Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. This is study #1 of Genesis, chapter 4 and we are going to read Genesis 4:1-2:
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from JEHOVAH. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
I will stop reading there. Time is continuing and history is beginning to unfold from the point of God’s “good” creation until the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. God pronounced the curse upon creation and upon man and Adam and Eve turn their attention to living in this world. Of course, that is what mankind has done ever since. We are born into the world and we spend our days living in this world. Men have married women and had children down through the many centuries since 11,013BC, but the first family was the family of Adam and Eve. They had their first child and that child was Cain. It says in Genesis 4:1:
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from JEHOVAH.
The word “knew” means that Adam had intimacy or sexual relations with his wife. God had made intimate sexual relations a good thing within the marriage relationship and through that intimacy God often blesses people with children. Eve had her first son born into the world. Adam was created from the dust of the ground and Eve was created from Adam’s rib, so Cain was the first person born through the natural method that God had established and every other human being in human history would be born “I have gotten a man from JEHOVAH.” Eve must have remembered what God had told her concerning childbirth in the previous chapter, in Genesis 3:16:
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
The Lord had told Eve that sorrow would be joined with conception and that in sorrow she would bring forth children. Eve must have considered this when they named their son Cain. The name “Cain”* is Strong’s #7014 and it is very similar to Strong’s #7015, which is a word that means “lamentations,” which are an expression of sorrow and grief. Cain’s name means “lamentations” and Eve had just experienced the pain and sorrow of childbirth and God’s words were ringing in her mind and she called his name Cain.
Then it says in Genesis 4:2:
And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
We are not told how much time had passed after Cain and Abel were born. God does not give us specifics concerning a timeline, even with the birth of Cain. We know the fall was right near the beginning in 11,013BC. This could have been the next year or the next year. However, more than likely, it is happening fairly quickly. God would have created Eve very fertile and it was necessary that she bare many children in order to begin being fruitful and populating the earth. Since there were no methods of birth control, there would not have been a way to prevent a pregnancy and they would not even have known of any way. Very likely, Cain was born in the year 11,012BC. Then there may have been a short passage of time of maybe a few months and then Eve gave birth to a second son named Abel.
The name “Abel” is Strong’s #1893 and it is the same Hebrew word as Strong’s #1892, which is often translated as “vanity.” It says in Psalm 39:5:
Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.
It is also used in Psalm 39:11:
When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah.
It is the same word that is used over and over in the Book of Ecclesiastes. It says in Ecclesiastes 1:2:
Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; allis vanity.
This word is the name that Eve gave Abel. The name “Abel”* means “vanity.” We will see this in more detail later, but it is interesting that Abel was the child of God. He was a righteous man because he was saved. It is only God’s elect that are rescued from “vanity.” All the unsaved people of the earth live lives of “vanity,” ultimately. Something is “vain” due to its temporal nature or due to the fact that it perishes. A man born into this world is altogether vanity because he will soon die. He is the like the beasts that perish and he will be annihilated and gone forever. On the final Day of Judgment even his ashes will be destroyed and there will be nothing left of him – he has experienced a vain life.
Why did Eve name this son a name that means “vanity”? It could be because she had experienced the effects of God’s curse upon sin: “In the day that ye eat thereof, ye shall surely die.” God’s punishment and the pronouncement of God’s wrath upon sin made Adam and Eve’s lives vain. They could have lived forever and their lives could have been full of meaning and purpose. The things they put their hands to and built would have been long lasting. There would have no death, no rust and no corruption. Vanity came in with sin and, for some reason, she named Abel a word that means “vanity.”
In God’s predestination plan, God selected Abel to become saved from the foundation of the world when Christ took upon Himself the sins of all His people. Christ took the sins of Abel and as the Lamb was slain and died for Abel’s sins, God thereby obligated Himself to save Abel and it was guaranteed by God that He would become saved at some point in his life. At his birth it is likely that he was unsaved. He was born a child of wrath, even as others and that is how the vast majority of mankind are born into the world. We are unsaved like all the other people in the world, but the difference is that we are one of the elect and God, in due time, will bring the Gospel to the elect.
Cain and Abel had parents that had a relationship with God. They were God’s offspring. God said that He begat Adam. When we looked at the genealogy in the New Testament it went back to Adam and it said that God “begat” him and, therefore, Adam was the son of God. Even if Adam was never saved, he would have been in a position like a “professed Christian” or a “circumcised Jew.” He would have been part of the family of God (at least outwardly) and identified with God. Being the son of God, he was good for a time and he had conversation with God. God spoke to him directly and he received divine revelation from God, just as Israel was the caretaker of the oracles of God and just as the New Testament churches received the Bible. They had communication from God and God gave them divine revelation even though they were corporate entities. Within those corporate bodies there were both the saved and the unsaved and, yet, God established Israel of old and the New Testament church.
