2006-06-14 - Summer Questions
2006 #3 - Adam & Eve's Children
John 16:21, "Whenever a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she remembers the anguish no more, for joy that a child has been born into the world."
Did Adam and Eve have any children before Cain and Abel? I ask because the Bible records their story (Cain and Abel) in Genesis 4 giving the assumption that they were born after the fall, which was recorded in Genesis 3 -- yet part of the curse given to Eve was that she would have great pain in childbearing -- how could that be a curse if she didn't experience ease in childbearing first?
I am going to lump this question and a host of others into a category and answer simply, I do not know. When the Bible is silent on a topic, we are welcome to muse as to what might be the answer, but in truth, we are just speculating. The answer to your first question, regarding any children before or in between Cain and Abel, is that we don't know. The question regarding how it could be a curse for Eve to experience pain in childbirth, when she had never had children before, is a little less speculative. We can deduce that childbearing before the fall was absent of the pain that came with the fall. I suppose every woman is thinking, "hogwash, there is no possibility of not having pain in childbirth." But it seems from the passage (Genesis 3:16) that pain in childbirth is the result of the fall.
I would like to address this question and the others that came in regarding themes that are of a general nature, and respect matters that the Bible does not clearly speak about. I will take just one of the issues that came up. Is the return of Christ only a short time away? Well, I do not know. The Bible does not give us a timetable. It tells us that Christ will return, and that He is coming soon (James 5:8), but how long is God's soon? Is it four days, four hundred years, four thousand years, four hundred thousand years? We don't know.
Some in the early church thought Christ was coming back within their lifetime; many have done the same in every generation since. So far they have all been wrong. There will, at some point, be a generation that is right, but that is not because they read the tea leaves better than the others. Rather, we are all looking at the same road map, and we are told Christ is coming soon. However, to say that our soon is God's soon is more than pretentious; it borders on arrogance. No one knows the hour or the day of His return (Matthew 24:36). In fact, if we continue on in the Matthew 24 passage, verses 37-39, we might conclude that there will have to be a worldwide flood before Christ returns, but I don't hear of too many modern-day second coming prognosticators talking about the great flood that will precede Christ's second coming. The preaching that focuses on the speculative nature of Christ's return being soon tends often to have a second focus on the hearers' pocketbooks and wallets.
There is nothing wrong with intellectual speculation concerning things the Bible is silent about. However, we have to be careful not to make our speculations become factual in our minds or hearts. I have been reading a book by an author I respect. It is titled, Asleep in Jesus, and is by the Dutch Reformer Abraham Kuyper. I have enjoyed other things I have read by him, but I have really struggled with this book. In general, it is an attempt to describe what Heaven will be like. As I read, I keep thinking, "How does he know that?" It is rather frustrating to have someone telling you that their speculations are the way things will be. It has been a very disappointing read. In truth, Kuyper should have kept his thoughts on this issue to himself. There is nothing wrong with wondering. There is nothing wrong with having a desire to know things the Bible does not speak specifically of, but we can't begin to take these thoughts and advance them to the point that we believe our reasonings to be the truth.
I know I have gone beyond your question here, and given some general thoughts that your question led me into. I don't think we should be afraid to wonder about eternal things, or even about why God has worked this way and not that way. There are worse things for us to exercise our curiosity on. However, we can't, and I am not implying at all that you have, allow our curious wonderings to guide our thoughts, actions or beliefs.
Soli Deo Gloria,