Genesis 4–7: Death & Evil

Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 2: Monday

Now the earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
Genesis 6:5–11 LSB

Today’s Bible reading, Genesis 4–7, spans the people and events from the aftermath of the Fall (Genesis 3) to Noah and the Flood. These chapters reveal the stark contrast between those who continually choose to do evil, and the few who call upon God.

The horrific story of Cain and Abel opens Genesis 4. The very first person to die after the Fall in Genesis 3, is not Eve, is not Adam, but their son Abel. And his death was not due to disease or accident, but he was deliberately murdered by his own brother, Cain. It must have been a very bitter grief to Adam and Eve to see these dire consequences of the Fall for their own sons.

Cain and Abel open Genesis 4, while the birth of Seth and his son, Enosh, close it. Cain’s descendant, Lamech, brags of his murders, while after Enosh is born, we read this hopeful news at the end of verse 26: “Then men began to call upon the name of Yahweh.”

Chapter 5 gives the generations of Adam, and over and over and over again, you read the phrase,  “…and he died.” Only one person escapes the result of the fall, Enoch, a man who “…walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” The birth of Noah and his sons close this chapter, and the next two chapters begin the details of Noah’s life.

In chapter 6 the evil of man reaches a crescendo:

Then Yahweh saw that the evil of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And Yahweh regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. And Yahweh said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of Yahweh.
These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among those in his generations; Noah walked with God. And Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
Now the earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
Genesis 6:5–11 LSB

Only one man finds favor with God, only one—Noah. And God tells Noah He is going to destroy everyone except for Noah and his household, “…for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this generation..” Of God’s judgment, John MacArthur says:

Verse 6, “And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth and He was grieved in His heart.” God is not apathetic to the sin of man. He is not indifferent. In fact, Ezekiel said that God finds no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Jeremiah wept the tears of God over the judgment to come. Jesus wept the tears of God over the judgment to come on Jerusalem and Israel. The Lord was sorry, it says, He was sorry. What does that mean? Well, it’s sadness. There’s a reality to the sadness of God…

I don’t want you to get the idea that somehow there’s glee with God when He has to judge. There isn’t. He wept over the city of Jerusalem because He knew what was going to happen to them when judgment fell. He wept at the grave of Lazarus because He knew what death was going to do repeatedly throughout human history and the pain and sadness and sorrow that it would cause and the judgment that it would bring about…And it was a sad thing to have to judge the world the way it would have to be judged. And part of that sorrow is not just over the condition of man, but listen to this, it is over the fact that God must do what He must do. There is no ambivalence. There is no indecision. There is no alternative…God can’t equivocate. If you sin and if you’re depraved and if you reject His salvation and you reject His Word and you refuse Him and you make your league, as it were, with the forces of hell and you live out your sinful life in disregard to God, there can be no ambivalence, God has no choice. Judgment falls and that is a grief to God.1

The aftermath of the Fall: death, evil and then God’s judgment. Two men, only two men, were noted in contrast: Enoch who walked with God, and Noah who alone was righteous before Him.

As I thought about these chapters I came back to God’s questions and warning to Cain in 4:7:

Then Yahweh 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 lying at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
Genesis 4:6–7 LSB

Derek Kidner writes,

Many details emphasize the depth of Cain’s crime, and there­fore of the Fall: the context is worship, the victim a brother; and while Eve had been talked into her sin, Cain will not have even God talk him out of it; nor will he confess to it, nor yet accept his punishment…

In the Lord’s repeated ‘Why . . .?‘ and ‘If. . .?‘, His appeal to reason and His concern for the sinner are as strongly marked as His concern for truth (5a) and justice (10)…

The picture of sin . . . couching at the door (RSV) is developed in the striking metaphor of taming a wild beast: so RSV, its desire is for you (Moffatt ‘eager to be at you‘), but you must master it. The phrase is adapted from 3:16b, on which it throws a sombre light.2

“Cain will not have even God talk him out of it.” As I read that, I thought God spoke to Cain; God has spoken to us in His Word. Even as God’s questions and warnings to Cain laid bare his heart, God through His Word lays bare our heart:

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are uncovered and laid bare to the eyes of Him to whom we have an account to give.
Hebrews 4:12–13 LSB

These are words I must take to heart. I’ve also seen that I cannot of myself master sin; I must have the help of God Himself. After telling us we are laid bare before God and we do have to give account, the writer of Hebrews immediately tells us what to do: Therefore

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us take hold of our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things like we are, yet without sin. There­fore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:14–16 LSB

Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Cain and Abel, Titian: Public Domain.
1John MacArthur, Copyright 2001, Grace to You. All rights reserved.  Used by permission. This Grace to You sermon, “The Destruction of Mankind, Part 1,” originally appeared here.
2Derek Kidner, Genesis (Inter-Varsity Press: Downers Grove IL: 1967) 74-75.

As I was finishing this post, and thinking about how to close it, the hymn, “Before the Throne of God Above,” came to mind. I didn’t know if I should use it, but as I watched it and saw that verses from the Bible were in the video, several thoughts chased through my mind: They’re going to include Hebrews 4:14–16. Are they going to include Hebrews 4:14–16? If they include Hebrews 4:14–16, it’s God’s gift to close this post with His reassurance of the forgiveness and help we have in Jesus Christ. Then, toward the very end, the very last verses given were Hebrews 4:14–16. So, dear friends, draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that you, and I, will receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Copyright ©2011–2023 Iwana Carpenter

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