” I thought. “How hard can this fifth wire thing be?”
After some research online I had the panel off of our heating unit and I was looking for a place to hook up the fifth wire – no good, can’t find the “C terminal” inside my heating unit.
“C terminal?! What the heck is that anyway?”
After a few phone conversations with Al, our local heating guy, I learn that I need to go under the house to check a junction box.
“I hate crawling under the house! A raccoon used to reside there, what if he’s back? My back always hurts when I crawl under the house.” I said to my wife with enthusiasm.
Under the house I go, belly crawling my way around in the dirt I find the junction box. It turns out that the blue wire is connected to a gray wire at the junction box.
“Dirty trick!” I said out loud.
So I figure out I need some extra wire and it’s off to Home Depot. At the checkout counter I see one of those large flat carts next to my wife, it has a large box on it.
“What’s that?” I ask, trepidation in my voice.
“It’s a grill,” Kathy answers.
“A grill?” I ask increduously.
“We need a new grill,” she says flatly.
I look at the box and read the words out loud, “some assembly required.” Great, just what I needed.
“Why me,” I say. “It’s Christmas time, New Years time. It’s the holidays. I’m supposed to be watching football! For goodness sake the Chick-fil-a Bowl is on!”
When we return it’s back on the internet again, back to the heating unit again, under the house again…
“This was supposed to take only one hour! What about me time? For cryin’ out loud the Meineke Car Care Bowl is on!”
Are you getting the picture?
Nearly two days and one hundred or so complaints later the thermostat is still not installed. So I call a friend of mine who is an electrician, Rick Chown, to seek some advice. While we’re on the phone Rick and his wife Linda begin to share about their granddaughter Madeline. (just a few minutes ago I also spoke with Madeline’s mother, Rachel)
How she had her first surgery when she was one day old.
How she’s had over fifty surgeries during her nine years on earth.
How she’s had pieces of metal implanted in her back to support her spine.
How these had to be removed recently.
How she continues to suffer from infections.
And how she lights up a room with her smile and great attitude, in spite of her many painful challenges.
Rick shared this video of Madeline with me. She was recently fitted with a halo device which is attached to a rack designed to take pressure off her spine. She wheels around the Dallas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in this thing, encouraging the other patients with her good cheer. (see Rogers Family Blog)
Wow! You can imagine how I feel.
…Noah did all that the LORD commanded him. (v.5) Noah knew what the Lord wanted him to do. Like you I often wonder what God’s will is for me. Sometimes I say to myself, “If only I knew what God wanted me to do, I’d do it.” I have good news. God tells me and God tells you what His will is for us.
…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
“What does God’s will, giving thanks in all circumstances, look like?” you might ask.
Sometimes it looks like a little girl with a halo,
spinning and smiling,
spinning and smiling.
God directed Noah to build a window near the top of the ark. He provided light for Noah and his family, if…
If Noah chose to open the window.
God provides light for you and for me, as long as we choose to open up the window of His word.
It’s up to you and it’s up to me how much of God’s light we enjoy. His word is there, waiting for us. It might feel easier to watch Sports Center or that cooking show. You might feel like gravitating toward Facebook or Call of Duty: Black Ops.
But the degree to which we choose to spend time in God’s word is the degree to which our lives will be changed for His kindgom.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:5
Let God’s light in.
Read His word.
[Image via Traveling Mermaid – Creative Commons]
The following is a guest post from Nathaniel Bennett.
Researchers in the U.K. recently conducted a study that showed people are most attracted to negative content on the internet. You can read about it in the article, Want to be popular on the Internet? Be a Jerk! Using a system called “sentiment analysis” they were able to categorize posts in online forums by the type of emotion they convey. Perhaps not surprisingly, negative posts were overwhelmingly more popular.
It’s long been known that human beings are addicted to conflict. Let’s face it, conflict is entertaining. There has never been a successful movie produced that wasn’t focused on some sort of struggle. Reality shows, novels, TV dramas, Shakespeare, political radio, and even the evening news, are all popular because they appeal to our natural desire for conflict. Negativity breeds conflict and conflict sells.
