Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bible for Dummies - Fallout from the Fall (Genesis 4-11)

We continue in our systematic reading of the whole Bible by discussing one of the pivotal moments in human history: the Fall. What happens after the Fall is tragic, but God embraces his world and begins the process of salvation.

Listen to the audio and follow the notes (below.)  Hope this is a blessing to you. - KM

Chapter 4 - The Fallout from the “Fall”

(Genesis 4-11)

** The Bible knows no ambiguity of the result of the Fall.  The textbook states (p. 90):

“Theologians have long debated the exact repercussions of Adam and Eve’s choice to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (see Chapter 3). Did their disobedience set a bad example that the rest of humanity has followed ever since? Or did something irreparable
happen to human nature that now makes us rebellious toward God (the ultimate authority figure) and alienated toward one another? ”

** The Bible is quite clear about this so-called debate.  See: Romans 5:12-19

The Main Points:

1.     Sin entered the world through Adam’s disobedience. (v. 12)

2.     Because of Adam’s sin, the whole world is corrupted, especially mankind. (v. 13, 15b, 17)

3.     BUT!...just as all of mankind was infected by sin through Adam’s disobedience, through Jesus any person can be saved.

a.     Note: The Bible does not teach that all of humanity IS saved…just that anyone CAN be saved by trusting Jesus.

b.     Note 2: This means that every person is a CREATION of God, but only those who trust in the One who affords “justification that brings life” (v. 18) will be the CHILDREN of God.

Note: Before we go on, a common question is, “Did everyone come from Adam and Eve?”

·      The Bible explicitly says that Adam and Eve were the first two people created.

·      However, the Bible does NOT explicitly say whether God also created other people or if all humans come from Adam and Eve.  So, there seems to be two options…

o   First, if all humans come from Adam and Eve, then Cain’s wife is also his sister since Adam and Eve had many other children (Genesis 5:3,4) – but creating an incest scenario…

o   OR…second, there is a possibility that God populated the earth, following the Adam/Eve model, after Adam and Eve left the Garden.
      Why would there need to be more humans?  Since a consequence of the Fall is that humans need to work the land, and since it would take a lot more people to care for the earth, then God could have created other people groups on earth from whom Cain eventually met his wife.

Point: Remember…the purpose of the Bible is to explain God’s work in the history regarding how he saved his creation, specifically humankind, from the consequences of the Fall (i.e., sin).  If other lineages are not specifically germane to the salvation story (as other specific things in creation were not mentioned – we discussed the “dinosaurs” last week), then there is no need to waste the space to discuss them even though they existed.

** In dealing with the “Fallout of the Fall”, there are Consequences.

Consequence 1 – Fallout on the Self

·      Last week we covered how Adam’s and Eve’s sin of disobedience resulted in their separation from God, the personal toil their sin would take (Adam’s in having to work for a living and Eve in the pain of childbirth), and ultimately their ejection from the Garden.

·      But on a very personal note, Paul says it best when it comes to the “Fallout on the Self” – See Romans 3:9-12, 23

The First Sibling Rivalry: Cain and Abel

Consequence 2 - Fallout on the Family

Family Impact – Example 1 - Cain and Abel: the sons of Adam and Eve (Genesis 4)

·      Cain is a farmer, Abel a herder.

·      Issues arose when both brothers offered a gift to the Lord.

·      Cain’s gift…

o   “an” offering from the fruit of the ground (Genesis 4:3)

·      Abel’s gift…

o   the “firstling” of his flock, and the fat portions (Genesis 4:4)

·      God considered Abel’s gift more highly than Cain’s because Abel offered the first-fruits of his labor, Cain offered the leftovers.

** So, Cain murders Abel, and God confronts Cain who asks the infamous question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9)

** The Impact of the Murder

1.     Abel is dead. Adam and Eve lose their son.

2.     The ground is tainted/spoiled with Abel’s blood.

3.     God curses Cain. (Genesis 4:11)

4.     Similar to Adam and Eve’s curse, the consequence of sin is having a harder life.  In this case, Cain would need to work even harder, as a farmer, because of the tainted soil. (Genesis 4:12)

5.     God shows mercy (Genesis 4:15)

6.     Cain moves away from Adam and Eve…they lose their son, again. (Genesis 4:16)

Note: In reference to the textbook’s speculation that Cain married one of his relatives (pp. 94-95), refer back to the question of, “Are all people descendants of Adam and Eve?”  Or could God have created others and placed them on earth.  The textbook’s conclusion of “incest” is simplistic, though many Jewish/Christian teachers agree.

Family Impact – Example 2 – Ham, Japheth and Shem (Genesis 9:19-27)

·      One of Noah’s sons, Ham, disrespects his father.

·      After Noah and the family plant a vineyard, one night Noah drank too much and fell asleep naked.  Ham witnessed his father’s nakedness, but did nothing to honor his father (i.e.: by covering him)

·      Ham shared what he saw with his brothers – Shem (from whose name we get the word, Semitic  and from whose lineage Abraham is born) and Japheth (whose people eventually inhabit the coastal region of Israel; i.e.: the Philistines) – who promptly did what Ham should have done...they covered their father to save his dignity.

o   And Ham not only disrespects his father by not covering him, but he foments division within the family by trying to coopt his brothers vis a vis his lack of honoring Noah.

