The Origin of Society
Well, let’s open our Bibles to Genesis chapter 4, and we will take a little time to look at our series on origins. Genesis chapter 4. It’s so wonderful to be a pastor. It’s so wonderful to be able to come back week after week after week after week because you don’t have to finish everything. You can just end it and pick it back up. And what a joy it’s been all these years to work our way through so many marvelous passages of God’s Word. And certainly, we are experiencing one in the second half of the fourth chapter of Genesis.
Let me introduce this wonderful passage by saying there are and always have been two families of human beings. Two societies, two cultures on the earth: the family of God and the family of Satan; the children of God, as they’re called, and the children of Satan. Every cultural clash throughout human history is really a clash between those two societies, those two families. It is true in our own nation.
It is reaching a certain point of clear focus because we’re so overexposed to the current campaign for the presidency and for various other positions of power and leadership in our country, and so issues of morality and issues of religion are in the constant public eye. But as I tried to share with you a little bit this morning, as complex as things may appear in a society, they are really very simple. There are only two families of human beings. There are only two societies and two cultures. Those who belong to God form one family, and those who belong to Satan form the other family, and every cultural clash is really related to those two societies colliding.
Now, the true family of God is governed by a book – that book is the Bible. The true family of God is governed by this book. For the family of Satan, this book is a big problem. It is a big problem. In fact, the Bible lies at the root of cultural conflict. Life could be simple without it. There would be no conflict over the issue of pornography. Pornography wouldn’t be a problem if there wasn’t a Bible. The only reason it is being fought is because there are two very clear opposing views.
Adultery and incest and homosexuality and pedophilia and transsexualism and transvestism and euthanasia and abortion and feminist rebellion and divorce and false religions – none of those things would be a problem if it weren’t for this book. All these areas of massive cultural conflict demonstrate that the Bible is a severe problem. No other book draws such precise lines. No other book defines so clearly moral and religious truth. No other book, therefore, defines what moral debauchery is as clearly and defines what false religion is as clearly and, therefore, no other book presents such a point of conflict.
The secular culture, the family of Satan, doesn’t mind the Bible, as I said this morning, as long as you keep it inside the church. They just don’t want it in the public discourse. You can go inside the church and you can venerate the Bible and you can honor the Bible and you can believe the Bible and you can talk about the Bible, but don’t bring it out. Don’t bring it into the public discourse as if it is some authoritative document. And that, by the way, is the real cry between the separation of church and state. It’s not really the separation of church and state, it’s the separation of people from the Bible. The threat is the Bible. Biblical truth threatens the sons of Satan.
Now, these two cultures began in Genesis 4, as we are learning, and they are identified as the family of Cain and the family of Seth. You have here Cain and secular culture; Seth and sacred culture. You have Cain and material society; Seth and spiritual society. Cain and those who rebel against God and love sin; and Seth and those who worship God and love righteousness. The line of Cain is evil and illustrated by a man named Lamech, and we’ll say more about him later on. The line of Seth starts out good and is illustrated by Enosh, Enoch, Noah, and the sons of Noah.
Those are the two families, the family of Cain, which is the family, for all intents and purposes, which generates secular culture, and the family of Seth, which initiates sacred culture. There is no indication, by the way, that any in Cain’s line were righteous. And only at the beginning was the line of Seth righteous. By the time you get to Noah, there are only eight righteous souls on the entire planet, and they come from the family of Seth. All the rest of the Sethites and all of the Cainites were drowned in the flood because they were wicked.
We can assume that by the time of the flood Seth was dead or he wouldn’t have been drowned. Enosh was dead. There were certainly others in the line of Seth who were also worshiping God who must have died out before the flood came. And Enoch, about whom we learn in the fifth chapter of Genesis in the line of Seth, had his own private rapture in which he was taken to heaven, and he, too, was a righteous man. By the time you get to the flood, there were only eight righteous left in the line of Seth.
But still, there are those two families that set the foundation for us to understand society. There is the culture that is secular, material, evil, and ungodly that belongs to Satan. There is the culture that is sacred, spiritual, righteous, and worshiping that belongs to God.
