Genesis - Part 2: The Promise of Rest Restored

Much of the Bible is structured around comparing the many ways in which 1) we choose to live in unrest and try to sew our own garments, with 2) the opportunity God provides for us to live in a state of rest that comes from accepting the clothes given to us by another.

In Chapters 4 and 5 of Genesis, we first see the comparison between our living by the promise of God’s restored rest and our trying to take care of ourselves. These chapters are where the line of Cain is compared to the line of Adam through Seth. In Chapter 4, Cain’s line is introduced by his bringing the fruit of the ground to God, while Abel, his brother, offers a lamb (Gen. 4:1–4).

While we often think of Cain’s action as being “bad” because it does not follow God’s instructions, this is not the main point of the story. Nowhere in the first three chapters has God given instructions about sacrifice—even though some like to assume the instructions were given when He clothed Adam and Eve with skins. Rather, the main difference between Cain’s and Abel’s offerings is that Cain’s offering is the fruit of his own labor—given that man’s job, post-fall, is to till the land and sweat for his bread (Gen. 3:17–19). Abel’s offering, on the other hand, is the life of another—a substitute. This point is driven home at the end of Chapter 4 as Cain’s descendants are presented—culminating in Lamech, who in contrast to God’s promise to protect Cain and avenge his death seven-fold (Gen. 4:14), boasts of avenging himself seventy-seven-fold (Gen. 4:24). This is further emphasized in the final verses of Chapter 4 by the foreshadowing of Seth’s line (Seth meaning substitute), and in particular Seth’s son, Enos, whose name means fragility.*

And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son, and she called his name, Seth, for God has appointed to me another seed in place of Abel because Cain killed him. And a son was also born to Seth and he called his name, Enos. Then it was begun to call on the name of Jehovah. (Gen. 4:25–26**).

In contrast to Chapter 4 focusing on the line of Cain, Chapter 5 presents the genealogy linking Adam to Christ (our second Adam) and the true substitute (Seth is a shadow). While there is a great deal to contrast between these chapters, for the purposes of this essay, we would like to jump directly to the end, where Lamech again appears—this time as Noah’s father (Gen. 5:28–31). Lamech lives to be 777 years old and prophesies of Noah bringing rest.

And Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years and fathered a son. And he called his name Noah, saying This one shall comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed. And after he fathered Noah, Lamech lived five hundred and ninety-five years. And he fathered sons and daughters. And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred and seventy-seven years (Gen. 5:28–31).

Together, we have two lines descending directly from Adam, one provides vague detail of who begot whom and is typified by Lamech claiming to avenge himself. The second emphasizes the line of the Seed from Adam to Noah, emphasizing the concepts of the substitute, fragility, and rest. The broadness of the first genealogy suggests the vastness of these descendants to incorporate all of mankind, and their lack of direction. The specificity of the second line emphasizes how the promised Seed will arrive. While God promises to protect Cain (Gen. 4:14), He sends rest (i.e., Noah) through the line of Seth. Both have many of the same ancestors in their genealogy (e.g., Lamech), highlighting the point that these genealogies are less concerned about maintaining sacred blood lines, and more concerned about illustrating that while all men are under God’s protection, only one Seed does the protecting. And amidst the chaos of man going his own way, God finds a way of preserving the Seed.

Unrest and Taking Wives for Ourselves

Chapter 6 provides a segue into the salvation story (i.e., flood story), using a similar comparison between doing it ourselves and resting in God. This time, the emphasis is on the further corruption of the descendants of Adam. Rather than fulfilling the principle of becoming one, we took spouses as a means of pleasing ourselves (Gen. 6:1–9). This contrasts with Noah who did what God commanded (Gen. 6:22)—not in terms of following the prescribed set of rules better than his cousins, but by submitting to God’s leading. It is here that the motif of taking foreign wives, contrasted with becoming one with a single, believing wife, begins. And like so much of Genesis 1–11, this motif carries through the scripture, from the Israelites’ harlotry with the Moabites (Num. 25), to Solomon and his wives (1 Kgs. 11), to putting away foreign wives in Ezra 9 and 10, all the way to Revelation, where the harlot and the bride take center stage (Rev. 12, 17, 18, 19, 21). As in each of these cases, foreign wives symbolize following other gods, which are ultimately all for our own gratification and of our own creation.

