Jim's Sunday Sermon
Written by Jim Brochu
When I was a kid, we played a game called "Telephone." Ten or twelve of us would sit in a circle, then the moderator would whisper a sentence into the ear of the first kid who would whisper it in the ear of the second and so on until it had traveled around the room. When the last child said out loud what he had heard, the results were usually hilarious.
PART 2: CAIN AND ABEL.
(OR NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED)
What started out as "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy red dog" ended up as "The sick clown vomited up the lousy roast pork." Not even close and slightly absurd.
Didn't the Bible come to us in much the same way? But instead of a group of people playing telephone together in the same room, scholarly men with strong personal beliefs - sitting centuries apart - told the stories first in Hebrew then in Greek then Aramaic then Latin then German then English. I think something got lost in the translation.
Except for His admonition not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God didn't specify any other "dos" or "don'ts." There are no regulations in Genesis as to what pleased Him and what didn't. He didn't give the ten commandments to Moses for another couple of thousand years and so all those who came before were playing the game of life without having been given the rule book.
If Adam and Eve ate the fruit that was suppose to give them the knowledge of right and wrong, it seems they got a dud apple. Aside from knowing that they were naked, they still didn't seem to know what was right and what was wrong. They were learning as they went. Still, it seems that they were doing their best to keep peace with the parent/landlord that had evicted them from their model home.
Although it's not specified anywhere in the Bible, Adam and Eve got the idea that God liked things sacrificed to him. It dimmed the thunder on the mountain whenever they had a barbecue and so they started burning animals without preparing any condiments to go with them. Eve thought of animal sacrifices like a smoky Father's Day card to remind their creator that they were thinking about Him.
Soon, Adam and Eve had two children, Cain and Abel. When Cain and Abel reached their teen years, Adam told his sons that they would have to take up a profession since there were no schools - math wasn't invented yet and there was no history. Adam reminded his sons that God already had the jewelry and fur businesses locked up, so they would have to choose something else.
Abel told them that he wanted to be a veterinarian/butcher because he loved to take care of animals and then eat them. Cain had a natural green thumb and thought he'd do best as a farmer/baker. It also says that he had a vineyard, so soon after the creation of the earth, God said "Let there be wine."
Eve approved of her sons choices of professions and told them it was the perfect combination. They would always know where their next meal was coming from.
Now Cain is working in the field one day and he's thinking about God and decides he'll send him a smoky greeting card to say he's thinking of Him. He's a very enterprising young man who is anxious to please. So Cain gathers the best of his harvest and offers it to God.
Abel sees what Cain is doing and becomes the copy-cat little brother he's always been and offers God his best lamb. The moral of this story is two-fold: First, God is not a vegetarian and clearly prefers a roast leg of lamb over toasted corn flakes and, second, He plays favorites. Not only does God not like Cain's sacrifice, he gets angry about it. It really ticks him off.
Cain is very confused about God's reaction. After all, he was only doing his best and was trying to please. He goes to talk it over with Abel who gets that bratty attitude again and starts chanting "Ha, ha, God likes me better."
Cain reasonably thought that a) if God prefers meat over grain and b) He prefers Abel to himself and c) Abel is basically meat - then in order to please God, he should turn Abel into a Hallmark and kill him. He cared enough to send to very best.
Wrong again. God has been watching the whole episode on his security monitors but when He confronts Cain, he pretends like He doesn't know what happened. Cain can sense that God is miffed, so he tells God that he doesn't know where Abel is."Gotcha," says God. "You killed him."God, looking like Frank Morgan in The Wizard of Oz, tells Cain that since He lives in eternity, He gets his earthly time-lines confused. He admits He won't be etching out the commandments for another few millenniums or so.
"No," Cain pleads, "I sacrificed him. I thought you'd like it."
"But I told you 'Thou shalt not kill.'"
"When did you tell us that?"
"In the Ten Commandments," roared God.
"What's the Ten Commandments?" asks Cain.
"The ones you got from Moses.
"Who's Moses?" Cain said, scratching his head.
