Description / Transcription
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people, from this time forth and forevermore. Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in heart. As we have just sung, so we pray again, speak, O Lord. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
I invite you to turn in your Bibles to Genesis chapter 4, plan to keep the lights on for you as you read, follow along. Genesis chapter 4, as we move verse by verse, chapter by chapter, through this first book of the Bible. And I hope that it’s at least a fraction of exciting, as exciting for you each week to hear the sermon as it is for me each week to study and prepare for the sermon, because these chapters, which may be familiar to some of us, are filled with so many new things for us to learn and see, and this half of chapter 4 is certainly one of them.
I mentioned last week that chapter 4 divides into three sections, each of which are introduced by the same formula.
Look at verse 1: “Now Adam knew Eve, his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain.” Verse 17: “Cain knew his wife and conceived and bore Enoch.” And then verse 25: “Adam knew his wife and she bore a son and called his name Seth.”
So three times we have the formula, the man knew his wife and she conceived and bore a son and this is his name. Three definite sections. You could call the first the sin of Cain, then the culture of Cain, and then finally the hope of Seth, or the hope of the seed.
Last week we looked at Cain as an individual. This morning we look at the civilization that comes in the line of Cain, and how with all of those cultural accomplishments, nevertheless it’s ultimately bankrupt without the hope of the seed.
Follow along then as I read, beginning at verse 17: “Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. 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 lyre and pipe. Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.”
“Lamech said to his wives: ‘Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.’ And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.’ To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.”
One of the most vexing problems for Christians, and it’s true throughout Church history and I think it’s particularly true in our cultural moment, is how to understand the relationship between Christ and culture. Many of our disagreements, whether we’re thinking about politics or the mission of the Church, or even how to raise our families, have to do with that question: What is the relationship between Christ and culture?
Famously, in the middle of the last century, a theologian named Richard Niebuhr, laid out, in a book by that title, Christ and Culture, five different paradigms. He said you can have Christ against culture, Christ of culture, Christ above culture, Christ in culture in paradox, and Christ the transformer of culture. And he tried to lay out the different historical origins and different people who he thinks he held to each of those positions, and though he tried to give equal time to each, it’s pretty clear that he felt like the last one, Christ the transformer of culture, was the best model.
About 10 or 12 years ago, D.A. Carson published a book called Christ and Culture Revisited, where he looks at Niebuhr’s categories and offers, in mind or alarmed, a justified critique of them. And one of his main critiques is that there is no one-size-fits-all and that each of those categories, with the possible exception of “Christ of culture,” which Carson argues usually that paradigm ends up being something other than Christianity, like theological liberalism. But he says most of them can be appropriate given different cultural context. It may be that in your cultural moment, you need to emphasize in the Church Christ against culture, what Christ says to rebuke a godless culture, and at other times it may be how Christ stands above our culture, or how he is the transformer of the culture.
Now, I’m not going to walk through Niebuhr’s five categories or Carson’s book, but it does introduce to us this category, which whether we realize it or not, is really foundational to how we understand. How do we live in the world? What is the Church supposed to be about? How should we raise our children?
What I want to do from this text, in Genesis 4, is mention two errors, two significant and common errors when it comes to our understanding of Christ and culture.
Here’s the first error. The first error is to think that nothing good, or nothing to be enjoyed, can come from a culture that does not know God. The first error is to think that nothing good, or nothing to be enjoyed, can come from a culture that does not know God. Sometimes it seems as if that is the really spiritual or pious approach. Well, their godless, they don’t have anything to do with Christ, there’s absolutely no neutrality, there’s no common ground between us or them, everything that they do is in opposition to God, how could we possibly enjoy any of the cultural or civilizational accomplishments?
What we seen in a passage like this, that’s an error.
Look at verse 17. We’re introduced to the line of Cain. Cain knew his wife, now immediately that’s going to raise the perennial Sunday School question: Well, where did Cain get a wife? Um, he married a sister. Now it’s not a good idea now, later in the Old Testament not too long from here, in the Mosaic covenant, it will make clear that there are laws against marrying people close to your relations, but here at the very beginning it seems as if there was no other way, and so somehow it, it worked.
We read in chapter 5, verse 4, that Adam had other sons and daughters. We don’t believe that there are other hominids, we don’t but these weren’t hominids, we believe in all people coming from a single pair, historical Adam and Eve, so it stands to reason that these were some of Cain’s family.
