Genesis 4:16-24 Building a prosperous future by restoring spirituality in our church, family and nation
Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. 17 Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son. 18 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. 19 Lamech took to himself two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah. 20 Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. 22 As for Zillah, she also gave birth to Tubal-cain, the forger of all implements of bronze and iron; and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.
23 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;
24 If Cain is avenged sevenfold,
Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”
Cain, having committed the first murder is estranged from his family. He settles in a place east of Eden and begins an empire based on a humanistic culture, a derivative of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Cain’s lineage contributes to advances in the arts and sciences. However, running parallel to these advancements is the progressive hardening of the heart towards sin and violence. And God resolves to see to man’s destruction through a flood some generations later. In today’s devotion, we learn that education and technology without spirituality leads to utter destruction. By restoring spirituality in our church, family and nation, we build an enduring prosperity for future generations.
Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and proceeds to build a humanistic culture, a phenomenon arising from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Cain builds a city to honour his son Enoch instead of honouring God. Cain symbolises the beginning of a godless culture characterised by advances in technology in parallel with the progressive hardening of man’s heart.
Lamech took to himself two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah.
Listed here is the lineage of the ungodly; beginning with Cain and the godly; beginning with Seth (who comes after Abel):
Adam – Cain – Enoch – Irad – Mehujael – Methushael – Lamech
Adam – Seth – Enosh – Kenan – Mehalalel – Jared – Enoch
Note, the seventh generation descending from Cain and Seth respectively are Lamech and Enoch. Careful observation of the two individuals reveals a stark contrast – the ungodly Lamech who inflicts death, and the godly Enoch who never dies. In Lamech, we observe a hardening of sin leading to polygamy, an abandonment of God’s marital principle. Nevertheless, Lamech’s lineage is instrumental to the advancement of the arts and sciences with his sons founding the first cities, the arts and metallurgy. Lamech is symbolic to the rise of civilisation, a humanistic culture, but no god.
For I have killed a man for wounding me;
And a boy for striking me.
Lamech’s song glorifies violence and oppression of the weak. In his song of revenge, we see Cain’s descendants embracing greater vindictiveness than Cain himself. Cain, although an ungodly man has a decent fear of God, but Lamech is impudently rebellious and godless. Seventy-sevenfold represents unlimited violence. Cain’s reputation for violence is now dwarfed by his descendant’s propensity for unlimited violence.
Education and human advancement without Spirituality leads to destruction.
The moral condition of Cain’s descendants is rapidly deteriorating despite advancement in the discipline of the arts and sciences. Predominantly driven by the desire to advance the humanistic culture and for self-rule, they create for themselves an unstoppable path towards destruction. As we know it, the earth sees its inhabitants wiped out some generations later save Noah and his family. The fact is education and technology alone does not lead to abundant living. It is the depravity of the human heart that is the root of all evil today; not education or the lack of it.
The church today is fast losing the next generation to the pursuit of worldly goals and advancement. Their children are taught to prioritise their education above their spirituality. Parents push their children to finish their school homework, but rarely to read the bible. By doing so, parents have unwittingly supplanted God’s position in the hearts of their children. No wonder, the thing their children ever care and think about is their studies. Neither the parents nor their children have the time to read the bible, to seek out the poor and to help them. The church has for too long been overrun by worldly pursuits on the pretext of spiritual blessing. A humanistic culture has supplanted the spirituality of the church. Here are their respective distinctive:
Distinctive of a humanistic culture:
- An pragmatic excessive dependence on self.
- An excessive preoccupation with one’s mental development and capabilities that can contribute to one’s rise on the social ladder.
- A rational-centred mindset. Convictions are based on one’s rational composed from a melting pot of personal experiences, popular culture and principles from the bible. In other words, the bible is reduced to being just one of the contributing factors towards man’s fundamental conviction.
- An incessant anxiety concerning one’s future.
- He is acquainted with the supernatural, but does not see its relevance to his present circumstances. Hence, he prefers the tried and tested ways of doing things.
- His ambitions and future plans are predominantly influenced by the world’s culture. He depends mostly on his own rational when deliberating matters that concerns ethics, marriage and migration etc.
- He holds a shallow view of social courses. Apart from giving money, he has no time to be personally involved, to touch lives and serve with his hands. Because he is called only to contribute financially, he leaves the rigorous part to the people whom he thinks are “called” to do it.
Distinctive of a spiritual culture:
- An implicit dependence on God for all of one’s endeavours.
- A focus on the sanctification of the whole person towards the likeness of Christ; His virtues, wisdom and courage.
- A word-centred mindset that places absolute authority on God’s word. His decisions and confidence are founded on God’s promises and wisdom. Hence, he believes not what he sees or hear, but what the bible says. God’s word becomes the only authority to all of his decisions and desires.
- He lives one day at a time, being at peace that God will take care of tomorrow.
- He believes in the supernatural God and life is filled with supernatural things. He tests and pushes the “boundaries” of the supernatural in the physical world.
- He waits upon God concerning major matters of life; migration, career change and marriage etc. The bible holds sway over his conviction regarding controversial issues of ethics and other social concerns.
- Concern for the plight of the marginalised has become a constant preoccupation. His life vision is not to work and accumulate wealth, but to see to their salvation and the alleviation of poverty.
What do we fear in the next generation? Humanistic churchgoers committed to christian practices but emptied of the spirituality of Christ. Such is the condition in the western countries where people are leaving the church in droves because they cannot find the Spirit there. If we do not want to see generations of painstaking work wiped out in a decade by sin and lawlessness. We must realise that education without spirituality reverses our nation to the days of extreme poverty and struggle. Singapore’s Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, in his National Day Rally speech talks about his wishes for Singapore. When asked if he is granted three wishes from God, what will he have? Mr. Lee says he will not wish for more material wealth because that will not satisfy. However, he desires for the people to possess a divine discontent, to strive to do better in all their endeavours. Secondly, he desires a people who will always count their blessings and be thankful for all that they possess. As for the third wish, there is no necessity as the two wishes will more than suffice.
It is for the purpose of abundant living that man is made in the image of Christ. Hence, all human advancements must contribute to the pursuit of spirituality in the church, family and nation. Therefore, for the sake of our future generations, believers must repent and turn our focus back to what it means to be truly human; which is to be conformed to the image of Christ: to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly before God. The apostle Paul says,
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:29
What differentiates you and your children from the unbelievers apart from the routine of attending church services? Perhaps it is time to make concrete changes to your life goals, lifestyle and your source of hope and dependence. If the bible is your source of hope and wisdom, put absolute trust in God by discovering what the word says concerning your life and your future.
Dear Lord, I thank you for the progress that you have brought to my life, my children and my nation. I desire for us to be a rich nation, but more so rich in the virtues of Christ; to lift up the weak and the marginalised. Use me, my family and my nation to be a source of help and inspiration to other nations. Use us to perpetuate the culture of spirituality; of justice, mercy and humility in my nation and beyond. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.