Seth’s Line: Winning When it Feels Like Losing!

The Garden in Eden, as we have established, was a Holy of Holies, and Adam was its priest made in the image of God, to “cultivate and keep/guard” it in the splendor of the seventh day with Eve his mate and helper. Together they were not to be confined to the boundaries of the garden, for we see that in 1:26—28 they were to have dominion over all the earth and to fill it, which is the court of the cosmic Temple. The idea is that their task was to expand the boarders of paradise, and like God in creation, bring order and rest to the unsubdued chaotic elements outside the garden. Adam failed to guard Eve and the garden from the serpent, was expelled, and lost his role as priest. As we have seen in the last post, Cain’s line filled the earth with moral chaos and violence, an evil reversal of God’s original design.

In the darkness of this reversal, we see that God preserved elements of the original creation in Seth’s line where it is emphasized that he was made in the image of Adam who was made in the image of God (5:1-3), and in association with Seth, “men began to call upon the name of the Lord” (4:26). Enoch, 7th generation from Adam, “walked with God,” which is a biblical metaphor for perfection (For the idea of perfection, see posts from Dec. 10 – Feb. 5). Noah, the 10th generation, was “righteous and perfect” in contrast to the expanding wickedness of the human culture pressing in on him, and like his ancestor Enoch, “walked with God” (6:9).

Noah’s name means “rest”, and his father named him with the hope that his son would be the means of restoring the rest of the 7th day, and thus re-establishing the divine plan to re-establish the garden on earth (5:29). It is significant here to point out that in 2:15 where it says that “place” Adam in the garden. Instead of the usual word for “place/put” (śîm), the text uses (nuaḥ) to “rest” (i.e. in place), which is shares the same root as Noah’s name, thus drawing a lexical link from Adam to Noah. In Noah, therefore, we see that God is working quietly in the demonic din of the moral morass and corruption brought about by Cain and his alternative culture, preserving the hope that God’s original intentions that the world will become the Holy of Holies will, in fact, come to past.

There are ten recorded generations from Adam to Noah, a symbolic number of completion. Within this span of time, evil reached its zenith, for “YHWH saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (6:5). This is not a general statement supporting the universal total depravity of man. In its context, it means that the image of God in man became distorted to the point where judgment became necessary (6:7). The phrase “all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth” (6:12) suggests that human evil spilled over into the animal realm in a way of unholy mixtures (weir animals?). Noah alone held out. That he found favor (Heb. ḥēn, “grace”) in the eyes of YHWH is a Hebrew idiom meaning that he alone was pleasing to God.

As we survey this antedeluvian scene, we get the impression that evil is more powerful, or at least more successful, than good. No doubt Noah felt this way. Feeling that we are in a fight where it seems that we are hard pressed by chaos and evil is the natural feeling of every generation of godly persons since the fall. No doubt Satan in his arrogance, along with many of his evil minions, are under the illusion that they are winning. However this may be, we see that they are losing, and must be, for God will not lose His creation to Chaos.

2 Responses to “Seth’s Line: Winning When it Feels Like Losing!”

  1. Father John,

    Just a few comments on this blog.

    In the first paragraph, as related to Genesis and creation, what did you mean by Adam and Eve were to “bring order to the unsubdued chaotic elements outside the garden.” And, how does this relate to the statement, “Cain,s line filled the earth with moral chaos and violence, an evil reversal of God’s original design.”

    In the last paragraph, I am not sure that “we get the impression evil is more powerful, or at least more successful, than good.” While it can be accepted that there is a great deal of evil in the world, I believe there is much more goodness and Godliness present. We live in a society that publicizes evil or chaotic events much more expansively than good or spiritual events giving the fictitious impression of there being more evil than good only because of the notoriety given by the mass media.

    In Faith and Friendship,

    Joe

  2. Good question Joe. In the model we are using to understand the text, the temple model, Eden and the Garden in it function like the Holy of Holies and the Holy place in the tabernacle/Temple. The rest of the world was part of the Temple and corresponds to the outer court. The imagery out there, especially with the bronze sea, which symbolized the chaotic forces of the watery deep, and its stand with 4 bulls symbolizing the 4 corners of the earth support this understanding. The imagery demands that what was outside the garden was wild and untamed, for Adam and Eve were to subdue the earth and fill it. The assumption is that humanity was to expand the boarders of the garden outward. Look at Isa. 45:18. God did not create the world to be chaos. When humanity was banished, Cain’s line did indeed expand out, but brought with it their moral wickedness. So, I am making a distinction; before the fall the world outside was a physical chaos that was destined to be subdued; after the fall man brought moral chaos into the world as it expanded. does this make sense?

    As for the second question, I agree with you that there is a whole lot of goodness in the world. However, there is a whole lot of evil, and more often than not, many get the feeling that good is losing and evil is winning. This perception fills every generation. My point is that evil can never win, and even what things look dark and wicked, good will win out, even when we view this particular evil time of Noah.

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