Jump Start # 3256
Genesis 4:25 “Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for she said, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.”
The first family on this planet had trouble and pain. A death, actually a murder had taken place. And, now, Eve has another son, Seth.
There are three unique things about the birth of Seth:
First, Seth never knew his brother Abel. Very likely he learned the stories. Very likely he saw the pain through the eyes of his parents. But the righteous Abel never had an opportunity to lead or guide Seth. But as Hebrews reminds us, though dead, he still speaks. The innocent dying by the hands of the guilty is an image that would be fully seen at the cross. Abel made a sacrifice that pleased the Lord.
Second, Seth’s birth was connected to God’s promise of salvation. It wasn’t through Cain, but through Seth that hope and forgiveness would be found. Through Seth comes a godly line that would lead to David, and eventually Joseph who was betrothed to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Eve seems to recognize God’s part in this. The name “Seth” is footnoted to literally mean “appointed.” After the sin in the garden, the Lord had said that her seed would crush the head of the serpent. Did Eve think that Seth was the fulfillment of that promise? Did she believe that immediately the Lord was bringing salvation? Or, did she understand this to be that through Seth’s descendants, and not Cain, salvation would come in time?
As Genesis four ends, the text says, “Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.” In Genesis five, a chapter of genealogy, that runs through Adam and then Seth, we find the names of Mahalalel, which has a form of God in his name. We find Enoch, who walked with God. We find Noah, who God favored. A line of believers. A line that taught one another. A line that loved the Lord. That line would lead to Jesus. It was the death and resurrection of Jesus that destroyed the works of Satan. The resurrection crushed the greatest power Satan has. We will be raised because He was raised. A promise, running all through the Bible, centuries in the making, but kept by God.
Third, Eve viewed Seth as a replacement for Abel. The passage says, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel…” The CEB and the NIV uses the expression, “In place of Abel.” Eve was given another son, but he couldn’t replace Abel. Each person is special and unique in personality, character and drive. We are not shown the day to day life of Seth growing up, but if Eve was trying to make him into Abel, that would have been a big mistake. We understand this in the pet world. A pet dies. The family gets another pet of the exact same breed and color. But that new pet won’t be the same as the other one.
Magnified even more, parents make a huge mistake when they try to compare their kids with one another or expect one to do like another one. The middle child can often get stuck with this comparison. “Your brother made the honor roll.” The impression is that you should to. “Your sister was varsity.” The idea is that you should be as good as she was. Where one child excels, others may not. Seth may have filled a spot at the kitchen table, he was not Abel. He was not Abel’s replacement. Seth was Seth.
A divorce takes place and mom marries another man. That new face may fill the role of a dad, but he is not the same. He brings in his own experiences, background, feelings and ideas. He may be a better father. He likely will not do things the same way as the other father did. We cannot replace one person with another.
This is true in our congregations when a new preacher stands behind the pulpit. He is the replacement some say, and that is true in one sense, but do not expect him to be the same. He will bring in his own work ethic, style and way of doing things. And, when people make comparisons, it’s bound to hurt.
Seth was the third son. Seth was Seth, not Abel, Jr.
Even in a home broken by sin and trouble, God had not abandoned them. Promise, hope and salvation was on the way. Out of the deadness of winter, a little flower blooms, showing the first signs of a coming spring. Such it is with God. Such it is for us. The pain and sorrow of Cain is not that remains. Hope comes in Seth. Hope comes in Jesus.
The story of Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, and Seth in many ways is our story. Broken lives. Sin. Sorrow. Pain. But, hope. Forgiveness. Help.