Steve Macchia Blog

When God Speaks – Part 4

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Cain and Abel were the first brothers to be born of Adam and Eve. You’d think that with so few people on planet earth they’d be able to get along fabulously…not so.

 

Jealous Cain was miffed that the Lord favored Abel’s offering of fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock, with Cain bringing some of the fruits of the soil he worked. Makes sense to the common reader that both would be rather equal. But, the Lord preferred what Abel offered, most likely because of his God-fearing heart.

 

Since sin had encroached at the door of Cain’s heart, he conspired out of anger to attack and kill Abel. Out in the field where no one could see this act of irrational man slaughter, he jealously and vengefully murdered his brother. But, when confronted by the Lord after his dirty deed, “Where is your brother Abel?” Cain lied and said, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4: 6-9)

 

The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear.  Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” But the Lord said to him, “Not so;  anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. (Genesis 4:10-15).

What do you notice about the Lord’s treatment of Cain?  He confronted Cain with a simple question about the presence (in reality: absence) of Abel. Then, he confronts Cain with the truth of his vicious murder. And, he sends him out as a restless wanderer, no longer able to work the land he was originally created to do. But, what’s so remarkable is that the Lord spares Cain’s life, guarding him from anyone who would seek to kill him. The mark on Cain would be one of sovereign protection.

 

When God speaks he voices truth at all times. He is fully aware of the activities of his children. He brings about justice and discipline for acts of disobedience. But, he always loves with mercy, kindness and grace. Cain deserved the death penalty for so viciously and violently murdering his brother. When in fact he should have been Abel’s keeper, he instead was Abel’s destroyer. Even then, with such a heinous crime coming from his sinful heart, God in his mercy spares his life.

 

What sin are you most aware of that without God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness you would be much worse off today? And, in what way can you be your “brother’s (or sister’s) keeper” and urge another caringly to remain faithful to the Lord?



When God Speaks – Part 3

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The third place we find God speaking to his children is in Genesis 3 beginning at verse 9. Here he is calling out to Adam, “Where are you?”  Knowing full well where Adam was located, he wanted Adam to attest to the facts, giving voice to his new reality: I heard you in the garden; I was afraid; I was naked; I hid.

 

And then the interchange between God and man is fascinating to watch unfold. Through the use of questions, God inquires of Adam’s heart. Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree I commanded you not to eat from? And to the woman: What is this you have done? Following their answers, God spells out the consequences with specificity and clarity.

 

The bottom line is that the very first man and woman to walk planet earth chose early on to listen to their tempter’s and one another’s voice rather than God’s voice. God spoke with incredible clarity. There was no mincing words from God to his children, either on the front end of direction or the back end of judgment.

 

Speaking out that which has defiled your heart and tempted your will against the clear voice and commandments of the Lord leads us into sin. We don’t generally like the word sin today; it simply seems too harsh in a non-judgmental world. But, the fact of the matter is “we all sin and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). No one is exempt, for no one since Adam and Eve is living a sinless existence.

 

Therefore, what will be your response to your propensity to sin, even today? Will you own your fear, nakedness, and desire to hide from the ever-present reality of God? Will you choose to give voice to your disobedience and your succumbing to the tempter’s voice instead? Because of the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, we no longer have to fear the harsh retribution of God. In Christ, our sins are forgiven, tossed on the dung heap, and remembered no more.

 

May your prayers today be as simple as, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner…” and “Create in me a pure heart, O God” so that you can be “forgiven and set free to forgive another” – in Jesus’ name and for his glory. Amen.

 



When God Speaks – Part 2

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The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2: 15-18).

 

The Scriptures recount the second and third time that God spoke in Genesis 2. Here he invites Adam to not only enjoy, work and care for the Garden of Eden, but to keep his hands off of one select tree, the one designated as “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”  Man’s first job had incredible dignity…the care of God’s abundant creation. Work was to be both meaningful and flourishing; therefore, it would remain untarnished if he kept his hands off that one forbidden tree. One and only one stern warning as he would commence serving as the husbandman of the habitation of paradise.

 

And, it is here that God also promises to provide for his created image bearer a helper suitable to the man he placed in the garden, with empathy of not being left there alone. God’s very specific and remarkable promise showed Adam that working and living in community was the Lord’s priority. How ironic that the tree warning would ultimately be ignored after the suitable helper is provided. How easy it is to convince each other to walk our own path rather than listen and obey the voice of the One who always has our best interests in mind.

 

Since we know “the rest of the story” it’s fascinating that here we find God’s voice spoken with both the clarity of direction and empathy. How true it is for all generations henceforth…when we listen to God’s voice and obey it, we will see firsthand how much the Lord delights to lavish love and empowerment so that we too can fully and meaningfully accomplish his will.
What are the specific ways God has instructed you along the path of life? With whom is God providing accompaniment for you in this journey? How can you help one another to walk the well-ordered way, even in this coming week?