Genesis 1 starts out with a bright and hopeful tone. At the conclusion of each day God declares the creation good, and crescendos with ‘very good’ at the creation of humanity. However the overall tone of the creation account running through the of Genesis 4 shifts to dim and despairing. We are confronted with the downward progression of sin, deception, distrust, and hatred running their course in the lives of the first created family. Clearly humanity needed more than help.
What begins with Adam and Eve distrusting God’s goodness and disobeying His guidelines, appears to take a turn toward hope restored when Cain is born. Eve recites God’s promise and her belief that Cain is the fulfillment of that promise. Unfortunately, her statement betrays her trust, not primarily in God, but in humanity to right this ship. God’s help is appreciated but humanity will take it from here.
We see where that philosophy leads as Cain the savior, turns out to be Cain the murderer. With one sinful act, Cain dismantles, once again, hope in humanity – Abel is dead and Cain is disqualified. Rather than running to God, we are told Cain literally left the presence of the Lord to live out his days. The result is that Cain’s offspring, Lamech, continues to charge hard away from God. Our last acquaintance with Lamech is in the form of a song he writes celebrating violence and polygamy.
In Need of More Than Help
It is difficult to step away from the narrative so far with any semblance of hope, there have been few bright spots up to this point. However, what comes next sets the stage for the remainder of Genesis and history. In the simplest fashion, we are informed that Adam and Eve conceive again. The author doesn’t let us in on the mixture of expectancy and apprehension they may be navigating with the news of this birth, but we are let in on a change in perspective on Eve’s part.
At the naming of the child, Eve declares that this birth is appointed by God. This may not seem all that significant, but when it is compared to Eve’s words at Cain’s birth it reveals a dramatic shift in Eve’s source of hope. Cain was born with God’s help, Seth is born by God’s appointment. Eve is no longer placing her ultimate hope in humanity with God’s helpful support, she is ultimately hoping in God to restore what humanity has devastated. The last verse of the creation account (Genesis 4:26) outlines the result of this shift in trust.
Seth follows in his mother’s footsteps of hope, naming his child Enosh, signifying man’s frailty and dependence. Seth’s posture stands in stark contrast to Lamech’s celebration of blatant sin. Seth’s line begins to call upon the name of the Lord. Against a dim backdrop, we see a lineage that chose to live in the presence of God, placing ultimate hope in His ability to restore. Isn’t it ironic how things stay the same?
When looking for ultimate hope, our natural propensity is still to turn to ourselves and our abilities and discoveries. We genuinely believe we can accomplish what generations before us have failed to conquer. And when we fall short, we package our failures and their fallout as cause for songs and celebration, perhaps to soothe our despair. But we cannot avoid the reality that ultimate hope is only realized when it is solidly rooted in the good God who created us and loves us with such incomprehensible immensity that He would, for no reason we have given Him, make restoration possible through His sent Son, Jesus Christ.
Acknowledging we are frail, dependent, and our need of more than help is the first and sustained step to living with ultimate hope.
This article of needing more than help originally appeared here, and is used by permission.