Working For The Week’s End (Genesis 7:1-24)

‘What would you do if you only had one week left to live’ has been the premise of daydreams, movies, and plenty of second-rate jokes. But here is a different question: What would you do if everyone else had only one week to live? That was the reality that Noah found himself in in Genesis 7. After perhaps 100 years of building, the time had come when God would do what he had said so many years before. The moment of destruction and deliverance was upon the world.

Genesis 7:1 – Then the Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.

Noah was not just a religious man, he had a relationship with God. He “walked with God.” We don’t know how much direct communication he had with the Lord during this ark-building project. God had spoken, but it’s altogether possible that Noah had not heard from God for many years. Even so, Noah had acted on the Word that he had received.

When does God speak to us? Some of these Bible characters went decades between interactions with the Lord. We are not subject to that kind of drought. We have the completed, inspired, reliable Word of God available to us any time, day or night. Christians have the Holy Spirit living in our hearts. We have a spiritual family that we’re to be connected to – the local church – by whom we’re encouraged, supported and sharpened as we walk with the Lord. If we haven’t heard from the Lord in awhile, it isn’t because the supply is depleted, it is because we have not visited the storehouses of God’s provision. After all, the Bible says that He gives to all “generously and ungrudgingly.”

God said, “It’s time for your family to be delivered from the coming wrath against sin.” We’ve seen it before but it’s worth repeating: Noah wasn’t saved because he earned a place on the ark. He didn’t win a contest. No, Hebrews states emphatically that he was made righteous by God because he had faith. That’s the same work that God does in a life today when a person believes in Him.

Noah was the only righteous person in the entire world. Maybe you are the only Christian in your school or at your job or in your family. Take courage! God is still true. God is still working and He delights in using you to make an eternal difference right where you are.

Now, all this time, Noah had not been given a date for when the flood would come. It must’ve been a strange thing, knowing that the ark must be completed, but, at the same time, we know a huge project like that always has more you could do. Another coat of pitch on the hull. Another calculation for the water and grain. Noah’s efforts would have to be urgent but continual. The same is true for us. There is a judgment coming. We’ve been enlisted to be a part of the rescue work. Our efforts should be urgent and continual, all the more as we see the day approaching.

Genesis 7:2-3 – 2 You are to take with you seven pairs, a male and its female, of all the clean animals, and two of the animals that are not clean, a male and its female, 3 and seven pairs, male and female, of the birds of the sky—in order to keep offspring alive throughout the earth.

Bible scholars disagree over whether it was seven of certain animals or seven pairs. It seems that pairs is more fitting, as it says “male and female,” which would require an even number.

It’s taken for granted that Noah knew the difference between clean and unclean animals. These early believers had more information, given by God, than the text records for us.

This clean/unclean thing gives us a good reminder: God is the One Who establishes truth. He decided this list for Noah. That doesn’t mean we can’t eat pork, the New Testament deals with that. But we find ourselves in a time when everyone wants to debate every truth, every definition, every category and meaning. But absolute truth is found in the Word of God and it does not change.

Let’s take a moment to realize the awesome responsibility God was giving Noah. “Take these animals…in order to keep offspring alive throughout the earth.” If the Lord had given me that task, I might answer back with, “Sure thing…but maybe could we have like 20 pairs instead of one? I don’t like these odds! I need some wiggle room!”

This restriction reminds us that God is able to do a very lot with a very little. Whether it’s two little piglets or a widow’s two mites or mustard seed faith. But here’s the question: Do we trust the Lord when it seems like His way isn’t enough? For example: Do we trust God enough to give Him some of our finances like He asks us to or do we answer back, “Lord, I need more before I do that?” Do we trust God enough to stand against the pressure of the culture, even when everyone around us is going along? Do we trust God enough to be the Director of where we live, who we marry, how we live, and what we do? He has plans and methods and commands and they can be trusted.

Genesis 7:4 – 4 Seven days from now I will make it rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing I have made I will wipe off the face of the earth.”

Noah was, literally, in the last days of his world. It must have been a very full week. Most of you, when going on a long trip, go through a lot of details while packing and preparing. I’m sure Noah was very busy. In fact, we know he was.

Genesis 7:5 – 5 And Noah did everything that the Lord commanded him.

Noah is a walking illustration of saving faith. Saving faith is obedient.

John 14:15 – [Jesus said] 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commands.

Hebrews 5:9 – [Jesus is] …the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him

We see these polls about how many people “believe in God.” Gallup has put the number as high as 87% of Americans. But it’s obvious that 87% of Americans are not obeying God’s Word.

You’ve probably heard someone called a RINO. It stands for “Republican in name only.” It’s been an especially popular slur in the last few years, but it dates back to the 1920’s. It’s meant to describe someone who takes a label but doesn’t adhere to certain positions. We should be more worried about being disciples in name only. Do we obey? Obedience has real world consequences.

Genesis 7:6 – 6 Noah was six hundred years old when the flood came and water covered the earth.

Noah was two thirds of the way through life. God uses people of all ages, in all places for His glory.

Genesis 7:7-10 – 7 So Noah, his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives entered the ark because of the floodwaters. 8 From the animals that are clean, and from the animals that are not clean, and from the birds and every creature that crawls on the ground, 9 two of each, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, just as God had commanded him. 10 Seven days later the floodwaters came on the earth.

In total, they would be on the ark for 377 days. In verse 13 it will seem like they entered the ark on the day the waters came. Why? There would be a lot of in and out that final week – loading animals, supplies, and personal effects. But also, Noah was a real person like you and me. You have unsaved family and friends, right? If you knew they were going to die next Tuesday, wouldn’t you find a moment to visit them just one more time and try to convince them that they could be saved?

Some commentators make much of the idea that the ark was proportioned like a huge coffin. I think that is taking a little too much license, but it does give us an analogy to think about. We know Noah was a preacher. I’m sure that he was preaching right up to the moment he was closed into this big wooden box. As believers, we want our lives to be preaching to the very end. I don’t only mean the end of our mortal lives. There are times when you’re going to make an exit – when you move to a different place or leave your job. Find ways to proclaim the Gospel in those last days.

A few weeks ago we hosted the retirement ceremony for a lady who comes to the church who had served for twenty years in the Navy. It was a great event. It was particularly great because this faithful sister used the chance to proclaim the Gospel to a group of people she may not see again.

This seven day countdown also proves to us God’s compassion. He gave the people of earth 120 years to repent. And now, He provides a final grace period before the end. He’ll do so again before the whole world is once more judged. Only in the future it won’t be 7 short days, it will be 7 years.

Genesis 7:11-12 – 11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the sources of the vast watery depths burst open, the floodgates of the sky were opened, 12 and the rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

There are a variety explanations for the mechanics of the flood. In the end, we can’t be sure. There’s the vapor canopy model, the hydroplate model, the catastrophic plate tectonics model. It might have been a mixture of various occurrences. The hydroplate model has compelling evidence, though it doesn’t solve every question. No theory does. I’d encourage you to visit sites like Answers In Genesis and the Institute For Creation Research and take a look at their fascinating articles.

But, if the hydroplate theory is correct, the bursting of water and pressure would’ve been the equivalent of 30 trillion hydrogen bombs exploding on the earth. This wasn’t just a bunch of rain. This was a disaster the likes of which we’ve never seen. Along with torrents of water, magma and rock would’ve been falling from the sky. Commentators point out that the proportions of the ark are nautically ideal – that because of the way it was laid out, it could be brought almost to a 90 degree angle and still not capsize. But it wasn’t just a really good design. God would’ve had to protect the ark from falling dangers, like He would later in the book of Exodus during the plague of hail which fell on the Egyptians but not in the land of Goshen. God will, once again, provide miraculous protection for His 144,000 witnesses during the Great Tribulation.

Genesis 7:13-16 – 13 On that same day Noah along with his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, entered the ark, along with Noah’s wife and his three sons’ wives. 14 They entered it with all the wildlife according to their kinds, all livestock according to their kinds, all the creatures that crawl on the earth according to their kinds, every flying creature—all the birds and every winged creature—according to their kinds. 15 Two of every creature that has the breath of life in it came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 Those that entered, male and female of every creature, entered just as God had commanded him. Then the Lord shut him in.

Why is this account so repetitive? God obviously wants us to understand this was a true and literal event. It is also the end of one era and the beginning of a new era – a new era with a whole new world, whose geology demands understanding. But, on a devotional level, this text is solemn. We should read it and realize how serious God is about sin. It’s not a joke to Him. It’s not a small thing. At the same time, He is also serious about saving. He will not fail to save. He always makes a way.

We’re told that “The Lord shut [Noah] in.” Adrian Rogers points out that God did not tell Noah to make a little peg on the side of the ark and then say, “Ok, Noah – as long as you hold onto that peg, you’ll be safe.” No, God shut them in securely. You don’t work to get your salvation and you don’t work to maintain it. God is the Author and Finisher of your faith. He holds you in His hand.

In that moment, when the Lord closed the door, I imagine Noah might’ve said, “Lord, can’t you come in here with us?” I’d rather have the Angel of the Lord in the boat with me, wouldn’t you? But it’s clear that God was with Noah. He watched Noah and looked deep into his heart. He spoke to Noah and helped him obey. God knew Noah’s family and cared for them. God is with you in every storm, in every hurt, in every struggle, in every valley. He will never leave you or forsake you.

Genesis 7:17-20 – 17 The flood continued for forty days on the earth; the water increased and lifted up the ark so that it rose above the earth. 18 The water surged and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 Then the water surged even higher on the earth, and all the high mountains under the whole sky were covered. 20 The mountains were covered as the water surged above them more than twenty feet.

Everything about earth’s geography changed after the flood. Some scientists suggest the highest mountains were five or six thousand feet. But even the volume of water shows God’s tender care for his people. The ark was 45 feet high, meaning that, as it floated, half of it would be submerged in water, which means if water wasn’t at least 20 feet or so higher than the highest peak, the ark might run aground. In wrath God remembers mercy. He is thoughtful of His people at all times.

Genesis 7:21-24 – 21 Every creature perished—those that crawl on the earth, birds, livestock, wildlife, and those that swarm on the earth, as well as all mankind. 22 Everything with the breath of the spirit of life in its nostrils—everything on dry land died. 23 He wiped out every living thing that was on the face of the earth, from mankind to livestock, to creatures that crawl, to the birds of the sky, and they were wiped off the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark. 24 And the water surged on the earth 150 days.

Only those 8 believers were saved. There was no second boat. Tubal-Cain didn’t secretly sneak onto the ark like in that ridiculous Russell Crowe movie. In the coming wrath, only those who believe on Jesus Christ will be saved. There is no other way out.

The dramatic action of God in Noah’s day and in the yet future Tribulation prove that you are not an accident. You were created by God for a purpose. That purpose is to be loved by Him. To be cleansed of your sin so that you might walk with Him and be in communion with Him. The way out of death and into this incredible life has always been the same in every age: Believe God, believe His word, turn from the ruin of sin and instead embrace Him. Walk with Him now so that, one day, you will arrive at your eternal home, where righteousness dwells.

How many weeks do we have left to live before we are delivered through the storm of death onto the shores of eternity? We don’t know. But we can wait with urgency and continual faithfulness, based on God’s reliable promise, knowing He’s ready to use us, even till the last minute.

Very Important Persons (Genesis 6:13-22)

Is your job important? As human beings we have an innate desire for significance and we can find it many places.You’ve probably heard of TED talks. “TED began in 1984 as a Technology, Entertainment and Design conference. Today you can watch more than 3,700 talks their website, many of which discuss the “importance” of particular topics like, “the importance of listening,” “the importance of preserving cultural artifacts.” Of “emotional tone in a digital age.” Of “good conversation” and “self-care.” Of “visual literacy” and “diversity in the comic book universe.” Of educating girls” and of “space lawyers.” Those are all real topics or playlists on ted.com.

Noah had the most important human job ever. There was only one job that was more significant: That was the Messiah’s job to come and bridge the gap between heaven and earth – a job no mere human could do. But Noah was humanity’s only hope for survival. One man, from whom all of us descend. The one man who carried the torch which would ultimately bring the Deliverer to us.

There was a time there when, in my dad’s family, I was the last Pensiero male who could carry on our family’s name. Of course, there are other Pensieros out there somewhere. Hopefully that won’t keep you up at night. But if Noah dies – if his family dies – that’s the end of humanity.

But his life and its work aren’t only important because of what he preserved. It also gives to us two very important illustrations. It gives a picture and a precedent. On the one hand, it is a picture of God’s unrelenting work of saving the lost. On the other hand, it is a precedent for how we can also respond to the call of God and invest our lives in His important work ourselves. It all begins with God’s spoken word.

Genesis 6:13 – 13 Then God said to Noah, “I have decided to put an end to every creature, for the earth is filled with wickedness because of them; therefore I am going to destroy them along with the earth.

We don’t know how God revealed Himself, but however He did, He did so directly. God speaks directly. He speaks of Who He is and what He’s done and what He’s going to do. Sometimes we wish we had a face-to-face chat with the Lord like Abraham did or Paul or Solomon, but the truth is we have a much greater volume of information than they did. We have the completed, inerrant, conspicuous Word of God. In that Word, God loves to reveal His heart and His plans to us. We don’t know every detail of every act of providence, but God likes to let us in on what He’s doing. In Genesis 18 the Lord will say, “Shall I hide what I’m about to do from Abraham?” And the same characteristic is seen here. God wanted Noah to understand what He was going to be doing. He explained the what and the why. His Word is given to you so that you can know Him. Psalms and Jeremiah show us that God wants us to know Him. God wants us to know His voice and know His works and know His will.

We’ve seen that His will for mankind was to fill the world with goodness – His goodness. Instead, the world was filled with wickedness and rebellion. In response, a global flood was coming.

There are those who would rather think of the flood as a local flood. Their reasons usually come down to ideas about the volume of water on the earth today and the prevailing assumptions about the age of the earth based off of the theory of evolution. However, both the Old and New Testaments plainly indicate a global flood. If it was local, there would be no need for Noah to build a boat. He’d simply need to take a road trip. Additionally, the fossil record serves as an expert witness to the historicity of a sudden, global flood. Like how we’ve found marine fossils on top of Mount Everest, and air-breathing dinosaur fossils found in ocean deposits. Other fossils are found vertically preserved across multiple strata layers, and we see the existence of fossilized, soft-tissue organisms like octopi. Not to mention the fact that flood narratives can be found in the traditions of various cultures on every continent – not just in the mid-east, but extending around the globe. For example, the Powhatan tribe of Virginia “have a tradition of the [flood], that all the world was once drowned, except a few that were saved…about seven or eight in a great [canoe].” The flood was global, sudden, and verifiable.

Interestingly, when God revealed this coming judgment, Noah did not try to intercede on humanity’s behalf. Abraham will, famously, try to save the city of Sodom from its judgment. Moses interceded on behalf of the children of Israel, that God would not wipe them off the earth. Not so with Noah. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t going to be a part of God’s merciful salvation. In fact, after revealing the coming wrath, God gives Noah an urgent commission.

Genesis 6:14 – 14 “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it with pitch inside and outside.

We don’t know what gopher wood was, some believe it was cypress, but here’s what’s more precious to know: When God told Noah to cover it with “pitch” the word used there is the same word the Old Testament uses for “atonement.” The covering of sin. One Bible dictionary defines it as: “the price of a life…the ransom.” In order to save us, our sin must be covered. We must be atoned for, that our lives might be ransomed.

1 John 2:2 – [Jesus Christ]… is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.

The ark becomes a picture for us of several things but, first and foremost, it is an illustration of salvation in Jesus Christ. He is the lifeboat, Who saves us from the unsurvivable judgment. He made the way secure by sealing our salvation with His own blood.

Noah was to make ‘rooms in the ark.’ There’s a tender image here – the word God uses for rooms is actually ‘nests.’ If you’ve seen WALL•E you might recall that all of humanity has been saved off of planet earth in a giant, ark-like space ship. At the end, as they return to earth, there’s a scene where they’re all standing on this wide deck and the ship jumps to light speed and all the people just sorta fall over and crash around. That wouldn’t be the experience of the animals on the ark. There was an appropriate and cozy place prepared for each of them.

