You Can’t Get Blood from a Turnip

October 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Posted in Biblical farming, Common Expressions | 9 Comments
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If you are trying to convince someone to give you something that he simply does not have, or does not have access to, the person you are entreating might respond, “You can’t get blood from a stone.” It’s a way of saying, “No matter how hard you ‘squeeze’ me, it won’t do any good.” It is unclear whether this expression came before or after the expression, “You can’t get blood from a turnip,” which means the same thing.

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If the “turnip” expression came first, it might have originally been a reference to the Bible’s account of Cain and Abel.

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

Genesis 4:1-5

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Abel’s offering was a “blood” offering. This is probably significant as a type or foreshadowing of the kind of sacrifice that God required for sin. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. The price of our redemption was the precious blood of Christ.

We may infer that Abel’s offering was a more “obedient” offering than Cain’s. Surely Cain and Abel would have been aware that God had slain animals in order to cover the sin of Adam and Eve. Abel’s offering was a “faith” offering.

I know that the typical teaching concerning the offerings is that Cain’s offering was a “works” offering, contrasted with Abel’s “faith” offering, but it seems to me that “the fruit of the ground” (which might have included a turnip or two for all we know) was no more a product of Cain’s “work” than Abel’s care of the sheep from which he obtained his offering. I can “grow” turnips or “raise” sheep, but neither one of them really prosper by my own power. God is the one who makes things grow and reproduce. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that Abel and Cain had different “jobs.” Abel was a keeper of sheep and Cain was a tiller of the ground. If you grew up watching the television show, “The Rifleman,” then you might consider Abel to be a “rancher” and Cain to be a “farmer.” Lucas McCain, the main character of “The Rifleman,” used to take his fair share of grief from ranchers, who resented him for his perceived meekness and possibly for fencing off the land around his property.

the rifleman

Invariably one of these “tough” cowboys would call McCain a “sodbuster” and McCain would fill him full of lead with his modified repeating rifle. In the Biblical narrative Cain was the “sodbuster” but he is the villain rather than the hero of Genesis 4.

I would argue that what made Abel’s faith offering more righteous than Cain’s had more to do with the fact that Abel did it “God’s way” and Cain did it “Cain’s way.” Cain got his hands “dirty,” while Abel got his hands “bloody.”

Let us beware of trying to please God our “own way.” God is not impressed with our self-generated ideas. To try to achieve righteousness before God in any way other than the Way He has specifically ordained is like trying to get blood from a turnip: absolutely useless. The only place to find the blood that’s acceptable to God is from the Lamb of God – Jesus Christ – Whose blood has been shed for the remission of our sins.

How the Fallen Are Mighty

December 9, 2009 at 11:12 am | Posted in Genesis | 13 Comments
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Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

I John 3:12

Cain was “of that” wicked one: the devil. Therefore, he would be a liar and a counterfeiter – and a blasphemous counterfeiter. “Slew” in I John 3:12 can mean to slaughter – as in the way a sacrificial animal was killed. There are some difficult passages in Genesis, and the New Testament many times clarifies the Old Testament.

And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.

Genesis 4:8-10 (emphasis added)

Verse 8 says “slew,” as if Cain was saying to God, “Okay, God, you didn’t like my first sacrifice – you wanted a blood sacrifice – a slaughtered beast – here you go,” in a very rebellious, very arrogant, very evil way.

So I John 3:12 may be revealing the demonic nature of Cain in his outright rebellion against God. And Genesis 4:9 (“I know not [where my brother is]”) certainly reveals his lying, which is also the way of Satan. How quickly sin – in the very first descendant of Adam and Eve – begins to completely reach its full depths of evil! Adam and Eve’s very first child turns out to be not just greedy, not just jealous, not just rebellious, not just dishonest, not just disobedient, but a murderer! And not just a murderer but a perpetrator of fratricide!

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

Genesis 4:1

The name “Cain” meant “that which was acquired.” Cain was acquired from God, but obtained through a painful effort. There was a double curse of painful childbirth – the pain itself and the tendency toward a feeling of pride: “This child was given to me by God, but he’s mine, too – look how much effort I put into him, look how much pain it cost me to have him.” We must be careful to remember Whose children “our” children really are.

Think about all the questions God asks in Genesis 4:6, 7, 9, and 10: “Why art thou wroth?” “Why is thy countenance fallen?” “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?” “Where is Abel thy brother?” “What hast thou done?” God gave chances to admit to sin to both Adam and Cain. Adam tried to avoid God; Cain outright lied to God. Then notice Cain’s selfish, Luciferean point of view:

And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.