It also helps us to sort of think through some of the chronology, because we have to realize many of these chapters have a chronology that’s greatly compressed, in some places out of order, which doesn’t mean it’s wrong, it just means that Moses is arranging it for a certain reason.
Look up at verse 14. Remember Cain is cursed, and he says you’ve driven me away from the ground, you’ve hidden your face, I shall be a fugitive, whoever finds me will kill me. Now you have to stop to think, who’s going to kill you, Cain? Is there anybody else on the earth? Well, it could be that the timeline is such that this is years and years later and the earth has already been populated somewhat before Cain kills Abel. I think that it’s likely Cain is fearing people that would yet to be born. It makes sense, doesn’t it? That Cain kills Abel and he knows that his mom and dad are going to have more children. Why should Cain fear that he’s going to go out into the world and some strange person says, “Hey, you look like somebody I should kill”? It makes more sense, his own brothers and sisters yet to be born, or perhaps some of them that were already alive at the time, are going to hear that he killed Abel and they’re going to want to avenge the blood of their brother.
And then when you get to the end of the chapter, Adam knew his wife and they have Seth, I think quite clearly this is not happening after the seven generations that have already been detailed from Cain, that this happened sometime after the death of Abel. We’re not to think that hundreds of years go by, you don’t think before then Seth is born, though we will read in the next chapter that there are extraordinary long lives and that Adam will live 130 years before he gives birth to Seth.
But I think we’re meant to see here that the earth is being populated and there are civilizations as we will see in a moment being established, and Seth’s birth is sometime prior to these seven generations.
So look at the history of Cain’s family. It is in miniature a picture of the development of culture and civilization. We see civilization in all of its wonderful common grace, but also all of its corrupt fallenness.
Now this first point, we’re just looking at the common grace. Notice the very first city. The first human establishment created in the Bible is from Cain and his family. The first genealogy. Now we’ll have many others in the book, we’ll have one in chapter 5, but the very first one is for this rejected line, from the wicked line of Cain. And it shows that the command in Genesis 1 and the blessing of an image-bearer is still bearing fruit in Cain. Subdue the earth and fill it. And what does Cain doing? Well, his line is doing those very two things: Filling the earth, they’re multiplying, and subduing it, building cities, creating culture.
And notice these three brothers that come later in the genealogy from Lamech: Adah bore Jabal, his brother’s name was Jubal, and then they had another brother from another wife named Tubal.
So Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal. I get confused with my own children’s names, and we have tried hard not to give them the same letter for each of them, no rhyming names, because you know what it’s like. You go through all of the children before you get to the name that you want. Now sometimes we say the names of our brothers and sisters. Sometimes the cat’s name comes in there. Sometimes, you know, names we didn’t even pick, Savannah, Samantha, Susannah, you’re the baby, we.. It gets very confusing. But I’m glad we do not have a Jabal, Jubal, Tubal.
But notice these verses are telling us something very significant. They’re meant to explain where these cultural achievements come from. Jabal was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. So he is the progenitor of agriculture. And then Jubal, he was the father of all those who play the lyre and the pipe, so he’s the father of arts and music come from his family. If this was the chosen line, they would be the George’s, but here is Jubal. Zillah bore Tubal, Tubal-cain, named after his ancestor Cain, who’s the forger of instruments of bronze and iron.
So we put it altogether and you have the birth of cities, agricultural implements, metallurgy, weapons, animal husbandry, craftsmanship, nothing less than the development of agriculture, arts, and sciences. Coming all from this line of Cain, of all people. Remember, by God’s grace even the wicked, even those who do not know the true God, can make marvelous contributions to a society. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. We give thanks for the cultural artifacts and the civilizational accomplishments from men and women, even who don’t know God, who have produced great breakthroughs in technology or medicine or arts or architecture or literature.
We see here that even a fallen culture, far from God, can enjoy many common grace blessings.
It’s hard to see this sometimes in our own day, both because we get so used to it, and because, if you pay attention to the news, the news only tells you bad things. The news never says, “New headline today, husband and wife still happily married, raising children.” No, it’s always bad news, something is breaking down, something is going worse.
And we can think that we live in the worst of all possible times, when actually it is quite the opposite. By almost every conceivable measure, you and I live in the most prosperous, healthy, amazing time that has ever existed on planet earth.
