The First Public Worship In The World – Genesis 4:26 – Only A Prayer Meeting
“Then began men to call upon the Name of the LORD.” – Genesis 4:26
Before we join in prayer again,- and I hope we shall spend the greater part of our time tonight in that most delightful and most profitable exercise,- I should like to make just a few remarks upon the last verse of the fourth chapter of the Book of Genesis. To Adam and Eve there was born a son instead of Abel, namely, Seth; and to Seth himself there was also born a son, whom he named Enos. After the record of his birth, we are told,- “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” I suppose that, by this expression, it is meant that they began to have set assemblies for the worship of Jehovah, and that they came together for what we generally speak of now as public worship; for men had, doubtless, called upon the Name of the Lord, each one by himself, from the very first.
We cannot doubt that our father Adam and our mother Eve were, by Divine grace, led to repent of their great sin, and to cry for mercy and pardon; and if they did so, we are quite sure that they never neglected to pray both separately and together. There was Abel, too; he “brought of the firstlings of his flock” in sacrifice to God, “and the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering.” His was the offering of a believer, and therefore his sacrifice was accepted.
I suppose that, often, as a solitary man, he would go forth privately to worship God on his own account. But, after Abel’s death, and the birth of Seth and Enos, there were two families in which the fear of the Lord was manifested, the family of Adam and the family of his son Seth. When Enos was born, as the first of a long succession of descendants that has continued to this day, men began to meet together in assemblies for the worship of Jehovah; they were very, very few: but yet, from that time, they “began to call upon the Name of the Lord.” So, if there should be two of your families who find yourselves in some back settlement of Canada, if there should be only your two families in the whole region, mind that you get together on the Sabbath-day, and worship the Lord as best you can.
Let this be your example; there were at the first only two families that feared Jehovah, yet “Then began men to call upon the Name of the Lord.” It is not essential to the constitution of a congregation, nor is it essential to the formation of a Christian church, that there should be large numbers; it is neither necessary to the devotion nor to the acceptance of it with God that there should be a crowd of people; for, when there were but twos and threes, only two families, or perhaps three, upon the face of the whole earth, “Then began men to call upon the Name of the Lord.” Some of you may not always have the privilege of living where so many of us meet together to worship God.
It is a very joyous thing to gather with the multitude to keep holy-day; the more the merrier, in our Lord’s service, I am sure; but if you should find yourselves in some remote part of your own country, or far away from the assemblies of God’s people in other lands, do not let that hinder you from meeting together as a Christian church, and observing the ordinances of the Christian religion. Remember that our Lord Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them;” and you may be sure that, if He is in the assembly, however few may be present, they make up a valid, lawful congregation, and a real church in the New Testament meaning of that term.
Whether the company is large or small, Charles Wesley’s hymn is always in season,- “Meet and right it is to sing, In every time and place, Glory to our Heavenly King, The God of truth and grace. Join we then with sweet accord, All in one thanksgiving join! Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, Eternal praise be Thine. “Father, God, Thy love we praise, Which gave Thy Son to die; Jesus, full of truth and grace, Alike we glorify: Spirit, Comforter Divine, Praise by all to Thee be given, Till we in full chorus join, And earth is turn’d to Heaven.” There was also, at the time mentioned in this passage, a special reason why the godly ones should call upon the Name of the Lord, for there was an opposition element in the world. Cain, as well as Seth, was the founder of a family.
There were, henceforth, two lines of generation in the world, the line of grace that seemed to keep largely to the family of Seth, and the line of sin, the line of rebellion, and the line of darkness and death, which kept mainly to the family of Cain. Cain’s descendants multiplied; I do not know what religion they had, or professed to have; but whatever they had, it was not the religion of grace, and they went continually further and further away from the light, always with their backs to the sun. Consequently, the people of God, pained and grieved to find that there was another family in the world, the seed of the serpent multiplying among them, thought it their duty, as well as their privilege, to set up a standard, and make it known to all that they were believers, that they feared Jehovah, the one living and true God.
“Then began men to call upon the Name of the Lord.” And, brethren, if anything should make us come out boldly in our worship of God, it is the publicity of the sin of the ungodly; if anything should make us band together, it is the presence of sin in so many of our fellow creatures; if anything should make us pray, it is the prevalence of iniquity all around us; if anything should make us feel that we who love the Lord must unite to serve Him, and throw our whole heart and soul into united prayer to the Most High, and united adoration of God over all, blessed for evermore, it is when we hear the blasphemies of men, and see their rebellion against the Lord.
“Then began men to call upon the Name of the Lord” when others turned aside from His ways; and thus, dear friends, should it be with you who are His loyal subjects. The more you are surrounded by enemies of the truth, the more you see of the prevalence of sin in the world, the more necessity is there for frequent attendance at public worship, the Scriptural observance of all the ordinances of the Lord’s house, and the more earnest and resolute contention for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.
We live in such times as these, and therefore we need to hear and to heed the stirring summons,- “Stand up! Stand up for Jesus! The trumpet-call obey; Forth to the mighty conflict, In this His glorious day; Ye that are men, now serve Him, Against unnumbered foes; Your courage rise with danger, And strength to strength oppose.” Another thought strikes me. This public worship was a very small affair at the beginning, yet it has lasted to this day; and if ever the Church of God in any place grows exceedingly small and feeble, let us not despair of it, but remember what it was at its commencement.
It was a tiny rill when first the stream of public worship leaped into life; it was a small assembly, that first Church of God, that first separated congregation that met together to declare hat Jehovah was their Lord; yet the little one has become many a thousand, and the small one a strong nation. It has often declined, but it has as frequently revived; it has been sometimes hidden, but by-and-by it has been again revealed; it has been almost crushed out in some countries, but, in due time, through the power of God’s mighty grace, it has been made to flourish again. Well did Wesley sing of his Saviour,- “When He first the work begun, Small and feeble was His day:
Now the Word doth swiftly run, Now it wins its widening way: More and more it spreads and grows, Ever mighty to prevail; Sin’s strongholds it now o’erthrows, Shakes the trembling gates of hell. “Saw ye not the cloud arise Little as a human hand? Now it spreads along the skies Hangs o’er all the thirsty land: Lo, the promise of a shower, Drops already from above; But the Lord will shortly pour All the Spirit of His love.” Men still continue “to call upon the Name of the Lord,” or, as the marginal reading puts it, “to call themselves by the Name of the Lord.” May the Lord multiply these assemblies, and grant grace to many more of our fellow-creatures to meet together with us in the Name of the Lord, and to call themselves by His sacred Name!
Thus shall be fulfilled that gracious promise of the Lord to His ancient people, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring: and they shall spring up as among the grass, was willows by the water courses. One shall say, I am the Lord’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.” As of old, men met to call upon the Name of the Lord, so still do we gather together to call upon His Name in prayer, in praise, and in the preaching of His Word, and especially to call upon His Name in the New Testament sense of repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
In this sense, “whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” Thus early, and thus late, have men called upon the Name of the Lord; and if the days should grow darker even than they are at present, and the number of the faithful should get fewer and yet fewer still, there will always be some left to call upon His Name, until “He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe. . . . . Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power: that the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Excerpt From Only A Prayer Meeting By C.H Spurgeon
There Is More: