Can we agree this morning that no one is alike – we are all different? This is perhaps played out most clearly through children. We recognize that each child is different. We may have an easy-going first child, only to have a strong-willed second child. Or perhaps the first two children have been difficult, but the third one is laid back. We hear the general consensus that girls are easier to raise at a younger age, while boys are easier to raise the older they get.
How many parents have gone through the heartache of having a child or children turn away from the Lord and the church? Sometimes they return, but sometimes they don’t. It’s all based on the choices they make.
This trend has been going on since the beginning of time. We see two distinct lines based on the choices that each individual takes. “The whole of the human race can be divided into the godly and the ungodly.” [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 64].
I know this doesn’t happen to anyone else, so it will come as a shock to you
When traffic is heavy on the interstate, the other lane is always moving more than the lane I’m in
Now you would think that if I change lanes, that I would now be in the lane that is moving more, but that’s not the case
As soon as I change lanes, the lane I just left begins to move more while the lane I just entered begins to move less
I’m not a very good chooser when it comes to lanes
Whether it’s at the bank, the grocery store, or the drive-thru at Chick-fil-A, I tend to choose the lane that I think will move most quickly, only to discover that I have actually chosen the lane that moves the most slowly
Maybe we all can relate to not being a very good chooser when it comes to lanes at the bank, grocery store, or fast-food restaurant
It’s possible that everyone of us has experienced the unexplainable, lane changing phenomenon on the interstate
Perhaps all of us have experienced the heartache of having a child or relative who chose to walk away from the Lord
The choices we make are important, especially when it comes to who we will depend on. As the Creator, God’s desire is that we depend on Him for everything in our lives. But, too often, we depend on ourselves and choose to leave God out of the equation. The narrator of Genesis 4:17-26 wants us to understand that . . .
BIG IDEA – We have a choice to depend on God or ourselves.
GOD (Genesis 4:17-26)
Godless Line (vv. 17-24)
Cain’s activities (v. 17)
We see that Cain and his wife have a child together
Where did Cain’s wife come from?
Jon Courson says that this question is the one that is most asked of him [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Volume 1: Genesis-Job, 21]
It’s pretty simple, but taboo in our culture today
Genesis 5:4, After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.
Most scholars agree that Cain’s wife was either one of his sisters or a niece
“The marriage of brothers and sisters was inevitable in the case of the children of the first men, if the human race was actually to descend from a single pair, and may therefore be justified in the face of the Mosaic prohibition of such marriages . . .” [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 72-73]
We know that later on, Moses prohibited these kinds of marriages as sinful
Leviticus 18 provides a list of unlawful sexual relations, including family members
They named their first born child, Enoch
Enoch (khan-oke’) means “dedicated”
That seems like an appropriate name for the first born child, especially a son
It would lead us to believe that, perhaps, Cain and his wife were following the Lord, but we really can’t know for sure
What we’ll see through Cain’s genealogy is a gradual moral degeneration
Cain wasn’t just busy building his family, but also building a city
We know that Cain’s punishment for killing Abel was to be a restless wandered, because the ground would no longer yield it’s crop for him
Cain was also fearful that his other family members would try to kill him, so God put a mark on him
Perhaps building a city was Cain’s way of ensuring that he would be safe instead of simply trusting in the Lord’s provision through the mark
He was striving to be self-sufficient, to depend on himself instead of God
Hamilton suggests that Cain is building a city as a way to provide security for himself, because he is not sure that God’s mark on him would be sufficient [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, 238]
We have a choice to depend on God or ourselves.