Even if you love history, I love history, sometimes I think, “Oh, what would it have been like to be a pastor in the colonial days?” or to be in some stone church building with, in Presbyterian Scotland in the good old days, or with my ancestors somewhere in the Netherlands. And really if you think about it, none of us would probably want to go back 50 years, let alone 100 years or 500 years. We don’t realize how many common grace blessings we enjoy.
There was a book a few years ago called The Progress Paradox, which was about this. A more recent book called Factfulness about the some topic, and then a book that just came out this month, called Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know, and the title’s a little deceiving, there’s actually 78 trends, but I guess just 10 of them smart people need to know.
Listen to some of the amazing blessings we have at this moment in world history. If you look at the world gross product, that is the economic output of the entire world. In 1500, it was 430 billion [sic]. In 1820, it was 1.2 billion. So it took over 300 years to triple. Then it tripled again by 1900, to 3.4 trillion. Now, in 2018 numbers, from 3.4 trillion, what would you think it would be? Not tripled, but all the way to 121 trillion. Estimated to be 600 trillion by the end of the century.
If you were to plot this on a graph, Global Economic Output, it would look like a flat line almost at zero until about 1850 and 1900 and then it would be a straight line going up.
Following the Industrial Revolution, the introduction of free market capitalism, GDP per capita began to skyrocket. From the time of Christ until about 1800, GDP per capita, they estimate, was relatively static. The average person lived in much the same sort of agrarian condition.
But in the last 100 or 150 years, GDP per capita has increased tenfold, and that’s on average, which means it’s increased far more than that in rich countries, like this one.
Global population and extreme poverty. Did you know, in 1830, 84% of the world lived in extreme poverty? And I think the number was less than $2 a day, by constant inflation adjusted numbers. 84%. Do you know what the number is now? 8.6%. You say, well, that’s just an average thrown off because there’s so many really rich people. No, since 1952, global inequality among people and between countries has been decreasing.
People are far wealthier than ever before. And you may not feel like it, but we actually work less, at least work at our jobs less. In 1950, the average worker worked 2123 hours in a year; in 2017, the average worker worked 1723 hours, 400 fewer hours.
Since 1960, the number of democracies in the world has been going like this. The number of autocracies in the world going like that.
There are far fewer wars than there were 70 years ago.
From 1982 to 2016, despite our impressions, the area in this country covered by trees is growing. In fact, the area covered by trees is increasing in Asia, Europe, and North America. Planting far more trees than are being used up.
The chance of a person dying in a natural catastrophe, earthquake, flood, wildfire, even epidemic, has declined 99% since the 1920s. In just 100 years.
The global literacy rate, this isn’t a class so I can’t ask you for, but just think in your mind, what do you guess the global literacy rate was in 1820? In 1820, it was 10%, 10% of the world could read and write. Do you know what is today? It’s flipped. 90%.
In 1820, the average global life expectancy was 30 years old. Today, it’s 72.
Infant mortality has plummeted since 1950.
Even in the last 20 years the rates of tuberculosis and malaria have fallen precipitously. The number of deaths per capita from cancer are at a 25 year low.
Work-related deaths are down. Child labor is down.
Or how about this one. Did you know in the year 1800, 60% of the nations on the earth had legalized slavery? Slavery has existed for almost all of human history. Now the number of countries in the world that have legalized slavery is basically zero. Now there is still human trafficking, certainly many forms of evil in our world, but we’ve gone from what has been a universal occurrence to almost nothing.
We have more access to clean water. We produce crops at levels unheard of just 50 years ago. It’s almost unfathomable to think how different life was and how good we have it.
Here’s one interesting way of looking at it. In the year 1800, it took 5-1/2 hours of work to create 1000 lumen hours of light. If I understand what a lumen hour is, one lumen would be like a birthday candle. So if you wanted a birthday candle to go 1000 hours, which you wouldn’t because that doesn’t help at all, or today’s 75-watt light bulb puts out about 1000 lumens. So think about light equivalent to one lightbulb for an hour. Of course they didn’t have lightbulbs in 1800. They worked 5-1/2 hours. For most of human history, our ancestors are working a tremendous amount of time just to produce light, they get wood for fire, to get whale oil, to get wax for candles.
Well, then, with the invention of the lightbulb, by 1900 it took only 0.22 hours of work for that one hour of 75-watt lightbulb. And now you know what it takes? 0.00012 hours of human labor. Almost negligible, so that we never think about it.