This is what God has done for you and me. Of course, we think of that promise Jesus made that He was going to heaven to prepare a place for us, but we also consider how He prepares a nest for us on this side of eternity as well. God has scattered us where we are so that we might be knit together with other members of the local flock we find ourselves near. The Lord’s work is to give us a home that is safe and firm, built on the Rock, and able to withstand the storms of this world.

Genesis 6:15 – 15 This is how you are to make it: The ark will be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.

Some of you have been to the Ark Encounter in Kentucky, so you’ve got a great mental picture of the proportions of this great barge. For those of us who haven’t, it might be hard to imagine the size we’re talking about. Particularly if your translation uses cubits instead of feet. The cubit was the length from your elbow to the tip of your middle finger. Naturally, that varies from person to person. In the ancient world, there were all sorts of cubits – some as short as 17 inches, some as long as 25. We use the 18 inch cubit in our thinking because it’s a good, conservative estimate and aligns with what we know about how the Jews, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Egyptians measured the cubit.

The ark had over 100,000 square feet of deck space and 1.4 million cubic feet of storage space. That’s the same square footage that engineers use as a rule of thumb for a city block, by the way. The ceiling of each deck would be at about 15 feet. Noah would’ve been able to bring 125,000 sheep-sized animals onto the ark. Of course, many were larger, but many were smaller. Plus, some scholars speculate that the animals would’ve been juveniles, which would’ve helped both in size and reproductive longevity after the flood.

This stage is about 12 feet by 16 feet. Noah could build a storage box the length and width of this stage, built up just 4 and a half feet, and that would be large enough to store 2 years worth of water for him and his family. Of course, the animals would need water too, but we can start to get the picture of just how much space this ark would provide.

So, how many animals did Noah bring on the ark? There’s no way for us to know. But, keep in mind that he wouldn’t have to bring each species of dog, dinosaur, bird, but only representative kinds from which other species would once again spring. Even still, if we look at the world today, it’s estimated that there are fewer than 34,000 different species of land-dependent animals. Creation scientists suggest they could’ve taken fewer than 7,000 animals, but even if they took 80,000, you would still have a ton of deck space left over.

Genesis 6:16 – 16 You are to make a roof, finishing the sides of the ark to within eighteen inches of the roof. You are to put a door in the side of the ark. Make it with lower, middle, and upper decks.

One door. Remember, the ark was a working object lesson of salvation. Jesus made it very clear that there is one way and only one way to be saved, and that is through Him. He said “I am the Door.” We are the sheep, His beloved lambs, that are called to enter through this Door and if anyone enters by Him, they will be saved but if not, there is no hope.

Genesis 6:17 – 17 “Understand that I am bringing a flood—floodwaters on the earth to destroy every creature under heaven with the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.

God was asking Noah to do something very unusual. Remember: It had never rained on the earth. It had certainly never flooded. God had interacted with humans from time to time, but there had never been this sort of involvement. And now, the Lord asked Noah to spend his life on this project. It must’ve seemed so absurd to the people around him. But notice that God did not ask for blind faith. He didn’t ask Noah to do something silly just for the sake of standing out. He said, “Understand what I’m doing.” It would still have to be done by faith, trusting that what had never been seen was really going to happen, but what may have seemed foolish to the unbelieving world wasn’t rooted in foolhardiness. It was rooted in God’s truth. This is the same situation you and I find ourselves in. Peter says in his second epistle:

2 Peter 3:3-7 – 3 Scoffers will come in the last days scoffing and following their own evil desires, 4 saying, “Where is his ‘coming’ that he promised? Ever since our ancestors fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.” 5 They deliberately overlook this: By the word of God the heavens came into being long ago and the earth was brought about from water and through water. 6 Through these the world of that time perished when it was flooded. 7 By the same word, the present heavens and earth are stored up for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Our belief and activity are based on the Word of God. The Scripture is the bedrock, the blueprint, and the compass of our faith. It has been prepared, preserved, and passed on to you so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.

Now, sometimes obedience does come before understanding. Abraham had to obey God concerning Isaac before he understood. But God is very up front with us about His plans, His overall will, His commands, and His desires.

Genesis 6:18 – 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark with your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives.

This is the first use of the term ‘covenant’ in the Bible. Biblically speaking, a covenant is a treaty – an alliance of friendship. There is “no firmer guarantee of legal security, peace, or personal loyalty.” But a covenant is no good unless the other party is trustworthy. Moses was delivering this book originally to the people of Israel, with whom God wanted to make a covenant, full of terms and promises. Could He be trusted? Well, here Moses brings out the record of God’s covenant with Noah. He will do so again with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yes, this God could absolutely be trusted. He was true and His predictions were true and His power was true. He was proven!

What are the terms set by God for salvation from judgment? Come in! That’s it. Jesus said, “Come unto Me and I will give you rest.” Anyone who hears, anyone who’s thirsty, anyone who desires the water of life must simply come and receive it without price because the bill has already been paid.

Genesis 6:19-21 – 19 You are also to bring into the ark two of all the living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of everything—from the birds according to their kinds, from the livestock according to their kinds, and from the animals that crawl on the ground according to their kinds—will come to you so that you can keep them alive. 21 Take with you every kind of food that is eaten; gather it as food for you and for them.”

Some scholars suggest that the Lord would’ve put all the animals into hibernation. Maybe. There’s not really any indication of that. But here we see that Noah had an awesome responsibility to protect life. The life of his family. The lives of these creatures. They mattered to God. To do what God was asking him would require a lot of effort, expense, thoughtfulness, and application.

But did you notice the key thing there? In verse 19 we read, “You are…to bring” but in verse 20 we read, “[the animals] will come to you.” You see, God’s work is a partnership – one where He does the heavy lifting. He provides all we need to accomplish what seems impossible. He empowers and supplies and accomplishes and we cooperate with His work, not the other way around. We call it “Noah’s ark,” but as we see here, it’s all God’s show. As His people, we are simply stage hands serving Him, to bring Him honor, to further His purpose, to join in the impossible. Noah did.

Genesis 6:22 – 22 And Noah did this. He did everything that God had commanded him.

Thank God that He did, because our lives depended on it. We talked last time about how Noah was a preacher. Peter says that about him. It was important that he preached, but let’s not miss the fact that he practiced what he preached. He lived his life in belief that what God said was going to happen was actually going to happen. And so, when the rain came down, the ark floated up.

This ark tells us so much about how God works. Remember, it is an illustration to us of His effort to intervene and save the doomed sinners of earth. Through this story we see that God’s work is long-suffering and patient. He waited so long before judgment finally fell. We see that God’s work is always rooted in His grace. We see that what He does is sufficient for anyone who will believe Him. There’s plenty of room. And we see that He is generous. Generous to involve us in His good work, generous to supply what we need, generous to give us the strength and the understanding to do what He asks us to do. But we also see that God’s work is exclusive. No other way. No other boat.

But what about how this story speaks to us about our own lives? Some scholars estimate that Noah was building the ark for 120 years, maybe 100. The folks at Answers In Genesis put it somewhere between 55-75 years. From where we sit, that’s a lifetime of work. If you’ve never read Robinson Crusoe, I highly recommend it. It’s surprisingly Christ-centric. But in one section the book talks about just how difficult it was for Robinson to fell a single tree and start breaking it down to fashion tools and boards from it. The time and the effort. Now imagine Noah and this undertaking.

We imagine the incredible scope and can’t help but think, “Well, yeah. That’s Noah. He’s a special servant of God.” So are you! Hebrews declares that we are links in the same chain of cooperation that Noah was a part of. What’s even more amazing is that the Bible shows that it’s not the scale of what you do that matters. You can make an eternal difference by handing someone a cup of water, by writing a letter, by praying for someone, even the countenance of your face.

So, remove the scale for a moment and see Noah’s faithful cooperation with God as a precedent set for you and I, who continue in his footsteps. What do we see? We see a man being obedient to the Word of God and carrying out his personal calling. We see that our work for God is especially concerned with the family, not at the expense of everyone else, but it is a primary responsibility. We see that though God does the heavy lifting and pours out His grace, it’s going to cost us something to participate in the important work of God and it is meant to be a lifelong cooperation with Him. And we see that, when all is said and done, we are meant to be purveyors of salvation. The goal of Christian work is people getting saved. That was the point of building the ark. Not so Noah could say he was the first to do something or that he built the biggest whatever. The point wasn’t for him to make a name for himself, but to save people.

Each aspect of the project was very important. In this work of God, you might be the person keeping the pitch warm or passing the boards along or you may be herding some cats into their nest. You may be answering questions about what God has said to some unbeliever passing by. You might be instructing your kids in the ways of the Lord. What’s important, what makes your work important, is how you follow Noah’s example and carry out your calling according to God’s Word and His purpose, being ready to receive whatever He brings to you, remembering that a judgment is coming, but salvation is available to anyone who will believe. Find your importance by drawing near to God, and continuing in your trust in Him, continuing in His revealed truth, and continuing in the tradition of Noah.

The Big Unfriendly Giants (Genesis 6:1-12)

If I were to ask you to think of times in history you would like to travel back to for a visit I’m guessing we’d bump into each other at certain points – maybe at Lazarus’ tomb or the parting of the Red Sea or the Gettysburg Address. I can’t imagine many of us would choose to send ourselves back to the days of Noah – a time of violence, corruption, depravity, and danger. Maybe we’d enjoy seeing part of the building of the ark, but we’d run the risk of being killed while we watched! But consider this: We may not want to travel back to that evil time, but Jesus has assured us that the days of Noah are coming again just before His return.

Are we in those days now? What made them different than the run-of-the-mill sinfulness that has defined humanity since the fall of man? Is there any hope for Christian ministry if we know that things are going to go from bad to worse as the end of all things approaches?

Here at Calvary Hanford, we have spent focused time on the days of Noah. We have a whole series on the website. We think it is important, given the Lord’s discussion of it in His Olivet Discourse. But this topic, particularly in the first part of chapter 6, is controversial in the Christian community and some of it is hard for us to wrap our minds around. But, in difficult passages, we remind ourselves that God’s word is trustworthy and it is meant to be understood – it’s presented clearly and plainly for our benefit, so we might be made complete and equipped for the Christian life.

When we left off, the genealogy of Seth came to a sudden halt with this man Noah. Now, the story is going to zoom in on the world of Noah, showing what had become of God’s once-perfect creation.

Genesis 6:1-2 – When mankind began to multiply on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of mankind were beautiful, and they took any they chose as wives for themselves.

The immediate question is: Who are the ‘sons of God’ and the ‘daughters of men?’ There are three major perspectives you will encounter. The first is that the ‘sons of God’ were the males born to the line of Seth. The ‘daughters of men,’ then, are the females born to the line of Cain. This argument says that the good boys from Seth eventually started marrying the bad girls from Cain and their Godliness was corrupted. This perspective came about sometime around the 3rd century AD. The problems with this view are: It does not harmonize with what Peter and Jude say in reference to this period of time. It also doesn’t work linguistically. It doesn’t explain why the offspring of these unions are described the way they are in verse 4. And it doesn’t account for the fact that verse 12 says that everyone on earth was corrupt in God’s eyes – everyone except one man and his family.

The second view is that the ‘sons of God’ are meant to be understood as nobles who started marrying peasants, adding to their harems. But this still doesn’t explain the offspring issue. And, it almost gives us the impression that God was upset that humans weren’t keeping to a caste system, and that, in response, He was going to judge the innocent along with the wicked.

The third view is the strangest, but is the one that has been accepted since antiquity. More importantly, it harmonizes with what we read in both Testaments. And this view states that the ‘sons of God’ were fallen, supernatural beings who came to earth and procreated with human women, defiling the population of earth and proliferating great evil by their offspring.

Why do we think this? First, it’s the plainest reading. Second, in their letters, Jude and Peter refer to angels during Noah’s time who left their proper domain and fell into perverse, sexual sin. Also, it’s important to note that, in the Old Testament, the term ‘sons of God’ only refers to angelic beings. There’s never a time when it refers to a human being until the New Testament, when we’re told that believers are made into sons of God through a divine act of creation, which we call the new birth.

But critics recoil at the suggestion that angels could mate with humans. They argue, “Jesus said the angels don’t marry.” That’s true, they don’t marry in heaven. But nowhere does it say that angels could never perform these activities. We do see angels doing “human” things in the Old Testament. Angels eat with Abraham later in this very book.

Some scholars synthesize the Noble view with the angelic view, that fallen angels possessed human men who took all these women as wives. However it happened, what we’re seeing is fallen angels procreating with human women and producing a very specific, very evil offspring.

Genesis 6:3 – 3 And the Lord said, “My Spirit will not remain with mankind forever, because they are corrupt., Their days will be 120 years.”

God doesn’t mean that He’s going to start limiting man’s lifespan to 120. Noah would live to be 950. But then, by the time you get to Psalm 90, the lifespan was 70 or 80 at best. No, God was saying that judgment must come, but, in His grace, He would still wait 120 years before sending the flood.

God assesses mankind and says, “They are corrupt” (your version may say they are ‘flesh’). They had fully turned away from any sort of spiritual communion with God and had embraced the sinful fleshiness of humanity. Thanks to Adam and Eve’s sin, this was now the natural inclination of the human heart. And it still is today. All are sinners. All have gone astray. As unbelievers, our minds are set on the things of the flesh. Our desires, our drives, our selves. The problem is, that mentality only leads to slavery and death. Paul explains in Romans that the mindset of the flesh is hostile to God and it causes us to be enslaved to sin, and it only ever ends in one place: The grave.

During the days of Noah, the people would not believe, but God still waited 120 years, sending them preachers like Noah and Enoch, offering them a way of escape because He has always been a God of compassion and mercy.

Genesis 6:4 – 4 The Nephilim were on the earth both in those days and afterward, when the sons of God came to the daughters of mankind, who bore children to them. They were the powerful men of old, the famous men.

We can get confused in this topic because the Old Testament talks about Nephilim, or the Rephaim or the Anakim or the Zamzummim. Nephilim is the term God uses to describe these hybrid offspring – part supernatural, part human. The term means “fallen ones.” The other names (listed above) are either names used by other people or they are proper names given to specific descendants of the Nephilim. For example, the descendants of a particular Nephilim named Anak came to be known as the “Anakim.” We run into them in Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua and, perhaps, 1 and 2 Samuel. The Nephilim are shown in the Bible to be giants of great strength and ferocity.

I think for most of us, it’s easy to believe Goliath existed. We’ve seen tall people before. It’s harder to accept the idea of what we would elsewhere call ‘demigods.’ That is, after all, what we’re talking about, right? A part-man, part-supernatural being? Isn’t that mythology? The Bible is history, isn’t it? How could this kind of mythological idea be supported?

Before writing it off, let’s ask ourselves a few questions. First, it’s true, human mythology contains the idea of demigods. But where did that idea come from? This concept of divine beings cohabiting with humans to create titan offspring can be found, most famously, in Greek culture, but they’re hardly the only ones. This idea is also found in places and cultures like Egypt, Sumer, Persia, India, Mesopotamia, the Incas, the Mayans, the Assyrians, the islands of the South Seas, among the American Indians, in South America, the Zulus, Sudan, Senegal, the Philippines, the Romans, and in Norse mythology. As Bruce Waltke writes, “Instead of the Bible representing myth as history, as is commonly alleged, perhaps the ancients turned history into myth.”

Another question we might ask is: Doesn’t this make sense as a satanic strategy? What had God promised thus far in human history? That a Seed of the woman would destroy the Serpent. Then what happened? Cain was influenced by the Devil to kill his Godly brother, Abel. Of course, that didn’t stop God from providing Eve with other sons. Satan couldn’t kill them all. So, why not switch tactics? Why not completely pollute the population of the earth, thereby making it impossible for the Seed to arrive? We know he loves to plant tares among the wheat. The Devil has gone to great lengths, again and again, to stop God’s plan. He always fails, but he always tries.

Chuck Missler brings up an interesting thought. As most of you know, there are quite a few monuments around the world that cause archaeologists to scratch their heads. How did ancient societies, without machinery, set up things like Stonehenge or Easter Island? Is it possible that incredibly powerful giants had a hand in it? Sites like the Gilgal Rephaim, an ancient megalithic monument found on the Golan heights. Today, it’s called the “Wheel of Giants” and it’s a series of huge circles of tens of thousands of rocks, weighing in at more than 40,000 tons. Some of the stones weigh 5 tons on their own! The plot thickens when you discover that what we call the Golan Heights today was once known as Bashan, the place where Og, King of Bashan ruled. Og, the last of the Rephaim, a particular line of the Nephilim.

