**NOTE: I am deviating slightly from the online Bible reading plan. I want to keep the flood all on one day, so I’ll read chapter 7 tomorrow.**
Last night, after I finished posting, I went to bed. My mind was racing with everything I had learned in such a short period of time. It makes me think about the fact that we don’t need to be intimidated by the Bible. All I did was give up a little bit of time. I read three chapters, looked over some wise opinions, thought, and prayed. And it’s amazing how much God taught me through that.
As I prayed, I said “Dear God, Thank you for Day 1. Please help me with Day 2.” When I go to sleep tonight, I’ll say “Dear God, Thank you for Day 2. Please help me with Day 3.” I’m not doing anything in this experience. I am not wise and developing great interpretations of scripture. I am just allowing God to work through me.
Genesis 4:1-16 -> Cain and Abel
Can you imagine committing the first murder? I hate to say it, but murder has become somewhat commonplace in our society. It is constantly in movies, TV, and books. People make jokes about it. Even in our own reality… if we hear about a murder on the news, we shake our heads sadly, but are we really all that surprised? This wasn’t the case in the time of Cain and Abel. There were literally four people on the planet. No one had ever killed another human. So, in the world: population 4, what could motivate someone to kill his own brother?
”Now Abel became a shepherd of a flock, but Cain cultivated the land. In the course of time Cain presented some of the land’s produce as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also presented an offering - some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he was downcast.” (vs. 4:2b-5)
First off, I would just like to say that I am thankful that God no longer calls us to make sacrifices and/or offerings (I feel like they aren’t the same thing, but they may be…) of livestock. Secondly, I have to admit that I’ve totally been Cain in this situation.
Cain and Abel each gave something to honor the Lord. Cain’s offering was simply middle-of-the-road, what was easy. It was what was easy to give. In contrast, Abel gave the best of his flock. God showed favor on Abel because of this.
So many times, God has called me to give, and I have only given what was easy. I’ll give a little less to the offering at church so I can go out to lunch with my friends afterwards. I’ll be nice to a homeless man on the street, but won’t offer to pray for him because it pulls me out of my comfort zone. Instead of giving the best of what God has given me back to him, I only give what is easy or convenient - leaving the best for myself. This is not what is favorable in the eyes of God.
Luke 12:48 says, “Much will be required of everyone who has been given much. And even more will be expected of the one who has been entrusted with more.” Are you doing what is expected of you? Or are you like Cain, and simply doing what is easy?
One of my favorite parts of this story is vs. 6-7:
"Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you furious? and why are you downcast? If you do right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must master it.’"
I just love how simple and logical God is with Cain. If we do what is right and what brings glory to God, we will see favor in His sight. But if we choose not to do that, sin is waiting for us. The imagery in this verse is wonderful. It makes me think of when I was a kid and one of my brothers would stand on the other side of a doorway, just waiting for me to come through so that they could scare or trip me. That is how I imagine sin in this verse. If we simply choose to not walk through the doorway at all, we can master sin.
Hopefully I’m not spoiling the story for you (wait… I think I already did that at the beginning of the post), but Cain goes on to kill his brother out of jealousy. God punishes his actions by promising him no yield from the land and the life of a “restless wanderer.”
You would think that at this point Cain would realize the error of his ways and ask for forgiveness. But as Matthew Henry points out: ”Cain complains not of his sin, but of his punishment. It shows great hardness of heart to be more concerned about our sufferings than our sins.” I think many times we have so much anger and hardness in our hearts that we refuse to admit our sins. Instead, we complain about our sufferings and how we do not deserve them.
Genesis 4:17-5:32 -> Begat, begat, begat… (AKA From Adam to Noah)
This is one part of the Bible that I (and many others, I would bet…) often skip right over. In older versions of the Bible, it was a bunch of names I couldn’t pronounced, joined together by a few dozen “begat”s. Now… it’s a bunch of names I pretend to know how to pronounced joined together by a few dozen “fathered”s. But there are a few things about this section that I would like to point out.
- The lineage of the Bible is important. Just like the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers as borders to Eden, genealogy reports from the time of Adam are a connection to history. They remind us that the story of God and his people is real.
- "At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord." - Genesis 4:26. This verse really stuck out to me. So far, humanity has pretty much failed. God created this perfect world, then we filled it with sin. I tried to get fancy and look at the Hebrew, but it’s not much more telling than the English (see here). I read this verse as a moment of surrender. People realized that things are not going right and began to ask for help and began to pray to God. I might be wrong with this interpretation, but I like it. I’ve definitely had moments like that. Moments where I say “God, I screwed up. Help me fix it. Help me focus on You instead of all the other stupid stuff I spend my time doing.”
- "Enoch walked with God, and he was not there, because God took him." - Genesis 5:24. I wanna be that awesome. To walk with GOD! I don’t think I’m up to it though. I’m WAY too flawed. I still find this verse convicting of all the things I should be doing. Matthew Henry explains it well:
“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.”
Genesis 6 -> Noah and the Ark (but not the flood!)
Human’s didn’t stop screwing up at verse 4:26. In fact, they continued to become more and more corrupt from the day of Seth until the day of Noah.
"When the Lord saw that mankind’s wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every scheme his mind thought of was nothing but evil all the time, the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart." - Genesis 6:5-6
Wow. Now that’s a punch in the gut if I’ve ever felt one! Man screwed up so badly that God regretted ever putting us on this earth. So much in fact, that He decided to destroy it. God decided to eliminate all the sin and corruption that was on the earth. He only allowed Noah, who was “blameless,” and his family to survive. So God called Noah to build an ark…
My friend Rachel once did a devotional on Noah and the Ark that I wish I could replicate now. Sadly, I can’t. But she did an excellent job of depicting the amount of faith that Noah had to build the ark. Most people in Noah’s day had never seen a boat. At all. God asked Noah to build one. A BIG one.
This is a picture of a replica of the ark, supposedly built to scale, in the Netherlands (For an article on it, see here):
That’s a big boat.
THEN, as if building the boat wasn’t enough, Noah had to believe that two of every single creature on the planet was just going to waltz right up to him and climb aboard. Noah had an astonishing amount of faith.
That’s all for tonight… Tomorrow I get to read about how Noah’s faith paid off. :-)