Air pollution is declining. Infectious diseases are declining.
In 1900, US households spent 80% of their expenditures on necessities, so that’s housing, food, and clothing. 80% of your expenditures. Now, it’s less than 50%, and that’s amazing when you consider how much more food and clothing and housing we have.
In 1900, the average new home in America, you want to know how big it was? 700 square feet. 700 square feet. Some of us may have closets bigger than that.
In 1972, the average new home was 1700 square feet.
In 2018, the average new home was 2641 square feet, and our family sizes are on average much smaller in 2018 than they were in 1900. So it’s something like 1900, the average person had 150 square feet to themselves, and now they have over 1000.
We are amazingly wealthy.
Today we have technologies, virtually every single person, that no one had in 1900. Virtually everyone today in this country has electricity, a refrigerator, car, indoor plumbing, radio, air conditioning, washer, dryer, dishwasher, microwave, TV, cellphone, digital camera, computer, internet. Things that weren’t even heard of.
In other words, we ought to give thanks for innumerable common grace blessings, and we ought not think that because a society or a civilization or a culture doesn’t know God that they may not be blessed with amazing cultural accomplishments and gifts of prosperity. Now many of these things we could say can be traced back to certain Christian principles or ideas which gave birth to the modern world, but this is all around the world. Whether you’re a Christian or not, we have seen in the last two centuries and, really, even in the just the last two or three decades, an amazing growth of prosperity and decrease in extreme poverty.
So let us not make that first error, to think there is nothing good or nothing to be enjoyed, even in a culture that does not know God.
Second error. The second error is to think that cultural achievement, or civilizational advancement, is ultimately what matters most, or is pleasing to God. So that’s the second error, to think that cultural achievement or civilizational advancement is ultimately what matters most or is pleasing to God.
So yes, we want an unemployment rate low. Yes, we want a GDP growing. Yes, we want advancements in medicine and technology. And we must not think that these things are ultimately what matter most or are pleasing to God.
Look at all the ways, go back to our text, in which we are meant to see that the line of Cain, for all of its cultural achievements, is fundamentally wicked. So yes, Cain built the first city. But notice he was supposed to be a wanderer on the earth. The fact that he built a city was likely evidence of his rebellion. He wasn’t supposed to build a city. And then he names the city not after the Lord, he names it after his son. He’s concerned for his own dynasty and fame.
We’re introduced in the line of Cain to the first polygamist. Verse 19: Lamech took two wives. Sometimes we get uncomfortable that polygamy is not explicitly condemned in the Old Testament, but clearly it’s shown here with this pinnacle of wickedness that polygamy is seen to be a deviation from the good order that God created in Genesis chapter 2.
And, in fact, we see throughout the Old Testament that polygamy almost always produces trouble in the family. Think of Abraham, who had sex with Hagar trying to produce an heir and the conflict that that causes in his family with Hagar and Sarai. Or Jacob and the conflict between his two wives with Leah and Rachel, and then their servants. David’s household fell because of his sin with Bathsheba. Solomon fell because of his many wives and concubines. The Mosaic law in Deuteronomy 21 about polygamy seems to assume that one will be loved and one will be unloved. In other words, this is not the way it’s supposed to be.
He takes two wives, Adah, which probably comes from the Hebrew word for ornament, it means something like pretty; and Zillah, which may come from the Hebrew word tinkling, as in a pleasant sound on a cymbal or musical instrument. It may be that his wives are named a sweet voice and a pretty face. Now there’s nothing wrong with either. Men, we’ve all married those two things, a sweet voice and pretty face in one person. But here it may be to suggest something of Lamech’s sensuality, that he’s looking for two trophy wives.
And then we have Lamech’s poem. It’s the Song of Songs, that love poem; it’s the song of the sword. Remember the first poem in the Bible? The first expression of artistic poetry comes from Adam. The second one comes from Lamech. Isn’t it telling that the first two poetic expressions in Scripture come in the context of a man and his wife; or with Lamech, two wives.
But, oh, how the poems have changed. The first was Adam exclaiming, “Oh, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, you shall be called woman, for you’re taken out of man.” And now we Lamech’s song of the sword: “Adah, Zillah, hear my voice, wives of Lamech, listen to what I say, I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me.”