After the Flood: Still Naked, Ashamed, and Drunk on Our Own Labor

After the flood, the same narrative structure and themes continue. While the flood story serves as a “shadow” of the re-creation and the world made new, it is only a shadow. In the true re-creation, told of in Revelation 21:1–4, all things are made new and

All profaning may not at all enter into it [New Jerusalem], or any making of an abomination or a lie; (Rev. 21:27).

In the shadow, the earth is started over, yet our hearts are not changed. Thus, although God promises never to destroy the earth by a flood, He recognizes that simply making work harder isn’t going to change our hearts. They will need to be transformed.

I will never again curse the ground for the sake of man, because the imagination of the heart of man is evil from his youth (Gen. 8:21).

To drive home this point, immediately after the rainbow covenant, we are shown our nakedness and shame all over again. This time Noah is drunk off the fruit of his own labor. He is naked. And the thought of his sons seeing him in this state brings him shame.

And Noah, a man of the ground, began and planted a vineyard. And he drank from the wine, and was drunk. And he uncovered himself inside his tent. And Ham the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father. And he told his two brothers outside (Gen. 9:20–22).

This time Shem, the ancestor of the Seed, along with Japheth his brother, cover Noah’s nakedness.

Unrest or Rest: The Building Up or Coming Out of Babylon

Just as with the comparison of Cain’s and Adam’s line through Seth that was presented in Chapters 4 and 5, we are now presented with two genealogies again. The first is the descendants and dispersion of Noah’s three sons, culminating in the tower of Babel (Gen. 10:1–11:9), followed immediately by a ten-generation genealogy directly linking Adam, Noah, and Abraham—the line of the Seed.

As with Cain’s descendants, which ended with Lamech avenging himself, the descendants of Noah, told in Genesis 10:1–11:9, end with the story of Babel, where

they said, Come, let us build a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and make a name for ourselves that we not be scattered on the face of all the earth (Gen. 11:4).

We know, however, that God ultimately disperses them simply by changing their language. (A parallel for us today might be His allowing a novel virus to disrupt our carefully built financial and political systems).

In contrast, Shem’s genealogy has a rather pitiful ending—with a father leaving his homeland without two of his sons. And the son that goes with him has a barren wife, and they are looking after an orphaned nephew.

And these are the generations of Terah: Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran. And Haran fathered Lot. And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans. And Abram and Nahor took wives for themselves. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai. And the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah. And Sarai was barren; she had no child. And Terah took his son Abram, and Lot, Haran’s son, his son’s son, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife. And he went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldeans, to go into the land of Canaan. And they came to Haran and lived there (Gen. 11:27–31).

Here again, an important motif is introduced—that of leaving Babylon (e.g., Babel and Ur of the Chaldeans) on the way to Canaan—a word associated with being humbled or subdued. And, as with the other motifs, this one is again carried all the way through Revelation, where God’s people are called out from the Do-It-Yourself mentality associated with the murder of the prophets, relationships with a harlot, drinking from the fruits of our own labor, and generally reveling in our own perceived power (see Rev. 18). All of this is then contrasted with the alternative in Chapter 19—a marriage between the Seed and the bride, where we, the bride, are given clothes of fine linen.

Let us rejoice and let us exult, and we will give glory to Him, because the marriage of the Lamb came, and His wife prepared herself. And it was given to her that she be clothed in fine linen, pure and bright; for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints (Rev. 20:7–8).

Throughout the first eleven chapters of Genesis, we are presented with many of the major metaphors and motifs used throughout the Bible to convey one simple message. Some of the motifs include, to name but a few, nakedness and clothing, fruit of the land or an animal from the herd, one believing wife or foreign wives, and building up or coming out of Babylon. However, together, these motifs flesh out one common theme in the form of a choice. Either we can choose the rest that comes from accepting our powerlessness, being humble, submitting to One more powerful, and accepting a gift rather than doing it ourselves; or, we can live in unrest, trying to change who we are, protect ourselves through our own labor, and take what we want to create our own happiness. The two cannot be blended. And while we live under the covering of another’s skin, our linen garments are being made by another (as was pointed out at the end of Part 1 of this essay).

