************ Sermon on Genesis 4:16-26 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on June 12, 2011
"The Line of Cain Versus the Line of Seth"
What was life like before the Flood? Our portion of Scripture give us almost our only information about early human civilization. It tells us about a city, the raising of cattle, the development of music, and the working of metal. As I studied this passage I was left with one big question: "Where is Fred Flintstone?" You heard me right: "Where is Fred Flintstone?"
Many archeologists and anthropologists as well as magazines like the National Geographic believe there is an evolution in human society from the Stone Age to the Chalcolithic Age to the Bronze Age to the Iron Age. According to these scholars, our forebears lived in caves and holes in the ground. But that is NOT what Scripture teaches. That is NOT what we see in our Scripture reading this evening. Instead, at the very beginning of human history, we see an advanced civilization with remarkable cultural and technological skills. So, let me say this loud and clear: what evolution teaches is a lie; National Geographic is mistaken; do not trust and do not believe what you are told by evolutionary archeologists and anthropologists. None of them really have a clue as to early human life because they all fail to consider Scripture.
"Where is Fred Flintstone?" Our Scripture reading makes clear that no such person and no such society ever existed!
The most important thing we learn as we look at Scripture this evening is that most of what we know as civilization, culture, and technology has its roots in human sin. They all are fallen and it is only because of God's common grace that anything good results. In fact, as we look at our Scripture reading we see the continued progression of sin.
I The Line of Cain
A Remember God's curse upon Cain? God announced that Cain would be "a restless wanderer on the earth" (Gen 4:12). Take note, then, how our Scripture reading starts:
(Gen 4:16) So Cain went out from the Lord's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
We see two things here. First, under the curse of God, Cain went out from "the Lord's presence" (Gen 4:16). Since God is omnipresent, it is not physically possible to go away from the presence of the Lord – as Jonah found out. The text refers, instead, to the spiritual direction of Cain's life. As we will find out, Cain went forth to build a godless, secular society east of Eden.
Second, Cain "lived in the land of Nod" (Gen 4:16). Nod means "wandering." So Cain wandered in the land of wandering. That was God's curse upon him. He was a man without roots, a man without a home or country, a man with no place to call his own, a man without a place of refuge and security.
B So, what does Cain do as he wanders in the land of wandering? We see him busy "building a city" (Gen 4:17) – probably something small and simple because the Hebrew word for "city" can also mean "town" or "village."
We see four things here. First, Cain defied God's curse. He refused to live under God's terms. We see his continued refusal to repent of his sin. And, instead of being a wanderer, he lived in a city that he built and named after his son Enoch.
Isn't the response of Cain a typical human response? Don't we see people living in sin and looking for a way to avoid the consequences of their sin? Along this line, I read an article in the Visalia Times Delta that left me torn. The article informed us that Timothy Ray Brown, a 45-year-old San Francisco man, has become the first person to ever be cured of AIDS. On the one hand, I am happy that Mr. Brown has been cured; I hope and pray this will lead to a cure for the innocent children and spouses and blood-donor recipients who have been infected with AIDS. On the other hand, I am sad if this means practicing homosexuals can engage in homosexual sex without facing the consequences of their godless behavior.
Mankind wants to sin but mankind does not want to suffer the effects of sin. Scripture lets us know this is nothing new: it started already with Cain, with the second generation of the human race. That's the first thing we see.
Second, we see that Cain did not trust God. God put a mark, a sign of protection, on Cain. The mark told anyone who found Cain that he was under God's protection and was not to be harmed or killed (Gen 4:15). But God's protection was not enough for Cain. God's promise was not enough for Cain. So what did Cain do? Cain arranged for his own protection: Cain built a city. Don't forget, in the Ancient World cities were places of refuge, places where men gathered together to defend themselves, places with walls and gates. Cain refuses to acknowledge that God – and only God – is our refuge and strength, an even-present help in trouble (Ps 46:1).
Third, who built the first city? The answer is Cain. Do you realize what this means? It means secular anthropologists and archaeologists are wrong. They inform us that the city is rooted in need and comes to be by a process of natural growth, beginning with the household, then the tribe, then the village, then the merging of several villages to form the city.
This is not the Bible's view. According to the Bible, the city is rooted in fear, greed, pride, violence, and the desire for domination. The city is fallen. The city is the product of Cain – fallen Cain, accursed Cain. The city is man's attempt at life apart from God and apart from the knowledge of God. The flowering of culture and invention – which is identified with the city and city-life – also represents the flourishing of sin and evil. Which is why God-fearing parents and grandparents must warn children and youth about the fallen culture in which we live and must encourage them to live by faith and for the glory of God.
