|Topical Bible Study||January 1955|
The People of the Bible—Article I
Our First Parents and Their Family
THE Bible contains a revelation of God’s plan of redemption from sin for fallen man and his ultimate recovery from death at the close of the divinely promised messianic kingdom. The many personalities portrayed in the Bible are vitally associated with the revelation of that plan. From one standpoint we might think of the divine plan of the ages as a great drama, of many parts, with the personalities of the Bible—both the righteous and the wicked—as actors therein. They are not actors, however, who played their roles without moral responsibility for what they did.
While our Creator and Heavenly Father has the ability to know in advance just what course his creatures will take, he has never interfered with their free moral agency. A proper understanding of the divine plan depends upon our faith in the fact that the Creator does possess such ability, and therefore is capable of causing all the actions of his creatures to work together for the accomplishment of his loving designs toward them, without the necessity of interfering with their freedom to follow the course of their own choosing.
With this proper appraisal of the superiority of God’s ability over our own, we open the first pages of the Bible with the view of becoming better acquainted with its personalities, and the first name we come to is Adam, and soon after, Eve, his wife. These two have become familiarly known to students of the Bible as “our first parents.” The first reference to them is in Genesis 1:26-28, although in this passage their names are not mentioned. In verse 26 the Lord is quoted as saying, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
The creation of man occurred toward the close of the sixth creative day.* The carboniferous qualities of the water and the atmosphere which existed before this, having been absorbed into the cretaceous organisms of the sea which formed beds of limestone, and into the rank vegetation which went to form the coal beds, the atmosphere of earth began to be sufficiently pure to permit breathing animals to live. As the carbon laden atmosphere became more pure, vegetation became less rank. The animals changed correspondingly. The heavy-boned sloth and mammal gave place to less bony varieties of animals common today.
*NOTE: See the booklet “Creation.”
The specialization in the case of man’s creation is shown in his vast superiority over the lower animals. He was created in the image of God—the highest type of animal being. The image of his Creator consisted in his moral and intellectual likeness. It is difficult to judge from present human conditions all that is meant by God’s “image,” because we have no examples of perfect humanity for comparison. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” in which Adam was created. (Ps. 8:5-8; Rom. 3:23) Sin and death have reigned, and the godlikeness has been lost.
We know, of course, that the image of the Creator in which man was created is not physical. In Isaiah 1:18 the Lord asks us to reason with him. This indicates that one aspect of the divine image in man is his ability to reason. The particular subject upon which the Lord invites us to reason is sin, and its opposite, righteousness. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” This suggests the ability to know the difference between right and wrong, and to appreciate the advantage of being right, or morally pure, in the sight of the Creator.
None other of God’s earthly creatures has a sense of moral uprightness and responsibility. All are, as the poet has expressed it, merely “dumb driven cattle.” This quality in man we call conscience, and rarely, if ever, except in the case of the morally degenerate and insane, do we find an individual who is not to some extent checked by his conscience from doing things which his physical desires might urge. This desire to do right, and to be right, is, we believe, another aspect of the divine image in which man was created.
An appreciation of the fine and beautiful things of nature indicates another sense in which man was created in the image of God. The eyes of man feast upon a beautiful landscape, upon the beauties of mountains, rivers and lakes, while a beast pays no attention to these beautiful surroundings. Nor do the lower animals have any love for music, as is the case with man.
When man, through the exercise of his senses, realizes to some extent the grandeur of the universe in which he lives, his heart instinctively goes out to his Creator in praise and adoration. He delights to bow down before him to thank him for his wisdom, power, and love, and to seek his guidance and blessing. Thus man is a worshiping creature, which we think is also a manifestation of the divine image in which he was created.
Given a Dominion
God commanded our first parents to multiply and fill the earth. Some English translations say to “replenish” the earth, but this is incorrect, the original Hebrew word here used means “fill.” There were no human beings before this, so the earth could not be “replenished.” The human family, under the headship of Adam, was given dominion of the earth, and over all the lower animals. The earth, then, was man’s domain, and in this domain he was to be king.
