Genesis 4-7; Psalm 2
Yesterday we started the book of Genesis, briefly looking at its dating, structure, themes. We read about creation, God bringing his order to the earth. Along with the earth, we read how Adam and Eve were created and given the mandate to spread God’s order across the earth.
They were also given the choice to partner with God to learn what is good, or to go their own way and decide good for themselves. Unfortunately, they go for the later, are separated from God, and now experience mortal lives that will eventually end in death.
This set up a theme that we'll see repeated of children of Eve that image God and children of the serpent that lead to chaos and death.
We mentioned how this is normally called the fall, and that this fall actually stretches all the way up to Genesis 11. We pick up on this fall today.
And so the fall continues. Adam and Eve have children, Cain and Able. Once grown, Cain begins to work the land and Able becomes a shepherd. When they bring their respective offerings to God, God prefers Able's offering. This sets up a new theme that will reappear multiple times in the Bible. In a culture where the firstborn is the one with the authority and blessing, God prefers the second-born.
Cain is understandably jealous, but God warns him that sin is crouching at a door step like a beast (Genesis 4:7). He has a choice. Choose right living as a descendant of Eve made in the image, or be controlled by the beast, a child of the serpent, that leads to chaos and destruction. Cain chooses to be a child of the serpent and murders his brother. We see the ground itself being polluted by Able’s blood.
We then get the descendants of Cain and we’re meant to assume that, like Cain, they are all wicked and evil children of the serpent. This is particularly true when you get to Lamech who manages to twist God’s curse over Cain into protection for himself as he goes round killing whoever he wants and taking as many wives as he wants.
Meanwhile, Adam and Eve have another child called Seth and we then get a list of Seth’s descendants. If you compare the list of Seth’s descendants with the list of Cain’s descendants the names are very similar. We’re meant to contrast the two, as though Cain’s family is an example of humanity at its worst (children of the serpent), but Seth’s family are an example of what humanity can be (descendants of Eve made in the image of God).
Then in Genesis 6, we get our second key moment of the fall. We have a weird story about the sons of God taking wives and then giving birth to Nephilim, giant hero men. There is some debate whether the sons of God are human leaders or whether they are key spiritual beings in God’s heavenly court. However, when we look at how the phrase ‘sons of God’ is used elsewhere in the Bible, we see that it likely refers to these spiritual beings (see Job 1:6; 2:1).
It’s not clear in the English but this story is almost a repeat of Genesis 3. Just as Eve SAW that the fruit was GOOD and TOOK it, these spiritual beings SAW that the women were GOOD (beautiful) and TOOK them as wives (married them). It can be easy to miss this because the English words used are different, but in the original Hebrew these are the same words used again.
This may seem strange to us. Why would these spiritual beings want to sleep with human woman? The humans had just lost their immortality, so they turn to this group of shady spiritual beings to try to see if there was a way to restore that immortality by having part-spirit, part-human babies that would be immortal. These babies became known as Nephilim and were much taller than other humans.
This is why God declared that he would limit the age of humans to 120 years. It also explains why God sent the flood. He saw the human race begin to be contaminated by corrupt spiritual beings and so decided this needed dealing with by flooding the earth and destroying the contamination. Just as God splits the waters to create the earth (Genesis 1:6-7), now he is going to let the waters come crashing back together, taking it back to its original form.
So God recruits Noah to be the one through who the human race will continue. He is to build an ark and collect every kind of animal together so that they may survive the flood. In this moment, we see a glimpse of God’s ongoing plan for the world. God chooses a small group of people to redeem the world.
Noah builds an arc and fills it with animals; seven pairs for each clean animal, and a single pair for unclean animals. He and his family join the animals on the ark, and the waters come crashing back in. Just as the splitting of the waters brought order and life, the waters returning meant the destruction of this tainted creation. A return to chaos. To what it was like before God’s order.
This psalm is a Royal Psalm, (see Psalm 18; 45; 72; 110; 144 for examples of other Royal Psalms). Royal Psalms are psalms that are focused on either God as king or on a human king. This psalm was likely read out during the coronation of a new king. It can be broken into four sections.
Psalm 2:1-3 - The foreign nations and rulers rebel against God and his king
Psalm 2:4-6 - God mocks these rulers by establishing his own king
Psalm 2:7-9 - This king is declared God’s son and the earth is his inheritance. He has authority over it
Psalm 2:10-12 - The foreign rulers are warned of the wrath of God for those who rebel against God’s chosen king
God’s chosen king is described as ‘his Anointed’, which is a reference to kings being anointed with oil when they are appointed. For now, it’s just another way of referring to the king, but over time this word will take on new meaning.
In the same way this psalm, at face value, should first be interpreted in light of God’s authority over the nations, and the authority he gives the kings over his people. God is the one with authority, but the king plays the role of his son (Psalm 2:7), his physical representative on earth.
But that doesn’t mean we have to stop our interpretations there. As we read further into our Bible’s we will reach a point where God’s people are waiting for a future king who will redeem God’s people and reunite the nations. An anointed one. Indeed, when we get to the New Testament, those writers begin to interpret Psalm 2 in a whole new light.
And just as Psalm 1 opened the book of psalms by sharing its intent to help people meditate on God’s word, Psalm 2 sets out the hope and promise of the psalms. A future king is coming. One who will provide all the wisdom found in the wisdom psalms, heal all the pain found in the lament psalms, and who is worthy of all the praise found in the praise psalms.
Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.