We also believe that being more attentive to the larger meaning these symbols and motifs are trying to convey can help us to ask the right questions about difficult texts in Scripture. This attention will lead us to glean a more correct understanding of those challenging passages. For example, when studying texts such as Acts 15 and the Jerusalem Council, we will not interpret that incident as proof that even duly appointed leadership has the authority to force others to comply with their own sensibilities—a building up of Babylon. But rather, we will understand that when leadership gathered at that Council and “mandated” that believers were “to hold back from the pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and that strangled, and blood” (Acts 15:20), they weren’t adding rules. Their purpose was to reiterate the same simple gospel—thou shall have no other gods before me. And while life is in the blood, the only saving blood is the blood of Christ—a truth most fully explained in Leviticus, the book about at-one-ment and being in the presence of God, at rest, naked and unashamed.

*All name meanings taken from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.

**All texts quoted from the Interlinear Bible: Hebrew/Greek/English, translated by Jay P. Green, 1987 edition; all bold-face type supplied by authors.

JEB Beagles, PhD, is assistant professor of International Non-Profit Management and Finance at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School. He is happy to be Rachel’s husband and Coen’s father. Kathy Beagles Coneff, his mother, is a retired religious educator and editor. She continues to use those skills doing contract work with NAD Youth and Young Adult Ministries and others.

Photo by Akil Mazumder from Pexels

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

The key to understanding the lesson of the narrative is how Cain responded to God’s rejection of his gifts. If I gave a gift to someone I loved and was rejected, my, and anyone’s response as a matter of fact, would be to try harder to please the object of my love. But Cain became angry and downcast. And the story continues “ Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

What is right? Not to get angry, covetous and jealous as Cain did. Rule over our emotions.


that’s of course much easier said than done…and some people are just more emotional than others…maybe cain was the emotional type…

but does this mean that god didn’t give instructions for something he required…this seems unreasonable…i don’t think the bible, as abbreviated and even cryptic as it is in many places, can possibly be a reflection of everything that happened in the lives of the people depicted…

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Very dangerous presumption. I frequently hear this excuse from abusers in my clinic. It is not the emotional states that matter but the way emotions are managed. Just the way as God warned Cain.

Why God preferred Abel’s offering from Cain is not our domain to question. Just ask Job.


but it would be fairer if in fact god had specified what he wanted, but it was just the case that moses didn’t record this because he didn’t think to himself that it was overly significant…first of all, how can we really prove that this wasn’t the case…and do we really believe that moses recorded everything, when writing on papyrus scrolls was relatively arduous…

there is something about what happened in the aftermath of this story - the first human murder - that suggests a lot was happening besides a blithe decision to bring an offering that hadn’t been specified, but that seemed reasonable at the time…why would cain be so angry with abel, if it weren’t for the fact that abel had obeyed an explicit command that cain had made the decision to ignore…perhaps it was the case that cain had expected abel to follow his lead, and was thinking to himself that abel wasn’t showing him respect…

i think god’s comment to cain suggests that cain knew he had done something very wrong in offering veggies…

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You can search the Bible and you will find no reason other Cain having a rebellious heart that got him into trouble. It specifically says in the Bible “it is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” There was no disobeying God’s word because God did not give any instructions that were not followed. Even your favorite EGW explains it in PP page 711.

However, if you find a biblical text, please share it with us.

Now, how Cain developed a rebellious heart is another topic…


actually, egw disagrees with your view of what possible omissions in the bible mean…according to her, god had in fact directed what the brothers were to offer:

“Abel presented a sacrifice from the flock, in accordance with the Lord’s directions. “And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering.” Fire flashed from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. But Cain, disregarding the Lord’s direct and explicit command, presented only an offering of fruit.” PP:71.

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Even EGW disagrees with herself. Could this be a direct consequence of her indiscriminate plagiarism? Check this out…

“Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam, differed widely in character. Abel had a spirit of loyalty to God; he saw justice and mercy in the Creator’s dealings with the fallen race, and gratefully accepted the hope of redemption. But Cain cherished feelings of rebellion, and murmured against God because of the curse pronounced upon the earth and upon the human race for Adam’s sin. He permitted his mind to run in the same channel that led to Satan’s fall—indulging the desire for self-exaltation and questioning the divine justice and authority.” PP 711


where does egw disagree with herself…the paragraph you’re citing is giving the background of the story…it’s not a disagreement with the story…

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In one citation she says “But Cain, disregarding the Lord’s direct and explicit command, presented only an offering of fruit. PP:71” (No evidence of biblical text) while in another she states “ But Cain cherished feelings of rebellion, and murmured against God because of the curse pronounced upon the earth and upon the human race for Adam’s sin.“ PP 711.

