Sketching HIStory #11

Gen 4, 5 – Cain and Abel2nd-death-w

Even before Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden, God had a plan for mankind’s salvation… that is, salvation from mankind’s ultimate demise, the 2nd Death or Hell.

The problem is that mankind had sinned and upon their expulsion from the protective environment of Eden, they had to contend with surviving the wilds of the earth… ON THEIR OWN! This means that because of sin, they were not entitled to the protection of God and the reality of Adam and Eve’s situation in being thrust into the wild is guaranteed to lead to their quick death. So, since God’s plan require that they survive and multiply, I feel safe enough to theorize on what may have happened between Genesis 3 and 4.

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I believe that God caused Adam and Eve to go through… this is the part of me who loves science fiction… some kind of dimensional gateway to arrive in a part of the earth where they will not easily become prey. I don’t think they would end up in an Amazonian like jungle. Have you ever watched the Discovery Channel’s ‘Naked & Afraid’? Imagine Adam and Eve in that same situation except they have no tools and no survival skills. After one night there, the accompanying camera crew would probably be calling in for body bags. I think the Lord would have made sure that they would have ended up in a savanna-like environment. They would first find a shallow cave for shelter. Through trial and error, they would get a fire built and develop primitive stone tools. (Talking about the ‘stone age’.) Eventually, they would leave their cave dwelling and seek out a land that they can till and farm of which by the start of Genesis 4, the Lord made sure they were successful.

Once they were secured, they were now free to proceed with God’s plan (whether they knew it or not).

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Adam had relations 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. 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. [Gen 4:1-5a]

Let us look closely at the offering. Both young men, farmers in their own right, were delighted in their respective fruitful endeavors and had decided to bring a thanksgiving offering to God. For Cain, he brought some of the crops that he successfully grew. Abel, whose vocation was in animal husbandry, brought in the firstborn of his flock and offered the fattest of portions to the Lord. Let us assume that both young men were genuinely sincere in their offerings. So, why did God reject Cain’s?

There are strong beliefs that God commanded Adam, after the fall, that if anyone seeking God’s favor, they are to shed the blood of innocent animals, and after their death to burn part or the whole of their bodies by fire. This lesson would have been passed on to his children. Cain, though sincere, should have known better.

You are probably wondering why there is a Crimson Thread symbol over Abel’s offering. This image of Abel holding a firstborn lamb for the purpose of sacrifice is representative of Jesus being called the ‘Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29 KJV). We will see more of this representation in the Old Testament.

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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.” [Gen 4:5b-7]

The rejection of Cain’s offering, does not mean that God rejected Cain himself. In truth, Cain only made an assumptive mistake. However, God did see the pride in him which was feeding his anger. So, God reached out to show him the way. Unfortunately, pride won out over reason and sin did not just claim Cain only…

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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. [Gen 4:8]

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.” [Gen 4:9-12]

There is much to cover on what happened to Cain in our next post.

Malice in the heart ends in murder by the hands. Cain slew Abel, his own brother, his own mother’s son, whom he ought to have loved; his younger brother, whom he ought to have protected; a good brother, who had never done him any wrong. What fatal effects were these of our first parents’ sin, and how must their hearts have been filled with anguish! Observe the pride, unbelief, and impenitence of Cain. He denies the crime, as if he could conceal it from God. He tries to cover a deliberate murder with a deliberate lie.

Murder is a crying sin. Blood calls for blood, the blood of the murdered for the blood of the murderer. Who knows the extent and weight of a Divine curse, how far it reaches, how deep it pierces?

Cain was cursed from the earth. He found his punishment there where he chose his portion, and set his heart. Every creature is to us what God makes it, a comfort or a cross, a blessing or a curse. The wickedness of the wicked brings a curse upon all they do, and all they have.

