Genesis 016 – The Only Way of Salvation

Genesis 016 – The Only Way of Salvation
Genesis 4:1-8 • Dr. Andy Woods • November 29, 2020 • Genesis


Genesis 016-

The Only Way of Salvation –

Dr. Andrew Woods

Let’s take our Bibles, if we could, and open them to the book of Genesis.  The book of Genesis 4. Look at that, we’re in chapter 4.  Can you believe that?  Man, we are moving.  Genesis 4.  The title of our message this morning is The Only Way of Salvation.  The only way of salvation.  We, as you know, are continuing our movement ever so slowly, I guess, through the book of Genesis. And the first part of the book, chapters 1-11, is the beginning of the human race. Having already covered chapters 1 and 2, creation itself.  Genesis 1 is an overview of the creation week.  Genesis 2 is a focus on man’s responsibilities before God on day 6–man and woman’s responsibilities.  And when you look at Genesis 2 or the end thereof, it gives you the impression that everything is fine.  The problem is, if everything continued to be fine, there would be no need for a Savior.   So why do we need Jesus as our Savior?   The answer is Genesis 3.

Genesis 3 is where humanity fell, and we have spent several Sundays going through Genesis 3 because without Genesis 3, you can’t make sense of our world and you can’t make sense of why we need Jesus as a Savior.  You’ve got to get a man lost before you can get him saved.  And Genesis 3 is where we get lost.  Genesis 4 and Genesis 5 are the aftermaths or the effects of what happened in Genesis 3.

Genesis 4, which we’re going to begin today is the first murder in human history.  The specific kind of murder that is accomplished here or performed here is is what you call fratricide, where one brother murders another.

And so Genesis 4, you can outline in three parts.  The first murder is described in 4:1-15.  And then what emerges is an ungodly line through the lineage of that murderer, the lineage of Cain in 4:16-24.  It’s a section of Scripture that reveals to us something that we don’t have anywhere else, 4:16-24–what was the world like before the flood?  You have a little description of it in Genesis 6, but you get a lot of details about the pre-flood civilization, 4:16-24.

And then the chapter ends, 4:25-26, where God brings forth a substitute for the victim and continues the godly line, not through Cain, but through the line of Seth, 4:25-26.  And that’s where the Messiah’s lineage will come from.  The Messiah will not come from the lineage of Cain, but through the Godly line of Seth.  But why do we need Seth at all?  Well, the answer is because of a murder that took place—the first in human history in 4:1-15.  So as we take a look this morning at 4:1-15, I’m not even sure how far we’ll get into this, but you have the births of Cain and Abel in 4:1-2.  Then you have Cain murdering Abel in 4:3-8, and then you have a description of Cain’s punishment in 4:9-15.

So notice, if you will, 4:1-2, the births now of Cain and Abel.  Put yourself in the shoes of Adam and Eve when this happened, this murder.  One of their sons was a murder victim.  The other one was a murderer.  I mean, it would be hard enough to be a parent of either of those two—a victim or a murderer.  And yet, Adam and Eve were the parents of both.  Think of what a shock to the system this was when this took place.  But we have here the births of the murderer and the ultimate victim, Cain and Abel.  And notice, if you will, 4:1.  It says, “Now the man [that would be Adam] 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.”

Here we have the birth of Cain.  Cain’s name in Hebrew actually means gotten.  And he was probably named because Eve was so excited that she had become pregnant and with the help of the LORD, had brought forth Cain.  Now, when you look at this, and I’m reading this out of the new American Standard Bible, notice what it says.  It’s very interesting here.  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 man child with the help of the LORD.’”  Now, if you’re reading this out of the New American Standard Bible, you’ll notice that  ‘the help of‘ is in italics.  So when you’re reading from your favorite English translation, and you see all of a sudden, words that are italicized, what exactly does that mean?  Well, what it means is those words are not in the original text. And the words ‘the help of‘ have been added by the translator to sort of smooth over the translation to make it more understandable in English.  Hebrew is a very precise language, and it doesn’t have sometimes some of the sisters or enablers that we need as we translate this from Hebrew into English.  And so the translators will take the liberty to add words.  And when they’re adding something, they’ll italicize showing you where the addition is made.  And 99% of the time, the translators do an absolutely wonderful job.  They smooth over the translation, they make the translation understandable. Yet this is a case where I am convinced that the translators have done more harm than good because I believe that what they have done is obscured the meaning.  As we all know, the English translations that we have are not inspired.  They’re just man’s best attempt.  And generally, our English translations are outstanding.  But they are not without error.  They are not without mistake.  And here, I think, a meaning has been obscured because if you were to remove the italicized words, the sentence that Eve proclaimed as she is pregnant with Cain, and giving birth to Cain is this: ’I have gotten a manchild the LORD.’  She’s not saying, in the original text, ‘I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.’  What she is saying is, ‘I have gotten a manchild, the LORD.’  That would be a literal reading of Genesis 4:1.  Just take ‘the help of‘ out of the equation.  Now, why in the world would she say something like that?  Why would she say ‘I have gotten a manchild, the LORD?’ Because there was a promise given in Genesis 3:15, that’s why.  You remember that verse?   We spent some time on it a few weeks ago.  It arguably is the most important verse in the entire Bible in the sense that it explains everything that the Bible is about.  And what God said to the serpent in Genesis 3:15 following the fall of man is as follows:  “I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise Him on the heel.”