Now let’s go back and look at Cain and secular culture just ever so quickly. Verse 16, “Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain had relations with his wife, she conceived, gave birth to Enoch, he built a city” – or a city was being built – “and called the name of the city Enoch after the name of his son. Now, to Enoch was born Irad, and Irad became the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael became the father of Methushael, and Methushael became the father of Lamech. And Lamech took to himself two wives, the name of the one was Adah and the name of the other was Zillah.
“Adah gave birth to 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. As for Zillah, she gave birth also to Tubal-Kayin, the forger of all implements of bronze and iron, and the sister of Tubal-Kayin was Naamah. And Lamech said to his wives, ‘Adah and Zillah, listen to my voice, you wives of Lamech. Give heed to my speech, for I have killed a man for wounding me and a boy for striking me. If Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech, seventy-sevenfold.’” And with that, God introduces us to the family of Cain.
Again, it is important to say – and you must note this – that the development of secular, material culture in society is in itself a provision from God. It is a provision of what we would call “common grace” – that is, it is a provision from God for man’s enjoyment of life. God has filled this planet with immense riches. Those riches contribute to our lives. The massive variety of enjoyable things. Things we see with our eyes, scenery, flowers, colors. Things that we feel with our bodies, textures, comfort, as well as the other end of the spectrum, thrills, adventure.
Things that we eat, the vast variety of foods for which we have an accommodating capacity to taste – not only the taste but to enjoy even the texture of those varying foods. This planet continues to yield jewelry and all kinds of resources to add to our comfort and a kind of technological wealth that has taken us into outer space and back again and developed for us an almost inconceivable amount of creature comforts to make life enjoyable. And that is a gift from God. It fits into the category, not of saving grace, but of common grace.
God has provided for the development of secular, material society and culture as a way to give man enjoyment so that man would be thankful to God. As Romans 1 says, however, man sucks the planet dry of all its riches and never gives God thanks and, therefore, is sentenced to judgment. As I said last time, there is, however, in secular culture and in all of the enjoyments of common grace, no redeeming value. It all burns. It all goes up in smoke. As marvelous as the creation is, there will be an uncreation of it all.
The whole thing is going out of existence, according to 2 Peter chapters 2 and 3. The Lord is going to come, and at the time of His coming, the elements – those would be the smallest components that make up matter – the elements will melt with fervent heat, and the uncreation will take place as the entire created universe disintegrates and goes completely out of existence and is replaced by a new heaven and a new earth, described for us in the book of Revelation.
As I also said last time, it is very clear as we study the line of Cain and the line of Seth that they belong to the first family. They are sons of Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve had another son, Abel, whom Cain killed. The first born was Cain, then came Abel. Cain kills Abel and later on, Seth is born. So we’re in the first family. We’re very early in human history. There is just that initial family in the early chapters of Genesis. But there is clearly no evolution.
There is no evolution on the physical side, there is no evolution on the social side, there is no evolution on the cultural side, there is no evolution on the religious side. There is no evolving upward at all. From the very beginning, man is fully capable at a level which, frankly, we wouldn’t even be able to comprehend at this time because since the original family, everything has gone down, not up. And we’re just reviewing what I told you last time.
The testimony of Scripture regarding this antediluvian civilization, this pre-flood culture – and by the way, it’s the only testimony we have about life on the planet before universal flood – the testimony of Scripture about that original family, about the original man, the original human family, is that man was created in God’s image. That he was astonishingly intelligent. That he was amazingly creative. That he was resourceful. That he was healthy to the degree that they lived for as long as 900 plus years.
That he was strong with a kind of physical strength, the likes of which we couldn’t even comprehend. That he was skilled because his mind was so beyond ours. And because over the period of centuries of life, he would gain an immense amount of knowledge and wisdom and refinement, you have this highly sophisticated culture in the world in which you can see here the development of cities. This is not caveman stuff.
They had, at the very outset, Cain is involved with his son in the building of a city. And then immediately, you come to Lamech, and Lamech’s two wives give him sons, one developing animal husbandry, another one developing the vast and almost singularly most dominating form of entertainment in our society, which brings such great comfort to man and always has, music. And then you have the very technical science of metallurgy. And all of that is developed in the first family.
You also can add to that the development of an agrarian society. Adam himself was a tiller of the ground. And in that pre-flood world, with a benign climate and no weather and no wind and no rain and no snow – and, therefore, no extreme heat or extreme cold – you had a flourishing earth, and they developed tremendous skill over the long periods of time in their lives. We learned all about that last time.