It is important, we think, that this point should be emphasized. So many mistakenly have the thought that the Creator’s intention for man was that the earth should be but a temporary abiding place, that in some mysterious way he was a spiritual being, limited temporarily to physical and earthly conditions, but destined ultimately to be freed from these fleshly shackles to spend eternity in a happier, spiritual world. This theory, like so many others which have been attached to the Bible, is but a figment of the imagination, for there is no hint of it in the Book of Genesis, nor, in fact, in any other part of the Bible.
Throughout the Bible every reference we find to man’s creation, and to the divine purpose in his creation, emphasizes the truth that his domain and eternal home was to be the earth. In a prayer to God, David wrote, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the sea.”—Ps. 8:4-8
It should be noted that the “all things” which were put under man, and thus made a part of his dominion, did not include the angels, but only those things which belong to the earth and are a part of God’s earthly creation. If we ignore this fundamental truth of the Bible, it will be impossible for us to understand the divine plan of redemption through Christ which provides for the recovery of the dominion which man lost because of disobedience to divine law. To those of the human race which will be restored to man’s original possession, Jesus tells us he will say, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom [or dominion] prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”—Matt. 25:34
When we turn from the first chapter of Genesis to the second, we find the details concerning the creation of our first parents. Some have misunderstood this, and have supposed those whose creation in the image of God is mentioned in the first chapter are not the same as the Adam and Eve of the second chapter. The Apostle Paul removes all doubt on this matter by referring to Adam as being the “first man.” (I Cor. 15:45,47) Moreover, Paul affirms the fact that the “first man” was of the earth, “earthy,” not a spiritual man, in contrast with the earthly man, Adam, as some have theorized.
The Creator, in the Book which reveals his purpose in the creation of man, properly sets forth in its opening chapter a brief summary of his creative work as it pertained to the earth, and shows that this planet was prepared to be the home of his human creation. It shows that they were commanded to multiply and fill the earth, and subdue it. Thus, in a few words, is shown the divine purpose concerning man. The next chapter begins the Bible’s detailed unfolding of the manner in which that purpose is accomplished.
A Living Soul
In order that we might have an important basic understanding of the nature of man, the second chapter of Genesis furnishes us with considerable detail concerning the manner in which Adam was created. Genesis 1:27 simply tells us that he was created, while Genesis 2:7 reveals how. The record is, “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
This is the first time the word “soul” appears in the Bible. And how simple is the Lord’s definition of what a human soul really is! It consists of two component parts—the body, and the breath of life. The body itself is not the soul, neither is the breath of life the soul. It was not until the two were united by divine power that “man became a living soul.”
First the body was created. All its organs were perfect. It had a perfect heart but it did not beat, and lungs which did not move. The eyes in that body were perfect, but they could not see, nor could its ears hear. Its legs were motionless and its arms lay limp at its sides. Its brain and nerves were perfectly coordinate, but not a single impulse was communicated to that brain, nor was the brain itself capable of receiving or registering a single thought.
Not until God breathed into that body the “breath of life,” forcing the lungs into action, the heart to beating, and the blood circulating, did its nerves wake up and the brain function. That which, although perfect, was dead, began to live—“Man became a living soul.” In the marginal translation of chapter 1, verse 30, the expression, “living soul,” is applied to the lower forms of earthly creatures. The expression does not mean an “immortal soul” but simply a living creature—a creature made alive by the wisdom and power of the Creator who knew just how to combine a fleshly organism with the “breath of life” to make it live.
Science has never been able, nor will it ever be able, to discover this secret of life. God’s power manifests itself in all earthly creation, animate and inanimate. Scientists can formulate the equivalent of a grain of wheat, but it will not germinate and grow. In a cave in southern England, which a thousand or more years ago was an underground river bed, delicately beautiful ferns are now growing from seeds deposited in the crevices of the rocks when the river was flowing through the cavern. After being there centuries in the darkness, these seeds germinated when the beams of ultraviolet ray lamps were focused upon them.
In breathing creatures—whether it be man, or the lower animals—the life principle is conveyed to the blood stream through their lungs. Hence it is called the breath of life, and when the breath of life was forced into Adam’s lungs and they began to function, he became a living soul. At once, all his five senses began to function, and by sight, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling, ideas began to be formulated in his perfect brain which, in turn, began to direct the activities of his body.