This does not mean that the city and its culture and inventions are without hope. By God's common grace, cities can be wonderful places of learning, gathering, arts, music, poetry, industry, and governance. By God's common grace, they can be places where we consider whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (cf Phil 4:8).
We know that God has more in mind for the city than did Cain. Along this line, consider Abraham's faith and hope. We are told "he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Heb 11:10). Consider, too, the final destiny of God's people:
(Rev 21:2) I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.Telling us what? Telling us that God is more than able to redeem what man starts in sin and pollutes with his presence.
Fourth, I am sure you realize that evolutionary anthropologists say urbanization is the mark of civilization. They say the development of cities and towns marks the transition from a "stone age" culture to a civilized culture. They further say this is part of a process that dragged on for thousands and even tens of thousands of years. But this is not what Scripture says. When we study Genesis 4, we see a city in the very first generation after Adam. So, no long, million-year development for urbanization and culture and city life. In other words: NO EVOLUTION. NO EVOLUTION OF THE HUMAN SPECIES. NO EVOLUTION OF CULTURE AND CIVILIZATION.
C Looking further in Genesis 4 we see that sin continues to progress. Scripture tells us about the family tree of Cain. I want you to notice the seventh name in a list that begins with Adam: the name of Lamech. The first thing we are told about Lamech is that he "married two women" (Gen 4:19). We can presume that Lamech's two wives were attractive women: Adah means "ornament" and Zillah means "shade."
Here is the first instance in the Bible in which marriage – as designed by God – breaks down. Remember God's design for marriage? "A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (Gen 2:24). God's design, from the beginning, was one man and one woman. Not one man and two, or more, women. Not one woman and two, or more, men. Not one man and another man. Not one woman and another woman. Lamech, driven by lust and greed, had two wives (cf Gen 6:1-4; Mt 24:38).
Scripture does not say a negative word here about Lamech's polygamy. But, then, it doesn't have to because the rest of Genesis is a commentary on what happens when we stray beyond the boundaries God has set for marriage. Think of Abraham caught between Sarah and Hagar. Think of the men of Sodom. Think of Lot and his daughters. Think of Jacob and the four women in his life. Think of Judah and his own daughter-in-law. Think of Joseph entrapped by Potiphar's wife. Scripture does not need to say anything because the sad results speak for themselves. When we stray beyond the marital boundaries set by God the results are hurt, pain, broken relationships, disunity, suspicion, envy, hatred, anger, and so on. What a miserable harvest is the result of not keeping God's will.
D Lamech and his wives have children, four of whom are mentioned in Scripture. The focus, however is on the three sons: Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal-Cain.
Notice the technological accomplishments of these three sons. Jabal invented the tent, thus enabling him to carry his home with him. In today's language, he was the first with a motor home or a fifth wheel. He was the wanderer that Cain would not be – but he did so in comfort and style. It was Jabal who also figured out how to raise animals besides Abel's sheep: horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, and goats (cf Ex 9:3).
Jubal was quite different from his brother Jabal. He had an ear for music. He favored the arts over commerce. Today, he would be in the school play rather than on the football field. He was an inventive genius developing both stringed and wind instruments.
Tubal-Cain is identified as a metal-worker who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron.
Genesis is making the point that many of the world's significant cultural discoveries emerged through the disobedient line of Cain.
Now, what drives invention in a fallen society? Greed, lust, and hatred. So, Jabal raised his animals in order to sell them and accumulate godless wealth. Jubal's music was directed towards satisfying the lusts and impulses of men. As for Tubal-Cain, his skills with metal not only forged hoes and plough-shares and machetes but also and especially spears and swords. Telling us what? Telling us advanced culture is nothing without the knowledge of the Lord.
However, this does not mean all culture and technology is evil. Think of the development of the Psalms. Think of the culture and craftsmanship that went into the making of the Tabernacle and, later, the Temple. By God's common and special grace, the image of God – shattered as it is in sinners – is still able to produce arts and science that glorify the Lord.
Now, evolutionary archaeologists and anthropologists say the care of animals, culture, and metal-working developed over hundred of thousands of years. And, they are signs that men evolved from the stone age into true civilization. Scripture tells us, instead, that all were accomplished quickly by the early descendants of Adam and did not take hundreds of thousands of years to develop.
