Movement of the Generations

Genesis in 3D: Downfall  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  32:34
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Decisions today determine the legacy we leave.

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Some of you may recall an advertising campaign for frozen pizza that asked, “What do you want on your tombstone?” It was a clever way of asking “what is important to you?”
Several years ago my Father was invited to pastor a group of Senior Adults. He asked me to help him brainstorm a ministry that was more than potluck dinners, nursing home visits, and tours to Branson.
We put our heads together and developed the name “Lasting Legacy.” The men and women he was shepherding needed to think about their significance and influence in terms of how they would be remembered following their geriatric years.
Fast forward to 2018 when the Gospel Group Casting Crowns records this song.
Play beginning to 1:14 of
I still wrestle in my mind if it is better to leave no legacy or a legacy of faithfulness, but I am convinced that my faithfulness is less important than the gospel of Jesus Christ which I aspire to be faithful.
Transition: Today’s text is longer than I usually cover in one sermon, but I make no apologies for the public reading of God’s Word. In today’s text we find 3 distinct legacies.

Cain’s Descendants [Kenites] – a Legacy of Career (4:17-22)

The first genealogy we read has a lot of repetition, with very few unique qualities. I believe emphasis should be given to the unique details. We observe several obscure names producing obscure sons, until v.20 where we begin to see descriptions that set apart 3 of these descendants. All 3 of these descriptions center on their career or their livelihoods.

Animals (4:20)

1. At the risk of offending 4H and FFA showmen who have an affection for individual animals, I believe the legacy of Jabal is rather forgettable.
2. We don’t even know which type of animals he bred, only that his people lived in tents (were nomads) with migrating herds or flocks.
3. I know many of you put great effort into raising good livestock, but is that what you want your grandchildren to remember about you?

Music (4:21)

1. Jabal’s brother Jubal was a musician.
Some of you know my story, I was planning to study music education when I was called into the ministry. A Friday night in KCK I sensed (as plain as if it had been an audible voice), “David I want you to invest your life in things of eternal importance.”
2. This is not to minimize the importance of music. We will spend eternity giving praise to the Lamb who sits upon the Throne as we sing, “Worthy, Worthy, Worthy”.
3. We have inherited a collection of songs from previous generations that inspire our worship, and some of the songs being written today will inspire our grandchildren.
4. But even the “classics” like Handel’s Messiah, Isaac Watts or Sir Isaac Newton only go back 350 years. Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” is less than 500 years old. We don’t sing the songs the church sang before then, for the first 1500 years of the Church!
5. When I hear someone say, “I like the old songs” I begin to wonder “how old?”
6. We may disagree if music is a lesser or greater legacy than herds or flocks.

Tools (4:22)

1. In the next verse we are introduced to Tubal-cain, who is the reason your husband can spend so much time in the aisles of Sutherlands, Home Depot, or Blue Stem.
2. The modern need for tools and hardware is a large reason why Strong City still has a hardware store, when the local groceries have all shut down.


In the scheme of eternity, how significant is a legacy of livestock, music or tools?
Transition: The two genealogies we are looking at today are split by a short piece of poetry that highlights the legacy of the father of the previously mentioned three brothers.

Lamech’s Debauchery – a Legacy of Human Force (4:23-24)

Revenge (v.23)

1. Revenge tends to escalate.
2. Notice the only harm that was inflicted upon Lamech was a wound.
3. The response by Lamech was killing.
4. Revenge and Justice are often overlapping, but separate ideas.
Ancient Babylonian law records a principle that was repeated in Hebrew law in Exodus and later Roman law that reigned in the time of Christ. The law of retaliation lex talionis (in latin) became a standard where the punishment was limited to the damage of the crime. It is most common today in the phrase “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
5. Lamech’s standard was that he would seek 10x the punishment so that his family would be feared.