The Lord spoke that to the serpent as a judgment for what happened in Genesis 3.  Eve was there to hear this, and it’s a prophecy that there’s coming One from the woman, that would be Eve.  A coming One of some sort.  Might we even say a Messiah is coming?  And when this Messiah comes, He, this Messiah that comes, Satan, is going to take your head and crush it. Now, along the way, you’re going to be able to bruise His heel, but He’s going to crush your head.  Now, if you had your choice, would you rather have your heel bruised or your head crushed?  I’ll take the heel because an injury to the heel is temporary, an injury to the head is permanent.

And so it’s a prophecy of what the theologians call the seed of the woman, the seed of the serpent conflict.  There’s coming one from a particular line, coming forth from Eve, who is going to take Satan’s head and crush it and deal a final blow to Satan.  Now, Satan along the way, is going to be able to inflict a lot of temporary casualties.  But when this conflict is over, the only thing Satan will have inflicted is temporary wounds; the wound that God will inflict upon Satan  will be permanent.  And this is why those in early Genesis were always looking for this Messiah that would come.  This is why Eve says, ‘I have gotten a manchild, the LORD.’  Sounds like an excited mom.  She thought that she had just given birth to the Messiah.   She thought she had given birth to the one that Genesis 3:15 predicts is coming.  Now, talk about parental disappointment.   She had not given birth to the Messiah.  She had given birth to the world’s first murderer, but there was this heightened expectation that she had; that a Messiah was coming because she was there to hear the pronouncement in Genesis 3:15.

And this is why when you go through early Genesis, what you find are very excited parents that always think that their own kid is the Messiah.  Genesis 5:29 describes what Lamech said when Noah was born; it says, “Now he called his name Noah, saying ‘This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed.‘“  That word cursed goes right back to Genesis 3:17.  And Lamech thought that Noah was going to be the one to reverse the curse.  Why would Lamech think that?  Because what began to be passed down through oral tradition is a messianic prophecy given in the Garden of Eden that there was coming One who would do fatal damage to the serpent, or to Satan.

This helps us make sense of a lot of different things in the Bible like Daniel 11:37, which speaks of the yet future Antichrist, and it says of the future Antichrist, “He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women, for he will magnify himself above them all.” Now, there’s a lot of crazy teaching out there that the Antichrist is going to be transgender; the Antichrist is going to be a homosexual because he will not have the natural desire that a man has for a woman.  And there’s a lot of long-winded sermons that people give on that passage, and most of them are mistaken.  Because the desire of every Jewish woman, even going back to pre-Jewish times, pre-Hebrew times, as is evidenced by Eve’s proclamation and Lamech’s proclamation, is to be the parents, or in the case of the woman, the mother of the one who would give birth to the Messiah.  When it says the Antichrist will show no regard for the desire of women, the desire for women is a synonym for the Messiah.  And when the Antichrist will show no regard for the desire of women, it’s not talking about his sexual orientation or sexual proclivity or sexual habits.  It’s talking about the fact that the Antichrist will hate the Messiah Jesus, that every Hebrew woman wanted to be the one that would give birth to.  This is why Mary is called favored by the Angel Gabriel in early Luke, because it was Mary that was given this privilege of being the one that would bring forth the Messiah whose womb was used to bring forth the Messiah.  Lamech thought it was Noah.  No.  Eve thought it was her.  No, Mary would get that privilege. But the desire was always there. And that desire is rooted in a messianic understanding of Genesis 3:15.

Why do I bring this to your attention?  Because there are a lot of people today, in fact, Dr. Michael Rydelnik of Moody Bible Institute wrote a whole book; a collection of essays trying to refute this idea.  But there are a lot of people today that deny Jesus or Yeshua or the Messiah in the Old Testament.  Michael Rydelnik got tired of that amongst his colleagues, because as a Jewish believer, he said it was these messianic prophecies that ‘brought me to faith in Christ.’ And so when you say the Messiah is not in Genesis 3:15, or in  Isaiah 7:13-14, or in Isaiah 53 or in Daniel 9:25-26, then you’re denying the very prophecies that brought ‘me as a Jewish person to saving faith in Christ.’