Lamech is worse than his great-great-great-great-grandfather Cain. Cain was to be avenged seven times. Now he says seventy-sevenfold, seven being the number of completion. It’s like somebody saying “a million bajillion times.”
And notice he says, “I have killed a man for wounding me.” Sometimes we get bent out of shape with the Old Testament adage “eye for eye, tooth for a tooth,” and say that’s so barbaric. Actually, it wasn’t barbaric. It was actually the law of justice. It was a way of restraining vengeance, because an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth means you can’t cut off someone’s head for hurting your tooth. You can’t destroy their whole tribe because they hurt your eye. It was to restrain violence, “eye for eye, tooth for tooth,” but here Lamech kills a man “for wounding me, a young man for striking me.”
And not only that, but for the first time in recorded history, you have someone who actually celebrates his sin.
Now Adam and Eve are caught in sin, and they feel shame for it and they begin to blame shift and they make excuses and they hide. Cain gets worse – he flat out lies about it, says “I don’t know where Abel is,” but there’s still a sense from Cain that he knows that he shouldn’t have killed his brother, that’s why he’s lying about it.
But now for the first time, as civilization gets worse and worse and the corruption grows, Lamech celebrates it. Without apology. “I’m a polygamist, and I killed a man, and I will be avenged a million billion times.”
Surely it’s not insignificant that the fallen culture of man is noted by two great evils in Lamech: Violence and the disintegration of the family. We see in Lamech a disdain for marriage and a disdain for life. Perhaps because those are two of the most fundamental civilizational building blocks. Cannot have a healthy civilization unless innocent life is protected and marriage is honored, and we see the abdication of both in Lamech.
One commentator puts it this way: The narrative thus describes the first affluent society, self-indulgent and self-gratifying, building cities, developing civilization, but doing so in defiance of God and His laws.
We are meant to see a profound contrast between the line of the reprobate in Cain, and the line of the elect in Seth.
Notice verse 25: Adam knew his wife, she bore a son, called his name Seth, for she said “God has appointed for me.” Now remember what she said in verse 1, “I have gotten a man.” I did it. I got a replacement for Abel with the help of the Lord. Now there’s no boast in Eve. She acknowledges this has come appointed from God’s hand. And notice she doesn’t say “a man” as she did oddly in verse 1 because she was seeing herself as being in the place of God, to create a new man on the earth. No, now she uses the important word “son” and then after that “offspring.” So the narrator says she has a son and then “God appointed for me another offspring,” she says. Could be translated “seed.” It’s the some word back in Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring.”
So it’s not a stretch to think Eve sees what’s happening here. In fulfillment of the promise that God made to her, He has appointed another seed, another offspring.
There’s a profound difference between these two lines, and we’re meant to see the contrast through many of their similarities. So Cain’s line goes down seven generations, if you start with Adam, and then it branches off into these three sons; Jabal, Jubal, Tubal.
The chosen line going through Seth goes down ten generations, as we’ll see in chapter 5, and then it branches off into three sons; Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
The rejected line starts with wicked Cain and it ends with an even more wicked Lamech. The promised line starts with humanity’s founder Adam and then it’s going to end with humanity’s re-founder, Noah.
Or think about the number 7. Seven is so important. I’ve said this before that in the first half of Genesis 4 you have Abel’s name mentioned seven times, brother mentioned seven times, Cain mentioned 14 times, two times seven. Well, seven is an important number. Think about who’s seven in each of these genealogies. The seventh from Adam through the line of Cain is Lamech. He’s the embodiment of all that is wrong with fallen humanity.
Who is seventh in the line through Seth? It’s Enoch. And if you remember Enoch, he’s the man who walked with God and immediately is translated into heaven.
In other words, you’re meant to see the contrast between these two lines, that the ultimate, the seventh, in one leads to Lamech, who is the nadir of humanity, and the other in the seventh place leads to Enoch, who is as godly as Lamech is godless.
There are two names in common in these two opening genealogies. Enoch is in both lines. In one he has a city named after him, as in evidence of Cain’s pride, and in the other he’s the Enoch who walks with God.
Lamech is also in both of these lines. The one, as we’ve been seeing, who curses anyone who gets in his way, and then the second Lamech who is going to look for relief from the curse.
Look at chapter 5, verse 28: “When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son, called his name Noah, saying, ‘Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed, this one shall bring us relief.'”
So one Lamech curses and the other Lamech looks for relief from the curse.
