Law of First Mention
By: Cammy Walters
Whether you are a student of mine through my previous books; “A Life of Significance” and “Sharing Your Faith Effectively” or through our ministry, or if you are for the first time beginning to glean from my studies. You should know that I tend to wrap my studies and scriptures as a “Three-Strand” cord. The GOD KNOT provided in this three-strand cord to which you and I can hold onto, as we begin to apply what we learn from the Word of God to our lives. The “three-strand” cord mainstay of mine is based on the scripture found in Ecclesiastes 4:12 – “And a three-strand cord is not easily broken”. As I started this series “Matter of the Heart”, and began compiling all my base scriptures, I noticed several things that intrigued me. First thing that I noticed was that the bible mentions the word HEART almost 2-1/2 times more often than the word PEACE and is also mentioned 2-1/2 times more often than even the word LOVE, throughout the entire bible, Old and New Testaments. The second thing that I noticed was that there is no mention of “The Heart” until Chapter 6 verse 5. I thought this was very curious. I will begin this series with the first four questions that I had when I started this study, and pray that you too will find some answers to your questions throughout this series, and come to understand that it really is Matter of the Heart.
1. Why is there no mention of the heart before Genesis chapter 6?
2. Why is no mention of the heart made between, Genesis Chapter 8:22 to Chapter 17?
3. Why is there no mention of Peace before Genesis Chapter 15?
4. Why is there no mention of Love before Genesis Chapter 22?
Before we can begin to ask and subsequently attempt to answer our first questions, we must examine the first five chapters of Genesis. I would recommend that as you go through this “study”, that you read along in your own bibles. As you read, keep in mind the first four questions that we are looking into, and allow the Spirit of the Word to enlighten your understanding as we work our way through the scriptures.
In chapter one of Genesis, we are given a glimpse into the Creation of the World, the animals, and man and woman, which were all created and fashioned by God. Just as an artist mind is a black and desolate swirl of chaos and nothingness before inspiration strikes, so too was the world’s canvas that God began to create in and from. With everything that God shares with us about His Creation, we are only told that His creation is “Good”. Not once does He say that He loves His creation, only that it is Good! With each day’s creation, God approved and saw that it was good. It wasn’t until the fifth day that we see that God blesses His creation. He blessed all the creatures of the seas, the fowl of the air and the beasts of the earth, and on the sixth day created man and woman, to be fruitful and to multiply. Chapter one provides us with an outline or overview of God’s creation and chapter two expounds and describes for us in more details of the first 6 days of creation. This leads us into chapter two, where God reveals that He blessed and hallowed the Seventh Day because, on the day that He rested from all His work of creation.
In chapter two, it is explained to us how the plants and vegetation grew without a man to work the ground or rain to water the earth. How He caused a mist to rise from the work of his creation called earth, which watered all the vegetation of the ground. God then shares with us, just how He formed man, from the dust of the ground and breathed the breath of life into him. After describing in detail how man became a living being, God immediately begins describing the beautiful garden that He had created for the first man Adam and the first woman Eve to live in. This is where we see that God specifically calls out two different trees within the Garden that He has provided for them, and calls one the Tree of Life and the other the Tree of Knowledge. God goes on to tell us that there is not only a single river that went throughout the garden to water it, but that one river actually becomes four rivers that flow out from the garden after providing enough to supply the gardens growth. God placed Adam in the garden first to guard and manage it, with only one instruction; that he was free to eat of anything in the garden EXCEPT from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. Chapter 2 is also where we see the first assignment of Man on behalf of God. God creates the animals and Adam is to name them. When God noticed that from all the beasts of the ground that He created, none was found to be an acceptable companion for the man called Adam. Because no acceptable companion was created from the ground, as Adam and the beasts were, God created Woman from His Man that He created first. Thus God instituted the understanding of one flesh, male and female. With all the detail provided for us as to the creation of the world, beasts, and man, we still do not yet see the introduction of love, the heart, or of peace from the chaos that was before all of God’s creation, or even from God Himself at this point. This leads us into chapter three, into further detail of God’s creation, and how it all went a rye.