Wouldn’t it also be just like the Devil to influence human cultures to take these horrible monstrosities and turn them into heroes? To call good, evil and evil, good? Instead of acknowledging just how wrong this was, human societies started to venerate Hercules and Maui and Wonder Woman.

One very significant phrase there in verse 4: “The Nephilim were on the earth both in those days and afterward.” It seems that, after the flood, God permitted the fallen angels to once again introduce the Nephilim into our world, but they were much more limited in their scope and they were ultimately overcome by God’s servants like Caleb, Joshua and David with his mighty men.

Genesis 6:5-7 – 5 When the Lord saw that human wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time, 6 the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and he was deeply grieved. 7 Then the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I created, off the face of the earth, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them.”

The Bible is clear that God does not change. So what are we to make of a passage like this? God is describing the pain He felt because of the sin of man. God has emotion. God can feel emotional pain. The term ‘grieved’ there is likened to the deep breathing in in response to pain. When we regret things, it’s usually because we’ve made a mistake. We regret that haircut or that thing we said. God’s regret was not because He had made some sort of mistake, but because of His love for humanity which had rejected Him. In the Garden, Adam and Eve had disobeyed, but (as we saw) they then remained in communion with God. Not so in the days of Noah. All but 8 had rejected the Lord. And now, God must respond to their sin. As one writer put it, they had “spent all the capital of God’s mercy.” It was time to pay the bill.

You and I can cause God pain. That is a shocking thing to hear. We see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem and He is the exact expression of God the Father’s nature. Ephesians 4 commands us to not grieve the Holy Spirit. Your words, your actions, the attitude of your heart, these things matter to God. And because He is love, He is able to be hurt by our rebellion and disobedience. God was personally sorrowful over the ruination of sin all over the earth and He was right to respond to it with wrath. But then verse 8 gives us this amazing sentence:

Genesis 6:8 – 8 Noah, however, found favor with the Lord.

The word favor is also translated as ‘grace’ and this is the very first use of it in the Bible. This all-important blessing from God – His unmerited favor. It’s important that we realize that Noah did not earn favor with God. Grace is always a free gift. It’s not that Noah was the one guy on the planet to keep the rules. We’re told why he laid hold of grace in the book of Hebrews:

Hebrews 11:7 – 7 By faith Noah, after he was warned about what was not yet seen and motivated by godly fear, built an ark to deliver his family. By faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

We’re told the secret three times: By faith, by faith, by faith! Noah believed, and therefore he was justified by God and made righteous by God. And here, we learn the unchanged principle that, no matter how wicked the days are, no matter how evil those around us are, if we trust God in faith, He will pour out His grace in our lives and in our families and deliver us from evil.

Verses 9 through 12 summarize what the first 8 verses said.

Genesis 6:9-12 – 9 These are the family records of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among his contemporaries; Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah fathered three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with wickedness. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth was, for every creature had corrupted its way on the earth.

We’re told Noah was…blameless among his contemporaries. On the one hand, we’re seeing Noah described as a man in whom God was accomplishing sanctification. Noah was a sinner, of course. He made mistakes just like we do. But God was conforming his life into the image of His Son. He was giving Noah his righteousness and as Noah walked with God, that process developed.

But that phrase can also be translated as “perfect in his generations.” Not only was he living in such a way that he did not violate God’s commands, his own genetic makeup had not been violated by the fallen ones. This is so important because the Messiah would come from Noah. Therefore, no one can come along and claim the Promised Seed had been polluted.

As we close, we have to come back to the question from the beginning. We know the days of Noah are going to make a comeback before Jesus’ return, so, are we in those days now?

Dr. Henry Morris gives a good list that summarizes the days of Noah based off of what we read in the Scripture. In that time there was a “preoccupation with physical appetites, rapid advances in technology, grossly materialistic attitudes, inordinate devotion to pleasure and comfort, no concern for God in belief or conduct, disregard for the sacredness of marriage, rejection of the inspired word of God, a population explosion, widespread violence, corruption throughout society, preoccupation with illicit sexual activity, widespread blasphemy.” Sounds an awful lot like today, doesn’t it?

Noah wasn’t the one who decided what his “days” would be like. I’m guessing he would’ve much preferred the era of David or Solomon or Christ Himself. But there he was at an apex of earth’s evil. The difference between him and us is that we have each other. Noah’s family was the only believing family at the time of the flood. What could be done when the dark is that dark?

Besieged by monstrous, inhuman adversaries at Helm’s Deep, King Theodin nearly gives in to despair and says, “So much death. What can man do against such reckless hate?” The answer was to join the king and ride out in courage. It would not be accomplished without danger or without sacrifice. But as they launched into the fray there on the hill came the White Rider with the dawn and with victory in his hand, a host of the faithful following after him.

If we are in the days of Noah, we can still fulfill the commands of our King. He tells us to “be alert.” Watch and recognize the hour in which you live. At the same time, we can conduct ourselves like Noah did. He preached, prepared, and performed. He preached the Gospel, because God would have shown mercy to anyone who believed, whether they were related to Noah or not. He prepared, not just the ark, but he prepared his family. He prepared himself to do the right thing, the Godly thing, even when it was incredibly difficult. And he performed his calling. God asked him to do a very specific task. Noah performed it faithfully and excellently, with God’s help, direction and provision. Jesus said, “Blessed is that servant whom the master finds doing his job when he comes.”

Maybe we’re not quite to the days of Noah, though it seems like we are. Even still, we don’t know when the Master will come for us. So, let’s watch, let’s preach, let’s prepare and perform our callings, knowing the King is with us and the dawn is coming.

Take A Walk (Genesis 5)

One of the longest walks ever taken was by Jean Béliveau, who spent 11 years walking 46,600 miles across 64 countries. The Canada native did so in an effort to “raise awareness for children who suffer from violence.” He called it a walk for peace.

I can’t imagine walking for a decade. But imagine walking for several hundred years! That’s the image we’re given of two of Adam’s Godly descendants, who (we’re told) “walked with God.” Of course, as we’ll see, their lives were full of a lot more than just walking around.

We’re in a section of Genesis where God is contrasting two lineages. Last time we saw the line of Cain, full of rebellion and murder. But also full of great worldly feats. Tonight the Lord puts Seth’s line on display – the line from which the Deliverer would finally come. In this list there are two standouts: Enoch and Noah. Enoch walked with God for 365 years. Noah would for 950. They didn’t do so perfectly, but we find that their walks were potent and consequential, producing a great testimony that has lasted for thousands of years. They remind us that we are called to walk with God.

This analogy of walking with the Lord seems to be a favorite of His. He uses it here in the beginning. In one of His most significant post-resurrection appearances He goes on a walk with two believers on the road to Emmaus. During the time of the kings of Israel and Judah, they were always appraised by whether they “walked in the ways of David” or in the wicked ways of Jeroboam.

What does it mean to “walk with God?” Bruce Waltke writes, “[to walk with God] denotes to enjoy supernatural, intimate fellowship with God, not merely to live a pious life.” It makes sense if we think about the analogy. Walking with someone isn’t the same as busting out your cardio on a treadmill.

To walk with someone requires that you have a common goal. As the prophet Amos said, “Can two walk together without agreeing on the direction?” Of course, in this life, we can’t see beyond the here and now, so we have to trust God who does know the way. And therefore, to walk with Him means that we agree with His route.

To walk with someone requires closeness. If you go on a walk with a friend or your spouse, you walk in close proximity. If you’re 100 yards apart, you’re not walking together.

To walk with someone means that you’ll keep a similar pace. Though, on the spiritual level we often follow slowly and hike with a limp, the Lord does not leave us in the dust. He knows our weaknesses and is a High Priest who sympathizes with us.

When you walk with someone, you’re going to find yourself in personal conversation with them. As one source pointed out, it wouldn’t do for you to bring a kazoo along and blow it the whole time.

The Bible explains walking with God as being an ongoing, personal progression of faith and growth in our understanding of the Lord and our obedience to His will. Colossians chapter 3 is a very practical passage for how we are to walk with God, giving both positive instructions of what to do, like setting our minds on heavenly things and putting on compassion and putting to death what belongs to our earthly nature. And it also gives us negative instructions – things not to do. Like, don’t lie to one another, put away anger, filthy language and these other things that you used to walk in.

All told, walking with God is about an active and personal relationship with God Who desires to lead us, guide us, be known by us and shape our lives according to His glorious standard. It’s not just about conduct, but also communion with Him. That was the failure of the Pharisees. All conduct, no communion. They honored God with their lips but their hearts were far from Him.

So, with these ideas in our minds, let’s take a look at a couple of these faithful long walkers.

Genesis 5:1-2 – This is the document containing the family records of Adam. On the day that God created man, he made him in the likeness of God; 2 he created them male and female. When they were created, he blessed them and called them mankind.

Your version may something like, “This is the book of the genealogy of Adam.” The book of Genesis is actually broken up into 11 sections, each marked out by this term. We’ve already seen it once, back in chapter 2 where we saw the “history of the heavens and the earth.” Like this book of Adam, the rest will surround individuals. And they alternate between genealogy and narrative each time.

Notice here in verse 1 where it says, “On the day that God created man.” The book makes itself clear that we are to accept it as literal and historical. In fact, the genealogy we’re reading this evening is repeated in both 1 Chronicles and the Gospel of Luke. And so, if Adam isn’t literal, we have no reason to think David is literal or Jesus for that matter.

We’re reminded not only that these were real people, but as people, they were specially blessed by God. Mankind is a unique creation in God’s universe. We have a capacity to know and love Him that no other creature has. Even after the fall, when so much has been ruined, God allowed human beings to still have a capacity to love Him. And that is a great blessing.

Genesis 5:3-5 – 3 Adam was 130 years old when he fathered a son in his likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. 4 Adam lived 800 years after he fathered Seth, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 5 So Adam’s life lasted 930 years; then he died.

Using this verse as a basis, I’ve heard it said that human beings aren’t really created in the image of God anymore. “Look, it says right there that Seth was in the image of Adam!” I’m not sure what the point is, but Seth was in the image of Adam, who was made in the image of God, so I see no reason to downgrade humanity’s worth.

This does remind us that, after Adam, there was a serious alteration stamped into humanity: And that’s sin. Sin was now spreading throughout creation. It was passed down from father to child. And it had a very significant, very real consequence: Death.

Adam’s death was not the first on the earth, but it would’ve been a profound moment when he breathed his last and returned to the ground from which he was made.

I imagine Adam and Eve must’ve struggled with incredible guilt as they walked the earth, watching humans die, animals die, and sorrow multiply. And yet, we see Eve’s enduring hope in the coming deliverer. We see Adam training up his descendants in the ways of God. Yes, they were responsible for what had happened, but they were not crushed. God’s mercy overflowed and they were able to continue walking in faith and in the hope that God Himself would make all things right again.

If you are feeling guilt this evening, if you feel the weight of your sin, on one hand that’s a good thing. Sin is serious. But don’t carry that weight any longer. Lay it down at the cross where all the wrongs we have done and the wrongs done to us were nailed there with the Deliverer.

Adam lived 930 years. That means he lived long enough to see Noah’s dad turn 56. He didn’t get to meet Noah, but it’s remarkable to think about what sort of access and influence Adam and Eve would’ve had with these generations of people.

Through those long centuries, he must’ve wondered at some point, “What’s God waiting for?” We may wonder that today. In answer to Adam’s wondering, we could say God was waiting for you and me! And His long-suffering still waits today, because God’s desire is to populate eternity with people.

Long section now:

Genesis 5:6-20 – 6 Seth was 105 years old when he fathered Enosh. 7 Seth lived 807 years after he fathered Enosh, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 8 So Seth’s life lasted 912 years; then he died. 9 Enosh was 90 years old when he fathered Kenan. 10 Enosh lived 815 years after he fathered Kenan, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 11 So Enosh’s life lasted 905 years; then he died. 12 Kenan was 70 years old when he fathered Mahalalel. 13 Kenan lived 840 years after he fathered Mahalalel, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 14 So Kenan’s life lasted 910 years; then he died. 15 Mahalalel was 65 years old when he fathered Jared. 16 Mahalalel lived 830 years after he fathered Jared, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 17 So Mahalalel’s life lasted 895 years; then he died. 18 Jared was 162 years old when he fathered Enoch. 19 Jared lived 800 years after he fathered Enoch, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 20 So Jared’s life lasted 962 years; then he died.

I do find it interesting that we still have Seths and Jareds today but no Mahalelels or Enoshes.

This section is feels repetitive, like a record of routine things, but we can see that what is routine – living a life, having a family – is actually a significant part of the miraculous, providential work of God. Remember: This is the road that leads to Jesus. In your life and mine, God is still accomplishing His providence, even in our routine experiences. Your family life is not insignificant to Him or to history. In two of his letters, Paul celebrates what he calls a “quiet” life. A regular life, full of grace and the Holy Spirit, pleases God and is used by God to bring others to deliverance in Jesus.

Genesis 5:21-22 – 21 Enoch was 65 years old when he fathered Methuselah. 22 And after he fathered Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and fathered other sons and daughters.

There is a sudden change in the format. We’re told that this man walked with God. That doesn’t mean the others didn’t. We know almost nothing about them, but remember that the context is a comparison between the God-rejecting line of Cain and the God-believing line of Seth. We’ll also be told in Genesis 6 that Noah, too, “walked with God.” Along the way they had regular lives. But they were also preachers to the world around them. In fact, the book of Jude tells us that Enoch prophesied about the second coming of Christ and the final judgment. How did he know about these things? We don’t know. But they were, on some level, in some way, revealed to him.

His message could be summarized this way: “If you live according to your own desires, you will be judged.” That message is as true today as it was four thousand years ago. Solomon said that if we “walk in the ways of your heart and in the desire of your eyes…know that for all of these things God will bring you to judgment.” Because all of us have gone astray from the Lord. To be saved we must turn to Him, believe on Him, walk with Him who leads to life instead of death.

By the way, there are three apocryphal books said to have been written by Enoch. One of them is quoted by Jude. That doesn’t mean that the rest of what we have was actually written by Enoch or that they should be treated as Scripture, but that particular quote found in Jude 14 and 15 is genuine and was included by God the Holy Spirit in the Canon.

Genesis 5:23-24 – 23 So Enoch’s life lasted 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God; then he was not there because God took him.

We would say that Enoch was “raptured” – taken up bodily to be with the Lord without experiencing physical death. The same happened to Elijah and the same will happen to believers who are alive at the end of the Church age. The word there means that God snatched him. And it is the same term used in Psalm 73 where we read:

Psalm 73:24 – 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me up in glory.

The question is: If you have this Godly man, this prophet-preacher, why cut his life on the earth short? God knew judgment was coming. But He took Enoch home 669 years before the flood. Wouldn’t it have been better to leave him to preach?

First, there were other preachers – Noah would become one. But second, God really likes to set up what we call types in history and in the Scripture. Meaning, He accomplishes things that can be looked back upon to teach us truth about what is yet to come. For example, Abraham offering Isaac on Mount Moriah. That was a type of God the Father sacrificing His own Son on our behalf. Or the bronze snake that Moses made and set up in the wilderness. That anyone who was bitten by a serpent could look to that pole in faith and be healed. That was, of course, a type of Jesus lifted up on the cross, who anyone can simply look to, in faith, and be saved.

Enoch is part of a type. Judgment was coming. Enoch was warning people. There would only be one way of escape – God’s way. Then what happened? One of God’s people (Enoch) was suddenly snatched away. Another of God’s people (Noah) would be saved through the judgment on the ark.

We have now a powerful type of God’s plan for the end times. The Church, represented by Enoch, will be caught away suddenly. Then there will be an interval of time and God’s people, the Jews, will be saved through the Tribulation and coming judgment.

One other note about Enoch: One source points out that the phrasing of the Hebrew suggests that, “Enoch and God ‘got along.’” I think that’s a wonderful sentiment to consider. Do we get along with God? If not, it’s probably because we’re harboring some resentment toward Him or assuming that we know better than He does. We don’t. He is altogether right, altogether loving, altogether caring. If we’re having trouble ‘getting along’ with His leading, the defect is in us and we should invite Him to search us and see if there be any wicked way in us so that He might lead us in the way everlasting.

