GENESIS 4-6 & MATTHEW 2
Perhaps we can begin looking at chapter 4 by distinguishing between the lines of good and evil. It begins by noting the birth of the first two sons of Adam and Eve. The first son was named Cain and the second being Abel. There is much to learn from these two sons. They represent two very different streams that are seen in the world and in the church. The manner in how they worshipped is what is noteworthy. On a designated day they both were required to bring an offering before the Lord. Cain brought an offering from the fruit of the ground. It was a conditional offering and one that did not represent his best. We can say that Cain offered in a manner that suited him. There is an interesting rendering of the meaning of his name. The word “acquisition” can be attributed to the meaning People will give an offering unto the Lord but it is often with an expectation as to what they will get out of it. In fact, there is theology today that is employed to make this point.
Luk 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
Let’s look at this example of Cain and Abel in a bit more detail through the subject of the two offerings. As we have been stating before, if we understand some of these basic fundamentals it will help in our ability to discern and understand the dealings of God from a larger perspective.
The Two Offerings (Gen 4:3-4)
Several years ago I was asked to be part of a large evangelistic crusade in an Indian city where we were living. The featured speaker was well known whose ministry impacted the lives of countless thousands in various parts of the world. It was the first night of the meeting with an outdoor crowd of approximately 25,000 people gathered in heightened anticipation. The primary spokesperson on behalf of this evangelist opened the meeting in a peculiar way. He asked the question; how many here are looking to be blessed; how many could use a new vehicle or even perhaps a new home? Naturally, the response and enthusiasm of the crowd was at a fevered pitch. He went on to say that God was present and that an opportunity was at hand to be blessed of God. I am sure you can guess as to what happened next. Yes indeed, the offering bag was passed around. Would you be surprised to know that this happened every night? Would it surprise you that the appeal to give was oftentimes longer than the actual message of the evangelist? This was before any songs were sung or testimonies or messages given.
It could be said well isn’t this Biblical? Consider the following verses:
“Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38)
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Mal 3:10)
Indeed, the Lord blesses the generous giver. The question that needs to be asked is this: What is the motive? The appeal in the above crusade was based on the people receiving a blessing with little regard for the reason for giving in the first place. The account of Cain and Abel helps to bring this issue into clear focus. There are many lessons that are drawn from this defining moment where an offering was required. What kind of offering do we bring to the Lord? What is the motivation?
Long before man was even created it was in the heart of God the Father to offer the ultimate gift. Due to His foreknowledge of what man would do, the Father determined that there needed to be a Saviour who would die for the sins of mankind. Could there possibly be a greater cost that the Father could ever pay? How much more could the Father do to demonstrate His love for created man? This truth needs to be examined in some detail.
What could possibly be the motive for this action? It is love!
“For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
Is this the primary motivation that governs our tithes and offerings at a church service? Is this the attitude we convey when called upon to volunteer or give of ourselves for the work of the kingdom? It all comes down to motive as to why we give.
The contrast between Cain and Abel helps to provide this distinction on motive. As we examine their lives in some detail try and determine which best represents you. Are we a Cain or an Abel?
Are you among those who felt Cain may have been judged a bit harshly? After all, he did provide an offering from the fruits of his ground and of his labor. If we were limited to the account in Genesis 4 alone one could easily come to that conclusion. The Bible links Cain with some unsavoury characters which helps to provide added insight as to who Cain really was.
“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah” (Jude 1:11).
The Bible speaks candidly regarding the company we keep. We are oftentimes known by whom we are associated with. It would be prudent to look briefly at the lives of Balaam and Korah. The first thing that struck me when considering these men was how they came to prominence prior to a significant move of God. Korah was instrumental in hindering the children of Israel from entering into their inheritance. He displayed a dissenting voice over the leadership of Moses and was influential in drawing many significant people to his side. He challenged Moses on the subject of holiness. Korah, along with Dathan and Abiram made the following public challenge to Moses:
“And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord (Num 16:3)?
It is clear that Moses here was lifting up a standard that Korah and others were not willing to accept. Why? Perhaps it required decisions and a measure of consecration that was not convenient. That is what doctrine will do. It will divide the church, it will allow for an alternative stream. It is currently taking place in our churches today.
