- Ezra Institute - https://www.ezrainstitute.ca -

A Tale of Two Cities

Cain resists God's judgment of banishment from the covenant people and he creates a rival city of man in rebellion against God's rule and worship.

Scripture:  Genesis 4:16-26

Sermon Notes:

  1. Condemned, Cain blames God and claims to be the victim, becoming a restless wanderer.
  2. Cain would have married another descendant of Adam and Eve, probably his sister. This was necessary at the beginning of the human race; later the Mosaic law prohibited incest, and incest now increases the risk of passing on genetic mutations.
  3. In his heart and mind Cain was a wanderer. He was a fugitive, alienated from God and estranged from other people.
  4. Cain’s problem of rootlessness is basic to all cultures that try to establish themselves without God.  True communion cannot be found in mere proximity to other people.
  5. Cain wants to find his roots by walling himself inside a city, a place of security and protection.
  6. The city has been a basic idea for man from the very beginning and reflects an eschatological urge to build a kingdom.
  7. Eden was in a way the first city. It wasn't expected to remain a wilderness garden; civilization was to be built there.
  8. In Cain’s new city, grounded in human self-will, there is an attempt to replace God's guardianship with man's.
  9. Cities have a religious importance, and each city is built either with God’s purposes at the center or not.
  10. The city of God and the city of man are intermingled in history.
  11. Civilization is not the problem; rebellion against God is. We shouldn't abandon the earthly kingdom but rather we must build God’s City amidst the godless one.
  12. Though rebels at heart, by God’s common grace Cain's descendants made significant cultural contributions, including animal husbandry, poetry, musical artistry, and metal working.
  13. It's what we do with our talents and skills under God that matters. We must not use them to advance a rebel civilization.
  14. A transformed civilization will be built only by those who have surrendered to God and been transformed by Him. 
  15. Since Cain was a murderer and a rebel, his city was not governed by righteousness but by a murderous spirit, as seen in the actions and attitudes of Lamech.
  16. Lamech’s song gives us a glimpse into the total depravity of man, which extends to all parts of our beings, affecting our minds, rationality, and moral character.
  17. Lamech saw himself as beyond God's definitions of good and evil; he boasts of his autonomy and freedom.
  18. God's answer to Lamech is seen in the abrupt end of the story of Cain’s line (who were later destroyed in the Flood), and the birth of Seth of whom the Saviour would come.
  19. The City of God is a place of rest and peace under His rule and purpose. All power and authority and judgment are in God's hands and so we rest in His purpose.
  20. Peace is not a passing state of mind; rather it is God's shalom. It constitutes a serenity of mind in relationship with God.
  21. Peace is not compromise. God declared peace because He defeated our enemy. His victory is total.
  22. We don't take vengeance for we know that God will overcome all our enemies.
  23. As God’s people we are called to have dominion under Him.
  24. Throw down your arms and place yourself under the dominion of God and rest in Him.

Application Questions:

  1. What were the purposes of the city built by Cain?  Contrast that with the purposes of the modern city of man.
  2. What features of the modern city of man are designed to keep God out?
  3. How should we respond to the godless civilization around us?
  4. How has God called us to serve in building His City?
  5. Where do we find the peace and security of God’s City?  Do we have that peace?