Sermon title: Adam and Eve’s Dysfunctional Family

Genesis 4:1-15

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, September 19, 2021

 

 

Some families seem to have it all together.

 

The parents have little trouble with their kids.

 

The kids go off to college, or into the military,

and come back to hold a good job,

marrying, buying a home,

and raising a family of their own.

 

Other families are called “dysfunctional”

because family members are in and out of jail,

in and out of alcohol or drug rehab,

never holding a job more than a few months,

and having noticeable problems all the time.

 

Sometimes, though, the families

that seem to have it all together

are just better at hiding what is really going on.

And even they often have a dysfunctional Uncle “Fred”

that everyone else has to keep an eye on.

 

“Don’t leave the checkbook sitting out on the table

when Uncle Fred visits.

It might not be there when he leaves.”

 

And, when babies are born, everyone holds their breath,

hoping the new addition to the family

hasn’t inherited Uncle Fred’s bad traits.

 

But, the truth is that we are all members

of a dysfunctional family.

 

And we’ve all inherited bad traits.

 

The problem goes back to our first parents Adam & Eve,

and the dysfunctional family they raised

after they sinned against God

and were expelled from the Garden of Eden.

 

Genesis calls Eve “the mother of everyone living,”

so we are all part of that family.

 

The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans that

 

12 When Adam sinned,

sin entered the world.

 

Adam’s sin brought death,

so death spread to everyone,

for everyone sinned.

 

The Genesis account is sketchy,

giving us only the highlights,

and omitting most of the details,

but we learn enough from that brief account to know

that Adam & Eve had a dysfunctional family.

 

What else can you call it,

when the first-born son murders his younger brother?

 

Fighting seemed to run in the family, as the

great-grandson of that murderer’s grandson

also was a killer.

 

Nearly everyone knows that Cain killed Abel,

but a lesser-known fact is that

his close descendant Lamech was also a killer.

 

In the same 4th Chapter of Genesis,

where we read how Cain killed Abel,

just a few verses farther along,

we find Lamech saying,

 

“I killed a man for bruising me,

a young man for wounding me.”

 

Another translation renders that,

 

“I have killed a man for wounding me;

And a boy for striking me.”

 

Commentators have various takes on the original language

and are divided over whether Lamech killed

a single individual or two people—

a man and a boy.

But, in any case, here was another violent member

of Adam & Eve’s extended family—

a family that was so dysfunctional

that it produced two killers, Cain and Lamech.

 

And besides those two,

whoever it was that struck and wounded Lamech,

provoking his murderous response—

whether it was one man, or a man & a boy—

they were also violent members

of Adam & Eve’s dysfunctional family.

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Now, some who are familiar with Bible genealogy

may say we have not inherited genes

from Cain or Lamech.

 

They may say that Cain’s line ended in the Flood,

because only Noah and his family survived,

and Noah was descended from

a different son of Adam—not Cain.

 

(By the way, Noah’s father was named Lamech,

but that was a different Lamech—not the killer.)

 

Yes, everyone alive today descended from Noah’s family.

 

That means we inherited genes from Noah and his sons,

and we also have genes from their wives.

 

And Scripture doesn’t tell us anything at all

about the family line of descent of Noah’s wife

or his three sons’ wives.

 

Some or all of them may have sprung

from Cain’s family—maybe even through Lamech—

we just don’t know.

 

In any case, sin didn’t begin with Cain

it began with his parents Adam & Eve,

and we are all descended from Adam & Eve.

 

So, we are all part of that large, world-embracing

dysfunctional human family.

----------------------------

 

In fact, one way that the modern human family

shows that it continues to be dysfunctional today,

is the large numbers of people

who reject their Christian heritage and

look for answers anywhere but the Bible.

 

They don’t want to accept what the Bible says

about how they should live,

so they raise objections to the Genesis account

and deny that we all came from Adam & Eve.

 

One way they try to undermine belief in the Bible

is by throwing out the question,

“Where did Cain get his wife?”

 

They aren’t looking for the Bible’s answer—

they throw out that question as a challenge,

an objection.

 

And then they go on to claim that

Cain must have found other people,

who were not descended from Adam & Eve,

and must have taken a wife from

this supposed group.

 

And that “proves the Bible false,” they say.

 

But there’s no real basis for making such a claim.

 

Rather, the Bible is clear that Eve was

the mother of everyone living.”

 

So, where did Cain get his wife?

 

The answer is found at Genesis 5:4, where it says Adam

had other sons and daughters.”

 

Yes, daughters were born to Adam & Eve—

likely many of them.

 

Cain must have married one of his sisters.

 

Or, if Abel had fathered girls before Cain murdered him,

Cain may have married one of those

who would have been a niece of his.

 

Such close intermarriage would be dangerous today,

likely to produce offspring with health issues.

 

And so, it’s illegal to marry a close relative.

 

In fact, God prohibited marrying a close relative

in the Laws of Moses that he gave to Israel

when they were set free from slavery in Egypt.

 

His instructions in Leviticus told them,

 

You must not have sexual relations

with your sister.

 

But, thousands of years before that,

when the human family was just starting out,

such inbreeding did not cause problems,

and was not outlawed.

 

The genes in Adam & Eve’s offspring

included all the variety that eventually produced

the various races of mankind,

so close inbreeding was not an issue.

 

In fact, it was a necessity,

because there was no one else to marry.

 

So, Cain did not sin by marrying his sister or his niece.

 

That’s what all of Adam & Eve’s children had to do.

 

But the dysfunctional nature of Adam & Eve’s offspring

was certainly demonstrated

by Cain’s murdering his brother,

and then, in a later generation,

by Lamech’s killing one or two others.