It’s tempting as Christians to let negativity dominate our faith. It would be easier and certainly more entertaining to indulge in the controversy and drama that surrounds religion these days. There’s a never ending supply of things to get angry about and a vast sea of people who can’t wait to profit off it. Despite the natural attraction however, negativity is simply not where God wants our focus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
It’s interesting just how diametrically opposed that verse is to todays’ culture. We spend far too much time being angry about things that aren’t important. For instance, deep down I know that I will never, ever, under any circumstances “win” an argument on the internet, but somehow that doesn’t stop me from trying. A theological argument with a cynical stranger is probably not the best use of my time and almost certainly not helping God’s kingdom. Eventually negativity and strife will steal the limelight and push aside what’s really important.
If I’m not focusing on what’s pure, good, virtuous, and praise worthy, then I’m certainly not focusing on Jesus.
[Image via: European Parliament – Creative Commons]
1 Corinthians 6:9–12, 19-20 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial
The following is a guest post from my friend and brother in Christ, David Smith.
In Chapter 6 of 1 Corinthians, Paul is dealing with a church where some very poor choices are being made. There are people in the church that are living like the world. They claim a faith in Jesus Christ, yet they still openly walk in the sin of the world. Paul then gives a very stern warning that speaks to eternity. I don’t know about you, but when inheriting the Kingdom of God is mentioned, I really pay close attention.
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
As a side note, look at the part where he says “do not be deceived.” This implies that there are people in the world that will try and deceive you concerning these things. Do not be fooled. The lists of sins in these verses are non-negotiable. We know the world will try and deceive us into thinking they are ok, but we must head his warning and not play the fool.
In reading this list, we all find conviction. Although as Christians we do not walk in these sins, to say that since I have been saved I have never had a sexually immoral thought or made a decision that greed played a factor or spoke a slander about someone out of anger or frustration would be a lie. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, right? Is Paul sentencing all who have committed these sins to hell?
No, what Paul is saying is that salvation in Christ is submission to Christ. That is, are you submitted to what Christ deems is right or wrong, or are you simply claiming Christ as your Lord, but not submitted to Him? Look at the next verse.
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12)
So they are coming to the table saying “Hey, you said that in Christ, I am free from sin. Sin has no hold over me anymore and because sin has no hold, I can do whatever I want.” And in one sense they are right. In Christ you are free from sin. It no longer needs to reign over your life and eternally you are saved from the ultimate consequence, eternal separation from God. But let’s jump up to verses 19 and 20 to see how Paul closes out this argument.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
This is where the submission to Christ comes in. See, Paul is not saying you must be perfect. What he is saying is that you need to check yourself and see if you are living for you or living for God. Look to the list of sins mentioned above. Do you believe they are wrong? You are free from them, yes. But do you believe they are wrong? By giving your life to Christ by being born again in the spirit and claiming Him as your Lord and savior, you agree that you should not walk in sin. That is, salvation in Christ is submission to Christ. You cannot separate the two.
Paul is calling out those that are living as luke warm Christians. Do you have something in your life that you are holding on to? Do you have something that you are hiding behind the freedom in Christ, yet in hiding behind the freedom in Christ, ignoring what Christ has commanded? If you are, let it go. The game you play is one that could have eternal consequence. Remember, salvation in Christ is submission to Christ.
In walking with Christ we need to constantly be reckoning the old sinful nature of our flesh dead. Do not be deceived, as some were at the church of Corinth. You are free in Christ, but to be in Christ is to be dead to yourself. Carrying your cross is the calling of a Christian. The world has many “prizes” that it offers to those who give in to its lusts. Those prizes will always fail you. As you’re carrying your cross in this life, do not forget to keep your eye on the only prize that never fades, eternity with a loving, awesome, gracious, and beautiful Father God.
Photo Courtesy of revelife.com
Genesis 6:1-12 — Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God
When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.
The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
This is the account of Noah and his family.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.
Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.
