January 2, 2013

Worshipping like Eve

by Wyatt Graham

After God created the world in Genesis 1–2 and humanity fell from grace in Genesis 3,  Scripture points us back to the only appropriate response to God —worship. In Genesis 4, we can learn how to worship God rightly by contrasting how both Eve and Cain respond to God (this post shows how Cain responded). This is because Genesis 4 ends in the worship of God (Gen 4:26), and thus the story itself controls our interpretation. It aims to teach us how to respond to God rightly, and so worship him fittingly. Because we have already seen how we can learn from Cain’s example, we now turn to Eve.

WORSHIP AND EVE’S FAITH

In Genesis 4:1 and 25, Eve coaches us to trust in the promises of God, and that faith evokes worship. These verses show two different aspects of Eve’s trust in Yahweh. Verse 1 shows a (maybe) overconfident Eve, while verse 25 evokes a properly humble picture of humanity’s mother. These two verses read:  

4:1: “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.’” (ESV)

4:25: “And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.’” (ESV)

Like the ESV translation, the NASB also adds the words “with the help of” to verse 1. This is because these translations believe that this best represents the sense of the text. However, these words don’t exist in the Hebrew text. A literal (albeit wooden) translation would read, “I have gained a man with Yahweh.” As you can see, the reason that translations often add “with the help of” is because it seems awkward to say “I have gotten a man with Yahweh.” But I say, “Keep the awkwardness!”

By this odd phrase, Eve might mean, “I have created a human with (like?) Yahweh.” In short, Eve might believe that she can return to a state of blessing by bearing a child  that will fulfill Genesis 3:15 without relying on God to provide that child.

This would mean that she falls into the same trap of trying to out-God god, as she had done in the garden. Ironically, as Eve tried to become  “like” God in garden but actually lost her blessing, she may again attempt to regain blessing by the same means (being like God). There are a couple reasons why I believe this is what Eve means in Genesis 4:1.

First, Eve’s example seems to be substantiated by the greater context of Genesis. Her presumptuous attitude is copied later by Sarah’s giving Hagar to Abraham as surrogate mother (do I even have to mention the super-baby-making narratives of Leah and Rebekah?). There’s a theme of barren ladies who try to bring blessing through the flesh without trusting in God to provide an offspring. They try to work out blessing by flesh and blood, but God always pulls through by providing the promised offspring through a barren womb. This teaches us that new life does not come through flesh or blood but by God being born from above (or through God’s power).

Second, Genesis 4:25 sharply contrasts with Genesis 4:1 in two important ways. In the first place, Eve clearly affirms God’s action in producing an offspring, “God has appointed for me….” Also, and most importantly, Eve adds this quip, “another offspring instead of Abel.” But wait? Didn’t she say in 4:1 that Cain was her offspring (of promise?; Gen 3:15)? Yes. But at some point in time, she learned that she could not force blessing (with Cain) and that she needed to wait on God’s blessing (with Abel). We don’t know when this happened; but it probably happened before Cain’s murder of Abel, since she says “for Cain killed him” — meaning that Abel was the (promised) offspring before Cain killed him. By the way, this makes Cain’s murder of Abel more atrocious and at the same time God’s forgiveness that much more gracious.

Immediately after Eve’s confession of faith, Genesis 4:26 returns to the idea of worship, showing that Eve’s faith was replicated in her son Seth and her Grandson Enosh. It reads, “To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.” The idea behind calling “upon the name of the LORD” is simply to worship him. Thus, the narrative (Gen 4) ends where it began, with worship.

In this way, Eve shows us that true worship includes trusting in God’s promises, and this trusts pushes away the drive to live by the flesh.

TAKEAWAY

Even if you say I am being too mean to Eve (though I do amplify her faith!), the main point of the passage remains. God desires worship from those who live a life of repentance and faith. Note well, repenting and believing in God is not a one time action that is finished and forgotten after our conversion — they are the defining marks of our communion with God, our worship of him.

 

Wyatt Graham

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Wyatt is an intern for the pastors at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. He oversees the church's evangelism on college campuses.