We also were reminded that even if people only had, let’s say, six or seven children, even though they lived over half a century, even though they lived to be eight or nine hundred years old, let’s take a conservative note and say they only had six or seven children. Over that period of time, the population of the world would have easily been between five and ten billion people. There weren’t any deserts in that time. There weren’t the stark kind of landscapes that come in after the devastation of the flood when, literally, the continents of the face of the earth are reshaped, and so there was high productivity. There was plenty for all in a flourishing kind of society.
It was an amazing time. It was an amazing world. Genius, developing all the skills of animal husbandry for the purposes of milk and meat and hide involved breeding and feeding and killing and skinning. And even though God didn’t authorize that until after the flood, in the ninth chapter and the third verse, God actually authorizes the eating of meat, the line of Cain wasn’t interested in what God authorized. They figured they would like to eat meat because they had already been exposed to the sacrifice of an animal, so they knew what a good steak smelled like.
And then came music, the sophisticated genius of developing music and tones and a scale, all of that. And then came metallurgy – mining, smelting. And I read to you (Job 28) how, even at the time of Job, God is talking about men going down into the depths of the earth, the belly of the earth, and turning over the mountains. They must have had a way to take explosives down to expose the source of metals. Brilliant family, made in God’s image in the pristine primacy of the pre-flood world, developed a very sophisticated culture, with cities and farms and ranches and business going on in the city, and science and entertainment.
But what is missing is the mention of God. This is secular society – admittedly, at its best – but it offers no redemption, and it is always ultimately destroyed. One of the things you do when you travel in Europe or when you travel in the Middle East is you go see ruins. And there are ruins and ruins and ruins and ruins. Why? Because the cycle of secular society is a cycle of birth and death. It’s a cycle of initiation and destruction. And that incredibly remarkable first society was destroyed with the exception of eight people in the universal flood.
And the whole world society, so sophisticated now – and we don’t have the intelligence that they had. We don’t have the physical stamina they had. We don’t have the strength they had. We don’t have the skill that first family had. But over the centuries, we’ve been able to sort of accumulate that by one man doing so much in his life and with his mind, and somebody taking that and building and building and building and building on top of that, benefiting from what was written in the past, building on that, we’ve been able to build an amazing world. But this, too, will go up in smoke. It won’t be drowned – only one flood. Next time, it’ll be consumed by fire. That’s secular culture.
Now, that brings us to the illustration of this culture, the man named Lamech. We already said that he had two wives. He married women from A to Z, and between the two of them, he was the first polygamist. That is the only comment, by the way, on their attitude toward God because while a lot hadn’t been revealed, one thing had been clearly revealed, and that is that God said one man for one woman for life. Genesis chapter 2 made that clear. So you see their indifference to God. Already they don’t pay attention, quote, to the Bible. Already, the Bible is a problem for Lamech. He really doesn’t care what God says.
He wants two, he wants Adah and Zillah. Remember I told you, they mean “pretty” and “sweet-voiced.” He picked his two regardless of what the principle of God’s revelation was. It tells us a little more about Lamech, and in telling us more about Lamech, it tells us a little more about the sophistication of that culture. I’m always interested to look at the typical representation of man in his first form, and you see these grunting Neanderthals.
And I want to take people back here and to tell them that if you look at the Bible in verse 23, you meet Lamech. And Lamech, please notice, says to his wives – and guess what this is – this is a poem. This is a poem. How about that? Does your Bible set it out in poetic fashion, apart from the typical way in which they set the type for the prose in your Bible? If you have an NAS, it does that because this is recognizable Hebrew poetry.
Now, Lamech didn’t speak Hebrew. We don’t know what the ancient language was. Nut recognizable to the writer of the Old Testament – the writer of the Pentateuch, Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – was that whatever that original language was, it was revealed to Moses, as the author, that it was poetic. And so Moses translates it or puts it into Hebrew poetry. The English translators understand it. It is poetry. The Hebrews, the Jews, used to call it “The Song of the Sword.” It introduces us to another human achievement in the first family: They had developed poetry.
Now, you may not think poetry is that good, but that’s because you and I don’t write good poetry – or your old aunt writes poetry and gives it to you and it’s not that good. But let me tell you something. The most refined craft in language is poetry. Real poetry is the highest level of language. Lamech was not a grunting Neanderthal. Here he is in this first family, and he is a poet. Poetry is a very sophisticated form of language.