When human beings began to increase in number on the earth… (v.1) Imagine with me how rapidly the population would multiply in a time when the average lifespan ranged from 777 to 969 years. (Genesis 5) People had that much more time to have children. And of course the parents, grandparents, great grandparents, great great grandparents, etc. would be included in the population count for a time period, in some cases, approaching 1,000 years. We know that the current worldwide average human lifespan is 69 years. (Data Source World Bank, World Development Indicators) We also know that the average woman worldwide has 4 children. (median average: World Bank, Fertility Rate Data) If we take a conservative approach and multiply the current human lifespan by 10 to 690 years and we say that every 69 years an antediluvian woman (woman before the great flood) had 3 children, that’s 30 children per mother during each lifetime. If that were true, in just nine generations the earth would be populated with more than 5 billion people. (see table below) Now I’m not saying that there were more than 5 billion people on earth before the flood. I’m just pointing out that the population of the world just before the flood was most likely quite substantial, possibly even comparable to our population today.
…the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. (v.2) Some scholars say that the sons of God mentioned here refer to the line of Seth and the daughters of humans refer to the line of Cain. A couple of thoughts. In verse 2 we see the term “sons of God” which is benai elohim in the original Hebrew. And we see it again in verse 4: The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. Every time the term benai elohim is found in the Old Testament it refers to angels. So it could be that these are …the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home. (Jude 1:6) It could be that these are those who God subsequently …has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. (Jude:1:6) It fits because the term Nephilim used in verse 4 means giants. If the sons of God and the daughters of humans were from the lines of Seth and Cain then why were the offspring giants? And verse 4 also refers to the heroes of old, men of renown. It would appear that the offspring of the sons of God and the daughters of humans were some type of giant super beings. Notice too that in verse 4 the phrase and also afterward is used. This explains the giants such as Goliath of Gath who are found after the flood. I’m inclined to agree with the scholars who adhere to this second school of thought. It’s interesting that these sons of God are mentioned twice here in Genesis 6. Could it be that this was the basis for the myths of ancient Greece? Of course we don’t know for certain. I’m looking forward to hearing the full explanation in heaven.
The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. (v.5) According to the FBI, in the U.S., every 34 1/2 minutes someone commits murder, every 6 minutes someone forcibly rapes, every 1 1/3 minutes someone commits a violent robbery, and every 39.1 seconds someone commits an aggravated assault. It’s no wonder that …the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” (v. 3) God’s adjustment to the human lifespan from the 777 to 969 year range to a maximum lifespan of around 120 years was an act of mercy.
The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. (v.6) The Lord’s heart was deeply troubled at the sin and wickedness of man. So He determined that He would wipe mankind from the face of the earth. Unless… unless they would listen to the one who had found favor in God’s sight. Unless they would listen to Noah, the descendant of Enoch, the man who walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. (Genesis 5:24) In that culture of evil and wickedness God found a man who desired to walk in His ways. Today there’s so much emphasis on going with the flow of society. If you believe in what God teaches in His word you’re often ridiculed. I just learned about a friend’s experience having lunch at a restaurant in a metropolitan area with another Christian brother: their Bibles were open, they were quietly discussing God’s word, when they noticed that the people at the table next to them were requesting to be moved because they were offended. Just envision what it was like for Noah in his day. It must have been far worse than what we experience today. Yet Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. (v.9) Noah resisted the flow of his culture and lived his life according to God’s word. What if he hadn’t? What if he had crumbled under the pressure of those around him and went with the flow. It may have meant the end of mankind.
As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:37-39)
The people in Noah’s day gave no regard to Noah’s testimony of the building of the ark. Jesus says that in the days before His coming it will be as it was in the days of Noah, people will continue to live their lives as they always have, without regard to Jesus’ testimony. Did you know that one of the most dangerous activities you do, by far, is to drive or ride in a car? Every thirteen minutes someone dies in a car accident in the U.S. That’s just one of the ways that Jesus might come to you or I in the next day, or week, or month. Talk with any family member of someone who’s died recently in a car accident and they’ll tell you, they knew nothing about what would happen until… (Matthew 24:39) How are you living your life? Are you and your friends and family eating, drinking, or marrying without any thought given to when Jesus might return? Follow the example of Noah. Resist the flow of our culture, of what’s on TV, of the news on the internet.
May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways… (1 Kings 8:58)
Live for Him.
Antediluvian Population Growth Table:
1st generation: 2
2nd generation: 32
3rd generation: 482
4th generation: 7,232
5th generation: 108,482
6th generation: 1,627,232
7th generation: 24,408,482
8th generation: 366,127,232
9th generation: 5,491,908,482
This is the written account of Adam’s family line.
