Bible Reading: Genesis chapter 4+5
“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous…”Hebrews 11v4 KJV
What were the early people on earth like? Were they sub-human? Did they have many skills? How many children did Adam and Eve have? Where did Cain get his wife? These are just some of the questions that come to mind.
The First Family
The first family started with a man and his wife, Adam and Eve. God had created them on day 6 of creation week and had specially created Eve from Adam (cp. Genesis 1v26+27; 2v21-25).
God had commanded them to populate the earth (Genesis 1v28) but notice that they are referred to as man and wife before the conception of their children (Genesis 4v1).
Three of their sons are mentioned in Genesis chapter 4 – Cain, Abel, and Seth (Genesis 4v1, 2, +25). But Adam and Eve had sons and daughters (Genesis 5v4), just how many we do not know.
Cain became a tiller of the ground – a farmer growing crops to provide food for his family. Abel became a shepherd, raising sheep probably for clothes and blood sacrifices to God.
No doubt Adam and Eve often talked of the ‘good old days’ in Eden and explained to their children why they no longer lived there. They would have taught them of the promised Saviour (Genesis 3v15) and told of how God covered their nakedness with animal skins – blood was shed to cover their sin (cp. Hebrews 9v22), a picture of Christ’s atoning death on Calvary. Both Cain and Abel would have been aware of the correct way to worship God.
In the Old Testament the Jewish people were to worship God with animal sacrifices. These sacrifices pointed forward to the Promised One – the Messiah who is Jesus Christ God’s perfect Son – who would crush Satan, the serpent, by shedding His innocent, sinless blood as the final sacrifice provided by God for the sins of the world (Hebrews 10v11-13).
There was a murder in the first family. This is a stark reminder to us that man fell into sin and thus inherited a sinful nature (Genesis 3; Romans 5v12).
The Messiah (Christ) was a descendant of Seth.
The Two Offerings
|Brought fruits of the ground which God had cursed (Genesis 3v17; 4v3). |
No blood in his sacrifice.
|Brought of his flock and offered a blood sacrifice to God (Hebrews 9v22). The shed blood pointed forward to Christ and was a picture of Christ’s death.|
|Thought his own good works would be acceptable to God. After all, he had worked hard to grow these fruits. |
Good works cannot save us from sin
(Isaiah 64v6; Ephesians 2v8+9; Titus3v5).
|By faith He offered a more excellent sacrifice (Hebrews 11v4). |
Salvation is by faith alone in Christ
(John 3v16; Romans 5v1; Galatians 2v16; Ephesians 2v8+9).
|God did not accept his offering of works |
|God accepted his offering |
|Referred to as wicked and his works were evil |
(1 John 3v12)
|Referred to as righteous |
Cain could have brought the right offering and been accepted by God too but instead his anger and resentment led to the first murder (Genesis 4v5-8).
God is Omniscient (all-knowing) and thus knew Cain’s sin but God wanted him to admit it (Genesis 4v9+10). Instead Cain lied and tried to escape responsibility – “I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?”
We cannot hide our sin from God. “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32v23).
Sin must be punished. God punished Cain because of his sin (Genesis 4v11-15).
Note Genesis 4v16 – “And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD.” How tragic when the unrepentant sinner goes out from the presence of the Lord!
Why is the Shed Blood so Important?
“… for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”Leviticus 17v11 KJV
This is a basic Biblical principle – nothing else but the shed blood can atone for sin.
“… and without shedding of blood is no remission.”Hebrews 9v22 KJV
The forgiveness of our sins is only on the grounds of the shed blood.
In the Old Testament many animal sacrifices were made (e.g. Passover lambs – Exodus 12; sin offerings – Leviticus 4; Day of Atonement – Leviticus 16). These were all types, foreshadows, or pictures of the real thing, as Hebrews chapters 9 & 10 explain. People in the Old Testament looked forward by faith to the coming of the Promised One (Genesis 3v15) or Messiah (Christ) who would make the final sacrifice for sins (cp. Hebrews 7v24-27; 9v24-28; 10v11-13).
