Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.” And the Lord said to him, “Therefore [not so], whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.-Genesis 4:14-15
We know Cain slew Abel. John writes in his NT epistle, “Cain who was of the wicked one (wicked seed) and murdered (slew) his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous” -1 John 3:12
The same word translated “slew” or "murdered" here is used of the Lord in the Revelation who was slain for us ("Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing" -Rev 5:15, etc.). Peter says at Pentecost in Acts 2, The Lord was “taken by wicked hands, crucified and slain” Premeditated murder.
From the account in Genesis 4, we turn to the Law
“He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. However, if he did not lie in wait, but God delivered him into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee. But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die.-Exodus 21:12-14
Let’s take a quick look at the Law against murder in Genesis, BEFORE the Law of Sinai.
Whoso sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.-Genesis 9:6
Back when Can killed Abel, Genesis 4:8 explains, “when they [Cain and Abel] were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him”
The Lord did not create a City of Refuge for Cain, he clearly charges him with murder. Genesis 4:10 reads: “What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.”
So, we have the murder of Abel, whose sacrifices of the best of his flock in blood were an early picture of Christ (Christ’s sacrifice being greater than the sacrifice offered by Abel, Hebrews 11:4). Righteous Abel, the one who gives us an early picture of Christ, one approved of God, is murdered by the evil seed of Satan.
We repeat, here in Abel's sacrifice, we see Christ. And we shall see the Christ as the Lamb of God in the last book of scripture in the Revelation as well. Christ’s sacrifice is for ALL ages. It is recognized and celebrated DIFFERENTLY in different ages, but it is always exalted as the way of escape from the sin of Adam and from our own sins.
We pause to emphasize these two points which are foundational to how we approach Bible interpretation. We must rightly divide these passages. That is, we must see how they differ and how they remain the same.
- Murder is handled differently
- The sacrifice of Christ is honored differently
Before the Law we see Christ’s sacrifice it in Abel’s sacrifice (no temple). It is seen in the almost sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah, Gen 22 (then seen in the ram as a substitute). It is seen in the Passover in the wilderness before the Law, before the priesthood. In the Law, it is seen in the blood of bulls and goats in the tabernacle outside the land and then in the Temple in the land through the priesthood of the Levites.
In the Acts age the Lord’s sacrifice is seen in the Lord’s Supper (no more goats, bulls, tabernacles, temples, or Levites). In this age as the riches of his grace (Eph 1:7), in the bringing nigh of Gentiles (Eph 2:13), and in the reconciliation of Jew and Gentile, and reconciling of the things of the earth and the things of heaven (Col 1:20). We see today (or should) that sacrifice in light of the FULLNESS of God’s revelation in Christ.
All of these were acceptable to the Lord in their time, place, purpose, and context, yet they openly contradict each other on the surface. The Israelites could not substitute the Lord's Supper as taught by Paul in the Acts Age, for example. In the Acts Age or in the current age, we cannot build a tabernacle, separate out a priest-class, sacrifice animals and sprinkle the blood on a mercy seat. All of these are "scriptural," yet we are to obey ALL of them lest we DISOBEY the commands for our own age (and our hope).
All of these are united by the blood of Christ, but differentiated by the plan and hope in view. When we see these distinctions, Christ is gloried above all. The picture is no longer the focus as the picture changes. So, especially in this age when we ponder the fullness that dwells in the Body through the Head with no attached ordinance, there is no need of any mediation. A priest-class today is antithetical to the hope in view today.
We not only lose these distinctions and the exaltation of Christ in God’s revelation of the Fullness of the Head when we fail to recognize these differences, we are for all intents and purposes “throwing out” parts of the Bible in that failure. As a "Hyper" or "Ultra" dispensationalist, I am accused of throwing out parts of my Bible. However, the truth is that those who claim to obey all of the Bible MUST disobey certain "Bible commands" as some commands contradict each other.
The sacrificial sheep not only picture Christ, they picture him in different settings and in different aspects. As I repeat often, like a broken record, if you claim all of the Law and all of the Prophets for yourself, all that is Israel’s, yet you are NOT taking bulls and goats and sheep to a priest in the Temple to sacrifice on your behalf, YOU ARE A DISPENSATIONALIST whether you like it or not!
We do not toss out God’s plans for the earth (his past temple and his future temple, his past kingdom and his future kingdom), We embrace ALL of it. If we fail to see Paul’s "good deposit" (2 Tim 1) and his revelation of the current age laid out in Ephesians, if we fail to hold fast to "sound words" as we're instructed by Paul, God will still not abandon us. He will not forsake us. But we will not experience the fullness of his blessings or revelation.
Obeying the commands for another people in another age for another purpose and another plan and another hope is disobedience. It may please the outward man. It may appear holy and good to other men. But failing to rightly divide that which is for this age by these acts of disobedience is not commendable.
I hope I’m making my point here by circling back to Genesis. 2 Timothy is Paul’s final message and he is instructing us to rise above the things of the earth, whether secular or religious, whether they seem good or not, and even if they are taken from the Bible! HOLD FAST TO SOUND WORDS and GUARD THE GOOD DEPOSIT ENTRUSTED TO YOU! That is Paul's instruction.
What they may call "throwing out parts of the Bible" on my part is actually a great reverence for God's plans for my fellow believers who have a different hope and different promises. Paul clearly teaches that the covenants belong to Israel. The promises to the (Jewish) Fathers belong to Israel, etc. They look for a land and Kingdom (as the Lord taught his disciples, Acts 1:6, cp Acts 3). I embrace every verse and I believe exactly what each teaches. No need to rob Israel of its promises by spiritualizing and then selectively "claiming" her promises (while conveniently ignoring the warnings and judgments).
Many think that experiencing God’s blessings in this age means seeing healings and financial success and other miracles. Surely God can still provide all these things. It is our privilege to pray for these blessings if he wills. But when we understand that the current plan is the heavenly plan, we can start to appreciate the blessing in the far above the heavens and the “unsearchable riches” in Christ! This hope is far beyond any signs of wonders in the earth. An Paul had no such hope as lie in prison, facing death, suggesting Timothy take a little wine for his stomach's sake (1 Timothy 5:23).
Reader's of this blog or listeners to the podcast are familiar with these distinctions. But here is our Apostle in 2 Timothy, in his final words to trusted Timothy, imploring him to HOLD FAST and GUARD THE GOOD DEPOSIT.
Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing [deposit] which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
- 2 Timothy 1:13-14
When it comes to our service (and the reminder that rewards may be won or lost), we must start with the rock solid foundation of Christ alone and build on it by "walk[ing] worthy of the calling to which we are called" (Ephesians 4:1).
And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.
The rules: we commit to teaching the sound words of Right Division, we protect the good deposit of Paul’s ministry, we resign ourselves to enduring hardships for the sake of the good deposit, and we handle the word of God according to these rules. Our service is in view here. And the servant must strive according to the rules of his own calling. Sacrificing sheep brings blessing in one age and cursing in another.