The world is getting darker. We may well be seeing the sunset of western civilization. What is perhaps most alarming is not only the reality of the decline, but the rapidity of it. With breakneck speed it is hurtling to its destruction to the applause of the enlightened intelligentsia of the 21st century. Does our society have any parallel from history? Has there ever been moral decline and spiritual depravity such as we are witnessing?
Genesis 4 is not pleasant bedtime reading. It details a time period which extended from the first generation after Adam to about, at most, a few hundred years from creation. A man was walking the earth who had actually walked with God and had known God in the intimacy of the garden. A son had known God as well, but it was through God’s condemnation for the murder of his brother. As you read through the names and events of Genesis 4, you are immediately struck with the following:
The Wickedness of the World
Notice what marked society in that day. There was violence and vice, militarism and materialism, culture and carnality. Cain built a city; Lamech flew in the face of God’s order for marriage; industry and immorality marked him and his family. Lamech’s voice was raised in arrogant pride and defiance. If God could promise to avenge any who touched Cain seven-fold, Lamech could take care of himself and avenge himself 70 times more than God.
To independence of God as seen in Cain, is now added arrogant challenging of God. Cain, by his actions, said that he did not want God. Lamech and all his lineage said, in effect, that they did not need God.
Against the backdrop of this societal attitude, we read of the birth of Enos (Gen 4:24, 25), and the poignant statement, “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord” (v26).
The Weakness of Man
For some reason not given, when Seth had a son, he named him Enos. The name means “frail, weak, sickly.” Was he physically a weak or sickly child? Or was Seth made aware as he surveyed the landscape of human independence of God with its sin, that, individually, he had no strength in himself to stem the tsunami of evil? Perhaps it was the latter, the consciousness of the floodtide that the saintly line could not arrest.
Did that mean they were helpless and passive amidst the evil? Then, when the wickedness of man was great upon the earth (Gen 6:5) and the weakness of men was apparent, then began men to call upon the Lord. Was there no prayer prior to this? It is likely that all of the godly line knew prayer. Adam (after Gen 3:20), Abel, and Seth were all men who knew God; the natural “native air” of believers is to commune with God. But the word “then” suggests a crisis, a sudden realization that the only recourse we have is prayer. The only power that can overcome the evil of the world is God. It is possible that the collective prayers of the godly forestalled the flood by 1,000 years.
We, likewise, find ourselves in a wicked society and recognize the weakness of our efforts. Have we no recourse? “Then began men to call upon the Name of the Lord.”