The shed blood satisfies God
“when I see the blood, I will pass over you.”Exodus 12v13 KJV
In the New Testament we read that the shed blood of Christ justifies (Romans 5v9); redeems (Colossians 1v14; 1 Peter 1v18-19); reconciles us to God (Colossians 1v19-20; Ephesians 2v12-13); purges a guilty conscience (Hebrews 9v14); and defeats the devil (Revelation 12v11).
Only the blood of Christ can cleanse from sin “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1v7 cp. Revelation 1v5)
“the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.”1 John 1v7 KJV
Where did Cain get his Wife?
Why is it important?
This is a very important question because:
Many sceptics have claimed that for Cain to find a wife, there must have been other “races” of people on the earth who were not descendants of Adam and Eve.
To many people, this question is a stumbling block to accepting the Creation account of Genesis and its record of only one man and one woman at the beginning of history.
Also, the Bible makes it very plain that only the descendants of Adam can be saved, so if there were other “races” of people on the earth then the foundations of the Gospel are being attacked.
What does the Bible say?
- The Bible clearly tells us that at the beginning God created one man and one woman. God did not start by making a whole group of people. Adam was “the first man” (I Corinthians 15v45). Eve was “the mother of all living” (Genesis 3v20).
- The Bible says that all human beings are sinners (Romans 5v12), and that we are all related (Acts 17v26 – God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth”). This means that Cain’s wife was a descendent of Adam. She could not have come from another ‘race’ of people.
- Cain was the first child of Adam and Eve recorded in scripture. He and his brothers, Abel and Seth, were part of the first generation of children born on earth (Genesis 4v1, 2, + 25). Though not mentioned by name, Adam and Eve had a number of other sons and daughters (Genesis 5v4). The Bible does not say when they were born, or how many BUT considering their long life spans, Adam and Eve could have had many children. Many could have been born in the 130 years (Genesis 5v3) before Seth was born.
- The Bible does not tell us when Cain married, or many of the details of other marriages and children, but some brothers had to have married their sisters at the beginning of human history, or there would not have been any more generations! Thus Cain’s wife was either his sister or close relative.
- The law forbidding such marriages was not given until the time of Moses (Leviticus 18-20). Provided marriage was one man to one woman for life (Genesis chs.1+2 cp. Matthew 19v3-6), originally there was no disobedience to God’s law when close relatives (even brothers and sisters) married.
What about biological deformities?
Today, laws do not permit brothers and sisters to marry and have children because their offspring have a strong chance of being deformed.
When God created Adam and Eve they were perfect – ‘very good’ Genesis 1v31 – no mistakes. BUT when sin entered the world, the perfect creation began to degenerate, suffering the curse of death and decay (Romans 8v22). Over thousands of years, this degeneration has resulted in all sorts of genetic mistakes (mutations) in living things.
Mutations have accumulated since the Fall, causing many human diseases. The more closely 2 people are related, the greater the chance they have inherited the same mistakes in their genes, which could result in their offspring having a disease or deformity.
Cain was in the first generation of children ever born. He (and his brothers and sisters) may have received no defective genes from Adam or Eve, since the effects of sin and the Curse would have been minimal to start with (it takes time for copying errors to accumulate). In that situation, brother and sister could have married with God’s approval, and without producing deformed offspring.
By the time of Moses (a few thousand years later), degenerative mistakes (mutations) would have increased to such an extent that God gave the laws forbidding brother-sister marriage (Leviticus chs. 18-20). This does not mean that God changed his mind, but rather, because of the changes that sin brought, He introduced new laws for our sake. Remember, God loves us and knows what is best for us.
Also, by the time of Moses, there were plenty of people on the earth, and there was no need for close relations to marry.
Cain and the Land of Nod
Some claim that Genesis 4v16-17 means that Cain went to the land of Nod and found a wife there. Thus, they conclude there must have been another race of people on the earth, who were not descendants of Adam, who produced Cain’s wife.
However, this passage does not say that Cain went to the land of Nod and found a wife there. Cain was married before he went to the land of Nod. He did not find his wife there, but “knew (had sexual relations with) his wife.”