A Perfect Home
“And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” (Gen. 2:8) What a wonderful home this was for Adam! In the garden was everything “that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food.” (vs. 9) It was not a provision merely to keep the first man alive. In addition, the Creator wanted him to enjoy life, for Adam was created with a capacity for appreciating the beautiful things with which he was surrounded.
In the “midst of the garden” there was the “tree of life.” Here the Hebrew word translated “tree” literally means “wood,” and need not be limited to a single tree. All the fruit and nut-bearing trees of the garden were in reality trees of life—trees, that is, which provided the necessary nourishment to sustain life. The “tree of life” specially mentioned possibly bore a fruit which was a necessary complement to the other food of the garden to provide a balanced diet which, so long as it was available, would sustain life indefinitely.
Then there was “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” God “commanded” that Adam might eat of every tree of the garden except this one; and he attached a severe penalty for disobedience to this command—“In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” (vss. 16,17) It is unimportant that we know just what variety of fruit grew on the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” It was merely that God chose this method of placing a test of obedience upon our first parents.
The Lord knew that it was “not good that the man should be alone.” (vs. 18) But, in order that Adam might also be brought to a realization of this, the Lord arranged that he should familiarize himself with all the animals previously created, and give them names. In this way he learned that none of them was suitable as a “helpmeet for him.”—vs. 20
Then it was that Eve was created. God’s method of accomplishing this was unique. A portion of Adam’s own body was used, so that in reality Eve was merely a part of Adam separated from him for a special purpose—for the propagation of the human race. Adam possessed originally in his own person the masculine and feminine qualities which subsequently were divided between him and his wife, when she was taken from his side.—Gen. 2:21-23; I Cor. 11:8
Adam, who found no congenial companionship among the beasts and the birds, now had Eve as his mate—bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. Their very difference of quality made them the more companionable to each other, because each found in the other the desired complement. They twain were one, and neither was complete without the other.
Some time after mother Eve was created, Satan used the serpent to deceive her asking if it were true that God had told Adam they would die if they partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She affirmed that this was true, then Satan said to her, “Ye shall not surely die.” (Gen. 3:4) This, doubtless, cast a doubt in her mind as to the integrity of God, and opened the way for her disobedience.
Satan continued to cast doubt in her mind concerning God, implying that he had a selfish motive in not wanting them to partake of the forbidden fruit. “For God doth know,” he said, “that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:5) The word “gods” is here a translation of a Hebrew word which simply means mighty ones, and the reference evidently is to the spiritual creatures of the universe, of which Satan himself was one.
It eventuated that in this statement Satan told the truth, and thus is demonstrated his great deceptive powers through the use of part truth and part error. After Adam and Eve had both partaken of the forbidden fruit, “the Lord said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.” (Gen. 3:22) Those in the various orders of angelic creation had doubtless already observed Lucifer’s deflection from righteousness, so from observation would now know something of the operation of the principle of evil; and from the time of their creation they had been blessed through the operation of the principle of good, of righteousness.
Satan, of course, was one of the “gods” in the spirit world, and he had already become a sinner, and would know good and evil by experience. It is possible that the statement, “one of us,” is a reference to him in particular. It was because our first parents had become “like one of us” that the divine penalty of death was enforced upon them.
In the New Testament we are informed that Adam was not deceived. (I Tim. 2:14) But Eve was. Her disobedience therefore was not wholly willful. Under the influence of Satan’s reasoning, she evidently concluded that God had forbidden the use of the very best tree in Eden. Her conclusion may have been that God had a selfish motive in forbidding the use of this fruit, that he feared his creatures would become as wise as he.
Eve did not mention these thoughts to her husband. She decided to partake of the forbidden fruit, acquire the knowledge God was withholding, and then influence Adam to partake with her. He realized the seriousness of his wife’s disobedience, and probably thought of the long days before he had her companionship. Now, he concluded, he would be lonely again. Seemingly, it was in desperation that Adam joined Eve in the transgression, fully aware of the penalty.