E What follows is Lamech using the inventions of his sons to progress in evil. First, we are told that Lamech killed a man for striking him – we can assume that he used the metal weapons forged by Tubal-Cain. Clearly, in this case, the punishment does not fit the crime. Then, Lamech boasts about this in the Bible's first poem, set to music – this time using the musical gifts of Jubal.
II The Line of Seth
A After this we hear no more about the line of Cain. What Scripture says about the line of Cain ends with Lamech and his children. In fact, in a few generations the line of Cain is completely wiped out in the Flood.
Why is the line of Cain ignored from this point on? Because, remember, the focus of the Bible is not on the seed of the serpent – which is what Cain was – but on the seed of the woman (cf Gen 3:15). So, Scripture tells us about the birth of the chosen seed to Adam and Eve.
(Gen 4:25-26) Adam lay with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, "God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him." (26) Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh.It quickly becomes clear that the line of Seth is the one that would crush the serpent's head as God said to the serpent/Satan in Genesis 3:15.
There have been a lot of "twos" so far in Genesis: the two people in the Garden; the two forces – God and the snake – who would direct the lives of men; the two voices of God – the voice of judgment and the voice of grace; the two brothers; the two wives. Now, we see that Genesis 4 is book-marked by two births, one at the beginning and one at the end. One son follows the path of sin without repentance and faith. The other son, by the plan and providence of God, fathers a good and godly line. From this line come the patriarchs, the people of Israel, and the Christ.
B We see something here of how the Lord God Almighty works. He does not intervene in Cain's line to raise up godly descendants – though He is more than able to do this. Instead, God sticks with those He has chosen and foreknown and predestined from eternity to eternity. God does not change and vary. He sticks with His plan. His plan for our salvation did not include the line of Cain. Rather, it included the line of Seth – a line that culminates in the birth of Jesus. He is the descendant of Seth Who crushes the serpent's head; He does so at the cross and the grave.
C I want you to also notice the growing maturity and faith of Eve. Remember what she said with the birth of Cain? She said, "I have brought forth a man" (Gen 4:1). The emphasis is on the "I, me. Look at what I have done." The name that Eve gives to "Cain" meaning "brought forth" only serves to emphasize this. He is the "man" she has brought forth.
But now, with the birth of Seth, Eve sings a different tune: "God has granted me another child in place of Abel" (Gen 4:24). The focus is no longer Eve but God. The name "Seth" meaning "appointed" emphasizes this. God has appointed. God has granted. God has given. God is carrying out His plan. In the Hebrew, God does not just give Eve a child but a "seed" – a clear reference to the promise/threat of God that there is coming a seed of the woman that would crush Satan and his serpent. We see that Eve is now clinging to God and His covenant.
D The line of Seth is the line of promise. The line of Seth is the line of the Messiah. The line of Seth is the line used of God to crush the serpent's head.
With this in mind, the last line of Genesis 4 should not surprise us: "At that time men began to call on the name of the Lord" (Gen 4:26).
"Hold it," you might say. "I thought that Abel, and Cain, both worshiped the Lord. So what is different here?" Cain, of course, did not offer the Lord true sacrifice. With the line of Seth, however, this true sacrifice became widespread. In the Hebrew, what is in mind involves worship, prayer, proclamation, and sacrifice. This means the line of Seth loved the Lord, served the Lord, and made confession before the Lord. They knew and admitted their sin and their need for the saving presence of God. In many ways, their worship was like our worship.
Again, think of what evolutionary archeologists and anthropologists say about religion and worship: that religion and worship – like the care of animals, culture, and metal working – are the result of centuries of development and evolution. Not so, says the Bible. We find religion, well-defined and well-developed religion in the third generation of mankind already. Again, the Bible is saying a subtle but clear NO to evolution in its many forms.
Unlike Cain's line, Seth's offspring will prove faithful to God. This does not mean all of his seed are believers; the principle of election and the necessity of faith still holds true (Rom 9:6-8). Nevertheless, by God's grace godly parents generally produce godly children, and so it is no surprise that Seth's descendants worship the Lord.
I said earlier that the line of Cain died out with the Flood. This does not mean, however, that the thoughts and principles of this line have died out. Jude tells us that most people are content to go in "the way of Cain" (Jude 11). This is the way of sin, of disobedience, of self-reliance, of rebellion, of unrepentance, of secularism.
By God's grace, there is also another way, the way of Seth. Yes, those in this way are also sinners. But they repent of their sin and they believe in Jesus and worship Him.
Which way are you? Which line are you? The line of Cain or the line of Seth? Ask God to change you heart if you are in the line of Cain. And, give thanks to God if you are one of those chosen to live and be raised in the way of Seth.
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