Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Blood Speaks

This morning Mickey Connolly gave a message about the progression and effects of sin using the biblical stories of Cain and Abel and the lesser mentioned Lamech in Genesis 4. I've learned that they parallel today's world more than I ever thought.
Adam made love to 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. And Abel also brought an offering—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 rule over it.” Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” 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. Cain made love to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch. To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech. Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah. Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes. Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain’s sister was Naamah. Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.” Adam made love to his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.” Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.
The entire human story after the fall of Adam and Eve begins with something called total depravity, which was something I had always heard the concept of, but never really knew there was a name for it. I looked it up and some of its synonyms include: absolute inability, radical corruption, and total corruption. It's the Augustinian theological doctrine that says we all inherit and are polluted by a sinful nature that we got from Adam as a result of the fall of man.

Because of this total depravity, the call to love God and love each other is regularly violated, as we first witness in Genesis 4.

See, originally Adam and Eve thought (because of Genesis 3:15) that when Cain came, he would bring some sort of deliverance. There was this great hope in him. In fact, the name Cain literally means "he has come". But that's definitely not how the story turns out.

If you went to Sunday school as a kid, or if you just read Genesis 4 at the beginning of this post, you know that it all started when Cain and Abel bring sacrifices to God and Cain is upset when his offering was not accepted while his brother's was.

What we need to look at first, and what tends to get overlooked, is the reasons why Abel's offering was accepted and Cain was not. There are two reasons.

One, Abel brought God his best and Cain just brought something.

Two (the deeper reason and the reason for the first reason for those of you who just like reasons), Abel was a righteous man, and Cain was not. Their offerings were a reflection of their heart natures.

This leads to another question of if we are all born with a sinful, worldly nature, like Cain, how does anyone become godly, like Abel?

That is done only through God's electing grace.

But through God's common grace, in verses 6 and 7, God appealed to Cain to attempt to restrain his sinful nature. He did this through a promise and a warning, a lot like a parent to a child.

"If you do well, you will be accepted" was God's invitation to Cain to repent. God was giving him a choice.

There is always a moment we have with our conscience before we do something where we are given the same choice that Cain had here.

Verse 8 gives us the very first picture of active enmity between the godly and the worldly.
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Then in verse 9, the story becomes reminiscent of God's response to Adam's sin, but there's a big difference in the fact that Cain's heart toward God was hardened by his sin and Cain rejects God's invitation to repentance.

Cain gets pretty snippy with God.

Then we see in verses 10 through 12 that as sin spreads, so does its curse.
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.
And yet God extends common grace to Cain in spite of his sin and his reaction to his punishment in verses 15 and 16 when God promises to protect him.

We then see how very quickly the progression of sin after Cain goes away from God into Nod.

When I first read about Cain going to Nod, I just assumed it was only a place on a map, but Nod is the root of the Hebrew verb "to wander". It references a nomadic lifestyle and is described as a place of no home and no rest, a life lived outside of the presence of God. It's another curse of sin.

In the traditional fashion of the progression of sin, look at what Cain does next in verse 17.
Cain made love to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch.
He builds a city!

Even though Cain is cursed to be a wanderer, he builds a city to live in, and even though God promises to protect him, he fortifies his city. This is a huge example of humans trying to render God unnecessary and trying out self-sufficiency.

Now let's just fast forward 7 generations to Cain's descendant, Lamech.

Lamech realizes that children equal power, so in order to have more children, he becomes a polygamist. And even though Lamech's children seem to be forefathers of technology and arts (another evidence of common grace), God is not in any of their progress because of their sinful natures toward Him. They made technical progress, but moral failure.

In fact, it was Lamech who wrote the world's first poem, but it was all boasting in Abel's murder and a murder that he had committed himself. In verse 26, he even says that he will protect himself rather than rely on God's protection.

Ironically, Lamech is never heard from again.

Sadly, we as human beings have more in common with Cain and Lamech than we do with Abel. And at one point, like it did with Cain, Abel's blood cried out against us from the ground. But the blood from the ground at the foot of the cross cries out for us as well, speaking a different word. Jesus' blood speaks forgiveness and grace instead of crying for justice.

Hebrews 12:24 says:
To Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

1 comment:

sha said...

thank you for the post good one