I went to a small consolidated school system in central Indiana. My house was surrounded by cornfields on every side. My future husband lived five miles east in a tiny, no-stoplight town where “good” families lived on the north side of four-lane US 40 and “bad” families lived on the south side of town.
In elementary school, everyone knew which families came from the “wrong” side of the highway, and for the most part, they played with each other at recess. Those on the “right” side of the highway mingled with the farm kids and others from the rest of the community. By the time we merged with another elementary school for junior high, it was those wrong-side-of-town kids who’d already dabbled in the 70’s dark side of sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll.
Was it nature or nurture that contributed to those kids’ delinquency? Well, I’m not a sociologist, so I’m not educated or experienced enough to make any grand pronouncements. But I’ve discovered a story from Scripture that helps me understand that human condition a little bit better.
The Next Step For Cain
In last week’s story, Cain killed his brother Abel and refused God’s attempts to teach him and bring him into a deeper relationship. So the Lord, like any good Father, disciplines His child by sending him into the land of Nod (wandering).
“But the Lord said to him, ‘…anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.’ Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” Genesis 4:15-16
Immediately after that, we learn that Cain has a wife and she conceives, giving birth to Enoch. The next two verses tell us of consecutive generations of Cain to the seventh descendant from Adam: Lamech.
“Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah. Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock.” Genesis 4:19-20
Interesting, isn’t it? Considering the brother Cain killed raised livestock. Hmmmm. Lamech was an all-round jerk. Yep. Bad news. THE WORST of the worst…
“Lamech said to his wives…I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.” Genesis 4:23-24
Nature or Nurture
Though this seems a great case for “nature” on the multiplication of evil through generations, I think that last statement from Lamech stops that argument in its tracks. Lamech knew about Cain’s mark. He knew God had promised to avenge Cain if anyone tried to kill him. Bottom line? He knew of God’s mercy and chose to use it for his selfish gain rather than bow before his Creator in awe. That points to BOTH nature and nurture in my estimation of generational sin in Cain’s descendants.
A New Start For Good
Following this story of Cain’s evil descendants—and the sinner-of- sinners, Lamech—Scripture tells us what happened to Adam and Eve after Cain left their midst.
“Adam made love to 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.’ Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.” Genesis 4:25-26 (emphasis added)
Notice that when Seth was born, “people” (plural) began calling on the name of the Lord. It became a community event. Whether Adam and Eve had other children before or there were people created besides Adam and Eve—after Seth, it became common in Seth’s lineage to call on the name of the Lord. This became a “good” family heritage.
Genesis 5:1-24 is devoted to listing Seth and his descendants; their long lives, their sons and daughters, and occasional extra information. Scripture gives us the same number of Seth’s generations that it did for Cain’s generations—seven—so we can compare apples-to-apples. Cain’s bad apple to Seth’s good apple, Enoch. Here’s a little chart of the sons of:
Here’s what God’s Word tells us about Adam’s seventh-generation good apple, Enoch:
“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” Genesis 5:21-24
Though today isn’t a podcast post, let’s use the podcast format to examine these few verses.
What is this REAL PERSON doing?
- He became the father of Methuselah.
- Enoch walked faithfully with God for 365 years – that’s a LONG time!
What is our REAL GOD doing?
- Remember Methuselah…the oldest man recorded in the Bible? What parent doesn’t want his child to be blessed with a long and prosperous life? I believe God did that for His precious child, Enoch, Methuselah’s father.
- “God took him away,” means Enoch didn’t die. He’s one of only two men in Scripture that God “takes away” without experiencing death. Elijah was the other (who was taken away in a chariot of fire—2 Kings 2:11).
What Is God Doing from Adam to Noah?
God is faithful to the faithful and continues to pour out mercy to the unfaithful. Through every generation, we see more of God revealing Himself and making repeated attempts to establish relationship with those He’s created.
I hope you’ll join Lyndsey and me for the podcast and notes next week, when we explore what happens when even Seth’s line becomes corrupted by Cain’s line, and Noah becomes the lone righteous man on earth.