Why is Michael Rydelnik writing a book of this nature?  Because he’s reacting against the current mindset of Hebrew scholars, Old Testament scholars, that don’t think that Genesis 3:15, has anything to do with Jesus Christ.  Well, then what‘s it about?  They give some crazy talk about how women are scared of snakes or something like that.  And I’m here to tell you that this is about Jesus, Genesis 3:15.  They didn’t know His name.  And I know that because of how Eve had the expectation that the Messiah could come from her womb.  She would not have had that Hebrew or that messianic expectation unless Genesis 3:15 was understood in a messianic sense. Lamech would not have said what he said about Noah in Genesis 5:29 had he not understood through oral tradition, the interpretation of Genesis 3:15, which is very messianic.

And I’m here to tell you that if you don’t understand Genesis 3:15, you can make no sense of the Bible.  You can’t even understand the chapter that we’re moving into now where Cain murders his brother.  As we will be explaining, why exactly does that happen?  It’s the bruising of the heel that Satan is inflicting.  Satan, as we will see, is trying to stop the birth of the Messiah, because the Hebrew scholars and the academics may not understand Genesis 3:15 as the Messiah, but Satan understands it that way.  And Satan is trying to shut this down so that this Messiah will never come.  Because at the end of the day, Satan does not want his head crushed. And so that’s why Genesis 4:1, understanding it without those italics, is a big deal.  What is Eve saying when she became pregnant and then gave birth to Cain?  “I have gotten a manchild, the LORD.”  She thought she had given birth to the Messiah, and the reason she expected that she could give birth to the Messiah, is she had a messianic understanding of Genesis 3:15.

Now notice also the second birth we have, now the birth of Abel.  Notice 4:2. Again, she [that would be Eve] gave birth to his brother Abel.  And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.  Cain’s name means gotten.  Abel’s name means vapor in Hebrew, or vanity.  It’s in essence, sort of a foreboding, if you will.  [And I’m looking for my notes with my cross references on them.  Hopefully I’m not being punked right now.  Where would those be? Not here.  And if I don’t have them, we’ll have to just do it the old fashioned way and look them up in the Bible.  Amen.  I don’t seem to have them here.  Gabe, did you look at this?  I’m being punked.  I took the whole thing.  I’ll make a deal with you.  You can’t take my Bible verses, and I won’t sing your songs.  How’s that?  There we go.  Look at that.  Praise the Lord.  I should have memorized anyway]. But Abel’s name essentially means vapor or vanity. It’s sort of foreboding, if you will of what is about to happen.  Abel’s life is going to be short- lived.  In fact, the word Abel is the same word used in the book of Ecclesiastes that the Jews called Quohelet, which means Preacher.  Ecclesiastes 1:2 says, “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “Vanity of vanities!  All is vanity.”

It’s the idea of a very, very thin, a very, very minuscule vapor.  It’s not so much saying that life without God leads to emptiness, which it does of course, but it’s a description of what life is like.  If you’re interested, this is what you call a superlative in Hebrew.  Vanity of vanities.  In other words, life is the ultimate vapor.  It’s like saying the Holy of Holies.  When I use the expression Holy of Holies, I’m not speaking of a holy place on planet Earth.  I’m speaking of the ultimate holy place on planet Earth.  The quintessential holy place.  When Jesus Christ is called King of Kings, LORD of Lords, He is not just King, He’s the ultimate King.  He is not just LORD, but he is the ultimate LORD.  That’s a superlative.  And so when Ecclesiastes 1:2 describes life as vanity of vanities, what it’s saying is life is very thin.  It’s very fast, it’s very brief, and you only have a very short period of time to get right before the Lord.  Because eternity, in comparison to this life, is long.  That is the name that is given to Abel, probably foreboding the fact that he is about to be the world’s first murder victim.

But I bring this up because all of us are Able, in a sense.  All of us are living in a domain in this life, which is brief.  It is transitory.  It is the thinnest of vapors. And you better not go into the next life with your soul not right before God.  You’ve got a very short period of time, even if you live your full life expectancy, and we’ve had many people in this congregation during the time I’ve been here, that we have buried.  They did not live out their full life expectancy.  So your life can be taken away just like that.  I mean, look at how the world in the United States of America and all over the world, has changed so dramatically just within the last, what, six, seven, eight months?  I mean, if I were to stand up before you in January of last year and describe for you the things that would happen very fast, very quickly in the new year, you would think I’m crazy.  And yet look at how fast everything has changed.  That’s how fast life can change.  That’s how fast your life can pass before you.  That’s how fast your life can be snuffed out.  Without us even thinking about it.  We are sort of deluded into thinking that life just goes on and on and on, and that is not what the Bible says!  That’s not what the book of Ecclesiastes says.

That’s not what Abel’s name means. In fact, the book of James 4:14 says this, ”Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor…” [that’s Able, the thinnest of vapors]… You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then it vanishes away.”

