So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Part 3, Life After Death, Gen. 4 and 5
There’s just no way I can adequately explain the differences between life in the Garden and life outside because in all of humanity only Eve and I experienced both. But try to imagine how your life would be today if literally everything and everyone in your environment was aligned to accomplish God’s will, the free and unfettered expression of His love toward His creation.
In your mind try and free yourself from the economic bonds that imprison you. He never intended that. If your income stopped today, how long before your security was threatened and your lifestyle irrevocably changed? Maybe you’re one of the blessed ones who love your work, but how much more would you love it if there wasn’t the ever-present need to earn the money required to meet your obligations and guard against future uncertainties? And if you’re stuck in a job you hate but can’t leave because you need the income, try to imagine what you’d do if money was no longer a factor. You like nearly everyone else in the world are held prisoner to your economic system. It wasn’t like that in the Garden.
You’ve never known anything different, but how much emotional and physical energy do you think you expend each day overcoming the obstacles to your goals? I’m talking about everything from weeds in your lawn and garden to the gradual but never-ending decay of your home and belongings (not to mention your physical body) to the destructive efforts of those opposed to or jealous of your success. What could you accomplish if your mind, that unfathomable device that no man or machine can even begin to replicate, was freed from the bondage of sin that causes you to devote countless debilitating hours to jealousy, envy, regret, anger and escapist diversion? I could go on but I don’t want to discourage you any more than you already are. Besides, like I said, you can’t begin to imagine how it was in the Garden.
From the first days of our mortality, our life after death, Eve and I began to experience this incredible difference. Sure the work was hard, and overcoming the resistance God’s creation now threw up at us was very frustrating, but the most difficult thing was the way our minds began to work against us. The regret we felt at what we’d done, and our anger at the one who deceived us sapped nearly all our energy. If it weren’t for God’s promise that He’d send Someone to redeem us we never would have made it.
When Eve became pregnant we thought we would soon be restored. The Lord had promised that an offspring of hers would save us, and like all humans we were now self-centered and impatient and figured that would happen right away. She declared, “With the help of the Lord I’ve brought forth a man,” and named our son Cain which means “brought forth”. And so when our second son came along she named him Abel, which means “temporary” or “meaningless” thinking him to be an unnecessary addition to our family. These two boys would soon demonstrate the unspeakable difference between life in the Garden and outside in the most dramatic way possible.
Cain became an accomplished farmer while Abel tended our flocks of sheep and goats. Cain was proud of his gardening ability and brought some of his finest produce as an offering to the Lord, while Abel brought the prescribed animal sacrifices. Cain was astonished and angered when the Lord refused the best works of his hands in favor of Abels’ innocent animals. But the Lord reminded Cain of the required offering, told him if he brought it he too would be accepted, and warned him that the sin being sown in his mind would soon be harvested in his actions unless he overcame it. In the first recorded incidence of contention between a man and his brother, the Lord taught Cain that evil thoughts will spring unbidden into a sin infested mind. These thoughts are attacks by our enemy and in and of themselves do not constitute sin. It’s our responsibility to reject them before they can influence our behavior, because the moment we accept and consider them they become sin and will eventually overcome us. It’s a consequence of possessing the knowledge of good and evil. We’re just not strong enough to deal with it alone.
Like most of us, Cain allowed the sin in his mind to influence his behavior. He lured Abel into the fields and murdered him. For the second time, a human life had been prematurely ended. The first was when the Serpent ended Eve’s life and mine. He murdered us as surely as if he had gunned us down there and then, and now my first-born son had murdered his brother. And like his father before him, he lied to the Lord when confronted. (I was created in the image of God. All our offspring were created in my now flawed image.)
The Lord banished Cain from His presence, forbidding the ground from producing food for him, and made him into the first wandering nomad. From the Fall, it was the responsibility of the next of kin to avenge a brother’s murder. All living people on Earth were Cain’s next of kin, being sons and daughters of ours, and so Cain was afraid for his life, pleading for mercy before God. In another of His unending acts of grace, the Lord marked Cain and warned all of his brothers and sisters against avenging Abel’s death.
So Cain took one of his many sisters as his wife (who else could he marry) and started a new life with a family of his own. From Cain’s descendants originated all the ways man has found to glorify himself, from the building of great cities to the arts and music to the creation of a myriad of labor saving devices.
Obviously, Eve and I were shocked beyond description by this episode. Eve was especially despondent. After all Cain was to have been our redeemer, and now both he and his brother were gone. But the Lord is good, and gave us another son. She was sure this one would be the One and named him Seth, which means “appointed”. This time the Lord showed us a little more of His intent, since the name of each head of the 10 succeeding generations contained another clue to understanding His plan.
What you call chapter 5 of the Book of Genesis contains the names of these 10 patriarchs beginning with me. I already told you that in English my name means “man” and Seth’s means “appointed.” Seth’s first born was named Enosh, meaning “mortal“. Enosh brought forth Kenan, which means “sorrow“. Then came Mahalel meaning “the Blessed God“, Jared meaning “shall come down“, Enoch, meaning “teaching“, Methuselah, meaning “his death shall bring” (By the way, the year Methuselah died the flood came) Lamech which means “despairing“, and finally Noah, a name meaning “rest“.
These 10 names, listed in the order of their bearers’ birth, form a sentence that explains God’s plan and have been dubbed “The Gospel in Genesis 5”. Here’s how they read:
“Man is appointed mortal sorrow, but the Blessed God shall come down teaching that His death shall bring the despairing rest.”
A clearer description of God’s plan for man cannot be found anywhere in scripture.
From the beginning, he has made His intention clear, even going to the extent of writing it in the stars. For when He had Seth, Enoch and I name the original 12 constellations He gave us names that spell out the Gospel story. Every night as they lay out in the open fields my sons could teach their sons of the coming Redeemer by looking up and remembering the names of these constellations. (You know them as the 12 signs of the Zodiac by their corrupted Babylonian names. That’s why astrology was a crime punishable by death in ancient times)
So you see, God’s plan for the redemption of man has always been known. And so those of us who carried memories of life in the Garden either from personal experience like Eve and I, or from the stories we told our children and their children, or from reading the account of our lives in their Bibles, would not despair but have hope that one day the Lord would come as the promised Redeemer and lead all God’s children back to that beautiful paradise He called His Garden.