 

And those killings were just

the headline-grabbing problems

in that early human family.

 

Killing someone made it into the pages of the Bible

just as killing someone today

makes it into the news media headlines.

 

But those spectacular acts of violence

were just prominent symptoms

of lives that were all messed-up by sin.

-----------------------

 

Leading up to the murder Cain committed,

we read that he and his brother Abel

both offered sacrifices to God.

 

The account tells us,

 

Now Abel was a keeper of sheep,

while Cain was a tiller of the soil.

 

3 So in the course of time, Cain

brought some of the fruit of the soil

as an offering to the LORD,

4 while Abel brought the best portions

of the firstborn of his flock.

And the LORD looked with favor on Abel

and his offering,

5 but He had no regard for Cain

and his offering.

 

Now, some people try to say that the problem

was that Cain’s sacrifice was grain or vegetables

rather than meat.

 

But I see no basis for such an interpretation.

 

God’s laws to the Jews that Moses delivered years later

included both animal sacrifices

and sacrifices of grain

and other first-fruits of the soil.

 

No, the main reason God rejected Cain’s offering

was Cain’s attitude and behavior—

not which grocery aisle his sacrifice came from—

produce instead of deli.

 

He went through the motions of offering a sacrifice,

but he had a sinful heart

that was turning away from God.

 

The account goes on to say,

 

So Cain became very angry,

and his countenance fell.

 

6 “Why are you angry,” said the LORD

to Cain, “and why has your countenance

fallen?

7 If you do what is right, will you not

be accepted? But if you refuse

to do what is right, sin is crouching

at your door; it desires you,

but you must master it.”

 

Even before going through the motions

of making that offering to God,

Cain was already refusing to do what is right,

and was entertaining sin.

 

God warned him to resist sin,

but instead, Cain went on to murder his brother.

 

We don’t know what was going on in Cain’s life,

but it must have been something serious

for God to warn him about it

and to reject Cain and his sacrifice.

---------------------------------

 

So, when we look at the familiar story

of how Cain murdered his brother Abel,

it helps us understand why so many of us

have dysfunctional families today.

 

The tendency to sin was passed on to us

from our first parents, Adam & Eve,

and it continues to disrupt our families today,

just as it disrupted Adam & Eve’s family,

with the elder son murdering his brother.

 

King David wrote in the 51st Psalm,

 

Surely I was sinful at birth,

sinful from the time

my mother conceived me.

 

In another translation it says,

 

For I was born a sinner—yes,

from the moment my mother conceived me.

 

We were all born sinners, part of that sinful,

dysfunctional human family.

 

What hope is there for us?

 

Our hope is to be adopted into a different family—

God’s family.

 

Our heavenly Father sent Jesus to die,

so that we can be adopted into God’s family.

 

Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians,

 

“Even before he made the world,

God loved us and chose us in Christ

to be holy and without fault

in his eyes.

 

God decided in advance to adopt us

into his own family by bringing us

to himself through Jesus Christ.”

 

The way we are adopted into God’s family

is by being “born again.”

 

Our Lord Jesus explained it to Nicodemus,

when he told him,

 

"That which is born of the flesh

is flesh,

and that which is born of the Spirit

is spirit.

Do not be amazed that I said to you,

'You must be born again.'”

 

We are born again when we put faith in Christ.

 

Yes, an amazing, miraculous thing happens

when we turn to Christ,

to put faith in him as our Savior

and to follow him as our Lord.

 

It’s an invisible thing that no one can see,

but God sends his Holy Spirit into our hearts

to give us new birth—

birth into his heavenly family.

 

Paul wrote to the Galatian church

that God sent his Son, so

that we might receive our adoption

as sons.

6 And because you are sons,

God sent the Spirit of His Son

into our hearts, crying out,

“Abba, Father!”

 

“Abba” is an Aramaic-language term like “Daddy”

that children would use in talking to their father.

 

And our adoption into God’s family

puts us in that sort of relationship

with our heavenly Father—as his little children.

It happens because, when we put faith in Christ

and become his followers,

God puts his Spirit into our hearts—

the Spirit of adoption as God’s children.

 

Paul wrote to the Roman church,

 

15 For you did not receive the spirit

of slavery to fall back into fear,

but you have received

the Spirit of adoption as sons,

by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

 

16 The Spirit himself bears witness

with our spirit that we are

children of God,

 

As children of God, part of God’s family,

we are no longer doomed to behave

like children of Adam & Eve.

 

Although we were born into their dysfunctional family,

our adoption as children of God gives us new life,

to live as Jesus did.

 

And it guarantees us our place in heaven

when Christ returns,or when our own time comes

to leave this troubled earth.

 

The Apostle John wrote in his Gospel,

 

...as many as received Him,

to them He gave the right

to become children of God,

even to those who believe in His name

 

So, when we become believers in Jesus,

we become children of God.

 

What a blessing!

 

And that’s just one more confirmation of God’s love.

 

John also wrote in his first Letter,

 

See how very much our Father loves us,

for he calls us his children,

and that is what we are!

 

So, as we go through the troubles of this world,

we do well to remind ourselves

that we are born again as children of God.

 

We are no longer part of the dysfunctional world around us,

but we have been adopted into the family of God.

 

Just as Jesus—the only-begotten Son of God—

suffered rejection and persecution and physical pain

while here on earth,

we, too, have trials to go through,

as we wait to be taken home to heaven.

 

But it is only for a little while,

compared with the everlasting eternity ahead of us

in the loving presence of the heavenly Father

who has adopted us.