What Happened to Adam? / Where Did Cain Get his Wife? (The Covenant & the Cross #41)

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Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 4:25-26 which reads: “And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” Continue reading

Failure Upon Failure, Part 2 (The Covenant & the Cross #40)

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Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 4:6-8 which reads: “And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”

Allow me to share with you some further commentary on this passage from the Reformation Study Bible by Dr. R.C. Sproul::

The Hebrew in verse 7 suggests a threatening demon crouching outside the door of a house. Perhaps there is also an allusion to the serpent lying in wait to strike the heel.

Knowing Cain’s heart, God warns him not to submit to the murderous temptation of the devil. Although unregenerate humans can rule over the ground and flocks, they cannot finally master sin on their own.

Ignoring God and His warning, Cain’s subsequent actions reveal his answer to God’s earlier question. Abel is mentioned only for his birth, offering, and death.

The fracturing of family ties by sin, begun in Genesis 3, quickly reaches the extreme of murder. Seeking autonomy from God like his parents, Cain usurps divine sovereignty over life.

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Horace Greeley. He said: “It is impossible to enslave mentally or socially a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom.”

Our topic for today is titled: “Failure Upon Failure (Part 2)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

Genesis takes us to a point where Cain and Abel bring sacrifices to God. We are not even told whether these were the first sacrifices they had brought, although I am inclined to believe they were not. One reason is that it would seem unlikely that Adam and his family did not sacrifice during the period from the expulsion from the garden to this event. It is probably not even the first sacrifices that the boys had brought on their own. Key to the situation, the text seems to suggest that Cain and Abel had different attitudes regarding their sacrifices. Abel brought the firstlings, that is, the best he had. Cain merely brought an offering.

Apparently, it was for this reason that God rejected Cain’s sacrifice, because later God told Cain that if he did well, he would be accepted. Instead of following God, Cain murdered his brother Abel. As a result, he was driven from the expanding family and developing civilization, although apparently taking his wife along with him. In the process, he was given a sign of God’s protection so that anyone finding him (other descendants of Adam and Eve who might recall Abel) would not take vengeance into their own hands but would leave retribution to the Lord.

After dealing with Cain, the writer discusses the highlights of the development of the pre-Flood civilization, although at this point he only addresses the line of Cain and some of the advances associated with it. Within seven generations of Adam, we see the development of animal herding, metallurgy, cities, and musical instruments.

Cain’s line is covered in a perfunctory manner until we reach Lamech, who is the sixth generation after Adam (some mention is made of Lamech’s sons, but here the line appears to end). Lamech is interesting for two reasons. One is the fact that he had two wives: his is the first recorded case of bigamy. The second is that he seems to take pride in having killed a young man: when we read his “song,” we sense a note of arrogance that seems to exalt how “bad” he is compared with Cain.

Failure Upon Failure, Part 1 (The Covenant & the Cross #39)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 4:1-2 which reads: “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.”

Allow me to share with you some further commentary on this passage from the Reformation Study Bible by Dr. R.C. Sproul:

The Hebrew word for “know” is used to denote the sexual intimacy of the marriage relationship.

Humans, both originally and presently, owe their existence to God. Woman originally came from the man, now man comes forth from the woman. The sexes are dependent on one another, and both are dependent on God.

The name Abel means “breath,” “vapor,” or “nothing” with the connotation of “perishable,” a somber prophecy of what follows.

In spite of Adam’s Fall, humans still carry out the cultural mandate to manage the earth’s resources.

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Thomas Huxley. He said: “The Bible has been the Magna Carta of the poor and oppressed. The human race is not in a position to dispense with it.”

Our topic for today is titled: “Failure Upon Failure (Part 1)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

We noted earlier that the book of Genesis seems to be divided into three major sections, the first of which runs up to Genesis 11:27 (a verse that introduces the toledot of Terah, the father of Abraham). My suggestion was that this section sets the stage for the original audience at Sinai by showing how the world became the mess we see today. We have seen the first failure of humankind in the Fall. The rest of this section traces at least six other major failures.

As we pick up the account in Genesis 4, we note that Eve bears her first son, Cain. She declares, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man,” a statement that can also be translated, “I have acquired a man, the LORD.” Apparently Eve feels that he is the one promised in Genesis 3:15 (who by the time He comes will be given the title Messiah). Soon, Cain is followed by his brother Abel, although no particular importance is attached to his birth.

We are told very little about the two boys. It is clear that Genesis 4:2 covers a lot of time—from Abel’s birth to the point where both were occupied with their careers. We are told nothing about the rest of the family, although it is apparent from later comments that Adam and Eve had more children. In fact, it would appear that Cain, if not Abel, was married by the time of the incident. The important point is how the family demonstrates the pattern of failure we have already noted.