Let me tell you about poetry – and I love poetry, and I used to write a lot of poetry. I don’t have time to write it anymore. I wish I did. But poetry has some essentials. I’m going to give you a little lesson here in the fine art of poetry. Poetry that is true poetry – now, people are passing off poetry today that isn’t really poetry. Poetry has some components. The first one is rhythm. What is rhythm? Well, rhythm is rise and fall, rise and fall, rise and fall. That’s rhythm. And poetry that is real poetry has rise and fall.
Poetry also has consonance. Now, you don’t perhaps know what that word means, but you’ll understand it when I say it. Consonance means similar sounds at the ends of words and phrases. Isn’t that what poetry does? If you’re ever writing poetry, you’re always trying to find a word that’ll rhyme at the end with the word that you want to match it up with. That’s consonance. That is very sophisticated language, to come up with rise and fall – we call it meter in poetry – so that there is a rise and fall and then to come up with consonance, which means you have sequential ending sounds that match.
Thirdly, poetry has parallelisms; that is, it has not just one line but it has matching lines that are parallel. They can be parallel in rhythm, they can be parallel in consonance, but they are parallel. Poetry has strophes and what we mean by strophes is verses. You see poetry, you see a verse and then a verse. Hymns are poetry. And poetry has elevation. What do I mean by that? The use of rare words. Good poetry uses rare words, so that it is highly intelligent language. All of the sophisticated elements of language come together in poetry.
The ability to take the language and shape it into rhythm and consonance and parallelisms and strophes and the use of rare words that lifts it to a highly intelligent level, that is a great challenge. Listen, great poetry is the absolute epitome of the use of language. And Lamech was a poet. No gorilla ever wrote a poem. This is man in God’s image.
Now, the words of Lamech here fit the demands of poetry. So this is a very sophisticated society. Urbanized, socialized, aggrandized, galvanized – by its metallurgy, musically mesmerized – and I ran out of them. There’s no such word as “poecized,” but you get the picture. This is a man of the Golden Age. This is the real Golden Age. The genius of all geniuses. This is man in the image of God. Even fallen, he is remarkable. He lives over 900 years, and he develops all of these things to a sophisticated level. But he’s wicked, proud, arrogant, insensitive, vengeful, and murderous. He is the genius civilized savage.
We see it today, don’t we? Here we have built on top of generations and generations, we’ve reached a great sophisticated level in terms of technology, education, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, and just move your finger around, stick it anywhere on a globe, and somebody’s killing somebody. Or some group is killing some other group.
Some of the most sophisticated people in the world live in the Middle East. Sophisticated in education, sophisticated in science, sophisticated in technology, and all that technology is used to try to obliterate each other from the face of the planet. That’s the problem with secular culture. That’s the problem with the line of Cain. That’s the zeitgeist, that’s the spirit of the age.
This man is the first published poet. He’s the genius father of the greatest minds in the world. He must have had a tremendous genetic framework to pass on to his sons – I mean because they invented things like animal husbandry, music, and metallurgy. But he is arrogant. His braggadocio is disgusting. His mind is vicious. He delights in vengeance and slaughter. This is secular man. And it’s still secular man.
Need I remind you of Romans 3? “There is none righteous, no, not one. None who understand, none who seeks after God. They’ve all turned aside. Together they have become useless, none that does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave. With their tongues they keep deceiving. The poison of asps is under their lips, whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their path, and the path of peace have they not known. And there is no fear of God before their eyes.” That’s the educated savage, isn’t it? Nothing new under the sun. Absolutely nothing new.
The line of Cain is a line of cultured killers. And Lamech is a good illustration. His poem, by the way, is full of parallelisms and there’s even rhythm here as he uses some of those things that are essential to poetry. Here’s his poem. And actually, the first line is part of the poem. “And Lamech said to his wives, ‘Adah and Zillah, listen to my voice, you wives of Lamech, give heed to my speech.’” You see the parallelism? “‘Listen to my voice, give heed to my speech. For I have killed a man for wounding me and a boy for striking me.’” There is a second parallelism. And there is the third. “‘If Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech, seventy-sevenfold.’”
