Genesis 4:17-24 Cain and Seth: Two Races, Two Destinies
Genesis 4:17-5:32 “Cain and Seth: Two Races, Two Destinies”
Introduction: In our passage this morning we will see that that one result of Adam’s sin is that in the world there are essentially only two races of men. These races are not defined by skin color or nation of origin or language. The two races are defined by the content of the heart. This morning we will see the descendents of Cain, representing the damned, and we will look at Seth and his line, representing the elect. The focus of these two races is different as is their end result or destiny.
I. God Was Gracious To Cain-vss17-18
Notice that not only did God not execute Cain, he not only promised to protect Cain, but God kept his promise and allowed Cain to prosper. Cain got a wife and had children. The scriptures give us his children to the 6th generation here (7 generations counting Cain). Cain ended up founding a city and naming it for his son Enoch, thus implying Cain was wealthy and powerful.
Nowhere is there any indication that Cain repented, so what we see is that the Lord blesses the ungodly. We do not ever receive the punishment our sins deserve; this is truly a sign of God’s common grace. Murderers can still prosper. The Lord causes it to rain on the just and the unjust, and the sun shines on murderer and the innocent. We have mentioned this before, but as unjust as it seems when we look at the prosperity of those we readily perceive to be evil, none of us really wants to experience God’s justice. I would much rather live in a world under the leniency of God’s grace than in a world where God gave everyone what they deserved.
But isn’t there something a bit odd about Cain building a city? Wasn’t Cain’s judgment including being a restless wanderer? Wasn’t Cain supposed to be a nomad? Well does it really surprise anyone that we find Cain disobeying God again?
The name Enoch means “introduce, initiate, dedicate or founder” thus he is the founder of cities. Here let us look at what a city is. The word city is related to the Latin civi from which we get civitas or civilization. Civilization begins with the founding of cities and the first cities were founded in ancient Sumer. Eridu is the first city recorded in history and is close enough to the Enoch of Genesis to be the same city (Gordon J. Wenham, WBC vol.1 p.111). With cities you get complexity, wealth and organization, hence, civilization. What we shall see is that there is a message here, by Moses, that all of civilization is affected by the sinful line of men. As wonderful as civilization is, never forget that it is founded by the line of Cain. You have the City of Man and then the City of God. They may touch here and there, but they have two different foundings; two different founders.
Matthews (NAC, Broadman&Holman, 1996 p.284) “…the members of Cain’s genealogy are remembered for their cultural advancements, including the building of cities.” In the rural heritage of our nation it has long been a truism that when the young man or woman leaves the farm or small town for the city, they are placing their morals and soul in danger because the cities are known for being wicked places, though also wonderful.
The city is a theme throughout scripture that is introduced here and finalized in Revelation. Abraham is called out of Ur of the Chaldees, out of the city to be a nomad in the land of Canaan. Trouble comes for the household of Jacob when the daughter, Dinah, is raped by city dwellers and the brothers take vengeance. When Israel invades Canaan, they are told by God to completely destroy the city of Jericho. You have the City of David in Jerusalem, the capital. And in the NT Jesus is arrested, tried and executed in Jerusalem. Heb.13:14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Rev.21:1-2 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Paul’s missionary journeys were keyed to important cities. Here is a QQ: why do we send so many missionaries to rural settings when the cities are where the people, the leaders, the universities are?
II. Lamech vs.19-22
The first thing to notice about Lamech is his position in the genealogy. He is the 7th from Adam, a key position in the Hebrew mind. Lamech’s children then, are in the 7th generation of Cain. This in contrast with the Enoch in the line of Seth. Enoch is 7th from Adam and is a godly man compared with Lamech. Moses deliberately contrasts the two.
The story of Lamech is here to show how sin spreads and worsens with each generation. We are greeted with Lamech’s polygamy first of all. It is not forbidden in Genesis, it is assumed, although the clear example in Gen.1-2 is that God designed marriage for 1 man and 1 woman. QQ: can you name others in Genesis had more than one wife? Abraham, Jacob and Esau. Polygamy necessarily includes pride, abuse and lust as men take women for granted and use them as possessions. The examples of polygamy in Genesis always seem to include trouble: Hagar and Sarah did not get along, Rachel and Leah were competitors and Esau’s wives grieved Rebekah. See Deut. 21:15ff on polygamy.
Apply: Do you think polygamy will make a comeback here in America? Why or why not? How could that possibly happen? 1) The mormon fundamentalist cult group out in west Texas that was raided is likely going to win their case against Texas. Polygamy was alleged but not proven or prosecuted and the whole abuse case for marrying underage girls fell apart. But, if gay marriages become the law of the land as in Massachusetts, California and now maybe Connecticut, then the initial fence around real marriage will be down and it will not be long before the polygamists and polyamory groups will be in the courts asking for their benefits.
