Why did it have to happen?
Many a parent has asked that question, if not audibly, then in his soul, “Why did it have to happen to my child?”
And try once to imagine the grief, and the deep despair that would have filled the souls of Adam and Eve, were it not for the grace of God, to learn not only of the murder of their second son by the firstborn, but also of his thoroughly ungodly attitude, utter contempt for all the things of God, and complete separation from the sphere of the church of that day!
Indeed, God gave them another son in the place of Abel. But why did it have to go this way? Why could Abel not have lived, even if Cain would show his depravity and would depart from the presence of God?
But is this not a time when the church ought to be growing instead of the world? The seed of the serpent has a tremendous advantage here already. God did not give to Adam and Eve another son until Adam was one hundred thirty years old. And when Seth is born Cain already has grandchildren. In the world there is a population explosion, that is, in comparison with what is taking place in the church.
Daughters were born to Adam and Eve without a doubt, even though no literal mention is made of this fact. Cain got his wife that way. He married, and had to marry, his sister in order to have a wife. And through his sister-wife he begins a city of unbelievers that develops in sin to produce the arrogance and murder of Lamech, and the progress in sin of the sons of Lamech that furthers the quest of man for the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, the things in the world, which John speaks of in I John 2:15and which he warns us not to love. The world has a big “jump” on the church numerically at the very dawn of history.
It would seem with the eyes of unbelief that God is always a step behind the devil. O, it would probably be conceded that in the long run God is still going to win out, since He is mightier and wiser than the devil. But without that faith that sees God as the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, Who does all His own good pleasure, without faith in God as the ALMIGHTY Who has the devil completely and entirely in His control, Who alone is God so that Satan is no little god besides Him, it would look to be all wrong. This forward leap of the world while the church receives no seed to replace Abel seems to predict defeat for the church, or at least a desperate struggle to survive and to overcome.
Again we ask the question, “Why did it have to happen?”
In answer we may point out that Adam and Eve—and we, as we give serious consideration to this history which God preserved for us—must learn certain truths. First of all, the awfulness of their own sin must be impressed upon their minds. It was but a simple act of eating a piece of forbidden fruit, as far as its outward aspects were concerned. But it was the deed of an inner rebellious heart of hatred against the living God. It was an act of idolatry in that it was, as Paul writes to the Ephesians, 5:5, an act of coveting God’s position. And now they see the awfulness of the rebellion that came to dwell in their hearts, when they see the murder and wholly unspiritual attitude of their firstborn over against all his evil way. They learned their own misery by what they saw in the development of their sin in the life of their firstborn. They learned the doctrine of total depravity without going to a theological school. They began to understand the spiritual death into which they had fallen the day that they ate of the forbidden fruit. They learned to understand what that seed of sin sown in paradise by their act of rebellion can and will produce.
They had, also to learn—as well as we do still today—to trust God’s promises and to wait patiently for Him to execute His own good counsel. It must have been trying for them. For they had the promise from no one less than the Almighty God that they would have a seed that would destroy the seed of the serpent. They were looking squarely at that seed of the serpent with heavy hearts. For he was their flesh and blood, and these were their grandchildren. Nothing can change that! And let us not be so foolish as to think that grandparents today are more human than Adam and Eve. They were the first human beings, and everything that we find in ourselves, we got from them, also our grandfatherly and grandmotherly “pride” and concern.
And after God gave them two seeds—although at first they had no way of knowing which was the seed of the woman and which was the seed of the serpent, nor even whether both were not the seed of the woman—and the seed of the serpent kills the seed of the woman, God gave them nothing but daughters! Frustrating? Discouraging? Well, what do you think?
For one hundred thirty years, and certainly for a considerable period of time that began with the murder of Abel, Adam and Eve longed for a son for the sake of that covenant promise. They rejoiced when daughters were born. They did not despise or resent them. Their disappointment since Abel’s murder was not a hatred or resentment against those daughters. It was not resentment against God either. It was disappointment that as yet they did not receive that seed of the woman.
Their faith did not leave them, though at times it was sorely tried, and doubts arose and controlled them for periods of time. They still looked for the Christ by looking and waiting for that male child to be born who would take Abel’s place. But doubts did arise. Impatience did trouble them. Their wicked son begat sons, and these begat more wicked sons. The Antichristian kingdom of that day prospers while the covenant community seems stopped. You could almost hear Goliath’s cry come up out of the land of Nod, “Give me a man that we may fight together. I bruised the heel of Abel. Give me another of those religious fanatics that we may see what will come to pass of that promise of bruising my head!” And Adam and Eve had to answer, “As of the moment we have no man to fight God’s cause.” Yes, that is what they would have said. It would not have been, “We have no man.” It would be, “As yet, as of the moment, we have not been given a man, but we expect one!”