It’s a series of parallelisms. It may have been his way of bragging to his wives. You know, husbands like to do that. And it was a wicked world. Look at chapter 6 for a moment. As people began to multiply on the earth, verse 1, people began to multiply on the earth. Go down to verse 5. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth. Every intent or imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. So what you have in that pre-flood society is wickedness – wickedness pervading everything.
And what would that wickedness do? How would that wickedness manifest itself? It would manifest itself the same way it does today. And one of the ways it would manifest itself would be in the rape and plunder of women, as well as robbery, so that there was a security problem in that ancient world because wicked people do wicked things. And if a man’s mouth is an open grave, and if his feet are swift to shed blood in order to plunder what he wants to plunder, be it goods or be it women, if a man wants to kill, then you have to have protection.
And so it would be normal for these wives to say, “Are we safe?” and “Do we have to worry about these kinds of things?” And so in his braggadocio, Lamech says to his wives, “Listen to me, I’m telling you, I have killed a man for wounding me, and a boy for striking me. If Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”
“You have nothing to worry about,” he is saying, “ladies, because I have the power to kill and I have done it and I have shown you that I have done it. And if in the event that I can’t do it, if God would come to the vengeance of Cain sevenfold if anybody kills him” (as it says earlier) “then God will come to my vengeance seventy-sevenfold because I am at least ten times greater than Cain.” He was bragging to his wives.
The components of this poem are quite interesting. Apart from the parallelisms, drop down to the main thrust. For I have killed a man for wounding me and a boy for striking me. The parallel: a man for wounding me, a boy for striking me. The wound and strike are two words that indicate something not fatal and not even particularly devastating. They are words that would be used to describe a minor attack. And he brags, “I have killed for just being touched or wounded lightly. I don’t take any guff from anybody.”
In this first civilization, there’s no reason to assume that there was any form of government. It was still patriarchal, and a man ruled over his own domain and developed his own sense of protection. And he is simply saying, “Look, anybody comes near and touches me, I’ll kill him.” This is the first great macho speech.
And by the way, “I have killed a man for wounding me,” further defined “a boy for striking me,” that’s a very accurate translation. Some have put “lad” in there or something else because they thought “boy” didn’t work. “Boy” works. It’s in the original, the truest translation of the Hebrew. “A man who wounded me – in fact, a boy.” What does it mean, “a boy”? The term here, translated “boy,” is best understood as boy. It’s yeled, and it is used, for example, in 1 Kings 12 – I think it’s in verse 8 – as the word that describes soldiers, warriors, and military officers.
In ancient times, it was in that prime of youth that the boys became soldiers. And listen to this: You can believe that they were strong in their youth because they lived so long. And he’s giving us an insight here in that the fact that they lived 900 years didn’t mean they didn’t get to puberty until they were 240. They got to puberty early, and they were young soldiers, young warriors.
There’s a wonderful study done by Gevirtz, Jewish scholar, in which he deals with this word. And he reminds us that Alexander the Great, though he was particularly of a scholarly bent, interestingly enough, and reluctant to follow the military career of his father Philip of Macedon, was nevertheless in command of the cavalry at the Battle of Chaeronea at the age of 18. At 19, his father died, you remember, and he conquered all of Macedonia and Greece, and at 20, he invaded Asia. Hannibal, it is said, started his career as a soldier at the age of nine.
Gevirtz goes on to say in his study that since the heroes of legend or warriors of the heroic age were frequently unmarried or married but for a short time, we have records to indicate they had not yet married or they had just recently married when they became these great heroes of legend. History would tell us, then, that these heroes were in their early teens, sometimes even younger.
There is evidence of marriage among the teenage years. I told you that even at the time of Christ, it’s very likely that Joseph and Mary were 13, 14 years old when they married. Rabbinic law forbids parents to give their children in marriage before the age of puberty but urges them to do so as soon as that stage is reached, for very obvious reasons. The Assyrian laws permitted marriage as early as the tenth year.
And there are lots of indications of teenage marriage furnished by the Old Testament. For example, in 2 Kings 21:19, it is said that Amon was 22 years old when he began to reign, and that he reigned for two years. At the end of that time, at age 24, he was assassinated. The rebellion having been quelled, his son, Josiah, was set on the throne. This son was eight years old when he began to rule, a fact which indicates that Amon, his father, was 16 years of age at the time of Josiah’s birth.