Cain slew his brother, because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous (1 John 3:12). In consequence of the enmity put between the Seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, the war broke out, which has been waged ever since. In this war we are all concerned, none are neuter; our Captain has declared, He that is not with me is against me. Let us decidedly, yet in meekness, support the cause of truth and righteousness against Satan. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

But the Lord will not allow evil thwart His plan. Hope continues…

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Adam had relations with 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.” [Gen 4:25]

From the birth of Seth as we will see in Genesis chapter 5, God (in the background) kept close watch with a specific family line.

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This line is a direct Crimson Thread to Jesus Himself, the Son of God which is listed out in His genealogy.

Here is a Worthy Note for you.

When ever I am reading Scripture and I come to a passage that clearly stuck out, I tend to flag it for further study. Near the tail end of Genesis 5 is one of those interesting flags. There are times that Scripture can be monotonous by patterns of repetition. In this fifth chapter, we have one of those patterns that when read out loud on the pulpit, the preacher might notice a number of nodding heads. In this case, what would be read is the genealogy of Adam family line with each one giving birth to a son and after living close to an eon, and then they die, except when the repetition is interrupted with Enoch who only lived for less than 400 year and he did not die. You heard me right. Enoch, to this date, had not died!

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. [Gen 5:22-24]

Enoch was the seventh from Adam. Godliness is walking with God: which shows reconciliation to God, for two cannot walk together except they be agreed, Am 3:3. It includes all the parts of a godly, righteous, and sober life. To walk with God, is to set God always before us, to act as always under his eye. It is constantly to care, in all things to please God, and in nothing to offend him. It is to be followers of him as dear children. The Holy Spirit, instead of saying, Enoch lived, says, Enoch walked with God. This was his constant care and work; while others lived to themselves and the world, he lived to God. It was the joy of his life. Enoch was removed to a better world. As he did not live like the rest of mankind, so he did not leave the world by death as they did. He was not found, because God had translated him.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. [Hebrew 11:5]

He had lived but 365 years, which, as men’s ages were then, was but the midst of a man’s days. God often takes those soonest whom he loves best; the time they lose on earth, is gained in heaven, to their unspeakable advantage. See how Enoch’s removal is expressed: he was not, for God took him. He was not any longer in this world; he was changed, as the saints shall be, who are alive at Christ’s second coming. Those who begin to walk with God when young, may expect to walk with him long, comfortably, and usefully. The true christian’s steady walk in holiness, through many a year, till God takes him, will best recommend that religion which many oppose and many abuse. And walking with God well agrees with the cares, comforts, and duties of life. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

In our next post, we will cover the descendants of Cain and what they have done to move God to judge mankind with a devastating effect.

Sketching HIStory #3

Sketching-HIStory-2-wIntroduction – The Bible is God-breathed

home-altar-w.jpgWhen I was growing up, we lived in the Philippines which was mostly Roman Catholic. In our home, like in many Filipino houses, we had an alcove that was traditionally reserved for family religious icons. On the wall panel, we had a statue image of Jesus as he was ascending into heaven. Underneath was an altar, a narrow table laid out with a beautiful white table cover intricately knitted by my grandmother (on my mother’s side). On the two ends of the table were a pair of candles on silver sticks. At the center, sitting on a slight tilted easel, was our large family Bible. I still remember it well. From a child’s perspective, it was massive and looked quite heavy. I remember my grandmother would scare my siblings and especially me that if we were bad, we’d have to kneel before the altar holding that heavy book up. As the naughtiest, she would dramatically point at it whenever she was annoyed by me. Funny thing though, she never did carry it out.

Anyway, I can still see it in my mind’s eye. It’s thick fabric cover was faded white (almost beige) with the words THE HOLY BIBLE and the cross embossed in whitish-gold on it. Just under the cover, on the second page, are the names of my family and our respective birth dates. I considered it quite sacred, though at that time I didn’t really understand what it meant. As a kid, I was always attracted to that book. Little did I know that written in it were words that would eventually change my life. It was almost three decades later that I got myself a smaller Bible that guided me through my greatest challenges in life and even beyond. Can you believe it?