And the proof of this is in that name which Eve gave to this son who finally appeared on the scene, when they were one hundred thirty years old. For she called him Seth, which means “appointed.” And she explains that name as meaning that “God had appointed her another seed instead of Abel whom Cain slew.”
Actually the word Seth comes from a verb which means to place or to put. Now this can be explained as a replacement, and Seth was Abel’s replacement; but the beauty of the truth here is not to be missed. Adam’s and Eve’s disappointment in the death and murder of Abel, in the wicked walk of Cain, and in the fact that God gave them but daughters when the whole covenant promise demanded a son, is over, And they are no longer disappointed because God has appointed a son in Abel’s place. Covenant confidence is what explains this name.
Covenant confidence is what Adam and Eve retained all through these years. But they also learned to be patient. For our covenant God cannot be hurried, has His own schedule, and will keep it to the minute.
Let childless covenant husbands and wives take heart. The child they desire and for which they pray may not come for many years. It may not come at all. We have no promise that all believing husbands and wives are going to be blessed with children. But we have no word of God either to childless parents who pray for such a child that God is not going to put the wisdom of learned men to naught; and we have seen it happen time and again that those told that they would have no children received them at the moment that God saw fit to give them to them And if He does not give them children, let them take heart in the truth that He gave us His Son, and rejoice in that truth that, Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given (Isaiah 9:6) Who is THE SEED of the Woman Who gives us the victory over Cain and his whole brood of evil doers, including the Antichrist and Cain’s spiritual father, the devil, the serpent himself.
And in the light of this birth of Seth unto Adam and Eve we can understand that statement that follows—and is added immediately after the recording of the birth of Seth’s son for that very reason—that “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.”
The nucleus of the church is now established in the human race. To it Adam and Eve belonged together with their believing daughters—one of whom had to be Seth’s wife—but now we have a third generation of believers, a father, son and grandchild in the sphere of the church. And even though the godless community in the land of Nod was far greater in its numerical strength, here is the little flock of God’s church, the handful of believers that stand as a witness over against the whole world.
They began to manifest themselves also as a church, and as a band of believers. They called upon the name of the Lord. This does not mean that now men began to pray to God. Adam and Eve had done that from the day of their expulsion from Paradise. Cain and Abel did that; only, as Solomon points out, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord; but the prayer of the upright is His delight.” But even Cain called upon the name of the Lord in an outward, formal sense.
No, they began to assemble on the Sabbath, to meet together, to live in the exercise of the communion of saints. And God had made this possible by giving to Adam and Eve another believing son, and to this son a believing son. Now they could hold religious services with their families. Now they could meet together and speak with one another about the truth that God had revealed to them concerning Himself, for that, after all is His name. They called on His name.
Adam could not do that with Cain, for he went out from the presence of the Lord and was through with Him, because He would not accept His sacrifice. But now, although it is such a very small church, it is the church of God of that day, and it begins to manifest itself as such before the world of unbelievers.
The antithesis that became evident in the two sacrifices of Cain and Abel, took on a sharper focus, and revealed an ever widening, spiritual generation gap between Adam and Cain that now becomes even more distinct in Cain’s going out from the presence of God to begin to establish the kingdoms of this world, and in the little band of believing seed of Adam and Eve meeting to call upon the name of the Lord. World and Church are becoming quite distinct.
And do not forget that it all began with one family, with two people, a husband and a wife. Out from them issued these two seeds; and out from God came the Spirit to put enmity in the hearts of some to be haters of the serpent and his brood and to be lovers of God. That, and that only explains that in Adam and Eve, and down to this day in their spiritual seed, there is covenant confidence. Dark as the days ahead may be when the seed of the serpent will do all the violence he can against the seed of the woman that calls upon the name of the Lord, that Spirit of God, because of the obedience and death of THE SEED of the woman, will keep covenant confidence in the church until Christ returns.
Christ is actually the Seth that replaced Abel. And He is the one Who presently brings all the spiritual seed of Adam to live with Abel in the glory of God’s kingdom