What about Balaam? He was a recognized prophet who came into prominence just prior to the children of Israel’s entrance into Canaan at the time of Joshua. The enemy in the form of King Balak sought to stifle the growth of Israel’s influence. He sought to hire a recognized prophet to bring forth a curse upon Israel. Balaam knew that God commanded a blessing and that he was a God who could not lie (Num 23:19) yet there were unresolved issues in his heart. He sought the honor and prestige that Balak was affording and yet wanted to maintain His position with God. He wanted it both ways. Sadly, he devised a way where he could seek to achieve both. In doing so he introduced immorality into the camp of Israel just at the time when they were to enter into their inheritance.
This is the danger in many of the prophetic ministries of our day. God certainly speaks through prophets to guide, encourage and to at times foretell future events. The problem with Balaam is that he had an uncircumcised heart. There were deep rooted issues that governed his actions at this critical time. Let’s apply the Romans road to Balaam’s situation. Do you think he availed himself of the narrow road? (See commentary on Romans 6-8) The passages which emphasize the Cross, the Law, Sin, true Grace and Choice. His actions reveal otherwise. The same can be said for Korah. He had no genuine love for righteousness and holiness. In fact, when these standards were lifted up by Moses, Korah chided and challenged him. Honestly, is this not the case today? Well established ministries oftentimes take issue with those who seek to maintain a standard. The Korah’s and Balaam’s exist today and it’s clear that they represent leaders who have opted for the by-pass. This now brings us to Cain who is linked with both Korah and Balaam. It’s not the kind of notoriety one should seek after.
(Please note that the Roman Road reference is an excerpt from a Book entitled “The Two Streams”. In fact this section on the Two Offerings is an excerpt from the Book. The future commentary from Romans will speak in more detail on this subject.)
One of the rendering of Cain’s name helps to provide insight into his character. (To acquire) This may help pinpoint part of his problem. True, he gave an offering, but could it be it was with a “What can I get out of this” mentality? Sadly, this attitude is seen in many Christians. Is this not a primary motive in the appeal from the above mentioned crusade?
Let’s consider for a moment another offering that was rejected by God. Here is the account:
And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He commanded them not. And there went out fire before the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord (Lev 10:1-2).
These two sons of Aaron were priests unto the Lord. What they were presenting to the Lord was unacceptable. Please note the severity of the judgment. This indicates that God is very particular about whatever offering we bring, particularly when people come into leadership positions. What was this strange fire? What relevance or application can we make for today? These two priests presumed that whatever they offered would be accepted. They lightly regarded His presence and were presumptuous in their roles. We must be careful that we never take the presence of the Lord for granted. This happens when we begin to approach God on our terms. We can lose sight of the fact that our God is a holy God. There are songs that are sung today that speak to this issue. We must never assume that we can just casually come into the holy of holies. God has a way of approach. It is on His terms that we can be brought into the holy place and ultimately beyond the veil itself.
Wait! We are in a New Testament dispensation and old laws of formality no longer apply. Want proof? Here is a scripture!
“And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent, And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose (Mat 27:51-52).
It’s true; Jesus once and for all tore away the veil that separated man from God when He died on the Cross. He made a way whereby we can boldly come into the holiest of all. This does not mean we can just casually come in and out whenever we choose. As the days press onward there is a question we must be willing to confront. What kind of offering are we presenting to the Lord? Will God accept our offering? Do you remember what God did when Uzzah sought to steady the Ark? He was struck dead when he put his hands to try and stabilize it. It seemed like the rational thing to do. The issue was that God was on the move and was in the process of allowing His presence to be established on the hill of Zion. This was a solemn event unlike anything seen before. What this message on the Two Offerings brings to light is primarily two things: What is the motive and what is in our heart. This will establish as to whether God will accept our approach unto him by way of our offering. Cain and Abel lived and worked together in the earlier years of their life. (Gen 4:1-2) There was a designated day when they were to bring their respective offerings before God. These motives did not just happen but they were cultivated over a period of time. Now the day has come, a moment of demarcation where their offerings were going to determine which stream they would eventually flow in. Cain and Abel have come to the Romans By-Pass. Their motive and attitude of heart was now about to be expressed by nature of their offering. On this day God was about to make a determination and distinction by their offering. Once again, with this in mind what manner of offering do we present to the Lord? Are we more like Cain or Abel? The Bible does have a bit more to say about Cain.
“Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12).
When you take the whole of scripture into account it becomes clear as to why God rejected Cain’s offering. It was a self-serving one, an offering that reflected a motive of personal gain and tokenism. Their respective offerings were a product of who they were. It was not something that just suddenly occurred. This account alerts us to the need of being open hearted before God each and every day. Before moving on to Abel let us carefully consider these few questions: Why do you serve the Lord? What kind of offering do we bring to the Lord? Do we take our relationship with God for granted; presuming that we can serve God on our terms? If we can honestly approach and answer these questions with an open heart we will have a better window into Cain, his offering and to whether our lives resemble his in any way.
The person of Abel helps to bring into a view a beautiful portrait of the Lord Himself. Remember when we examined the motive of the Father we saw that He had great love for mankind. What does the heavenly Father receive in light of this very heavy price? He has purchased for Himself a bride for His son. There must be something of great value that serves as a catalyst for this powerful demonstration of love. So why is Abel’s offering clearly distinguishable from that of Cain? The Bible gives an emphatic clue:
“And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering” (Gen 4:4).
Like the heavenly Father Himself, Abel gave the very best of what he had. He did not provide a conditional offering like his brother Cain. He recognized that God was worthy of his very best. This shaped his motive for giving. It was not for the purpose of getting something better in return. Fact is, Abel did get something much better in return; he received an eternal name but that was not the reason why he gave.
Abel’s offering was established by faith.
“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it being dead yet speaketh” (Heb 11:4).
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb 11:6)
God only operates through the medium of faith. In approaching God there must be a clear recognition of who He is, not just what He can do. He is a holy and righteous God, who has showered His creation with great abundance. This allows for an atmosphere of faith to be cultivated. An offering based on faith is most pleasing to the Lord. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit and something God highly esteems. This is especially true as we approach the last days:
“…Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth (Luk 18:8)?
God moves in an atmosphere of faith. It can be likened to an appetite that draws His presence. Abel was not just presenting a choice lamb; it was something more than that. It was an attitude of heart, recognition of who he was making his presentation to. It was not a formality or something that was forced upon him. Can you see the primary dividing line between Cain and Abel with regard to their offering? It comes down to motive.
Where does the root of a motive begin? It is in the heart. Oftentimes a motive is concealed and not really known. It is at the point of decision when true motives are revealed. A key verse to extract from this narrative is found in Gen 4:3
“And in the process of time it came to pass, …”
There was an appointed time for this offering to be made. It was a defining moment; one that very much resembles our day. Cain and Abel probably walked together carrying on with their mutual lives. There may have not been much to distinguish between them openly but it’s clear they had different attitudes of heart. In the process of time these attitudes became exposed over the issue of presenting an offering. The previously concealed motive of heart has now come into view.
Let’s apply the account of Cain and Abel to the “Roman Road” . Remember the Roman Road is a journey that takes the traveller from the awareness of one’s sin and wretchedness in chapters 1-3. The remedy for man’s sin is presented in chapters 4 and 5 where Christ is shown to be our justifier and Saviour. We are justified through faith in Him. It is a wonderful revelation in knowing that our sins are forgiven and deemed to be righteous through His finished work. This is where the majority of the church can relate and flow together as believers.
Cain and Abel could well be placed in this category as well. Chapters 6 through 8 can be likened to a “process in time” moment. God was requiring an offering. This offering would determine what is truly in the heart. In Cain we do not see the attitude that reflects the narrow road of chapters 6 through 8. The message of the Cross, the Law, Sin, and Grace does not seem to apply. Cain reflects the road of convenience, the road of the by-pass. This is further validated when we look at the other scriptures that speak of his life. Abel on the other hand commits to God his very best. At the point of decision he does not hold back, there are no conditions he simply sees God as worthy of all his devotion. I think we could assume that Abel walks the path of the narrow road. Why? It’s due to the attitude of heart.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Pro 4:23).
