Cain & Lamech: Two Murders, One Appeal


You’re probably familiar with Cain’s story, Lamech maybe not as much. These two men from the Old Testament both demonstrate an approach to confront and deal with our sin, though the outcomes are very different. Cain, though an unlikely example, offers an excellent paradigm for what it looks like to have an ongoing relationship with God.

Unexpected Grace

Cain is remembered for committing the first murder when he killed his brother in a jealous rage. Genesis 4:10 records that God confronts Cain with his sin and tells him that he’s banished from God’s presence, destined to live as a fugitive and wanderer on the earth. Cain cries out to God for mercy, which may seem like an incredibly cheeky thing to do, for someone with blood on his hands, but Cain clearly knew enough about God’s character to appeal for mercy.

Even in his righteous judgment, the Lord responds to Cain’s plea with a gesture of grace. He places a mark of protection on him and says, “If anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” (Genesis 4:15) Note that Cain is still banished, but because he called on the Lord, even in his punishment God demonstrates mercy.

A Dangerous Assumption

Later in Genesis, we read about Lamech, who commits the second murder. Like Cain, Lamech speaks about his guilt, but instead of crying out to Yahweh, he assumes the same mercy extended to Cain will be extended to him. But there is no indication in the text that his words are sanctioned by God, and thus I don’t think God is bound by Lamech’s insistence that God avenge him.

We are given these parallel stories to show us something about the Lord’s character and how he invites us to deal with our sin. Lamech takes matters into his own hands and declares that anyone who touches him will be in big trouble. When Cain is confronted with his sin, he calls out to God and is met with grace. This theme is echoed at the end of the chapter, “At that time, people began to call on the name of Yahweh.” (Genesis 4:26)

We don’t have to wait until we get to the New Testament to see a God who meets us with grace and mercy.


Three Things You Missed When Jesus Walked on Water: Part 2

2427021_blog Welcome back to our discussion of Mark 6. We are exploring when Jesus walked on water and seeing the story with new perspective as we discover its connections to the Old Testament. Hopefully you read Monday’s post where we examined the connection between Exodus, when God identified himself to Moses as “I AM WHO I AM”, and Jesus’ use of the same identity in Mark 6. Let’s move on to the water.

Dark, Stormy, Deep

Yes, even the water in this story is significant. To understand why, we should examine Genesis. The dark stormy waves reference Genesis 1:2 when “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters”. In the Ancient Near East, water (especially stormy and deep water) represented primordial chaos.

The waters described in Mark 6 were most definitely choppy and stormy. We know this because while the disciples started out to cross the lake in the evening, they are still rowing in the early hours of morning when Jesus heads towards them. Think about that. Have you ever tried the rowing machine at the gym? Now do that all night. Ouch. Half of the disciples were fishermen. This wasn’t their first go at rowing. Those waters were tumultuous. And yet Jesus came strolling across them like they were pavement.

Symbolism at its Best

 Jesus walking on water is a direct reference back to Genesis. Remember, “And the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters”? Jesus walking on water points out that God—only God—has the power to walk easily over the chaos. God is powerful and sovereign, as well as intentional. Only he can hover over our chaos and calm the choppy waters. The connection to Genesis provides origin to this illustration of power and sovereignty. Without it, we miss the history and can grasp only a piece of this story’s significance.

This post is based on a longer discussion found in The Jesus Prequel