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A Simplified Journey (2): Sin Increases in the World

After the fall of Adam and Eve, the next several chapters of the Bible dramatically show the power of sin to corrupt the human race. We see this both in individual lives with broken relationships and in the degeneration of society as a whole. The book of Genesis condenses the history of at least more than two millinia into a scant eight chapters from Genesis 4 – 11.

Cain and His Descendants:

First comes the story of Cain and Abel, the first sons of Adam and Eve. Family strife and jealousy led to the murder of Abel by his older brother. ( I discuss the nature of Cain’s sin here.) As a result, God banished him from the family of Adam and Eve and made him a wanderer and vagabond on the earth. Though he was a tiller of the soil, God said the earth would no longer yield its crops for him. Cain cried out, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.”

His problem was that he yielded to sin, rather than mastering it. As we continue in this brief journey through the Bible, we will see that this is the problem of every man. God said to him:

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it. – Genesis 4:7

God had told the serpent that the offspring of the Woman would bruise his head. He immediately began to make war on the seed of the Woman by taking Cain captive to do his will and inciting him to murder his faithful brother. Thus began the great struggle between good and evil.

But it did not stop with Cain. One of Cain’s descendants was Lamech. (I answer the question of where Cain got his wife here.) He showed Cain’s arrogant disregard for God in many ways with multiple wives, excessive vengence, and proud boasting. His children helped develop great advances in human society as musicians and tool-makers, but the moral degeneracy of Cain continued in his off-spring.

Noah and the Great Flood

By the time of the tenth generation, the entire society had become corrupt.

The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air – for I am grieved that I have made them. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. – Genesis 6:5-8

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark….” – Genesis 6:11-14

Noah and his family was spared from the great judgment God brought on the whole earth. Peter spoke of the people of his day and how they ignored the lessons of this judgment:

They deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. – 2 Peter 3:5-7

Noah and his family came out of the ark into a world purged of evil – but they brought the seeds of evil within themselves. God promised them that He would never destroy the world again by water (though some who suffer through severe flooding may wonder about that promise!). He put the rainbow in the sky as a sign of that promise.

God also established a covenant with Noah and his family (including all his descendants, even us). The Lord gave Man all things that live on the earth for food (previously, Man was vegetarian). He also spelled out more clearly that taking human life was an evil that must not be found among beasts or men:

And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.

Whoever shed the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.

As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it. – Genesis 9:5-7

Yet, Ham, Noah’s youngest son, did not respect his father. When he saw him laying in his tent, drunk and naked, Ham mockingly told his brothers. The brothers covered their father’s nakedness (as God had covered the nakedness of Adam and Eve), but when Noah found what had happened, Ham was cursed through one of his children.

The Tower of Babel

This early pre-history phase of man’s life was climaxed with mankind’s attempt to solidify themselves as the masters of their own destiny. They determined the build a tower that would reach to heaven to “make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” They were leaving God completely out of their plans within a few generations after the flood.

As a result, God confused their languages so they were forced to separate into various tribes and nations scattered throughout the earth. There was a practical purpose for this. By man being scattered and separated by language and culture, God could deal with various nations and cultures singly without bringing a judgment upon the entire earth as He had done in the flood again.

I think of the first eleven chapters of Genesis as the story of how we got in the mess we are in. The rest of the Bible tells us how God rescues us from the mess we have made of His good earth and of our own lives.

NEXT: (3) The Covenant With Abraham

PREVIOUS: (1) The Beginning: Creation and the Garden of Eden


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