What We Believe

June 22 Daily Devotional

The First Family Knows Tragedy

Charles and Norma Ellis

Bible Reading

Genesis 3:22-4:8

22And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
23Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
24So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
1And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
2And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
3And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
4And 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:
5But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
6And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
7If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
8And 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.


Adam had disobeyed God and the verdict was death. While still in the flesh he was in a state of spiritual death, at enmity with God. What if now he should eat of the tree of life and continue in spiritual death forever? Was it not an act of God's mercy that man was driven from the reach of the fruit of this tree?

But here he was, cast out from the only home he had ever known, estranged from God and also estranged from Eve because of sin. Into such a family situation two boys were born. The joy attending the birth of the first babies into the world was dulled by sin, too. They were born with a sinful nature which they had inherited from their parents. Their environment also was marred by sin. All was not well in the first family.

However, Adam and Eve had not completely turned from God. Since Genesis 3:15 was the first announcement of the gospel, we may say that in a sense the church had its beginning in Eden. From verse 4 of chapter 4 we know that Abel had absorbed from his home training the facts concerning how to come before God acceptably by means of a blood sacrifice offered in faith. And God received his sacrifice so offered.

But Cain, in jealousy and anger and guilt, could not stand to see his brother enjoying a favor with God which he could not share. He 'rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him' (4:8). Rivalry among brothers and sisters is as old as the family itself.

To this day all homes, unbelieving or Christian, are touched by some sin and tragedy. There is potential for much beauty and joy in the home as God designed it. But only as each member submits to God will the home be what it should and can be-"a reflection and foretaste of heaven.

We are happy to have obtained permission to post as our current daily devotional Heirs Together of Life: Daily Bible Reading for Husbands and Wives, published by The Banner of Truth Trust. Don't be misled by the subtitle. As the book's "Preface" indicates (see below), although Heirs Together of Life is "especially prepared for couples,"the authors declare, "Since the basis for this guide is God's Word, we believe it would have value for any reader."

Charles and Norma Ellis are husband and wife and the authors not only of Heirs Together of Life (which was first published in 1980 and continues in print today), but also of Wells of Salvation (first published in 1985, and likewise still in print today). The latter contains a series of short studies covering the entire book of Isaiah, while the former contains a series of almost 200 short studies covering the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Both books by the Ellises can be ordered from the publisher, The Banner of Truth Trust. We trust that these daily Bible readings, posted daily on our site, will be helpful to you in your Christian walk before God. Whether married or not, all of us are members of families and members of the family of God.

Charles Ellis was educated at Wheaton College and Westminster Theological Seminary. Upon graduation from Westminster (where he earned not only a Th.B. but also a Th.M.), he was ordained to the ministry in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and pastored a number of OPC churches, including Immanuel OPC in West Collingswood, New Jersey; First OPC in Cincinnati, Ohio; Covenant OPC in East Orange, New Jersey; Knox OPC in Silver Spring, Maryland; and Lakeview OPC in Rockport, Maine. Less biographical information is available about his wife, but it is known that they served as parents of seven children. After retiring from the ministry, Charles Ellis went to be with the Lord in 2003, but he and his wife left us with a beautiful legacy in the two books they have given to the world, and we are proud to share the daily Bible readings from Heirs Together of Life here with you.



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