A man was a man when he was a teenager, and Josiah followed the same pattern. If you follow the numbers in 2 Kings 22, you’ll find Josiah was 16 years old when he gave birth to Jehoahaz, which means that he must have married no later than his fifteenth year.
So the word “boy” is the right word. He’s talking about a warrior here. He’s talking about a young, strong, virile warrior. And he’s saying, “I am such a strong man that I, when that warrior, for whatever reason wounded me, I killed him.”
And then his boast reaches its final parallelism in verse 24. If Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech, seventy-sevenfold. What egotism. If God would avenge anybody who would strike Cain with a sevenfold vengeance – and that is exactly what it says in verse 15. “The Lord said to Cain, ‘Whoever kills Cain, vengeance is going to be taken sevenfold.’”
If God would come to take vengeance on someone who harms Cain and give him a sevenfold vengeance, then you can believe he’d give me a seventy-sevenfold vengeance. I mean he’s a proud man. Vicious. So he chose his proud poem to state his pride as the great protector of all that was his. He celebrated his murder, his act of vicious vengeance, as a badge of honor.
Well, so much for the story of secular culture, the civilized savage. The whole line, whoever was of this line was alive when the flood came, they all drowned. There isn’t anybody alive in human history after the flood who descends from Cain. Nobody here tonight is a Cainite. You are all Sethites because Noah was in the line of Seth and so were his sons, and that line followed. The assumption can be, too, that their wives were as well. This is what Jude calls the way of Cain. But even though they were all drowned, the way of Cain came back, didn’t it?
Secular culture. Civilized, yes. Accomplished in agrarian crafts, urbanized, industrialized, tremendous artists, poets, musicians, and having the marvelous command of all the resources of the planet as well as the human body achieving immense prowess physically, reaching the heights of linguistic capability, man is still a vicious, immoral, would-be killer who lifts himself up above God. And God once drowned the world and next time, He’ll burn it up, according to 2 Peter chapter 3.
Let’s look at, secondly, Seth and sacred culture, just two verses. “And Adam had relations with his wife again and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, for, she said, ‘God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.’ And to Seth, to him also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh.” Here’s the key. “Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.” Here’s the first mention of sacred culture. Doesn’t tell us anything about the accomplishments of Seth or his line.
Doesn’t even tell us anything about their accomplishments when the full line of Seth is given us in the fifth chapter. The line of Seth is laid out in the fifth chapter. What it does highlight is Enoch, who was so righteous he walked one day right up into heaven and never died. It does tell us about Noah, who was righteous, and therefore, verse 8 of chapter 6 says, “found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” It tells us as well that his sons worshiped the true God and thus were spared the judgment.
So there’s nothing about human accomplishments in the line of Seth. But we are introduced to worship. Adam had relations with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son. Now, we cannot say that these are the only children born to Adam and Eve, but these are the ones that are traced for us. The lineage is traced for us because it’s important. Why is it important? Because the Sethites are preserved through Noah and, therefore, through Seth, through Noah, and on down comes the Messiah, who is the fulfillment of the promise of Genesis 3:15. So we’re learning about this wonderful line of promised blessing and salvation.
And by the way, Adam lived 930 years, and Adam most likely died in the tenth generation through Seth, which would have been just before the birth of Noah. In fact, it appears as if Noah was the first person born after the death of Adam. So there was Adam. What an interesting life. From the perfect, innocence in the garden, ten generations into human history, to see the whole corruption of the planet. Billions of people, all wicked except eight of them.
You ever wonder what he must have thought? And he had heard a promise from God that there would be a seed of the woman, who would come and bruise the serpent’s head and destroy the enemy who had destroyed paradise. And that there was hope in his heart that paradise would be regained. And remember, Adam and Eve were God’s people. They believed in the true and living God, they believed in His Word, they repented of their sin, they had been forgiven by God. The end of Genesis 3 makes that all very clear.
And they were waiting for God to fulfill His promise, and they had those three sons, and they had some daughters who at first provided wives for those sons, and then they had more. It tells us in chapter 5, verse 4, that he had other sons and daughters. So we’re not saying that this is the only children that were born in this sequence, but the first two were Cain and Abel, and then came Seth. There may have been others, but the choice was Seth.
