Tuesday, January 8, 2019

What's in a Name? Geneologies, the Bible and YOU

This week in studying with my AMAZING Bible study class, a great question came up. "What's with all the genealogies?" If every word is important, and if all Scripture is beneficial (as we are told it is later in the biblical writings), then how can we make sense of this, what is there to apply to our lives? W find the answer looking at the first genealogies we are given, starting with Cain and Abel! 

Let's start by looking at what the names mean. You can find this yourself with a printed or online interlinear Bible - they are amazing to have around! 

Cain: to acquire
Abel: to exhale, empty

Even in their names, they represent fundamentally different approaches to life. Some think they can get the most of of life by ACQUIRING. Some recognize that to benefit most, you must become EMPTY.

Beyond their names, we can see that they approached God differently. Their sacrifices reflect this. Since they, like their parents, knew good from evil, they knew what was right from what was wrong. Abel chose obedience. And it seems that Cain chose worldly logic:

We don’t really know what made their sacrifices pleasing or displeasing to the Lord – it’s not specific. We can look at what is different about them:

• They both brought of their work

• They both knew to bring an offering – this is the first time we see this

What was different?

• Abel brought of the firstlings – first and best

• Cain brought perhaps from his excess

What do we offer to God? Do we merely fit Him in to our lives, or is everything else scheduled around Him?

Other things to think about:

Cain brought from the ground, which was cursed, but Abel brought a lamb, through which the curse became a blessing (this looks like a foreshadowing of Jesus to me!)

Cain was angry about God not having regard for his offering. Cain brought something that was life giving, that adds something – grain fills us up, sustains, fattens. While his brother Abel brought a bloody corpse – he took a life. They didn’t even eat meat at this time – So logically, Cain must have thought, "what a waste!"

**Principle: We can’t always follow human logic in understanding what is pleasing to God** Sometimes God’s standards, the things that please Him, are difficult for us to understand. When things don’t make sense to us, we face the same temptation as Cain, and there is a temptation to operate within OUR parameters instead of operating within God’s.

If we take a deeper look at this scene, though, the "God-principle" we learn is this:

God is pleased with is emptying out, sacrifice, full giving of life to God as a gift, and our first and best. A giving over of what is most precious to us, giving him life and treasure. Even if it is messy and seems like a waste to worldly logic, this pleases him. This got God’s attention. There is also the hint that Abel understood that blood atonement was necessary, and that nothing he could do could cover him. Also, Abel knew that God had sacrificed an animal to cover his mother and father. So, he simply modeled what He saw God doing. 

God isn’t interested in our surplus, our extra, the work of our hands. He isn’t impressed with our action, our religion. He doesn’t need our help or our work. And our work can’t cover us or get us a blessing or attention and intimacy with God. HE is the giver of life, not us or our efforts to sustain it. Activity doesn’t get God’s attention.  

It’s kindof like the difference between a relationship with God versus religion. 

Next we see that Cain’s countenance fell: He was angry and fearful, and that is where temptation always finds us. When the temptation to doubt God and to turn to sin comes, according to God, WE MUST LEARN TO MASTER TEMPTATION.

This is a part of maturing in the Lord – God will strengthen us, He will counsel us, but ultimately we have to choose to do the right thing. 

God says something so profound here – sin is crouching at the door, it wants to be the focus of your life, but you must master it – it can only come in if you let it in. That is why the new testament instructs us to FLEE from sin. It’s much easier to master sin when you leave the door shut. Once you invite it in, it’s much harder to get it out!

"Master" = mashal in Hebrew – same word as proverb or parable

To master is to rule, a king passes laws to protect and help bring out the best in his kingdom, to help it flourish. In the same way, when YOU enforce God’s rule on your body and your mind, then you become a living parable, God’s essence and best are seen in you. 

Notice again, there’s a connection with emptying ourselves out and not filling up. Keep sin out, so that God’s presence can have room to radiate from you.

Cain just couldn’t resist the temptation. He wanted to act out on his anger. He gave in to the physical passion, the desire for position, to possess what belonged to his brother. He gave in to the same temptation as his parents. At the expense of the innocent – his brother.

Our sin always affects more than just us. 

Cain’s went on to father many children, who scripture tells us followed their appetites. As He pursued a lifestyle of "acquiring," he found himself further and further away from the Lord, literally in the land of "wandering" (Nod)

When we leave God’s boundaries and God’s presence, we are simply wandering aimlessly, without purpose. 

