Key To The Understanding Of The Scriptures
by H.P. MANSFIELD
(9) From Creation To The Flood
How Enmity Developed Between The Two Seeds.
The introduction of sin (considered in our previous section) was followed by the ejection of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Religion (which signifies "a re-binding again") was then introduced that mankind might have hope, and a system of worship at specified times (Genesis 4:3 -- margin) was set up.
In course of time, sons and daughters were born to Adam and Eve, including Cain and Abel.
In the birth of Cain her firstborn, Eve had hoped that she had been blessed with the promised seed (Genesis 4:1-- margin).
How wrong she proved to be was revealed when he grew to manhood.
Instead of the promised seed who would conquer sin and redeem mankind from death, Cain was conquered by sin, and in hatred committed the first murder.
Unfortunately, this all arose out of a false conception of religion. Cain became jealous of the favor that God showed towards his brother, and in hatred slew him.
Thus Cain and Abel typified the Seed of the Serpent and the Seed of the Woman. The bitter enmity of Cain for his brother erupted into violence, and by slaying Abel, he typically "bruised" him "on the heel." We say this because Abel is yet to rise from the grave to life eternal (Hebrews 11:4), and this was revealed to Eve in that God gave her another son instead of Abel, whose name was called Seth, meaning appointed. "God," she said, "hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew" (Gen. 4:25).
In a figure, the risen Abel was seen in Seth, pointing forward to the resurrection of Christ Jesus who was slain by the antitypical Cain (see Matthew 23: 35), and, significantly, also as the result of a religious quarrel!
A Form Of Religion Is Not Enough.
It is important to recognise that both Cain and Abel were religious men. Both desired to serve God; both brought their offerings before Him. But God accepted Abel's offering and rejected that of Cain. Why? Because the former took the trouble of seeking out what God required of him; whereas the latter worshipped according to his own conscience or idea.
Cain's worship, therefore, was like that of the serpent: the emanation of fleshly thoughts. Abel, on the other hand, reverently sought out God's way, and recognised the need of a slain offering in atonement for sin.
So Cain brought of the fruit of his own labor: the fruit of the field; and Abel offered an animal of the herd, shedding its blood in acknowledgment of the fact that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission" of sins (Heb. 9:22).
God had respect unto Abel's offering, but rejected that of Cain, thus revealing that something more than the mere desire to worship is required, and that God desires a person to do so "in truth" (John 4:23). It might be reasoned that Cain's motives were sound, even if he did not apply principles that God had revealed, but God's rejection of his offering shows that motive is not sufficient, a person must offer "in faith." Paul makes the point that "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Heb. 11:6), and that "faith cometh by bearing the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). It is recorded:
"By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and by It he being dead speaketh" (Heb. 11:4).
What is faith? It is a manifestation of a way of life founded upon a "confident anticipation of things hoped for, a full persuasion of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1 - - margin), Abel looked forward to the consummation of the Divine purpose, and so presented his offering. Without this faith, this confident anticipation of things hoped for, his sacrifice and worship would have been in vain.
So would ours also be today. Paul declared:
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6).
Abel's faith stemmed from his understanding of God's revelation; Cain's failure resulted from fleshly thinking which caused him to reject Divine instruction. In these two sons of Adam, therefore, there was revealed the Seed of the Serpent in opposition to the Seed of the Woman, an enmity such as God had declared would exist between these two diverse ways of thought.
In the murder of Abel, there was foreshadowed the murder of Christ (Acts 7:52), whilst in the appointment of Seth to take his place, there was typified the resurrection of Christ to newness of life.
Thus, at the very epoch of history, in this incident in the family of Adam, there was dramatised the enmity that has ever since existed between the way of God and the way of the flesh, and the ultimate triumph of the former over the latter.
Meanwhile Cain was driven away from fellowship with God, to dwell in the Land of Nod (or Exile, as the word signifies), there, with his posterity to build up his own form of civilisation based on the flesh (see Gen. 4:7), whilst Seth and his posterity remained to worship God.
The Antediluvian World.
