Lamech might be the O.G. of the Bible. Dude was so bad he had to explain his badness in the third person. And you know people are bad when they refer to themselves in the third person. And so when the gangsters emerge, people start to call upon the name of the Lord.
23 Lamech said to his wives,
“Adah and Zillah, listen to me;
wives of Lamech, hear my words.
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for injuring me.
24 If Cain is avenged seven times,
then Lamech seventy-seven times.”
25 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.” 26 Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh.
At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.
This is one of the most intriguing sentences in all of Scripture: “At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.” It isn’t surprising to me that people would ever call upon the name of the Lord. God is our source of strength and an ever-present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).
The intriguing aspect for me is the timing of this sentence in the story of creation. In fact, this statement is an ending of the first four chapters of Genesis. Chapter 5 is the genealogy from Adam to Noah, and chapter 6 is the beginning of the story of the destruction of the world through the flood. So the end of chapter 4 is the end of the time of creation and establishment of people and families on earth.
Cain has killed Abel, and so Adam and Eve produce another son, Seth, to replace Abel. Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters after Seth (Genesis 5:4 indicates), and the wives of Cain, Abel, and Seth would have been sisters or cousins. Cain’s line of the family tree shows the darker side of humanity five generations later as Lamech goes about as gangster as we have seen thus far in the Bible.
My friend, Daniel, figures he is the O.G. The original gangsta of all time… maybe.
Lamech knows the story of Cain, including God’s promise that if anyone touches Cain, God will avenge Cain seven times. Lamech, however, re-interprets the risk of vengeance in personal terms. Lamech brags of his killings to his wives and he boasts that if Cain is avenged seven times, Lamech will be avenged seventy-seven times. This isn’t a reliance on God’s protection. It’s a threat based on Lamech’s bad-ass character. Because really, is there anything more gangster and bad-ass than referring to yourself in the third person?
This is the sad point to which civilization can deteriorate. It happens over and over throughout Scripture and throughout history. Most times it doesn’t take five generations. Gangsters emerge.
And in the context of people serving God (let’s call them Abel and his followers), and of people serving themselves (let’s call them Cain and his followers), we see that people began to call upon the name of the Lord. Why?
Perhaps just as in today, those who know God and want to please God call out to God to save them from the world. They call out to God to protect them and their families from the corruption of the world. They call out to God to escape the entanglement of the world.
Where do you go when you see the world of Lamech and Cain around you? Where do you go to reflect goodness and find relationship with the God who used to walk the garden with his people?
You call upon the name of the Lord.
You seek his face.
And you praise and thank him that he hears,
And that he answers…