Tag Archives: Genesis

To Get and Acquire

I woke up this morning reflecting on Sunday’s post, specifically Genesis 4:1 where it says, “Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.””

Two things struck me. The first was that “Cain” means “to get or acquire”  or “gotten one”.  Eve had gotten this manchild with the help of the Lord. Why would she say such a thing if she’d “gotten” children before? And why would the Holy Spirit have Moses record it? 

Secondly, the significance of the idea of getting or acquiring. It occurred to me that the very first act Adam and the woman performed after the fall was one of human good: seeing they were naked, they tried to make things right between themselves by covering themselves with fig leaves. By this act they sought to get or acquire reconciliation. Peace. Normality.

Then, after the fall and leaving the garden, the action first noted by the Holy Spirit as being displeasing to God is also an act of  human good performed by the one whose name means “to get or acquire”.  Cain offered the work of his hands, the fruits and vegetables, products of the earth instead of the blood of the slain lamb he was supposed to have offered.

 (This is indicated by God’s rebuke in vs 6,7; and by the precedent set by God’s provision of the animal skins for Adam and the woman in Gen 3:21 — skins mean an animal had to die for them to be covered, a perfect metaphor for the work of Christ on the cross).

Trying to substitute his own works and efforts for what God had already provided not only showed Cain’s unbelieving state, but also something that I think is the underpinning of human depravity: human good. The desire to get or acquire God’s favor by one’s own effort or merits or righteousness.

Cain’s sins of jealousy, anger and murder came afterward in reaction to the failure of his plan and the thwarting of his desire. (Though technically I suppose that the arrogance underpinning the very idea of human good is the real depravity. It just doesn’t look depraved.)

So many make such a big deal out of sin, but it’s really human good and independence from God that’s the problem. Jesus already paid for everyone’s sins and no one will be judged for them in the end. Instead, they’ll be judged by their deeds. Were they righteous deeds, performed in the power of the Spirit by a perfect individual, or where they human good?

That tree of the knowledge of good and evil… that wasn’t  the knowledge of divine good. They already knew about divine good, because they’d been walking with God every day in the cool of the evening. No, that good was human good, which is a part of evil.

And yet, it looks so good. It feels so good. It feels so right. It is so darned hard to see someone who is sweet and nice and “loving” and doing all these nice things as being a wicked sinner. Human good does not seem gross to us, but in God’s eyes it is as filthy menstrual rags. (Is 64:6 )

I think human good is one of the biggest obstacles not just to admitting you need a savior and believing in Christ, but to really living the Christian way of life.

“Woe to those who call evil good…who substitute darkness for light…” Is 5:20

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Pro 14:12; 16:25

“Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts.” Pro 21:2

“For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.”  I Cor 3:11-13 

The problem of human good doesn’t get near enough the attention that it should. And that suits the enemy just fine…

Children Before the Fall?

Blog Tour Note: Becky Miller wanted me to note they’re having a top tour blogger vote over at Christian Worldview in Fiction. If you read some of the posts on the Blog Tour for The Enclave last week, she invites you to come on over and vote for your favorite blogger of the tour.

One thing about blog tours, they always spark further thought and reflection, and one of the notions that I wanted to talk about further was this theory that Adam and the woman might have had perfect, sinless children before the fall. Part of the reasoning behind this theory was that on the sixth day God created the man and woman and told them to be fruitful and multiply. Assuming they immediately obeyed, the conclusion was that children would result.

I don’t think so. 

Sometimes God gives us commands that we have no idea how to fulfill or even what exactly they are, especially in the beginning of the Christian life.  For example, love the Lord thy God with all your heart and mind and soul and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. Pick up your cross. Yield to the Spirit. Lift up the hands that hang down…

The way I understand it, the command to multiply was given when as yet the man and woman were not able to fulfill it, though God knew that eventually they would be. Just like He knew they would fall. In fact, He set things up so they would have the opportunity to do so.  The First Adam had to get us all into the mess we’re in (condemned at birth because we’re born with the sin nature) so that the Last Adam could get us out…

But that’s not the direction I want to go in today. Today I just want to do a little more with the First Mention Principle and the use of names. Names are very important in the Bible; they tell us lots of things about the person so named, which means when someone’s name is changed it is important. For example, Abramm (Father of High and Windy Places) was changed to Abraham (Father of a Multitude) when he reached spiritual maturity at age 99 (Gen 17), and Sarai (nagger) to Sarah (princess) at the same point. Ditto Jacob (liar, swindler) was changed to Israel (BDB defines it “God prevails”) when he  finally reached a level of spiritual maturity.

At the end of Genesis 2, just before the account of the fall and right after the woman, Ishshah, has been built and brought to the man (Ish)  it says, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed…”

So they are having sex (first mention) but it has to do solely with their relationship with each other. They are one, they are both naked before one another and not ashamed, indicating the intimacy and comfort of the relationship. This entire chapter has been about the man and the fulfillment of his need for a companion in the woman. Thus the first time intercourse is mentioned in the Bible it is not done so in connection with procreation, only with the marriage relationship.

Immediately following is Chapter 3 — enter the serpent, the temptation, the complete deception of the woman, the complete non-deception of the man  (I Ti 2:14) who was enjoying his relationship with the woman so much he deliberately chose to preserve his relationship with her over his relationship with God.

You know the story — how they covered themselves with the fig leaves, hid from God, then each tried to blame someone else for their failure…

In Gen 3:16 God informs the woman that for her part in the debacle He will greatly multiply her pain in childbirth.

“Greatly multiply” is the same word rabah repeated. Rabah means “to be or become great, be or become many, be or become much, be or become numerous”(BDB definition)  Rather than signifying intensity of pain, it seems more to imply an increase in the number of stimulators of pain in her life associated with “childbirth”.

The word for childbirth is  herayon which BDB defines as “conception and pregnancy.” It’s the first time conception and pregnancy are mentioned, so the important thing to note here is that they are clearly associated with  cursing and pain. (And rightly so since from then on, in all cases but one, the woman would be delivering into the world yet another sin nature, another person born condemned and in need of a savior. … to say nothing of the painful, inconvenient, messy aspects of the whole female reproductive system in action — including the emotional instability of hormonal swings)

Next we have Gen 3:20 where immdediately after the man has received his curse we have the woman’s name changed from Ishshah to Eve (Chavvah = lifegiver) “because she was the mother of all living.” 

The woman was Ishshah in chapters 2 and 3 because she came from the man Ish and her primary role was for him — to be a helpmate for him, to respond to him, to enjoy him and be enjoyed by him. After the fall, she is cursed as a childbearer and her name shows that very important change.

Chapter 3 ends with them kicked out of the garden and cut off from the Tree of Life that would have prolonged their lives in the fallen state for as long as they ate of it.

Chapter 4 begins. “Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.””

Before she was Ishshah, from the man (and for the man as per 1 Cor 11:9) and when they had sex there was no mention of children. Now, after the fall and being told by God that she’d have pain in conception and pregnancy, and with her name changed to Eve, the sexual relation has very clearly and specifically resulted in a pregnancy.

Note it doesn’t say this had to happen the very next day. They may have had relations for some time with no pregnancy. The point isn’t how much time elapsed, but the order and way in which these events and changes are recorded by God the Holy Spirit through Moses.

These aspects alone, I think, are pretty convincing evidence that childbearing did not begin until after the fall and there were no perfect children hanging around the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil watching dad and mom acquire their sin natures…