Others argue that because Cain built a city in he land of Nod, there must have been a lot of people there. However, the Hebrew word translated ‘city’ here need not mean what we imagine a city as today. The word meant ‘a walled town’, or protected encampment. Even a hundred people would be plenty for such a city.
Who was Cain Fearful of?
Some claim that there had to be lots of people on earth other than Adam and Eve’s descendents, otherwise Cain would not have been fearful of people wanting to slay him for killing Abel (Genesis 4v14).
In the days before civil government was instituted to punish murderers (Genesis 9v6), someone would want to harm Cain for killing Abel only if they were closely related to Abel! Strangers could hardly have cared. So the people Cain was afraid of could not have been another race of people.
Cain and Abel were born quite some time before Abel’s death. Note the phrase ‘in the course of time’ (Genesis 4v3). We know Seth was born when Adam was 130 years old (Genesis 5v3), and Eve saw him as a ‘replacement’ for Abel (Genesis 4v25). Therefore, the period from Cain’s birth to Abel’s death may have been 100 years or more – allowing plenty of time for other children of Adam and Eve to marry and have children and grandchildren. By the time Abel was killed, there could well have been a considerable number of descendents of Adam and Eve, involving several generations.
Many people cannot answer the question about Cain’s wife because they focus on today’s world and the problems associated with close relations marrying. However, when we take Genesis as the record of the All-knowing God and Reliable Witness who was there as history happened, we begin to realise the true history of the world and the changes that have occurred because of sin. Thus when we use Genesis as a basis for understanding history, we can make sense of questions that would otherwise be a mystery.
After murdering his brother Abel, Cain left with his wife and founded an advanced civilisation. Notice their descendents did not lead primitive lives, but very quickly made rapid cultural and technological advances. The Bible does not give us a record of all Cain’s descendents but those who are mentioned help us to understand what life was like in those early days.
Cain founded a city named after his son Enoch (Genesis 4v16-17). This shows skills in the building of permanent housing and protected encampments. Agriculture would have supported urban life.
Jabal was the father of those who lived nomadic lives in tents and were skilled herdsmen (Genesis 4v20).
Jubal was the first to build and play both stringed and wind musical instruments (Genesis 4v21).
Tubal-cain was skilled in metalworking with iron and brass (Genesis 4v22).
Lamech, a wicked descendent of Cain, defied God’s plan for marriage (Genesis 2v23-24) by taking two wives, Adah and Zillah. He was also a murderer (Genesis 4v19,23+24).
As a result of evolutionary indoctrination, many people think that early man was primitive, even savage, and required thousands of years to develop skills. However, this short passage of scripture gives us a glimpse of man’s great inventiveness from the beginning. It also reminds us of the sinfulness of man’s heart to defy the Almighty Creator who loves us and knows what is best for us.
The Family Tree From Adam to Noah
(Genesis chapter 5)
Seth means ‘appointed’ or ‘substituted’ (Genesis 4v25-26). Eve saw Seth as a ‘replacement’ for Abel.
It was through Seth’s line that God was going to send the Promised Seed (Genesis 3v15) who is the Messiah or Christ. Seth’s line is therefore traced in more detail than Cain’s line.
“… and he died, … and he died, … and he died, … and he died, … and he died, … and he died, … and he died, … and he died.”Genesis 5v5, 8,11,14,17,20,27,31
These words ‘and he died’ remind us that death entered the world because of sin (Rom 5v12; 6v23). Adam and Eve died spiritually (i.e. were separated from God) the moment they ate the forbidden fruit. Their bodies began to grow old and die. Even though Adam and others lived for 800-900 years, they died. Physical death is also the result of the Fall.
Also, these words confirm Satan is a liar (cp. Gen 3v4). God had said, “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”(Genesis 2v17). Satan dared to contradict God by saying, “Ye shall not surely die.”
Enoch (Genesis 5v21-24)
Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5v22+24). He did not run before God and he did not just merely follow after God. He walked with God in a life of full surrender to God’s will and constant communion with God (cp. Amos 3v3).
Enoch is listed among the great heroes of the faith in Hebrews chapter 11. He was a man of deep faith in the one true living God. He was not trusting in his own good works.