The Christian experience can be summed up as follows: It’s all about the heart. This is the power of the New Covenant. What is the New Covenant? It is the laws of God being written upon the fleshly tables of our heart. What does that mean? It’s when you take the potent power of God’s Law; the law that is esteemed higher that His name, and His Word and apply it to the heart of man. A heart that is corrupt and deceitfully wicked above all things (Jer 17:9) which is changed and purified in a divine and supernatural way. This process is accomplished in allowing the Lord to walk us through the narrow road of Romans 6 through 8. The decision to do so is a costly one. It will require our hearts to become wholly exposed to the Lord as well as ourselves. The reality of God’s Law will cut deep within man’s inner recesses of the heart. There will be no hiding here, no ability to make excuse or pass on the blame. Still, when one has a grasp of who God is and what He is looking to accomplish we can embrace the journey with an eternal perspective. The realities of Zion and its vision are birthed here. Abel demonstrated these qualities. He saw God as worthy of His best. His motive was pure. Cain was otherwise and opted for an offering based on convenience. There was an attitude of what is in it for me attached to his giving.
There are two streams in today’s church in this area of Offerings. There are the Cain’s and there are the Abel’s. Which are you? What is your motive, your attitude of heart when prompted to give? Many Christian’s will couch themselves in convenient verses when it comes to this subject. Yes, God desires to bless those who give. Yes, God desires that we prosper and live a healthy life but is that what it’s all about? The Roman Road helps to bring these two offerings into view. The way of the by-pass is a convenient alternative that allows a believer to serve God on his or her terms. (At least for a season) The day’s we now live in are separating believers into one of two streams. Which stream are you in? What we give to God is ultimately predicated on how we see Him. If we can understand that God the Father and His Son have already given their very best for our sakes it helps us to respond in a way that whatever we give is but a token of our expression of love and reverence to God. This was the manner of offering that Abel presented to God. How about you?
The First Murder
God rejected Cain’s offering which resulted in great anger on Cain’s part. This anger eventually gave way to murder as seen in verse 8. I feel it is appropriate to link this verse to an event that Jesus referred to when he was teaching on the matter of the law.
Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Mat 5:21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
Mat 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
Jesus was demonstrating the power of the New Covenant in His teaching. He was making clear that the Old Testament law was still valid and not something to be done away with. The power of the New Covenant is its ability to get to the root from where all sin originates. What is the New Covenant? It is the law of God being written on the fleshly table of the heart (Jer 31:31). It is the heart where the genesis of sin originates. Cain did not immediately murder Abel. It started with the seed of anger (Gen 4:5) and then yielded to murder in verse 8. Jesus was not saying that a man who is angry is to be guilty of murder (I guess we all would be deemed murderers) but rather that murder is an extension of anger that originates in the heart. If the law of the New Covenant can be applied to the heart it can extract its root of anger, lust, greed or any other malady.
Pro 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
What we see in Cain and Abel is their respective attitude when it comes to worship. Cain presented an offering on his terms whereby Abel gave of the first fruits; he deemed God to be worthy of his very best. The attitude of Cain was further revealed when God rejected his offering. This resulted in seeds of anger and resentment against his brother which he could not temper. In our day the Lord is making distinctions upon those who please him in the church. The churches and respective priests who lift up a high standard find God’s favor but they also find the disdain of those who choose not to pay the price. These are the ones who go by way of the Roman by-pass.
This act separated Cain from Abel and brought about two very different lines. Abel was of the line of the righteous. He is cited in Heb 11:4 as being among those noted in the hall of faith. Abel provides for us a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ in willingly offering his very best to the Father. He also portrays Christ in being a faithful shepherd whose life was taken in a despicable act. His life was an acceptable and pleasing sacrifice before the heavenly Father as was Christ in becoming the sacrificial lamb.
Cain was spared his life but was one who left God and wandered about in the land of Nod. He had no rest and only sought to live his life for the temporal satisfaction of the world. He had no eternal aim or vision. The attitude of heart he had at the time of his offering never left him to his dying day. He served himself and only sought out a life of convenience. Cain is not just symbolic of people who live in the world he reflects a growing company in the church. They will be fleshed out as God begins to put a distinction upon those who serve Him with a whole heart from those who are otherwise. If asked the question as to whether you are more like Cain or Abel the majority would respond to the latter. Sadly, I feel there are more Cain’s in the church than we might suspect. We need to soberly ask this question of ourselves.
