Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 07/06/08
The Theocentric dispensations: The dispensation of the gentiles, the period of positive and negative volition.
Satan is not only the instigator of the first murder but the author of Cain's religion
Satan is not only the instigator of the first murder but the author of Cain's religion
We have been noting the first category of dispensations called the Theocentric dispensations which can be divided into three periods of time.
The first Theocentric dispensation we call the dispensation of the Gentiles because the Jewish race had not yet begun. It has three parts:
1. The period of positive volition.
2. The period of negative volition.
3. The period of the patriarchs.
The age of positive volition begins with the creation of mankind and ends with the fall of Adam and the woman, an unknown period of time. It started off with man and woman as trichotomous beings, that is having a body, soul and a human spirit. Both Adam and the woman (Ishshah) were created and placed in a perfect environment.
The age of negative volition is a part of the dispensation of the Gentiles. This era is when the first murder in history occurred when Cain murdered his brother Abel. Cain was the original criminal in human history, and we are told what was behind his crime. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous. (1JO 3:12)
So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. And Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." And Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
Cain murdered his brother Abel, because Abel fulfilled the principle of worship portraying the Lord Jesus Christ being judged for our sins. Abel offered an animal sacrifice while Cain offered only human good, his work or produce from the ground. Cain was a great farmer, but offering up human works instead of a blood sacrifice is like an individual today believing that mankind can be justified before God by his works. So, in the immediate era following the fall we have envy, jealousy, arrogance, and this was the motive for the first murder. This is a also the beginning in history of capital punishment which has been authorized form the time of the first murder, right down to this moment.
"And surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man's brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man." (GEN 9:5-6)
This is how crime must be controlled. This is the first statement of capital punishment. A murderer was to be executed, not rehabilitated, not counseled, but executed. If we executed everyone who committed murder, and everyone who is a rapist, (under the laws of Jurisprudence that God has designed), we would find that crime would decrease drastically.
GEN 9:6 is the beginning of capital punishment. This is not talking about killing in war, the commandment "Thou shall not kill" is incorrectly translated. It is "You shall not [ratsach] murder." Killing in warfare in defense of your country is honorable. The execution of criminals who murder is a must. Because the Jews practiced this, they had a very low crime rate, and they had no prisons.
Now, the reason for all this is given in verse 6, for in the image of God He created man. We need to note this very important principle concerning dispensations: a change in dispensation did not change the law of capital punishment. In Mat 26 Peter intended to defend the Lord with his life, and when the temple police stepped forward to seize our Lord, Peter pulled out a sword and cut off a soldiers ear.
Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword." (MAT 26:52).
The unlawful use of weapons, crime, violence, terrorism, rape, murder. All are areas where the sword is drawn illegally. All who draw the sword shall die by the sword. That means criminals who use weapons, and kill, must die by the sword. This is a perfect illustration of the fact that every dispensation has certain divine laws which apply to all of the dispensations. Capital punishment began in Gen 9; continued in the Mosaic Law, then in the Hypostatic-union, it continues in the Church-age. In the Tribulation period, terrorism is dealt with by capital punishment, and it will be practiced in the Millennium as well. Wherever people have old sin natures running wild, they will continue to commit murder, and they who do so should be executed.
Establishment principles remain basically the same throughout dispensations. The difference in dispensations is God's plan for believers, not the laws of divine establishment. The biblical concept then is capital punishment. The question that some ask is "If murder demands capital punishment then why did God allow Cain to keep on living?" The reason is that there was no law up to the time of Cain.
So the Lord said to him, "Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold." And the Lord appointed a sign or a mark for Cain, lest anyone finding him should slay him. (GEN 4:15)
The mark of Cain was the mark of divine protection not a mark of violence. The mark of Cain permits Cain to remain alive so that he can have an opportunity to be saved. God's grace permits the unbeliever to live on the earth even in direct defiance of God. Cain always defied God, but as long as was alive, he can always be saved by believing in Jesus Christ. So, God in His very own righteousness gives the unbeliever every chance to be saved. God took punishment into His own hands and protected the human race from further violence at this time. By God administering the punishment, the punishment is correct because God is perfect. A perfect God can only administer perfect punishment. By administering the punishment Himself, God keeps the human race from entering into warfare over whether the justice is correct or not.
People are always interested in what the mark of Cain was. It is impossible to tell whether it was some physical mark, some sign upon in his body, which indicated that he was God's property, or something else. We simply do not know. Whatever it was, it indicated to people that even though he was a murderer, God had speared his life for a reason. Cain was marked, but from that time on, any murder meant execution.