·      Upon awakening, Noah discovers Ham’s disrespect, becomes angry, and curses his own son’s (Ham’s) family – “Cursed be Canaan; lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers.” (Genesis 9:25)

o   This curse is expressed on Ham’s son, Canaan…from whom, later, the Canaanites were established.

o   It is the Canaanites who became Israel’s biggest threat when Israel was reclaiming the Promised Land after Egypt.

o   The Canaanites are also still around in Jesus day…remember the Good Samaritan story?  Samarians are Canaanites.

Point: The Consequence of Sin on the Family is pronounced:  Jealousy, Anger, Competition, Destruction, Loss…yet Grace is still offered.

Interlude: Why the Genealogies of Genesis 5?

·      To establish the family lineage – knowing one’s “place” in the world (textbook)? 

·      To establish the line of salvation through the covenants that God is establishing…a line that takes us through Jesus Christ?  This is more reasonable given God’s purpose in the Bible.

Trivia 1: Note the ages of the early settlers…they are OLD!  In Genesis 5:27, the oldest surviving human listed in the Bible is mentioned: Methuselah – 969 years old when he died.

Trivia 2: Who are the “Nephilim”? (Genesis 6:1-4)

…it depends on how you interpret – “the sons of God” (Genesis 6:2)

Option 1 - Could they be angels impregnating human females… a la the Titans of Greek mythology? 

Option 2 – Or…are they humans who were faithful men serving God.

** Well, the Bible says there is only One Son of God – Jesus  (See John 3:18, where John calls Jesus the only Son of God)…so that rules out Option 1.

Conclusion: Option 2 makes more sense and is consistent with the whole of Scripture…that anyone who trust the Lord for salvation and follows his ways will be known as a Son/Daughter of God

See Galatians 4:1-7

Consequence 3 - Fallout on the Environment/Community

** Now the history of creation, the Fall, redemption and salvation continue in the lives of Noah and his family, and the resulting Flood (Genesis 6-9)

Note: Other cultures have a “Flood” story from their histories, too. Other ancient cultures include the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Egyptians, Italians, Chinese, Indian (Asian), Cherokee, Papago (Mexico), and Hawaiian, to name few.

The Key Verses (Genesis 6:5-8):

The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air – for I am grieved that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

** The Story in a Nutshell:

·      It rains for 40 days and nights

·      Noah and his family are saved from the Flood because Noah was righteous with God, blameless in his day (Genesis 6:9)

·      Noah and his family build an Ark in obedience to God’s directive. The Ark is as long as 1.5 football fields, 75 feet wide, and as high as a four-story building.

·      They fill the Ark with seven pairs of every clean animal and one pair of every kind of unclean animal (Genesis 7:1-5)

o   Note: this is an interesting description because, technically, since there is no Law at this time, there are no “clean” or “unclean” animals. Here we see Moses’ likely influence over the Noah account.

·      They also fill the Ark with food.

·      The Flood came…everything died except the occupants of the Ark. This is a consequence of sin…that the whole creation suffers as a result of the sin of humanity. 

·      Noah, his family, and all of the animals are in the Ark for more than a year.  The Ark eventually rests on Mount Ararat (Modern-day Turkish/Armenian mountains) – Genesis 8:4

·      After the third test-bird confirms that it is safe to disembark, all of the occupants of the Ark reestablish life on dry ground, animals and humans alike.

·      The ground is once again “pure”, so it can be worked by Noah and his family.  Essentially, God reveals his grace and continues his commitment to his own salvation plan.

·      Then God establishes a new covenant with Noah.

After Judgment comes Redemption - The Noahic Covenant

** The one thing God asks Noah and his family to do:  Start anew (Genesis 8:15-17)

** But Noah gave God a gift: An Altar (Genesis 8:20).

·      In response to Noah’s faithful gift, God offers a new promise via a covenant…the Noahic Covenant.

** God promises to never destroy the earth again by way of Flood. (Genesis 8:20-21, 9:8-11)

·      The Rainbow is a visible sign of the Covenant.  (Genesis 9:12)

** Also, God blesses Noah and his family, commissioning them back into the world with his blessing (Genesis 9:1-7)

·      “Be fruitful and multiply”

·      Exercise dominion over the earth

·      Do not murder (must have been a common practice)

Consequence 4 - Fallout on the “World”

·      Eventually, Shem, Ham and Japheth’s descendants settled together in Shinar (modern Iraq, Babylon in latter Biblical days)

·      They built a city named, Babel, and a tower there in order to glorify themselves and in direct disobedience to God’s command to scatter and repopulate. (Genesis 11:4)

·      God will not allow them to be so blatantly disobedient, so he “confuses” (Hebrew: babel) them by mixing their tongues so they could not understand each other.

(By the way, this is the origin of our English word, “babbling” – to ramble on and on without making sense.)

·      Interestingly, the Babylonians (later in history) in their language, Akkadian, spun the word, “babel” to mean something positive – “gateway of god.” 

Isn’t it sad how humans twist God’s word to say what they want in order to justify their desires or make themselves look good or feel better.

You might say this is Consequence 5 of the Fallout from the Fall – Twisting God’s Word…sounds so much like the original problem that led to the Fall, the serpent saying, “Did God really say…?”

** This chapter ends with another genealogy – introducing us to and setting us up for the narrative on Abraham.

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