Feuds (v.24)

The fear of warring families would escalate to the scale that many of the battles in Afghanistan today are considered tribal conflicts.
In the mid-1860s militia groups surrounding the Civil War gave way to much misunderstanding and decades long family feuds where one family felt disrespectd by another. Perhaps the most famous is the feud between the Hatfields and McCoys. In days before color television, stories were told in black and white. In 1957 the Real McCoys appeared on television for 6 seasons. The year I was born Gomer Pyle USMC aired an episode about a feud between Gomer vs. Branch Eversole – The feud could not be laid to rest until an Eversole “killed” a Pyle. This was remedied by a baton drill where Branch was credited with a “kill”, which enabled Gomer and Branch’s friendship to continue.


1. While feuds on TV may include Granny Clampet loading her shotgun with rice, real feuds (like the one declared by Lamech) can lead to death of hundreds.
2. Many places in our world to this day are still marked by this type of bloodthirst that justifies pillaging, raping and murdering innocents.
Transition: Contrasting the previous 2 legacies, in the final one we look at today God goes back to Cain’s father, runs through Cain’s brother moves forward 1000 years to introduce the next major Biblical character.

Adam’s Descendants [Sethites] – a Legacy of Faith. (4:25-5:32)

Called upon YHWH (4:26)

1. In contrast to those who are career focused or power hungry, Chapter 4 concludes by opening a window of hope that lets a little light shine on human history.
2. Cain’s descendants were fixated with their own products, Seth’s descendants realize a dependency upon the God who seeks relationship with the humanity He created.

Walked with God (5:24)

1. Midway from Adam to Noah we are told that there was an individual who didn’t die.
2. As a reminder of the origin of this legacy (faith in God) that will be picked up in the next chapter (6:9) at the end of this chain, Enoch is highlighted for his fellowship with God.

Ten Names

1. I don’t want to get too mystical about numbers and their significance, but you will recall that in Genesis 1 God speaks how many times? (10). In Exodus God gives His law to His people and how many laws are on the Tablet? (10)
2. Now, count the generations from Adam to Noah. Want to venture a guess at how many? (10) Some of you just cheated and counted the chart in your handout instead of the 32 verses of chapter 5. [you are the smart ones! I drew out a family tree and tracked ages at fatherhood and death, THEN found the chart in front of you.]
3. History experts argue if these 10 are a complete list, but I tend to take the truth as it has been passed down. Regardless, as a literary device, the 10 is an indicator to me that God is sovereignly working a purpose.
Freebie: One of our members asked me to define the word sovereign as one of our Christian “words of the week” because she said, “in my church upbringing that wasn’t a word that we used.” Sovereign as we use it in Christianity means that God has the authority and ability to intervene at any time, in any way He chooses.
4. Back to Adam’s descendants. Tracking the years I found out that Adam was still alive until after Noah’s father was 100 years old. In case you are ever on Jeopardy or playing Trivial Pursuit, Noah is born 1056 years after creation and the flood happens when Noah is 600 years old. This throws a HUGE wrinkle into a lot of dating by Paleontologists or Geologists. I’m not educated in those disciplines, so I’ll just let that statement sit there.


· Apart from their length of life and the ages when they became fathers, the only defining characteristic of this legacy is dependence upon and relationship with God.
Transition: Perhaps you are not concerned with the legacy you will leave. On the other hand, yesterday I sat with a family in our church who was asking, “What will we tell these children about this man when they are old enough to ask?”


You may aspire, like Mark Hall in the song played earlier, to leave no legacy.
Try as you may, should Jesus not rapture His Church, your future generations will ask about you.
I spent 2 days early this week helping my parents downsize into what they expect to be their final independent home. We talked honestly about hard subjects like how they wish to be laid to rest.
Part of those discussions included me receiving inheritance items like the family silver flatware and a knife that belonged to my grandfather.
As my parents are going through this process, I greatly appreciate the values that they have instilled in my sisters and me so that stuff is not what defines their legacy or our inheritance.
I asked a question at the beginning of this message that I ask again, “What do you want on your tombstone?”
Song of Response #376 “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus
Benediction: 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (ESV) — Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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