Notice “Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah” (Genesis 5v22). By this time he was 65 years old. Whether or not something happened which caused Enoch to commence his walk of deep faith in God we are not told, but the fact remains he walked with God for 300 years after he begat Methuselah. He was no hypocrite – this was a constant walk with God.
In Genesis 5v7,10,13,16,19,26,+30 it is said, “And _______ lived after he begat _______,” BUT of Enoch it is said not that he lived but that he walked with God after he begat Methuselah. He had such faith in God that he was on a higher spiritual plain than all the other saints of his day. While others lived, and may have walked after God, Enoch walked with God. His fellowship with God was to him better than life itself.
“He had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11v5). This is the good report he obtained. Walking with God pleases God. We cannot walk with God so as to please Him, but by faith (Hebrews 11v6).
Enoch was a great teacher. He prophesied about the coming of the Lord and of coming judgement upon the ungodly (Jude v14-15). Enoch’s faith in God gave him a correct view of sin. The Thrice Holy God must punish man’s disobedience. One day the Lord Jesus Christ will come back to this earth and He will punish the ungodly (2 Thessalonians 1v7-10).
The words “he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5v24) are explained in Hebrews 11v5. Enoch did not die – he was translated out of this world. God was so pleased with his walk of faith that He took him to heaven, without dying. (Elijah did not pass through the valley of death either – 2 Kings 2v11). God will honour those who walk by faith with Him.
Enoch “was not found” (Hebrews 11v5) by his friends who may have looked for him; nor was he found by his enemies who did ungodly deeds and spoke hard speeches (Jude v15). God hid Enoch from them in heaven.
Enoch was only 365 years old when God translated him. All the other men of his day were living to about 800 or 900. (Adam had died just 57 years before Enoch’s translation and Noah was not born until 69 years later). God chose to take Enoch out of this wicked world when he was comparatively quite young – middle aged. We need to be ready to leave this world no matter what age we are. “Prepare to meet thy God” (Amos 4v12).
Methuselah (Genesis 5v25-27)
Methuselah was privileged to have had such a godly father. To watch his father Enoch walk with God for 300 years must have made a tremendous impact upon his life.
Methuselah was the oldest man who ever lived. He died when he was 969 years old. The words “and he died” remind us that even the oldest man had to die as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin. Long life does not exclude us from the curse of death.
Methuselah died the year Noah’s flood came. This can easily be worked out from the genealogy given in Genesis 5.
Methuselah was 187 when Lamech was born (Gen 5v25)
Lamech was 182 when Noah was born (Gen 5v28)
Noah was 600 when the flood came (Gen 7v11; 9v28-29)
187 + 182 = 969
Methuselah’s name signifies ‘when he dies, it shall come.’ It is therefore thought that Methuselah did not actually die in Noah’s flood, but rather that he died shortly before it.
When Lamech named his son ‘Noah’, he was hoping for ‘rest’ or ‘comfort’ from the curse that God had placed upon the ground as a result of Adam and Eve sinning (Genesis 5v29; cp. 3v17). He seemed to hope that this would come in the time of Noah and his generation.
However, the earth was judged for its violence and wickedness during Noah’s lifetime by means of a worldwide flood – as we shall see in our next study, God willing.
Noah’s 3 sons who went unto the ark with him were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Japheth was the elder of the 3 sons (Genesis 10v21) and Ham was the younger (Genesis 9v24), but Shem is listed first as his line is the Messianic line i.e. from him Christ is descended.
Right from the beginning of time man was intelligent, able to invent with the use of tools and skills, and able to worship and love his Creator – all as a result of being created in the image of God.
Sadly, as the result of sin entering this world, man may profess to be wise and yet in reality be foolish, simply because he rejects the truth of God and worships and serves the creature more than the Creator (cp. Romans 1v22-25).
Modern man, with his evolutionary thinking, may reject a literal Genesis and hence reject the true God of the Bible but this does not alter the fact that God has given us the true history of mankind in His Word.
God has also shown us that acceptance with Him is through the shed blood of Christ. Like Abel we ought to have faith in the blood of Christ, rather than to depend on our own good works for the remission of our sins.
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