God's End Game - Part 12
Series: My Preaching Bucket List
February 04, 2019
Last week we saw the horrible effects of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against their Creator play out in a tragic way.
Cain killed his brother Abel, committing the first murder. And when given a chance by God to confess and repent, he chose to lie and dodge the question.
Genesis 4:9–18 (ESV) — 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”
We learned in that message how what happened in the field that day between these brothers wasn’t isolated. It wasn't just a “then” thing; it’s a “now” thing. It’s a symptom of the human condition brought on by their parent’s sin.
And it’s the foundation for what Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome…
Romans 5:12 (ESV) — 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—
This explains why the world is the way it is. Sin brought death into the world and along with it condemnation…
Romans 5:18-19 (ESV) —18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
Sin spread from Adam and Eve to Cain to the rest of mankind making us ALL capable of terrible things but also making us culpable (guilty) even if we never do anything all that bad.
So we have learned from Genesis, the book of beginnings,
That first sin brought shame, a breaking of fellowship with God, a struggle between the sexes, between good and evil, and in nature, and ultimately darkened hearts for all humanity.
That is why God needed an end game.
I had intended to carry us forward into discovering that end game by moving on to the Gospels, but, in preparing to do so, I realized there was more to see here.
The rest of Genesis chapter 4 through chapter 6 lays out in further detail the way the world works now, and it’s not pretty.
10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him.
It’s ironic that the first murderer fears becoming the second murder victim. And it’s mind-boggling God in his mercy protected him, promising vengeance seven times over on anyone who might take his life (take note of that).
Don’t get bogged down in the details of what Cain’s mark was. We’ve talked about this. If you do, you’ll miss the big picture.
Life went on and we see in verse 16…
16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. 17 Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. 18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech.
In reading that, what question instantly occupies your thoughts and holds them captive? Where did Cain get his wife?
That’s another one of those details we’ll get bogged down in if we’re not careful. There’s a perfectly good explanation, but I’m not getting into it because if I do, you’ll lock onto that, forgetting everything else I share today thinking about how you’re going to tell your buddy at work where Cain got his wife from.
Cain took a wife and bore children by her. Then the first murderer built the first city. Some scholars see that as Cain thumbing his nose to God, because God had decreed he’d be a wanderer and a vagabond.
His great, great, great grandson, Lamech, gets special attention.
Genesis 4:23–26 (ESV) — 23 Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. 24 If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”
Note: “Lamech said to his wives, Adah and Zillah…” That’s important because evidently Lamech was the first fellow to take more than one wife, going against God’s original plan…
Genesis 2:24 (ESV) — 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
I think Lamech carried on his great, great, great grandfather’s legacy of thumbing his nose at God by taking two wives.
If your mind is pretty sharp, you’ll think about how many OT Bible figures had more than one wife: Moses, David, and Solomon. That never really worked out well for them BTW.
God’s intent from the beginning was one man and one woman in a marriage, but he evidently allowed for it without condoning it. Lamech started something that found its way into the culture that eventually found its way into the lives of God’s people. That’s a sermon all its own.
Lamech wasn’t done defying God yet. Listen to what is called his song of the sword…
“Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. 24 If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”
That wreaks of arrogance and defiance, mocking God’s dealing with his ancestor, Cain. This was the spirit of the city Cain built. This was the heart of the people. Further proof that sin had infected humanity.
However, and mark this down, God is never left without a remnant…
25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” 26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.
Here is that struggle between good and evil, between the flesh and the spirit that continues to this day.
As bad as sin makes the world, there is still good to be found in it. And as much as even nature itself exhibits this fallenness, there is still awe-inspiring beauty to be found in it as well.
C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, explains how the Christian worldview is on the only one that really makes sense of the way things are, that “this is a good world that has gone wrong, but still retains the memory of what it ought to have been.”
Genesis 5 outlines the godly lineage of Seth all the way down to Noah. And then in chapter 6 we see even more how sin had infected mankind…
Genesis 6:1–8 (ESV) — 1 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. 5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
There’s that “God always having a remnant thing again.” You know how this goes. God saves Noah, his three sons and their wives (as well as two of every kind of animal) from destruction with a boat.
You’d think that might have taken care of the sin problem, right? But what did Paul say? It spread to all men because all sinned. Just on the heels of being delivered, there’s the sad and tragic account of Noah getting drunk and something awful happening with his son, Ham. Another detail we won’t get into today so we can focus on the bigger picture.
After the flood, God gave a command to Noah and his sons, a command that should sound very familiar:
Genesis 9:1 (ESV) — 1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”
But their descendants, just like all those who descended from Adam and Eve, exhibited a tendency to disobey, to mock God.
Genesis 11:1–9 (ESV) — 1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.
Instead of multiplying and filling the earth with many cities, they settled in one place and made one big city.
3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
What does this endeavor and attitude remind us of? Cain and his descendants. But these folks take it even further.
Many Bible scholars and archaeologists believe this tower was actually something called a ziggurat, a stepped pyramid which by design looked like a mountain. Why?
Do you remember how, in the beginning, there was the Garden of Eden and how there’s evidence it was a mountain (illustration)? In the Ancient Near East, the time and culture of the book of Genesis, the gods were seen as dwelling in the lush heights of the mountains.
It is fascinating to me that almost all ancient cultures used pyramids or mounds to house temples and signify the worship of a deity. Almost as if they all were together at one time in one place where one was built… Don’t get me started.
The Babelites didn’t build this tower to reach their creator God, as some suggest. Look back at verse 4…
4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
They built this tower to glorify themselves and defy God’s command to multiply and fill the earth. This is why, of course, God pays them a visit, tears the tower down, and confuses their language.
Conclusion: That tower, that stepped pyramid was a statement: We don’t need you God.
By our fallen nature we carry on that arrogant, God-mocking legacy.
Sin fools us into thinking we can make it on our own. It blinds us to our weakness and badness, tricking us into believing we can be our own saviors or that we don’t need a savior at all.
We don’t build physical pyramids these days, but we do work hard on figurative ones:
The tower of atheism - there is no God.
The tower of humanism - we are our own gods. We are the captain of our souls., islands unto ourselves.
The tower of Religion - we build and work our way up to God.
Think about all of this and let what Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome sink in..
Romans 1:17–2:1 (ESV) — 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Before some of us get too smug…
1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.
That is the human condition. And we are still in that same predicament today. This is why we need a savior!
I can’t wait to change gears next week and show you how God tears down the towers man builds.
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