The two brothers were very different, one choosing to grow crops and the other to tend flocks. This observation makes a very interesting statement about the economic situation. When Adam was driven from the garden, it was to “cultivate the ground.” At this stage, humankind was still on a vegetarian diet (which apparently did not change until after the Flood). The only use of animals mentioned to this point was when God made garments of skin for Adam and Eve to take the place of fig leaves. This information suggests that the primary purpose of keeping the flocks was to provide animals that could be slain for garments; thus animal sacrifice was meant to remind humans of the seriousness of the event that made clothes a necessity. Other subsidiary purposes might include milk and other dairy products, although we have no information on that point.

God’s Mercy in the Midst of the Curses (The Covenant & the Cross #38)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 3:20-24 which reads: “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. 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: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

Allow me to share with you some further commentary on this passage from the Reformation Study Bible by Dr. R.C. Sproul::

Adam’s choice of the name Eve demonstrates his faith in God’s promise that the woman would bear children, including the Seed who would defeat Satan.

God’s durable “tunics” contrast with the inadequate attempt by Adam and Eve to cover their shame. His provision also entailed killing an animal, perhaps suggesting a sacrifice for sin.

The cherubim protect God’s holiness, prohibiting sinners’ access to Him.

The coming heavenly Adam, who bears the curse of toil, sweat, thorns, conflict, death on a tree, and descent into dust, will regain the garden, tearing apart the veil of the temple on which the cherubim were sewn. The flaming sword is the first weapon of government or law-enforcement.

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Immanuel Kant. He said: “The existence of the Bible, as a book for the people, is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it is a crime against humanity.”

Our topic for today is titled: “God’s Mercy in the Midst of the Curses” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

While the picture is largely negative as we read these curses, we also find at least four demonstrations of God’s mercy in this passage.

First, physical death did not occur immediately. Part of the warning to Adam was that if he ate of the fruit, he would die. Satan told Eve that she wouldn’t die. Actually, the way the phrase is worded in Hebrew, it could also be translated, “It’s not absolutely sure that you’ll die.” In either case, it was a half-truth. Adam and Eve died spiritually at the point of disobedience. Physical death came later, allowing an opportunity for repentance and the beginning of the process of redemption).

Second, we see the beginning of this process of redemption. God made “garments of skin” to cover Adam and Eve, which means that some animals had to die. Since we do not read about a climate change until after the Flood, these coverings must have been designed to hide the nakedness and shame of Adam and Eve.

Third, humankind was exiled from the garden, not specifically as punishment, but to prevent the now disobedient humans from eating from the tree of life and thus living forever in their sinful state. It also indicates that physical death would be a vital aspect of the process of redemption.

Fourth, as already mentioned, there was a promise of a redeemer. It is this promise that sets the stage for Genesis 4, humankind’s next failure.

The Serpent (The Covenant & the Cross #37)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 3:14-15 which reads: “And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

Allow me to share with you some further commentary on this passage from the Reformation Study Bible by Dr. R.C. Sproul::

The curse denotes a breaking of the serpent’s powers. Dust is the symbol of abject humiliation, an indignity lasting forever. Satan’s final defeat under the heel of the Messiah is delayed so that God’s program of redemption through the promised Seed of the woman may be accomplished.

Humanity is now divided into two communities: the redeemed, who love God, and the reprobate, who love self. The division finds immediate expression in the hostility of Cain against Abel. This prophecy finds ultimate fulfillment in the triumph of the Second Adam, and the community united with Him, over the forces of sin, death, and the devil.

Before His glorious victory, the woman’s Seed must suffer to win the new community from the serpent’s dominion. The suffering Christ is victorious. He has already won the victory at the Cross by providing an atonement for the saints and will consummate it at His Second Coming.

Today’s quote about the Bible is from James McCosh. He said: “The book to read is not the one which thinks for you, but the one which makes you think. No book in the world equals the Bible for that.”

serpent_of_adam_and_eveOur topic for today is titled: “The Serpent” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

In our discussions about the Fall, we have to this point neglected the serpent. Any way we look at it, this is a difficult issue. Exactly what creature is involved? Why did Eve not express surprise when it spoke? How is Satan related to it? With regard to these and other questions, the biblical writer has not seen fit to give us the information. At the end of the Bible, however, we are given some insight when Revelation 12:9 identifies Satan as the serpent who deceives.

