Sunday, June 13, 2010

Waking The Fallen (2003) "Unholy Confessions"

[Reprinted as written by Avenged Sevenfold]
A7X Official Video

"I'll try," she said as he walked away.
"Try not to lose you."
Two vibrant hearts could change.
Nothing tears the being more than deception,
unmasked fear.
"I'll be here waiting" tested and secure.

Nothing hurts my world,
just affects the ones around me
When sin's deep in my blood,
you'll be the one to fall.

"I wish I could be the one,
the one who won't care at all
But being the one on the stand,
I know the way to go,
no one's guiding me.
When time soaked with blood turns its back,
I know it's hard to fall.
Confined in me was your heart
I know it's hurting you,
but it's killing me."

Nothing will last in this life,
our time is spent constructing,
now you're perfecting a world...
meant to sin.
Constrict your hands around me,
squeeze till I cannot breathe,
this air tastes dead inside me,
contribute to our plague.
Break all your promises,
tear down this steadfast wall,
restraints are useless here,
tasting salvation's near.

One of the themes running through this poem is sin, sin that runs deep in the poet's blood, sin that is the world's destiny, no matter how carefully we try to build it up, it will all fall. The poet describes a turning point in his life. Before this point there were vibrant hearts given with promises, hope for the future. Then there is blood which soaks the fulcrum and every moment after is sin.

The poet knows what he has done. In his mind salvation is getting away from the people and place that's holding onto him. Whoever or whatever is holding onto him at this point is suffocating. Is it his sin? Is it the one who loves him? Is it his old life that no longer fits him? Is it a way of living that he now rejects?

If I overlay this poem of words and music over the story of Cain's life, something interesting happens.

Time passed. Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm. Abel also brought an offering, but from the firstborn animals of his herd, choice cuts of meat.

There are two things to see here: First, this phrase "Time passed" is, in the Hebrew, “At the end of days,” suggesting there was a prescribed time to make offerings. Maybe it was once a year, “at the end of days,” indicating, for example, at the end of the growing season, when harvest was about to begin. The phrase “brought to” makes it seem that Cain and Abel went to a place with their offering – they were to bring it before the Lord, maybe a place where they were to appear in the presence of the Lord. Some have suggested that place might have been where God had set the cherubim and flaming sword at the gateway to Eden -- Paradise.

As an interesting aside, depictions of enormous winged creatures were often used to guard the gates of ancient cities and buildings in the middle east, and when God gave the pattern to Moses for the ark of the covenant, on the lid were two cherubim with their wings over what God called the mercy seat.

Once a year, at the high point of the Day of Atonement the high priest would bring into the Holy of Holies, to the mercy seat of God, the blood of a lamb sacrificed for all the people. Maybe the writer of Genesis was laying down groundwork for explaining later about blood sacrifice, and the sprinkling of the mercy seat, with this earliest scene of Adam and Eve and their children coming once a year to the gateway of Eden, with an offering for the Lord.

God liked Abel and his offering, but Cain and his offering didn't get his approval. Cain lost his temper and went into a sulk.

The offerings Cain and Abel brought to God reveal a significant difference between the two men. Cain's offering of fruit was instantly rejected; but Abel's offering of a lamb was instantly accepted. The writer doesn’t say how God showed His acceptance of Abel’s offering, but in Judges, when Gideon made an offering up to God, a supernatural fire came from heaven and consumed it instantly; the same thing happened later for Elijah in 1 Kings. Whichever way God showed His favor to Abel and His disfavor to Cain, it was obvious. Cain knew it, and Abel knew it.

The ancient Israelites would have immediately recognized the problem with the Cain’s offering. Even though there were grain offerings and wine offerings, they understood that a person could not approach God without the shedding of sacrificial blood. Whether Cain understood this is conjecture. What was really more wrong with Cain was not what he offered, but the condition of his heart when he offered it. God was not pleased with Cain because unrepentant sin was already in his life.

Cain’s character was revealed in his offering. He gave only “some” of what he had, there’s no sense of his offering being from the best of what he had, or that it cost him anything. Instead it seemed like a casual approach to a chore, as though Cain brought what was convenient, so indifferent towards God, that he brought the Lord the leftovers.