The decrees of God must stand, whether it be his promise of eternal life or his sentence of death. He had given warning that partaking of the forbidden fruit would lead to the death penalty, and it did. A more correct translation of the penalty as God pronounced it upon Adam, would read, “Dying thou shalt die.” (Gen. 2:17, margin) This suggests a long period of dying, which actually was the case. Adam did not die instantly, but, as the record shows, lived 930 years. This length of life seems incredible to us today, but we must remember that Adam was created perfect, whereas today his descendants have been on the downhill road of sin, sickness, and death for more than six thousand years. Members of the human race now can offer little resistance to the seeds of death which are constantly working in them, so that those who live as long as a hundred years are exceptions to the rule.
It would seem that almost immediately upon partaking of the forbidden fruit Adam and Eve began to suffer serious consequences. They hid themselves, and acknowledged to God that they were “afraid.” Fear is one of the manifestations of sin. It has haunted the lives of countless millions throughout the centuries. Our first parents were afraid of God because they had discovered their nakedness. They knew before that they were naked, but in their innocence and purity it had seemed all right.
First, they provided coverings for themselves with leaves. Later, the Lord provided them with coverings made from skins of animals. Bible students see in this, first a symbol of man’s own need of a covering for sin, and then the provision which God has made through Christ to cover his people with the “robe of righteousness,” a covering which was provided through the shedding of blood, as typified by the necessary slaying of animals to furnish our first parents with adequate covering.—Gen. 3:7,21
The Penalty Falls
When questioned, Adam explained, “The woman whom thou gayest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” The woman, in turn, said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” Adam could not escape the responsibility of his own sin. Eve was also blameworthy, so they both came under the penalty which led to death.*
*NOTE: For a detailed discussion of Satan’s part in what occurred in Eden, the penalty which came upon him, his activities throughout the ages, and his final end, see the booklet, “Your Adversary the Devil.”
“Unto the woman he [God] said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children.” The penalty upon Adam was, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”—Gen. 3:16-19
In order that this penalty might be carried out, God expelled our first parents from the garden home he provided for them. They were driven into the unprepared earth to die. Verse 22 indicates that had they been allowed to remain in the garden and to have had access to the tree, or trees of life, they would have remained alive. We are not to suppose that to partake of the tree of life just once would have had such a magic effect upon their organisms that they would not have died. The thought is, rather, that to have daily access to the life-giving trees of the garden would have continued to sustain their lives.
In pronouncing sentence upon the “serpent,” the Lord spoke of a “seed,” the seed of the woman, which, he said, would one day “bruise” the “serpent’s” head, and that the “seed” of the serpent would bruise the “heel” of the seed of the woman. God also said that he would place enmity between these two “seeds.” Doubtless our first parents heard this statement, or would know about it, and it constituted for them their only ray of hope that the great tragedy to which their sin had led would, in God’s due time, in some way be rectified.
As the plan of God unfolds from book to book of the Bible, we learn the manner in which the divine sentence of death is set aside and, as a result, Adam and his race given an opportunity to gain eternal life and have their lost home and dominion restored to them. This wonderful plan of God calls for a resurrection of the dead. Paul explains, “Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”—I Cor. 15:21,22
And, as hinted by the Lord in Eden, this plan of salvation will be carried out through a “seed.” This thought is enlarged upon in a promise God later made to Abraham that through his “seed” all the families of the earth will be blessed. (Gen. 12:3; 22:18) In Galatians 3:16 Paul explains that the “seed” promised to Abraham was in reality Christ, the Messiah, and in verses 27-29 of the same chapter he gives the additional information that the true followers of Jesus, those who suffer and die with him, are also considered a part of that promised “seed,” “and heirs according to the promise.”
Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees of his day who were opposing him, and who plotted against his life, that they were of their “father the Devil.” (John 8:44) This indicates that the “seed” of the “serpent” mentioned by the Lord comprises those who, throughout the ages, have persecuted the true people of God. This spirit of persecution on the part of the Adversary’s agents has furnished an opportunity for God’s true people to prove their fidelity to him at the cost of suffering. The prophecies of the Bible refer to this suffering and the glory to which it leads, describing it as the “sufferings of Christ.” (I Pet. 1:11) Paul wrote, “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him.”—II Tim. 2:11,12
The purpose of the kingdom in which Christ and his true followers will reign together is the restoration of the human race to life on the earth, and the crushing out of all sin, and finally the destruction of the Devil himself. Paul wrote that the “God of peace” would “bruise” Satan under the feet of the Christ “shortly”; that is, in his due time. (Rom. 16:20) Paul also wrote that Christ will reign “till he hath put all enemies under his feet; the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”—I Cor. 15:25,26
Cain and Abel
It was after Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden to die that their first children were born to them. Perhaps it was because of the Lord’s statement pertaining to a “seed” that when Cain was born Eve said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” (Gen. 4:1) Soon after this, apparently, Abel was born. These two are among the best known characters of the Bible, but there is a great deal of misunderstanding concerning them.
It has been erroneously supposed that Cain and Abel, and later Seth, were Adam and Eve’s only children, hence the question which is so often asked, “Where did Cain get his wife?” From Genesis 5:4 we learn that throughout the hundreds of years of his life sons and daughters continued to be born to Adam. Some of these daughters were probably born either before or soon after Cain and Abel. Indeed Eve’s remark when Cain was born—“I have gotten a man from the Lord,” in addition to reflecting confidence in the Lord’s promise concerning a “seed,” might also indicate joy over the birth of a son, rather than daughters as her previous children may have been.
In the Genesis record of the pre-Flood era of human experience, few women are mentioned by name. Nor are we to assume that all the men of that period are mentioned in the biblical record, but rather, only those related directly or indirectly to the unfolding of one or another aspect of God’s plan of redemption and recovery from the curse of sin and death.
It is for this reason that the two names, Cain and Abel, appear in the narrative. Our first parents had sinned, bringing upon themselves and upon their offspring the penalty of death. But God’s statement concerning the “seed” which was to “bruise” the “serpent’s” head implied that something was to be done about this penalty. Yet this could not be unless the sin which led to their sentence was in some way remitted. So, having vaguely indicated his loving intentions toward his human but fallen creatures, God began to illustrate the manner in which they would be carried out, that it would be through the remission of sin based upon the shedding of blood. In both the Old and New Testaments this is clearly stated.—Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22
We are informed that “Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” (Gen. 4:2) These two offered sacrifices to the Lord. “Cain brought of the fruit of the ground,” while Abel “brought of the firstlings of his flock.” (vss. 3,4) The Lord accepted Abel’s offering but did not accept Cain’s. In the New Testament we read that “by faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” (Heb. 11:4) It was more “excellent” because it was a flesh and blood sacrifice which pointed forward to the shed blood of Jesus by means of which reconciliation is provided for Adam and all who were condemned in him. John the Baptist said concerning Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) In Revelation 5:6,13 Jesus is referred to as the “Lamb as it had been slain.”
Thus, having indicated in his statement concerning the “seed” which would “bruise” the serpent’s head that the penalty of death would in some way be set aside, God began to illustrate the manner in which it would be done—that it would be through the shedding of blood, or the sacrifice of life. And it was God’s own dear Son who sacrificed his life for this purpose. It was Jesus who became the “propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”—I John 2:2
The First Murderer
Cain resented the fact that his offering was rejected by the Lord, while his brother Abel’s was accepted. Instead of inquiring as to the reason for this in order that he might himself offer an acceptable sacrifice he allowed anger, malice, and hatred to burn in his heart; and when the opportunity offered, he slew his brother. God said to Cain, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”—Gen. 4:7
When Eve said at the birth of Cain, “I have gotten a man from the Lord,” it may have indicated her belief that Cain was the promised “seed” which would “bruise” the serpent’s head. If so, she doubtless had communicated this belief to Cain, and this could well have been the cause of his jealousy when Abel’s sacrifice was accepted instead of his own. Actually, of course, neither Cain nor Abel was to be the promised “seed,” for this promise was to be fulfilled through Christ. God explained to Cain that if he offered the proper sacrifice it would also be accepted. But the Lord added. “If thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” This indicates the nearness of temptation to assert his own will in the matter. Perhaps he was determined that he would be the “man from the Lord,” the ruler, even if it were necessary to murder his rival, which he did.