Genesis 5:25-27 – 25 Methuselah was 187 years old when he fathered Lamech. 26 Methuselah lived 782 years after he fathered Lamech, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 27 So Methuselah’s life lasted 969 years; then he died.

God had pronounced judgment through His servant Enoch. But before judgment came God waited and waited and waited, through the lifespan of the oldest man to ever live. God’s long-suffering is great. He really does want to save. He’s not willing that any should perish. This gives us context to why God waits today, why He allows so much wrong to continue, it’s so that a few more people might be brought into His family and be bought back from their sin, rescued from death.

Genesis 5:28-29 – 28 Lamech was 182 years old when he fathered a son. 29 And he named him Noah, saying, “This one will bring us relief from the agonizing labor of our hands, caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.”

Clearly, Lamech had hope in God and communion with Him. He knew that God was going to do something significant through Noah’s life. He was focused on that promised deliverance. We should be too. Now, the deliverance that God would work through Noah was almost assuredly not what Lamech had in mind. He was hoping things would be restored and rolled back. But, as we know, that’s not the plan for Noah’s life. Instead, God would bring deliverance through Noah, but it was in the form of a choice. Noah preached to the wicked world and gave them a choice. Peter compared it to baptism, which is – of course – a choice whether a person will surrender and believe God and walk with Him or whether they will go their own way.

The deliverance worked through Noah would also be a choice. Would they join him on the ark? I’m sure the wicked of the world were sick and tired of the agonizing labor of their hands, too, but would they turn from their wickedness? That was the question. That was the requirement for deliverance.

Genesis 5:30-32 – 30 Lamech lived 595 years after he fathered Noah, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 31 So Lamech’s life lasted 777 years; then he died. 32 Noah was 500 years old, and he fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Lamech died 5 years before the flood, Methuselah died the year it happened. This has led some to speculate that he was one of the wicked, but it’s only that – speculation. What we do know is that Methuselah’s father was a faithful follower of God and so was his son. Why trash his memory?

The genealogy leading to Jesus will take a pause here so we can focus on Noah and his family in the coming chapters. Here’s something to think about: The story we know of Noah’s walk with the Lord started halfway into his life. He’d live a total of 950 years. Of course, we can assume he was walking with God long before his fifth century. But it’s a good reminder that God’s work is not only for the young or only for the old. He works and moves in each of our lives, accomplishing His purposes as we walk with Him.

Jean Béliveau is celebrated by some people for his “walk for peace.” Dig a little deeper and you find some sad realities surrounding it: First of all, he admits he made the plan to take his walk because he was in a mid-life crisis. He hid his plan from his wife and children until a month before he left. When asked if he would periodically return home to be with them, he said “I’ll be back in 10 years.” He took his trip and relished meeting Nobel laureates like Nelson Mandela along the way, but meanwhile he missed the birth of his grandchildren, the passing of his father. What did he accomplish? Has he won peace for the world? Has he ended violence against children? He made a name for himself, but abandoned his own children in the process.

In a photo op on his walk, President Mandela said, “The world needs people like you.” No, the world needs people like Enoch and Noah. People who love the Lord and walk with Him. People who honor their families and seek the Lord in them. People who are faithful to the word of God and the callings of God. Let’s be those people. Let’s take a walk with our Lord. “So follow the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.”

The Not-So-Great Society (Genesis 4:17-25)

How do you make a “great” society? Of course, in the last few years the idea of making America great again has been discussed at length. Some may be surprised to learn that “Make America great again” was not a new idea. Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign slogan was, “Let’s make America great again.” He just didn’t think to put it on hats. We can go back before the Reagan era to Lyndon Johnson who had his ambitious plan for the “Great Society.” In his now famous commencement speech at the University Of Michigan in 1964, Johnson said, “…we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society…It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.”

Human beings want greatness for themselves and for their societies. There have been many approaches and yet so many fall short or create terrible unintended consequences in their pursuit of greatness. In that same speech President Johnson lamented: “It is harder and harder to live the good life in American cities today.”

Why is that? That’s been true of almost every place in every generation, including our own. Well, as we’ve seen in the opening chapters of Genesis, God had set up mankind for great things, but we stumbled out of the gate. The Lord got us back up on our feet, but now we were hobbled by sin. Fast forward a few years and we see Cain murdering his brother. As a society, we were not off to a great start. And yet, God was gracious and long-suffering. As always, He offered a way that people might have access to Him and find fulfillment. But, as is true today, He would not force anyone to go His way. Human beings had and still have a true free will to either believe God or reject Him.

As Genesis chapter 4 closes, we see the people of earth building cities, inventing things, designing systems. They’re spreading into different careers and writing and creating art. (This record is an affront, by the way, to the idea that early man was some sort of grunting cave dweller. Far from it – these first inhabitants of earth had marvelous intelligence, ingenuity and resourcefulness.)

As the population grows and busies itself, God not only keeps a record of it, but He also shows a very clear distinction to us. Once sin was in the picture we find that there are only two types of people in the world: Those who have faith in God and those who don’t. These two distinct groups were epitomized by Cain and Abel. Though there was a lot of different activity and opportunity and all sorts of new horizons humans were discovering, all of that could be stripped away and there was one thing left: Did a person believe God? That difference was profound, not only in how a person thought and behaved but the outcomes that arrived as a result.

Interestingly, God did not let those who had faith in Him back into the Garden of Eden. Instead, these two groups would all live alongside one another in the world. But, all along, from the time of Abel all the way through to our own day and age, there would exist what some have called “two humanities.” In some ways they appear very similar. After all, they mingle together and use many of the same tools, but look a bit closer and you find the foundations, the progress and the end results are very different. These two humanities are on exhibit in the second half of Genesis 4.

Genesis 4:17a – 17 Cain was intimate with his wife, and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch.

Perhaps you’ve heard the old question: Where did Cain get his wife? The answer is simple: She was his sister. Our modern ears cringe at that for a couple of reasons. First, we don’t do relative marriage anymore in our society. But, marrying a family member was a common occurrence up until the second half of the 20th century. Albert Einstein’s wife, Elsa, was his cousin on both sides of his family. Rudy Giuliani was married to his second cousin for 14 years. Then there’s Philip II of Spain. He was married 4 times – to three cousins and a niece.

Of course today we recognize the genetic danger of marrying someone you’re related to. So how could our ancient forefathers have done so without great damage to their offspring? Well, we see the long lifespans and recognize that the corruption of sin wasn’t as profound as it became after the flood and into later millennia. As one commentator put it, you wouldn’t want to drink water from the Hudson River in New York City, but if you travelled all the way back to the source in the Adirondacks to the shimmering Lake Tear Of The Clouds which feeds it, you’d find pristine water.

Genesis 4:17b – Then Cain became the builder of a city, and he named the city Enoch after his son.

How could there be enough people to build a city? It’s impossible to know what the population of the world was leading up to the flood, but the number was almost certainly more than we’d expect. We’re thinking of two people with their two boys. But Adam and Eve had more than Cain and Abel. They had other sons and daughters. And the people at this time lived for 700, 800, 900 years. The diseases and wars that cut down so many humans after the flood and into our own era weren’t an issue then. Women could have children not for 30 or 40 years, but more than ten times that length! Think about this: When Jacob’s family came to Egypt they were 70 persons. 400 years later, after enduring genocide, they left Egypt with a minimum of 600,000. It was probably more like 1 or 2 million.

Since the year 1800 we have added 6 billion people to the earth’s population. The BBC wrote about how NASA and others are discussing population growth since we’re talking about colonizing other planets like Mars. Their assessment after speaking with experts was that a planet’s population could grow from one couple to 7 billion in 557 years. That’s not even 60% of Adam’s lifespan! The folks at Answers In Genesis calculate that, if the population growth rate was the same as it was in the year 2,000, the earth would’ve been home to 750,000,000 at the time of the flood.

So, here we see Cain has a son named Enoch. No, it’s not the Enoch we know and love. He will be a descendant of Cain’s brother, Seth.

Now, last time we saw that God had pronounced that Cain would be a wanderer over the earth, finding no rest and no home. What do we see now? He’s wandered a bit, but he’s building a city. We don’t need to think in large scale – linguists indicate it might have just been a fortified encampment with multiple buildings – but in this action we see more of Cain’s hardheartedness toward God. He’s attempting to defy God again. “God said I’d wander, well I’m gonna plant myself right here.” In fact, in a way he’s putting himself in the place of God. He names his boy Enoch and makes this city, names it after him, effectively saying, “I’m God. I’m the decider. I’m making my own ‘garden’ for you, my creation, to dwell in.” This is the mindset and the culture that Cain is establishing for his society.

Genesis 4:18 – 18 Irad was born to Enoch, Irad fathered Mehujael, Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech.

These weren’t all the kids each of these families had. God is zooming in on a particular line so that it can compare to the particular line from Adam through Seth which will ultimately lead to the Messiah, the Promised Seed who will save us from the power of sin and restore creation once and for all.

Each of these fellows had the same responsibility toward God and the same opportunity to discover Him and believe in Him. Adam was still alive. In fact, Adam lived long enough to see nine generations down, all the way to Noah’s father! Any son of Cain could’ve gone to their great grandfather and heard him speak about the Lord. We’ll find that the origin of the mark of Cain was known at least to the seventh generation. And so, all of these guys were without excuse.

Genesis 4:19 – 19 Lamech took two wives for himself, one named Adah and the other named Zillah.

The first “poster child” of American marketing was Donald Eugene Anderson, whose picture was put on a March of Dimes campaign in their fight against Polio. “According to the original meaning of the term, a [poster] child [is one who is] afflicted by some disease or deformity,” put on display in an attempt to raise awareness or funds for the fight against the disease.

Here, the text zooms in on a particular poster child afflicted with sin, Lamech. Of course, he wasn’t a boy, he was a grown man. And he was a bad man who not only gave into sin, but reveled in it and allowed it to rule him.

Sin ruled his family. He’s the first recorded polygamist. Though many criticize the Bible and suggest it approves of polygamy, that isn’t true. The facts are stated but not endorsed. From the beginning God established marriage as one biological male and one biological female living in a dedicated, monogamous relationship as long as both lived. Polygamy is not presented in a positive light in the Scriptures, much to the contrary.

We’re told that Lamech “took” his wives. Based off of the meanings of his wives’ names, we infer that he did so because of superficial reasons, not substantive ones.

But think about this: Lamech took his wives, but God brought Eve to Adam. She was a gift, specially designed to pair with him in just the right way. You who are single people of God, don’t just take a spouse. God has one in mind for you. And, in the Bible, when God’s people try to do Him a favor and find a spouse of their own, the result is disaster.

Think about it this way: The Bible says that God establishes our steps, that He has allotted the number of our days, that He has marked out our time and boundaries, that He has custom made a path of life, full of good works for us to discover and walk in. Do you not think that He has a particular person in mind to give you in that most significant relationship of your life? He does. Wait on the Lord and allow Him to bring you together with your spouse.

Before learning more about Lamech we get to meet his kids.

Genesis 4:20-22 – 20 Adah bore Jabal; he was the first of the nomadic herdsmen. 21 His brother was named Jubal; he was the first of all who play the lyre and the flute. 22 Zillah bore Tubal-cain, who made all kinds of bronze and iron tools. Tubal-cain’s sister was Naamah.

None of these are recorded as believers, and yet they were significant contributors to earth’s culture and industry. We still follow in their footsteps today. On one level, their accomplishments are remarkable. But ultimately their individual lives lacked eternal weight.

That doesn’t mean all of earth’s culture or commodities are evil. I play guitar because Jubal invented a lyre. But when a life isn’t founded and fed by faith in God, by His directing Word, then that life is ultimately wasted. And, when a culture doesn’t find its source and motivation in the grace of God, it will inevitably allow selfishness and corruption to flood in and contaminate it. That spiritual principle is demonstrated for us by Lamech.

Genesis 4:23-24 – 23 Lamech said to his wives: Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; wives of Lamech, pay attention to my words. For I killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. 24 If Cain is to be avenged seven times over, then for Lamech it will be seventy-seven times!

One of my all-time favorite Bible study insights comes from right here from our own Pastor Jake. He once pointed out that Lamech was the first gangster rapper. It’s true! The boasting, the ladies, the violence, the using of your own name – it’s all there!

So it seems that lust had perverted his family life. Now we see that pride had driven him to bloodshed. His ancestor Cain had killed in secret, but Lamech did it in the open. He’s so full of himself that he boasts in what he did. “What a great man I am! What a big man I am! I butchered a lad because he offended me!” It’s worth noting that some scholars actually see two murders here, not just one. But this was no simple chest thumping. This was an intricate, carefully constructed poem. Compare it to the simple poem that had been offered by Adam when he first saw Eve, full of thanks and recognition of God’s goodness and excitement for the life that would result.

Lamech, here, has become his own moral compass. We see in his song that he’s saying, “I’m God now. I do what I want, when I want, to who I want. I take what I want. I’ll terrorize my wives and my neighborhood. I decide what is just.” The result was violence and death.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Genesis 4:25 – 25 Adam was intimate with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, for she said, “God has given me another offspring in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.”

In contrast to the individualism and selfishness of Cain’s line we see God’s people thinking very differently. They see the Lord as being involved with each part of their lives, a God mindful of their hurts, a God who will still carry out the promises He made, even when it seems like they had been derailed. Remember – Eve thought that Cain was going to be the deliverer and then that all came crashing down. And yet, her faith did not fail. It continued and even grew. She was sorrowful over the loss of her precious Abel, but she was not defeated. Neither should we be when trial or suffering or loss comes our way. God is still God, He is still faithful, He will still do what He has promised.

Genesis 4:26 – 26 A son was born to Seth also, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.

There’s no descriptor of their jobs. That will be the case all the way down to Noah. As God compares these two humanities, the difference was not in how great their production was, but who their hearts were devoted to. This was the difference: Some began to call on the name of the Lord. In future passages we will see the believers, “found grace in the eyes of the Lord,” or that they “walked with God.” That was the difference.

What does it mean that they began to call on the name of the Lord? Some scholars think that they claimed God’s name for themselves, like how we call ourselves Christians. This also indicates that they were proclaimers of God’s word. The Bible explains that Seth’s descendant Enoch was a preacher, as was Noah. It also indicates that they established a regular, corporate time of worship.

What does it mean to call on the name of the Lord today? To walk with God like these faithful forefathers did?

First and foremost, it means we believe. We put our faith in God and His revealed word. That we trust that His way is the way that leads to life and then orient our lives accordingly. It means that we devote ourselves to worship personally and corporately. Recognizing that when we come together we don’t do so just out of tradition or to give lip service to some religion, but so that we might come before the majesty of God with an offering of praise and surrender and obedience to Him. To walk with God means that we do obey Him in our hearts and our family lives and our pursuits. It means that we focus our minds on what He has said and being different from the world we find ourselves in. Different in some profound ways. Like, when the world wants 77x revenge, we’re to choose forgiveness seventy times seven.

Meanwhile, when I suffer, when I’m attacked, when I’m in a time of struggle or loss, I can follow the example of Eve and Seth and these others and choose to believe God and trust God, the living God, who will deliver me home to our enduring city. This mindset, this walking with God is what makes life worth it. It’s what makes a life great and will make a society great. Because it is righteousness that exalts a nation. The great society is the one full of faith.

How To Get Away From Murder (Genesis 4:1-16)

In the classic Twilight Zone episode, Button, Button, Arthur and Norma Lewis are offered a box with a single button. They’re told that if they press that button two things will happen: They will receive $200,000 and someone they don’t know will die. After a lot of deliberation and bad acting, Norma presses the button. The couple goes to bed only to be greeted the next morning by the keeper of the Box who gives them the cash, and then assures them that the button will be reprogrammed and offered to someone whom they don’t know.

In the hours following the button press, it seemed like very little happened. But, by the end of the story we discover that all sorts of consequences immediately started unfolding which would have lethal and tragic results near and far.

The last time we were in Genesis, Adam and Eve had made the choice to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They had been promised that, if they did so, they would die. But then, what happened? They didn’t die. Not physically at least, not yet. But just because it didn’t happen immediately didn’t mean that death wasn’t on its way. As James explains to us:

James 1:15 – After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.

