Thursday, July 13, 2017

13 July 2017

A Call to Arms
             After Cain killed Abel he had sons and daughters, one of whom was Lemech. Lemech is responsible for the first recorded episode of blood revenge. Genesis 4, however, ends on a positive note. Adam knew his wife again and she bore another son-Seth. Seth had a son-Enosh. Ge.4:26 ends with “At that time men began to call upon the name of the LORD”. Genesis 5, tracing the lineage of Seth up to Noah, begins with this interesting statement: when God created man, He created him in His image; Adam became the father of a son in his own likeness, after his image-Seth. The Bible does not say this about Cain (or Abel, for that matter). In whose likeness and image were they created?
            My guess is they were also created in God’s image; Cain, for whatever reason, chose to reject God. God’s image was there, it was just tarnished beyond recognition. That trend continues to this day. It isn’t just those who willfully reject God’s rule in their lives (or, for that matter, those who accept God’s rule but do not understand what His rule means) who bear a tarnished image. Consider those born with congenital defects, those with chronic disease or disabilities, the aged-particularly the aged with dementia, no longer able to care for themselves. Who among us sees the imago dei in someone sitting or lying in a soiled diaper, unable to ask for the help they do not even realize they need?
            While all this is going on, the sons of God took wives from among the daughters of men. Keep in mind, these early chapters are not necessarily meant to be read along a straight timeline. There is some parallel movement here; whoever put this together is not focused on when things happened but what happened. This is a historical narrative; a story is being told. At some point (most, but not all, of the commentators I read seem to agree on this) there was a divine intrusion into the affairs of men and women. Interesting to note this did not make humanity more divine; rather wickedness increased to the point that God was sorry He created the whole thing.
            We don’t get a lot of detail here about what specific wickedness is going on. Here again we see that how you interpret the story says more about you than it does about God. In today’s sex-obsessed culture many will try to make a case for all manner of sexual immorality but the text does not say that. What the text does reference, with Cain and Lemech, is violence, arrogance and authority by imposition of will. That, at least, is what I see. What do you see?
            We also encounter the Nephilim for the first time. I have heard and read many interesting theories over the years concerning who these people were. A half-human, half-angelic race would go a long way towards explaining the violence and corruption God sees in genesis 6:11-13 and would be impossible for God to redeem. He could be fully human and fully God, but fully angelic? Redeeming Adam and Eve is one thing; this group is ‘beyond the pale of orthodoxy’, so to speak. What to do?
            We have come to the peak of the fall. Satan, who seems to have been opposed to God from the very beginning, who can only destroy, never create, appears to have won total victory. The earth is full of violence and corruption. Most importantly, God Himself is grieved in His heart, sorry that he made man. Humankind, the crown jewel of God’s creative activity, created to be loved by their creator, has come to the point where God determines to blot them out. It boggles the mind to think that God Himself could be so heartbroken.
            Yet there are Christian brothers and sisters today who would like to think-indeed, seem eager to think-humanity is going down that same road. Invariably the reason they give is sexual immorality, as if that is the only sin God cares about, the only behavior capable of warranting God’s judgement. Violence is ok if God is on our side. Corruption may be tolerated if it gets God back in the public schools (as if He ever left). Millions of the most vulnerable among us are on the verge of being discarded because caring for them will cost too much. To be sure, these things grieve God’s heart, but not as much as the callous indifference we see all too often among those who should know better. I do not believe this is the time to call upon God’s judgement. This is then time to demonstrate His unconditional love and acceptance, to care for one another, to hold ourselves accountable-judgement must begin within the house of God. We must come to understand what Spirit we are about.
            These Genesis chapters will, if we are honest, pierce us to the division of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and discern the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. What say you?
Peace. JRG


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