And then most importantly, the most profound difference between these two lines, is in what God highlights as their cultural accomplishment.
So look at the very last verse of chapter 4: “To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.” You see “Lord” is in small capital letters, which means it’s the divine name, Yahweh.
Now how does this work? Because we’ve already had the divine name and isn’t the divine name revealed later in Exodus when Moses says, “Who shall I say has sent me to You?” and God says, “Tell them I am who I am.” So, how can it say here in chapter 4 that the people began to call upon the name of the Lord?
Well, it doesn’t mean that people had never heard of the name of the Lord. Look at chapter 4, verse 1: “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” That’s the same word, Yahweh.
We’ve seen Yahweh several times already in chapter 2 and 3. In fact, Yahweh occurs 162 times in Genesis. So I don’t think it’s that they had never known of the name Yahweh, but rather what it indicates is that for the first time there is formal worship of the Lord. There is what we might call a religion of Yahweh. And later in Exodus that will be a fuller fulfillment, a greater understanding, of the divine name.
So chapter 4:26 is not telling us that they understood everything about the divine name, that’s going to be revealed with much more clarity with the Exodus. Nor is it saying that it’s the first time anybody ever heard the divine name. What I think it’s saying is that for the first time we have the formal worship of Yahweh on the earth.
Seth’s line, in other words, is remembered for one thing: Worship.
You have all of the achievements of the line of Cain, their agriculture, their arts, their sciences, their civilization, their cultural artifacts. They’re remembered for all of that.
Seth’s line is noted for one thing, and it’s the one thing that matters: Worship.
Remember, this is the end of the first toledoth. Toledoth is the Hebrew word for generation, so this first generation began in chapter 2, verse 4: “These are the generations of the heaven and the earth when they were created in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” The second toledoth starts in chapter 5, “This is the book of the generations of Adam.”
So chapter 2, 3, and 4 are the first toledoth, the first of these 10 sections in Genesis. And clearly it ends the way it does for a reason. It’s as if chapter 2 starts and you have this amazing scene of beauty and glory and light with Adam and Eve and all things are good and the beauty of marriage and naked and unashamed. And then in the brilliance of this light and this glory, the serpent comes, and the clouds roll in and the light disappears and darkness. And then as we’ve seen, the curse come to infiltrate more and more of the earth, and for each successive generation to get worse and worse. We’ve gone from the heights to the depth, we’ve gone from light to complete darkness.
If this were the first chapter in a book or the first scene in a movie or the conclusion of a film that’s going to have several sequels, it would be dark and rainy and stormy and dismal, and just when it seemed as if all hope had been lost, there would be a little glimmer of light. A child is born. And not for the last time will that be the glimmer of light in the midst of so much darkness, that a child is born.
It would seem that the first round went to the serpent, but not so fast. The serpent may seem to be winning, but Eve has had another child, and his name is Seth, and he has his own son, and at that time the people began to call upon the name of the LORD. Cain and his family are pioneers in cities and the arts and science and industry; Seth and his family will be pioneers in worship. One will have a passion for the name of man, and the other will have a passion for the name of the LORD.
So mark this in closing: To worship the Lord was a great civilizational advancement, and greater than all the achievements of the arts and the sciences. Not to dismiss them, not to discount them. We give thanks for them. That was the first error we countered. But the second is just as important or more so. We must not think that ultimately is the end. Our most important collective task as God’s chosen people is to preserve the true worship of the true God. Whatever else we may do, and by God’s grace we will have opportunities to contribute to arts and sciences and industry and technology and advancement and literature and whatever opportunities God may give you, we will give thanks for those accomplishments in the city of man.
But our most important collective task remains with the city of God, and to preserve the true worship of the true God.
So let this be an encouragement to you. A life lived in honor and worship of the one true God is never a waste. A life lived in honor and worship of the one true God is the height of cultural and civilizational advancement. In all the common grace blessings that God has given to us, let us not forget that which is most important, that we would call upon the name of the Lord and we would call upon others to do so with us.
Let’s pray. Our gracious Father, we give thanks for Your Word, so many treasures here in these chapters. So many lessons for us in our lives. Help us, Lord. You have blessed us so richly, immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine, and we pray that the blessing would be not only in prosperity, in clean water, in medicine, in homes, and all of the things that we take for granted, but in the true worship of the true God, in whose name we pray. Amen.