Bible Study

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable ...”

Through the Bible Dispensationally

Left arrow   Prev chapter Table of Contents Next chapter   Right arrow

The Dispensation of Conscience

The Adamic Age

(From the Expulsion to the Flood — Genesis 3:22-8:19)

The expulsion of man from the garden of Eden closes the dispensation of innocence and opens the dispensation of conscience. Man is no longer without a knowledge of good and evil. He knows good and he knows evil, but lo, he finds himself under the dominion of the evil one and without strength or help to attain the good. He must make his home in a sin-cursed world, earning his living by the sweat of the brow as he tills the sin-cursed soil, which as a result of the curse, brings forth thorns and thistles. We find the record of this expulsion in the last three verses of the third chapter of Genesis.

Cain and Abel

So far as the Bible record is concerned, Cain is Eve's first child and Abel is the second. Let us bear in mind, however, that the inspired record does not so state that they are the first born of Adam and Eve. There may have been children born to Adam and Eve whose names are not mentioned in the Bible. As we read the first five verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis, we find Cain and Abel appear on the scene. They are born of a fallen father and a fallen mother and into a sin-cursed world. One is a tiller of the ground and the other is a keeper of sheep. "In the process of time it came to pass that Cain, the tiller of the ground, brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord, and Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof."

The part of this passage which attracts our attention and is certainly a puzzle to the natural mind, is the fact that God had respect unto Abel and his offering, but unto Cain and his offering He had not respect. Both of the boys were sinners, because they were born of sinful parents. Adam and Eve had fallen, consequently their children were fallen. "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one" (Job 14:4). Each one of the boys brought an offering unto the Lord, and we certainly have no reason to doubt but that Cain brought the choicest of the fruits of the ground. The fact remains, however, that God had respect unto Abel and his offering, but unto Cain and his offering He had not respect. As we compare Scripture with Scripture, let us see just why our God thus dealt with Cain and Abel.

In Hebrews, the 11th chapter and the 4th verse, we find these words: "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 yet speaketh." Let us note the "By faith" of the above mentioned verse. Does it not appear that God had a definite understanding with man that he must come to God on a basis of shed blood? The coats of skins were provided by Him at a cost of innocent blood, and here we find Abel offering a blood sacrifice by faith. We know that "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). By comparing these Scriptures we must see that Abel and his offering typified the offering of the Lamb of God on the cross of Calvary. From Abel's lamb to the cross of Calvary, we have blood offerings as the only approach to God. From the cross of Calvary to the end of God's dealings with man, we have the blood of the cross as the only approach to God. The blood of bulls and of goats covered the sins of the Old Testament believer, while the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ took away the sins of both the Old and the New Testament believer (Romans 3:24-26).

We notice also that the 6th and 7th verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis reveal the fact that God gave Cain a second chance and even pointed out to him a sin offering which was lying at his door. Cain's rebellious heart would not yield to God's plan which required the blood, for "Without the shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22). Cain not only had a fallen countenance, but a fallen nature as well. He could have been received had he brought the blood offering, but in place of bringing blood as a sacrifice for his sins he yielded to his sinful nature and shed the blood of his brother Abel.

Why did Cain kill Abel? The answer is given in 1 John 3:12: "Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous." Here we find the first blood shed among the human race. It is also the beginning of the age-old conflict between evil and righteousness, which climaxed at the cross of Calvary where the evil heart of man satisfied itself by crucifying the righteous Son of God. "Men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).

Cain and His Wife

"Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived and bare Enoch." These are the very first words of the text in the 16th and 17th verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis. That time-worn question, "Who was the woman of the land of Nod whom Cain married?" has puzzled the minds of the multitude throughout the ages. The interesting fact is that the Word does not say that he married his wife in the land of Nod, but that in the land of Nod she bare him a son. Without a doubt, he took his wife with him when he went into this land east of Eden, and she was very probably his sister.

The descendants of Cain are described in Genesis 4, verses 16 to 22, as developing the first civilization. In this civilization, we find the pastoral life, and the development of arts and manufactures. Who knows but that this civilization was as splendid as that of Greece or Rome, or who can tell but that the manufacturing facilities of this early age were equal to the modern methods of today. We only know that the moral conditions became such as to provoke the divine judgment of the flood.

