God banishes Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 and the animals too. I had forgotten that bit. He didn’t want the animals to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, so he sent them all out of the Garden of Eden.
In Genesis 4 Adam and Eve start a family, but it doesn’t go well. Why did God not want Cain’s offering? I don’t get that bit. Cain was jealous of his brother, whose offering of a lamb was accepted. So he killed him. But God must have had a change of heart, because he tells Cain that anyone who kills HIM will be punished sevenfold. And Cain settled in the land of Nod. Hello? Land of Nod? Are we back to the subject of sleeping?
And speaking of sleeping, I had a terrible night last night it took me hours to get to sleep. Must have been those nuts! Anyway, next we’re continuing the story of the Birth of Jesus with Matthew 2. The Wise Men were warned in a dream (sleep!) not to go back to Herod. So Herod has all the babies killed. Like a pantomime villain. But this one is for real. And no amount of booing and hissing will make this alright.
Years later an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream… and finally the child Jesus arrived in Nazareth. It’s been a long journey for him and his parents. But for us, the Bible is only just beginning.
Today’s readings finish with John crying in the wilderness. Matthew 3:3. Where have we heard about crying before? Cain, then the mothers of Bethlehem, and now John the Baptist. Then in Psalm 2 we get more crying. This time it’s the kings of the earth who are having their battle plans foiled. God warns them to serve him with reverence and fear. And we know what can happen. God doesn’t mess about with false promises, he means business. When he asks for something, whether you’re a king or not, you had better do it.
And finally to my favourite book and Proverbs 1:7 “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge.” But, as with Cain, he tempers his command with a sweetener. The passage ends with these words: Listen to your father and mother. “What you learn will be a chain of honour round your neck.”
Even if it makes you want to cry sometimes.