The sin germ spreads from family to society to the world but the lord raises up a godly remnant -Gen. 4 -5
In the mid-1800's mothers in childbirth were dying at a high rate (20 to 30 %) of what came to be known as "childbed fever" in a Vienna General Hospital. A European doctor, Ignaz Semmelweis, was an obstetrician and also did research on cadavers. Only after many deaths did Semmelweis discover that he and the other obstetricians involved in cadaver research were carrying the germ (streptococcus pyogenes) from the cadavers that was killing the mothers. And only after instituting a policy of washing their hands in a chlorine and lime solution (now alcohol) after touching the cadavers, was this fatal disease stopped, (taken from Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute.) Ever since The Fall in Genesis 3 all mankind is born carrying the sin germ which spreads from person to person and throughout the world apart from the saving work and on-going cleansing of a Holy God. "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8) As with Semmelweis, it is not knowing that we are carriers (self deception) or through a refusal to submit to God (through self-will Rom. 8:7) that keeps us spreading the sin germ.
Here in Genesis 4 we see the sin germ spread from Cain out into the first city and civilization and it will continue until Christ's return. But thanks be to God, He raised up a godly line through Seth and then men "began to call on the name of the Lord" (Gen. 4:26 or "proclaim" the name of the Lord, i.e., declare God's ways and truth in the midst of a godless world). God raised up a nation and a people (Israel and later the church) to be a "kingdom of priests" (Ex. 19:6; Rev. 1:6) where as priests we represent God to man (evangelism and discipleship) and man to God through prayers and spiritual sacrifices (Rom. 12:1) for we are our brother's keeper. Cain represents the natural man who senses no need for the Lord's mercy and thus he was just going through the motions (dead religion) in offering a sacrifice. It also appears that Adam and Eve had told their sons about the blood sacrifice that God had provided on their behalf (Gen. 3:21) which ultimately points to Christ's blood for forgiveness of sin. (Heb. 9:22; 11:4) Abel represents the spiritual man who knows he needs an acceptable sacrifice for sins (ultimately Jesus) and thus offers a blood sacrifice and from the best of his flock. Christ's shed blood is an offense to self-righteous man today and they like Cain think their good works merit God's acceptance. But Paul reminded us, "I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, (doing good works) Christ died for nothing!" (Gal. 2:21; also see Eph. 2:8-9)
"So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast."(v. 5b) Unbelievers and especially religious unbelievers (Pharisees, Cults, etc.) hate true believers and they especially hate Jesus. (John 15:18-25) This can be seen as Jesus' Name is used as a curse word. (Notice that we never hear anyone saying: "Oh Buddha" or "Oh Muhammed.") Cain was envious of Abel and planned his murder even after God's pleading with him to repent (see vv. 6-7). "The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so." (Rom 8:7) Cain represents all the proud and unrepentant in that "there is no fear of God before their eyes" (Rom. 3:18, i.e., no fear of consequences for sin) – as he committed premeditated murder even after God's warning.
"Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?" (v.9) Here Cain outright lies to God and then denies any responsibility for his brother's welfare. Both the Ten Commandments and the Great Commandment call us to care for the needs of others. (Exodus 20:1-17; Mark 12:30-31) Look at the sins of Cain: envy, anger, no fear of God, murder, lying, absolute autonomy, no remorse for all these sins and angry with God for His discipline. "The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground." Abel's blood cried out for justice but Jesus' blood cries out for forgiveness. "Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." (Heb. 12:24)
"I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me." (v. 14) Sinful man is a restless fugitive running from God. Believers are pilgrims on a journey headed somewhere (growth in Christlikeness and to heaven) and to Someone and until then we run to God and find His rest in a weary world. (Matt. 11:28-30) God in His mercy spared Cain but apart from God's salvation and presence, "the way of transgressors is hard." (Prov.13:15)
"Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch."(4:17) In verses 4:17- 24 we see the first city being built by sinful man and how it is a microcosm of our cities and culture today: a picture of technical progress (tent-making, raising livestock, metallurgy), entertainment (music and poetry) and moral failure (sexual sins -polygamy and murder – the loss of the sanctity of life), and man trying to perpetuate himself by naming a city after his son. ("though they had named lands after themselves… man, despite his riches, does not endure." Psalm 49:11-12). Obviously, not all of this is sin but since it is founded by godless men, the city (and later others like it) is godless. Dr. Richard Swenson says in his book Margin that when technology and wealth are increasing and meaningful relationships with God and others is decreasing the net result for a society is loss not gain. (Imagine the deep pain for Adam and Eve as parents who lost both sons in one day because of Cain's sin.) Larry Crabb in his book Connecting says a city builder tries to make life work for himself through resources he can control. Whereas a kingdom builder is a risk-taker for the Lord trusting in God (not his own abilities) to expand the kingdom of God through evangelism and discipleship as he goes about his day to day life at home, work and play thinking about God and others
"Adam lay with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, "God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him." Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time men began to call on (or proclaim) the name of the LORD." (vv.25-26) In chapter 5 we see the promise of God come true that disobedience leads to death. We read "and he died" eight times in this one chapter. Yet God had promised a Deliverer from death (see Gen. 3:15) through the godly line of Seth, our Lord Jesus Christ. "For if, by the trespass of the one man (Adam), death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ." (Rom. 5:17) Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (Jesus). (2Cor. 9:15)
Questions for reflection/application.
Reflect on the analogy of sin being like a germ. With what and how do we wash ourselves clean? 1 John 1: 7-9
In an independent and autonomous society how can we be our brother's keeper?
As a pilgrim in a weary world are you regularly running to Jesus to find rest for your soul?
Using Dr. Swenson's definition of progress (growing in relationship with God and others) how are you progressing?
Based on Crabb's definition of city builders and kingdom builders how can you grow in kingdom building versus city building?
In it with you, Len and Kristen