“Adam made love to his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, ‘God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.’ Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.” Genesis 4:25-26
We are told God’s people “began to call on the name of the Lord” in Genesis 4. That begs the question: were they not calling on God before that?
Let’s look at the fourth chapter of Genesis. It is a startling tale of violence and tragedy. Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam, grow up and almost immediately there is conflict. Cain is jealous of the devout Abel and murders him; creation, still limited to one family, is already enmeshed in violence and cold-blooded murder. We see the grief of both Abel’s heavenly father and earthly father . . . and we see the family picking up the pieces and trying to move on, despite the heartache that will never be fully healed. The families of murder victims throughout history know this familiar pain.
At the end of the chapter, we see Adam and Eve conceiving another son (Seth), and the author of Genesis tells us that this was the point when people began to call on God. What does the author mean?
Some writers speculate that in the world of Adam and Eve, God was such an ever-present reality that there was no division between sacred and secular, believer and unbeliever. But as humanity proliferated and dispersed, and humans realized what they were capable of (such as murder), the demarcation between the things of God and the things of the flesh grow more clear. And against this backdrop, some people intentionally seek God, and cry out to Him.
There is hope in this verse. Against any backdrop, people can make a profound shift, away from evil and towards God. They can disrupt what came before, and engage in something revolutionary, transformative, novel. In human history, we see change agents like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Rosa Parks or Pope Francis who have turned cultural expectations on their head, and called out to God in new and world-changing ways.
Today, many have grown tired of a Church mired in culture wars, majoring on the minors, and driving people away from God through the emphasis on rules and division and harsh words. They are crying out to God for forgiveness, and thus forming a new way forward.
Pray: Pray that this will be the time when the people of God “began to show Christ’s love, and stopped sowing prejudice and division, in the world around them.” Pray that it begins here and now, and begins with us.
Read: Genesis 4