And here was Adam, living through all of this. He saw his son, Cain, kill his brother, Abel. He saw Cain go out of the presence of God into the land of Nod, which is the land of wandering, east of Eden. He saw Cain develop a secular culture. He saw his relative, Lamech, break the divine pattern of marriage by being a bigamist. He saw the corruption of the whole world as the world began to grow and develop. He saw it all. How he must have suffered sorrow over the increasing evil. How he must have said, “Oh, oh, why did we ever do what we did in the garden when we ate the fruit?”
How he must have wondered when the promised Deliverer was going to come. And He didn’t come in his lifetime. Things got worse and worse and worse and worse. But I think with each child, there may have been that hope. But the hope seems somewhat diminished in the birth of Seth. Go back to verse 25. “He knew” – in the Hebrew, a euphemism for sexual relationships. “He knew his wife again. She gave birth to a son and named him Seth,” which means offspring, seed. And a derivation, it means appointed or substituted. “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel.”
That fits his name. “Offspring” is what it means. And it also derives to mean “appointed.” So “God has given me an appointed offspring. God has given me a Seth – a Seth – a chosen offspring – in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.” And maybe she sees a new start for humanity. Abel’s gone. And he was righteous. He offered God an acceptable sacrifice, and God saw his heart was true as well as his act. But he was dead. And Cain was wicked and all that came out of him.
And maybe she saw in this son a new start for humanity. This is another seed. Maybe this is the hope of the righteous line. Maybe, maybe, maybe this is the One who will bruise the serpent’s head. She said, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.” You notice what’s missing here? Joy. There’s no joy here. All she can think about – she names all three of her sons here. The word “Cain” must have struck sadness in her heart, the word “Abel” must have driven a spear through her heart. This is sorrowful. It’s sort of a lingering hope. It’s maybe a very thin hope.
And there’s real meekness here, and there’s – I guess you could say modest joy would be a way to describe it. I mean compared to the first two sons, Cain and Abel, when there was, I suppose, nothing short of rejoicing, where she says, verse 1, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.” The same thing when Abel came. But now there’s that pervasive sadness. The heart carries a deep wound, a deep sorrow over Abel’s murder, Cain’s apostasy, and the whole world’s wicked corruption that had already begun to develop.
And we don’t know how long after Cain and Abel Seth came – long enough for Cain to have manifested his character. As I told you, here, these are not sequential. Seth and Cain lived at the same time.
There’s another little note here that I would mention to you. “God has appointed me another offspring.” She does something quite interesting. She refers to God as Elohim, not Jehovah, and there’s a reason for that. Cassuto, the great Hebrew scholar, writes, “In the former instance, she mentioned the name of the Lord with a tetragrammaton” – Yahweh or Jehovah. Cassuto says Jehovah signifies the godhead in His personal aspect and direct relationship to His creatures.
But now, in the hour of her mourning, it seems as if God is far removed from her in the supernal heights of heaven, as the supernatural creator of nature, as that transcendental power denoted by the name, Elohim. It was Elohim who created; it was Jehovah who was the intimate, personal God of covenant. Maybe she’s lost a bit of that hope and God is now feeling far away. He is Elohim again.
But God isn’t really far away. It may have seemed like that because verse 26 says Seth had a son, too. He married another of the daughters of Adam and Eve, as Cain had done, and his son, he called Enosh. You know what that word means? It’s a synonym for Adam, it means man – man. And here’s the key. “Then men began to call on the name of the Lord.” Something wonderful happened in the life of Seth, something that he obviously passed on to his son, Enosh. A spiritual revival took place.
Adam and Eve worshiped the true God, and there at least was one other true worshiper, but he didn’t last long – that was Abel. He was killed. But with the line of Seth, it’s something brand new. There’s a new stream of people. And in that inaugural, new stream of people, there’s a critical, distinctive comment made, and it is this: “Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.” Spiritual revival starts with Seth and goes through Enosh. And we don’t know how many in the Seth line were touched by it, but we come down in chapter 5 to Enoch.
Perhaps we can assume his father was a godly man because Enoch was certainly a godly man. Verse 22, he walked with God three hundred years after he had become the father of Methuselah. And he walked with God for a total of 365 years. And I love this – verse 24 – he walked with God and he was not, for God took him. He took a walk with God one day and walked right into heaven. Only through the family of Seth did the sacred become important.