Is sin really that big of a deal? We know theologically the answer is yes. But, if we’re honest, we’re a lot more casual about pushing the sin button. And, why not? God is a God of grace after all and not every sin leads immediately to death. But nonchalance toward sin and the warnings God has given to us about it is the same mistake that Adam and Eve made. And not only does it bring terrible consequences into our lives and the world, it also drives us away from God.

If we come to terms with just how gruesome sin is, the next question is: What can be done? If this plague is so deadly and so pervasive, passed to us from our parents and infecting our hearts, minds and souls, what hope do we have to escape its terrible effects? God gives us an answer here in Genesis 4. One we must still take to heart thousands of years later.

As we begin, one reminder might be helpful. This has come up before and will come up again. The book of Genesis is a historical account of things that really happened, but that doesn’t mean we’re given all the information about each situation. We have a lot of questions about this period of time before the Flood and we aren’t given all the detail we would like. Some of our questions will go unanswered or we’ll have to make an educated guesses about things. That’s ok. The key is to remember two things: Just because I have an idea that makes sense to me doesn’t mean that’s how it was and we are given what we need to know. God is focusing in on specific instances for specific reasons. So, while we speculate or imagine answers to questions that arise, don’t forget to focus in on what has been delivered that you might be complete and equipped for every good work.

Genesis 4:1 – The man was intimate with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. She said, “I have had a male child with the Lord’s help.”

Adam and Eve had been driven from the Garden, but they still had as much relationship with the Lord as they could, considering their fallen state.

Notice Eve’s perspective: She assumed God’s prophecy about her Seed to be literal and imminent. It seems she had some expectation that, perhaps, Cain would be the deliverer God spoke about in Genesis 3:15. She felt that God was actually involved in human affairs, including the family life.

This is how we want to approach Biblical prophecy. God has made specific promises. We have no reason to think that He isn’t being literal about them. In fact, He has a long track record of fulfilling His promises literally.

Now, let me say this: we are not specifically told that Cain was Eve’s first son. It seems like he was, but there is some ambiguity. I’ve heard people say that Adam and Eve had a bunch of kids before the fall who were not corrupted by sin. That is an unbiblical idea. But we don’t know how many total kids Adam and Eve had, nor when they started having kids. It’s kind of a mind blower, but Eve could’ve had a child at age 1! We know from Genesis 5 that they had Cain and Abel before Adam was 130 years old and we know that they had other sons and daughters than the 3 boys that are named in Genesis. But we have no reason to believe that they didn’t have, essentially, a kid a year.

We see that, despite the pain and difficulty now associated with child birth, Eve was not resentful against God, but was thankful for how He was involving Himself in their daily life.

Genesis 4:2 – 2 She also gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel became a shepherd of flocks, but Cain worked the ground.

The boys grew up and took up different vocations. Some suggest that Abel did the better thing of being a shepherd than Cain being a farmer, since shepherding is such an important concept in the Bible. But the fact of the matter is that both of these jobs were part of the commission God had given mankind. To have dominion over the animals and to be gardeners, tending the earth.

There’s an encouragement for us here if we bring it up to our day and age: There’s a lot of different work God wants to accomplish through His people. Every Christian shouldn’t be doing the same thing when it comes to ministry or your life’s work. Every Church shouldn’t be doing the same thing. God is a God of variety and complexity. He calls out missionaries and medical workers, commentators and correctional officers. Peter said that each believer has received a gift to serve others as good stewards of the varied grace of God. As Christians and as a local fellowship we’re not supposed to look around and just be a duplicate of some other person or church. We’re supposed to be designated to specific works by God the Holy Spirit.

Genesis 4:3-5 – 3 In the course of time Cain presented some of the land’s produce as an offering to the Lord. 4 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, 5 but he did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he looked despondent.

There’s a lot of speculation here as to why God was unhappy with Cain’s offering. Many say the problem was that Cain brought a bloodless sacrifice. The shortcoming with this view is that the word used for offering is the same word that will be used for a grain sacrifice later in the Levitical law (both were written by Moses). We also have to remember that, while it’s true without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins, two things are also true: First, we’re not told this was an atonement offering and God is on record as saying, “Hey, it’s not the blood I want from you as much as I want your heart.” It wasn’t the bloodlessness that God was upset about, but the state of Cain’s heart.

The New Testament gives us some comment on this scene. In Hebrews 11 we read:

Hebrews 11:4a – 4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was approved as a righteous man, because God approved his gifts…

The problem was with the man, not the material. It’s possible that Cain had, at the last minute, grabbed a few raw sheaves of grain to throw at the Lord. Or it’s possible that he had meticulously prepared a very fine basket of fruit. The problem was the heart. Hebrews tells us that Abel was full of faith. Jesus says that he was the first prophet. Meanwhile, Cain did not have faith and, more than that, we’re told in 1 John that his deeds were evil and he was “of the evil one.”

So, why would Cain show up to bring this offering at all? Scholars point out that the terms used for “presenting an offering” is used for a subordinate bringing tribute to a ruler. Based on the language used, it seems that this was a regular meeting that God had scheduled with these two men. And, even though we find that, from the beginning, Cain had nothing but disdain for the Lord, he still presented himself, probably each week on the seventh day.

Why would he do that if he hated God and had no faith? Well, God had announced the cosmic struggle between His Seed and the seed of the serpent (the Devil). And for all of human history Satan has been trying to sabotage and stop the plan of God. He’s been a killer from the beginning and in Cain he had a willing operative who was full of resentment and jealousy toward God and those who loved God. And so, I think the Devil had Cain stay very close to his brothers, waiting for a chance to spring an attack.

Now, in some way they were made aware that God did not approve of Cain’s heart or his offering. We don’t know if it was fire coming down on the altar or the Lord speaking directly to them. But something in Cain snapped. He was lit up with anger and it showed right there on his face.

Again, we don’t know in what specific way his offering was inferior, but it’s clear that it was the result of his purposeful refusal to do what God had asked of them. Abel brought an animal from the flock. Not just any animal, the finest specimen from the firstborn of his stock. Cain had brought “some produce.” It was willful and defiant. A bare minimum attempt to payoff the Sovereign.

In that moment of hard-hearted rebellion, as Cain seethed with anger, the Lord held him back and called him to the side and spoke tenderly to him.

Genesis 4:6-7 – 6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent? 7 If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

God invites Cain to think through his life and his choices. He warns Cain about the path he’s on and what it’s going to lead to. Cain’s anger is directed at God and at his brother, but his failure was not either of their fault. It was Cain’s. What God had asked was not too hard to accomplish. And, as Albert Barnes points out, God had not given up on Cain yet! Despite knowing how much hate was in his mind and how hard his heart was, God was still trying to guide and instruct him.

The Lord said, “Do what is right so you can escape the trap of sin. Sin wants to dominate your life, but you must rule over it.” This is the same command God has given to us. In fact, the basic relationship God had with Abel is the one we are meant to enjoy today. The circumstances are different, but the nature is the same. God reveals His word which is the foundation of our faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. We freely choose to believe what God has said. Then, as Paul discusses in Romans 6, we do not let sin reign in our mortal bodies but instead we present and offer ourselves to God and allow His grace to fill us that we might be made righteous. We believe God that if we live according to the flesh we will die. Instead, we choose to be led by God’s Spirit and are empowered to overcome our sinful nature as God leads us in righteousness. As we go, we continue to have hope in God, which purifies us and we are able to put God’s righteousness into practice more and more.

God had told Cain, “Listen, if you will believe Me and do what I have revealed clearly to you, I will lift you up.” That’s what t he term “accepted” means. God does all He can to give us victory over sin and lift us up as He accomplishes His redeeming work in us. But we have to be willing participants. The alternative is to be savaged and dominated by sin. God gives all we need to be victorious over it. But He will not force us to believe Him and do what is right.

Sadly, Cain has no response to God. Instead, we read:

Genesis 4:8 – 8 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.

This was a vicious, premeditated murder. One commentator pointed out that here we not only have the first murder, but the first martyr.

Now, clearly Cain knew what he was doing was morally wrong. He did it out where no one else would see. And in a moment he’s going to fully expect that he will be executed for this atrocity. He had slaughtered Abel on the altar of sin. In fact, one Bible dictionary points out that the term used for killing here is often used for the sacrificing of animals. And so we see a dramatic contrast. Both the brothers were killers: Abel had killed his pride and killed a lamb in submission to the God of mercy that he might receive righteousness. Cain killed his own brother because of the jealous hatred he had. The Lord had said to Adam and Eve that their sin would bring forth death and not we see Cain becoming sin, he is the bringer of death. Because sin does not only affect us, but those around us as well.

Genesis 4:9 – 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”

The callousness of Cain’s response is shocking. There’s no fear, no remorse. In fact, he mocks God with his answer, maybe even taunting him with the suggestion that even He, God Almighty, wasn’t able to protect his servant.

The question is: Why didn’t God stop Cain? He could have. Clearly He was able to drive Adam and Eve from the Garden. He had regular meetings with human beings. He had warrior angels at His disposal. So why allow this terrible thing to happen? Because though He is a God who is intricately involved in the course of history He is also a God who has given human beings a genuine free will.

God repeats His pattern here of compassionately confronting the sinner. He did so with Adam and Eve. He would do so again, famously, with Saul of Tarsus. There are other examples. And so, again, we see just how immense is God’s compassion. He has love and mercy for murderers. Even a man like Cain, who disdained God so much, was not beyond the extent of God’s grace.

Genesis 4:10-12 – 10 Then he said, “What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! 11 So now you are cursed, alienated from the ground that opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood you have shed. 12 If you work the ground, it will never again give you its yield. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

This scene establishes a few truths. First, that the killing of a person is a particularly heinous crime, one that demands justice. Second, that there is no such thing as hidden sin when it comes to the eyes of God. He sees all and knows all. Third, God sometimes does bring temporal judgment as a consequence to sin. Of course, Cain would be judged eternally after he died, but he’d face this curse on this side of the grave as well.

Genesis 4:13-14 – 13 But Cain answered the Lord, “My punishment is too great to bear! 14 Since you are banishing me today from the face of the earth, and I must hide from your presence and become a restless wanderer on the earth, whoever finds me will kill me.”

He’s not upset about how he butchered his brother. Cain is upset that he’ll have a tougher life from here on out. It is amazing to see just how poisonous sin is. This is what it does to a human heart. Maybe not leading to the same result in every case, but this is what sin does if we let it rule in our hearts. This is what God is trying to save us from and from the results of our sin. In Isaiah 57 we’re told there is no peace for the wicked. Ironically, the murderer wants someone to protect him from being murdered!

Genesis 4:15-16 – 15 Then the Lord replied to him, “In that case, whoever kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” And he placed a mark on Cain so that whoever found him would not kill him. 16 Then Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

God’s grace really is confounding. It almost feels like Cain got away with murder! Of course, stepping back we know that’s not true. He was judged then and eternally. Meanwhile, God still offered him grace. He gave Cain assistance. He put this sign on him so that he wouldn’t be executed for his crime.

What was the mark? No one knows. Of course, some despicable men in history suggested it was black skin and used that completely unbiblical delusion to defend slavery. You may be interested to learn that a variety of Bible commentators don’t think there was an actual mark on Cain at all, that it was some sort of sign he had, rather than what we might think of as a tattoo. Whatever it was, it must’ve somehow conveyed information, otherwise what use would it have been?

Once more, the sinner goes east. Adam and Eve had gone to the east. Cain moved to the east. When men migrate toward Babylon in a later passage of Genesis they go to the east. We see men moving further away from the presence of God and the place He had established. And now God draws all men back to Himself. We want to be like Abel, who – by faith – believe and present ourselves to the Lord in loving devotion.

Along the way there’s sin to contend with. We may not be murderers, but, remember, if you’re angry in your heart, you’ve committed murder there. Everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Sin is a serious danger. It wants to destroy you. It crouches at the flap our tent, trying to claim our lives. But, if you’re a Christian, you need not fear. God has given you victory over temptation, over sin and over the Devil. But neither should we take sin lightly. Instead, we remember this story and remind ourselves that we have a responsibility to put God’s righteousness into action in our lives. Bringing ourselves as living sacrifices, putting to death what belongs to our earthly nature and instead putting on the new self as we are renewed in knowledge according to the image of our Creator. Living a life of devoted worship and thankfulness and spiritual richness because of what He has done on our behalf.

It’s Only Natural (Genesis 3:1-24)

In most disaster movies, the opening scenes are spent establishing characters and showing them going about their regular lives. And then there is some catastrophe that changes the whole world around them. Usually, the disaster doesn’t come without warning. Instead, characters have been warned, but they shrug off the suggestions that something might go wrong, and proceed as if there’s no danger at all. By the end of the runtime, there’s been a lot of death and destruction. Usually our main characters are mostly alive, but nothing will ever be the same.

We’ve come to a great disaster in Genesis. When we left off things were great. Everyone was happy. But once this chapter comes to a close, everything will have been changed. Man’s relationship to God, man and woman’s relationship, human relationships to the world around us, our very biology, the course of history – everything is dramatically changed for the worse.

As the story unfolds, we’ll watch a small cast of characters. There’s Adam and Eve, the serpent and the Lord God. As we look at the heart and behavior of each we’ll be able to learn something about each of their natures. Knowing more about these natures will assist us as we live in this world that has been changed so dramatically by sin.

Genesis 3:1 – Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?”

Even if you weren’t raised in church you probably associate this serpent with the Devil. That’s because we’re told in Revelation 12 and 20 that the “serpent of old” is the Devil. We’re also told in Ezekiel 28 that the Devil was in the Garden of God. At the same time, we see here that he is described as a “wild animal.” And so, it would seem that this was a real animal that was being possessed by Satan so he could come and try to con Eve.

We’re told that he was the “most cunning” of creatures. Your version may say subtle or crafty. Derek Kidner calls it, “malevolent brilliance.” Another resources describes it as: “willing to do anything.”

Already we are learning something about the nature of our enemy, the Devil. He is willing to do anything to destroy your life, your testimony and your relationships (both with God and others). His victory in the Garden was only the beginning of his long career. He still spends his time, prowling around, looking for someone he can devour.

But why, oh why would God allow him to hang out in the Garden? Isn’t that a dangerous, unfair thing to do? As we’ve touched upon before, God wanted a loving, personal relationship with human beings. Such a relationship would have to be based on free and genuine choice.

Also, as Dr. J. Vernon McGee points out, at this point in time Adam and Eve were innocent, but not righteous. To be righteous, their obedience would have to be put to the test through temptation. But God does not tempt anyone. So, God allowed the Devil to come and have this talk with Eve, offering her door number 2.

He asks her a simple question: “Did God really say?” We can find many parallels between this moment of temptation and Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the Gospels. In both situations Satan attacks the word of God. That is his nature. And we’ll see that Eve’s first error is that she does not have a firm grasp on what God has said. God’s word matters and it is specific. It’s been given as it is so that we might be shielded and strengthened and know the difference between truth and lie. As Christians and as a church we must always keep the study and application of God’s word primary.

Genesis 3:2-3 – 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’ ”

We learn a few things about human nature from Eve. First of all, some scholars believe the language indicates that she interrupted the serpent mid sentence. Certainly she doesn’t take time to weigh or prepare her response. Humans, by nature, are somewhat hasty when it comes to spiritual things. We’re prone to knee-jerk reactions before pausing, reflecting, reviewing what God has actually said.

Second, we see that Eve underestimates both the generosity of God and His judgment against sin. The Lord had used very strong language to warn Adam about death, but Eve strips away some of its seriousness. We also see a subtle difference between what God said about eating and what Eve reports. God had said, “eat freely of ANY of the trees.” Eve has shrunk that down to a “well, you MAY eat, I suppose.” One resource points out that Eve has removed the idea that she and Adam could eat any time to their hearts’ content.

It is human nature to think of God as miserly and withholding. But it isn’t true. We’ve seen in previous studies just how extravagantly generous He is. God only wants what is best for you.

Third, we see that Eve adds a restriction to the word of God. “You must not touch it.” God never said that. Was Eve exaggerating? Had Adam placed this as a sort of safe guard to keep them away from sin? We don’t know. But we’ll find that this extra layer of legalism probably backfired and contributed to their defeat, rather than keeping them spiritually safe. Robert Bergen writes, “the sad truth is that when people add to the word of God, they create confusion and trouble.”

