“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh [through his spokesman].” (Hebrews 11:4)
The reason Abel’s blood sacrifice was accepted by God is that Abel chose to trust God and his promise of future redemption from his death through death of another. His action proved his trust in God’s “you have my word on it” that:
- life for life is required when dealing with natural laws, such as “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction“
- as the necessary means of forgiveness – shifting the consequence of sin to an innocent party
- using the lifeblood of animals temporarily until the Seed of the woman was born to permanently overcome sin and death through his human life’s blood.
Yahweh’s Savior / Jesus restates the foundational law for all mankind in unmistakable terms – choose to become the son of God, as originated by the Father of mankind. Anyone who has been in a family relationship understands that requires love. Not the feel-good kind of love, but the doesn’t-always-feel-good sacrificing your own desires to do what’s best for the ones you love because you are united as one with them.
“And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ish-i [my “one flesh” ]; and shalt call me no more Baal-i [my lord, my ruler]…And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know / be one with the LORD…and I will say…Thou art my people / one nation under a Father and they shall say, Thou art my God. (Hosea 2:16-23)
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
God does not initiate us into a religious club with a set of rules and practices that sets us apart as being better than other people. God invites us to engage in relationship with him and his family. When we love someone, our behaviors are based on what brings us into a closer relationship with them, becoming more and more like each other. The guidelines and boundaries that make for a loving relationship with God and the members of his family are written down for us to follow to ensure our own protection, and enhance our growth and development within the family.
Any size group of individuals need laws, from the smallest group of two with a safe word and process of conflict resolution, to the United Nations. Laws / rules safeguard and balance the rights and needs of individuals who depend on each other.
Laws serve to protect people from evil. Every society has individuals willing to harm others. Law creates a framework for reducing crime. First, it lays out the nature of proper and improper human conduct. It proscribes punishment for delinquency as a deterrent, and establishes the creation of enforcement mechanisms, such as police, that both prevent crime and enact punitive measures.
Law also promotes the common good. Humans tend to act out of self-interest. However, there are cases in which everyone benefits by pursuing a common interest and working together in cooperation. Anti-pollution laws, for instance, limit peoples’ freedom to dispose of waste as they please to promote the common good of a clean environment and resultant health benefits.
Laws provide for the peaceful resolution of disputes. Without legal processes for settling differences, people would act against one another in aggression. Laws create peaceful processes for conflict resolution through the court system.
Laws and rules help people develop good behavior. Often, people initially obey rules due to fear of punishment. However, consistent behavior causes them to internalize lawful conduct and eventually do it, even when they are not being watched.
In the beginning there was just one law. “Don’t eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” The concrete terms of this law provided unquestionable evidence that the Adams had violated this law.
But it wasn’t just about eating a fruit, it was the reason someone would eat the fruit that is the abstract essence of this law, stated in the law and in the serpent’s encouragement to break the law – “becoming wise, i.e. the authority to decide what is best for ME.” Not because God wants his children to be robotically under his control, but because immature children need supervision to prevent the strong hurting the weak.
I’m fairly certain that the home quarantine conditions under COVID 19 convinced a lot of parents that they need to establish and enforce household rules to prevent strong-willed children from damaging the structural integrity of the environment and harming the physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of the entire household.
With this in mind, can we understand the following explanation of the purpose for creating laws? Without a law to break, there is no proof that someone who committed a certain act is guilty, and no legal basis to restrict that person from preventing further harm to society.
“by the law / establishment of what is unlawful is the knowledge of sin / wrong-doing.” (Romans 3:20)
It is obvious that lack of knowledge that something is a sin / wrongdoing causes harm even when people act out of ignorance. Before there was a law requiring parents to put small children in car seats, don’t you think that fatal consequences occurred from being unrestrained? But since parents weren’t held legally liable, there was no punishment for failure to safeguard their children, ergo no incentive to do so, and most importantly – no general awareness of the importance of doing so.
Cain didn’t have to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil to break the abstract essence of the first law given to mankind. He set himself up as his own god, judging good and evil, when he decided that a fruit basket was as least as good as, if not even better than, a blood sacrifice. In the process he also defied God’s moral law – and natural laws like conservation of energy – mandating exchange of life for life.
“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. ” (Gen 4:3-5)
Don’t we habitually follow this same pattern of behavior, deciding that it’s OK for us to substitute our own judgment over an authority’s regulation?
I suspect that the television series Better Call Saul is so popular because it brings to our attention a deeply troubling reality every viewer senses in his or her own life experience. The characters’ choices of action in response to crises does much more than reveal their inner character. Their choices shape their character and their future condition. As they face crossroad after crossroad of decisions they proceed towards a destination, usually not of their liking, but unquestionably the result of their choosing.
It does this so effectively because the show doesn’t define its characters’ personalities and fatal flaws, which would allow us to treat the characters as fictional. Instead, it gently nudges us into a dawning awareness of essential human nature through the use of “precept upon precept” as we’re able to track their disasters back to the start when their bad choices set them up to fall. If we’re wise, we’ll take a lesson for our own lives.