So tomorrow morning you get your coffee and you see the steam rising off it and you see how fast that steam dissipates.  That’s what your life is like.  That’s what my life is like.  That’s what Abel’s life was like in this fallen world.  So Abel is not just Abel.  Abel is for all of us.  All of us in a sense are in Abel’s precarious position, but his name here is very foreboding because it’s describing what is about to happen to him.  Cain is the oldest, Abel is the younger, and the way it typically works is the rights went to the firstborn.  That’s what you would think.  But that’s not the way God works.  God, as we will see, circumvents what is normal because He is sovereign.  And He will often reach into our fallen world where man does things in a certain way based on culture, and God will reverse it.  The hero in this story is not Cain, the firstborn. It’s going to be Abel, as we will see.

So you’ll notice that Abel is a partaker of the flocks.  But Cain was a tiller of the ground, and that’s important based on their responses to worship that they are about to give with one man’s sacrifice being accepted and one man’s sacrifice being rejected.

So we move away from the births of Cain and Abel to the first murder in human history where Cain now will murder Abel.  And so when we look at this in 4:3-8, we have two offerings in 4:3-5; premeditation, a lack of anger management in the second part of 4:5-7, and then it moves from there into murder, the first murder in human history, 4:8.

Notice, first of all, these two offerings.  Notice what it says here in 4:3-5, “So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground.  Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions.  And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and his offering, He had no regard.”  We’ll stop there just for a minute.

What we’re going to discover here is it was God’s intention to further the messianic line through Abel, not Cain, despite the fact that Cain was the firstborn. I mean, he is the firstborn. Everything we know about the ancient Near East culture, the rights go to the firstborn, and God says, ‘No, that’s not how it’s going to work.’

The line or the lineage leading to the Messiah is going to go through Abel’s line.  That’s what Satan here, as we will see, is trying to cut off or prevent from happening.  So the messianic line will go through Abel, contrary to Eve’s false expectation that Cain was the Messiah.  You see, man can think whatever he wants to think, but God’s sovereign plans are going to go forward. And this is why when you travel through the Bible, what you’ll discover is that Abel is the one that’s held held out as the hero.  He’s actually referred to as the very first prophet by Jesus Christ Himself in Matthew 23:35, where Jesus says, “…so that upon you may fall the guilt of all of the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.”

The very first prophet in Hebrew Bible is Abel.  The last one is an individual named Zechariah who shows up in the very last book of Hebrew Bible, Chronicles.  So you’ll notice that Abel is the beginning, in the words of the LORD of a long line of prophets.  Hebrews 11:4 includes Abel in the Hall of Faith, that list of great heroes who trusted God against all odds.  One of the very first entries into the Hall of Faith is Abel.

Hebrews 11:4 says, “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.”

So you’ll notice that the selection, as far as God is concerned, goes with the younger.  The culture said ‘No, the selection begins with the older,’ and as you go through the book of Genesis, this happens over and over and over and over and over again.  We have the beginning of the selection of the younger over the older, which was contrary to the culture—Abel over Cain, Seth over Cain, Shem over Japheth, Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Judah and Joseph over their brothers; Ephraim over Manasseh.  I mean, why does this keep happening over and over again in the book of Genesis?  God is showing that He is the One that controls history.  Man can have his plans and his way of thinking, but God is in the business of stepping into fallen creation through sovereignty, and reversing the normal processes of man.  And that should encourage you because maybe you’re working somewhere where you’re kind of last on the pecking order.  You haven’t paid your dues.  You haven’t gone through the right process, perhaps not understanding that in a second, God can take you from the back of the line and put you right in front.

And God, if you watch the world, He does this quite frequently with people.  Because he’s sovereign.  And those that were reading this, the original readers, were about to enter the land of Canaan, where they would have to fight giants that were larger than them and more numerous.  And they needed to know that God was on their side.  And this whole book was originally written to them. ‘Yes, God is on your side. And don’t worry about the size of the giants.  I reverse or I circumvent what is normal all of the time.’   See, if we don’t understand this about God, we have no incentive to pray.  Isn’t that what we’re praying for?  Why pray?  Aren’t we praying for God to reach his hand into our world and to reverse something that man would consider abnormal?  People like to take God and they like to put them in a box and say, ‘God has to work this way.’  No, that’s not the nature of God.  The culture worked a particular way with the rights of the firstborn.  Yet the book of Genesis develops how God reverses that over and over again.

Now, it’s interesting that as we read this, that one man’s sacrifice is accepted; Abel’s sacrifice is accepted; Cain’s sacrifice is rejected.  Why in the world would that happen?  I think the answer is very simple.  Cain came through the route of religion.  He came to God through the route of good works.  In fact, what Cain is doing here is no different than what Adam and Eve originally did after the fall.

Remember what they did in Genesis 3:7?  It’s the first act of religion found anywhere in the Bible.  It says, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.”  They knew they had a problem and they tried to fix it through their own power.  And that’s what religion is.  It’s a system of works by which man tries to earn his way into God’s presence through his own “righteous,” deeds.