We need to digress back to Gen 4:25-26 seeing that we have the birth of another son who goes by the name of Seth. His name means “set , settled or placed” and it will be through his seed that mankind will continue to the end. It will also be through his seed that the Messiah would come forth. The true church will come forth from the seed of man who is settled and established. Seth walked in the steps of his murdered brother. It is here where the distinction was made between two different lines; the righteous from the profane, Seth from Cain. The two different lines will continue through to the end of days. The flood will wipe out humanity at the time of Noah but the two lines will again be picked up after the flood all the way through to the time of the 2nd coming.
In chapter 5 we see the godly lineage from Adam to Noah. The age of each of the men in the godly line is given unlike that of Cain’s. In verses 3-5 the godly line of Seth begins which will extend to 10 generations to the time of Noah. What is notable in these genealogies is the long life that each of them lived. Many surmise that the long life was required in order for the patriarchs to accumulate knowledge. Man had to develop reference points for the various discoveries they would make that they could then build upon. This is why each succeeding generation should excel and outdo the previous one. The rendering of the names of these patriarchs indicate that they had great wisdom. They began to gain understanding of the stars and heavens, medicines, music, building trades and a host of other abilities.
The son of Seth was Enos who lived for over 900 years. His name means “humanity or mortal”. He had an awareness of the brevity of time upon earth in light of eternity. He could be likened to Moses from the famous Psalm of applying wisdom with the limited amount of days given to man. (Psa 90:12) These men understood that life was fleeting and maximised their limited time on earth to excel in various areas. Another in the line was a man named Mahalaleel whose name can be interpreted as “Praiser of God”. He understood worship and helped to cultivate the reality of God being a Spirit and that he is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
The name Enoch means “instructed one” and was the one who so closely walked with God that he was raptured after 300 years of intimacy. The number 300 is significant here because the law of first mention indicates that 300 can be interpreted as walking with God. It is interesting to note that Noah’s Ark was 300 cubits in length. This makes clear that it is only those who are walking with God who will be able to enter the Ark. It is also interesting to note that the meaning of Enoch’s name (“instructed one”) gives evidence in how one can come into that place of intimacy with God; it is by teaching and instruction.
Enoch was so intimately entwined with God that he named his son Methuselah. His name means “at his death shall the waters flow”. Enoch gave a prophetic name to his son that would speak of a momentous move of God to come.
Amo 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
The patriarchs were prophets who understood that there would be forthcoming judgements. The year Methuselah died was the year of the flood in the days of Noah. It is interesting to note that Noah’s father was named Lamech. His name means “overcomer or strong in doing good.) He died at the age of 777 which is the number of perfection. This is what God intends for his creation; that they be brought into this level of perfection in body, soul and spirit. There are 7 churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation in chapters 2-3. Each of them is given a promise to the “Overcomer”. The Book of Revelation features another man who will be bearing the number 666. (Rev 13:18) Can you see the seeds of what is being expressed in Genesis coming to fulfilment in the Book of Revelation in the last days? (777 vs 666) Noah represents the 10th generation and interestingly his name means “Rest”. Noah gives us a picture of not only the woman who survives the flood in Revelation 12 (Rev 12:12-15) but also a window into the millennial reign of Christ. The 1000 year period of Rest that will bring about the closing of the church age. The number 300 is significant in this context because it denotes those who will rule and reign in the millennium. Remember it was Enoch who walked with God for 300 years before he was taken (raptured). There were 300 cubits that constituted the length of Noah’s Ark. There are so many discoveries that can be gleaned from the Word of God to help give a more enhanced blueprint of things to come. It is time for the church to wake up and begin to seek God earnestly. It is also time to seek the help of the Holy Spirit in being instructed into all truth (John 16:13).There is the danger of getting carried away in over-speculative pursuits that breach the boundaries of scriptures. At the same time there is much wealth contained within the scriptures that can be mined with the help and aid of the Holy Spirit (Pro 25:2, Math 13:45-46). Let’s be like the Bereans!