The Edenic way of life is only possible for those with a humble spirit of brotherhood and a compassionate heart to share God’s blessings. In other words, people filled with God’s spirit.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (I Timothy 6:6-8)
Boncuklu Höyük, not far from Çatalhöyük…Villagers lived in oval-shaped, mud brick houses and hunted, farmed and traded with other local communities…
“This farming lifestyle then spreads around the world – it goes across Europe and it goes across Asia,” Dr Fairbairn said. “And so where Boncuklu is is that sort of first area where you have this spread of this new lifestyle…“
Boncuklu Höyük, which means “beady mound”, was discovered about a decade ago by the head of the British excavation team, Dr Douglas Baird, who had worked on the nearby, famous village site of Çatalhöyük. Dr Fairbairn says Dr Baird was trying to place the excavation of Çatalhöyük in its regional context and…found Boncuklu, which is 1,000 years older.
Traces of Genesis, proof that knowledge of the true God indeed was known to the whole world, can be found in “…this quote from Weatenatenamy, Young Chief of the Cayuse nation, which seems to encapsulate this feeling which is at the heart of Native American spirituality:
I wonder if the ground has anything to say: [It does – “And the LORD said unto Cain…the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:9)
I wonder if the ground is listening to what is said…the earth says, God has placed me here. [“And…the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice…Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19:37-40)]
The Earth says, that God tells me to take care of the Indians on the earth; the Earth says to the Indians that stop on the Earth feed them right. God named the roots that he should feed the Indians on; the water speaks the same way…the grass says the same thing… The Earth and water and grass say God has given our names [i.e. characteristics, function]
and we are told those names; neither the Indians nor the Whites have a right to change those names, [And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.” (Gen 1:4-5) “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness…Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21)]
the Earth says, God has placed me here to produce all that grows upon me, the trees, fruit, etc. [“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.” Genesis 1:11)]
The same way the Earth says, it was from her man was made [“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground” (Genesis 2:7)].
God, on placing them on the Earth, desired them to take good care of the earth do each other no harm. [“And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” (Genesis 2:15)]
God said.” [“…the worlds were framed by the word of God…” (Hebrews 11:3)]
Will Durant’s classic history series gives insight into the differences between urban and nature cultures.
The North American Indians were described by Captain Carver as… “extremely liberal to each other, and supply[ing] the deficiencies of their friends with any superfluity of their own.” “What is extremely surprising,” reports a missionary, “is to see them treat one another with a gentleness and consideration which one does not find among common people in the most civilized nations. This, doubtless, arises from the fact that the words ‘mine’ and ‘thine,’ which St. Chrysostom says extinguish in our hearts the fire of charity and kindle that of greed, are unknown to these savages.” “I have seen them,” says another observer, “divide game among themselves when they sometimes had many shares to make; and cannot recollect a single instance of their falling into a dispute or finding fault with the distribution as being unequal or otherwise objectionable. They would rather lie down themselves on an empty stomach than have it laid to their charge that they neglected to satisfy the needy. . . . They look upon themselves as but one great family.” (Retrieved from Chapter II, Section III, Economic Organization)
On one fateful morning in the Spring of 1758…began the remarkable captivity of Mary Jemison. Mary was…adopted by two Indian women…They taught her the traditional duties and manners of a Seneca woman, and when Mary had reached the age of seventeen…married according to Indian custom.” Mary came to love Sheninjee, whom she later describes as “a noble man, large in stature, elegant in his appearance, generous in his conduct, courageous in war, a friend to peace and a great lover of justice.”
At the conclusion of the French and Indian War, Mary and her newborn son Thomas moved to New York [State]…Sheninjee died that winter, and Mary soon remarried…The next decade proved quiet, happy, and full of children. Mary and Hiokatoo had four daughters (Jane, Nancy, Betsey, and Polly) and two sons (John and Jesse). Between the end of the “French war” and the Revolution, Mary comments that “our tribe had nothing to trouble it.” Her tribe avoided war “with the neighboring whites, though there were none at that time very near,” and “our Indians lived quietly and peaceably at home.” She…found that “no people can live more happy than the Indians did in times of peace.” [Emphasis added.]
The conflict between the American colonies and King George III ended this peaceful existence…in 1779…the American General Sullivan invaded western New York on a mission to burn every Indian farm and cornfield he could find. When the Americans burned Mary’s village, she fled with three small children “who went with me on foot, one who rode on horse back, and one whom I carried on my back.” She arrived at the Gardow flats [on the Genesee River, now part of Letchworth State Park], where she resided with two runaway slaves who hired her to husk corn. Mary remained at the Gardow flats for the rest of the war.
After “the close of the revolutionary war,” Mary’s “Indian brother, Kau-jises-tau-ge-au (Black Coals), offered me my liberty [to return to the Whites]…”However…Mary decided to remain with the Senecas.
Life did not improve much for the Senecas in the years immediately after the Revolution…western New York was still a war zone, and American settlement into the backcountry proceeded rapidly. The influx of so many whites brought increased trade and higher rates of whiskey consumption among the Senecas. In the same year she lost her husband, her son John murdered his half-brother Thomas, and a year later, John also murdered Jesse. Mary attributed these senseless tragedies to John’s alcoholism. When she reached her eighties, Mary reflected that her life had been “a tragical medley”…She died as a Seneca woman in 1833, at the age of ninety-one.