CITY BUILDERS VERSUS KINGDOM BUILDERS – “CAIN – BUILDING A CITY”; “MEN BEGAN TO PROCLAIM THE LORD”
Man goes from the Garden of God to the City of Man and then the saved go to the Holy City – the New Jerusalem in heaven. Like Abraham we are called to “look forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”(Heb. 11:10); to be spiritual pioneers and not settle down in a fallen world. We are to “expand the invisible geography of the kingdom of God.”
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 advancement/entertainment and moral failure; 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); sexual sin (polygamy); raising livestock; music and poetry; metallurgy and murder – the loss of the sanctity of life. (Just tune in to the local and national news for more of the same.) 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 (M.D.) 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 sin.) Larry Crabb in his book Connecting says a city builder tries to make life work (for him) through resources he can control. Whereas a kingdom builder is a risk-taker for the Lord trusting in God (not his own abilities/resources) 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.
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. “For if, by the trespass of the one man, 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) Yet God had promised a Deliverer from death (Gen. 3:15) Who is also seen in this verse – Jesus Christ.
“If a man dies, will he live again?” (Job 14:14) Though one out of one dies (except for Enoch and Elijah) we are still shocked and grieved when it happens and the fear of death is in the heart of man. (Heb. 2:15) Why? Because it was not supposed to be this way. Man’s sin brought death and it still grieves us today, thus the Good News of eternal life in Christ needs to heard by all: "Death has been swallowed up in victory. "Where, O death, is your victory? …thanks be to God! He gives us the victory (over death – my comments) through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (See 1 Cor. 15:54-57) “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.”(Psalm 73:24)
We also see the hope of deliverance from the curse of the Fall in Enoch and Noah. “Enoch walked with God 300 years; then he was no more, because God took him away.”(Gen 5:22, 24) “Enoch believed God (Heb. 11:5-6) walked with God in the midst of a godless society, and witnessed for God (Jude 14-15) and God took him to heaven which is the promise and hope of all who believe in Jesus Christ.” (Warren Wiersbe)
What does it mean to “walk with God?” First of all walking with God is more than mere living/existing. It is a higher life in that sense. It means we walk in the same direction (Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? Amos 3:3) It means we walk in obedience to God’s Word and will, and enjoy the intimacy and fellowship that comes from obedience. (John 14:21, 23) It means we are open to God’s inspection of our lives. And it means we live in remembrance of Him throughout the day.
Like Noah (means “rest”) was looking forward to the new world to come (and deliverance from an ungodly world) we are to look forward to the world to come as Abraham and all those longing for heaven “looked forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”(Heb. 11:8-16) “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” (Heb 4:9-11) “Believers today enjoy 1) rest of conscience, knowing that the penalty for their sins has been paid through the finished work of the Lord Jesus. This is the rest which the Savior promised, “Come to Me … and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). 2) The believer also enjoys a rest in serving the Lord. Whereas the preceding is a rest of salvation, this is a rest of service. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me … and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29). 3) Finally there is the eternal rest which awaits the believer in the Father’s house in heaven. This future rest, also called a Sabbath rest (Heb. 4:9), is the final rest of which the others are either types or foretastes. This rest is the principal subject (Heb. 4:1–13). 4) Trusting Him completely in the midst of trials. Verse 11 says that diligence is necessary in order to enter that rest. We must be diligent to make sure that our only hope is Christ the Lord. We must diligently resist any temptation merely to profess faith in Him and then to renounce Him (or not trust Him completely – my comments) in the heat of suffering and persecution.” (Thomas Nelson – Believer’s Bible Commentary)
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION OF GOD’S WORD
Using Dr. Swenson’s definition of progress (growing in relationship with God and others versus an increase in wealth and technical skills) how are you progressing?
A city builder tries to make life work (for him) through resources he can control. Whereas a kingdom builder is a risk-taker for the Lord trusting in God (not his own abilities/resources) 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. How can you grow in kingdom building versus city building?
What does it mean to you to “walk with God” 1) in your relationships; 2) your business; 3) your finances; 4) in the use of your time? What are the benefits of walking with God?
Discuss the four aspects of the believer’s rest. Which, other than #3, are you not experiencing and why?
Scripture memory verse: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, (as Enoch and Noah did – my comments) while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good”. (Titus 2:11-14)