Our world today has many ways of dividing people: race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, age, nationality, language, religion. The list could go on and on. We’re big on labeling and separating. God’s view is simpler. He puts mankind in only two categories: those who choose to walk with Him and those who don’t.
Genesis 4:17-6:8 gives us side-by-side snapshots of these two groups. First up is the line of Cain—the man who ignored God’s call to turn from sin and instead, murdered his brother. His family multiplies until six generations later we meet Lamech. Lamech’s a fun guy. He’s the first of mankind to take two wives instead of one as God had directed in the garden. He also seems to enjoy tormenting those wives. Here’s a sample of a song he wrote for them:
“. . . wives of Lamech, hear my words. 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.”
In six generations, the attitude toward murder in those who chose not to walk with God has gone from indifference and blame-shifting (Cain) to intimidation and boasting (Lamech).
All hope for mankind is not lost though. The second snapshot shows us the line of Seth, the son of Adam who was born to replace Cain’s murdered brother Abel. Soon after Seth had his first son, “people began to call on the name of the Lord.”
Seventh from Adam in the line of Seth, we find Enoch, a direct contrast to Lamech. We are told twice that “Enoch walked faithfully with God.” We’re not talking short-term faith here. For 300 years Enoch lived a life of faith. Hebrews 11:5-6 expands on his faith.
“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: ‘He could not be found, because God had taken him away.’ For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Enoch’s contemporaries did not fear him as a man of murder. Instead, they praised him as a man who pleased God. Because of the way he’d lived his life, when he didn’t show up for supper one night, the general consensus was “God has taken him away.”
I’ve often wondered what that was like. Did God take him in a chariot of fire as he did Elijah or were he and God simply walking together one evening and God just walked him home? What I know for certain is Enoch was a man of faith. When he sought God, he was rewarded with the presence of God fully and completely in his life.
The state of mankind without God is ugly:
“The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.”Genesis 6:5-6
But because men like Seth and Enoch and Noah chose to walk with God there was hope. Generations later in their family line a Savior was born. Unlike Lamech, this was His response to those who had wronged Him:
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’”Matthew 18:21-22
Instead of vengeance, God chooses mercy. We have only to call upon His name.