Pastor Gene brings us the account of Cain & Habel (Abel) and shows us a hidden Christophany within the story.
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good morning welcome if you are new here among us my name is gene and i serve here at c3 church as your lead pastor i heard a story about two friends in new york they were out for a walk and as they were walking along the side of the road they noticed in the distance a dark ominous figure couldn't make out what it was too far away they knew it was on the other side of the road coming toward them as it got closer it took form it appeared to have a cape on and a hood as it got closer still they noticed its eyes were glowing red and as it was just about across the street from them they both realized it was death well one of the friends was terrified looked down at the ground the other couldn't help himself he looked over and sure enough he was staring death in the face well it passed them by but the one who looked at death in the face was terrified so he said to his friend what should i do friend said i'd get out of here get in the car and drive as far south as you can go ish go all the way to naples florida because that's what people do when they want to escape from death well he did 95 on 95. it's the name of the road not the speed limit but anyway when he got here got out of the car and immediately he felt someone tapping him on the shoulder sure enough he turned around and he was once again staring death in the face he realized that he couldn't escape death even in naples florida so he said fine take me but first i have a question when you passed me by in new york you had a look of surprise on your face still scary but surprised what was that all about well dust said yeah i was kind of surprised to see you in new york because i was told to find you here in naples florida today we will be continuing in our series the rest of the story we'll be looking at genesis chapter 4. last week we covered a lot creation all the way to the fall of man genesis 1 through 3. we saw that adam and eve tried to be like god they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and so they were expelled from the garden now adam has to toil with the soil eve has labor pains now thanks eve so we saw a picture the first married couple and how this pointed christ today we look at their children the world's first siblings or brothers now i want to make a note for everyone who might have missed the intro kind of important as we move forward it'll set you up for success you'll better understand some of the things that i'm talking about not as if i'm not going to recap anything for you but it'll make a lot more sense you can go back and watch the bible studies too right through our app and on that note i want to encourage you to do that and in fact i want to encourage you to come to bible study because it's more than just that it's another worship service if you can make it at 5 30 we have a half hour time of worship bible study starts at six and we've brought something back put it in the app the bible study application questions the last couple of wednesdays i was a little bit lecture-ish because there's a lot of information that a lot of questions don't know that i've been going over but now i want to kind of turn it back over to you a little bit a little more interaction so we have those questions that you can review even before the bible study or if you can't make it so check it out genesis 4 here's the typical story that i think most christians probably know you have cain and abel cain is the oldest abel is younger cain works the earth abel he makes the sheep the probatos in a greek kind of funny little thing he's a shepherd of the sheep now most of you know that they both give an offering to god abel gives the first the best of the flock the proto-probato cain he gives some of the crops the fruit of the earth in greek god accepts abel and his offering rejects cain and his offering cain gets kind of upset so what else do you do when you're upset kill your brother he does that and gets expelled so i guess that's the story most christians know i want to make a note i want you guys to be on the lookout of a theme here of the younger of the brothers being favored it's going to continue all throughout the old testament but right at the beginning we have a contrast painted for us abel is a shepherd cain works the land cain the oldest like his father is a farmer so to speak cain also repeats his parents sin of trying to be like god god punishes in much the same way with expulsion and the curse of the infertile land continues but so does god's grace he's a wonder it says now wanders the earth the soil won't produce crops for you cain any worries what if someone tries to kill me so god puts a mark on him so that everyone knows they shouldn't kill cain they he and his father are both sent east so don't go east it's not a good thing now some might immediately think hold on we have the first three people in the world they do bad stuff rightly they get punished but then the first good one or righteous one comes along and he gets killed what's up with this story well this is what the bible teaches about the death of the godly isaiah 57 1 good people pass away the godly often die before their time but no one seems to care or wonder why no one seems to understand that god is protecting them from the evil to come for those who follow a godly past will rest in peace when they die indeed some of you know what is going to happen in the rest of the story now we should learn something from the bible this fact that right out the gate first godly person dies abel's sacrifice is considered the first in the bible but remember what i told you about the figs remember they get knowledge that they're naked so they get fig leaves what else they cover themselves up but before their expulsion god gives them animal skins so some would say that this is the first sacrifice in the bible anyway we do know that it's a part of god's grace for us and so this for cain is a continuation of that theme yes there's punishment but there's also grace it's often taught that god preferred abel's offering because he gave them the firstborn not leftovers it is said that abel discerned through faith the lord's coming incarnation and sacrifice new testament hebrews 11 4 it was by faith that abel brought a more acceptable offering to god than cain did abel's offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man and god showed his approval of the gifts although abel is long dead he still speaks to us by his example of faith we also get further commentary on cain when we look to the new testament first john 3 starting at verse 11. this is the message you have heard from the beginning we should love one another we must not be like cain who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother and why did he kill him because cain had been doing what was evil and his brother had been doing what was righteous indeed god tells