Some 1656 years are briefly covered from Genesis 3 to 6. The population of the earth rapidly increased. Mankind was divided into two groups: men of the flesh and the sons of God. The first were the descendants of Cain; the second sprang from Seth.
Cain and his posterity built up their own civilisation independent of that of Seth and his descendants. They progressed in material wealth, so that soon a sophisticated, Godless society arose which made rapid progress in commerce, pleasure and power (Gen. 4:19-24).
This gradually became the envy of the "sons of God," who were attracted by the seductive forms of pleasure and power that 'were displayed before them by their contemporaries. They began to question the need for separation between the two ways of thought, and soon began to imitate what they saw, and so were drawn "into the way of Cain" (Jude 11).
Godly men protested against this spiritual decline, and warned that it could only end in disaster. They reminded the sons of God of the Divine purpose to be ultimately manifested in the earth, and exhorted them to stand aside from a generation that would inevitably be overthrown (Gen. 5:24; Jude 14-15).
But in vain; the protest went unheeded by the majority.
The state of the world worsened spiritually; mankind became completely abandoned in its pursuit of materialism at the expense of God's requirements. Crime increased; violence became more common; principles of morality were held up to scorn.
A hard, brittle, godless civilisation arose very similar to that which is in evidence today. The "wickedness of man was great" (Gen. 6:5); the "imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (v. 5); God's way was "corrupted" (v. 12); the "earth was filled with violence" (v. 11).
That evil, adulterous, violent, Godless age became a type of that which Christ warned would exist at the epoch of his second coming. He taught his disciples:
"As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matt. 24:37-39).
The antediluvian world was destroyed by a flood, evidences of which have been found by archaeologists throughout the world.
The present civilisation faces a similar crisis which shall destroy its political, religious and social structures, and replace them with a Divine Kingdom set up on earth. The Apostle Peter, writing of these matters declared:
"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness, looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God . . ." (2 Peter 3:11-12).
This present age of wickedness has no more hope of survival than that which existed before the flood. The antediluvian world, however, was noted not only for the widespread wickedness of the descendants of Cain, but the folly of the line of Seth whose posterity eagerly sought the pleasures and powers of a world from which they should have separated themselves. The record declares that the "sons of God"(1) intermixed with the "daughters of men"(2) instead of keeping separate from them (2 Cor. 6:16-18) .
(1)Jehovah's Witnesses claim that this expression relates to fallen angels of heaven, but the same expression is used throughout Scripture for mortal believers in God. See Deut. 14:1; Hos. 1:10; Isa. 43:6-7; 1 John 3:1-2. On the other hand, the Bible teaches that angels do not marry (Luke 20:35-36), whereas the "sons of God" did.
(2)The same expression in the Hebrew has been rendered "other men" (Jer. 32:20; Ps. 73:5), so Genesis 6:2 could be rendered: "The sons of God (mortal believers) saw the daughters of other men (i.e. those who were not believers), that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose."
The flood that God sent upon the earth at that time completely destroyed civilisation, blotting out of existence all mankind with the exception of the family of Noah who had been found righteous in His eyes.
When the waters finally receded, a new world was revealed. Mankind, washed clean from the pollution of the past, started anew in the family of Noah. A new way of life was commenced that honored God (Genesis 8:20).
At that stage, God proclaimed a promise that has a farreaching effect upon the future destiny of the world; He declared that He would never again destroy civilsation so completely as He had then done. His words are:
"I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more everything living, as I have done" (Gen. 8:21).
The words "again curse" in the Hebrew are lo asiph: "I will not add to curse the earth ... " God had "cursed the earth" when Adam and Eve, sinned (Gen. 3:17-19), in consequence of which, it produced thorns and thistles, and made productivity more difficult. He now promised Noah that he would never again add to that curse so as to destroy every living person, as He had moved to do in the days of Noah.
That means that this earth will never be destroyed. Elsewhere He taught that "the earth abideth forever" (Eccles. 1:4); that He "created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited" (Isaiah 45:18), and that ultimately "the whole earth shall be filled with His glory" (Numbers 14:21).