And that, in essence, is what Cain is doing when it talks here about how he brought to the LORD from the ground.  Probably what Cain brought unto the LORD looked attractive.  I would also think that Cain put a lot of effort into that, whatever it was from the ground.  And despite the attractiveness of what he brought to the LORD, despite the energy that he put into this religious project, God simply did not look on it with favor, but with Abel’s sacrifice or worship, God looked on it with favor.  Why is that?  Because Cain brought to the LORD what was of the ground.  Abel brought to the LORD from the flocks.  See the difference?  What comes from the ground does not constitute a blood sacrifice.  What comes from the flocks does constitute a blood sacrifice.

And I believe this:  that at the close of Genesis 3, God was very clear that ‘You will come into My presence through the blood of an innocent scapegoat, or you won’t come.’  Genesis 3:7, the loin cloths won’t get the job done, but Genesis 3:21, as we studied last Sunday, will get the job done.

Genesis 3:21 says, ”The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.“ Now where in the world would those garments of skin come from?  Obviously, an innocent animal was killed in the place of the guilty, and God took those skin coverings from that killed animal and used them to clothe Adam and Eve.  Adam and Eve, in 3:7, are trying to clothe themselves.  God says, ‘You will not clothe yourself in your fallen state, and enter My presence.  What I will do is I will kill an animal in your place, and I will clothe you from the skin of the death of that innocent animal.’  Cain is not respecting that precedent.  Abel is.  The book of Hebrews 9:22 could not be clearer, it says, “…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”

Abel’s sacrifice involved the shedding of innocent blood.  Cain’s sacrifice did not.  Cain did not come to God the way God had ordained.  Abel did.  Abel’s sacrifice is accepted.  Cain’s sacrifice is rejected. Very important to understand, because we have today and throughout world history, Frank Sinatra spirituality.  Frank Sinatra, of course, said, ’I did it my way.’  And I’m going to sing that for you now.  No.  And when it comes to spirituality, most people are that way.  In fact, I was listening to a pastor once who spoke in Los Angeles, and he was speaking to a gathering of business leaders, and he made this statement; he says, ‘Most of you in this room are all experts and respected in your given fields.  You’re respected in the areas of management. You’re respected in the areas of accounting, you’re respected in the areas of marketing.’  And this pastor addressing this group says, ‘The problem with my vocation, the ministry, in other words, is everybody already is the expert.’  Think about that for a minute.  That is what people are into throughout world history. It’s what they’re into today. When America runs into a problem, we got all the God talk.  Let’s pray to God.  What God are they talking about?  How are they approaching God?  Why don’t those subjects come up?  Because most people are trying to approach God and get to God through their own paths.  And their own paths, as is early as Genesis 4, has no validity to God Himself.  God says, ‘If you want to come to Me, and I want you to come to Me, you have to come through My path because My nature is holy, and I must punish sin.  And if I’m not punishing you for sin, I will pour out My wrath on an innocent scapegoat, and only after that blood is shed and you come to Me through that path, will I accept you.’

I don’t care how much God talk is in the culture and how much spirituality people are into.  The fact of the matter is, if people, as fallen human beings, don’t come to God the Father through the shed blood of God the Son, they’re not coming.  Now, they may get upset with that.  And if they do, they can go sit in the corner with Cain.  It doesn’t matter how angry or how upset they get, it’s an immutable law.  God creates immutable laws which human beings do not have the right or the ability to alter or change whenever they want.  You may not like the law of gravity, and you might rebel against the law of gravity, but it’s still a law.  This idea that you come to God through the shed blood of an innocent sacrifice is a law.  It’s a law we can’t necessarily see.  It’s a spiritual law. And you can’t circumvent that any more than you can suspend or circumvent the law of gravity.

You know, if the Bible is clear on anything, it’s salvation is found in Jesus Christ.  If the Bible is not clear on that, I don’t know what it’s clear on.

In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the [definite article], the way, and the truth, and the life…” and that would be enough.  But then He makes it as clear as it can be made when He says, “no one comes to the Father except through Me.”  Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name…” [notice the name of Christ is important] “…there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must…” [which we must— in other words, this is essential] ”which we must be saved.”

In 1 Timothy 2:5 it says, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,…”  Who else could bridge the gap between a holy God and fallen man but the God Man?  And the last time I checked, there was only one of those, beginning with the virgin conception of Christ where humanity was added to eternally existent deity, Jesus Christ, hypostatic union, incarnation, 100% God; 100% man.  ‘But I just want to come to God my own path.‘  You can’t.  Because you’re coming to God through someone that’s not the God Man.  Only the God man could bridge the gap between God and man.  Matthew 7:13-14, ”Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few that find it.”

In fact, if human beings think they can get to God the Father through another avenue other than through faith alone in Christ alone, God the Son and His shed blood, they’re insulting God. They’re actually insulting Jesus Christ, because what in essence they’re saying is, ‘Gee, Jesus, I sure appreciate the crown of thorns on Your head.  And I sure appreciate the fact that You were beaten within an inch of Your life with 39 lashes from the whip.  And I sure appreciate the nails thrust into Your hands and feet.  And I appreciate the fact that the sword was thrust into Your side.  And I appreciate all the agony You went through.  But You know what?  I think I’m fine without it.  And I can get to God without it.’