Genesis 4:13-14 (emphasis added)

And Cain continued rebelling against God:

And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

Genesis 4:16:17

God pronounced Cain a vagabond – a wanderer, a homeless person – but, instead of wandering, he founded a land – and called it “Wandering” – and tried to settle down there and build a city!

Jude v. 11 speaks of the “way of Cain.” In Genesis, starting with the life of Cain, we begin to see a clear division of the broad way and the narrow way, with the descendants of Cain following the way of Cain, and God raising up a remnant of believers in the line of Seth.

Cain had an Enoch in his line; Seth had an Enosh and an Enoch in his line. One line has a Mehujael; the other line has a Methusaleh. They both had a Lamech. Cain’s Lamech was the first bigamist.

The people in the city of Cain and his son, Enoch, had agriculture (Genesis 4:20). They had arts (Genesis 4:21). They had industry (Genesis 4:22). They had everything but God.

In Genesis Chapter 5 we see a clear separation in the line of Seth and the line of Cain. If there is “the way of Cain,” we could also say there is a “way of Seth.”

Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:

Genesis 5:2-3

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

Genesis 5:24

Seth’s Enoch was 300 when he had Methusaleh, and his life changed. He walked with the Lord. The birth of a child should make us walk with the Lord.

Enoch’s disappearance is a good picture of the rapture before tribulation. “Methusaleh” means “man of the dart,” which could refer to him being a good shot with the bow and arrow, but, being of Seth’s line, and not Cain’s, it probably reveals God’s intention for the lifespan of Methusaleh to be like a dart. A dart flies far from the person who launched it, but it eventually lands, and that is the end of its journey. It marks a spot – the end of something. Methusaleh lived to be 969. He holds the record for the world’s oldest human. When he finally died, God flooded the world. This shows God’s attribute of being longsuffering.

What Is Lying at Your Door?

November 23, 2009 at 10:48 am | Posted in Genesis | 21 Comments
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When I was a very young boy I had a dog named Trigger. Trigger was the best dog in the world. He was affectionate, friendly, brave, playful, easygoing, and, above all, loyal. He was an “outside dog,” and his tendency was to lie in wait near the door of my home. If I came bursting through the door, on my way to play in the woods, Trigger was right there, leaping to join me, as if he had been poised, anxiously expecting me at any moment. In a way, his desire was to please me, and I ruled over him.

Cain and Abel were brothers. Each brought an offering to the Lord. Abel’s offering was a slaughtered animal. Cain’s offering was some type of fruit grown from the ground. Abel’s offering pleased God. Cain’s did not. We do not know for sure if Abel’s offering pleased God because it was a blood offering, given as a sacrifice for sin. If so, then Cain’s offering, which was bloodless, could have been rectified. He could have made a second, proper, sacrifice. We do know that Cain had a bigger problem with his offering than the thing that was being offered. The bigger problem was the condition of Cain’s heart, evidenced by his attitude toward God.

Genesis 4:5 tells us that Cain was “wroth:” burning with a fierce anger. God addressed the condition of Cain’s heart with him in Verse 7: “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted..?”

God did not ask Cain the question in the first part of the Verse because He didn’t know the answer. God is (and always has been and always will be) omniscient. He may have asked Cain this question in order to give him a chance to repent, or to make a point. Then, in the rest of the Verse, God sets forth a warning: “…if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”

Some Bible scholars believe that God was referring to Abel, Cain’s younger brother, when He said, “unto thee shall be his desire,” meaning that Abel would continue to look up to, respect, and try to please his older brother if Cain did what was right.

Others believe that God was telling Cain that, if he did what was right, he should (shalt) be able to rule over sin by not giving in to it, even though his wrong-doing had brought sin to his door.

Or is it possible that God was telling Cain that the attitude of his heart had brought sin to lie at his door like a faithful hound? Sin would be lying there, waiting obediently, and its (sin’s) desire would be to do the bidding of Cain, and those who followed the “way of Cain” (Jude Verse 11). Just as Trigger was anxious to please me, and have me “rule” over him, so sin would be the servant of Cain and all those who opposed the righteousness of God, and who encouraged others to rebel against Him (Proverbs 10:16). It is true that unregenerate people are the servants of sin (Romans Chapter 6). But it is also true that sin serves them as they attempt to corrupt and influence Christians (Romans 16:17-18).


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