If you are a parent you might have a fun book for each of your children. In it you would record, apart from the first picture, the first smile, the first garment, the first bib, the first roll, the first word, the first bath, the first crawl, the first spoon of soft food, the first time stand, the first step … and so on! When they are older it’s such fun going back to that book and looking at the record you put together for the first 12 to 18 months, and even longer.
In Genesis we have many firsts. The first day, the first night, the first plants, the first animals, the first humans, the first command, the first marriage, the first work, the first temptation, the first lie, the first sin or rebellion against God, the first pride, the first penalty for sin, the first pregnancy, the first baby ever born, the first family, the first dysfunctional family, the first jealousy, the first formal cattle rancher, the first formal agriculturist, the first human brought offering (sacrifice) to God, the first anger, the first depression, the first murder, the first grandparents and grandchildren, the first city, the first polygamist, the first maker of musical equipment, the first singing musician, the first weapons manufacturer and maybe there are more firsts that you can find.
I have long wondered about what gruesome criminals were like when they were babies, children and teeny boppers. Statistics show us that some criminals were never loved, never enjoyed the security of a healthy and godly family and upbringing, yet I have to believe that many were loved and enjoyed and fussed over. They were a child of loving, caring parents until the enemy of the soul sought to rob them of their reasonable participation in the society in which they grew up in. Read the stories of mothers who raised their sons as Church going kids. They participated in Church life, contributed towards the Church as a family member, maybe they even surrendered their hearts to Jesus … and then something changed. It could have been a misfortune, peer pressure or some other need and they were sucked into crime. Such mothers had their hearts broken, their lives changed and destroyed because they lost a son and now have a hardened criminal, a rapist, murderer, armed robber, foul mouth, people hating beast as a son. How does that mommy or daddy feel now that their son has been sentenced to life imprisonment … and in some countries to execution?
And then I think of Adam and Eve! How can we forget their sin in the Garden? How can we forget their spiritual death? How can we forget their spiritually numbed souls and them being expelled from the paradise of God? We cannot read on in Genesis until we grasp these things. Although God’s Word reads like a storybook and although it is filled with intrigue and drama … these records are about real people, real incidents and reflect and depict the human heart after Adam’s fall into sin. Children are born sinners because depravity is passed on from parent to child! Please read:
Ge 4:2 Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
1) A growing family. Some had taught that Abel was Cain’s twin because it does not say that Adam “knew”, “lay” or “made love to his wife” when it comes to Abel. They say, using the first two verses of chapter four, Cain and Abel have to be twins:
Ge 4:1 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.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
What they fail to understand is that in the Hebrew, “later”, in verse two does not refer to the same pregnancy but a later one. The term “later she gave birth” in its literal shape means … “she added to bear”. As we saw yesterday, There was Cain and Abel as well as other children born to Adam and Eve, as we read in chapter five:
Ge 4:4 After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.
2) Adam’s Role as father. As we shall see later on, he seemed to have failed in some measure as a father, though in many other ways his parenting style was good. He took God’s Word seriously:
Ge 3:17 “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
He therefore taught his sons, Cain and Abel different farming trades.
(1) Abel was a cattle farmer. Now Abel kept flocks.
(2) Cain was an agriculturist. Cain worked the soil.
One is not better than the other. Both are needed. Both types of farming helps the economy of a country … and in their case, they would enjoy milk as well as vegetables and fruit. Today over lunch a missionary told us that it costs $1,000,000 per year to work a 500 acre piece of land. That is not just money! Business planning, crops, staff, machinery and marketing (which includes advertising, packaging and pricing_ come into play. Yet, the often forgotten concept is “hard work”. Whether the owner, the staff, the marketing team, the middleman right to the outlet for the consumer … is hard work. Our eldest son and his wife works for a company who produces meat products. Their day is supposed to be eight hours. This seldom happens as the vice president wants schedules on his desk at 7:30am meaning our son must start work at 5am as the night shift information only becomes available at that time. His days are more 10 to 14 hours days. The picture I am painting is that work is hard … God promised … By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food.
3) Adam taught his sons religious education. How would they have known “offering” to the Lord if Adam did not teach his sons? 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. They knew they needed to sacrifice. How would they have known if their father had not taught them? Before we deal with the rest of verse 4 and verse 5, we have to grasp that it is the parents … and especially the father’s duty to teach the children about God from the Bible. Too often parents think that the Church (Sunday School Class for children) is responsible for the religious or spiritual education of the children. No sir! It is the father’s duty to teach the Bible to his children. Our first parent show us that his children knew something about their duty and responsibility towards God. And more … from even before they learn to speak, God’s Word needs to be taught so that as they grow older, they know the Bible is part of their daily life and routine, just as bathing and feeding are. Adam’s Father, God, demonstrated this in:
Ge 3:21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.
Although this was God, an example of approach, of offering … a sacrifice was set before Adam. He taught this to his sons.
Our heavenly Father, forgive us for reading the Bible without careful thought. Due to this we tend to overlook many aspects in the Word that You want us to see. Many of us have made mistakes in raising our children. Perhaps we were not Christian when they were small or perhaps we were ignorant of our spiritual responsibilities towards them. Forgive us our sin and help us, even though they are older, to live God honoring lives so that they can see Jesus in us. Amen.