Evangelism Begins In Genesis

Romans 1:20 tells us that from the very beginning creation has been making known to all humanity the reality of God. But when does Scripture tell us that humanity began to declare who God is?

Sometimes we can think that “evangelism” is a New Testament concept and that before the establishment of the church that man’s relationship was a personal or national relationship that was contained to a small group of people. But as Romans 1:20 tells us God’s design was that His creation which includes humanity, would be an outward witness to His existence and His power.

In Genesis chapter 4, we have an intriguing statement that talks about what was occuring during the third generation of humanity. Genesis 4:25-26 says: 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.”  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. 

At the time of Enosh’s birth the earth was already growing in population. There were already multiple generations since Adam and Eve. And Genesis 4:26 says that at this time people begin to call upon the name of the Lord.  

The Hebrew word that we get the word ‘Call upon” is a word that not only means to call out but to proclaim. Dr. Tom Constable in his commentary on this verse noted that the phrase “call on the name of the Lord,” when referenced in the first 5 books of the Bible, usually refers to proclamation (preaching) rather than prayer. 

Which is probably why when Robert Young put together his literal translation of the Bible he translated Genesis 4:26 this way: “And to Seth, to him also a son hath been born, and he calleth his name Enosh; then a beginning was made of preaching in the name of Jehovah.”

Why would there be a need for “preaching in the name of Jehovah?” Because the more generations removed from Adam and Eve, the more there would be a need to tell people how the earth was formed and how humanity was formed. There would be a need to tell people there is a Creator Jehovah who has established the way that man is to live.

At this point the preaching was not a Gospel message rooted in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It may not even have even been a salvation message warning against hell. It was probably declaring a message that there is a right way that God, our creator, wants us to live before Him.

In Genesis 2, God tells Adam “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” God tells Adam there is a right and wrong way. In Genesis 3, we see the consequences of disobedience and the devastation sin brought upon creation.

In Genesis 4, we see God had established a right way to offer sacrifices to Him. And Cain, one of Adam and Eve’ sons chose to disregard God’s commands and so God said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” God is telling Cain there is a right and wrong way to live before Him.

And so when we come to the end of chapter 4 and the population of the earth was growing it would have been important to remind people of how God desires for humanity to live before Him and so verse 26 says, “At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.”

Not only do we see this idea of people calling out to the Lord in prayer and worship (which I do believe is the main context of this verse) we also see the connection between calling out to God and outwardly declaring God.

We can’t be worshippers without being proclaimers. That is what worship should lead to—our lives proclaiming or being witnesses of the one we worship. Which is why we see this close connection to calling out to and preaching.

And so early on we not only see the worship of God but the preaching of God, the proclaiming of God, the telling of God because that is what God’s creation was created to do. 

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