After this crime had been committed, the Lord spoke to Cain again and asked, “Where is Abel thy brother?” to which Cain replied, “I know not,” adding those well-known words, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” God knew, of course, what had happened and said to Cain, “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” (Gen. 4:9,10) Every injustice cries to God for justice, and in the outworking of the divine plan for the recovery of mankind from sin and death there will be a full balancing of the scales. All the guilty will be justly punished, and those who have unjustly suffered will receive adequate compensation.
The record states that God placed a “mark” upon Cain, so that despite his wrongdoing those who found him would not slay him. There has been much speculation as to what this “mark” may have been. Seemingly there is no way of knowing, as yet at least, just what it might have been, and it is wise not to speculate concerning the things we do not know with some degree of certainty.
The record speaks of Cain’s wife, and their children, and of the fact that he built a city in the land of Nod. His wife could have been none other than one of his many sisters. The marriage of brother and sister, when both were so near to the original perfection in which Adam and Eve were created, would result in no serious consequences to their offspring as such a marriage would today.
Among the. descendants of Cain was Jubal, “the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.” (Gen. 4:21) This indicates that from the beginning the human family has had an appreciation of music, and the ability even to make musical instruments. This, we think, reflects one aspect of the image of God in which man was created.
Another descendant of Cain was Tubal-cain, “an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron.” Here, then, was the first metallurgist. The people of that early time were not dull and brutish, but intelligent and refined, enjoying the basic arts which have been the foundations of civilizations from the very beginning.
Besides, while apparently no formal code of laws had been developed, being created in the image of God, the people were guided by their conscience and knew the difference between right and wrong. Lamech, the father of Jubal and Tubal-cain, said to his wives, “I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.” (Gen. 4:23,24) Lamech’s conscience accused him of the sin he had committed.
The First Martyr
Abel has the distinction of being the first martyr, the first to suffer because of the “enmity” between the “seed” of the woman and the “seed” of the serpent. Satan did not then know that the real seed of promise would be Jesus, so he set upon the task to persecute and destroy all those upon whom he saw the favor of God manifested; and we may safely assume that he played a major part in stirring up Cain’s jealousy to the point where he would murder his brother.
Jesus and the apostles received their persecution chiefly from their Jewish brethren. Similarly, during the entire age since, Christians have suffered martyrdom at the hands of so-called fellow Christians. Thus the Scriptures foretold, saying, “Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.”—Isa. 66:5
The first death in Adam’s family must have cast a great shadow. The hope centered in the divine promise that the “seed” of the woman would “bruise” the “serpent’s head” was temporarily snuffed out. Somewhat later on, Seth was born. His name indicates that his parents hoped that he would be the man promised by the Lord. They did not know that the promised One would be the Messiah, who would come long afterward, and for whose work the world still waits.
It is undoubtedly fortunate for the human race that we cannot enter deeply into the sorrows and difficulties of others, except the few who are near and dear to us. Each individual, each family, has as large a measure of sorrow as it can bear. The poet, realizing the folly of unrestrained grief, has well said:
“Go bury thy sorrow,
The world has its share;
Go bury it deeply,
Go hide it with care.”
However, our experience with sin and its penalty, death, should make us all sympathetic. We should do nothing to add to the sorrows of others, but everything we can to comfort them. The very best thing we can do is to point to the promises of God concerning the time coming when there shall be no more sorrow, no more dying, no more pain; when, as we read in Revelation 21:4,5, the “former things” shall have passed away, and when “all things” shall be made new.
