And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.
Now exiled from Eden, Eve gave birth to her first son, Cain. Though she had surely anticipated that he would be the promised Savior, he turned out to be quite the opposite, even murdering his own brother and putting on full display what it would now be like to live in a fallen world.
Even so, sin spread rapidly; like an aggressive cancer. At the same time, however, we read of the way that God remained faithful to His promise, and started to preserve for himself a godly remnant. Eve gave birth to another son, Seth, which then served to begin the lineage that would eventually lead to Christ, the promised Son.
To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.
And so we see the beginnings of a theme and contrast that stays consistent throughout. The shining light of God’s promise against the background of vast, dark human rebellion.
In that regard, the next major figure in this lineage of grace, is Noah.
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
Once the effects of the fall were painfully evident, God unleashed judgement, and destroyed everything with a flood. However, because of the promise that he had made to Adam and Eve, God gave Noah instructions to build a boat that would keep him and his family safe. This was to act as a powerful foreshadowing of the predicament that man was in, and that his only hope was in the promise of grace through the coming Messiah. While the whole world will be subject to judgment, those (like Noah and his family), who have trusted in the promise of God’s word, would be saved.
When the flood was over, God made a covenant with Noah: a covenant that promised the preservation of humanity. Though it had now been clearly shown that man deserved to be destroyed for their sins, God would nevertheless preserve a stage of humanity from whom the Saviour would come. In this sense, it would be by God’s common grace to all that the stage is preserved, so that special grace could be given to those who would place their trust in the Ark of God.
To confirm this, God established the rainbow as a covenant sign. The bow, which was an ancient symbol for war, would remind the world that the next time that God’s wrath would be aimed at man, it would be aimed upwards upon himself (in Jesus Christ) rather than downwards as it had been, upon the sons of men.