Sin is a one-way street. All its traffic goes in one direction. And that direction is to hell! Always it leads away from God and unto the place where man everlastingly will be aware of God’s holy wrath against sin. Only by crossing over to the way of righteousness can one go in the direction of covenant fellowship with God and the joys of His kingdom.
After he had murdered his brother Abel, Cain went out from the presence of God; and the highway of sin was established by man from the place just outside the gate into paradise to the land of Nod, where Cain built himself a city. His descendants widened that way, beat a more definite path of sin. And in due time they paved it for a more convenient walk of sin, and for what they hoped would be a fleshly, pleasure-insuring life.
One thing that is quite striking in Scripture’s account of the human race, from the time of the fall of man till the days of the flood, is the rapid development of sin. In a relatively few years the sin of eating a piece of forbidden fruit, and the rebellion therein, produced an amazing amount of violence not only, but also a shockingly bold practice of sin!
Cain left the church and took with him all his children; and generations grew up that knew not God, made no attempt to worship Him, and did what they themselves judged to be good and evil. The sad thing is that Satan was lying, and what they judged to be good was evil, and what they judged to be evil was in every instance good.
Scripture passes over this dastardly deed of Cain (consisting in killing his brother, and in his bold, defiant answer to God when he was told of his temporal punishment) to Lamech, a descendant of Cain who grew up outside the sphere of the church of that day. In the lust of the flesh he takes two wives. And in hatred he also commits murder. The names of his wives are significant. Adah means pleasure; and Zillah means protection, coming from a word which means shade, and protection in that sense. Since these names were given in the land away from that gate to paradise and by those who had separated themselves from God and His worship, the pleasure implied in that name is not the delight in serving God, but refers to the lust of the flesh. And the protection is not under the shadow of the Almighty, but some comfort that man sees and seeks apart from God and His covenant promise.
Lamech is wholly moved by the flesh. He took two wives—and man always does—only for the sake of the flesh. One is enough to raise up covenant seed—which Lamech in no way has in mind—and God gave Adam but one. One is enough for fellowship and companionship, and two will engender jealousy and drive apart. One is an help meet for man, and two at a time do not help the man or one another. But it was lust and nothing less than lust that moved Lamech to want more flesh.
What did he care about God’s ordinances? He did not even care about man’s wellbeing. He slew a man because he got in his way. And he boasts of it to his wives. Without remorse, but in devilish glee he calls his wives to come and listen to him while he boasts of his murder. And this is only a few generations removed from man’s expulsion from paradise and his first sin! He, too, in an almost satanic derision laughs about the vengeance of God. “If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.” The highway of sin is wide and gives much room for movement and the carnal pleasure of sin! Talk about lawlessness and disorder!
What a vicious society has sprung up here to the east of the garden in the land of Nod! Man lives for his flesh. For all the generations that will follow, Lamech sets the example and teaches that Adam’s and Eve’s shame of nakedness was a weakness, and that man should feed his sexual lusts and get him the pleasure he craves unbridled by divine ordinances. Truly the good he calls evil, and the evil he now knows as good. And if a man gets in your way,’ your way is what counts. Murder him. Let violence reign! You are not your brother’s keeper. Every man for himself, and no man with thought of God! And in that light we must also see the astounding feats of his three sons. It is significant that here in the world, among the seed of the serpent, in the midst of those who have gone away from the presence of the Lord there at the entrance to paradise, where the cherubim with the flaming sword still stood, we find the men who revolutionized the life of’ the human race, AND PAVED THE HIGHWAY OF SIN!
They were brothers, but they did not have the same mother. Jabal and Jubal were sons of Adah, the one affording Lamech with carnal sexual pleasure. Tubal-Cain was the son of Zillah, the shade and protection Lamech sought for his flesh, the solace, the comfort. She was, perhaps, a woman with a tender, sympathetic nature to whom Lamech could go when the problems of that day weighed heavily upon him. For remember that though life was far more simple in those days, they had their frustrations, their aches and pains, their problems and hardships. The curse was there. It was extremely difficult to get enough food from the ground. Through the flood—which was a work of God’s grace for the saving of His Church—God brought up, by the opening of the fountains of the deep, some rich ocean-bottom soil that made the growing of food in the field far less difficult, without removing the curse upon the world, and without it being some “common grace” for the whole human race. All things work together for good to them that love God. All is done in God’s providence for the advantage of the Church. The chaff must have rain and sunshine that the wheat may be garnered in after the chaff had been cast into the fire. But we do well to remember that the curse made life in Lamech’s day extremely difficult. Life was hard. And although apparently man was much stronger physically, and the curse did not in that period manifest itself in the sicknesses and diseases, the cancer and respiratory diseases of our day, the arthritic pains and heart attacks, the curse was there, and God made it known in that unproductive soil.
On that background we must view the achievements of Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal-Cain. They were talented men and each had his own individual nature. But they had one common thought and goal. And that goal was to get rid of the curse without the cross. No, they did not say it that way. They did not say it at all. They just worked at it and went their separate ways in folly to seek to achieve it. With them it was simply a matter of getting from under the curse by their own works so that they could enjoy a life of doing their own thing.
To understand Jabal’s ambitious undertaking we must bear in mind that at this point in history man did not eat the flesh of animals for food. This we read of later, after the flood, in Genesis 9:3, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” And there is no record that these unbelievers living in Cain’s city defied this ordinance of God. Bear also in mind, then, that they had moved away from the presence of God, and that Cain was wroth that God would not accept his offering of the fruits of his toil in the sin-cursed ground. This simply means that there was no more sacrificing at all in that community living east of the entrance to paradise. They did not need to gather cattle and raise them for sacrifices to God, and Jabal did not have to be one that had cattle for that reason. He was on that one-way street of sin and was going away from God in this act of having cattle and dwelling in tents. He was in no way trying to be a steward of God’s goods. The thought of being God’s royal priesthood was far from his mind.
No, Jabal represents the natural man as he denies that this is God’s creation and strikes out to get his hands on as much of it as he can, to enjoy this world with its possessions while he can, to be like God in that he is the owner and controller of this earth.
Jubal in the midst of the tears and woes of this life introduces music to try to turn man’s thoughts away from the curse, to quicken his step with a lively dance, to make laughter and to manufacture some joy in the valley where the shadow of death is cast. He is the father of such who strive to make it possible for man to live it up and forget what man cannot live down, namely that curse that is in all things.
Tubal-Cain either found how to start a fire—Adam had no matches in the pockets of his coat of skin—or certainly learned its power to melt iron and other metals and thereby learned to mold and shape them to fashion “labor-saving” devices and show God that man will not eat in the sweat of his brow.
And all the industry, the arts, and the world of finances and business have their beginning in the works of these three sons of Lamech. All the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye (and ear) and the pride of life of which John speaks and declares to be in the world which we are not to love, received one tremendous impetus, one powerful thrust forward by the works of these of the viper’s brood, the seed of the serpent who had moved away from the Church as it was represented in Adam, and Seth, and their children who lived by the entrance to paradise.
The seed of the woman looked toward that paradise, and toward the God Who formerly met man at the tree of life, for relief from the curse. They continued to pray to God through a sacrifice of a lamb with shed blood, in the belief that God would keep His promise and give them a Seed that would bring victory to His Church. The seed of the serpent moved away from all this, and on the one-way street of sin went constantly in that one direction, and pressed everything they saw and every natural talent they had in the way of trying to flee from the curse by fleeing from the cross. The believers in the Old Testament day went to that cross in their sacrificial lambs for salvation and escape from the curse. The unbelievers went away from that cross, despised it, strove by their own ingenuity to make a heaven on earth by their prowess, and by their physical and mental achievements. Both want escape from the curse. The one rushes along the paved one-way street whereon their backs are turned to the living God to obtain it. The other by faith, and facing God, waits for Him to realize His promise in the cross of Christ, even though at that time they were not able to declare it in such terminology.
Does that mean that we may not have cattle and possessions, may not use organs, and stringed instruments, must shun and flee from all labour saving devices and inventions of the world? Of course not! Noah used what Tubal-Cain made to build the ark. The psalmist over and over tells us to praise God with the organ and harp. God gave Solomon not only much cattle, but peacocks and apes as symbols of material wealth. The point is that we must use them in our worship of God and that when they stand in the way of our act of faith of expecting all our deliverance from the curse to be the cross of Christ, we get rid of them! For it is better to lose them and escape the curse, than to hold on to them for a few brief years and end with Jabal, Jubal, Tubal-Cain and Lamech in the hottest place of the curse.
Receive this earth’s goods with thanksgiving. But never deceive yourself into thinking that these remove the curse, even though they mean a few less aching muscles. The psalmist says it so beautifully in Psalm 103:3, “Who forgiveth thine iniquities, who healeth thy diseases.” THAT is the way it comes to pass. The cross removes our guilt; and on that basis we enter presently in the realm where all disease is gone, all the evidence of the curse is gone, all trace and scars of it are erased, and where we are in The Paradise by God’s work in Christ and His cross.