Surely some of you are asking why. Why would God say the Levites were to be priests? Guess what. There is an answer to that, but it’s a triggering kind of story, if you have a low tolerance for evil and violence.
And my next question to myself is how what I support reflects that truth? How much of my church’s budget, for example, a budget I regularly contribute to, is spent on a terrific worship service Sunday morning compared to developing, sustaining, and handing on depth and breadth of relationship with our Lord? Compared to caring for our community, and our earth? What concerns our church governing board the most—money? Numbers of people on a Sunday morning?
But though God’s judgment was delayed, it was no less certain. It was inevitable; that day had already been marked down on the calendar. Assuming the chronology of Methusaleh’s life corresponds with Noah, then the very year Methuselah died, that’s the year the Flood came—you see, if you tot up the years from Lamech’s birth, to Noah’s birth, and Noah’s age when the Flood came, you get the same number as Methuselah’s age when he died.
As I reflect on my own faith, I have to ask myself in what ways does my life reflect my statement that nothing is more important to me than relationship with God, and passing that on to the next generation? How does the way I channel my resources, the way I prioritize my energy, and my focus, the way I live out my dailies, reflect what I say is my conviction?
When a crisis or a tragedy rolls down like a flash flood in a wadi, and comes in pounding waves over my own family, tumbling us into heartache, trauma, and intense grief, I am so thankful the first thing we do is hold hands and start praying. God is with us, and His heart is no less broken than ours.
The ancient Hebrews did not always intend their genealogies to be used as a chronology. Often, names were left out of a genealogy in order to produce symmetry, a neat and clean pattern. The primary purpose of the genealogy was to establish a person’s family identity, a person’s roots.
Adam and Eve immediately noted the difference in their two boys: Cain was the chosen one; Abel was the also-ran. It would have been natural for them to favor Cain as the firstborn, maybe the one to fulfill God’s great promise. If there was parental favoritism, it would help explain much of what happens in this chapter.
As chapter 4 opens, it seems Adam and Eve had picked up the shards of their broken lives and begun to build a new life, out of the hard scrabble of a cursed ground. The story begins from Eve’s perspective, “Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have produced a man with the help of the Lord.’”
For the woman, the consequences would primarily affect her relationships. Interestingly, God said her pain would be increased, evidence that pain would have already existed, even in the perfection of Eden. We can learn that pain is not necessarily a bad thing, but could be a good thing, able to strengthen and deepen the man and the woman, and their relationship with each other, as well as with God. But now, that pain would be greatly increased.
Imagine the moment they entered the hushed glade where Life and Knowledge stood, in their quiet power. The Tree of Life, he told her. We may eat of all the trees in the Garden, including this tree. But already she was looking at the other, beguiling, Tree, spellbound by its exotic loveliness, its alluring fragrance redolent with rare spices, sharp and tangy, the perfume of hidden mysteries.