by Dr. R. Dean Davis
After Cain rejects God’s grace and forgiveness, the Bible says he walks away from the Lord and begins a genealogical line that runs parallel with the righteous line of his younger brother Seth, the “appointed one.”
The Two Lines
Family was extremely important to the Hebrews; married sons built onto their fathers’ houses, and patriarchs extended their tents to cover three and four generations.
Cain’s descendants are listed first, and they try to lessen their guilt through personal achievements. Cain builds the world’s first city, contrary to God’s desire for man to commune with nature. Jabel gains fame for his herds, Jubal for musical instruments, and Tubal-cain for his mastery of metals. But the most notorious descendant is Lamech, a bigamist so wicked, he kills a man for merely wounding him—and brags about it! God promised Cain to bring a sevenfold vengeance on anyone who dared murder him, but Lamech boasts, “If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”
By contrast, Seth’s line begins with Adam, created in God’s own image; Adam fathers Seth in his own image, and so forth. Another descendant, Enoch, walks with the Lord 300 years, and grows so close to God that he’s taken to Heaven, alive! By contrast, none of Cain’s descendants are listed as righteous, none walk with God, and certainly none of them are taken to Heaven!
The Sons of God and the Daughters of Men
The Bible clearly shows these two lines—one godly and one wicked—intermingling in Genesis 6, as “the sons of God” marry “the daughters of men.” These unholy marriages greatly displease Him. The wicked ones continually reject the Holy Spirit’s pleadings, and now they endanger the righteous!
Finally, He says, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” This isn’t a reference to man’s lifespan, since Noah’s descendants certainly lived longer than that. Instead, it indicates how long the Holy Spirit will continue pleading with men. Indeed, Noah preaches for 120 years before the flood comes, but men harden their hearts to the point where the Holy Spirit cannot reach them—the truly unpardonable sin (see Matthew 12:31).
The Genesis 6:4 reference to the nephilim (often translated as “giants”) causes great confusion. Some speculate these were giants in stature, others believe they were notorious rulers, and still others believe they were fallen angels. But while nephilim literally means “fallen ones,” they cannot be fallen angels, since neither Heaven nor angels are mentioned; they cannot be rulers, since no kings or kingdoms are mentioned; and as far as giants, there’s no immediate contextual evidence indicating physical height.
Instead, the detailed lineages mentioned in the previous chapters indicate “the fallen ones” to be those who have fallen into sin. They are giants, all right—giants in wickedness, not in stature! They’re “men of renown”—notorious evildoers. The next verse confirms this, when “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
The Bible now makes a sad statement: “And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” Genesis 6:6.
The danger here is to make God human, since the writer, by necessity, must use human words to describe God’s feelings. Did He change His mind? Can God make mistakes? What we do know is that He “grieved in His heart.” We stretch to understand Hebrew thinking; we must stretch much more to understand God!
The antediluvians reject the Holy Spirit’s pleas for 120 years before they finally commit the unpardonable sin. What amazing grace God shows mankind through Noah—the only man who “found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”