In the first two verses we see the intermingling of the two lines of Seth and Cain. This is the foundational rationale for being opposed to mixed marriages in a Christian context. The Bible is consistent in warning against the mixing of godly seed with that of natural man. We will later come to know the damage that was done when Solomon took upon foreign wives. (1 Kings 11:3) The apostle Paul was adamant about being unequally yoked. (2 Cor 6:14) The origins of this warning can be traced right back to this intermingling in Genesis 6. We see in verse 3 that there is a limit to God’s patience with man. He is a God of longsuffering but there comes a time when His mercy will cease to be extended to the unrepentant of heart. The number 120 has the signification of the end of all flesh. It brings an end to an era while birthing something new. You see this number featured at the dedication of Solomon’s temple and at the time of the Upper Room experience of the early church leaders. (2 Chr 5:12, Acts 1:15) Moses lived to the age of 120 before the transition of leadership to Joshua.
There has been considerable speculation surrounding verse 4 involving giants. This is the result of the sons of God intermingling with the daughters of men. The term “sons of God” can be applied to both angels and men.
Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
Still, we must consider what Jesus said concerning this matter. He made it clear that angels do not marry. (Mat 22:30, Mk 12:25) There is no intermingling between man and angels that would produce giants. This needs to be stated because there are many who believe that the Nephilim’s or giants are the fruit of such interaction. Personally, I subscribe to the view that there are such creatures that were part of a previous creation. In the last days the earth is going to open up with the release of the most hideous of creatures (Rev 9). It would not surprise me if there are some in the earth today due to the unbridled lawlessness that exists. It is dangerous (in my view) to over-speculate on these things due to the increased curiosity and questions that arise. To summarise, I feel that the giants referred to are due to the mixing of the godly line of Seth with Cain. This is why sin cannot co-exist with righteousness, light with darkness etc. The actual rendering of the name Nephilim is that of a “tyrant or bully”. I feel it is best to heed the advice of Paul to Timothy in not getting caught up in fables and myths. (1 Tim 1:4)
Once sin intermingled with the godly line of Seth all hell broke loose. This chapter should instruct us on the dangers of compromise. It may not be pronounced at the first but the introduction of the line of Cain to the line of Seth will have long term consequences. Sin will fester and grow like leaven and this is what is taking place here. The result was that God came to the place of repenting that He even created man (vs 6-7). Do we fully appreciate how much God hates sin? This is why as believers today we are in need of the Fear of the Lord. It helps provide a conscious awareness of sin and the things that are displeasing to God.
In the midst of all this sin and corruption God found a man who was faithful and pleasing before him. His name was Noah and he found favor and grace with God (vs 8). The generations of Noah are listed in verses 9-13. His life was cited by the Lord as he spoke what conditions would be like in the last days. He uses the example of Noah and his day as a sign of what it will be like in the end (Mat 24:37). Noah and his family were spared the judgement and we need to pray that we too will be covered in the day of the Load’s wrath. The prophet Zephaniah speaks of seeking after meekness and righteousness so that we will be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger (Zep 2:3). Just because we are a Christian does not mean that we will be immune from judgement. Noah knew how to walk uprightly in the midst of excessive evil. He was spirit-led in hearing and obeying the Word of the Lord regarding the construction of the Ark. The Lord even speaks of Noah as among the 3 most righteous men in the earth. (Noah, Daniel and Job – Eze 14:14, 20)
The days of Noah are eerily similar to ours. There has been an unleashing of lawlessness at every level. There is no longer any semblance of moral restraint which makes the path of iniquity all the more prevalent. The issue of marriage has become a mockery which is sadly reflected in the church where divorce and remarriage become more commonplace. The Lord gives the commandment in the building of the Ark. Noah is given the composition of materials, the dimensions and the instruction in the bringing in of all animals after their kind. Noah faithfully followed through in that which God was requiring. He also was faithful in maintaining and sharing his testimony throughout the many years of the Ark’s construction.