Cain named the city after his first-born son, Enoch
From Cain’s activities, the narrator moves to his genealogy
Cain’s genealogy (v. 18)
Enoch’s son was Irad (ee-rawd’) [“fleet, fugitive, or wild ass”]
Irad was the father of Mehujael (mekh-oo-yaw-ale’) [“smitten by God”]
Mehujael was the father of Methushael (meth-oo-shaw-ale’) [“who is of God or man of God”]
Methushael was the father of Lamech (leh’-mek) [“powerful”]
Lamech’s life (vv. 19-24)
This is first time that polygamy is mentioned in the Bible
“Polygamy is a rejection of God’s marital plan.” [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 100]
Genesis 2:23-24, The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
We know from Paul’s writings concerning elders and deacons that they are to be the husband of one wife (1 Tim. 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6)
There were several reasons for multiple wives in the Ancient Near East as outlined by The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament [Walton, Matthews, and Chavalas, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, Accordance electronic ed. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 34]
“An imbalance of the number of males and females”
“The need to produce large numbers of children to work herds and/or fields”
“The desire to increase the prestige and wealth of a household through multiple marriage contracts”
“The high rate of death of females in childbirth”
We see next, the names of his two wives
Names of Lamech’s wives
Adah (aw-daw’) [“ornament or beauty”]
Zillah (tsil-law’) [“shade or shadow”]
We’re told that each wife provided two children for Lamech
Jabal (yaw-bawl’) [“river, stream, or stream of water”]
Jabal was basically a nomad shepherd
He was the one who introduced taking care of livestock (pastoral life)
Jubal (yoo-bawl’) [“stream, a river, a moist country”]
He invented musical instruments
The mention of the harp and flute are representative of string and wind-blown instruments of all kinds
Tubal-Cain (too-bal’ kah’-yin) [“thou will be brought of Cain”]
He worked with and instructed others who worked with bronze and iron
They probably made agricultural tools and weapons
Naamah (nah-am-aw’) [“pleasant or loveliness”]
After being introduced to Lamech’s wives we see, what has been called, the “Song of the Sword”
Song of the Sword
This poem or song has multiple parallel lines
Adah and Zillah//wives of Lamech
Listen to me//hear my words
A man for wounding me//a young man for injuring me
Seven times//seventy-seven times
The parallelism helps us know that Lamech is only talking about one incident with one man
Did Lamech kill a man or is he threatening to kill a man?
Almost every modern English translation says that he killed a man (some have a footnote saying that he will kill a man or youth)
Whether he already killed a man or is threatening to kill anyone who wounds or injures him, he is boasting about being a violent man
Lamech sees the mercy of God on Cain’s life as a badge of honor for him
Cain felt that his punishment was too harsh and was fearful that his other family members would find him wandering and kill him, but God puts a mark on him to protect him, and also says that whoever kills Cain will suffer His vengeance seven times over
Lamech is willing to take matters into his own hands when it comes to vengeance
We see this number formula in the New Testament also
Jesus is teaching and sharing parables with the crowds and His disciples
Peter comes to Him with a question
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22)
What’s incredible here, is that Jesus is talking about forgiveness, not vengeance
He has taken the negative of the Old Testament and made it a positive in the New Testament
If Lamech was following the Lord, his response to being wounded or injured should have been forgiveness instead of vengeance
But he wasn’t following the Lord, he was relying on his own power and strength to take vengeance on others
PRINCIPLE #1 – Self-reliance leads to pride.
Lamech was not following the Lord, but rather his own moral and ethical standard
His standard, it seems, allowed him to kill another human being without regret
The same is true of us today
When we rely on our own moral and ethical standard, instead of God’s, we will move toward pride
Pride then leads us to more serious offenses, because we believe we’re unstoppable and justified in our actions (“this is what’s best for me,” “this will make me happy,” “I deserve this!”)
Read Romans 5:12-21
We have a choice to depend on God or ourselves.
Depending on God means eternal life through Jesus Christ
Depending on ourselves means eternal death/separation from God
What choice will you make?
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Choose to depend on God and receive His eternal life through Jesus Christ.
“The text has moved from unrepentant Cain to defiant Lamech. Violence is glorified, and the mark of Cain no longer stands as a stigma of exile but as a badge of honor that brings protection equivalent to invulnerability. The human situation is degenerating.” [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 278]
PRINCIPLE #2 – Unrepentant sin has generational consequences.
Cain didn’t repent of his sin and, therefore, lived a life separated from the Lord and his family
His unrepentance, whether knowingly or unknowingly, passed down from generation to generation
It was an ungodly line that we see ending with a boastful Lamech, six generations later
We may not be aware of how our own unrepentance is affecting our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and will potentially affect generations beyond that
We have to ask ourselves the tough question, “Do I have unrepentant sin in my life?”
