Wednesday, 1 January 2014

(2) January 2: Genesis 3-5 and Matthew 2

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:
As you read, add what you find to the two columns from yesterday: Jot down the various signs of grace in the God column, and the various causes of sin in the humanity column (think broadly about what causes sin here).

To ponder:
Here we see why life hurts in so many ways. The fault does not lie with God, but with human decision. God’s word is doubted and disobeyed, and so quite justly, the goodness and life his word brings are forfeited.
Adam had been taken from the wider world, put in the garden paradise, and enabled to live forever. Like the later temple, Eden was the place of God’s special presence. The sense was that in caring for it Adam and Eve were like the priests who cared for the temple. And their descendents were to spread this paradise to the world with their filling and subduing.
But instead? They forfeit God’s blessing and are cast out from his presence. Sin and death pass to each generation and so sin and death fill the world. We’re learning that whatever hardship we’re currently facing, it finds its root here. Things were not always as they are now. And if Eden is in some way to be restored, the root of sin must be dealt with.
But hope remains in the character of the Creator-King. It is grace upon grace. He promises a serpent crusher, covers Adam and Eve’s shame, blesses them with children, shows favour to Abel, mercy to Cain, and saves Enoch from death. Moreover, the suggestion is that what will now distinguish one person from another is whether they “call on the name of the LORD” – that is, whether they see their need of God and call on him for help.
So the shadow of the gospel stretches to the beginning of human history. God has a plan. Its goal is a son of Adam who will crush Satan and work salvation (1 Cor 15v20-28) so that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2v21).

Praying it home:
Thank God for his epoch spanning gospel of “repentance and forgiveness of sins in Christ’s name” (Lk 24:47). Confess any particular sins of this last year to him. Ask for his forgiveness and for his help to resist any particular temptations you are facing as this year begins. Ask that he would keep your need of him constantly before you.

Thinking further:
Hebrew genealogies (lists of names) often recorded only key individuals. So the lists in Genesis 5 and 11 could have spanned a longer period. Nevertheless, no satisfactory alternative has been given to reading the huge life-spans literally. Moreover, the fact that in the two chapters they gradually decrease towards the sort of life-span known today strongly suggests they should be read as normal years. The best explanation is that with each generation the human race is declining further from its immortal state in the garden of Eden. This should not prove hard to believe for those who await eternal life.

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  1. A lot of work in writing this but well worth it. Really helping me and it is achievable. Thanks and God bless. By the way I don't understand why Cain's offering wasn't accepted.

  2. Hi Rob. Just seem this sorry. v4 tells us God looked with favour on Abel and his offering - so it was something in Abel's attitude that set him apart from Cain. Hebrews 11v4 says it was Abel's faith. So Cain's offerings wasn't rejected because it was somehow lacking, but because he was. And in what follows we see him as an angry, jeleous man who is unconcerned with honouring the Lord. Hope that helps.