The Rest of the Story -
Beginning of Life as We Know It
Genesis 4:1-16, The Rest of the Story: 1. The Beginning of Life As We Know
Genesis 6:5-7:1, The Rest of the Story: 1. The Beginning of Life As We Know
Genesis 9:1-13, The Rest of the Story: 1. The Beginning of Life As We Know
Genesis 11:1-9, The Rest of the Story: 1. The Beginning of Life As We Know
Genesis 4:5, The Rest of the Story: Reader Question
More of the Rest of the Story
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Genesis 4:1-16, The Rest of the Story: 1. The Beginning of Life As We Know It (7/23/12)
So far we’ve read three chapters of the first book of the Bible, and we’ve seen the answers to some important questions.
- How many gods are there? One, God, because everything else is a made thing.
- What’s the basic nature of all that God made? It’s good, because God does good work. It originally formed a harmonious whole.
- What is the nature of humanity? We are also God’s creature, made in the image of God. Except that we can’t keep our hands in our pockets, apparently, because the very first thing we did was break the only rule God gave us!
- Where does the evil in the world come from? Our sin, which is anything that separates us from God.
That’s a lot of theology for three short chapters.
The answer to a Reader Question on this passage is at the bottom of the page.
The situation keeps on deteriorating, and we see the first murder in Ch. 4. Pay particular attention to vss. 6-7. Cain’s offering was not rejected because he was a murderer. It was rejected because he had already started “not doing well,” and because he was the type of person who would try to solve his problems by murdering his brother instead of by working to become acceptable. As Pastor Craig pointed out today, the first violent action we see is not the beginning of the problem.
Genesis 6:5-7:1, The Rest of the Story: 1. The Beginning of Life As We Know It (7/24/12)
It is not only our sin that affects those around us, but also our righteousness (if any). Noah was “righteous before God,” and because of this, his family and all the species of animals were saved from destruction, and the human race got a second chance. Never say that what one person does makes no difference in the world, particularly if you are that person.
Genesis 9:1-13, The Rest of the Story: 1. The Beginning of Life As We Know It (7/26/12)
A number of God’s covenants with humanity are recorded in the Bible. These covenants are like contracts, in that they specify what each party will do, they are binding on both parties, and they can contain penalties for violations. They are unlike contracts, however, in that the two parties are vastly unequal in power, authority, and what they bring to the table. This kind of covenant between God and human beings in the Bible is typically a “suzerainty covenant,” because it follows the pattern of a powerful king making a covenant with a relatively powerless person.
Although the word “covenant” isn’t mentioned in Genesis 1 to 3, there’s sort of an implicit covenant with Adam and Eve: “Take care of the Garden, eat plants, and don’t touch the Tree; in return, I’ll come around every evening for a chat.” We all saw how that worked out.
So God makes a new covenant with Noah: “You may eat plants or animals, murder is a capital crime, and you must not eat blood; in return, I won’t flood you out again (no matter how vexing you get).” The idea that the life of a creature is in its blood, and the life – and therefore the blood – belongs to God alone, is a very ancient one, and as we read through the Bible, we will see it recurring again and again. It might be worthwhile to remember it.
Genesis 11:1-9, The Rest of the Story: 1. The Beginning of Life As We Know It (7/27/12)
We tend to think about the first part of Genesis as a series of stories: The Garden of Eden, The Fall, Cain and Abel, Noah’s Ark, The Flood, and The Tower of Babel. In a real sense, however, there are only two stories: a prologue called Perfect Harmony; and Ch. 1 of the main plot of the Bible, a story called Things Go Wrong.
Back in Genesis 1 and 2, we see that God created everything, including us, and everything that God created was good. Not only was Creation in perfect harmony with God, but Creation was in harmony with itself. That prologue really isn’t revisited until the very end of the Book.
In Genesis 3 through 11, the harmony of God’s Creation is destroyed by sin. We start out disobeying the only itty bitty rule we were given, “don’t touch,” we go on to murder, and then our hearts are completely wicked. In the end, far from being thick as thieves, it turns out that we can’t even talk to each other. That “chapter” about our initial sin introduces the main topic of the rest of the Bible: what God is going to do with Creation now that human beings have messed it up.
Genesis 4:5, The Rest of the Story: 1. Reader Question (7/24/12)
In Genesis 4:5, what does "no regard " translate from? Is it reject, ignore, or not praise? I think this is key to understanding Cain's response. Something drove the jealousy. Was God testing Cain? And did he fail?
The Hebrew word sha-AH
, as in look steadily
or regard with [favor, perplexity, etc.]
. So a good American translation might be pay attention to
. Several suggestions have been made about why God had regard for
Abel and not for Cain.
My least favorite is that Abel offered some sort of animal, and Cain offered some sort of plant. This makes no sense. In the third place, the rules about offerings were handed down much later. In the second place, various plants offerings are required
by the later rules! So the technical term for that argument is “silly,” in my opinion. And in the first place, it doesn’t say that the offerings were the main cause of acceptance or rejection: it is Abel and his offering, or Cain and his offering, that is acceptable or not.
No, I take back that the above explanation is my least favorite. I just discover a new
least-favorite explanation on the Internet. It is that God “must have told them” what offerings to bring, and Cain didn’t bring the correct one. Now, let me tell you, folks. If you just make stuff up
and put it into the Bible (that is, that God told them what offerings to bring, which Genesis Does Not Say), you can get any answer you want. Don’t do that. The technical term for that is “eisegesis,” which means “reading into.”
What you want to do is “exegesis,” which means “reading out of.” For example, a valid exegetical conclusion from this passage is that it’s not good for you
to murder your
brother, or anybody else, and God will punish you
for it, just as he did Cain.
The writer of Hebrews says that:
“By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. … And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. ” (Hebrews 11:4, 6).
This is my favorite explanation, which is why I said what I said originally, that Cain was rejected for being the type of person who would commit murder. He did not have either faith or righteousness at his core.
As to the second question, God does not test people:
Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. (James 1:13)
(The Greek is the same for test
) So yes, Cain failed, but it wasn’t God’s fault in any way. Sometimes people are angry or jealous because of who they are, and not because of what’s happening around them.
More of the Rest of the Story
Week 1. Beginning of Life As We Know It
Week 1. More on the Beginning of Life As We Know It
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Abraham … But Not Lot
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Isaac…But not Ishmael or the sons of Keturah
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau
Week 3. Joseph Preserves Two Nations
Week 4. Deliverance
Week 4. More on Deliverance
Week 5. New Commands and a New Covenant
Week 6. Wandering
Week 6. More on the Wandering
Week 7. The Battle Begins
Week 8. A Few Good Men...and Women
Week 9. The Faith of a Foreign Woman
Week 10. Standing Tall, Falling Hard
Week 11. From Shepherd to King
Week 12. The Trials of a King
Week 13. The King Who Had It All
Week 14. A Kingdom Torn in Two
Weeks 15 and 16. God's Messengers and The Beginning of the End
Week 17. The Kingdoms' Fall
Jeremiah, Prophet of the Exile
Story 19. The Return Home
in the Old Testament
Story 21. Rebuilding the Walls
Story 22. The Birth of the King
Story 23. Jesus’ Ministry Begins
Story 24. No Ordinary Man
Story 25. Jesus, the Son of God
Story 26. The Hour of Darkness
Story 27. The Resurrection
Story 28. New Beginnings
James, Brother of the Lord
John and Jude
Story 31. The End of Time
Copyright 2009, 2011, 2012 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
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