Let us first look at the story of Adam. Well we know the cause of the downfall of Adam’s firstborn. “Ye shall be as gods”, had been then Tempter’s promise to Eve, and Eve and her husband had both fallen. And just what was the cause of their fall? Disobedience. Disobedience to the clear Word of God. Deliberate disobedience to the clear Word of God that they well knew, and thoroughly understood. And we may be assured that disobedience to that Word, even though it may seem to ease our path here, will bring sorrow, not only to ourselves, but sorrow, and perhaps ruin, to our children.
Perhaps DISOBEDIENCE, the first cause of ruin brought before us, still holds the first place as the most general cause of the wreckage of Christian homes. May I beseech you, as you love your Master, as you love your children, to render a full, a hearty obedience, a loving and an instant obedience, to the Word of God. It is our only safe pathway down here.
But what was the cause of the disobedience of our first parents? I suppose the first cause was the doubt cast by the serpent on that Word. “Yea, Hath God said?” May the Lord Himself keep you, in these days when it is fashionable to doubt His Word, may He keep you with such an unshakable confidence in it, that nothing may ever in the smallest way disturb that faith.
How firm a foundation, Ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
There are certain things we are to flee from. “Flee also youthful lusts.” (II Timothy 2:22.) “Flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14). “Flee fornication” (I Corinthians 6:18). “Thou, O man of God, flee these things” (I Timothy 6:11). But, as far as I know, we are never told to flee from the devil. On the contrary we read: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7). I believe there is never a doubt cast on the Word of God that does not have the devil for its author. Resist him, and he will flee from you.
But as we saw, there was a special bait offered to Eve to make her disobey. “Ye shall be as gods”. He offers to Eve a higher place than the one God had given. Do we not see exactly the same effort being made by parents on every hand? Are not most people seeking to obtain a higher place in the world, if not for themselves, at least for their children?
Sad to say, Christian parents are not free from this same device of the enemy to cast us down and our families. On every hand we see it. Our parents were contented with a cottage; we must have a fine house. Our parents were contented to travel on foot; we must have a motorcar. Our parents were content with rag mats; we must have beautiful and costly rugs and carpets. You tell me times have changed. True, they have. “There were giants in the earth” in our parents’ day, in the things of God; but in our day, weaklings.
It is the same complaint that Adam had. It has even been caricatured in the daily press: who has not seen or heard of “keeping up with our neighbors”? It amused us when it should have warned us, for we, too, often are tempted to “keep up” with our neighbors, and acquaintances. We cannot bear to be thought different; and yet God in His mercy has made a difference, we are different. I believe that the failure to remember this difference, this desire on the part of Cain’s parents to be in a higher station than the one in which God had placed them was one of the causes of Cain’s ruin, and Abel’s death.
The New Testament gives us a little more light on this subject: “Wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” (1 John 3:12.) He was jealous of his brother, and “who is able to stand before envy?” (Proverbs 27:4). Envy has brought down many a saint of God. It would well repay you to take your Bibles, and a good concordance, and see just what the Lord has to say about envy; but look not at one passage only, “Where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:16). Yes, it was envy at the root of Cain’s murder. It is envy that makes us seek a higher place in the world than the one God gave us. So, my dear ones, earnestly take heed to lay aside all envies. (1 Peter 2:1).
As Eve plucked that forbidden fruit, how little did she think of the unspeakably bitter fruit she was preparing for herself, fruit that was to take two sons from her in one blow. And how lightly and carelessly we may indulge in some known sin that may bring years of sorrow and anguish to ourselves and to our children. So take heed!
But there is another hint given us that all was not as it should have been in Adam’s household. We gather from Genesis 4:1 that it was Eve who gave Cain his name. This may be quite in accord with modern practice, but we fear it is quite contrary to God’s order. It seems like a straw which tells which way the wind blew in Adam’s house. You remember it was Eve who led the way to Adam’s fall, and apparently Eve continued to lead in that first household. But when we come to Seth in Genesis 5:3 we find things had changed. “And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth.” Adam and Eve had learned their lesson and we find Adam in his right place.
And what was that place? What was Eve’s right place in that first “home”? I suppose that on the one hand 1 Peter 3:4-6 answers this question for us, “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands: even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” And on the other hand it is the young women, the young wives and mothers, you dear ones to whom I am writing, who are “to guide the house.” (1 Timothy 5:14.) The Greek word is especially interesting. It is the only place in the New Testament where it is used, and literally translated, I suppose, would read, “Be the house-mistress.” It is one single word, a verb. The corresponding noun is used twelve times (all in the first three Gospels, and always of the father) and is translated “House-master”, “Goodman of the house”, etc. The thought in the verse in Timothy has been beautifully paraphrased this: “It implies a queenly sovereignty, and would not put aside the kingly sovereignty of the house-master himself.” Rather as king and queen do they rule together in the little domain God has entrusted to their care.
And perhaps we see something of this unity of mind and action in connection with the baby Seth: for in Genesis 4:25, it would appear to be Eve who again took the lead in naming the child, while in chapter 5:3 we find the same words used of Adam.
The Book of Proverbs demands more than a passing reference, but this delightful harmony of Father and Mother is well illustrated there by the fact that out of fourteen times in which the mother is mentioned, twelve times the father and mother are linked together.
Apparently this lovely unity was absent from Adam’s household for many long years, and the contrast between Genesis 4:1 and 5:3 forms a serious lesson for us. Eve “guided the house” truly, but she seems to have neglected the balancing admonition of 1 Peter 3. But it is refreshing to see that the lesson was learned at last, and Seth, the fruit and the evidence of this hardly-learned lesson, is the first in the long line of the Seed of the woman, which culminated in that Glorious Seed, who has bruised the serpent’s head.