Folks, if you can get to God without it, why did Jesus do all of that?  The sacrifice of Christ would be unnecessary.

Galatians 2:21, the Apostle Paul says, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law…” [in other words, if I could get to God through the Law, if I could get to God through obedience to the Law] …if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.“  If obedience to the Law makes you right with Christ and right with God, the Father, then why did Jesus step out of eternity into time to die such a horrific death in our place?   It does disturb me to to listen to people; it just so glibly just rolls off their tongue.  ‘There are many ways to God.  The only thing that matters is your sincerity,’ not ever thinking through what they’re saying.  They’re just chipping away, chiseling away, marginalizing the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The whole thing is unneeded if salvation can be accomplished a different way.

Cain did not come the way God said.  Abel did.  Cain came through religion.  Abel came through the flocks’ blood, sacrifice, one man’s offering is accepted, the other one is rejected.  And you would think that Cain being in that circumstance, would humble himself before the LORD and say, ‘What do I got to do to get right with You?‘  That’s not what the rest of this verse says.

We move away from the two offerings to the angry premeditation, 4:5, second part of the verse. “So Cain became… [now notice this: not just angry, but]… “very angry and his countenance fell.”  In other words, his whole demeanor now was different.  “Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry?  And why has your countenance fallen?  If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Cain didn’t just get angry.  He got very angry to the point where he began to, in his fallen state, ruminate on thoughts he shouldn’t have been ruminating on, such as the destruction of his own brother.  I mean, ‘I worked hard on my offering and it was beautifully arranged, and I was using my skill set, and his is accepted, and mine is rejected.‘  Rather than humbling himself, you can see here God giving him the opportunity to change.  He doesn’t.  And this is very important because this is what religion always does to grace.  Religion will always persecute grace.  You see this very, very fast developing in the book of Genesis through the birth of Ishmael, the child born of works and plotting, as we’ll see later in the book of Genesis, and the birth of Isaac, the child born of faith and waiting upon the Lord.

As those two children grew, Genesis 21:8-10, what you find is Ishmael ridiculing or persecuting Isaac.  And Paul, in the book of Galatians 4:28-31, will develop from that an entire allegory about how grace and religion don’t get along.  In fact, the aggressors against grace are the religionists.  That’s why Paul says in the book of Galatians 4, “CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SON,…” Get religion out because religion will always end up persecuting grace.  You know, it’s very interesting, Jesus seemed to get along with almost everybody.  Even the prostitutes and the tax gatherers, you see a very meek and mild Jesus until He starts interacting with the Pharisees, the religionists of the day.  And you’ll see Jesus saying some of the most horrific things a human being could utter, Matthew 23, against the religionists.

Read the book of Acts, the infant church; believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Who is coming over and over again against that infant church in the book of Acts?  It’s unbelieving Israel.  The religious leaders, in this case, the Sadducees.  Well, who are the Sadducees?  The Sadducees were always sad, you see, because that’s what religion does to people. It puts them on a perpetual treadmill of good works, never giving them assurance of salvation.

In fact, Jesus said something very interesting in the upper room as He was sending out His disciples.  He said this in John 16:2, ”They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering a service to God.”  The crowd of religion will persecute the crowd of grace, thinking that they’re actually rendering service to God.  This is what the rest of the New Testament reveals is the way of Cain in Jude 11; this animosity between people of works and people of grace.  By the way, you want to find yourself negatively referred to on social media.  Here’s how you do it.  You say that salvation is a free gift that man can’t earn, and it comes through faith alone, in Christ alone.   And that in and of itself saves you, period.  You watch the religious crowd go to work on you with their ‘buts’.  They stick their buts in the way.  ‘But you got to have good works on the back end.  But there’s got to be contrition.  But this, but that.  But you better have a good prayer life.’  What are they doing?  They’re inserting all of their works into the process, is what they’re doing.  You stand for grace, and you’re on the enemies list of a lot of people.

And so you look here at 4:5-7, where Cain is getting angry, and God says something there in 4:7, He says, “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door and its desire is for you, but you must master it.“  Remember the Genesis 3:16 tie in?  How Genesis 4:7 with the same Hebrew word ‘desire’ is laid out semantically like the marriage difficulty passage in Genesis 3:16?

What is sin personified as doing here. Wanting to control Cain. You talk about anger management?  ‘You better get this under control,’ God says, ’because if you don’t; if you don’t master it, it is going to master you.’  And because those two verses are laid out semantically the same way, that’s an explanation for the difficulty in marriage, because the woman will desire her husband, desire, meaning wanting to control him.  That’s feminism.  The man is going to react to that, resent it, and trample down his wife and not treat her as the fragile base that she deserves to be treated as—that is chauvinism.  And because the fall of man happened, let the battle of the sexes begin as we explained in Genesis 3:16.