When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Adam” when they were created.
When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Adam lived a total of 930 years, and then he died.
When Seth had lived 105 years, he became the father of Enosh. After he became the father of Enosh, Seth lived 807 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Seth lived a total of 912 years, and then he died.
When Enosh had lived 90 years, he became the father of Kenan. After he became the father of Kenan, Enosh lived 815 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enosh lived a total of 905 years, and then he died.
When Kenan had lived 70 years, he became the father of Mahalalel. After he became the father of Mahalalel, Kenan lived 840 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Kenan lived a total of 910 years, and then he died.
When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he became the father of Jared. After he became the father of Jared, Mahalalel lived 830 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Mahalalel lived a total of 895 years, and then he died.
When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch. After he became the father of Enoch, Jared lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Jared lived a total of 962 years, and then he died.
When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.
When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech. After he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Methuselah lived a total of 969 years, and then he died.
When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son. He named him Noah and said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the LORD has cursed.” After Noah was born, Lamech lived 595 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Lamech lived a total of 777 years, and then he died.
After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.
God’s word continues to blow me away. Take a look at the meanings of the names listed in Adam’s family line.
Adam means “Man.”
Seth means “appointed.”
Enosh means “subject to death.”
Cainan means “sorrowful.”
Mahalaleel means “from the presence of God.”
Jared means “one comes down.”
Enoch means “dedicated.”
Methuselah means “dying He shall send.”
Lamech means “to the poor and lowly.”
Noah means “rest” or “comfort.”
Put it all together and you have,
Man (is) appointed (to be) subject to death (and) sorrowful (but) from the presence of God one comes down, dedicated and dying, He shall send to the poor and lowly rest (or) comfort.
Here we are only five chapters into the Bible and already the gospel message is found! According to the principles of textual criticism, it’s impossible for these names to be here, with these meanings, in this order, and at this point in the Bible, unless the book of Genesis was written after the New Testament. Of course every Bible scholar on the planet, both Christian and non-Christian alike, agrees that Genesis was written thousands of years before the New Testament. What does it mean then? It means that God knew Adam would blow it. God knew that mankind would need a savior. It means that God, in His abundant grace and mercy, provided a way to reconcile you and I to Him. And He was preparing the world through His word thousands of years before He sent His Son! Finally, it means that the Bible is the genuine word of God!
Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years… (v.22)
As I read through Adam’s family line and about Enoch specifically, it occurs to me that on that day, that day we’ll all face, that day when we’re before the Lord at the Judgement Throne, one of the most important things in the universe will be the heritage you and I left behind. (Hebrews 9:27) What do you want to say to the Lord about your family on that day? What are you doing today to shape and grow your family toward becoming the people you want to tell the Lord about on that day?
Think about it. Will the size of your salary be more important on that day? Will your wardrobe be more important on that day? Will your video game achievements be more important on that day?
Every one of these will be hay and stubble on that day (1 Corinthians 3:12-13) It’s been said that wisdom can be defined as doing something now, that you would have wished you had done five years from now. Why not live the rest of your life doing now what you would have wished you had done on that day? On that day, nothing will be more important than hearing those words, “Well done good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23) Everything about your life, and mine too, should point toward preparing for that moment when we’re held accountable before the Lord.
Do everything you can to grow your family in the Lord. First and foremost, set a great example, continually seek a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. Second, pray for your family. There’s power in your life and in the lives of those close to you that remains untapped. You do not have, because you do not ask God. (James 4:2) Pray regularly for your family members to have their best possible relationship with God for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:6-10)
Enoch’s testimony is what I long for, for my family. My prayer for you is that you do too.
By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation…
…he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
Hebrews 11:5 (KJV)
Live for Him.
Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Volume 1, Nelson 2005
Photo courtesy of “News That Matters“
The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
But the LORD said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod,east of Eden.
We have to keep in mind that before Cain murdered Abel, no human had ever died. Cain and everyone else alive at that time, had never been exposed to a friend or relative dying in the hospital, to a violent movie with a high body count, to a first person shooter game with gory graphics where the goal is to kill as many of the enemy as possible, or to a real life war where the same goal presides.
