Not many people are interested in reading through long lists of names, but for us they offer valuable information regarding the lineage of God’s people up to Jesus Christ. In Genesis 4 we are introduced to two family trees. Each family tree is important for evaluating Biblical history. Cain’s line basically reveals how the Curse was being played out amongst those who refused to live according to God’s standard. The line that arrives at Jesus Christ comes through Seth (the third son of Adam).
Cain’s Family Tree (Genesis 4:17-24)
Cain got married and a son named Enoch (name means ‘train up’). The question is often asked, “Where did Cain get his wife?” Up until this time we only know of four named Biblical characters, Adam, Eve, Abel and Cain. The answer to the apparent dilemma is found in Genesis 5:4 … “And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters.” In those early days of world history there was no prohibition about marrying close relatives. It is obvious that Cain married one of his sisters.
To resist God’s curse on him, Cain built a city and named it Enoch after his son. He was determined that he was not going to be a fugitive and a vagabond, and that people would respect him rather than seek to slay him. One thing we learn from this is, man did not live in caves like unintelligent beasts. Instead that built cities, lived in tents, looked after cattle, and played musical instruments. The notion of a Flintstone type Stone Age is a myth since Jubal worked with iron and bronze / brass (:22). The pre-Flood civilization was relatively advanced.
Regardless of the fact that Cain and his family endeavoured to better themselves, they continued to rebel against God. They wanted the Curse broken to prove that God was not all-powerful. Cain obviously taught his family how to resist God’s word, since he was committed to following Satan (1 John 3:12). We see Lamech boasting about killing another person, but did you notice that he was the first bigamist? Sin was increasing rapidly in the world.
Seth’s Family Tree (Genesis 4:25-5:24)
This is really Adam’s line through Seth. As Adam was created in God’s likeness, so Seth was made in Adam’s likeness. Seth was seen as a replacement for Abel, in fact ‘Seth’ means ‘substitute’, it also means ‘set’ referring to a foundation. It is certain that his parents brought him up according to God’s word by laying a godly foundation in his life. Cain was living evidence how not to parent a child, and how quickly sin transforms both the individual and society. We have an interesting statement at verse 26 … “then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.” Seth went on to teach his son Enos the ways of God. This resulted in a revival; people began to turn to God. The most famous members of Seth’s ancestry were Enoch, Methuselah (his name prophetically means ‘when he dies, judgement’, and did die the same year as the Flood came) and Noah. Three men who were obedient to God’s revealed will. It is through Seth’s line that the Messiah came (Luke 3:38).
As we read through Genesis 4-5 we are brought face to face with the reality of death. Despite the fact that they lived very long lives, death eventually caught up with them. The average life expectancy was 900 years at that time. The majority thought that they had overcome God’s judgement on Cain (and because of sin), but of course they could not. All those who were ‘begat’ died.
This short description of the two family lines prepares us for the reasons why God had to bring in the Flood Judgement on the whole earth. There were 1656 years between the Adam and the Flood. People were violent, haters of God and His word, and rebellious. Sin was in control of society. There were a few righteous souls who determined to live according to God’s standards, but not enough to save the world from sin’s destruction, in fact only a few would be saved. Once again it looked like Satan had won, but as always, he did not count of God’s mercy.