Genesis 4:26—Did worship of God begin here or earlier?

Problem: According to this verse, people did not begin “to call on the name of the Lord” until the days of Enosh, the third son of Adam and Eve. Yet their first son, Abel, brought an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord before this time (Gen. 4:3–4).

Solution: The meaning of “call upon the name of the Lord” (in Gen. 4:26) is not clear. And what is not clear cannot be taken to contradict what is clear, namely, that Abel worshiped God before Enosh did. It is possible that calling on the Lord implied a regular, more solemn, and/or public worship of the Lord, or prayer (cf. Rom. 10:13) that was not practiced earlier. At any rate, there is no contradiction here, since it does not say that Abel or anyone else “called on the Lord” before this time—whatever it may mean.


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Genesis 4:17—How could Cain marry a relative without committing incest?

Problem: If Cain married his sister, this is incest, which the Bible condemns (Lev. 18:6). Furthermore, incestuous marriages often produce genetically defective children.

Solution: First, there were no genetic imperfections at the beginning of the human race. God created a genetically perfect Adam (Gen. 1:27). Genetic defects resulted from the Fall and only occurred gradually over long periods of time. Further, there was no command in Cain’s day not to marry a close relative. This command (Lev. 18) came thousands of years later in Moses’ day (c. 1500 b.c.). Finally, since the human race began with a single pair (Adam and Eve), Cain had no one else to marry except a close female relative (sister or niece).

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Genesis 4:17—Where did Cain get his wife?

Problem: There were no women for Cain to marry. There was only Adam, Eve (4:1), and his dead brother Abel (4:8). Yet the Bible says Cain married and had children.

Solution: Cain married his sister (or possibly a niece). The Bible says Adam “begot sons and daughters’’ (Gen. 5:4). In fact, since Adam lived 930 years (Gen. 5:5), he had plenty of time for plenty of children! Cain could have married one of his many sisters, or even a niece, if he married after his brothers or sisters had grown daughters. In that case, of course, one of his brothers would have married a sister.

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Genesis 4:12–13—Why wasn’t Cain given capital punishment for the murder he committed?

Problem: In the OT, murderers were given capital punishment for their crime (Gen. 9:6; Ex. 21:12). Yet Cain was not only set free after murdering his brother, but he was protected from any avenger (Gen. 4:15).

Solution: There are several reasons why Cain was not executed for his capital crime. First, God had not yet established capital punishment as an instrument of human government (cf. Rom. 13:1–4). Only after violence filled the earth in the days before the flood did God say, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man” (Gen. 9:6).

Further, who would have killed Cain? Cain had just killed Abel. At this early stage only Adam and Eve were left. Surely, God would not have called upon the parents to kill their only remaining son. In view of this, God, who alone is sovereign over life and death (Deut. 32:39), personally commuted Cain’s death penalty. However, in so doing, God implied the gravity of Cain’s sin and implied he was worthy of death by declaring that “the voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me [for vengeance] from the ground” (v. 10). Nonetheless, even Cain seemed to recognize that he was worthy of death, and he asked God for protection (v. 14). Finally, God’s promise to protect Cain from vengeance implies capital punishment would be taken on any who took Cain’s life (cf. v. 15). So, Cain’s case is the exception that proves the rule, and by no means does it argue against capital punishment as established by God (see comments on John 8:3–11).

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Genesis 4:5—Does God show respect to certain persons?

Problem: God is represented in the Scriptures as someone who “is no respect[er] of persons” (Rom. 2:11, kjv), and one who “shows no partiality” (Deut. 10:17). Yet, this verse tells us that God “did not respect Cain and his offering,” which seems contradictory to the other verses.

Solution: First of all, in the fundamental sense of the word, God respects every person for who he or she is, a creature made in His image and likeness (Gen. 1:27). If He didn’t, He would not be respecting Himself. But, when the Bible says God is no respecter of persons, it means that He does not show partiality in meeting out His justice. As Deuteronomy 10 puts it, He “shows no partiality nor takes a bribe” (v. 17). In other words, God is completely fair and even-handed in His dealings.

However, there is a sense in which it can be said that God does not respect some persons because of their evil deeds. God “did not respect Cain and his offering” (Gen. 4:5) because it was not offered in faith (Heb. 11:4). Thus, the Bible also speaks of God hating Esau (Mal. 1:3) and the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:6), not because of their person, but because of their practice. As John told the believers at Ephesus, they should “hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans” (Rev. 2:6). God loves the sinner, but hates the sin.

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Genesis 3:8—How could Adam and Eve go from God’s presence if God is everywhere?

Problem: The Bible says that God is everywhere present at the same time, that is, He is omnipresent (Ps. 139:7–10; Jer. 23:23). But, if God is everywhere, then how could Adam and Eve be sent out “from the presence of the Lord”?

Solution: This verse is not speaking of God’s omnipresence, but of a visible manifestation of God (cf. v. 24). God is everywhere in His omnipresence, but from time to time He manifested Himself in certain places through certain things, such as a burning bush (Ex. 3), the pillar of fire (Ex. 13:21), smoke in the temple (Isa. 6), and so forth. It is in this latter localized sense that one can go “from the presence of the Lord.”

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Genesis 3:5—Is man made like God or does he become like God?

Problem: Genesis 1:27 says “God created man in His own image.” But in Genesis 3:22 God said, “the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.” The former seems to affirm that humans are made like God, and the latter appears to assert that he becomes like God.

Solution: The two passages are speaking of two different things. Genesis 1 is speaking about a human virtue by creation, while Genesis 3 is referring to what he had by acquisition. The first passage refers to Adam and Eve before the Fall, and the last is referring to them after the Fall. The former refers to their nature and the latter to their state. By creation Adam did not know good and evil. Once he sinned, he knew good and evil. Once these differences are understood, there is no conflict.

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Genesis 2:8—Was the Garden of Eden a real place or just a myth?

Problem: The Bible declares that God “planted a garden eastward in Eden” (Gen. 2:8), but there is no archaeological evidence that any such place existed. Is this just a myth?

Solution: First of all, we would not expect any archaeological evidence, since there is no indication that Adam and Eve made pottery or built durable buildings. Second, there is geographical evidence of Eden, since two of the rivers mentioned still exist today—the Tigris (Hiddekel) and the Euphrates (Gen. 2:14). Further, the Bible even locates them in “Assyria” (v. 14), which is present day Iraq. Finally, whatever evidence there may have been for the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2–3) was probably destroyed by God at the time of the Flood (Gen. 6–9).

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Genesis 2:17—Why didn’t Adam die the day he ate the forbidden fruit, as God said he would?

Problem: God said to Adam, “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). But Adam lived to be 930 years old after he sinned (Gen. 5:5).

Solution: The word “day” (yom) does not always mean a 24-hour day. For “one day (yom) is as a thousand years” (Ps. 90:4; cf. 2 Peter 3:8). Adam did die within a “day” in this sense. Further, Adam began to die physically the very moment he sinned (Rom. 5:12), and he also died spiritually the exact instant he sinned (Eph. 2:1). So Adam died in several ways, any one of which would fulfill the pronouncement of God (in Gen. 2:17).

Posted by petra1000 in Bible Difficulty