God was extremely grieved at what man had become. There was a clear distinction of family lines that separated Cain from Seth. Remember, the separation took place at the time when God required an offering from Cain and Abel. It was an attitude, a motive of heart that distinguished Cain from Abel. Cain murdered Abel which allowed for the bringing forth of Seth. The line of Cain had no interest in God and as result they wandered. The line of Seth was the established “set” lineage from where the Messiah would come forth. These two lines intermingled resulting in a people who became wild and rebellious before God. In the midst of all this was a righteous man who found favor with God. The Lord is now going to judge the earth and purge it from its iniquity. In His love and compassion He yet provides the means to redeem and restore man. This is seen in the number 50 which is the breadth of the Ark (6:15). The number 50 speaks of redemption and restoration. The number 300 speaks of walking with God. In these last days which are so likened to Noah we are seeing a God who is seeking to restore and redeem. The message of restoration is one of the prominent themes that will be seen in the revival to come. The church is called to intimacy with God. It is time to seek meekness and righteousness so that we will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s wrath. The example of Noah has so many keys and application for the modern day church.
In the early portion of chapter two we have the account of the wise men coming to behold the king of kings. We are first introduced to a man named Herod the King. He was a wicked ruler who had the title of Herod the Great. He feigns interest in wanting to come and worship this child heralded as the “king of the Jews”. Herod felt threatened that there would one day be leaders that would arise from the east to later rule the world. The historians of this time period record the prevailing sentiment surrounding this fear. The magi’s (3 kings) were men who were respected for their wisdom and insight which helps to give understanding in how Herod would seek them out. It should also be noted that there was an unusual star in the east which added to this speculation (vs 7-8). Herod tasked these kings to search out where this king was born so that he too could worship Him. Herod felt threatened and was looking to eliminate any challenge to his authority. This unique star was the means by which these wise men were led to the child (vs 9-10). It was not an ordinary star and one that was not part of any recorded constellation.
The wise men presented their gifts to Jesus all of which speaks of His life and ministry. The gold would speak of his deity and purity. The frankincense would be a symbol of His suffering while the myrrh would speak of his death. These wise men knew they were in the presence of the King of Kings by their actions and the gifts they presented. They were worshipping the personification of wisdom (1 Cor 1:24). The gifts they presented acknowledged that the child was the Son of God who would live a life of suffering and die so that we might have life. This whole scene depicts the “hidden wisdom” of God that will result in his glory being revealed (1 Cor 2:6-7).
This chapter helps for us to marvel at how God orchestrates everything according to His plan. He informed the wise men to not return to Herod because He knew his evil intent (vs 12). The hand of God continues to work as he informs Joseph through an angel to immediately take the child and mother to Egypt so as to escape and flee the wrath of Herod. In Israel’s history there was a time when they sought to go to Egypt for refuge. God warned them on numerous occasions that they were to submit to the king of Babylon so that it would go well with them. Here we see God informing Joseph to immediately take the child and mother to Egypt for a yet to be determined time frame.
It is vital that we have an ear that hears daily what God is saying. We also note how Satan seeks to intervene and thwart the purpose of God. He understood what was taking place and sought opportunity to destroy the child of promise through wicked Herod. The enemy was looking to work through a wicked man who had an evil heart; a man who was in a position of authority to destroy the child. We see how heaven intervened on two quick occasions to prevent this from happening. He spoke to the wise men to not return to Herod with the news of the child’s location. The Lord also informed Joseph to move quickly to Egypt. They stayed in Egypt until news came of Herod’s death. There is a fulfilment of an Old Testament Truth of when the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt at the Passover. Here we see the Lord Jesus (the future Passover Lamb) in Egypt fulfilling the following verse in Hosea.
Hos 11:1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
In verses 16-18 there is the fallout from Herod’s rage as there was genocide amongst the children in Bethlehem. There was great insecurity in the hearts of these monarchs that their thrones would one day be taken. Our modern day variant of this atrocity is seen in abortions. This event was actually prophesied by Jeremiah about 600 years beforehand and is cited in verse 17-18. Rachel is buried in Bethlehem on the road to Jerusalem and in poetic language is being seen weeping at this tragic loss of life.
The Lord speaks again to Joseph in a dream via an angel that it was safe to return to Egypt (vs 19-20). This Herod was a murderous tyrant and it was only within a year of Jesus birth that he died. It was now safe to return and they later settled in Nazareth (vs 23).