So when Cain stood over Abel, lying there with dark warm blood blood flowing from him into the ground, Cain couldn’t be sure what to expect. He may not even have realized that his anger would have such a dramatic result. The reality of physical death was a new concept. He must have feared God in that moment but at the same time, he may have taken hope in that Abel’s blood didn’t pool on the surface of the earth but rather it disappeared into the ground which opened its mouth to receive it. (v. 12) At that time there were no police officers, no judges, no man made justice system to investigate Abel’s death. Perhaps Cain thought that he could move on with his life, now without the person who distressed him the most.
Perhaps the religious leaders who killed Jesus thought the same. What a thorn in their side He was, this upstart Rabbi who was so open and honest about everything, including their shortcomings. This One who was stealing away the hearts of the people with His love, His mercy, and His miracles. He was a threat to their authority but now, they may have thought, now that he’s been crucified, we’ve removed this one who has distressed us so. The religious leaders surely thought, “We’ve eliminated him.” The political leader, Pilate, surely thought, “I’ve washed my hands of him.”
Of course in both the case of Abel and the case of Jesus, this was not to be. As a result of Abel’s death, Cain’s life was changed forever. Abel’s blood cried out to God and demanded justice. Cain learned, as we all learn, that we can be sure our sin will find us out.
Jesus’ blood also cried out, but Jesus’ blood speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:24) Abel’s blood cried out for justice but Jesus’ blood cried out “Father forgive them.” (Luke 23:24) As a result of Jesus’ death, the world changed forever. A way to reconcile with the Father was provided. A way that’s available to you and to me right now. (see Your New Life)
Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear. (v. 13) Now that the truth of Cain’s deed has come to light we see that Cain is afraid for his life. Think about it, Cain lived in a time so early in the development of the human race that wherever Cain went he would encounter his relatives. And his relatives, either out of fear of Cain or out of a desire for vengeance, might attempt to kill him. But God puts a mark on Cain to deal with this issue.
Abel’s relatives learned from Cain’s mark that it wasn’t theirs to take revenge. It’s the Lord’s to avenge. You and I must realize the same. Though we may possess a deep desire to, it’s not for us to take action. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)
A second reason for Cain’s mark is because of God’s love for Cain. Yes Cain murdered his brother, yes Cain has been weighed in the balance and found guilty, and yes Cain will experience consequences for his sin. Never the less God loves Cain. God’s mark, whatever it may have been, served as protection for Cain and helped Cain to endure his years in the land of Nod, which is literally Wandering.
Is there a person in your life who distresses you? Do you ever wish that he or she were gone? Beware of the way of Cain. (Jude v.11) Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. (Genesis 4:7) Cain’s anger resulted in a life in Nod or Wandering. Your anger can alter your life path in ways that you never thought possible. Jesus tells us the way we’re to respond to those who distress us:
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
[Image via gabork – Creative Commons]
Genesis 4:9-15 — “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Am I my brother’s keeper?” (v. 9) Cain’s insolent answer to God’s question reminds us of the same condition of heart found in Pharaoh when he said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey him…” (Exodus 5:2) The difference is that Pharaoh didn’t have a direct awareness and communication with God like Cain did. Given the level of direct communication that Cain enjoyed with God, it’s hard to believe that Cain could answer God with such hardness of heart. But that’s one of the consequences of sin. Cain committed the first recorded murder, and his sin had the effect of hardening his heart toward God, causing him to question. Questioning God’s ways is no more rational than not obeying God in the first place. Listen to what God said to Job and his friends when they questioned Him:
“Who is this that darkens my counsel
with words without knowledge?
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
“Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?
“Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?” (Job 38:2-13)
“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who accuses God answer him!” (Job 40:2)
Lord please keep our hearts tender toward You, keep us from questioning Your will, help us to give thanks in everything. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Lord, please keep our hearts tender toward others, keep us far from the way of Cain. (Jude 1:11)
Am I my brother’s keeper?” (v. 9) The way of guilt is to deny responsibility. The truth is that God has in fact made us our brother’s keeper. God tells you and I that each of us should look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4) Notice that Philippians 2:4 instructs us to take care of our own responsibilities as well as those of others. Taking care of ourselves, our own family, our own brothers and sisters in the Lord, and also others, it’s all part of God’s plan for you and for me. Matthew Henry writes that caring for others is, “a great duty, which is strictly required of us, but is generally neglected by us.”