cain get control of this sin you must master it so we know he was up to no good besides the offering jude jude is all about false teachers really short one chapter book so in that context jude says this jude 1 10 but these people false teachers scoff at things they do not understand like unthinking animals they do whatever their instincts tell them and so they bring about their own destruction what sorrow awaits them for they follow in the footsteps of cain who killed his brother cain had the wrong heart and so his worship is worthless god rejects that type of worship we'll go back to isaiah i'll give you a little bit of context it would take a pretty long time to give you the complete thing isaiah is a prophet later on israel has its downfall they have like a civil war they split the north israel falls first next is judah so around the time of hezekiah they haven't fallen yet they're not going to completely get conquered yet by the babylonians isaiah shows up and does some prophesying give some warnings idolatry is the main thing that causes the fall but they're up to no good they're sending like crazy and so this is what god says of their worship that it's worthless it is stained by sin isaiah 1 starting at verse 10 listen to the lord you leaders of sodom sarcasm listen to the law of our god people of gomorrah what makes you think i want all your sacrifices says the lord i'm sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle i get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats when you come to worship me who asks you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony stop bringing me your meaningless gifts the incense of your offerings disgusts me as for your celebrations of the new moon and the sabbath and your special days for fasting they are all sinful and false i want no more of your pious meetings i hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals they're a burden to me i cannot stand them when you lift up your hands in prayer i will not look though you offer many prayers i will not listen for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims wash yourselves and be clean get your sins out of my sight give up your evil ways learn to do good seek justice help the oppressed defend the cause of orphans fight for the rights of widows god rejects worship stained by sin now when we look at the rest of the story in genesis 4 we also get another situation where god asks a question he already knows the answer to genesis 4 9 afterward cain kills abel the lord asked cain where is your brother where is abel i don't know cain responded am i my brother's guardian he doubles down like his dad he lies and he has an attitude problem continues genesis 4 10 but the lord said what have you done listen your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground now you are cursed and banished from the ground which has swallowed your brother's blood no longer will the ground yield good crops for you no matter how hard you work from now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth so we have this concept the blood soils the ground cain soiled the ground with his brother's blood and now it will not yield crops for him verse 11 there's an alternate some versions say so now you are cursed from the earth which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand interesting imagery now he will not be able to yield crops anymore not that i was getting really serious there for a minute so we had to break it up now there's another deeper and overlooked part of this story probably maybe the point looking at how to deal with sibling rivalry or not caused by jealousy ecclesiastes 4 4 the teacher says then i observe that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors but this too is meaningless like chasing the wind jesus talks about envy conflict resolution among brothers and greed in luke luke 12 starting at verse 13. then someone called from the crowd teacher please tell my brother to divide our father's estate with me jesus replied friend who made me a judge or arbitrator over you to decide such things as that then he said beware guard against every kind of greed life is not measured by how much you own and you told them a story a rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops he said to himself what should i do i don't have room for all my crops then he said i know i'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones then i'll have enough room to store all my wheat and other goods and i'll sit back and say to myself my friend you have enough store to wave for years to come now take it easy eat drink and be merry but god said to him you fool you will die this very night then who will get everything you work for yes a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with god i've been talking a lot about the greek it's kind of important so go back and watch those messages if you didn't see them it's because the greek version of the old testament is the bible of the early church kind of interesting history i shared with you and indeed the greek has a great influence on much of the text i showed you many quotes a couple bible studies ago where a lot of the early church fathers thought that the greek version of the old testament was a superior and inspired translation so go back and check that out at the bible study indeed i shared with you that if you only use the hebrew version which was written like 700 years after jesus interesting but you use the greek of the early church you get prophecies about jesus that are not in the hebrew so which one is the best translation the one that points to jesus consistently or the one that doesn't greek is important and for those of you who didn't know that if you own a bible a modern one it's been right under your nose the whole time and you probably didn't know it every time you see lxx lxx in the margins or in the introduction that's telling you they got it from the septuagint the greek version of the old testament means they had to go there to get that if it's in the new testament it means that the author in the new testament is writing in greek we know that but then quoting the greek version not the hebrew version which kind of wasn't around that we read from anyway a lot of prophecies too another thing that people don't notice is the words genesis and ecclesiastes are not hebrew they're greek so one must ask oneself why it's the greek influence now for as much influence as the greek language has on our biblical text when it comes to names it doesn't try to mess with it too much it just tries to sound it out because the names have meanings that are sometimes very very important so that's where you have to look at the hebrew and the greek to understand what might be going on so let me share some of this with you do you know what abel's name means khabel means breath abel's name is symbolic of his short life like a breath here one minute gone all too quickly we see this concept elsewhere if we go back to ecclesiastes it