Sunday, January 02, 2011

New Year: Gen 4-7 for Jan 2

People soon weary of being taught morality directly. Rule after rule after rule, and we need not wonder why there are lawyers! One of the charms of a story is that it sneaks past our defenses against lists of rules, and gets something besides the rules across: sometimes this something is "doing" life, we could call it. How in the world, in light of what just happened in Genesis 1-3, could life be conceivably done?

Would it be by just saying that God helps (4:1)? No. Would it be by compartmentalizing, i.e., obligation-to-God stuff, versus the rest of life (4:3-7)? No. Here's how the story portrays that:

The human family is out of Eden, but God does not remove Himself from them. His (differing) "regard" for Cain, and for and Abel (4:4-5) covers their respective offerings, not the other way around. God explains to Cain that if he (Cain) does well, he will be accepted. This shows that God is not compartmentalized to only being interested in offerings. The reader had just heard this, in the sequence just read, how God had dealt with Abel. "The LORD had regard for Abel, and his offering" (4:4). God does not highly regard offering, when mismatched with a person whom He does not highly regard.

Indeed these chapters progressively describe the course of many descendants, all of whom but Noah -- and one other -- either died in due course, or were judged by a flood. However, embedded in this story of God dealing with "the wickedness of man" (Genesis 6:5) is this phrase describing Noah, and this one other, Enoch -- that each of them "walked with God."

This is in Genesis 5:24 in Enoch's case, and 6:9, in Noah's case. Given that this is a story, the reader is told something, in story form, perhaps to just think about in 5:24, but it is made veryexplicit in 6:9. What is the contrast described so starkly, but not explained, between Cain and Abel? Between Enoch's destiny and the death of everybody else listed around him? How does a person "do life" even in the presence of what's around him and in him? It's who you walk with.

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