The church is God’s instrument to minister to the poor, the sick, the lonely, and the old of our world.
You are the church.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Genesis 4:1-8 — Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.
Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor.(v.4-5) It could be that there’s a problem with Cain’s sacrifice. It may be that a blood sacrifice was required, as the word says in Hebrews 9:22, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Different Bible scholars teach it different ways. But without question there’s a problem with Cain’s heart. The way of Cain is identified in Jude 1:11 as a way that is polluted by a problem with the heart. We don’t know for certain what that problem is but a clue is given in Hebrews 11:4 where we’re told that By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. (Hebrews 11:4) We don’t know for certain what was at the heart of the issue, but Cain did, and God did. Two people standing next to each other in church, both singing the same praise song or hymn, perhaps God respects the worship of one but perhaps not the worship of another. Two give the same amount of tithe, perhaps God respects the giving of one but perhaps not the giving of the other. You and I may know that the same amount is given, we may hear the same song, but the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. (1 Chronicles 28:9)
So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (v. 5-7) Here we are, barely four chapters into the Bible, and God’s grace is manifested yet again when he comes to Cain. Adam and Eve were hiding after their sin, and God came looking to help them. Cain is angry, having sin in his heart, and God comes looking for him. God always comes looking for sinners, but, unfortunately, not all sinners go looking for God.
One thing we do know for sure is that Cain is angry. Often times behind anger lies jealousy, and always behind jealousy lies pride. Isn’t it amazing, the things that make us jealous? We get jealous because someone gets a cubicle that’s a little bigger than ours, or someone gets assigned a better parking space than we did, or someone’s son or daughter plays a sport better than ours does, or someone makes more money than we do. God help us. We each have a little bit of Cain within us, don’t we. We all want our desires to be God’s desires, and when God does what God does that’s not consistent with our own wants, how angry it can make us. Each of us thinks that we should have an immunity from the problems, unfairness, and injustices that everyone faces in life.
First cousins Willy and Georgie never got along well. Willy was especially envious of his cousin Georgie, which isn’t all that unusual among cousins. But the consequences of Willy’s jealousy and envy were different than those of other children, it carried on into adulthood and ultimately effected most of the world. You see cousin Willy was Kaiser Wilhelm II, ruler of Germany. And cousin Georgie was King George V of England. Cousin Willy, in his adult years, was jealous of cousin Georgie’s far flung British Empire. Also, at the annual yacht races Germany lost regularly to Britain which contributed to cousin Willie’s intense envy of the British navy. Many don’t realize the great extent to which Kaiser Wilhelm’s envy of his cousin George contributed to the start of World War I.
God in His mercy warned Cain that “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (v. 7) God is saying, don’t treat jealousy lightly. If you allow it to take up residence you’ll soon find yourself in the grip of a power greater than you thought possible. In Romans 12:15 God teaches us to rejoice with those who rejoice; and to mourn with those who mourn. But envy turns that all around. When we envy, or when we’re jealous we often rejoice when that certain person mourns and we mourn when that certain person rejoices. Therefore, rid yourselves of all envy. (1 Peter 2:1) Or you’ll find yourself doing things that you never thought you would do. I’ve lived it, I’ve been there, take heed. Rid yourself of it for who can stand before jealousy? (Proverbs 27:4) And envy rots the bones. (Proverbs 14:30)
If only Cain had responded differently. What might have happened had Cain asked God for His help. What might have happened if Cain had said, like David, Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love (Psalm 51:1) Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10) This is what Cain should have done. This is what you and I must do whenever we encounter anger, jealousy, pride, envy, or any other sin. We must return to the Father like the prodigal son. (see previous post) But Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. (Genesis 4:8)
Anger, jealousy, pride, envy, they’re all cousins. They’re all emotions that are related and intertwined with each other:
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Robert K. Massie, Dreadnought
Genesis 3:20-24 — he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life
Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.