By the way, at the end of verse 26, “Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord” is the oldest reference to worship of Jehovah. And I say this – please, there is no evolution of religion. Man didn’t start out with some primitive religion and evolve to a higher, sophisticated form of religion. Man started with the true, pure worship of the one true living God.
Look, those people knew who was God. They knew who God was. Why? Because Adam was around. And Adam knew who He was. Adam had walked and talked with Him in the cool of the day. There wasn’t any false gods – system of false gods. Everybody knew who the true God was. You’re just in the first family here. There’s no evolution of religion upward. You read Romans 1, the evolution of religion is downward. When they knew the true God, they glorified Him not as God, became foolish in their understanding and started to make idols.
The first worshiper ever on the planet was a worshiper of the true and living God. And the first society of worshipers worshiped the true and living God. And it all went down from there. They knew who the true and living God was, and they passed it on, and they passed it on. And Noah took it and told it to his sons. And after they came out of the ark, they spread it, and they spread it, and they spread it.
And eventually, God called Abraham and gave him the message of the true and living God, and out of him came a people, Israel, and God spoke to them. And it kept going and kept going, and as it progressed, Satan began to invent false religion to deceive the nations. But the first worship was the worship of the true and living God.
By the way, it says at the end of verse 26, “Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.” Not Elohim, Yahweh. Not just the Creator, personal Lord, covenant God. Cain couldn’t teach his family to know the Lord, couldn’t teach his family to love the Lord, couldn’t teach his family to love to worship the Lord – didn’t know Him, went out of His presence, rejected Him, rebelled against Him. But Seth was different.
What does “to call upon” mean? What does it mean, “they began to call upon”? It’s a very general Hebrew term. It can mean to pray to, it can mean to proclaim, it can mean to name. And I think it means all of that. They began to worship, that’s what it means, through praying, proclaiming, praising. Just what we do. When we say we’re going to worship the Lord, does that mean praying to Him? Does that mean proclaiming His glory? Of course.
And the name of the Lord simply means who He is. His name is who He is. His name is the sum of who He is. So they began to worship, in the general sense, the God who is – His attributes, His purposes, His will. God was known to them as the Creator. He was known to them as the forgiver of sin. He was known to them as the God who would provide the promised conqueror of Satan. He was known to them as the God who would cover their shame because it was God who slew the first animal and covered Adam and Eve.
God was known as the Creator, but He was also known as the Lord of grace, and the Lord of forgiveness, and the Lord of mercy, and the Lord of promise. God, by now, was known as a savior of sinners. They were already involved in sacrifices that pictured the one, true sacrifice, Jesus Christ.
Now, worship was not invented by Seth and his family. It was begun by Adam and Eve. It was participated in by Abel. But in the line of Cain, it vanished. It was Seth that God used to restore worship. And that’s why – look at Luke 3, and we’ll close. That’s why in Luke 3:38 – well, you have, actually, in Luke 3, the genealogy of Jesus. Starting in verse 23, “Jesus, son of Joseph, Heli” – or Eli, – “son of Matthat, son of Levi,” and it goes all the way down, all the way down to verse 38 – all the way back, all the way back – verse 38, “the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.”
So there’s the genealogy of Christ. God, Adam, Seth, Enosh, right on down to Jesus. Isn’t that wonderful? And Noah is in that line. He has to be in that line. He is part of the family of Messiah, and God brought the Messiah through that line. Noah’s in verse 36, and one of the sons of Noah – which son is in the line? Shem.
Not all of the Sethites were faithful but some were. Some no doubt died before the flood because by the time you get to the flood, only eight remained. I guess that would convince us that it’s a narrow gate, wouldn’t it? Even then. Well, enough.
In the midst of secular and unbelieving culture, with all its advancements materially, there’s no redeeming value to it, and it’s going to burn up. But against that culture, God has placed His people, His remnant, the true, believing family of God. In the midst of advancing sin in sophisticated culture, there are those true, pure worshipers of Jehovah, the personal, covenant, Savior God. And what is our responsibility? To worship Him, to preserve His name, and to proclaim His gospel, right? That’s our calling.
Father, again thank you for the wonderful evening we’ve shared and for clarifying again for us the distinctiveness with which we live in this world. Use us for your glory to bring redeeming truth to a doomed world. And we’ll praise you in Christ’s name. Amen.
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