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Wayward Civilization

Enoch was born as the “seventh from Adam” (Jude 14) through the appointed seed of Seth (Genesis 4:25). However, there was another “seventh from Adam”. This man descended through the rejected line of Cain and his name was Lamech (Genesis 4:17-18). And, whereas Enoch walked with God and was not for God took him (Genesis 5:24), Lamech has the distinction of being the first recorded bigamist (Genesis 5:19) and the second recorded murderer (Genesis 5:23-24). In addition, whereas Enoch fathered Methuselah—the man with the oldest recorded human lifespan and the one whose death marked the coming of the flood; Lamech fathered three sons who became the founders of human civilization—in context, not necessarily a high honor. 

Lamech’s three sons were named Jabal, Jubal and Tubal-cain. Jabal (5:20) lived the life of a nomad by dwelling in tents and keeping cattle. The significance of what he did is not to be found in the domestication of animals since Abel kept sheep much earlier (Genesis 4:2). Therefore, his contribution must be found in having herds so large that he had to travel far for pasture and in his inventing of tents as portable dwelling places (they already had cities—Genesis 4:17). This made possible the first requirement for civilization—the accumulation of wealth.  

Jubal (5:21) founded the musical profession through his introduction of the harp (string instruments) and the organ (wind instruments). He represents the pursuit of leisure which is made possible by the accumulation of wealth. Tubal-cain taught a guild of metalworkers (5:22). As a craftsman, he represents the specialization of labor which leads to an abundance of cheap goods for all and an opportunity for increased income and social status for the lower classes. These three conditions—accumulation of wealth, pursuit of leisure and specialization of labor—set the stage for the development of civilization. 

Why did the descendents of Cain and not of Seth establish the first civilization? Is it wrong to be civilized? Well, no. Many of the saints throughout scripture have certainly used their civilization to better do God's work. However, though civilization is not evil in and of itself, it consistently leads man to wickedness. Wealth and leisure lead to laziness and sin.

Even Sodom’s sins began with “pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness” (Ezekiel 16:49). Amos rightfully declared, “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion” (6:1). Because of their comfort, the Israelites “put far away the evil day” (v.3) and did not recognize that judgment was near. They spent their days lying “upon beds of ivory” (v.4), chanting “to the sound of the viol” (v.5), drinking “wine in bowls” (v.6) and anointing themselves “with the chief ointments” (v.6) instead of grieving for the affliction of their people (v.6). 

We are not commanded to totally remove ourselves from society, “for then must ye needs go out of the world” (1Corinthians 5:9-10). However, we are warned against loving the world (1John 2:15) or conforming ourselves to it (Romans 12:2). We are commanded to “come out from among them, and be ye separate” (2Corinthians 6:17). We are reminded that “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). The message is clear. We are to stand apart from the wickedness of this world and refuse to follow the crowd. We must refuse to allow our lives to be absorbed by the culture of our world. We must go to Christ “without the camp” (Hebrews 13:13) and refuse to “dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10). Why should we seek the comfort and safety of this world’s tents when we can better please our God by sleeping in the open fields (2Samuel 11:11) under the divinely created stars?