The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. (v. 20) Interestingly in January of 1987, three scientists, Rebecca L. Cann, Mark Stoneking, and Allan C. Wilson published an article in the journal Nature that announced that everyone in the human race descended from one mother. They called her Eve. Now they’ll argue about when she existed, and where she resided, but isn’t it remarkable that even science today recognizes that all of the human race is descended from one mother? I believe that over time, as scientific methods improve, science may ultimately confirm the accuracy of the bible.
The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (v. 21) God, in His grace and mercy, clothed Adam and Eve, not for His benefit, for Hebrews 4:13 says, Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. But God in His grace clothed Adam and Eve for Adam and Eve’s sake. Close your eyes and envision with me that your going out into the woods, finding fig leaves or leaves of any kind for that matter, and attempting to clothe yourself with them. Obviously it was a pathetic attempt made by Adam and Eve then, and still today, whenever you or I attempt to cover our sin in our own energy, it’s feeble at best. God had to do it, God had to clothe Adam and Eve after their sin. God offers to clothe us today. He provided His Son and offers Him to us so that we can be clothed with His righteousness if we but ask. (Isaiah 61:10, Revelation 3:20)
Now close your eyes again and imagine with me what Adam and Eve saw when they turned to look back as they left the Garden. There at the East side of the Garden they saw the bloody remains of the animals that were sacrificed so that they could be clothed, and they saw cherubim standing over the sacrifice. It’s interesting that later we see the same picture of cherubim and sacrifice in the tabernacle, and then again in the temple, and then again at the empty tomb where two angels would stand post over the slab stained with the blood of Jesus Christ. Animals were sacrificed to clothe Adam and Eve and Jesus died died for your sin and for my sin because, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22) Sin requires sacrifice.
And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. (v. 22-24)
Thank God for driving Adam and Eve out of the Garden and blocking the physical way to the tree of life. Can you imagine what it would be like to live forever in this world polluted by sin? Apparently God could. His grace and mercy continues in that He found a way to limit the pain from all of the sin, guilt, shame, and destruction that all of humanity would endure after the fall of man. Because Adam and Eve no longer had access to the tree of life they would, mercifully, die after a time and enter into their rest.
Since the fall, the way, the physical way, to eternal life with God has been cut off.
But in His grace God provided another way. Only one way, and not a physical way, but a way none the less. Jesus said,
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus is the way. Find Him and you’ll find the way to eternal life with God.
Go to Join Christ’s Family to learn how.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Self discipline with your time: (continued from October 6, 2010 post)
“In most cases, time is the only finite resource,” my son Nate informed me the other day. He was sharing something he learned while working on his degree in economics. He went on to explain that you can lose all your money, but if you work hard and invest wisely, you may be able to recover it, you might even gain far beyond what you lost. But once you’ve spent time, you can never get it back.
How we spend our time is one of the most important areas of discipline there is. Showing up on time, spending our time preparing properly, and scheduling are all important areas of self discipline that are keys to success in life.
But right now I’d like you to think about time as a resource. As something you spend. As a resource you invest. I believe that when we enter into heaven, the answer to the question, how did you invest your time, will be of the utmost importance.
Imagine with me if you will, that you’ve just died in a car wreck and you find yourself at the gates of heaven.
“You are welcome at my house,” the angel said. (Judges 19:20) Was he an angel? What is it about him? Or is it Him? He threw His arms around me and kissed me. (Luke 15:20) I all but disappeared in his (His?) giant embrace.
“Tell me about yourself,” he said warmly. Why this tremendous being is interested in me, I can’t fathom.
“Well,” I started tentatively. “I feel like I’m kind of young to be here.”
“I get that a lot,” is all he said. “Where have you come from? (Job 1:7) Tell me about your life on earth.”
“I, um, I grew up in…” I spent an hour or so sharing with him all of my life story. The longer I spoke, the more I became aware of a loving quality about him. By the end of my story it seemed that his love was palpable, I could feel it exuding from him. Just then the thought entered my mind, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.” (1 John 4:16)
It was Him. I was sure of that now.
After I thought I had told Him all of my life story, at the end, after the description of how I died in the car accident, that’s when he asked the big question.
“So how did you spend your time on earth?” He asked.