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However, before I get to that part of my own history, allow me to put out this unmistakable statistic. The Bible is still the best-selling book of all time.

Did you know that when the printing press was invented, the Gutenberg Bible was the first printed book to hit the market? The Bible has been a massive influence on literature and history, especially in the Western World. According to the March 2007 edition of Time, the Bible “has done more to shape literature, history, entertainment, and culture than any book ever written. Its influence on world history is unparalleled, and shows no signs of abating.” [content from Wikipedia]

Of course, it was not statistics nor its influences that impressed me. You see, during my ‘wild and rebellious’ years, the sacredness of the Bible had less an effect on me. Mainly, I got into my head that it was outdated and probably was not relevant to my life. Keep in mind, though, that the only Scriptures I knew were those that were more or less taught in Catholic catechism. The catechism was promulgated by the Catholic Church to reinforce principles and beliefs of the Catholic faithful. I was a kid then and I must admit, I was a lousy student.

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fr-peyton-w.jpgBesides that, what else I knew about the Bible and God was from stories told by family and… believe it or not… from Cecil B. de Mille movies like The Ten Commandments, Samson and Delilah and The King of Kings.

Oh, I almost forgot about the 1960s TV series, Father Patrick Peyton’s Family Theatre which showed dramatized episodes of the Gospel.

That was the extent of my knowledge of God which, looking back, was superficial at best.

I say superficial because I had my own ideas of God. It was either incomplete or most of the time, downright wrong and not based on knowledge (Romans 10:2). How did I know? In hindsight, my little knowledge of Him had not stirred my life to fruition. Even with my college education, I felt empty, unfulfilled and a man with no direction. Like a ship with no rudder, I was subject to the winds and tides (trials & problems of life) that would eventually push me to the rocks and destruction. But then the Bible miraculously opened up to me. What do I mean? Before, others tried to get me to read the Bible but every time I tried… nothing! The words didn’t move me. Today, I know why. During those times, I had no real desire to get to know God. It was only when I came to the realization that I really needed to find out more about Him was when His Word breathed life into me (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

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I became inspired. As 2nd Timothy 3 says above, the Bible, even after 25 years since I thoughtfully opened the book, is still teaching me. I can never exhaust learning from His word. His word is truly living especially when it rebukes, corrects and trains me in righteousness.

So, how did I discover the true God when my eyes first open to His Word?

road-to-emmaus-4-wLet’s go back to the road to Emmaus. Jesus, who those two disciples were still prevented to recognize, took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. [Luke 24:27 NLT] The master teacher of all time brought them back to the beginning of the only Bible they had at that time, the Old Testament. Luke 24 verse 27 mentions first the writings of Moses. Moses wrote five crucial books the first of which is the Book of Genesis. This is the beginning of the Bible. This was where the Lord started me on more than 25 years ago.

Sketching HIStory (SH) will follow the same chronological path through the Bible and I will take on the role of a storyteller. In those stories, I will include my own thoughts and questions I had at that time. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I will also provide related illustrations sketched out either by me or from other sources. My goal is that you will get to know HIM intimately like the way I did. But this blog will only highlight the Scriptural mile stones. It is not an adequate substitution for you to read His words on your own. In fact, I would encourage you to not take my word on face value but seek out what Scripture actually says. Then, you would be prepared and equipped to do every good work, like I have witnessed time after time from those that read and believed.

crimson-thread-wOne other thing that I want to emphasize as we walk together along the chronological trail of God’s story. I believe I will not be committing ‘spoiler alert’ violations when I stipulate what is widely taught that the Old Testament ultimately pointed to Jesus Christ. This is what Jesus was talking about on the road to Emmaus. As a storyteller and follower, I can do no less than try to emulate the Teacher. So, as I post my SH blog entry, I will layout a… CRIMSON THREAD. When you see this symbol, I hope you can see the connection. The rest is up to you.

Well, this is the end of the Introduction. In my next post, let us meet God in the beginning.