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A Biblical Worldview: Daily Life

David gave this talk at Woodside Church (Bedford) in 2010, as part of their "A Biblical Worldview" series. Click here to download it.

INTRODUCTION

We're currently in a series on Biblical worldview, and will be looking at Genesis to establish a Biblical worldview on issues including:

  • Race/Language/Culture
  • Gender
  • Work
  • Blessings and Curses
  • Environment
  • Marriage and Family
  • Individual and Community
  • Honour Guilt Shame Anxiety etc

Worldview is the deepest level of culture, it's our deepest beliefs about life. If you haven't already, do listen and catch up with the first part in the series, A Biblical Worldview: Culture & Worldview.

Last time we looked at “What went wrong” – an important worldview question.  We saw Adam and Eve’s sin and relationship breakdown in Cain and Abel. We saw how Adam and Eve were excluded from the garden, and Cain was even further alienated to land of Nod/wandering.

THE SCRIPTURE

Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch.  To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech.

Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah.  Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock.  His brother's name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play the harp and flute.  Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain's sister was Naamah.

Lamech said to his wives,
"Adah and Zillah, listen to me;
wives of Lamech, hear my words.
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for injuring me.

       If Cain is avenged seven times,
then Lamech seventy-seven times."

Adam lay with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, "God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him."  Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh.

At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD. Genesis 4:17-26

 

This is the written account of Adam's line.
When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.  He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them "man."

When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.  After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether, Adam lived 930 years, and then he died.

When Seth had lived 105 years, he became the father of Enosh.  And after he became the father of Enosh, Seth lived 807 years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether, Seth lived 912 years, and then he died.

When Enosh had lived 90 years, he became the father of Kenan.  And after he became the father of Kenan, Enosh lived 815 years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether, Enosh lived 905 years, and then he died. Genesis 5:1-11

 

When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch.  And after he became the father of Enoch, Jared lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether, Jared lived 962 years, and then he died.

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah.  And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years.  Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech.  And after he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether, Methuselah lived 969 years, and then he died. Genesis 5:18-27

THE STORY

Cain, fed up with wandering and being insecure, decided to try and settle and build a city (not necessarily big) – this is the 1st city. It's named after his son – and naming is important – as we see later when people try to make a name for themselves at Babel. Naming gives identity and achievement apart from God.  Not all bad – we want to produce something lasting but often instead of trust in God.

Goes on through generations until reach Lamech. In Lamech we see the tension of human life – not all good, not all bad.  So different types of work and culture started to develop.

  • Jabal – father of nomadic pastoralists.
  • Tubal-Cain – father of metal workers – bronze age.
  • Jubal – father of musicians.

Not literally every musician descended from Jubal but the music making culture developed very early and Jubal is earliest example.

At the same time were other developments:

  • Polygamy (2 wives) became common throughout Genesis and much of the Old Testament.
  • Terrible violence and domination through violence.

 "Adah and Zillah, listen to me;
wives of Lamech, hear my words.
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for injuring me.

                      If Cain is avenged seven times,
then Lamech seventy-seven times."
  Gen 4:23-24

Lamech, an evil man, just hit by a young man (poetic parallelism – not 2 men involved). Eye for eye is intended to limit revenge – Lamech did not just hit him back but killed him and then avenged through violence – he's the spiritual father of the mafia godfather, or sink estate gang leader, or criminal boss, or dictator.

Yet at same time, during this period, public worship became prevalent. At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD.  Genesis 4:26

A genealogical record. Huge questions from our perspective:

  • Did people really live so long?
  • If worked back literally would make Adam and Eve about 4000 BC – is that reasonable?
  • There are differences in some of the years in different manuscripts – some would even put e.g. Methuselah surviving the flood – in texts used in most English Bibles he died the year of the flood (or in the flood)

We need to make the following comments:

  • Not all genealogies in Scripture are complete – they are there to make a point (such as when Kings are left out) – or the 15 generations in Matthew. Genealogies are intended to show origins and continuity not details like today’s family trees.  Their approach to “Who Do You Think You Are” was important but different.
  • Some numbers could be symbolic. Enoch 365 years. But what the others might symbolise is far from clear, although attempts have been made.
  • The other ancient people, Babylonians and Egyptians also had stories of long living Kings in ancient times – for far longer than Genesis. Kings reigned for thousands of years.  “Babies were kept in nappies for 100 years!”  It seems the writer of book of genealogies used here in Genesis was deliberately scaling down to emphasise mortality.

The main issue is not scientifically how long and we don’t know what the climate conditions were like at this time. It is a narrative dealing with very distant times and that however long they lived, they still died – they were mortal.  Issue is what is the worldview they are presenting to us – and that's the subject of this message.