As the judgment of the flood was pending in Noah's day, so is judgment pending today. The great tribulation, a terrible judgment including all nations of the earth, will follow the rapture of the church. The church will not go through this tribulation on the earth. Israel will go trough the tribulation but will not be destroyed. Like Noah was kept through the flood, Israel, as a nation, will be kept through the tribulation.

Man went out from the presence of God, builded a city, and established a highly developed civilization, but God was not honored. The righteous one, Abel, had been killed. God sent Seth, who was the appointed one, to take the place of Abel, Genesis 4, verses 25-26. After sons were born unto Seth, men began to call themselves by the name of the Lord.

Even though Seth was appointed to take the place of righteous Abel, we find that the human race was not made righteous through his, or his descendants' testimonies. On the other hand we find in Genesis 6:5 that "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." In the 7th verse God said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them."

Noah and the Ark

Noah, who was descended from Seth, found grace in the eyes of the Lord. He is spoken of as a "just man and perfect in his generations and as one who walked with God" (Genesis 6:8-9). This, undoubtedly, has reference to the fact that he was free from the sin of inter-marriage mentioned in the second verse of this same chapter. We must not overlook the fact that Noah was an object of God's grace. He was not worthy of his place in God's plan and program of making sure the promise of Genesis 3:15.

According to God's instructions, the ark was built and the invitation was given to a proud, self-satisfied, and ungodly humanity to enter the ark and escape the judgment. The ark is a beautiful type of the Lord Jesus Christ, the ark of safety for whosoever will believe in Him during this age of grace. Notice how the ark had only one door and one window (Genesis 6:16). Compare John 10:9: "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture." How true it is that those who were saved from the judgment waters of the flood were saved because they entered in through the one door of the ark, and how true it is that those who are saved from the judgment, which is now pending, are saved because they enter in through the one door, which was opened by the Lord Jesus Christ when He shed His blood on the cross of Calvary. He is the one door. He is the one way, the truth, the life and no man can come to the Father except by Him. Thanks be to God for Christ, His unspeakable gift, for He is indeed the Saviour of the "whosoever will."

Noah, a preacher, of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5), stood by the door of the ark and preached the coming judgment and salvation through the ark until God shut the door. Note carefully Genesis 7:16: "And the Lord shut him in." Noah did not close the door himself, he did not just preach until he grew tired and weary, but he preached until God closed the door of salvation. Let us ever remember that in this age of grace our God is holding the door of salvation wide open and no man can shut it. It is not our place to count the converts and measure the success of our ministry by visible results. It is our place to preach the Word, in season and out of season, and stand by and see the salvation of the Lord as He uses the Word to convict the unsaved and as He draws them by the power of the Holy Spirit to the foot of the cross where the blood was shed for the remission of sins. Noah's long ministry resulted in only seven conversions and they were of his own household, yet he filled the place that God gave him to fill. He ministered until God closed the door. Let us be faithful as we declare the glorious gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth. We need not fear, the gospel will continue to be the power of God unto salvation to every believer until God raptures the church. What a privilege it is to preach the gospel of grace, yet what a responsibility, when we realize that unto some it is the savour of death unto death and to others the savour of life unto life. The next soul that is won for Christ may complete the body and rapture the church.

A wonderful statement is made in Genesis 8:1: "And God remembered Noah." What an interesting study we find in the Bible by going through and checking the things that God remembers and the things that he remembers not. He remembered Adam, and gave him a coat of skin, He remembered Abel and respected his offering, He remembered Abram and brought him back to Bethel, He remembered the children of Israel and brought them out of Egypt, He remembered man in his failure under the law and sent His only begotten Son, but the sins which are put away by the blood of the everlasting covenant, He remembers no more forever. So He remembered Noah and all that were with him in the Ark and He caused the waters to be abated and the ark to rest on Mount Ararat.

Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives came forth from the ark and walked again on the earth that had been purged of all the rest of the race. The flood was God's judgment visited upon the human race because of its wickedness. Grace was mingled with the judgment in that the ark was provided by God for those who would believe His testimony. When Noah and his family and all the living creatures came forth from the ark, a new dispensation was opened. The age of conscience was closed by the flood and the age of human government had its beginning with Noah and his family around the altar of burnt-offerings, where God met man to establish with him a new covenant.

Left arrow   Prev chapter Table of Contents Next chapter   Right arrow