Genesis Chapters 4 and 5

So Long Ago The Garden

 

By I Gordon

 

Introduction

 

An early album of the late, great, Larry Norman was entitled 'So long ago the garden.' (1973) As I read chapters Genesis 4 and 5 I thought of this album and some of the words from the final track (if you know it, don't read it, sing it!). Here are some of the hard hitting words of the song showing the effects of the fall and how far we have slipped since the day mankind walked and fellowshipped with God in the garden:

 

"let the proud but dying nation kiss the last generation,

it's the year of the pill, age of the gland
we have landed on the moon, but we'll clutter that up soon,

our sense of freedom's gotten out of hand
we kill our children, swap our wives,

we've learned to greet a man with knives
we swallow pills in fours and fives,

our cities look like crumbling hives
man does not live, he just survives,
love is a corpse, we sit and watch it harden,

we left it oh so long ago the garden"
 

As we go through these chapters, we shall see the first effects of mankind banished from the Garden of Eden. And more importantly, we shall see the effects of mankind separated from the intimate fellowship of God. I will ask you to think about from where we have fallen. But not only that, think about to where we shall return. For while it is true that 'we left it oh so long ago the garden', God had and has an amazing plan to redeem all things. Chapters 4 and 5, I think you will see, will give us not only a glimpse of from where we have fallen, but a fantastic insight into the mercy and plan of God to fix and restore all things.

 

Two men and two ways

 

Gen 4:1-5 Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 

 

And so we read of the first two humans born to a woman on planet Earth… Cain and Abel. Now, there are certain chapters in the Bible that speak volumes about the nature of mankind – this is one of those! You see, these two boys would have had the same background, the same upbringing and the same influences in their life. Yet they will grow up to be two totally different men and one will end up murdering the other! But I don’t want to get ahead of myself and spoil the story. (Probably too late!) We read in these first few verses that both men decided to come before God with an offering. Cain, being a worker of the soil, brought the best of what his hard work in the fields had produced. Abel on the other hand came to God through a blood sacrifice, offering the fat portions of one of his flock. Cain came by works. Abel, by faith (Heb 11:4).

 

In these two offerings we see the two ways that humans would approach God for thousands of years to come. That is, they approach God through their own works or they approach God through a blood sacrifice on their behalf. Cain chose the former method and Abel the latter. The divine account tells us God’s response –

 

The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 

 

Before moving on I just want to point out that Cain became very angry… It was anger towards God’s rejection of his offering that would soon spill over onto his younger brother Abel. But before we totally vilify Cain let’s just remember that this anger probably resulted from a genuine desire to please God. I think he really wanted to offer his best to God and have God be pleased and accepting of that. The same goes for the millions of people who still believe that if they are ‘good’ God will accept them into Heaven. These are genuinely quite nice people… yet not understanding the seriousness of the fall and the nature of their own heart, they have chosen the way of Cain (Jude 11) – a way that God never has and never will, accept. Try telling these people that being good isn’t good enough and the same anger seen in Cain is again evident. 

 

A murderer and a martyr

 

Gen 4:6-8 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

 

With Cain’s anger, things now sat on a knife edge. Would he accept correction from the Lord and turn to the right way, or would he allow his anger to spill over to something far worse? I’m afraid you know the story. God lovingly instructs Cain about the need to turn away from the evil intentions rising in his heart. It is interesting the God personifies sin in this verse. God speaks of it as something lying in wait, desiring to master and dominate its victim… ‘But you must master it!’ God pleads with Cain. The books of James speaks about the process that was occurring in the heart of Cain (and the heart of us all at times) when he writes

 

Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

 

Cain had a choice. The evil desires rising in his heart that would bring forth sin and death could be defeated if he acknowledged his fault and turned back to God reliant upon His strength. Or, he could remain defiant in his anger, allowing the desire to get even to conceive and bring forth sin and death. He chose the latter and taking his brother into the field he struck Abel down and killed him. Unbelievable… As far as we know this is the first human being to die physically. It makes you wonder whether Cain sat there in stunned silence, staggered at what he had just done. Here we had the first two humans born into the world… two brothers with the same upbringing and love from their parents. It’s only one generation on from those that walked and fellowshipped with God in the garden and already the effects of the fall are seen with one brother murdering the other. Only one generation on but already it could be said that they “left it oh so long ago the garden."