In chapter three, we are introduced to one of God’s living creatures that He created, who is called the serpent. We see in the first part of this description of the serpent that this creature, not just Adam was given the ability to speak to Eve, and that apparently some or all of God’s creation has a voice, since it doesn’t appear to be a surprise to Eve because she answers back to the serpent. It wasn’t until the serpent craftily speaks his way into deceiving the woman which causes them, both Adam and Eve, to become disobedient to what God specifically said to them about what was good for food in the garden, and what was not. It wasn’t until they ate from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil that they became aware of their nakedness which caused them to hide from God because of their disobedience. Because of their disobedience, God reveals to us their punishment in this chapter. Here again, we don’t see any mention of the heart, or of love between Adam and Eve or toward God, nor do we see any glimmer of peace mentioned within any of the details. It is not until this chapter, that we see Adam actually caused God’s creation, the ground, to become cursed solely because of him. Because of his disobedience, his assignment was also changed from caretaker and guardian, to a laborer for a lifetime of work and sweat just to eat, until the day comes that he would return to the dust, from which he was created.
It isn’t until chapter four that we are told about Adam and Eve themselves multiplying as God had said. We are introduced to their first born, child whom they named Cain and then their second born child, named Able. Over the course of time it is said that Cain and Able both gathered from their labor, Cain from the fruit of the ground, and Able from the livestock that he tended, and gave an offering to God. One was accepted and the other was not, to which Cain responded by killing his brother Able because of envying the fact that God accepted Able’s offering, and did not accept Cain’s. We find out that Cain actually became cursed, through the earth because of Able’s blood that the earth drank in. God proceeds to lay out for us the exact punishment that Cain would receive for his crime of killing his brother. God provided protection for Cain, however, the ground that he once worked was no longer going to provide for him, as it did in the past. We are told also, that once Cain was removed from the presence of Lord and began wandering east of Eden, is when Cain’s wife, which is actually his sister through Adam, became pregnant and bore him a son, named Enoch, and Cain built an entire city and named it after his son. Chapter four continues to provide us insight as to the children and grandchildren born to Cain and his wife, as well as telling us that Adam’s wife became pregnant and gave birth to another son, whom she said that God had provided her another child instead of Abel. Still we see no mention of love either between, Adam and his wife, or Cain with his wife, nor of their children that they bore. Neither do we see in this chapter, any mention of any peace that they might have had nor of their hearts that they had within them.
Chapter five of Genesis provides us with a genealogy of the offspring of Adam and tells us that when God created him, he made him in the likeness of Himself. As we are taken throughout the offspring of Adam, we learn that Enoch was the only one that we are told that had a continual relationship with God. It wasn’t until the birth of Noah, and his father, Lamech pronouncing that through Noah relief would come from all the work and hard labor that they had been under until his arrival. Noah’s father lived 95 more years after Noah became a father to his three sons that he bore. Still, in this chapter, it appears to be a list of family members that came through Adam yet, we still don’t have a clue or introduction to the heart of these people. We are given a clue that their life wasn’t an easy one, hence, Noah’s father pronouncing that Noah was to be a “savior type” to relieve them from their toils. However, we can also see that through Noah’s father Lamech, we notice that Lamech blames the curse of the ground on the Lord, when we clearly saw in the previous chapters that it was because of Cain allowing the earth to swallow the blood of his brother, Abel who he killed, and Adam’s disobedience prior to Cain’s. Also, it appears that with the distance of time, and even the curse which Adam brought onto mankind was forgotten and blamed on God, since Lamech, blames the curse on the Lord, instead of where the blame actually lied, which was with Adam and his son Cain. Adam through his disobedience to what God had told him and Cain through the murder of his brother. Here is clear evidence of “the curse” beginning to be carried throughout the generations, because his father was pronouncing that the curse would somehow be removed though of the birth of his son, Noah. All of this leads us directly to the next chapter in our bibles, chapter six, where we are finally told about man’s heart, and God’s heart.