If we can identify unrepentant sin in our lives, we are choosing an ungodly line for our family
It’s not too late to change that, no matter how old we are
I’ve seen individuals, nearing death, who have been transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it made a huge impact on their families
In some cases, the entire family unit (spouse, children, grandchildren, etc.) were transformed by the Gospel
Think about the Philippian jailer who had charge of the prison where Paul and Silas were
An earthquake set all of the prisoners free, but they didn’t run away
When the jailer realized that everyone was accounted for, he invited Paul and Silas to his house
Acts 16:29-34, The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God – he and his whole family.
Think of Zacchaeus in Jericho
He wanted to see the Lord, so he climbed up in a sycamore-fig tree
When confronted by Jesus, he repented and invited Him to come to house for a meal
Luke 19:9-10, Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
It’s not too late!
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Confess my unrepentant sin to the Lord, seek His forgiveness, and choose a godly line for my family.
That’s what we see in the last two verses of chapter 4 – a godly line
Godly Line (vv. 25-26)
We see God’s creative power through procreation
Adam and Eve have another son, Seth (shayth) [“granted or compensation”]
Eve recognizes the grace and mercy of God in naming Seth
PRINCIPLE #3 – God is gracious and merciful!
I’m sure that Adam and Eve had been grieving the death of Abel
It was a difficult time for them, as it would be for any parent who loses a child
Yet, they found hope through the birth of another son
They experienced the grace and mercy of God through this
Most of us have probably not lost a child, but we have experienced the death of a loved one
We have all experienced the loss of hope through difficult circumstances
In that loss, have you experienced God’s grace and mercy?
God’s grace is getting something we don’t deserve
God’s mercy is not getting something we do deserve
We may experience His grace and mercy through the visit of friend, a note in the mail, a phone call, or even the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit
On our worst days, we are able to function, because of God’s grace and mercy
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Thank the Lord for providing His grace and mercy through the difficulties in my life.
Next, we see a very brief genealogy for Seth that will be expanded in chapter 5
Seth obviously got married at some point and he and his wife had a son
They named their son Enosh (en-ohsh’) [“man or a man”]
Enosh is very similar to Adam as a general name for “man”
Proclaiming the name of the Lord
I like the NLT translation of the last sentence in verse 26
At that time people first began to worship the Lord by name (NLT)
God’s promise and plan to send a redeemer for the sins of mankind was still going to happen
He wasn’t going to come through Cain’s line
He was going to come through Seth’s line
In proclaiming the name of the Lord or worshiping the Lord by name, Seth’s line was choosing to depend on God instead of themselves
PRINCIPLE #4 – God is pleased when His people call on His name.
When is the last time you have called on the name of the Lord?
Perhaps it was just this morning through our time of worship
Maybe it’s been longer than that
Are you depending on the Lord or on yourself?
#4 – My Next Step Today Is To: Show my dependence on God by calling on His name, first.
Have you chosen to depend on God for salvation?
Are you ready to confess any unrepentant sin?
When is the last time you’ve thanked the Lord for His grace and mercy?
Are you showing your dependence on God by calling on His name, first?
Our family, neighbors, and coworkers will know that we are pursuing a godly line when we depend on God
It could be the catalyst for them to turn to God, call on His name, and fully depend on Him
“It is obvious from reading Genesis 4:1–6:8 that life moves on from one generation to the next. How can a generation live on? Someone suggested that parenting is hereditary—if your parents didn’t have any children, you’re not likely to have any either! But having a physical child is only the first step in a generation living on. Only by following the Lord and passing this faith on can a generation live on.
You must have a faith before you can pass it on. So take a moment and make sure you believe God’s Word. Once that answer is firmly positive, then decide to live in such a way that the next generation in your family and in your church will have reason to believe because of you. Never underestimate the power of living out your faith. The next generation needs to see people with a living faith in a living God.”
[Gangel & Bramer, 65]