Today, we’re reading about two lines that descend from Adam and Eve.
The first begins with Cain. The last time we saw him, he’d just received mercy from God. Even though he shattered his family — even though he killed his own little brother, breaking the hearts of Adam and Eve, he was given the chance to go out into the world and make a life for himself.
The book of Romans tells us that the kindness of God is to bring us to repentance — but this chance to humble himself, this undeserved chance to change does not seem to alter Cain’s heart. We can see this in the unfolding of his lineage…although we see how he builds a city, how his family focuses on skills and crafts, how they seem to make their names known – we don’t see any mention of offering, of sacrifice to the Lord, of worship. We don’t see that Cain teaches his children or their children about the Creator. We do see that one of his descendants, Lamech, is not afraid to break the pattern God into place for marriage and takes two women as wives. We also get to hear how he boasts to his wives, Adah and Zillah, about his murderous act to kill a young man who has injured him. Instead of showing distress at this violence, he refers to the mark of God’s mercy placed upon his forefather Cain, multiplying for himself the vengeance promised to anyone who would touch him.
This does not sound like a generation taught to be grateful for God’s grace. This does not sound like a generation taught to live wisely, but perhaps to take mercy for granted…perhaps, even, to exploit it. This sounds like men choosing their own way, their own needs, and their own pride.
We will see, as we continue into the next chapters, that these generations descend into evil and violence. We will see that their greed and disregard for God leads to a world unsafe and a Creator with a broken heart.
On the other hand, the third son that is born to Adam goes a different way — we aren’t shown, in this passage, a long line of descendants. We’re told that he had a son, named him Enosh, and that they began to call on the name of the Lord. Without much detail, it’s easy to see — Seth taught his son about the Lord…and he had this knowledge because of his parents.
We will soon see that this knowledge mattered – as it set the course for their own personal lives, their own relationships with each other and with God…it also mattered for the course of humanity. As the generations unfold, we will come to a righteous son whose knowledge of the Lord, in the middle of a time with every other heart turned toward doing evil, will be the bridge to a new covenant with the Lord.
I want to remember that this difference between the two lines didn’t happen all in one swooping action. We’ve already seen that Cain’s crime wasn’t an abrupt change of character…it was a series of decisions that led to that fatal hour in the field. It was a series of choices that led to a family not seeking God’s face…just as it was Seth’s choice to raise up a son who would know the Lord.
It’s in the day-to-day, in the routine hours and minutes that we decide – is my heart set on God? Am I honoring Him on this random Tuesday night? Is praise on my lips when I wake up in the morning? Do I show His character to my children when we are scrambling to get ready for school, taking care of chores, getting through homework? When I am out in my neighborhood, in my town -do I show His love to the people I meet?
Are my moments lived in a way that adds up to a life reflecting my Father?
Our moments do matter, more than we can know. Our lives matter for this present time and for the generations that will follow us. May our days — our minute-by-minute decisions, our actions, our words, our hearts — stay surrendered to God, so that our lives will point to Him.
17 And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son—Enoch. To Enoch was born Irad; and Irad begot Mehujael, and Mehujael begot Methushael, and Methushael begot Lamech.
Then Lamech took for himself two wives: the name of one was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah. And Adah bore Jabal. He was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal. He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute. And as for Zillah, she also bore Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron. And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.
Then Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; Wives of Lamech, listen to my speech! For I have killed a man for wounding me, Even a young man for hurting me. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”
And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.” And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the Lord.