Genesis 6:5-6 – Heart
5 Then the LORD[a] saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
To this point in the scriptures, we find that only one person, named Enoch, through the generations of Adam that walked with God for 300 hundred years after the birth of his son Methuselah. When we read in Genesis 6:5-6, that God saw that the heart of man was continually bent toward evil, through his every intention, we begin to understand why God would say, that He was grieved in His heart. The same could be said of any one of us, whose children are continually displaying behavior that causes us a pain in our heart. We too could and probably would say that we are grieved in our heart, so it should be no surprise to us that God would tell us that the evil thoughts and desires of His creation, man, would cause a tremendous amount of grief in his heart. All of God’s grief over the evil in the heart of man, actually caused Him to regret the creation of His hands, by creating man. So much so, that He wanted to destroy every piece of His creation because of such evil within the heart of man. However, God tells us that Noah found favor in His sight and begins to share with us the Covenant Promise that He made with Noah. Through that covenant promise, every living thing that He, God created was blessed, to be saved, through the promise made to Noah; because he, Noah, did everything that, he was instructed by God to do. All of which leads us back to our first question:
Why is there no mention of the HEART before Genesis chapter 6?
The first rule of interpreting and understanding scripture that we learn in Bible College is; The Law of First mention. Meaning, that the first time a word or phrase is used in scripture, you need to be aware of the context in which the word or phrase is being used. You will find that when that specific word or phrase appears again, it should have the same meaning in context of the current topic. With this rule applied to the scripture in Genesis 6:5-6 let’s take another look at it.
In this verse of scripture we are told that every purpose and intent of man’s heart is for doing evil only. We are given the contrast of God’s heart hurting Him, because man’s heart was so predisposed to doing evil, when all that God wanted was for Good. So according to the Law of First Mention, we should begin to see a pattern for when the Heart is mentioned throughout our study. However, we are not told anything more about why it took until chapter 6 to bring the heart into focus for us. And the second law, that we all learned in Bible College, was that when the Bible is silent on a topic, so should we be. That is unless we find the answer or explanation through another scripture, and then we are taught to study it out thoroughly, and I like to use the three-strand cord understanding that we have already discussed at the opening of this chapter, along with another favorite verses for studying the scriptures;
“One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.
2 Corinthians 13:1
This will be the third time I am coming to you. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.”
Armed with the simplest understanding of studying the scriptures we will leave our first question answered and unanswered at this time. We got an answer, because of the Law of First mention. It might not have been the answer we were looking for in the beginning but it does allow us to begin to learn about the heart of man and the heart of God. Through this series, we will continue to seek out, or I should say, MINE OUT, the golden God nuggets along our path of scripture learning that our Covenant of Peace, is simply a matter of the heart. I am sure that we will have more questions and answers to come throughout our journey. Our job is simply to read and listen to the Spirit of the Word who will bring life and light to His Word!
As we continue our study, we want to remember also, our beginning questions that we had when we started this study. Understanding can and will come through the scriptures of what each of us needs to learn about our Covenant of Peace and how our heart is such a huge part of that covenant.
I really hadn’t intended for this book to turn into a chapter by chapter study of the bible. However, the teacher part of me wants to insure that we glean as much as we can, so that we can have a fuller understanding of our Covenant of Peace. With that being said, as we continue where we left off at Genesis Chapter 6, God is explaining how disgusted that He has become over the evil within man. He appears to be so hurt by the evil of His creation, He simply is going to WIPE it all out and start over with the one whom has found His favor, which is Noah.
18 But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.
What is a Covenant?
What was different about Noah to find such favor?
Notice first, that this is the first time that we have seen or heard the word “covenant” since we began at Genesis chapter one. We can plainly see that this “covenant” that God was going to establish with Noah and all that went in with him were to be spared from the clearing of evil that God was about to do on the earth. At this point our first questions should be:
Let’s begin with, What is a covenant? I went into greater detail on a fuller understanding of covenant in my previous book, “Sharing Your Faith Effectively” in three full chapters. For the purpose of this study and at this First Mention of the word “covenant”, the short answer to what a covenant is that it is an agreement between two or more parties with tokens of earnest from each of the parties. Notice that God gave Noah an assignment to build something that he had never seen or heard of before, he was to build an ark. When we get down to verse 22 of Genesis Chapter 6, we learn something intriguing. Noah did everything that God asked of him. Stark contrast to what we learned earlier, about Adam and Cain’s disobedience, and murder. Which leads us to our next answer to the question: What was different about Noah to find such favor? First, we are told that he, Noah, did everything that God ask of him. As we move to Genesis chapter 7 we see that again, God makes mention of the fact that Noah had been seen, by God, to be righteous before Him in his generation, that was so full of evil thoughts and deeds. Because he was found to be in right standing with God, we see Noah’s reward if you will, for his obedience in the following scripture.