 

The pointed question

 

Gen 4:9-16 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” But the LORD said to him, “Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

 

When God asks man a question you can be sure that it isn’t because He needs to know the answer! He asks the question because man needs to know the answer. Thus, after the fall, God comes to man and asks ‘Where are you?’ – a question he has asked man ever since. When Elijah ran for his life, scared and cowering in unbelief in a cave, God asks ‘What are you doing here Elijah?’ (1 Kings 19). Maybe you can relate and have heard a similar question from God yourself! When God asks us a question, He wants us to think and acknowledge the truth. When he asked Adam where he was God received the truth (plus a lot of blaming of others!). When he asked Elijah where he was he received a distorted truth and a lot of self pity! But when He asks Cain here where his brother was…. Well, God receives a big old fat lie! Isn’t the deceitfulness of the fallen nature incredible? Did Cain really think that he could lie to God and not be found out? Surely not for God not only sees everything that happens, but even the blood of Abel continues to cry out to God long after the event!

 

The blood that speaks a better word… 

 

It is an interesting point that the blood of the murdered Abel would cry out to God. Abel’s blood would be a reminder to God as it cries out for justice. Of course, there is someone else’s blood that cries out as well. And this blood, the Bible says, ‘speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.’ Here is the passage:

 

“You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. “ (Heb 12:23-24)

 

Abel’s blood cried out from earth. Jesus’ blood speaks from Heaven. Abel’s blood cried out for justice. Jesus’ blood speaks a better word for it cries for mercy!

 

Getting back to the story before us, we see that Cain couldn’t bring himself to even be truthful before God so he would be driven away under a curse. He would be consigned to being a restless wanderer on the earth, out of the Lord’s presence.  That same restlessness exists today in the hearts of those that haven’t found their rest in God.

 

The remainder of chapter 4 briefly follows the descendants of Cain down to his great, great grandson Lamech. There we find that Lamech was a murderer like Cain before him. Some family line! Is there hope? Are the consequences of the fall eternal and unredeemable? Or did God have a plan to personally put right that which another made wrong?   

 

Genesis Chapter 5: The plan from before the foundation of the world

 

“They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head: They that would cut me off, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: That which I took not away I have to restore. (Psalm 69:4)

 

What are we to make of a chapter such as Genesis 5? Is it just a list of long unpronounceable names, or is there more to it? This chapter lists the nine descendants of Adam, through his son Seth, up until the time of the flood. But it does more than that. On his website, Chuck Missler explores the root meaning of the 10 Hebrew names – and in those names are the eternal, remarkable, hidden plan of God to redeem and put right that which man had put wrong!

 

I would highly recommend that you read the entire article on the khouse.org website here:
http://www.khouse.org/articles/1996/44/

 

A quick table from that page is shown below where the meanings of the Hebrew names are given: 

 

 

Hebrew

English

Adam

Man

Seth

Appointed

Enosh

Mortal

Kenan

Sorrow;

Mahalalel

The Blessed God

Jared

Shall come down

Enoch

Teaching

Methuselah

His death shall bring

Lamech

The Despairing

Noah

Rest, or comfort.


Combining the names together we get the following message:

Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest.

And that my friend, is the gospel… the good news of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

What a remarkable God and what a remarkable plan! We have seen the extent of the fall in Genesis chapters 3 and 4, and as you reflect on where humanity is at, it is not hard to be left with the thought that ‘we left it oh so long ago the garden.’ Surely mankind, after the fall, was appointed mortal sorrow. We saw that clearly enough with Cain and Abel. But what an amazing hidden plan is given to us in Genesis chapter 5! A plan to redeem and restore... A plan to right that which we did wrong! And though God was not in anyway responsible for the fall of mankind, He was willing to put things right for those that believe in Him and His death on their behalf. As Psalm 69 mentioned above shows us, even though Jesus didn’t take away our relationship and fellowship with God, he was willing to restore it. Even though that restoration would require His death!

But that is the plan of God. A plan that we will enjoy and speak about for all eternity!