“What do you mean?” I asked right back. “I just told you my life story.”
“Yes, of course you did,” He didn’t react at all to my defensive tone. “You grew up, you had to work to support yourself, you had certain obligations to family and friends, you needed time for rest, you died. Your time on earth is a finite resource, I understand. Since the fall, that’s how it’s supposed to be. It’s the rest of your time that I’m interested in.”
“The rest of my time?” I asked. Just then the thought “As for man, his days are like grass…” passed through my mind. (Psalm 103:15)
“Yes, the rest of your time. How did you spend it?”
“Hmmm, let’s see, on Sunday mornings I went to Your house, to church.”
“Thou hast well said.” (John 4:17 KJV) You did go to my house, to a church that teaches My word, My whole word from cover to cover. Good choice. And you were there on many Sunday mornings. What you have just said is quite true.” (John 4:18)
I swallowed hard. Many Sunday mornings, He had said. That was a generous way to put it, I knew. In reality I was there mostly when a close friend, who was much more devoted than I, talked me into going. I had attended church on Sunday less than half of the time.
“How else?” He asked. “How else did you spend your time?”
“Well, socializing, I said. Visiting with friends and family.”
“Ah,” He smiled widely, a great and wonderful smile. “Socializing, with a generous dose of loving people. Truly an excellent use of your time – loving people.” His smile made my heart soar. I was filled with joy to the point where I thought my chest would burst. The look of pleasure on His face was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen by far. I heard the words in my mind, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” (Genesis 21:6)
“And how else?”
I thought for a moment but couldn’t come up with anything else I’d done that was of, well, of any value to anyone in this place. I heard in my mind, “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” (Luke 16:15)
Suddenly without warning I heard myself saying out loud, “Watch TV.” I didn’t want to say it, I didn’t mean to say it – it just seemed to come out. And it was true. Most days I spent at least a couple of hours watching TV.
“You’ve answered well again. And what did you watch?”
I didn’t answer. I didn’t have to. The expression on my face must have said it all, for nearly everything I watched had no redeeming value.
I wasn’t ready for what happened next. A look of sadness washed over His face. His face, looking like that, looking so very sad. I suddenly felt altogether unhinged – I felt sick. I averted my eyes. “Anything but,” I thought. “please, anything but that look. I don’t ever want to see that look again.” I was reminded of how I felt when I saw the look of disappointment on my best friend’s face, that day I betrayed him. But as bad as that was, this was much more painful. My sorrow was so great that it hurt. The pain was so intense that I thought I would perish, but somehow I knew that couldn’t happen here, not in this place. I was struck by how One so magnificent could look so hurt. He looked wounded. The words entered my mind, “these are the wounds I was given at the house of my friends.” (Zechariah 13:6)
Very softly, very gently, He asked, “What else, my child?”
“The computer,” I said, barely audible.
Without warning the images and sounds of every television program I had ever watched, every website I had ever visited, every song I had ever listened to, every thought I ever had was before me. And before Him. He was showing me how I spent my time. I said, “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.” (Psalm 139:1)
I don’t know how I got there but I suddenly found myself at His feet. I was sobbing with my face pressed into the ground. “Mercy, mercy,” I was repeating over and over and over. “Mercy,” I thought. I was completely and utterly at His mercy. “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” I thought. (Job 13:15)
Then God’s hand touched me and instantly the words came into my mind, “A hand touched me and set me trembling…” (Daniel 10:10) He wiped every tear from my eyes and gently turned my head to see Another coming. (Revelation 21:4) And when I turned I saw …someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. (Revelation 1:12, 13, 16)
“My child behold, your Champion,” God said of the Other. “My Son and My lamb.”
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17-18)
Then my eyes were opened and I recognized him who came. (Luke 24:31) It was Jesus. I felt my heart swell because I was at once very afraid yet filled with joy that was almost unbearable. (Matthew 28:8)
In an instant, and without knowing how, I was walking next to my Lord. He was telling me, graciously and gently telling me, how the time God gave me on earth was one of His most precious gifts, and how I chose to use it was of the greatest importance.
“Time,” He said. “Use it well. Store up for yourself treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:20)
Invest your time in eternity.