23 So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive.
When Noah and his family were finally able to get out onto the dry ground, the first thing that we are told that he did was to build an altar to the Lord and took all the “clean” animals 7 of each as Noah had received when he and his family entered the ark, as an offering to the Lord. When the Lord smelled the pleasing scent of Noah’s offering, God’s response was:
21 And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.
22 “While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”
Through the first eight chapters of Genesis we have learned that God’s heart can be saddened and hurt when his creation is disobedient and we also learned that when his creation is willing to be obedient to Him, He will protect all that pertains to each of us. This is a Matter of the Heart. If Noah hadn’t had a heart towards God, we can see just by the previous scriptures that God was serious, He was going to wipe it all out because of the evil that was destroying His creation. Just as an artist will sometimes become aggravated in his work that he will destroy it, if it isn’t turning out to represent what he had in mind, which could be said in his heart to create. In general, the entire generation of Noah with the exception of Noah was evil in all their thoughts that they had within their hearts and everything they intended was only for evil. We also learned that the heart of man is evil without obedience to God.
Genesis chapter 9 describes the covenant agreement between God all living flesh. Often when we have read through this chapter or remembering the bible story that our Sunday School Teachers taught us about the covenant that God made with Noah. What we failed to grasp hold of that it wasn’t simply a covenant that God made with Noah and his family, the Covenant Agreement that God was making was with ALL LIVING FLESH as we are told in not once but 5 different times.
Genesis 9: 8-17
8 Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: 9 “And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth. 11 Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
Genesis chapter 10 recounts for us all the generations of Noah and his sons after the flood. There is an interesting statement in chapter 11:5-6, that we might like to examine see if it might help to shed some light on our quest to understanding our Covenant of Peace.
5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 And the LORD said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.
Remember, we have already discussed what the law of first mention is, and here we have the first mention from the LORD Himself, saying: “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.” Granted, what they wanted to do was to “make a name” for themselves. We see no reference that they wanted to build a tower for any other reason. What we do see is that the Lord Himself stated that because of the unity of their language and that they were ONE people, nothing was impossible for them to accomplish.
This sounds vaguely familiar to the bible student within me, and probably you as well. This reminds us of the scripture in the New Testament:
37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
God appears to have been looking to see what the sons of men had within their hearts to build. To which, we see, they were only wanting to make a name for themselves, not God. I teach all my students that once you have a heart towards the things of God, go ahead, and do all that is in your heart to do, and I ask this question; “What’s the worst thing that you can do, make God Famous?” I believe, that we are seeing here again is the HEART of God looking to find someone, anyone that has a heart toward him in all that they are doing. All He found was man wanting to make himself famous, not God. So God had to scatter them and confuse their language so that their evil intentions would be thwarted. As we continue with our study of our Covenant of Peace, we will expound further on this unity of community in a later chapter of the book, and what type of unity that God is really looking for.
Which brings us to Genesis chapter 12, where we find a man named Abram that God is speaking to. We find in verse two that God tells him that he will become a great nation and be overflowing with blessings. Isn’t it highly interesting at this point to learn that what the people who were building a tower to the heavens wanted, God is giving to Abram. God is telling him that he is going to make him rich and famous. Abram is given instructions by the Lord and we see that his obedience is recorded in verse 4.
4 So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
We can’t leave Genesis chapter 12 until we realize that this same applies to each an everyone who calls upon the Lord. It would be highly beneficial to each student to read and become intimately acquainted with what God was about to do in Abrams life. We will be covering this in detail in the coming chapters.