Our concern at this point is that the serpent is also cursed, but there is an interesting detail here that we must note and keep in mind. God gives an anticipation of a later judgment on the serpent in the form of the first prophecy of a coming redeemer or messiah. In Genesis 3:15, God tells the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” This prophecy is known as the protoevangelium, meaning, “the first [announcement of the] gospel.” The immediate manifestation of this prediction is a perpetual battle between good and evil in this world. However, it is anticipated that the ultimate outcome will be the victory of the Messiah.

Humanity’s Relationship with the World, Part 2 (The Covenant & the Cross #36)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 3:17-19 which reads: “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

Allow me to share with you some further commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck:

God told Adam that he would experience great pain in scratching out a livelihood. The word translated “painful toil” is the same word used for the woman’s pain. (This word occurs only three times in the Old Testament.) Death will be man’s end — he will return to the ground (a gracious provision in view of the suffering), and he will return to dust and become the serpent’s prey again. So much for ambitions for divinity! Man may attempt to be like God, but he is dust.

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Leonard Ravenhill. He said: “One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed.”

Our topic for today is titled: “Humanity’s Relationship with the World (Part 2)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

As we look at God’s admonitions to Adam, we note two aspects of His judgment, both of which address man’s relationship with the world. The first aspect is that the ground is cursed because of man. What this means is not completely clear. On the one hand, it seems to set up the next aspect of judgment, which involves exhausting labor on the part of man to grow his crops. On the other hand, it seems to be a separate aspect of judgment.

This cursing of the ground may be what Paul addresses in Romans 8:20-21, where he notes that all of creation was subjected to “futility” and “slavery to corruption.” If so, then what we see here may be God announcing His temporary acceptance of Satan’s usurpation of man’s position of authority over the world. We do see later that even Jesus accepted the fact that Satan had become “the ruler of this world.” At the same time, Jesus anticipated Satan’s future demise. This concept, however, takes us into a realm totally separate from ours, the spiritual. It also implies warfare between fallen angels and God. This warfare is mentioned a number of times throughout the Bible and seems to lay a foundation for many of the struggles we face today—but that is an entirely different subject and must be dealt with elsewhere.

The second aspect of judgment is that difficult labor would be necessary for human sustenance. In a general sense, this means that agriculture would become a very laborious occupation: the ground would now produce thorns and thistles instead of the products desired. Consequently, man would have to labor “by the sweat of [his] brow” for his food. There are two factors involved in this judgment: weeds and thistles.

Humanity’s Relationship with the World, Part 1 (The Covenant & the Cross #35)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 3:11-12 which reads: “And he [God] said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Reformation Study Bible edited by theologian R.C. Sproul: “The questions which God asks prod Adam and Eve to confess their guilt. God asks Satan no questions, simply consigning him to judgment. Adam and Eve show their allegiance to Satan by distorting the truth, accusing one another, and ultimately accusing God. Their efforts to conceal their sin only expose it.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from R.C. Sproul. He said: “We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.”

Our topic for today is titled: “Humanity’s Relationship with the World (Part 1)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

The uniqueness of man’s stewardship position is amplified in the Genesis 2 account of Creation. Adam is placed in a specific location, the garden of Eden, with guidelines given to manage it. The location of this garden has been debated, but if the Flood was as extensive as indicated later in Genesis, the garden was obviously destroyed in the rearrangement of the earth’s surface. As previously noted, the purpose of the garden would seem to be an initial geographic limitation to the work that Adam was to do personally. Obviously, one person (or couple) could not directly oversee an entire globe. This was the reason behind the command in Genesis 1 for humankind to multiply and, as a whole, to manage the world.

Adam’s position of world manager was illustrated by the fact that he named the animals. In Israelite culture, the giving of a name was viewed as a demonstration of a superior position. One of the problems of this section is its relationship with Genesis 1:24-25, which places the creation of the animals prior to the creation of man. (“And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field.”) The text suggests two possible solutions. First, the Hebrew grammar leaves open the possibility that the animals had been created earlier and brought to Adam at this point. Second, the terminology (“beasts of the field”) raises the possibility that the animals named at this point were only those we call domesticated animals, that is, those with which man was to have a special working relationship.

The world over which man had responsibility is not the same as the world in which we live. The environment was perfect. We read that there was no rain, but only a daily overnight mist to water the ground. One theory that has been inferred from the changes created by the Flood is that originally the earth was covered by a water-vapor canopy that protected it from harmful radiation and maintained a uniform climate both around the globe and throughout the year. The surface area of the land regions was probably much greater than today, including all of the land above the continental shelves. In addition, there apparently was only one continent that was more spread out, for presumably the high mountain ranges had not yet been squeezed up. These factors all changed as a result of the Fall and the Flood.