Monday, January 14, 2013
In Search Of Truth, Genesis 4:8-16
A few months ago we began looking at some key passages in the Old Testament that give insight to who God is, who we are, and the nature of our relationship with God. We've been laying the foundation for an examination of the sacrificial system and major rituals of the Old Testament, which we will aim to begin looking at in the coming months.
We've looked at the fall of humanity, as the first humans rejected God's instructions in favor of their own desires. We've seen the lasting consequences of that choice. Now we'll see, in this passage and beyond, how humanity continued to fall, becoming increasingly evil.
Here the first murder is recorded. Rather than accept God's correction and become better as a result, Cain let bitterness grow inside of him and ultimately killed his brother because of it, trying to avoid responsibility for his actions afterward.
Our natural tendency is the same. We aren't all murderers, but it's easy for us to become silently bitter toward someone making better choices than us instead of learning from the good examples of others. We are also quick to shift responsibility away from ourselves, either in our outward conversations or our inward thoughts.
God hadn't yet commanded humans not to murder each other, but instead intervened after corrupted human freedom led to murder.
Sometimes people complain that God gives us too many rules for our lives, as though we would be more free and better off without God's laws. But this kind of "freedom" was given more than a fair chance by God. What we see between the fall of humanity and the Exodus of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt, is a period of time in which God intervened largely with consequences for unguided choices rather than preemptive rules to help avoid sin.
Again, we see God's mercy in the midst of punishment. Just as God provided clothing for Adam and Eve while expelling them from the Garden, God puts a protective mark on Cain to prevent him from being murdered.
On a side note, you may notice the implication that there are numerous other humans in the world at this time, not including those specifically mentioned in Genesis to this point. A reasonable explanation for this is that Adam and Eve, and their children, had many children not recorded in biblical geneolagies, which often included both large and small gaps. Unlike today, the purpose of ancient geneolagies was not necessarily to provide an exhaustively detailed record of a family line.
A final consequence of Cain's sin was his departure from God's presence. Whether from an implied command, his newfound inability to grow produce, or his own shame, Cain left "the presence of the LORD".
Distance from God is both a just and a natural consequence of making our own will a higher priority than God's will.
I can be a very self-indulgent geek. I love my hobbies so much that I can become absorbed in them for days, giving as little attention as possible to anything and anyone else (as I discovered over my recent vacation). Then when I come up for air, or when I need comfort or encouragement, I wonder why God seems so distant.
The truth is that I allow myself to become distant from God when I make my own entertainment and escapism a higher priority than serving God and seeing the world through his eyes.
Thankfully, because of the untiring love and forgiveness of Jesus, every day, every moment, is a fresh start and a clean slate. (Romans 8:1, Lamentations 3:22-23) A chance to "reload my save" and start the level again.