Notice that in the age of negative volition, a part of the dispensation of the Gentiles, the first murder was committed, and the first murder was due to a religious dispute. It was Cain's works and merits against Abel's bloody sacrifice or faith toward trusting in God for the sacrifice for his sin. Abel claimed that a bloody sacrifice was necessary. Cain claimed that an offering of works taken from the soil which God had cursed, was sufficient enough. Cain became angry, but he did not kill Abel that day.
The Bible tells us that Satan was not only the instigator of the first murder, but he was the author of Cain's religion. Religion started in the Garden and was perpetuated by Satan through Cain. So Cain fled and was the first one to build a city with all its filth and sin.
And Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch [not the Enoch who walked with God]; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son. (GEN 4:17)
Among the descendants of Cain were Jubal, the inventor of musical instruments, and Tubal-Cain, an instructor of workers in brass and iron. In those days, they used their knowledge and their genius to improve and build up a godless civilization. They didn't live for a mere 70 or 80 years, but for hundreds of years. Therefore, their accumulation of knowledge, experience, and skill advanced the arts and sciences and resulted in the invention and manufacture of all the appliances of a luxurious civilization. The building of the ark built by Noah, or the building of the tower of Babel, or the Great Pyramids all required a tremendous knowledge of mathematics and astronomy.
We tend to observe those days as primitive but they were not. The outcome of this brilliant but Godless civilization is described in Gen 6. In the midst of this Godless civilization a startling event occurred, Beni-ha-Elohim came on the scene in GEN 6:2. The outcome of this invasion of the earth by the fallen angels brought on the flood. The earth was changed thus wiping out the Garden of Eden, and it brought and end to the antediluvian age.
In this dispensation mankind was treated as a whole, there were no nations, no Mosaic Law, conscience was the standard of human conduct. It was the standard by which men accused or excused themselves.
For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them. (ROM 2:14-15)
God was very near to mankind in those days and His voice was heard in rebuke, as it was to Cain in GEN 4:14; in communion with Enoch in GEN 5:22-24; in counsel as with Noah in GEN 6:3. We must distinguish this Theocentric dispensation as one being one without law, and then the next Theocentric dispensation as the one under law. We're right back to the same principle: No matter what God does for mankind, mankind is still not satisfied. No matter what God gives to mankind, mankind always wants more. It doesn't matter if He gives them a set of laws and rules to follow. For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law; and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law (ROM 2:12).
While there was no written law in the dispensation before the flood, there was an unwritten law, written in the hearts of men. Therefore, the characteristics of this age are: An advance in fullness and clearness of divine revelation; then a gradual spiritual descend; followed by conformity to the evil of the world system appealing to the selfishness of mankind. Then a perverted mixture of a half angel-half human civilization; followed by an apostasy and finally a catastrophe. We find that this is the basic characteristic of every dispensation that follows.
"For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be." (MAT 24:37-39)
Mankind still ignores what God has revealed to every generation. A generation goes and a generation comes, But the earth remains forever (ECC 1:4). Generations come and generations go, but the world still remains. People are constantly coming and going through this world. Everyday a child is born, everyday a person dies, and planet earth is still here. One generation comes along trying to find happiness apart from God, and it disappears. Another generation comes along and makes the same mistake; then another, and another; and history continually repeats itself, so that we must conclude with the German philosopher Hegel (Ha-gel): "We learn from history that we learn nothing from history."
Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" And he said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" (GEN 4:9).
In reality, Cain is looking straight into the eyes of the Lord and lying to His face. Note that there's no fear, and definitely no respect for God. Apparently, Cain really did not learn, or simply rejected the doctrine of the essence of God (His omnipresence, omniscience, or omnipotence) as it was revealed in that dispensation. Here's an unbeliever who talked with God, and denied God's character. He was not a believer, but he was religious. To get the attention of selfish, self-centered individual who thinks that life should revolve around them, you hit them where it hurts.
"What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground. (GEN 4:10)
"When you cultivate the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to YOU; YOU shall be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth." And Cain said to the Lord, "My punishment is too great to bear!" (GEN 4:12-13).
Next, Cain, like the devil, makes accusations against God, "Behold, YOU hast driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I shall be hidden, and I shall be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and it will come about that whoever finds me will kill me" So the Lord said to him, "Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold." And the Lord appointed a sign for Cain, lest anyone finding him should slay him. Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, [notice it doesn't say that the Lord went out from the presence of Cain] and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. (GEN 4:14-16)