Length of the First World
Many do not realize what an accurate record of time is given to us in the Bible. Through the descendants of Seth, the third mentioned son of Adam, we are furnished with the exact number of years from Adam’s creation to the Flood. Nearly all this information is contained in the fifth chapter of Genesis, and may be set forth simply as follows:
|“Adam lived 130 years, and begat a son … and called his name Seth.”—vs. 3||130||years|
|“Seth lived 105 years, and begat Enos.”—vs. 6||105||”|
|“Enos lived 90 years, and begat Cainan.”—vs. 9||90||”|
|“Cainan lived 70 years, and begat Mahalaleel.”—vs. 12||70||”|
|“Mahalaleel lived 65 years, and begat Jared.”—vs. 15||65||”|
|“Jared lived 162 years, and begat Enoch.”—vs. 18||162||”|
|“Enoch lived 65 years, and begat Methuselah.”—vs. 21||65||”|
|“Methuselah lived 187 years, and begat Lamech.”—vs. 25||187||”|
|“Lamech lived 182 years, and begat a son, and he called his name Noah.”—vss. 28,29||182||”|
|“Noah was 600 years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.”—Gen.7:6||600||”|
|Total from the creation of Adam to the day the waters of the Flood were dried up.—Gen. 8:13||1,656||”|
Among these names, Methuselah is well known to many as being the man who lived longer than any other. He died at the age of 969 years, which, according to the above chronology of that period, meant that he died in the year that the Flood came, possibly being destroyed in the Flood. (Gen. 5:27) A careful study of the fifth chapter of Genesis reveals that Adam lived more than 200 years after Methuselah was born, and 56 years after the birth of Lamech, the father of Noah.
Since the entire population of the pre-Flood world doubtless also lived extraordinarily long lives, and since the population was small, they must have been well acquainted with one another, and all doubtless knew the facts concerning creation as related to them by Adam. Without doubt they all spoke the same language, which would be the language Adam received from his Creator.
Enoch, “the seventh from Adam” is one of the few between Adam and Noah concerning whom we have information, and that is scanty. The Apostle Jude tells us that Enoch was a prophet, quoting him as saying, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”—Jude 14,15
The expression, “ten thousands of his saints,” would be more correctly translated to read, “myriads of his saints.” Enoch’s prophecy refers to the great judgment and kingdom work of Christ and his church. Jude said that then the ungodly would be convinced of their ungodly deeds, while the Prophet Isaiah says that when the judgments of the Lord are in the earth “the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” (Isa. 26:9) Those who then obey the righteous laws of God which they learn will be restored to perfection as human beings, and live forever.
In Hebrews 11:5,6 the apostle informs us that Enoch “had this testimony, that he pleased God.” He also explains that “Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him.” According to Prof. Strong, the Greek word here rendered “translated” literally means to “transfer,” or to “transport.” In other texts it is rendered “carry over,” “change,” “removed,” and “turn.” It will be seen from these various uses of the word that it does not, in itself, indicate that Enoch did not die.
The Old Testament record simply is that “Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Gen. 5:24) In Jeremiah 31:15 we read concerning certain children who had died, that “they were not.” Concerning the Sodomites, we read that God “took them away as he saw good.” (Ezek. 16:50) Both of the expressions used in Genesis 5:24, therefore, are used in the Bible to denote death.
Paul says that Enoch was “translated,” or “removed,” that he should not “see” death. This does not necessarily imply that he did not experience death. The population of the earth was small in those days, with everyone living for hundreds of years. It is quite possible that God’s reward to Enoch for his faithful devotion was in allowing him to die suddenly, perhaps in his sleep, and perhaps also before he had seen the horrors of death as experienced by others.
This seems a logical explanation of what happened to Enoch, although we do not doubt God’s power to keep him alive in some unknown place. Jesus said that no man had ascended into heaven, so we know that Enoch was not taken there. In any case, the language used concerning him does not prove that all who have served the Lord throughout the ages have been taken to heaven when they died; nor does it prove that “there is no death,” as Satan implied to Eve when he said, “Ye shall not surely die.”—Gen. 3:4
Abel and Enoch are mentioned by the Apostle Paul in his list of the ancient worthies who will receive a “better resurrection.” They “all died in faith,” he explains, not having received the things which had been promised to them—“God having provided some better thing for us [the followers of Jesus], that they without us should not be made perfect.” (Heb. 11:35,40) Abel and Enoch will both be restored to life on the earth, and will take their place among the human representatives of the kingdom.
Then, also, Adam and all his descendants will be awakened from the sleep of death and given an opportunity to accept the offer of life provided through the redemptive work of Christ Jesus, the Head of the “seed” class, which is to “bruise,” or destroy, Satan, and bless all the families of the earth.
Our next article will deal with Noah and his family.