Sin has not just affected our relationship to God, it’s affected our relationship to each other right in the marriage.  And you better start walking out in your marriage.  Ephesians 5:22-33, because that’s the only formula you have anywhere on how to overcome our natural tendencies toward chauvinism or our natural tendencies towards feminism.  The man has to love his wife as Christ loved the church.  That’s your answer to chauvinism.  The woman must submit and respect her husband.  That’s the answer to feminism.  And the power struggle in marriage is there because it’s semantically parallel to Genesis 4:7, which in Hebrew is describing the exact same power struggle.  ‘Cain, you’re in a power struggle right now.  There’s a war going on for your mind. And if you don’t control the anger because the anger is trying to control you, you are going to do something that you didn’t want to do.  And in fact, you are going to be the seed of the serpent because Satan is going to use you in his feeble attempt to stop the birth of the Messiah.’

There is an awful lot in the Bible about controlling anger, isn’t there?  Jesus said in Matthew 5:21-22, ‘If you’re unjustifiably angry with your brother, you’re already a murderer.’  Ephesians 4:26 says, “BE ANGRY AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, lest you give the devil a foothold.’

I had a pastor that put it this way:  private thoughts will quickly lead to public actions.  This power struggle—you’ve  got to get control of it now.  God says to Cain, ‘it’s trying to overpower you.  And if you don’t overpower it, it will overpower you.  And you’re about to do something that you’ll regret for the rest of your life.  And in fact, Satan is going to use you to try to stop the birth of the Messiah.’

Thomas Jefferson—this is what impressed him about the teachings of Jesus.  He said, “My views…are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from the anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions.  To the corruptions of Christianity, I am indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus Himself.  I am a Christian in the only sense in which He wished any one to be; sincerely attached to His doctrines in preference to all others…” His system of morals…if filled up in the style and spirit of the rich fragments He left us, would be the most perfect and sublime that has ever been taught by man…”  Why is that end of the quote?

“He Jesus pushed his scrutinies into the heart of man; erected his tribunal in the region of his thoughts, and purified the waters at the fountainhead.”

Jefferson says, ‘I’ve been I’ve done a lifelong inquiry of philosophers and Jesus is different.  You know why He is different?  Because He put his morals into the mind.  He put His morals into the heart.  This is what the Sermon on the Mount is about.  This is what Cain is being exhorted here to control—control the emotions; control what’s happening in your mind, because private thoughts will lead to public actions.

An awful lot of Bible about controlling our thoughts, isn’t there?  Second Corinthians 10:5 says, “…we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”  Are you doing that?

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, [your heart], For from it flow the spring the springs of life.”

What are we thinking about?  Psalm 1:3, Joshua 1:8:  We should meditate on His Word.  How frequently?  Day and night.  You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head.  But you can certainly prevent them from building a nest in your hair.

We all have bad and negative thoughts.  The issue is what are we doing with those thoughts?  What are we ruminating on?  Because private thoughts eventually are going to lead to public actions.  I think of some of the greatest and biggest murder cases in the history of the world.  I think of O.J. Simpson; I think of the anger that he was going through, sand how if he had simply read Genesis 4:7 and put it to practice how his whole life today would be different.  And certainly the lives of the victims would be intact even today.

This is what God is challenging Cain to do.  But concluding here, Cain unfortunately, doesn’t listen.  Look at 4:8, “Cain told Abel, his brother.  And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” Clear first degree murder.  Clear premeditation.  Those involved in criminal law will tell you that for a crime, you have to have a mens rea mental state, Latin.  And then you have to have what’s called actus reues.  The act must accompany the mental state.   We’re no longer dealing here with a mental state.  The mental state could have been subdued, but Cain didn’t subdue it.   Mens rea led to actus reues.  And here you have fratricide.  One brother murders another, the ramifications of living in a fallen world.  Now, let me show you what’s really going on here.  What’s really going on here is Genesis 3:15.

You can’t understand Genesis 4 until you read Genesis 3.  Amen.  And what did God say?  “And I will put enmity between you and the woman And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise Him on the heel.”  There’s coming One from the seed of the woman, or Eve who will crush the serpent’s head.  But the serpent is going to be allowed to bruise the heel in the process and inflict a lot of temporary casualties and damage.  And that’s what Cain just got used for.

‘Do not let the sun go down on your anger lest you give Satan a foothold.’  He did not follow such an exhortation, so he yielded to anger.  And he became an unwitting tool in the hands of the Messiah to prevent the birth of Jesus Christ.

There’s One coming, and Satan probably reasoned to himself that He’s coming through Abel because Abel’s sacrifice was accepted; Cain’s was rejected.  Abel is the godly one.  So Satan probably thought to himself, ‘Gosh, the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 is not going to be through Cain, which was Eve’s mistake, but it’s going to be through Abel.  So I will plant a seed into Cain’s thoughts, and he’s vulnerable here because he’s angry already.  And I’ll get Cain to murder Abel, and I will stop Genesis 3:15 from ever happening so that my head won’t be crushed.’