THE HIDDEN MEANING IN THE GENEOLOGY OF CAIN: names matter! They tell us a story!

We know that Cain was led by his passions, his emotions, his carnal desire. He wanted to ACQUIRE for himself, fill himself.

And that’s exactly what his name means

When we seek to fill ourselves up with things that we want outside of God’s hope, we follow along with this line and its message.

We follow the teaching and appointing ourselves (reveal ENOCH) wild, lawless, fugitives (IRAD)

The result of this lifestyle is that we are "smitten" or blotted out by God (MEHUJAEL)

Because there is no life, no blessing that comes from filling ourselves with the things of this world.

Metushael – seeking death, mortality

We may not realize it at the time, but filling ourselves with things other than God, not leaving a space for him to place his hope and message is essentially seeking out death (reveal next name) some of us know that place all to well, where death would be a welcome release from the chaos and confusion of our lives as we have abandoned God’s boundaries…

Lamech –reduced/to the poor, humble, humiliated - we just find ourselves humiliated…

Lamech’s two wives teach us that pursuing this lifestyle, we will always have to seek more to become satisfied, and will be filled less and less.

Adah, "to pass by, remove"  and Zillah, shadows – (Lamech’s wives)

When we align ourselves outside of God’s will, we forfeit the promises he wants to give us and relegate ourselves to the shadows.

The product of this union (the sons of Lamech) is what we do with our hands to try to fill the void on our own, outside of God:

Jabel, which means course, became a cattle breeder – he produced things, material wealth (stuff, fasion, wealth and power)

Jubal, which also means course, became a musician – he was an artist – entertainment (sports, tv, popular culture, music, traditions)

Tubal Cain the way of acquiring - was the metal worker, the technologist (toys, distractions, diversions, advancement)

And haven’t we sought things, entertainment and technology to fill ourselves so much? These are the temptations that keep us from spending time with the Lord so often!

 Isn’t this how mankind has sought to find joy? By acquiring, filling himself with things, experiences, and distractions and toys?

"If Cain is avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold."

 This shows an utter arrogance and relishing of sin.

This seventy seven is found in only one other place in the scriptures, in Matthew 18, in a conversation between Peter and Jesus about forgiveness. While we may think we are confident and getting all that we want, what we really are is in desperate need of mercy, the forgiveness of God.

The way of Cain, the way of wandering, of filling oneself up, is the way of hopelessness. The more we try to fill ourselves up with stuff, entertainment, technology…the more we reject His message…the closer to death and hopelessness we become…

Abel was different. He gave everything.

Eve wanted to be different. She made room for God’s legacy in her life. She became a literal vessel bearing hope for the future (her children).

When both of her sons failed to meet that destiny of becoming the crusher of the serpent, she let God’s words resonate in her mind and heart. She didn’t give up. She kept going. She kept being the vessel, kept bringing forth children. Chapter 5 contains the continuation of the story. Hope was not lost though their children were. She trusted God’s words when life didn’t’ make sense. And so did those who came after…and within the lives of these people, a truth is hidden. Just like the parable. Their legacies become a parable for us:

Genesis 5: 1-29

Adam Man

Seth appointed (instead of another as compensation or substitute)

Enosh subject to death (mortal, mankind)

Kenan sorrowful, lamenting

Mahalel Blessed God

Jared One descends, shall come down literally

Enoch – to teach, to dedicate, to inaugurate

Methusaleh his death shall send (was and is believed that methusaleh’s death would bring about the flood, prophecy of that time)

Lamech to the poor and lowly (l = toward, resulting in mech – low and humiliated)

Noah rest, comfort

The string of names forms a message that can only be a referenced to the promised seed that would overcome:

Mankind is appointed to mortality and death, sorrow. But the Blessed God will come down to teach, to dedicate, to inaugurate, and his death shall send to the lowly and humiliated, rest.

It is as if God is reassuring mankind through the line of Adam: Don’t give up hope. Keep being the container of life, my vessel. Victory is coming for you!

So here’s the question - What side of the family tree do you think you’re in? What message does your life send to the world? Is your life a parable for obedience, a source of encouragement for others? Because if we are in this thing with the Lord, this faith walk, that is exactly the way we were always meant to be. 


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