So, we have Adam and Eve and they have a relationship with God, although that relationship was certainly strained through sin and they were separated from God because of it and, yet, God is still the one that directed Adam to go till the ground, and so forth. At the very least, they had heard the Word of God and we can be sure that Adam and Eve would have told their children the story. Just imagine that you are little Cain or little Abel and you see your parents and there are no other human beings. Once you learn to talk, you would ask questions or the mother and father would naturally tell you, “Here is our history. Here is our life story.” What would be Adam’s life story? He would say, “I was created from the dust of the ground.” You might have said, “You are my mom and you are my dad, but where are your mom and dad?” What would Adam and Eve have told them? Adam would have said, “We do not have parents like you, but my Father is God. And God did a very interesting thing to make your mother. He took one of my ribs and formed your mother.” Just through the family story they would have heard the Gospel. The Gospel is the truth of the Bible, the Word of God, and it would have included the truth about God the Creator. Adam would have said to his sons, “God created us. That is how we came to be.” At that time he would not have had the lies that man later developed, like the theory of evolution or anything like that. He just told the facts as he knew them: “Everything around us, including the world and the animals were created by God. There was a tree God told us about in the midst of the Garden of Eden called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told us not to eat of it and if we ate of it we would die. We disobeyed God and we ate of it.” By telling their young boys this information, they would have been laying out the Gospel. By saying that they disobeyed God they would have been saying they were sinners. They would have told them about the tree of life, also, and there would have been sufficient information because it only takes a single declaration from the mouth of God to save a sinner.
Abel, at some point, heard these accounts and he heard the Word of God and God blessed that Word to his heart: “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Abel became born again as God put into effect his salvation. He was already predestinated and his sins had been paid for by Christ from the foundation of the world, but there was a moment when God would have applied the shed blood of the Lamb to the heart of Abel and Abel became saved. It could have happened when Abel was one year old or five years old or 15 years old. We do not know. Later it would go on to say that in the process of time Cain brought an offering from the fruit of the ground and Abel brought of the firstling of the flock as his offering. Then we know that Cain rose up and slew his brother Abel. That had to have happened many years later. They would not have brought offerings as 12-year olds. They may have been in their 20s or 30s, so two or three decades had passed from the time of creation and God summarizes their lives in just a few verses.
Adam and Eve gave names to Cain and Abel and the names are telling us, perhaps, of a sense of despondency. We cannot imagine what it was like to have been perfect, good and holy, with everything around you also being perfect, good and right. There was no sin, no disease, no thorns or thistles and no animals killing another animal, and so forth. There was nothing negative or bad. That is what they had known. Incredibly, they had experienced that for a week, a month or two months or however long it was until the fall. They had known “good” and they had an intimate and personal relationship with God, but then it came to an end. It was ruined. They disobeyed God. God came and pronounced a curse upon the entire creation. They must have begun to see it by the time Eve experienced nine months of pregnancy and gave birth and then a short time later there was another nine months of pregnancy and a second birth. A couple of years may have passed and they named their children “lamentation” and “vanity.”
Just imagine the changes that would have taken place in the world during that time. They would have seen the tiger or the lion that had previously been peaceful, but now they are chasing down and killing other animals and tearing them to pieces and consuming them. There would have been blood everywhere. They would have seen other animals that began to fight with one another and to run away from one another. There would have been effects on the greenery or forest. Everything had been beautiful, but then there were weeds and thistles and thorns. These things had not been there before. Things are going wrong – a little thing here and a little thing there. Adam and Eve would be snapping at one another and becoming angry and arguing with one another, but before they sinned they would have gotten along in perfect harmony and bliss. They would never have said these things before. Little by little, they would have seen the evidence of the curse God had placed upon the earth. Even in childbirth, Eve would have experienced pain, struggle and difficulty and in sorrow she brings forth children.
You know, when you have had something valuable and important and it is very good and then you lose it because of what you did in your foolishness and stupidity, it is horrible. This was not just a million dollars and it was not just a beautiful house or car. People feel badly about losing riches, but this treasure was worth that and a thousand times more. It was a goodness and perfection that was lost and gone forever. Every little thing would have been a reminder to Adam and Eve of what they had done (in their sin). There would be an animal carcass over there, the result of another animal attacking and consuming it: “This was a result of what we did.” Then there was a storm that rolled in with a lightning strike or an earthquake that shook the ground and it was all a result or consequence of your wrong decision. It was one wrong decision of disobeying God and then one bad thing after another accumulates and it would have weighed like a heavy burden upon Adam and Eve. They had lost this wonderful relationship with God.
Well, we have seen that Adam is a type and figure of the Lord Jesus Christ and Eve was called the mother of all living. She was a picture of Jerusalem above and the bride of Christ, the elect, and she gave birth to two sons, Cain and Abel. We know from the Bible that Cain was unsaved and Abel was saved. If Adam is a picture of Christ, how is it possible that he had relations with Eve and through it came forth both the saved and unsaved? We will take a closer look at that question when we get together in our next Bible study.