Genesis 3:4-5 – 4 “No! You will certainly not die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Now the serpent is outright lying. He’s been a liar all along. That’s his nature. And we see that he’s all about jealousy. That’s what caused all his trouble at the beginning and it led to his ruin. So, he’s using the same bait with Eve.

Now, Eve was innocent, but she wasn’t stupid. Had she thought this through she might’ve asked, “If God is afraid of us becoming like Him, why did He put this tree in the Garden in the first place?”

She’s being deceived, but we have to come to the conclusion that there’s a willingness in her heart to be deceived. After all, she wants the fruit. It’s beautiful to look at. It’s appealing. She has a tiny whisper in her heart that says, “God doesn’t want you to be happy. He wants to keep you down.” So she allows the serpent to deceive her, to lead her astray.

It’s interesting – he offered a way that they might “open their eyes,” right? But let’s remember what God had already said. Remember how He had invited them to come, behold, LOOK! in chapter 1. He had given them this wonderful commission to watch over the Garden. Their eyes were open in every good way. Not to the horrors of evil, but who would want that? Well, the Devil wanted that for them.

Here’s another thing about Satan’s nature: He is a student of God’s word. How did he know what God had said? Look at his conversation with Jesus during the wilderness temptation. Satan knows the Scripture. It doesn’t seem like he understands all of it. And, of course, he doesn’t obey it. But he’s all about using God’s word in perverse ways to devour lives. Look at the false teachings that have crept into the church for the last 2,000 years. Look at the cults. We need to be equipped with the knowledge of God to avoid those dangers and be careful in our study of it.

Genesis 3:6 – 6 The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

This isn’t just about a piece of fruit. It’s about whether they were going to trust God or not. Here, through their choice, they’re saying, “We don’t need God to get wisdom. We can find it elsewhere.”

Now here’s where their legalism backfired: She had said, “Oh if we touch that fruit, we’ll die.” But then, inevitably, she reached out, grabbed one of those figs and plucked it down and then…nothing happened! Nobody died. Now, what she had ascribed to God (this extra command) seemed to be untrue. Why? Because they had made it up. But it would’ve emboldened them to take a bite.

We get a bombshell here: Adam was there by Eve’s side the whole time! Why wasn’t he protecting his wife? Why wasn’t he intervening? We don’t know. Actually, it’s worse than that. It seems that he was maybe allowing Eve to be the guinea pig, the royal food taster. He lets her eat before he takes a bite, maybe to see if she drops dead! Humans, by nature, are deeply selfish. God had designed them to live in total harmony and mutual dependence – that they would complete one another. But now, we see they have their own desires in mind, at the expense of their spouse.

Genesis 3:7 – 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Seeing these crude coverups would’ve been silly if it weren’t so tragic. Have you ever seen a small child try to clean up a big mess they made?

They felt the guilt of their sin and immediately tried to cover it. But, notice what they did: They covered part of their bodies. Not their hearts. They couldn’t do that. But this is human nature: We feel guilty for the sin inside because God’s moral law has been written on our hearts, and so, humans go out and create all sorts of arbitrary coverings in an effort to dress up that guilt. But human religion, human effort is just as worthless in reconciling us to God as Adam and Eve putting a few leaves over their swimsuit areas.

Genesis 3:8-9 – 8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

Now the Lord comes on the scene. Of course, He had seen it all. Not just the eating. He saw into their hearts and knew every thought, every emotion, every aspect of what was going on. He had been betrayed and defied. His perfect creation had been completely spoiled due to their rebellion. What was God’s response? He would’ve been justified in burning the whole thing up. Instead, He immediately came down to be with His people. He seeks them out, calling out to them in kindness.

God’s nature is compassionate love, gentleness and mercy. Yes, He must pour out wrath on sin, but His desire for human beings is always reconciliation and restoration. That’s been His way from the beginning. We see it here. Why bother with this conversation with Adam and Eve? Why bother asking where they are if He already knows the answer? It’s because He is acting in tenderness and giving them a chance to repent of what they’ve done. Let’s see what they do.

Genesis 3:10 – 10 And he said, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”

Notice, as God speaks with Adam and Eve, He’ll give them all the space they need to say they’re sorry, to fall on His mercy and ask for forgiveness, but they won’t. Instead, Adam says he’s afraid. Now, remember, what had the serpent promised? “Your eyes will be open.” But what happened? Adam is in the dark. He doesn’t know what is going to happen. One commentator suggests that, perhaps Adam thinks God will come and execute them for their crime.

Genesis 3:11 – 11 Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

Look at the heart of God. He’s so patient, so gracious. Adam hasn’t repented, but God is trying to lead him there.

Genesis 3:12 – 12 The man replied, “The woman you gave to be with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.”

Rather than repent and ask God for mercy, Adam shifts the blame first to his wife then to God Himself. “It’s the lady’s fault. And, You’re the One that brought her here anyway.” Our nature is to blame-shift, to excuse ourselves, to try to wriggle out of our own responsibility for sin.

Genesis 3:13 – 13 So the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Eve also tries to pass responsibility off to someone else. But we see God’s nature here. He’s not only patient and tender, He also is firm in the truth. Notice how He emphasizes, “What have you done?” When we sin, it’s not someone else’s fault. It’s not society’s fault or because I had no other choice. Your actions are your responsibility. God wants to help you in that mess, but first you have to own it.

Now comes the consequences.

Genesis 1:14-15 – 14 So the Lord God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than any livestock and more than any wild animal. You will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. 15 I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.

Immediately God’s massive plan of redemption was put into motion. Why not just erase these two people and the serpent and start again? Because God loved Adam and Eve so much He was unwilling to consign them to eternal damnation. He wanted to save them. And, as the Bible reveals, there is only one way that man can be saved. And that’s for God to come Himself, put on flesh, pay the penalty for sin and then give humans the free choice whether they will accept Him as Substitute and Savior or not. And all that takes an immense amount of time and effort and providence. But, in God’s mind, Adam and Eve were worth the trouble. And you are worth the trouble too.

There weren’t only consequences for satan. Humankind would have to lie in the beds they made.

Genesis 1:16-19 – 16 He said to the woman: I will intensify your labor pains; you will bear children with painful effort. Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you. 17 And he said to the man, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘Do not eat from it’: The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.”

This isn’t God being vindictive. This is simply what Adam brought into the world. The NET Bible translates God’s curse in verse 17 this way, “Cursed is the ground thanks to you.” He had tried to warn them, He had provided every single thing they could possibly need or want for a perfect life. Instead, they chose poison and death.

Even still, we see God’s grace. Because of sin, Adam and Eve immediately died spiritually. They would’ve died eternally but God made a way of escape. They deserved to face sudden physical death, but instead God allowed them to live for hundreds of years. And though they faced a now hostile environment, God’s next action was to help them be protected.

Genesis 1:20-21 – 20 The man named his wife Eve because she was the mother of all the living. 21 The Lord God made clothing from skins for the man and his wife, and he clothed them.

So we see that there has been some level of reconciling between God and man. Adam believes God and is paying attention to what He has said. That’s why he chose this name for his wife. And we see God bring His people in close and says, “Let me take these silly leaf clothes off and I will give you better clothes. Ones that fit properly. Ones that will help, rather than hinder.” Of course, for these, an animal had to die. God establishing, from the beginning, the truth of how atonement, how covering for sin is accomplished. Only one way: The death of a substitute.

Genesis 1:22-24 – 22 The Lord God said, “Since the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove the man out and stationed the cherubim and the flaming, whirling sword east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life.

This is another act of grace on God’s part. For them to eat of the tree of life in this condition would trap them forever in an unredeemed state. And so the Lord drives them out of the Garden and stations these fearsome angels there to block them from re-entering. Cherubim, by the way, are not little fat babies. In the Bible they appear as hybrid beings, looking part human looking and part animal. Usually with 2 or 4 faces, wings and a lot of power.

So, in this text we see our enemy’s nature is to lie and to ruin and to attack God’s word. God’s nature is to come with grace and compassion, even though we are absolutely guilty of rebellion. Our nature is to focus on the wrong things, to stray from God and to then try to avoid personal responsibility.

Does that mean when we’re tempted it’s hopeless? No. As Christians we’re given a new nature, provided by God like a garment to help us navigate this world with all its temptations. Paul tells us in both Ephesians and Colossians to “Put on your new nature,” so that we can be like God and so we can be renewed according to the image of our Creator.

Temptation is still going to come. The Devil isn’t done doing his nasty work. When it does, we can learn from this scene about how to overcome. First, always remember that God is not withholding any good thing from you. Nor does He tempt you to sin. Our enemy does. And when he does, he is lying. He may have great arguments or shiny bait, but it’s a lie.

One example: Today some secular psychologists suggest that having an “open marriage,” where you go out and explore romantic liaisons with people who aren’t your spouse will actually help your marriage. In Psychology Today, a Ph.D. college professor wrote about various “studies” being done in this terrible field. His conclusion is that “well, more research is needed, but this seems to be a positive thing. (Paraphrase)” He suggests it will actually increase your trust and communication while lowering levels of jealousy. It’s a lie from the pit of hell.

Now here’s what Adam and Eve should have remembered: First, that God is good and only wants what’s good for you. Second, that they had power over the serpent. He was under their dominion! What about us? When temptation comes around, remember this truth: Resist the devil and he will flee from you. The devil couldn’t make Adam and Eve sin and he can’t make you sin either. As a Christian, God will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear and He will provide for you the way out.

Finally, when we sin, which we all still do, remember this: There’s nothing you can do to cover what you’ve done before an all-knowing, holy God. But you don’t need to cover it. He has done the covering. Your part is to repent. But repentance is an act of the will. It’s a choice we make. It’s what we must do to avoid the disaster of sin. And when we do, God is ready to take us into the safety of His love and provision and make right what we have done wrong.

The Garden State (Genesis 2:4-25)

Elon Musk is always in the news for one reason or another. Recently he made headlines on account of the house he lives in while working at SpaceX’s facility. Actually, Musk is in the process of creating a new town in the rural area. They call it Starbase, Texas. Musk tweeted, “Please consider moving to Starbase…encourage friends to do so!” His house on the SpaceX campus is a 20 foot by 20 foot, foldable dwelling. No matter. He’s not planning on staying on earth anyway. Musk has repeatedly declared his intention to bring humans to Mars. His outlook isn’t too cheery. While he considers it a “glorious adventure,” he also says that the first inhabitants there will face danger, discomfort, lack of supplies and other hardships. “Honestly,’ he says, “a bunch of people will probably die in the beginning.” Not exactly an encouraging assessment from the architect of a new world.

In contrast, tonight we’ll see God bring His special creation into a Garden. And rather than having to eke out their survival in a wasteland, we’ll find that God has provided everything they need lavishly. Not only for man’s subsistence, but for human relationships, human purpose and enjoyment in life.

God is our Maker. He is our Sovereign. He is the Decider. He must be obeyed if we want to live and not die. But, make no mistake, He is a gracious and generous Provider. A Giver of extravagant, beautiful gifts that keep giving more and more to us as we receive them. That fantastic generosity is on full display in our passage tonight, starting in the second half of verse 4.

Genesis 2:4b-5 – At the time that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5 no shrub of the field had yet grown on the land, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not made it rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground.

Genesis 1:1 through 2:4a can serve as a prologue to the Book. Now we zoom in to see more of the specifics of what was presented in the last chapter. Some say, “Wait, I thought the earth had been filled with vegetation on day 3 of the Creation week?” It was. Now the focus of the text is going to shift to God’s dealings with man. And we’ll see the Lord build a special base of operations in a special Garden that He plants in the land of Eden. In verse 5, Eden is in view, not the world at large.

There’s another important addition here. Previously (in the Hebrew) God had simply been referred to by the word Elohim. Now, He is called “Yahweh Elohim.” And we’ll see a focus on naming and calling and God’s personal interaction with humanity. God is a relational God. The Bible reveals that He wants to have a personal, heart-to-heart relationship with you. He knows you by name and His desire is that you know Him intimately as well.

Genesis 2:6 – 6 But mist would come up from the earth and water all the ground.

It seems that the world was one big greenhouse. Anywhere you went, if you stuck a shovel in the ground and turned it over a few times, water would bubble up. It reminds us of the life-giving Word of God. Turn anywhere in these 66 books and do a little digging, you’re going to find water for your soul. You’ll find all that you need for life and Godliness, that you might cultivate your heart and bear spiritual fruit. In Isaiah 58 we read that, as the Lord leads us and directs us, He makes our lives like a well-watered garden. He provides all we need to be strong and satisfied and never dry.

Genesis 2:7 – 7 Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.

Man was a special project in God’s creation. The term used is one that describes the delicate, artistic work of a potter. Here, God is pictured as coming down Himself, to hand-craft a human being, getting close enough to breathe His own life into the nostrils of Adam. This is no withdrawn, far off God. This is a God with us, near at hand.

Scholars point out that the term used for “breath” is one the Bible applies to God and humans, not animals. We are not just another animal. We are made in the image of God. With intellect, morality and capability of critical and abstract and spiritual thought. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Genesis 2:8-9 – 8 The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he placed the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God caused to grow out of the ground every tree pleasing in appearance and good for food, including the tree of life in the middle of the garden, as well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Eden means paradise, or pleasantness – garden of delight. It was going to be man’s home, his temple, and his workplace. Naturally, he’d be able to venture out if he wanted, but this was his base of operations. It would be here that he would begin to cultivate and administrate the planet. Meanwhile, we see that God stocked it full of fruit trees. Adam wouldn’t have to wait to eat until he grew the grain himself. All that he needed on a practical level was supplied.

At the same time, the Garden wasn’t just a utilitarian place. It was a place of pleasure and aesthetic beauty. The fruit trees weren’t just for eating, God wanted Adam to enjoy looking at them too.

This idea that true Christianity means living in a burlap tunic, out in a hut somewhere with no pleasure, no enjoyment, no delight, that’s not what God wants. Obviously God doesn’t want us to worship material things or obsess over food and clothing. But He gave us these things for our enjoyment. Being an ascetic monk does not make you spiritual. In fact, in many ways it makes you an ingrate. Enjoying and creating beauty in this world is important and it’s Godly. Beautiful music, beautiful stories, pure and beautiful works of art. These are expressions of the image of God.

What’s a way of applying that if you’re not a creative person? Well, for one, guys – let your wives decorate your house! I know money can get tight and sometimes people fall into the Pinterest trap of comparison and discontent. But there’s nothing wrong with a beautiful home or a beautiful church building. In fact, it can reflect the work of God.

There were two trees in the middle of the Garden. It was a reminder that all of life is to be centered on a relationship with God who made us. A relationship in which we enjoy His abundant provision and submit to His perfect direction and allow Him to define reality.

We’ll never eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But you and I will eat from the tree of life (that is, if you’ve been born again). In Revelation 22 we’re told that, in the New Jerusalem, these trees are lining the river of life which flows from the throne of God. They will bear twelve different kinds of fruit, producing one each month. Now, that’s just downright fun!

Genesis 2:10-14 – 10 A river went out from Eden to water the garden. From there it divided and became the source of four rivers. 11 The name of the first is Pishon, which flows through the entire land of Havilah,, where there is gold. 12 Gold from that land is pure; bdellium and onyx are also there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon, which flows through the entire land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Tigris, which runs east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

We don’t know where Eden was. The truth is, earth’s geography was undoubtedly very different before the flood. But, remember, Moses is speaking to a real audience somewhere in the wilderness of Sinai. And, even though we can’t be sure the rivers listed still existed, it’s clear that the general direction was somewhat known to the children of Israel. He said, “It would’ve been east of us. Over near where the Assyrians are and near these other regions.”

There’s a lot of speculation, we just don’t know where to put the pin in the map. But here’s what’s more important: This is a record of places which were actual, geographical locations. Now, Peter said in 2 Peter 3 that the world as it was known before Noah perished with the flood. And we see here that verses 11 through 14 speaks in the present tense. This gives us indication that it is Adam writing the account which has been delivered to Moses. But, the important thing is that this is clearly not meant to be read as a myth, but a report. It talks about certain places and directions and deposits of minerals and the quality of the minerals there.