Lamech’s wives are Adah- meaning pretty ornament- and Zillah, a tinkling noise or sweet sounding voice.
The children of Lamech and his wives are: Jabal- father of those who keep livestock and dwell in tents. The word used here is different than the word used to describe Abel’s occupation. Abel was tending flocks of sheep and or goats. Jabal has a wider variety of animals under livestock, including camels, donkeys and such. Jubal is the musician and his name is related to the blowing of the ram’s horn and related to the word for the year of Jubilee which is announced by the blowing of trumpets. Tubal Cain is the metal worker forging tools and weapons no doubt. The difficulty is that the text says “he was a forger of all instruments of bronze and iron.” Archeology places the stone age at 100,000 to 4,000 yrs ago; the chalcolithic age of copper at 4,000-3200 yrs ago; the bronze age at 3200-1200, and the iron age 1200 – 330 bc. It is possible that man forged iron prior to the flood and then lost that skill until 1200. Also the Hebrew word translated as forged is actually “to hammer or sharpen” and could be used for some primitive metal working that did not involve the use of the complex forging process.
In other ancient societies, the arts and other key parts of civilization, were given by the gods, or stolen from the gods. In other words, these skills were kept shrouded in mystery because they came from the gods. In our text it shows that they were developed by man, sinful man. Thus, they are no longer mysterious, they can be documented, learned, improved upon.
Again notice that these men, the sons of Lamech, are responsible for a good deal of civilization. This shows us several things. When you compare these accomplishments with those of Enosh in vs. 26 where people began to call on the name of the Lord, you see two different emphases, two different value systems. In the line of Cain they are focused on civilization, the things of this world, important things, nice things, but still worldly. Seth’s line focuses on the things of heaven, worship, calling on the name of the Lord.
QQ: Does this mean that we should totally ignore the culture and civilization? This is part of God’s common grace to us. We can participate in our culture but we do so as sojourners, just passing through. This world, this civilization is not our home.
It shows us also that even fallen man still has the image of God in him with his creativity. Though fallen and warped by sin, corrupt man can still create very beautiful things, useful things, good things. The goodness that we see, the beauty we see in our culture, can be used as a point of contact with the lost for communicating the gospel.
Vss23-24 The tenor of this song is that of a proud, boastful man, bragging of his killing of a young man for wounding him. Most commentators view this as a murder on par with Cain killing Abel. But notice that, despite the obvious pride, there was a provocation. The young man struck or wounded Lamech. So it seems this would be more of a manslaughter than a premeditated murder. But it is a violation of the lex talionis, an eye for an eye approach that makes sure the punishment fits the crime. The intent of this passage seems to be however, to show the spread and increase of sin. You see that, I think, in his boasting about what he has done. Lamech’s pride is shown in his assumption that if Cain would be avenged 7 X then he ought to be avenged 77 fold.
III. The Godly Line of Seth vv.25-26
Notice the difference in tone Eve’s comment is now from what it was in vv.1.”God has appointed for me another offspring” instead of “I have conceived- I have gotten- I have produced” When we talked about vs.1 we saw that the verse could legitimately be interpreted as Eve stressing what she had done instead of what God did. This verse reverses that idea. She is clearly giving God credit. Even Seth’s name is related to the word for granted, as in God granted her another offspring.
Seth’s firstborn son is Enosh which means man in a very similar way that Adam means man. “Enosh is the new Adam who heads a new line that will receive the blessing and survive the flood.” (Matthews, p290).
Enosh is the one who founds public worship is what the phrase “At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.” This foreshadows the church worshiping Christ. While certainly Cain and Abel practiced some form of worship, this starts a new, public form of worship. From Seth came Noah and all the patriarchs who also called on the name of the Lord( 12.8; 13.4; 21.33; 26.25)
IV. Two Races
Man is divided into the line of Cain and the line of Seth, the damned and the elect. Those who call on the name of the Lord and those who don’t. Here are some other passages that show this:
John 8:42-45 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.
Matt.10: 34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Matt.13: 24-30 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
Matt.7: 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.; 21-2 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Matt. 25: 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Luke 3: 23 Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, 27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Sala, the son of Nahshon, 33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, 38 the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
Folks, things like skin color are pretty much meaningless for eternity. But what is inside a person’s heart will matter forever. We do not know whom the Lord has chosen for salvation, so we should share the gospel liberally.