Read: Genesis 4:17-26
As a kid, my brothers and I did not physically fight too often. And when we did, it was usually because one of us did something dumb to upset the other and the situation escalated. One time my brother and I were playing a board game and I accused my brother of cheating. He swore that he was not cheating, but I did not believe him. So, in my anger,I flipped over the board and tried to walk away without cleaning it up. He told me to come back and help clean up, but I refused. So he started getting angry.
My brother threw a game piece at me, trying to get me to help clean it up. Being the stubborn kid I was, I did not like that and decided to escalate the problem by yelling at him and shoving him. He then decided that the best way to retaliate was to tackle me and get me in a chokehold. It got so bad that he only let go when I coughed so much I got sick. A small disagreement ended up breaking out into a huge physical altercation. The response to all of it did not make sense.
But that is what humans tend to do, isn’t it? A punishment that is actually deserved is looked at, ignored, and then taken three steps further . . . growing far worse.. As we begin meeting the descendants of Cain, we are shown a story very similar to Cain’s.
Lamech, son of Methushael, was the father of three sons who ended up helping fulfill the Lord’s promise that they would be fruitful, multiply, and have dominion over the earth. Lamech’s descendants were farmers, musicians, and builders of technology. While his sons were trailblazers, Lamech was not someone to be followed.
We see Lamech boast about how he handled a man who struck him. A reasonable response to that offense would be to strike the man back (if you do anything at all). Instead Lamech kills him! He says those who were fearful of God for potentially hurting Cain, should be even more fearful for his own [Lamech’s] vengeance which would be 77 times that much.
Now Lamech’s is a crazy and unreasonable response, especially after seeing how God responded to Cain’s sin. God’s mode of justice is to show mercy and grace to people who have sinned. God gives less punishment than they actually deserve (the definition of mercy), while Lamech gave more punishment than was deserved.
The author of Genesis uses these two stories as a foil of each other. They help us understand who God really is. He is not one to give punishment more than we deserve. He is a gracious and merciful God who desires us to come back into rightness with Him. He does not abandon His children but does what it takes to love us into righteousness.
As we wrap up the story of Cain, take some time to reflect on what God has saved you from. We deserve death and separation from God, but through the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, we are able to spend eternity with God. Thank the Lord today for the blessings He has given you, and ask Him to regularly remind you of His grace and mercy.