THE WORLDVIEW ISSUES

Cultural advance can go hand in hand with evil advance

Lamech’s family achieve some good things:

  • Developed livestock farming – of great benefit to humanity, expressing man’s responsible rule and responsibility for creation. Domesticated appropriated animals – probably sheep and goats first.
  • Developed metal working – father of industry and technology. Great benefit and has been the case ever since.  We're glad we can fly, drive, use computers etc.
  • Also developed music as an example of the arts that have so blessed the human race and given scope to their creativity as created in the image of God.

The worldview of the Bible is that all these wonderful developments can go hand in hand with the effects of sin:

  • Polygamy – which affected with problems even the people of faith in the Old Testament. Polygamy is not in God’s plan – so in the New Testament had to have only one wife to be an example as a leader.  Yet covenant was respected.
  • Violence and domination by violence.

The good that is produced by those that may not know God is called God’s common grace. Three important quotes:

“God restrains the full force of evil’s power, by the ordering of societies, by the provision of governments, and by the refreshment of culture.  God is concerned with the growth of art, of society, of technology even in a world which is homesick for him: even for people who are out of touch with his love.  The sons of Cain too have gifts from God.” David Atkinson

“It is truly wonderful that this race, which had most deeply fallen from integrity, should have excelled the rest of the posterity of Adam in rare endowments… Let us know then, that the sons of Cain, though deprived of the Spirit of regeneration, were yet endued with gifts of no despicable kind; just as the experience of all ages teaches us how widely the rays of divine light have shone on unbelieving nations, for the benefit of the present life; and we see at the present time, that the excellent gifts of the Spirit are diffused through the whole human race.”  John Calvin.

Art, Music etc are gifts of the Spirit – Bezalel who constructed the tent/tabernacle in the wilderness.  Gifts given more widely than the church/people of faith.  Commenting on Phil 4:8:

“Paul is telling them not so much to “think high thoughts” as to “take into account” the good they have long known from their own past, as long as it is comfortable to Christ”.

“This sentence offers clear evidence that the distinctions between “secular” and “sacred” are most often of our making, based on our embracing an OT point of view regarding “holy things”, even though it was brought to an end with the coming of Christ and the Spirit.  Paul takes a different view, that being “in Christ” sanctifies whatever else one is and does, so that what is honourable, lovely, and pleasing, as long as it is also worthy of praise, is also embraced by life in Christ.  Although the articulation of a later time, this passage seems to embrace the notion of “common grace”.  Here is where Mozart and Beethoven (not only Bach!) come under Christian embrace.” Gordon Fee.

This is Biblical worldview – not a question of “Christian” music, or “Christian” art or “Christian” theatre but recognising the good in creativity in all created in the image of God. Christians therefore need to participate in the arts and culture to be salt and light in that context and not despise it or live in a Christian cultural ghetto.  It is similar for technology and business and agriculture but of course that has been more readily accepted by Christians traditionally whereas the arts have been more suspect.

God in His sovereignty develops cultures, business and agriculture for the benefit of those He has created and through the creative gifts He has given – that is the Biblical worldview. However this can develop alongside a godlessness and immorality and violence that needs to be resisted by truth and not absorbed by the church.

It is God’s plan to spread his image in humanity throughout the world throughout generations

God’s favour has resulted in the passing on of the image of God from generation to generation, though man remains mortal and dies as a result of the judgement of God in the world – Genesis 5:

“This is the written account of Adam's line.
When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.  He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them "man."

When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.”  Gen 5:1-3

Man however is mortal – each one dies.  That is the recurring chorus or refrain of Genesis 5.

There are godly men who walk with God

For example, Enoch – he walked with God, like God walked with man in the garden. We can still know what it is to be conscious daily of God’s presence.  It is not only what we do for God and His kingdom but a daily intimacy with God.  Enoch was an example but it is God’s plan for all His people.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good.

And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:8

We are to walk with God in the midst of this life, bounded by its enemy death.  As we do, death will not hold us – we go to be with Christ, awaiting resurrection.  Enoch was like a forerunner of this.  During this time, godly groups of people began to acknowledge God.  God will work his purposes out through the progress in the good and bad of this world.

“At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD.”  Gen 4:26

CONCLUSION

3 Worldview lessons:

  • God’s common grace in culture, technology and work.
  • God’s spreading of His image (even though distorted by sin) through the generations and across the world.
  • People living for God in the midst of this mixed picture – later in Genesis how those godly people became a blessing to the rest – resulting in the victory of God amongst the nations.

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Name: David Devenish
Phone: 01234 353312
Address: Woodside Church, Dover Crescent, Bedford, MK41 8QH
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