GENESIS 4: LIVING IN THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT

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Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Gen. 4:6-7 NIV)

We are ushered, in Genesis 4, into what author Charles Taylor calls a land of “enchantment.” An enchanted worldview is one in which spiritual forces are active in daily life and are easy to discern. (A “disenchanted” world is one in which spiritual forces are hidden and inactive). Here, malevolent forces are described as wild beasts, crouching even at our doors, desiring to devour us. Gratefully, we are advised that we retain power over these beasts. We have the power to choose to give in to their temptations or not to given in.

And here, divine forces are described as extraordinarily active. Even blood, normally considered by us today to be an inanimate object, cries out to God from the ground (Gen. 4:10). The ground itself, just dirt to us, opens its mouth to receive Abel’s blood (Gen. 4:11). Though Abel is unable to speak for himself, his blood and the ground speak against his unjust murder at the hands of his brother Cain.

Charles Taylor writes that many of us who live in the western world today act as if we live in a disenchanted world, as if these spiritual forces are no longer at play. The truth, however, is that the world of Genesis 4 is still our world. These godly and godless powers may not be as easily discernible to us today. But they are nonetheless present and active. Our challenge is to live beyond what we can see–to live into a world deeper than flesh and blood.

The apostle Paul writes this:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 6:12 NIV)

The more we remember this, the less likely we are to rage against the people around us. The more likely we are to adopt habits and weapons that allow us to battle the true Enemy and rely upon the true Ally.

Prayer

Thank you Father, for still being present and active in my world today. Open my eyes to your activity around me, as well as to the activity of Satan and his forces. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Action Step

Make a list of the ways in which you’re behaving as if humans are your primary enemy. Now, list what would be different if you assumed that darker forces such as Satan were the true enemy and God was your true Ally.

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Chris Altrock

Chris is a spiritual director, the author of seven books, a father to Jordan and Jacob, a husband to Kendra, and has preached for the Highland Church of Christ since 1998.

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