‘Well, gee, Andy, you’re reading way too much into the passage.‘  Am I?   What do you do with 1 John 3:12 which says, ”…not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother.”  Satan can’t just come into Cain’s life and control him.  But he can take whatever ground Cain will yield. And he will use Cain for a satanic agenda that Cain himself probably didn’t even understand he was accomplishing and he was fulfilling—that’s the bruising of the heel.  Cain murders Abel.  Why does Cain murder Abel?   The answer is the bruising of the heel, Genesis 3:15, in a satanic attempt to stop the birth of the Messiah that Satan reasoned at this point is coming through Abel’s lineage.  And that’s just round one.

In Genesis 6, Satan is going to tamper with the pre-flood gene pool.  Why would he do that? Same reason.  To so tamper with the genetics of the human race so that a Messiah who must be fully God and fully man can’t be born.  Let’s create a race of people that aren’t fully human. They’re partly angelic and partly human—the Nephilim.  Why is that happening?  It’s another example of the bruising of the heel.

What about Christmas time, as we’re coming up to, Herod starts to exterminate the new the young male infants that were innocent in Bethlehem.  Why is he doing that?  It’s another outworking of this conflict.  Revelation 12:4 says it’s the dragon or Satan that was prompting Herod to do this.

‘I don’t know about you, Pastor Woods.  I think you’re half crazy.’  Well, take a number and get in line.   That’s why I like to read people and show you the quotes of people that are much more respected and well known than myself to show you that I’m going down a path here that’s very well-worn and common in theological circles.

Renald Showers writes, “SATAN WAS PRESENT IN EDEN TO hear God’s first promise of the coming Redeemer.  He realized that it would be fatal for him and his cause if the Redeemer were to come.  Thus, Satan’s primary goal throughout Old Testament history became the prevention of the Redeemer’s coming.  Sometime after Adam and Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel, it became evident that one son was godly in attitude and that the other was ungodly. Evidently, Abel’s godly attitude convinced Satan that Abel was either the Redeemer or the one through whose line of descent the Redeemer would come.  Thus it became imperative to Satan to get rid of Abel.  Inasmuch as Cain already was controlled by a religious angry attitude, it didn’t take much to prompt him to kill his brother (Genesis 4:1-8).  That Satan was involved in Cain’s slaying of his brother was made evident in 1 John 3:10-12. Because of Satan’s involvement Christ stated that the devil ‘was a murderer from the beginning’ (John 8:44).  Thus, the first murder in history was committed because of Satan’s goal to prevent the Redeemer’s coming.’”

That’s what I’ve taken an hour or more to try to explain.  But here’s what’s interesting:  is every Satanic attempt to stop the birth of the Messiah, God gets around it.  God is sovereign.

So who is going to replace Abel?  A man named Seth, their third-born.  And God will continue the Messianic lineage through Seth.

What about Genesis 6, where God is, or Satan, I should say, is corrupting the pre-flood gene pool, and the whole earth was being contaminated by this angelic incursion?  It looks very dark. It looks very bleak, but God gets around it through a man named Noah, whose genes were uncorrupted.  That’s why he’s called blameless and innocent, and eight—Noah and Mrs. Noah, Ham, Shem and Japheth, and their respective wives are tucked safely and securely in the ark while God brings judgment on that pre-flood world. And God, in the post-flood world, continues the lineage through one of those sons named Shem.   So no matter how bleak it gets in this conflict, God always gets around it.  And your whole Bible is an outworking of Genesis 3:15–the ultimate crushing of the head of the serpent, but the serpent is going to cause a lot of trouble along the way.

And when we get together next week, we’ll be talking about the punishment that is imposed upon Cain.  You know, it’s interesting, as we’re talking about seed of the woman, seed of the serpent, the thing to understand is that you’re either on one side or the other.  Have you noticed that?  You’re either with Satan’s team or you’re with Jesus’ team.  There isn’t any real middle ground that I see.

And how do you get on the right team?  You get on the right team by accepting the gospel.  The gospel is good news.  Why is it good news?  Because Jesus did everything in our place.  That’s why it’s good news.  And if we simply accept or trust what Jesus did in our place 2000 years ago, we’re on the right side.

And so our exhortation for people that are listening or maybe listening online is to trust in Christ and Christ alone for salvation so they can find themselves on the winning side.  If it’s something you need more information on, I’m available after the service to talk.

Shall we pray?  Father, we’re grateful for this conflict and how it’s described to us and explained to us.  We so much, Father, want to be on the right team.  So help people, Lord, even as I’m speaking, to trust in You and You alone for salvation so that we can be the great victors and have those words that the Apostle Paul spoke, apply to us, That the time will come, Romans 16, when God will soon crush Satan beneath our feet.  We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…