Thursday, November 25, 2010

Genesis 4:1-16 PART 1

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten [1] a man with the help of theLord.” 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? [2] And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for [3] you, but you must rule over it.”

8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. [4] And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to theLord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. [5] 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 Then theLord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, [6] east of Eden.

Genesis 4:1-16

Over the past week, I've had the pleasure of studying this passage as part of a research paper for my covenant theology class. I am thankful for this opportunity because through it, I am starting to realize how amazing God's Word is in its complete coherence and inexhaustibility. In this post, I want to highlight some summarizing thoughts on the passage. I am going to start by talking about the context of the passage. Next, I want to focus on a few of the main purposes behind the passage. Lastly, I want to show how it relates to Christ.

In order to rightly understand any passage of Scripture, it is imperative to have a solid grasp on the context in which it was written. A few helpful questions to uncover a texts proper context include, 'who wrote it' 'who was it written to' 'why did they write it'. In other words, what is the situation.
Briefly, Genesis was written by Moses. It was written after the Israelites had fled Egypt. They have crossed the Red Sea and were now wandering in the wilderness. It was then that Moses wrote the book of Genesis. Therefore, the original audience of this book would have been the exodus community. To read this passage correctly, we must interpret it through this contextual lens. Moses is writing to the exodus community of Israel.
Moreover, why would Moses write this book. Wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites are left with several questions. What is God's purpose in this? Who are we as a nation? Who is YHWH? What is next? Can we trust this God? Moses is recalling to the Israelites the story of their origin. He is retelling them their history in order to highlight the nature of their God and the covenant that He has made with them. By recalling their history, he is making sense of the Israelites present situation. In doing this, Moses is challenging the exodus community to respond in faith to what God has done. Moses is reminding the Israelites of who they are, where the came from and what God has promised them.
In creation, God is reminding the Israelites that He is the sovereign creator, ruler of all things. More so, it reminds the Israelites the purpose as God's creatures; to have dominion over the earth and to bless creation as God's treasured people. In the fall, the exodus community is made aware of their deep-rooted problem of sin. In the flood, the Israelites see God's judgment on sin, but also His desire to restore all things to their intended, original, good purpose. In the calling of Abraham, the Israelites are reminded of their election as God's chosen people, beloved for His sake.

So, this leaves us at the story of Cain and Abel. What is this stories purpose in the context of the exodus community? Generally, the book is written that the exodus community would trust in God and be faithful to the covenant. This purpose is uncovered in two ways. First, the book shows the deep-seeded problem of sin. Also, the story shows God's unwavering commitment to the promised Seed. I will elaborate on these two ideas in a later post.

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