Aren’t you glad her writings were not canonized as part of the Bible? Otherwise the SDA acronym would be known as “Schizophrenia-day Adventist.”


I am with you Jeremy, there are certainly people who are more emotional than others. No doubt about it. However, our actions have to be controlled by intelligence, reason, common sense. Because it the emotions prevail and control our behavior, look at what Cain did when under the influence of emotions; he killed his own brother.

Elmer @elmer_cupino is right, people often use their emotions trying to justify bad, aggressive, weird behavior. By saying that they are “emotional” they seek to get away with their bad, sometimes insane, behavioral choices. For those I use Dr. Albert Ellis’ REBT - Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. It works if they decide to make it work for them.

It is very unsafe, even dangerous, letting emotions control our behavior. Especially totally uncontrolled emotions. Look at Trump and you will easily understand the implications…


Luckily this topic isn’t closing in the next 6 hours to allow time to discuss this issue. I’d like to preface this by saying that I don’t necessarily disagree with you on the above, but it would seem to me that your argument with @vandieman is more about what he sees as a specific reason as opposed to the lesson what could be extracted from him wrapping something in those specifics.

I agree that from the perspective of how we consume these narratives, there’s a very definitive “Control your emotions” directive, but you as a psychiatrist may have a better view of this to see this as a very problematic expectation… given that “we are what we are”. And that’s why I’m at crossroads of interpretation where @vandieman may not see the other non-literal perspective, which is that such expectation only comes from a person who “adopts”: (or in a position to adopt) a discipline that allows for such expectation to be a reality. Eventually, if you read between the lines of what he is promoting, he is saying that there is a “winning pattern” that has to be adopted in order for us to move on in some harmonious manner. And, personally, I don’t really have a problem with casting that “winning pattern” into a wraps of a “prophet” or a “word of God”… if that’s what people need to make such narrative work in their own conceptual framework.

First of all, in both instances there seems to be an illusion of control and agency in a sense that there was some decision by a singular entity as opposed to it being something else. It doesn’t seem like religious narrative could be adequately understood from the perspective of “individual agency”, and even though our entire legal system is predicated on this concept, one of the reasons that we have so many problems in our society is precisely due to this misconception… that we are some “individual agents” , and not a congress of parts that all contribute to some outcomes that we put some mask on and appropriate as “I”.

Of course, to maintain that coherent external narrative, we need to believe that this consolidated “I” exists, and that it’s responsible for decisions. We need to believe that we are not talking to a nested “If then” ball of conditional reactions. We need to believe that consciousness is a decision-maker and not a passive observer that appropriates decisions. We need to believe that such “sense of I” has control over everything it “thinks about”, and “plans”, and executes. And, unfortunately, the narratives in the West tend to take this idea to the extreme, in which we view ourselves as gods incarnate without ever considering the mechanisms that makes us tick… and the mechanisms that we are aware of these days.

So, ironically, that’s the time we should be listening to Western scientific reductionism, and understand that what we are is more like a “broken phone” game between many players in our body playing such game to operate in some effort of unity. It works well when the messages these entities pass to each other are accurate and well-informed. But, the opposite can likewise be the case, arguably more often than not, is that the individual parts get confused, or are not properly informed. They taste sugar and fat and think it’s the best source of energy from assumptions made in different context. They signal to overeat when food is available, for the same reasons. They get all worked up when a high-school girlfriend doesn’t like what she sees. They get angry or afraid when they misinterpret what is and what isn’t adequately necessary for survival in largely unfamiliar territory of the modern cultural landscape. You may understand this better than anyone on this thread.

It’s actually more true about religion today than anything else, because it’s a collection of narratives developed for keeping that “phone game” clear of signals that were different in the tribal setting of hunter-gatherer societies, but would be counter-intuitive to our modern context… and yet overtime this narrative swings to the other extreme of becoming the “broken phone” signal it once attempted to mitigate.

