WHEN MEN FIRST PRAYED

READING – Genesis 4

Text – v26

“And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.”

Genesis 4 introduces us to the horrible brokenness of the world in which we live. We see this brokenness though the eyes of our first parents as they painfully learned through experience the consequences of their sin.

After the way back to Eden was barred, Adam and Eve’s marriage experienced what felt like a new beginning which proved to be a false dawn. As they cradled their boys, who were possibly twins and watched them grow up they anticipated that brighter days were coming. While Adam toiled the ground that became increasingly stubborn, while the livestock became more difficult to manage and while other creatures that once willingly responded to his voice became progressively wild – these two boys, Cain and Abel represented hope, that better days were coming.

What utter devastation!

Adam and Eve cradled the bloodied body of Abel in their arms knowing that they had not lost one son but two because Cain had gone away from them and more crucially from the presence of the Lord, a murderer!

With tears they cried out, “What have we done?”; a bitter reminder of the folly of their sin.

Cain went out and became an amazingly successful man. He raised a family, he built the first city and established the first society. The family of Cain led the way in human progress. Among his children and grandchildren we find agriculture, music and industry. But in the midst of their success they remained a family and a society that had abandoned God. Therefore we observe the very characteristics that would in a few generations cause the judgement of God to fall; immorality, violence and murder.

Cain’s generation was so like the world in which we live. We have witnessed progress, wealth and innovation. Yet prosperous man has abandoned God and we have seen the marks of that abandonment in the numerous sins of our society. The immorality, the violence, the murder and the selfishness continue with us.

In this dark time, when it seemed as if there was no hope for humanity Adam and Eve cradled a 3rd son in their arms. His name, Seth, is significant – “For God hath appointed me another son instead of Abel, whom Cain slew”. Eve felt so undeserving; she had helped bring about all the tragedy that had afflicted her family. Yet, now God had stepped in and given her another son, a new day had now truly dawned because God gives people who fail another opportunity. How remarkable is His grace!

Abel was dead, Cain was a murderer establishing a perverse society. But Seth as he grew into adulthood married and was given a son called Enos. Adam and Eve now saw the 3rd generation, something that they thought they would never see. Now something happened which had not taken place since the death of Abel:

“Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord”.

There was something special about Enos’ birth which kindled such hope and promise in the hearts of Adam, Eve and Seth – they started praying. Behind them was the wreckage created by their own sin. Around them was a world that largely, within a few years since creation, had abandoned God. But now in the midst of their pain and sorrow they prayed. They learned, that their only hope was found in a God whom they must cling to.

They discovered this hope through a child. What kind of a world did they want for this child? What hope would there be for this child? And so little Enos by virtue of his being born, led this family to bend their knees and cry unto God for their world.

Today we live in a dark and desperate time. Behind us the evil and rebellion of our society has made us ripe for a visitation of judgement. Around us the Coronavirus is causing havoc in the world. People are afraid as they have never been afraid before. Yet, there is no sign of repentance. There is no seeking after God. Man in his own proud way thinks he can weather the storm.

One of the most tangible signs of the continued intolerance of our society to God is Westminster’s insistence that the Abortion regulations in Northern Ireland, must be enacted on 31st March. Society is suffering, people are dying – chaos is everywhere – and yet the appetite to defy God, rather than pray to God, is just as strong. The apparent contradiction that we despair because a virus takes life while we legislate to murder babies by our own efforts is not considered.

We are hearing echoes of the Psalm 2 in our day; “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” ( Psalm 2:2-3).

Amid all of the confusion the voice of God is not heard and the lust for sin is overwhelming. The spirit of Cain and his generation dominates the spiritual and moral landscape.

This causes me to ask the question – What is the cause of Covid-19?

Is it a judgement sent from God? Certainly the nations of the world are deserving of judgement. We have repeatedly said for so long that morally our nation cannot continue to defy God as it has been doing.

Is this a curse sent upon the earth? Where God’s people are prevented from worshipping God publicly and proclaiming the Word – this is certainly a curse and even a Satanic attack. I will defend our decision to close our meetings because of the risk to public health, but even so, we mourn because this event is preventing us from fellowshipping together in the manner appointed by God – who else other than Satan could be behind such a circumstance?

In the days of Job, however, we are reminded that Satan can be loosed a little in order that God’s greater purposes will be fulfilled. Ultimately, while we see Satan at work, we know that the one who is within us is greater than the one who is in the world. Yet, we know that with the onslaught of this Covid-19 we are reminded of the cosmic struggle, the war of the ages as the forces of Hell line up against God and His Christ.

Where is our hope today, in the midst of this struggle for the souls of men and women? In God alone.

Therefore we must cling to him. Let us look at the children of our homes and our society. What kind of a future do we want for them? After the Coronavirus clears – what will the world look like? We must earnestly seek God, that he would intervene in grace, that in wrath He would remember to be gracious because where sin abounds grace doth much more abound.

This first prayer meeting in human history was a family gathering. Adam and Eve and Seth are the only named individuals. Let us use these days to seek God earnestly for the removal of the virus, for the health of our nation, for our valiant healthcare professionals and most importantly that men and women will turn to God with the repentance and sorrow. But as these dear people at the dawn of civilisation prayed with regrets because of their own spiritual barrenness, so let us draw bear mourning over the spiritual barrenness generated by the sins of the 21st Century Church. If God is to heal our land, we must turn from our wicked ways!

Reviewing the following chapter of Scripture will show us that God heard the cries of this simple family gathering. In the line of Seth and Enos we discover the early champions of the faith – Enoch, Methuselah and Noah shone brightly. Enoch was the man who walked with God, Methuselah’s longevity was a token of God’s patience and Noah’s ark saved humanity from disaster. All of these men were produced by the first family prayer meeting. While the children of Cain toiled and pleasured their way to doom the children of Seth prayed, they were preserved and the future of humanity was ensured.

While we do not know what the final outcome of Covid-19 will be, how many lives will be lost, how deep the economic recession will be that it causes and what the world will look like when it completes its visitation of this planet and its inhabitants. But I know this – God will preserve his Church, and He will build His Church. He will raise up a future generation to walk with Him.

The future belongs to the Christian Church because Jesus Christ promised that the meek would inherit the earth.

With hope and optimism let us follow the example of our first parents and pray earnestly in a dark and gloomy day.

“Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord”.

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