Cain pleads with God, "How can I obey a law that doesn't exist yet?" He explains he was only doing what he thought God liked. Cain had seen God kill animals and use their pelts for haute couture. He had seen people kill animals to please God, so he just figured that God liked to see things killed. And, besides, if God liked lamb he'd love Abel.
God tells Cain that ignorance of the law is no excuse and curses him to live a life as a fugitive and a vagabond. He throws Cain out of Eden-Adjacent and into the Land of Nod.
Meanwhile, Adam and Eve don't seem to know where their two sons have gone and don't seem to care very much. Since they were smart enough to figure out that making whoopee resulted in a new person, they decided to have a little fun and populate the earth at the same time. Along came Seth.
Now back in Nod, God's curse on Cain seems to be having no effect. Instead of becoming a wanderer and a vagabond, Cain started a real estate development firm and built a housing project named after his son, Enoch.
The population and economy in Enoch City were booming since a decree came down (it doesn't say from who, but I'll bet it was a man) that a man could have as many wives as he could afford. God did not object to this (Gen 4:19) as His dress business was doing well with stores in Nod, Eden-Adjacent and Enoch City.
Now here's where things get a bit confusing in terms of genealogy. Genesis says that Cain had a son named Enoch and Seth had a son named Enosh. That makes Noch and Nosh first cousins. Then it goes on to say who they each begat but when it comes to the end of the genealogy, it says that they both begat Methuselah who begat a fellow named Lamech. Lamech was the inventor of polygamy and no matter if he came from Cain or Seth's side of the family, Lamech begat Noah and then things really turned sour.
When I hit Chapter Six of Genesis, I had to reread it several times. I even went to a few different translations to see how they all treated it, I was so perplexed by what found.
I started reading the King James Version put out by Robert Schuller called "The Possibility Thinker's Edition." Every so often a passage is highlighted in blue which gives the reader a "can-do" encouragement, almost as if Stewart Smalley put out an edition of the Bible with "Daily Affirmations" pre-underlined.
I then switched over to the Jerusalem and the Revised Standard versions. Even between the three English versions, the meaning changes with the translation, but in chapter six, they all agree - God saw everything He made and decided He had made the mistake of His eternal life.
If you add up the years that each person lives in the lineage between Adam and Noah, it totals 8, 423 years. All that time people are populating the earth - a fellow named Jubal starts the music industry (Gen 4:21) by making harps and lutes, the tentmaking industry is doing very well and the world is going along very nicely. It says nowhere in Genesis that God said anything for over 8,000 years. It's like He got bored with the whole thing and wasn't even keeping up on His monitors.
Suddenly, after 8,000 years he looks down and sees and sees mankind and sees only wickedness. All day and night. Wickedness. I looked up the word in the dictionary and was surprised to find that it meant "innately evil." According to that definition, we are born evil rather than choose it as a lifestyle. How can God create something that is innately evil?
What is a day like for someone who is innately evil? I guess you'd get out of bed, do a few hours of lying and deceiving, embezzle for lunch, then spread some good gossip, cheat with your best friend's wife, kick an old lady, rape a cousin or two and then knock off a policeman before turning in for the night.
Men and women were doing what comes naturally, acting the way that God had created them to act - as human beings. God told them to increase and multiply and gave them a pleasurable way of accomplishing the task. Then he become a prude and seems embarrassed by the process. Everyone on earth has let Him down and He decides to start all over again.
This brings us to Noah and the Ark. Noah didn't have a rule book either but God took a liking to Him. That makes me believe that Noah was a descendant of Enosh, Son of Seth, rather than Enoch, son of Cain because God still hadn't forgotten about the Abel incident.
NEXT: NOAH, CAPTAIN OF THE FIRST LOVE BOAT
PART 1: THE ADAM FAMILY
PART 2: CAIN & ABEL
PART 3: NOAH, CAPTAIN OF THE FIRST LOVE BOAT
PART 5: SODOM, SARAH & ISAAC
PART 6: THE ISAAC FAMILY PLOTS
PART 7: JACOB & HIS WILD KIDS
PART 8: I DREAM OF JOSEPH
© 1998, 1999 by Jim Brochu. All rights of reproduction are reserved.
This book originated at Bonusround.com.