So, the author of this article can’t understand religion, unless he doesn’t understand that even religion is an imperfect attempt to try to understand “what’s wrong” in context of who we are. So, all of the concepts apply, but not in the way in which we tend to atomize and read these through the mindset of “Western Individualism”, which never actually cared to literally dig inside of us and find out that we are not individuals prior to structuring a legal construct that revolves around such concept.

Thus, we can’t approach our problem from perspective of looking at people as individuals. Ironically, religion should drive us “inwardly” to acknowledge our limitation as we seek harmonious and cooperative existence. Instead, we tend to “shoestring” systems that bank on us doing something that we are arguably incapable of doing as these conceptualize us as “gods incarnate” as all of us have this magical powers of “decision to change”, which arguably doesn’t work out well at the level of neuro-physiology … unless we exist in an environment and circumstances that would allow for such change to take place.

I’m very interested in your thoughts about that, given that you confront that particular illusion of individualism daily in your professional career, and how you personally reconcile it with the narrative of control, which I don’t necessarily disagree with, but which I would re-cast into something else for it to make sense.

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The purpose of psychotherapy is to change a maladaptive behavior thus a good starting point is to make the patient take responsibility of the behavior. As it has been commonly known, “the only thing we can control is our attitude.” Once the patient takes ownership of his behavior, then it becomes easier to focus on its resolution but it is not as easy as it appears because the most difficult task a person can face is to accept the fact that he is less than what he wishes to be. A number of factors can influence our denial such as individual genetics, childhood development, family culture, personality traits among others but one cannot surpass religion because religion has two built in excuses in “Satan” and “sinful nature.” I believe this is where Jeremy @vandieman was leading, that Cain had a sinful nature thus causing him to disobey God. I find it almost impossible to be of help to someone steeped in religion without deconstructing his concept of God, Satan and sinful nature. I hope this helps.


OURSELVES?That’s really quite a stretch!

The first 7 or 8 verses of Gen 6 certainly read like a redactor’s blunder: (Accidental inclusion of external material.)

From NIV:

1 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them,

2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.

3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with HUMANS forever, for they are mortal [IN CONTRAST TO THE “SONS OF GOD” (?)] ; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

5 The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.

6 The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.

7 So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” (NIV, Gen 6:1-7)



actually this isn’t a contradiction…if you read the page, you’ll see that your first quote follows logically from your second, which is the order in which egw wrote…that is, cain had long cherished a spirit of rebellion against god because of the curse of sin everywhere he looked - likely he didn’t think it fair for him to suffer this inheritance because he wasn’t the one who had sinned in the garden…this spirit of rebellion facilitated his half-hearted obedience to god’s explicit direction to bring a specified animal for sacrifice in addition to fruit out of the ground…

as egw so often does, and uniquely so, she explains the history of the mindset and feelings that go into actions that are recorded in the bible, giving a much richer harvest of spiritual lessons in the stories of the bible than can be found in the bible itself…

no i’m not…i don’t think anyone needs to accept the decision of 16th century catholic fathers on what is inspired and what isn’t, and that nothing written after 96 AD can ever be considered inspired…that’s ridiculous…

no, this wasn’t where i was leading…as we all know, adam and eve, and in fact lucifer, had sinless natures when they disobeyed god, and abel had the same sinful nature cain had, and yet abel obeyed, whereas cain really didn’t…


An interesting thought. Can you point to portions of the cannon that you judge to be not inspired? Martin Luther apparently that thoughts about James and maybe Revelation.

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Would you be kind to support this with biblical texts please. Thank you.


We all have our biases. This is Moses’ way of telling his ancestors weren’t Chaldeans. :sweat_smile:

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[quote=“vandieman, post:15, topic:20218”]
we all know…lucifer, had [a sinless nature when he disobeyed God…]

May I remind you that Lucifer, the fallen angel, is not Biblical. He was invented by Tertulian (and/or somebody of his ilk), expanded in Paradise Lost, then borrowed by you-know-who without credit. (Horrors, would she do that?)

Isaiah mentioned the Morning Star by its Hebrew name when he wrote about the king of Babylon in Isa 14. (Because the King of Babylon claimed to be the Morning Star, Venus.)

The Latin Vulgate used the Latin name for the morning star, Lucifer, and for no good reason so did the KJV .


Do you have the same level of tolerance for anyone making a decision about the early Adventist fathers’ endorsement of the writings of Mrs White?

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