It is not until we get to Genesis chapter 13:8 where we begin to see Abram’s desire for peace and not conflict with his nephew, and just a few more verses down, we see God’s response to Abrams resolution. Abram I believe is a lot like many of us. We don’t want conflict, and many time I believe we bring conflict upon ourselves.
There is a reason that the Lord told Abram to leave all. Many have speculated as to the reason for the conflict. However, I believe that it boils down to one simple item. The Lord told Abram to leave everyone, and go to a place that He would show him. When Lot went with Abram, we aren’t told why Lot went with him. Could it be that maybe he overheard Abram and Sarai talking about what the Lord had spoken to him. Or maybe, Abram was discussing in around town, that the Lord had spoken to him and told him that he was to leave town. Regardless of why Lot went with him, we see that as soon as Lot left, the Lord spoke again to Abram, and expounded upon what he had originally said to him.
Could this be an indication of why God chose Abram out from among his relatives?
8 So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren.
14 And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; 15 for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. 16 And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. 17 Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.”
In the following chapter of Genesis, we are also shown, the integrity of Abrams’ heart when he heard that his nephew had been captured. Notice if you will that he doesn’t do what most of us would do when we had a conflict with a specific person in the past. However, Abram doesn’t even consider the issues that he and his nephew had had, his only concern was for his family members and their welfare.
14 Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. 16 So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.
22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’— 24 except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.”
After seeing the integrity that Abram showed us in the previous verses, as we look to what happens next, we see the depth of his integrity and the depths of the Lord. With everything that Abram had, the successes in battle that he just won. The only desire of his heart is seen in Genesis 15:1-5 in his discussion with the Lord. The only thing that Abram wanted was children, and the Lord showed him that his children would be a numerous as the stars. Once again, Abram’s response to what the Lord was saying was simple BELIEVING, as we can see in:
6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
BELIEVE AND RECEIVE OR DOUBT AND DO WITHOUT!
As we have already learned, here are final two examples of the Law of First Mention. Remember our third and fourth questions that we had in the beginning.
Why is there no mention of Peace before Genesis Chapter 15?
Why is there no mention of Love before Genesis Chapter 22?
15 Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.
2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
The interesting thing about the previous two scriptures is that, they are tied together, even though they are 7 chapters apart in our “Love Letter”. If you will remember while we read Genesis 15, we saw that regardless of Abram’s prosperity, successes, etc…all he wanted was children. As the Lord began talking with him, we see Abrams interest only lied in the fact that he didn’t have children. How many people do you know that when God said, I am your shield, your abundant compensation and your reward, would say as Abram did: What can you give me since I will leave this world childless? What Abram held in his heart was that regardless of everything else the Lord was saying, nothing was more important to him then a child of his own.
The word that the Lord uses in Genesis 15:15 for the word PEACE is actually shalom, and this words’ meaning is WHOLENESS. The only thing that Abram was wanting out of life before he left this world was a child. Because he was childless, there was a piece of him that wasn’t complete or whole. The Lord, nails this down for us when he tells Abram that he would go (die) to his relatives in Wholeness, and Abram then wants to know how since he and Sarai are so old already. God gives Abram a full account of his what his(Abram’s) children would go through, and how they would be brought out from their capture with great possessions. In the final verses of Genesis 15 we find that the Lord makes a covenant of peace between Himself and Abram describing in detail what Abram’s descendants would inherit. Or could we say it this way; God made a covenant of the “pieces”. Do we see the Lord bridging the “gap” between the pieces of Abram’s life and his desire for children when Abram asked, how would he know that he will inherit all that the Lord has said.
Finally, we come to Genesis 22:2 where is the first time that we hear or read the word love, in our “Love Letter”.
2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
It is interesting that the first mention of the word “love” is in the context of God asking Abram to offer the thing that he “loved”. Throughout the entire story of Abram’s life, it is as if God was able to look right through Abram and know the important aspects in his situation and we only find out through being able to read the private discussion that Abram was having with the Lord. We will begin to delve deeper into the topics that we have dug up, in this chapter, so that we can begin to see that the key to our situations resides in our hearts.
This is a chapter from my latest work in progress titled: Covenant of Peace: It’s a Matter of the Heart to be published mid-2015.