appears there as well kind of like the theme of the book ecclesiastes one two everything is meaningless as the teacher completely meaningless maybe your version says vanity all is vanity but the word there is habel breath vapor here now gone too quickly it appears in the psalms like psalm 144 3 oh lord what are human beings that you should notice them mere mortals that you should think about them four they are like a breath a bell of air their days are a passing shadow humans are like able here now gone too quickly this is echoed in the new testament james 4 14. how do you know what your life will be like tomorrow your life is like the morning fog or breath it's here a little while then it's gone some versions say vapor so the bible teaches that especially for the godly like abel our home is not here it's an important thing that you don't miss earth is not our permanent home thank god for that second peter 3 starting at verse 10 but the day of the lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this what holy and godly lives you should live looking forward to the day of god and hurring it along on that day he will set the heavens on fire and the elements will melt away in the flames but we are looking forward to the new heavens and the new earth he has promised a world filled with god's righteousness sounds better to me now the context behind things passing away as false teachers like jude peter warns a lot of these books warn about false teachers what they're doing is they're preaching the world not the word and so he warns them against them this life not the next before we feel sorry for abel we have to realize this is not our permanent home and the bible teaches not to love this world or the things in it first john 2 15 do not do not love this world or the things it offers you for when you love the world you do not have the love of the father in you for the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure a craving for everything we see and pride in our achievements and possessions these are not from the father but are from this world see the contrast and this world is fading away along with everything that people crave but anyone who does what pleases god will live forever maybe unlike cain we must focus on jesus the source of our real life yep we've been looking at the greek we looked at some words you might know here's another one zoe you might have heard that have you ever met anyone named zoe it means life interesting of life jesus says this mark 8 36 and what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul now i can read that in the greek so i'll tell you there's a word there underneath soul and it's zoe it's actually life it's not sihi which is soul really really hard word to pronounce i probably didn't do it right that's okay not greek anyway why would they translate it like that now being picky about the greek and knowing what it says under there i can tell you it's a pretty good translation even though the word is different it doesn't have to be literal or word for word because it's getting the point right that's the life that jesus is talking about there they translated it that way so you didn't get it wrong you didn't miss it your soul your eternal life in the context of what jesus is talking about that's the life that's most important we're warned by jesus about the man with the barns don't be like that are we too holding a surplus we really don't need have we too gotten arrogant thinking that we know what's going to happen a year or two from now jesus says you don't even know what's going to happen tonight what are you doing not realizing our very lives could be taken from us like that because they're not ours to begin with like habel are we holding back our first fruits like cain or are we being generous with our leftovers or our first fruits like abel knowing life is short our lives are indeed just breath so this is a good practice the practice of letting go of things getting ready for the inevitable letting go that we all must face even here in naples florida romans 12 says we are to be a living sacrifice romans 12 1. and so dear brothers and sisters i plead with you to give your bodies to god because if all he has done for you let them be a living and holy sacrifice the kind that he will find acceptable this is truly the way to worship him don't copy the behavior and customs of this world but let god transform you into a new person by changing the way you think then you will learn to know god's will for you which is good and pleasing and perfect we are to be like christ the ultimate living sacrifice if we keep reading the rest of genesis 4. we get something interesting genesis 4 25 adam had sexual relations with his wife again and she gave birth to another son must have been valentine's day she named him seth for she said god has granted me another son in place of abel whom cain killed when seth grew up he had a son and named him enosh at that time people first began to worship the lord by name excuse me seth is the replacement for habel seth's name means something like given or produced god has given it's actually a christophany something pointing to jesus in the old testament he's a part of jesus's genealogy luke 3 38 seth god has given a son is given a pre-figure of jesus out of death new life comes it is said that seth is a picture of christ's resurrection where abel is a symbol of his death abel's a shepherd a maker of the sheep jesus is the good shepherd they both die then seth represents a new life a son is given now instead of the blood crying out from the ground as abel's did we are now covered by the blood of christ back to hebrews translates this for us 12 24 you have come to jesus the one who mediates the new covenant between god and people and to the sprinkled blood which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of abel a son was given to us god has given us the ultimate sacrifice by making the ultimate sacrifice god loved us so much that he gave his only son we put this all together from genesis 1 to 4 looking at it all through the lens of the new testament we get another beautiful reversal where the creator becomes the sacrifice we get the rest of the story which is that christ is the visible image of the invisible god he existed before anything and was created and is supreme over all creation for through him god created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth he made the things we can see the things we can see such as thrones kingdoms rulers and authorities in the unseen world everything was created through him and for him he existed before anything else and he holds all creation together christ is also the head of the church which is his body he's the beginning supreme over all who rise from the dead so he is first in everything for god in all his fullness was pleased to live in christ and through him god reconciled everything to himself he made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of christ's blood on the cross amen