Will The Earth Be Destroyed?
What of that doctrine, so persistently taught, that announces the impending destruction of the existing heavens and earth, to be replaced by new ones?
It is completely false, and is based upon a wrong interpretation of certain symbolic passages of Scripture, and mainly 2 Peter 2. This passage certainly speaks of the "heaven and earth" being overwhelmed by fire, and this is frequently interpreted as relating to the literal heavens and earth.
But why should God destroy His creation -- and especially the heavens? There is nothing wrong with the literal heavens and earth; in fact, they testify to the glory of the Creator and show forth His handiwork, as the Psalmist teaches (Psalm 19:1-2). Why destroy them?
We have seen that God has declared that He will not destroy them, that the earth abides forever, and is formed to be inhabited.
Does Peter's teaching contradict this?
It does not!
He was referring to symbolic "heavens" and "earth," as his own words reveal. For example, writing concerning the Flood, he declared:
"The world that then was being overflowed with water, perished..." (2 Peter 3:6).
Did the literal "world" perish in the days of Noah?
No, it was civilisation upon the earth that was blotted out, so that basically the literal heavens and earth were left as they were.
And it will be the civilisation of today (such as it is) that will perish in the future.
The Bible uses the terms "heavens" and "earth" in a symbolic as well as a literal sense, and it is obvious that Peter was using them in a symbolic sense in his 2nd Epistle. The rulers and the ruled in Israel were described as "heavens and earth." Hear the words of Isaiah:
"Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth ... " (Isa. 1:2).
To whom was he speaking? Listen:
"Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers ... and give ear unto the law of our God, ye people..." (v. 10).
The heavens were the rulers; the earth constituted the ruled. See also Deuteronomy 32:1 -- Isaiah 13:10. Consider, also, the following statement of God's future intentions:
"For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered nor come into mind . . ." (Isa. 65:17).
What do those words mean? The very next verse tells us:
"But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing and her people a joy."
These words show conclusively, that the new heavens and the new earth which God will create, are new political, social, and religious orders on earth "in which will dwell righteousness." In that day, Jerusalem will be called "the throne of the Lord" (Jeremiah 3:17), the nations will ascend there for worship (Zechariah 14:16), and the conditions that will then be established on earth will reflect to the glory of the Father (Isaiah 61:11).
The new heavens and new earth, therefore, refer to a new way of rule, and a new order of society, and have nothing whatever to do with the literal heavns and earth.
The Flood As A Symbol Of Baptism.
The flood washed away the old world with all its widespread evil and wickedness, and in the preservation of Noah and his family, laid the foundation for a new order in which God was worshipped.
Peter, in his 1st Epistle, likens it to baptism:
"The longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is eight Souls were saved by water. The like figure, whereunto even baptism does also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 3:20-21).
As the Flood swept away the record of past wickedness, so through baptism there is granted forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). As Noah under those new conditions commenced to worship God anew, so also does the person who is baptised. But, unfortunately, as the postdeluvian world soon reverted to ways of wickedness and apostasy, so do those who are baptised. However, there is forgiveness of sins in Christ (1 John 3:1), and for the person who conscientiously strives to obey God in word and deed, the assurance of ultimate deliverance from the nature of flesh (Phil. 3:21), to the glorious Divine nature of immortality (2 Peter 1:4).
The lesson of salvation was thus illustrated by the Flood.
QUESTIONS TO STUDY No. 9
- Name two sons of Adam and Eve who represented the "seed of the serpent" and the "seed of the woman".
- What is the meaning of the word "religion"?
- Who, in Biblical language, are "sons of God"?
- Why did Jesus Christ liken the days of his second coming unto the days of Noah?
- How can we know for certain that the apostle Peter uses the words "heaven" and "earth" in a symbolic sense, when he speaks of heaven and earth being "dissolved"?
- Whom only did God find righteous in the days just prior to the flood?
- In which book of the Bible is the flood referred to as a symbol of baptism?
- By what means can man be saved from the destruction that is to come upon this civilisation?
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