The home and family life of Adam and his wife Eve had been torn apart and lay in ruins after Satan struck another mighty blow upon the seed of the woman. In fact, the blow appeared to be much more than a bruise upon the heal. Abel was gone! Cain, the very flesh and blood of Eve had departed from the covenant circle, a murderer, and despiser of the covenant. While he rapidly grew in strength and boldness, the children of God cried out in confusion and despair.
God had promised a seed who would crush the head of the serpent. And God had given a son who fearlessly stood fast in opposition to the temptations of Satan. The plan of God appeared to be so clear … until now. Abel was dead! Knowing that God is sovereign, Adam and Eve learned painfully that God’s ways are not man’s ways. God had made known a profound truth about himself which did not receive mature expression until Paul wrote the words of 1 Corinthians 1:25 “the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” The church’s years of experience with the death of covenant children do not toughen us against the pain one whit. Many of us know the crying questions.
Exactly how long Adam and Eve floundered in the valley of the shadow of death is not revealed, but thirty years into the second century a light began to flicker. A new smile broke out upon troubled faces as another son was born to Adam and Eve. Eve “called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.” (Gen 4:25) The sovereign God steadily and faithfully would work out his plan. The hope in the promised Savior again welled up, but now it was deeper and tempered with patient trust. With the prophet Isaiah 3200 years hence, Adam could declare “Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion. (Isa 8:18) Seth, as well as the covenant children that God has given to our fathers, and to us, are signs of the covenant wonder of God’s faithfulness. The plan of God was far more glorious than Adam and Eve had imagined.
The second century of the church militant came to a close with a joyful and hopeful family. Even though Adam went out each morning with a heavy dew soaking the earth, and returned in sweat and weariness, he came home to love and questions of a son eager to hear the stories of the garden of Eden and the promised Savior. By a wonder of grace, God had given to him a son “in his own likeness, after his image;” (Genesis 5:3) In wonder Seth watched and listened as his father built altars and explained how the shed blood of a lamb pointed to that promised Savior.
As he grew older, Seth would work side by side with his father and satisfy his hunger for more knowledge. As the years went by, more brothers and sisters would fill the home. Their home would be much like every covenant home, with its share of sorrows and joys. On the one hand they would rejoice together to see the power of God’s grace at work. On the other hand the angel with the flaming sword at the garden entrance would provide a twenty-four hour reminder of their guilt and shame. Against the terrible blackness of the background of shame, guilt, and sin, the family of Adam would ponder the depths of God’s love and mercy.
The beautiful portrait of sin and grace that Adam repeatedly painted for his children would not impress all of them. For many, the glory and excitement of Cain’s adventures was much more attractive. Adam could now see that sin did not leave with Cain, but would continue to thrive and develop right within the covenant circle. Walking with God in this world would be impossible apart from the power of God’s grace. What a mystery! How would God do it? Who would be that Savior? When would he come? What does God have in store for his people? Not until the apostle Paul did God reveal the grand picture of God sovereignly showing mercy and love, and by the power of grace gathering his people from all the peoples of the whole world.
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Rom 11:33-36).
We can only imagine the depth of knowledge developed as these two men lived and talked together for some 600 years. It would be like having John Calvin among us today with Theodore Beza able to counsel and guide the church for another 400 years in the future!
To be sure, the home of Adam and Eve would fill with more children. Somehow, they were sure, even though the covenant circle remained small and weak in comparison to the growing power and technological advances of those who were driven by their own glory and lusts, God would fulfill his promise and reveal his glory in ways beyond the wildest dreams of man.