Genesis 4:20-22 - Of Tents, Musical Instruments and Tools
Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play the harp and flute. Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron.Genesis 4:20-22
The above text takes us to the dawn of civilization. Two strands of people are developing, the one from the line of Cain and the other from the line of Seth and by the time we reach the seventh generation both lines show their own spirit. Cain left God’s presence and it shows in the following generations while Seth sought the presence of the Lord and in his descendants people began to call upon the Name of the Lord. There are remarkable similarities when we compare the genealogies of Cain and Seth and we find very similar names but a totally different direction and focus in their lives!
Jabal, Jubal and Tubal-Cain are three sons of Lamech born to him from the two wives he had taken. Lamech shows the nature of his father Cain. He not only left the presence of the Lord but openly shows his violent, ungodly nature, bragging about himself in front of his wives that he was even more revengeful and fearful than God.
One of the aspects, however, which deserves our special attention is the fact that Moses tells us about the special accomplishments of these sons of the ungodly Lamech. They are inventors, using their talents and resources, and they thereby provide the human race with ideas and products facilitating people to fulfil their God-given cultural mandate. Jabal was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. Jubal the father of all who play the harp and flute and Tubal-Cain forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. All wonderful inventions and great strides ahead in developing and cultivating the earth, using the resources God placed on this earth and the potentials created in humans.
What is remarkable, however, is that we find this information about these early developments under the descendants of Cain who showed their ungodliness and unwillingness to serve the Lord in increasing measure. We look in vain for such discoveries and inventions listed under the descendants of Seth. In his family, however, we read of developments of a totally different nature. Mother Eve thanks the Lord for the gift of Seth and in the days of his son “men began to call on the name of the LORD” (4:26). We read of an Enoch who walked with God and then he was no more, because God took him away. There is another Lamech but he in faith calls his son Noah because “he will comfort us in the labour and painful toil of our hands cause by the ground the LORD has cursed” (5:29).
We do not read about them inventing and discovering tents, musical instruments, tools of bronze and iron but we do notice throughout the history of God’s people that they gratefully made use of these discoveries in the service and to the glory of the Lord! What Cain’s descendants failed to do, the descendants of Seth did do, making full use of the products of the world.
God’s ways of fulfilling his plans and providing his people with the means and tools they need to serve Him are amazing. Knowingly or not, even the children of the world must contribute to God’s honour and glory and the children of God may gratefully make use of the results of the efforts and accomplishments of the children in the world.
No, that does not mean that inventions and discoveries are only made by unbelievers but neither does it mean that whatever has its origin in the world is therefore unholy and unfit for the Lord’s service.
The Lord allows great cultural advances to be made, also by means of the efforts of those who do not serve Him by them. That is the privilege of the children of God. When they leave Egypt they are loaded down with gifts from the Egyptians. When they enter Canaan they benefit from all the agricultural work done by the Canaanites. When they leave Babylon they are again richly provided by the world with means to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.
None of these gifts, tents, musical instruments and tools were unholy in themselves. But the question is for what purpose are they being used: Is it to glorify and praise God with them or is it for one’s own pleasure, satisfaction and protection? In the meantime much more has been discovered and great technological advances have been made, often not by children of God and often not to serve God with them. Yet we may receive them in thankfulness and employ them in the service of the Lord to the honour and glory of His holy name.
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.Psalm 24:1