Speaking of which, that clues us in to the idea that Adam and Eve understood something about the mining and refining of gold. How to access gemstones. These weren’t cavemen. They were incredibly intelligent, astute people.

Genesis 2:15 – 15 The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it.

It’s exciting to see here is how God brought man into this special place. It reminds us of those moments on shows like Fixer Upper where they bring the family home and reveal the splendor of the build and then say, “Welcome home, it’s all yours!” In ancient Israel, there would be a time of betrothal between a man and a woman. The man would go, for quite some time, and prepare a home. Then one day he would show up again to lead the bridal procession and show his wife the home he had prepared. We see this personal, romantic element in God’s actions toward man.

Of course, we know the same thing is going to happen for us, but in an even more glorious way. The Bridegroom has been away, busy preparing a place for us, and He will return and we will be brought home to paradise where we will be with the Lord forever, in joy and worship and service.

The terms used for “work” and “watch” are the same used later in serving God and worshipping Him. Though man has been driven from the garden, we’re still to work and watch for the Lord. Meanwhile, God watches over us and works on our behalf.

Genesis 2:16-17 – 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”

We know the story, but let’s look at this command for a moment. It opens with liberty. “Here is My command: You are free to eat of any tree!” Those who picture God as an angry, withholding, rule-making accountant do not know the God of the Bible. He begins by commanding Adam to enjoy freedom and abundance and the many delights of what God had provided. But then there is a limitation given. Of the multiplied thousands of trees, there is just one that they must not eat from. Why? So that man could choose whether he would trust God or not – whether he would obey God or not – whether he would reciprocate selfless love toward God or not.

Perhaps Adam asked, “Wait, what’s ‘evil’?” We know what evil is, thanks to Adam and Eve’s failure. They had “good” all around them. God had pronounced creation very good. So if Adam were to say, “what is good?” God could answer, “All you see around you.” If he asked, “What is evil?” God would say, “You don’t need to know what evil is, only that it is the most dangerous thing imaginable.”

A fish doesn’t need to know what air is, only that being out in the air will kill it. Same with Adam and Eve when it came to evil. The boundary God was giving them was a good thing. It was a necessary thing. They must not eat it because if they ate it “dying they would die.”

The same choice is still presented to human beings today. There’s not a real, physical tree of the knowledge of good and evil anymore, but we’re still presented with the option: Will we trust God and obey His commands which show us how to have a full and blessed life, or will we go another way? Moses would later put this choice before the Israelites and say, “I’m setting before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life! Love the Lord and obey Him…for He is your life.”

Genesis 2:18 – 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper corresponding to him.”

It’s not that God forgot to make a companion for Adam. Rather, in the creation of woman, God wanted to show just how perfect she would be for him, that there was no other, better way.

At the same time, we see that God was providing for Adam that which would allow him to fulfill his purpose. God had told man, “be fruitful and multiply, fill the whole earth.” But, at this moment, it was impossible for Adam to fulfill that command. God did not say, “Figure it out!” Instead, He Himself provided all that was needed so that man could do what he was being asked to do.

Genesis 2:19-20 – 19 The Lord God formed out of the ground every wild animal and every bird of the sky, and brought each to the man to see what he would call it. And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all the livestock, to the birds of the sky, and to every wild animal; but for the man no helper was found corresponding to him.

Adam was the first biologist. It is astonishing to read, ‘Whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.” God gave true ownership and authority to man. At the same time, the Lord was showing man how unique he was and how hopeless he was without God’s intervention. Adam could not create a companion for himself. He could not fulfill his purpose without the Lord accomplishing it. And he would have to wait on God’s timing and God’s provision.

Genesis 2:21-22 – 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept. God took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place. 22 Then the Lord God made the rib he had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man.

The word used for “rib” here is never translated as “rib” in any other passage. Rather, it speaks of an entire side. It seems that a big chunk of Adam was taken out. Why put Adam to sleep? There’s no pain in the garden. Well, this action accomplishes a lot of things. It pictures the death of Christ thousands of years later, whose wounded side led to the creation of His Bride. It demonstrated to Adam that God still exerts His power and will over the physical universe. It also shows that, in some things, there is nothing that man contributes to the work of God. Yes, man would contribute cultivation and dominion. But this act was all God.

The aftermath would also give Adam a lot to think about. He would go through life with his side unprotected. In some sense, it would be best for him to keep his wife close to his heart as a shield and a help.

God fashioned this woman and then brought her as yet another gift to man. It was God’s greatest gift to Adam. We can see how excited and involved and personal God was about all of this.

Genesis 1:23-24 – 23 And the man said: This one, at last, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called “woman,” for she was taken from man. 24 This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.

Adam was also the first poet! He agrees with God here that man was not made to be solitary. Lots of animals out there are. They cruise around, only interacting with others of their kind every now and then. Not humans. And certainly not the people of God. God made us to be in community and to live with one another and to interact in significant ways, truly living life side by side.

The primary way we do so is in a marriage relationship. That is the first relationship God established for human beings. Now, listen, Adam had to have a wife, otherwise there is no human race. This text is meant to be a general explanation, not a universal mandate. As we read the rest of Scripture it becomes clear that God directs some of His people to remain single. And, if that is the case, you are not more or less human or more or less Christian. But, generally speaking, people get married. And the standard for what that is has been established from the beginning of human history. Marriage as God intended, which leads to a meaningful and fulfilled life, is one biological man and one biological woman living together in a unified, monogamous relationship. That is the standard and the ideal. Sin has ruined that in many, many cases. But this is the design we’re seeing. Two people, unified together in a special way that trumps every other human relationship.

But what does this mean for us? Time only permits me to speak to those who are not married. If you’re not married, here’s what this means: First, seek God on whether He wants you to get married. Adam didn’t go out and find Eve, God brought her to him. If God’s will is for you to get married, then He has a specific spouse in mind for you. It is very important that you allow Him to bring that spouse to you. If He does, that person will be a believer, of the opposite gender, who is ready to commit their lives to you and vice versa. Together, you are meant to bond in affection and understanding and spiritual pursuits and on every human level.

Genesis 1:25 – 25 Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame.

Unsullied by sin, they were completely open and uninhibited. They had no need to feel vulnerable because there was no threat.

Look at all God had provided for this couple! The place they were in, the provisions for their life, the purpose He gave them, the partnership found in one another. They had it all.

Now, for some application as we close. If you’re like me maybe you thought, “Well, shoot. These people had everything perfect and they still messed everything up. How can I hope to live up to God’s want for my life?”

It’s true, sin has fouled up a lot. Our world is ruined by it. Our minds and hearts are infected with it. But God is still the same. The generous, caring love He had for our first parents is the same He has for you and me. He has provided all we need to enjoy everlasting life, life more abundantly. He sets it all before us in His word. We can still choose to go His way. Or we can choose to die.

Going God’s way has become harder now that sin is in the picture, but God still gives all the power and provision we need to receive the life He’s made for us. It won’t be without difficulty. But His provision and tenderness has not been cheapened in any way. Instead, knowing how intricately He wants to be involved in our lives and how much He has provided, we should allow Him to bring us into the places and relationships that He desires and then we should seek His will in our jobs, our marriages, our interactions with this world.

“But I want to do my own thing.” You can do your own thing. It’s just going to lead to death and ruin. God’s commands are for our good and so that we can lay hold of the incredible, lavish gifts He wants to give us. Along the way, He uses our homes, our words, our relationships, our efforts to bless us, to bless this world, to beautify whatever corner of the Garden in which He’s placed us. And we look forward to that day when He finally brings us to our forever home, a place with no more shame, no more pain, no more shortcomings. Where at last all will be made right and perfect and we commune with God face to face.

Special Agents In Charge (Genesis 1:26-2:4a)

On opening day at Disneyland in 1955, Walt Disney delivered a simple, 40 second speech to the first guests of the new park. He welcomed everyone to that happy place, saying he hoped it would be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world. Of course, anyone who has visited the park more than once knows that the work wasn’t finished in 1955. In fact, Walt famously said: “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” Since 1955, more than 700 million people have visited the happiest place on earth, and the work goes on.

So far in Genesis we’ve read about all the things God created in this universe. Energies and elements, the stellar heavens and our atmosphere, the oceans and the continents, birds and fish and animals. But all of it was simply a backdrop and set dressing for the final component of our cosmos: Human beings. That last creative act is what we’ll focus on tonight.

As we go through this text, the major point is just how special human beings are. The way God made us, the reason why we were made, our function in this universe, all of it is revealed to be significant and distinguished in the mind of God. That’s the idea that comes across in these verses.

We’ll see that humans would not only be a special of God’s attention and affection, but that we would also be special administrators of the rest of God’s creation. When God formed man from the dust of the earth, He wasn’t only giving him an incredible, lavish gift. God was also giving him a great responsibility and appointment to carry on the work the Almighty had begun. So, let’s take a look at our start, beginning in verse 26.

Genesis 1:26-27 – 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.

As always, please note the uni-plurality of this one true God. Let us make in our likeness. Yet, God created in His own image. God is Three in One – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Not three gods, just One Who is triune.

While we’re on the subject of the nature of God, we might as well discuss the issue of whether God is a ‘man.’ Or, rather, is God male? God is Spirit. Both Old and New Testaments explain that He is invisible. He has no body. Therefore, He is not ‘male’ in the sense that we use the term. That is, until God the Son put on flesh that He might dwell with us. When He did so, He came as a man with a real, physical body. Now He is resurrected and He will remain the GodMan forever.

The issue doesn’t stop at Jesus, however. Even before the Incarnation, God chose to reveal Himself as a Father and a Son. Not a mother and a daughter. Jesus uses masculine nouns and pronouns when referring to the Father. Whenever God appeared to people in a Pre-Incarnate visit to earth, He did so in the form of a man.

But what about where it says male and female were made in the likeness and image of God? Well, remember, God has no body. So our bodies are not what is being referred to when it comes to His image. What is?

That is a question that much has been written about for many centuries. But it comes down to unique attributes and unique assignments.

The unique attributes include things like our ability to think at a high level. No animal looks up at the stars to ponder the meaning of life. We do. No fish has the capacity for love like we do. No bird is able to think through abstract philosophy. We do. Man’s ability to think and determine and contemplate and believe is a reflection of the mind of God that no other creature has.

We also have spiritual attributes that are unique to humanity. No lion feels guilt for his selfish murders. Morality is written on human hearts, not animal hearts. Since the fall, creation groans, but it does not seek the Lord the way man can.

The Bible never lumps human beings into the same category as the animals. Though we’re physically made up of the same matter as the others, God has made us altogether different. In kindness, in justice, in devising and designing, we are able to do what no other creature on earth can do. These are significant differences. One commentator points out that God made humans a little lower than the angels, not a little higher than the beasts.

Why did God do so? Partly because He wanted to make us a special object of His attention and affection. But also because of the assignment He had for us. We see it there in verse 26. Human beings were to rule over all the earth and the creatures within. In every realm, land, sky and sea, man would have dominion.

What sort of rulers would we be? Well, when you consult Bible dictionaries they will describe the term “rule” in these ways: To tread down. To subdue. To lead, manage, direct or govern. We live on a pretty big planet, which makes this a pretty big job. How would these humans accomplish this?

They would do so as representatives of God Himself. Since humans were made in God’s likeness and image they would be His special agents in charge, made to rule the way God would. Before the fall, humans were to be the “visible, corporeal representative of the invisible, bodiless God.” And, because of that, God gave all authority and ability that men and women would need to do the job.

Before moving on, given the times in which we live, there’s an issue that must be addressed. Genesis reveals reality to us. It shows us the workings of God and His design. It establishes truth for us. And what we find here, written indelibly, is that human beings are created by God as either male or female. That is not something that culture assigns later. It’s not a social construct. Every man, every woman, has been specifically crafted by God according to His design. For a human male to claim that he is female is a detachment from reality. Some people in our world today have a hard time with this reality. Our purpose is not to demean or belittle anyone, but simply to share the truth which has been revealed. For those that deal with what is known today as “gender dysphoria,” we have this today: your feelings may be real, and your struggle may be painful, but God has explained what is real and what is true. You were created by Him according to a set design. And He knows you and loves you and has a specific purpose for your life. To reject the fact that you are male or female is not only a departure from truth and reality, it also is to flee from God who made you and loves you.

Genesis 1:28 – 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”

This is very similar to what God said to the other creatures, but it adds on the command to subdue the earth. That command is a blessing. From the beginning we’re being shown that to obey God is the way to a happy, fulfilled life. And we’re shown that work is not a bad thing. It is a very good thing.

The word “subdue” has a negative connotation to us. The term here might be described this way: “Harness the potential of the earth.” God gave us so much in this earth to innovate and utilize and enjoy and develop. We’re to do so in ways that reflect God’s character and nature. Meaning humans shouldn’t treat the world the I treated my SimCity metropolis when I was in middle school. I would build up this city just so I could send tornadoes and earthquakes and Godzilla attacks and watch it all come crumbling down.

We don’t need to feel sheepish about using the resources God has generously supplied, but our aim should be to develop, rather than destroy.

Now, a question that comes up sometimes is: Should I have kids in a world that’s in so much trouble? Today, climate change alarmists are pressuring people to not have children, because (they argue) there aren’t enough resources to go around. It’s a bit like Thanos’ philosophy. One organization called World Population Balance says that what we really need to do is get the global population down to 2 or 3 billion people and it can only be that high if all of you (if you’re lucky enough to not be majority who needs to die) consume 40% of everything than you do now.

Even those who aren’t worried about the environmental aspect sometimes wonder if having kids in an evil world is a good idea. On the individual level, the answer is: You should only get married and have kids if that’s what God wants for you, whether the world is good or bad. But, on a philosophical level consider this: God gave Adam and Eve this command knowing just how bad the world was going to be. After all, these were the two people who brought sin and death into the world. But God has sufficient grace, power and victory for our families, no matter how bad the world is.

Genesis 1:29-30 – 29 God also said, “Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This will be food for you, 30 for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth—everything having the breath of life in it—I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

I often think of Adam and Eve in the confines of the Garden of Eden, but here we see that God intended for them and their offspring to reach every corner of the globe. As they spread, they’d be sharing things with the animal kingdom. It made me wonder: Were all animals friendly? We only get clues. Even though, at this point, animals weren’t eating each other, humans would still have to rule and subdue and take charge of the administration of the planet. It seems as if animals were able to communicate with man, although that’s a bit of speculation. At any rate, the job God was giving them was not just a walk in the park. This was an immense undertaking.

But, notice there in verse 29 how God says, “Look!” He was excited to have his special creatures check it all out. To study and discover and wonder at His creation.

Genesis 1:31 – 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.

At the end of the work week, things were not only good, they were very good. Creation was humming along in worshipful harmony. This reminds us of how things will be one day. When God establishes His Millennial Kingdom on the earth the world will be restored. The creation will harmonize again as Christ undoes the effects of sin. What a wonderful time that will be!

But this also reminds us that the things God establishes are very good. He established creation. It is good – ruined in many ways for the time being – but good. God established the institutions of family and the Church. These are very good things indeed when they are enjoyed and implemented according to God’s design. He’s given us these things for our good, so that we might thrive and grow and carry out our functions in this world.

Genesis 2:1-3 – So the heavens and the earth and everything in them were completed. 2 On the seventh day God had completed his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it he rested from all his work of creation.

God completed His creation, but He wasn’t done working. After His day of rest a new effort would begin: His work in the lives of man and woman. All the work so far led up to this new phase where He would commune with His people. Walking with them, talking with them, directing them and helping them. He would have to! After all, God had given mankind dominion over the whole earth, including the realms in which they couldn’t live – the sea and the sky. Twice He said, “You’ll be in charge of everything in the sky and everything in the sea, along with everything on the earth.” This job would be impossible without God’s help and empowering. God wasn’t retiring. Jesus said in John 5, “My Father is still working. He’s always at His work, and so am I. (paraphrase)”

The question that arises here is what relationship we should have with a Sabbath day of rest? Some suggest that since God’s day of rest predates the Law, therefore it still should apply to Christians.

