Cain’s City … Then and Now

 Genesis 4:11 So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a wanderer you shall be on the earth.”

“The city is man’s greatest work. It is his great attempt to attain autonomy, to exercise will and intelligence. This is where all his efforts are concentrated, where all his powers are born. No other of man’s works, technical or philosophical, is equivalent to the city, which is the creation not of an instrument but of the whole world in which man’s instruments are conceived and put to work.”

Jacques Ellul
The Meaning of the City — p. 154

Genesis begins in a garden and with the fall quickly moves to a city.
Cain after killing his brother Abel dwelt in the land of Nod. Nod literally means “wandering.” As we recall Cain’s punishment placed upon him by God was to be a restless wanderer upon the earth. So, the curse God placed upon Cain was to be a wanderer and he dwells in a land (Nod) that means wandering.

This suggests that it is a curse to not have roots and/or to not be attached to the land or a place. Wandering (moving from here to there without establishing connections) is God’s curse. There was a time in the not so recent past when this remained commonly understood. If you were a stranger moving to a new town you were suspect. It was Gypsies and the like who were traveling nomads. Respectable people settled down and grew roots.

In returning to Genesis we find Cain trying to avoid God’s curse upon him and so Cain builds a city and names it after his first born son Enoch. In doing so Cain is attempting to satisfy his desire for security by creating a place belonging to him and that quite independent of God. He will not be a wanderer despite God’s assigned curse. He will create his own anti-place place that overthrows God’s curse. An anti-place place where there is no need to be dependent upon the land. Cain’s city of Enoch is a material sign of his continued rebelliousness towards his creator. Cain will be responsible for himself and for his life. He does not need God’s protection (Gen. 4:15). Cain will use the city of Enoch for his protection. The city of Enoch is the direct consequence of Cain’s refusal to accept God’s protection choosing instead to provide his own protection. Cain, according to Genesis, will not only defy God’s punishment to wander by building a city (Genesis 4:17), but he will also produce a culture of evil, rebellious people.

We begin to see here that Cain’s city of Enoch is Babel before Babel was Babel. It is a place where wanderers (sinners) can gather in order to build a reality that can do fine without God. In the city of Enoch Cain takes his own destiny in his hands refusing the hand of God in his life. Cain replaced God-centered Eden with man-centered Enoch.

Cain’s Enoch — his chosen place of stability — thus becomes symbolic of a civilization that exists for the sake of security apart from God and under Man’s own control and order. We see here in Cain’s Enoch the first attempt to centralize and consolidate. We will see it again as Babel rises. The city has a proclivity to seek to divinize itself functioning apart from God’s order and law.

We see it whenever man seeks to consolidate and centralize in order to create a social order where God need not apply. Ever since Cain’s city of Enoch and then from there Babel, the city is autonomous man’s greatest work. In the city, man will arise to the most-high. In the city, man can hide from God in the midst of denizens who likewise are there to hide from God. In the city, autonomous man can defy God as he crafts his own reality. The city is where all man’s efforts, inventions, technology, and theory, are leveraged in order to overthrow God.

It is the city that had given us Churches that have sought to bring God down to the level of fallen man. Keller’s work at New York Redeemer has been the Church of Babel. Scott Saul’s church in Nashville has been the Church of Babel. Andy Stanley’s church in Atlanta has been the Church of Babel. And on and on it goes. The powerful churches in the cities are commonly (though not always) Churches of Babel and the influence of those churches trickles all the way down so that churches in rural America likewise become Babel Churches.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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