skyscraper January 2 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Genesis 4:1- 6:8; 1Chronicles 1:1-4

Judgment and Grace

Parents want their adult children to live responsible or even godly lives. However, sometimes they cause them grief. Perhaps they commit crimes, use drugs or become alcoholics. Or, they do other foolish things and get into financial trouble, mistreat their family members and, if married, end up divorced. This can even happen after parents faithfully and lovingly support their children and all their activities. They may take them to church, and their children may make professions of faith and be baptized. If parents have done these things, how is it that their children sometimes turn away from God? How can they be turned back to him? Today's Bible study may help us answer these questions.

In our Bible reading in Genesis we last left Adam and Eve cast out of the Garden of Eden, each having received a curse for his or her sins. Now as they begin to have children their sin natures are genetically passed on to them. Thus, we have the first reason people turn away from God, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NIV). “Sin entered the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12b, NIV). Each person inherits a sin nature; nevertheless, every man and woman is responsible for his or her own sins (Ezekiel 18:20).

Sin causes jealousy and strife. In today's Bible reading there is sibling rivalry between Cain and Abel, the two adult boys of Adam and Eve. These young men bring offerings to God. Cain is angry because Abel's offering is accepted but his is not. Why does God favor Abel's offering over Cain's? The answer is that Cain's offering is a grain offering, a contribution from his crops (the text does not say his grain offering is the first fruit of his crops). Abel's offering is a sacrifice, the sacrifice of one of his firstborn sheep. It is a better gift born from a righteous heart (Hebrews 11:4). His gift pictures what Jesus would later do for us— the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world by offering himself as a sacrifice for our sin (John 1:29; 1Peter 3:18).

God favors Abel's sacrifice, and this makes Cain jealous. Jealousy is a powerful emotion caused by our sin nature. God tells Cain that sin is “crouching [like a lion ready to devour] at the door. You must master it” (Genesis 4:7, NIV). How can Cain master it? Cain can master it in the same way we can master it— through faith in God and obedience to him. Cain fails, and it leads him to murder his brother. Because of Cain's sin he is banished and cursed. Sin can lead to devastating results. God is merciful not to kill Cain; however, he is banished from the fertile land of Eden. Nevertheless, God graciously protects him.

In Genesis 5, there is a genealogical record of Adam's descendants. The reader might notice there is a chosen line of descendants from Adam. Adam's firstborn son is Cain, but neither he nor Abel are mentioned in this genealogy. Seth is the first of the chosen line, and thereafter certain individuals from his family tree are also part of it. Why is this? The answer is that God is selecting a family line which he is choosing to favor. This line will lead to the formation of the nation of Israel through Abraham's seed and later to Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1-16). We who have called upon God for our salvation also have a family relationship with him—although most of us are not Jewish, we are his adopted children through his Son Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14).This is amazing grace.

Seth, Enoch, and Noah are particularly bright lights in the genealogy of Adam and Eve. When Enosh, Seth's son, is born, “men began to call upon the name of the LORD,” (Genesis 4:26, NIV). Did this happen by chance? Probably not. It seems after Enosh is born, Seth takes his father role seriously; he leads his children to seek the LORD, when for a time his own generation did not.

If Seth does this for his family so they might call upon the name of the LORD, shouldn't we do the same? Do we set the example of worship and devotion by daily spending personal time with God? This one-year daily chronological Bible study is a good way to do it, and we help you stay on track. Do we lead our families to seek the LORD by spending time with them in Bible study and prayer? Do we go to church with them? Do we serve the LORD together? If we do, our children will learn to call upon the LORD and seek him.

A casual reading of Genesis 5 also shows us that the consequences of sin brings death. Although they live a very long time, death comes to Adam and Eve and all their descendants. The phrase in Genesis 5 “And he died” occurs at the end of the record of each person's life. The Apostle Paul will later write “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 6:23, NIV). Have you accepted God's gift of eternal life? (more...) Christians, it is good to live our lives for God, for we only have a short life on this earth to please him (James 4:14).

A question many people have when they read the early chapters of Genesis is, how did the people in that era live so long? Different theories have been espoused regarding the answer to this question (more …), but perhaps, because of our sin nature, God does not want us to continue living long lives. We may feel grief over the loss of a good person, but we feel relief over the death of an evil person. What kind of a world might we live in if evil people were still allowed to live, not just 70-80 years but 800 to 900? We already know what might happen when we read the account of Noah (Genesis 6:1-7).

It grieved God that in Noah's day man's wickedness was so great that “every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5, NIV). Because of this we God was going to wipe mankind and all land and air creatures off the face of the earth. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD,” (v.8, NIV). This is judgment, but in God's judgment he is often gracious.

Lessons to Live By

•  Everyone is born a sinner and must bear the consequences for his choices.

•  A personal relationship with Jesus and obedience are the keys to mastering our sins. (more...)

•  God preserves the godly line of those who are faithful and who faithfully instruct their children to love and obey the LORD.

•  It is good to live our lives for God, for we only have a short life on this earth to please him.

•  God judges sin, but he is often merciful and gracious, especially to those who have a changed heart and live differently than their evil culture. If you have a child who has turned away from God, pray that God will be merciful and change his or heart.

Today's Bible Memory Verse

Psalm 143:1 (NIV) “O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.”

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A Look Ahead: Will God put up with evil forever? When is there a need for God to Remove and Renew? Find out in our Next Lesson.

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