This issue has been specifically, plainly dealt with in the New Testament. Jesus said man was not made for the Sabbath, but Sabbath was made for man. Paul wrote, “Don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day.” In Romans he said that every day is the same. During the Jerusalem council, when the church was about to be split over the issue of keeping the Levitical Law or not, the answer was that Christians do not have to keep it and nothing about the Sabbath was prescribed. Rather, we see in Acts that the Christians, at certain times, met every day to enjoy the presence of God. Jesus offers us His rest not once a week, but moment by moment. He says “Come to Me and I will give you My rest.” We find God’s rest not in a list of what we do not do on a certain day, but by entering into what Jesus freely offers every singly day. If you feel led to mark a specific day of the week with certain acts of worship and devotion, great. You may not force it upon Christians at large.

Now, before moving to our close there’s something tucked away here for us to take note of. You’ve probably heard before that, in the Bible, seven is the number of completion or perfection. The idea is definitely woven throughout the Scriptures. Seven is a very significant number, Biblically speaking. This is the first use of it in God’s word and we always want to pay attention to the first mention of doctrines. This is where the idea gets its origin. Why is a week 7 days instead of 3 or 10 or some other number? Because God says so and because, as He reveals Himself, the number 7 would have an important place. And here it is used for the first time and connected to the idea of perfect completion.

Genesis 2:4a – 4 These are the records of the heavens and the earth, concerning their creation.

This phrase is a specific one. Ten times in Genesis we’re going to encounter this kind of statement about the “records” of a certain lineage. Your translation may say “history” or “generations” or “account.” It’s a specific Hebrew term that helps us divide up the book. In each case except this one it will refer to people. But here we have the first division, the lineage of creation. From this point forward, the focus will be on God’s special creation – humanity.

So now, God’s special agents have been placed on the earth to be in charge of administrating things God’s way. Of course, we know everything goes sideways and for thousands of years, God has been working tirelessly to fix what we humans broke. And we look forward to that day when it’s done.

But for us here tonight, how might this passage direct us? Of course, we believe this to be a historical record, but it’s also for us, meant to lead us in life and Godliness. First, a text like this should cause us to appreciate what the Lord has done. Thinking about Creation and how it’s all been made for us so that we might fulfill this incredible function, should fill us with gladness. But not only should we appreciate Creation in the sense of being thankful, but also to gaze in wonder at it. A lot has been spoiled by sin, but so much beauty remains. God still invites us to “look!” To explore what God has given and consider the wonder of His design

Second, this passage should cause us to anticipate the coming age, when things will be restored to what they were designed to be. God is going to put everything back together and let us live in that perfect restoration, where we will dwell in peaceful rest and comfort.

Third, this passage should cause us to acknowledge who we are in the eyes of God. You are not a mistake. You are not just a bundle of nerves and carbon. You are a special creation of incalculable value. It wasn’t just that God specially made Adam and Eve and the rest of us are just part of the swarm. No, we’re told that God still does a special work of creation in the case of each life – that He knows us before we are born and He fashions us in our mother’s womb. He knits us together. You are made on purpose for a purpose. And that purpose leads us to our fourth point of application.

Accept the assignments God has given you. Now, Adam and Eve gave dominion of the earth over to Satan. But we still are able to function in certain aspects of that office. It is still good and Godly to cultivate, to multiply and fill the earth. And we should still live our lives in a way that represents God to the world around us. But, on this side of the Fall and this side of the Cross we’ve been given an additional assignment. Not to just go through the world multiply biologically, but to go spreading the Gospel and making disciples. Like Adam and Eve’s job of administration, this assignment is impossible without the empowering and enabling of God. But He has given it. So, our aim should be to live in blessed obedience to Him. In that way we fulfill our special place in God’s plan and receive the special blessings set aside for us and only us.

The Home Office (Genesis 1:3-25)

In the last 10 years or so, many companies became extravagant in the way they set up their offices and workplace amenities for employees. At companies like Pixar or Lucasfilm it’s not unusual to see huge open floor plans, surrounded by lavish landscaping, with toys in every corner and employees zipping around on scooters. It’s not just entertainment studios that got in on the trend. Other firms started to provide what are sometimes called “Amusement Perks” like gourmet meals, subsidized massage, full-service desert trucks and hammocks all on site. Sometimes even animals are involved. BuzzFeed once bought a pony who would visit workers. Later she visited with a piglet and a bandana-wearing goat.

There are many examples, but a biotechnology company called Genentech caught my eye. Here are a few of their amenities for office workers:

Full service cafeterias
On site child care
Free counseling, financial and legal advice
Concierge and travel arrangements
Sponsored employee sports teams
On-site car wash, bicycle repair and haircuts
Full service, on-site dental care
Fertility support

I’m not sure how much these perks will matter in the future. In March, CNET reported that, in the wake of the pandemic, “over 80% of workers don’t want to go back to the office full time.”

Companies build workspaces like this hoping it will encourage creativity and collaboration and productivity. WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey told The Observer: “I definitely think that there is something that makes you feel more excited to come here in the morning and stay late at night.”

In our last study we saw how God created our cosmos, with all its elements, energies, and forces. His purpose was to design a space where human beings would be able to live and work and enjoy all that He desired to give them. Humans are not just another inhabitant of the earth, we are unique creatures – objects of God’s special affection, attention and intention. Humans are not mere animals. We’re not just the top of the food chain. We are specially crafted by God to be in communion and cooperation with Him. And, because of that, all the galaxies around us are simply the backdrop behind and the stage upon which our lives play out before the Lord.

Tonight we’ll see God get down to business, preparing the place where He could be in partnership with those creatures that He had such a special plan for. Let’s see what God set up for us.

Genesis 1:3-5 – 3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” There was an evening, and there was a morning: one day.

The first decision we should make is what is meant by the term “day.” We’re going to see it many times in these verses. We saw last time how there is historic debate over the creation account. We couldn’t even get to the second verse of the Bible without there being a theological disagreement over whether there was a great gap of time hidden there.

In this section there are some who feel that “day” doesn’t mean a 24-hour day, but rather a long, millions-of-years period of time. It’s called the day-age theory. Proponents feel that it helps to reconcile what some scientists describe as millions of years in the fossil record or geology.

Let me say this: If you ascribe to the gap theory, or the day-age theory or one of the other perspectives that has a hard time accepting the Creation Week as being seven, literal, 24-hour days, that’s fine. No one is going to excommunicate you or make you wear a scarlet D-A around your neck. It’s a non-essential issue. We recognize that there are hard questions that need to be thought about when it comes to studying the world around us and how to make sense of it while also putting our faith in what God has revealed to be true in Scripture.

With that said, our pulpit perspective here at Calvary is that the creation account is a true, literal, historical record of seven 24-hour days, in which God created everything according to its kind.

There are a bunch of reasons why. Let me give you four. First, while it’s true that the Hebrew word used for “day” here can mean an indefinite period of time, it is never used that way when a number is attached to it, as is the case throughout this chapter.

Second, as Moses records this process, he references 12 hour periods and days and seasons and years. You have to go out of your way to assume that he isn’t using the regular, natural sense of these words. And if he’s speaking naturally about years and seasons, we have little footing to think that he means something wildly different when he uses the term “day.”

Third, in Exodus 31, Moses is laying out the law of the Sabbath (a law which, if you violated, carried the death penalty!) and he says, “Work may be done for six days, but on the seventh day there must be a Sabbath of…rest…for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth but on the seventh day He rested.” It makes little sense to suggest he meant a 24 hour period in the first use but millions of years in the second.

Fourth, ascribing millions of years or “theistic evolution” to the creation of the cosmos not only doesn’t match what’s written in the text, it also doesn’t solve apparent difficulties in geology or the fossil record. The sequences don’t harmonize. And these perspectives require death before the fall of man, which we’re told was the cause which brought death into the world. Plus you have the problem of Adam himself. Adam was created on the sixth day, lived through the seventh and (we’re told) died at age 930. This, obviously, does not allow for millions of years.

Instead, the text belabors the idea of 24-hour days. Of course, God could’ve created everything, top to bottom, in what we call an instant of time. Why didn’t He? Well, for one thing, He was establishing a pattern that would be the basis for human activity. It was even codified in Exodus. Humans were meant to work the way God worked and so He showed them how.

It also reminds us that God is a God of timing. He has His ways and His opinions and His perfect wisdom. He operates according to a schedule. We don’t always understand it, but we can trust it.

He called the light “good.” This and many other passages indicate that darkness is not good. God separates them. That is another theme in these verses: God making distinctions between things. If the light is good and the dark is not so good, why not simply eliminate the dark? After all, that’s what He’s going to do in the end, right? Of course, He knew that in this world we would need physical rest and night is the natural time to get it. But what we’ll also see is that God continually sets up choices for people. Will they walk in the light or will they walk in the dark? Remember, Jesus is the light of the world, and anyone who follows Him will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.

Genesis 1:6-8 – 6 Then God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters, separating water from water.” 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above the expanse. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse “sky.” Evening came and then morning: the second day.

Scientists like Dr. Henry Morris believe that the pre-flood world was surrounded with a vapor canopy. We’re told there was no rain in those days, and yet there was much vegetation. This vapor canopy would’ve made a remarkable ecosystem. Earth would’ve been one enormous greenhouse, shielded from harmful radiation. There would be no windstorms, no barren deserts, no ice caps. Some read Psalm 148 and suggest that this vapor canopy will be restored in the Millennial Kingdom.

Here we’re told after God’s creative work “evening came.” Which means that these acts during the creation week did not take 24 hours, He did it all in 12 hours each day!

Genesis 1:9-10 – 9 Then God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land “earth,” and the gathering of the water he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

So, clearly at this starting point there was enough water to cover the entire earth. Given what we’re told, a global flood (in Genesis 7) is not unreasonable. But here we see this refining process where the Lord is getting space ready for humanity. We’ve got a universe and stellar heavens, now a planet, then an atmosphere, now the Lord brings out land where His people would be able to live and work.

Genesis 1:11-13 – 11 Then God said, “Let the earth produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.” And it was so. 12 The earth produced vegetation: seed-bearing plants according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 Evening came and then morning: the third day.

Here we have a new phrase that will be repeated: “according to their kinds.” This simple statement repudiates the theory of evolution. As Biblical creationists we have no issue with observable adaptation or what some might call microevolution, but there is no Scriptural or historically observable basis for macroevolution. Rather, a multiplicity of kinds were created simultaneously.

Interestingly we note that God does not name the plants. He won’t name the animals either. Why is that? It’s because He intended that human beings do that. Man’s work in the Garden was not just meant to be busy work or menial drudgery. God was going to include them at such a high level that He allowed us to name and categorize and administrate cooperatively with Him.

We should also note here that our God is a God of great variety. All sorts of plants. All sorts of trees. In a similar way, He has a great variety in the type of fruit He wants to bear in your life. He doesn’t intend for us all to be cookie-cutter replications. He delights in a variety of gifts and a variety of fruit.

Genesis 1:14-19 – 14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will serve as signs for seasons and for days and years. 15 They will be lights in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule over the day and the lesser light to rule over the night—as well as the stars. 17 God placed them in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth, 18 to rule the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 Evening came and then morning: the fourth day.

Now, this is significant: God created light before He created the sun. For three days the earth was lit up by a source that was not the stellar bodies. Why would this matter? Well, some folks have trouble with what they call “the appearance of age” in creation. The idea is this: We seem to know how fast light travels. We seem to be able to calculate distances to certain stars. Therefore, the cosmos must be old enough to accommodate the millions of lightyears of distance between us and those stars. And, if God created the light from those stars having already arrived at earth, that is in some way dishonest or deceptive. That’s an argument you’ll hear from time to time.

Again, if this describes your perspective, it isn’t my intention to belittle it. But, let’s think through this. If God made the universe with the appearance of age, is that a cheat of some kind? Well, first of all, it’s clear that there was light before stars, but let’s set stars on the shelf for a moment. Were Adam and Eve created as human embryos? It’s clear they looked like full grown adults at the moment they took their first breath. On day six of creation we also see animals created – mammals included. If they were created as tiny babies, just born, who would’ve nursed them to keep them alive?

Moving out of Genesis, do we ever see God performing acts that give what might be called the appearance of age? I think we do. Jesus, through whom all things were created, once turned water into wine. In that instant a process was completed that usually takes a longer period of time. Wine can be fermented in as little as a week, but other methods, like barrel aging, takes months or years. That wine, a few moments “old,” had an appearance of age and natural processing.

We also think of the withering of the fig tree in Matthew 21. That miracle happened so fast the disciples said, “how did it wither so quickly?” There was a sudden occurrence of something that normally takes a long time. So, the appearance of age in our universe does not need to stumble us.

Now, here we see the sun and moon were given to “serve as signs for seasons, days and years.” So many cultures at the time were worshipping the sun and moon. Here it’s revealed that they weren’t gods, they were servants given as tools to mankind. And, knowing how much the calendar would be involved in the spiritual life of Israel, we start to get a sense that this living relationship with God wasn’t going to be some compartmentalized or remote thing. It was going to be a whole way of life, where you would get up and see the cycle of the moon and that would bring you thoughts not only of God’s provision but also of the regular times of worship and thanksgiving that we part of your life.

We also see there how the text says the lights would be “in the sky.” And so, the vantage point is not from way out in the galaxy somewhere. The Lord was describing what was happening from our vantage point, looking up. So, more and more we’re seeing God’s heart to commune with us. We are the focal point of His attention and His intentions in this creation. He identifies with us.

Genesis 1:20-23 – 20 Then God said, “Let the water swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 21 So God created the large sea-creatures and every living creature that moves and swarms in the water, according to their kinds. He also created every winged creature according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them: “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters of the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.” 23 Evening came and then morning: the fifth day.

Verse 21 sends another volley at the theory of evolution. Birds and fish together. Large animals right from the start, not beginning with tiny organisms eventually becoming different species.

The term used for “large sea-creatures” is also used for monsters and dragons. Leviathan was a real creature. And, it seems, in ancient times, there really were fire-breathing dragons.

To these creatures God gives an assignment: Multiply and fill your domain. And not only was it done instantaneously, they went on obeying the Lord in this command.

Genesis 1:24-25 – 24 Then God said, “Let the earth produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that crawl, and the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 So God made the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that crawl on the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

While God would leave the job of naming all the animals to Adam, we do see a categorization of animals here. God makes a difference between domestic and wild, and between large and small. Here is where dinosaurs were created, along with all other land animals. Of course, at this point there were no carnivores. Verse 30 will tell us that every living creature would be vegetarian (which is what will happen again in the Millennium).

So now all things were ready for the Lord to introduce human beings to what would be their home, their workplace, and their temple. It was a splendid domain, full of life and potential and variety and adventure and wonder. It was meticulously designed so that men and women would not only survive, but thrive in God’s presence. The Lord’s intention was to give us a place full of beauty and room and grandeur where we would walk with Him in complete joy and satisfaction.

As Christians, this should build great anticipation in our hearts for the restoration of all things. There is going to be a redemption of this world and things will be put back to the way they once were. And then, somehow, things will get even better as we spend eternity with our Savior in the New Jerusalem – a place He hasn’t been prepping for 6 days, but for thousands of years!

Before we close, I’d encourage us to take what we’ve seen and apply it to ourselves this way: We notice that, again and again, we read “God said, ‘Let there be…’ and it was done.” The sun did not refuse to shine. The birds did not refuse to fly. The plants did not refuse to grow. When God spoke, when He commanded and directed, it was so. The cosmos had no other choice.

But God does things differently with human beings. He still commands, but He gives us the choice whether we will obey or not. Today, right now, God has commanded you in all sorts of ways – ways that are communicated very clearly in the Bible. What if we think about some of the “let the” commands from the New Testament? The Lord turns to us and says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” He says, “Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you,” and “Let the peace of Christ rule your hearts.” He says, “Let the children come to Me…let anyone who is thirsty come to Me.” He says, “Let the thief no longer steal” and “let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Are those commands any less imperative than “Let there be light?” God created an entire cosmos so that He might have personal fellowship and cooperation with you. He made everything there is so that you could have an abundant life, not conducted according to the way you think it should go, but lived out in thankful subordination to His provision, His direction, and His design. Throughout these 6 days we see God designing, separating, evaluating, revealing what is good and what should happen. Our part is to join in with obedience. Trusting this great, loving God to fashion for us a good, good life, unmatched by anything a fallen, dying world could try to offer.

references & footnotes available at calvaryhanford.com/atruebeginning