We study the Torah according to the triennial cycle every Sabbath. (Why?)
We must understand the paragraph divisions in Torah, which are inspired by the Spirit and preserved by Moses and the Jewish scribes (but discarded by the English translators), are key to help us understand what God is trying to tell us. He wants to be understood, and has provided these helps to aid us! We must also understand how the Spirit teaches through Torah by common theme.
Additional readings for this week:
In Gen 3:22-24, God exiles Adam and Eve from Eden in response to their sin. He said that it was so that he would not also take a fruit from the tree of life, and live forever (vs. 22). God had told them that if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would die. God did not lie to them. The death they experienced in that moment was not the death of the mortal body (although from that instant their mortal bodies began to die, i.e. age), but the death of the spirit. Their spirits were now stained with the knowledge of what was evil.
God does not want Adam and Eve to now live forever, in the state of spiritual death which they were now in. If they ate of the tree of life while they were in a state of spiritual death, they would live forever in a state of spiritual death. He did not want that, because He had a plan to redeem us from death (Gen 3:15). So to protect them, He exiled them from Eden.
Now we see that rebellion = sin = death = exile.
When we are in a state of spiritual death, we cannot be where God is. We must be exiled from His presence – not because He doesn’t love us anymore. But because sin cannot abide in His presence – it would mean death for us. Therefore, exile.
Gen 3:22-24 parsha topic: exile is a consequence of sin and death.
In Gen 4:1-26, we see a repeating pattern of knowledge, sin, death, and exile (repetition is the second teaching tool God employs in Torah). Cain and Abel grew up with the knowledge of good and evil. Abel chose to do good, while Cain chose to do evil. We can see this from the talk God had with Cain afterwards – it seemed as if Cain knew what it was that was “doing well,” (Gen 4:7), and that God was encouraging him to choose to do well instead of choosing to do sin.
Gen 4:7 is the first occurrence of the word “sin” in the Bible. In Scripture, a Hebrew word’s first occurrence also provides its definition. This is the fourth teaching tool of Torah.
The Hebrew word is chattath, Strong’s H2403, from the root word Strong’s H2398, chata, afj chet – tav – aleph (see the original meaning of the Hebrew at the Ancient Hebrew Alphabet Chart).
j chet: the fence or dividing wall, also, outside, divide, or halve.
f tet, originally a tav: the crossed sticks, x, mark, sign, target.
a aleph: the ox head, strong, powerful, leader.
When looking at the ancient Hebrew, we have to remember that God designed the language in stick figures, and it was meant to be understood by five- year- olds looking at the pictures, who did not even know how to read yet. The picture is telling us: outside the target, strongly. Sin is being strongly outside the target. Strongly missing the mark. The target is God’s way of doing well. Sin is outside of doing well. Not off by a little bit. You want to avoid pork, and you clean the pork out of your house, but you discover one day that pop tarts have gelatin in them. Ooooops! That is not sin. That is not strongly missing the mark. That is a mistake.
This history of Cain and Abel helps to define sin for us. Cain deliberately disobeyed. The heart attitude he consistently displays is one of pride, resentment, stubbornness, rebellion, and selfishness. There is not a glimmer of remorse or submission to God’s will anywhere in this narrative. Sin – strongly missing the mark – had made itself Cain’s master. He had bowed the knee to it and not to God.
Finding the Messiah in Torah
Jewish tradition states that Cain and Abel brought their offerings on the 14th of the month in which the barley was in its head – Passover! You see, God set up the sun, moon, and stars to mark His appointed times on the 4th day of Creation (Gen 1:14, “seasons” is the Hebrew word moed, translated “feast day” many other places in Torah). God’s holy days have been holy to Him from the very beginning. The reason major historical and spiritual events seem to take place on His days are because they are His days in the first place.