Everyone of us falls short of God's standards. The self, not God and His word, becomes the only measurement by which something is deemed good or bad, desirable or undesirable. Cain thought giving God some of his own good deeds would suffice -- he didn't even give the best and first of himself. So often, instead of judging whether something is right or wrong by God’s standards, you and I would rather decide whether something works or doesn't work for us. Sin has affected our morality just as much as it affected Cain's.

Abel’s offering revealed love, the best portion of the best animal, the first of his flock, and the fat portions, the best part. What you and I offer up to God reveals what’s in our hearts.

Later on an ancient Hebrew writer talked about this story, explaining that "by faith, Abel offered a better sacrifice." Faith came first. Abel knew God, and he knew what would please God. And Abel wanted to please God. Abel was all about love.

Thousands of years later, when the rescuer came, He knew what was necessary. Nothing else would do than to give Himself up for the people He loved. God died for the people He intended to rescue.

God’s rejection of Cain and Cain’s response showed a bitterness that already existed in Cain’s heart. Cain felt angry that God’s favor and acceptance, which he felt should have been given to him, went to weak, frail, meaningless nothing Abel, instead. Cain felt he deserved much better and yet here he was getting the kind of poor treatment and disfavor that he felt he certainly didn’t deserve. He was angry at God...and furious that Abel's offering was accepted

Cain felt sorry for himself."How could God do a thing like this? Why would God let this happen to me?" Note God's grace:

God spoke to Cain: "Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won't you be accepted, won't you be smiling?"

Read those words with tenderness. God knew the answers to these questions, but He was giving Cain a chance to talk about his thoughts and feelings

Cain knew what God meant when He said “If you do well, won't you be accepted, won't you be smiling?” In other words, “Cain, I love you as much as I love Abel. I’m ready to show favor on you, if only you would do what’s right. If you were doing well, wouldn’t you be lifting your face to Me? Wouldn’t I be showing favor on you?” It’s not that Cain didn’t know what to do, it’s that he didn’t want to do it. He wanted God’s approval, but he wanted it on his own terms, not on God’s.

God continued:

"If you don't do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it's out to get you, you've got to master it."

It’s as though God was telling Cain, "Don't treat jealousy or resentment lightly, if you brood over it you will find yourself in the grip of a power greater than you can handle; sooner or later you will say or do something that you didn't intend to. You will go farther than you ever thought you would go.”

Envy did grow in Cain. He envied Abel receiving God’s favor in such a public way. He was bitter that God had rejected his own sacrifice in such a public way. His whole vision of himself and his destiny had been publicly attacked and wounded. He couldn’t stand to look at Abel or suffer him to live. He disregarded God's warning, he refused to repent, he nursed his jealousy and after a while he came up with a way to even the score. "Brother, let's go out into the fields and talk..." there would be no witnesses.

Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go for a walk." And when they were out in a field, Cain killed him.

Often people won’t understand the gospel even when it’s explained. Cain had developed such a habit of self-centered thinking that he failed to recognize God's kindness and love towards him, he failed to heed God's warning about his own pride and sin.

Cain ignored God, because he wanted to serve his own interests. Every time he ignored his conscience, his heart got harder.

So then, in this poem, imagine Eve finding out what Cain has done and what God's judgment is. As Cain walks away, Even calls out ~

I'll try not to lose you

Cain had been her golden boy, her son of promise. But her dreams for him, and her promises of his grand future were all baseless. What could Cain count on from her anymore?

Sin was deep in Cain's blood. It succeeded in devouring him. As he turns his back on Eve, on the gates of Paradise, permamently locked against him, on the grave of his brother whose blood cries out against him from the field where he was murdered, he claims the suffering is more his than anyone's.

Eve's false visions of granduer for him set him up for this fall. Her expectations of him became a stranglehold. He views salvation as leaving Adam and Eve, murdered Abel and God all behind him. Making his own way, don't hold him back.

[This is the poet's bitter lament that love, in his view, won't last]

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