Foundational themes in Genesis (Part 33)

Theme: Cities

(Key verse: Genesis 4:17-24)

The natural is our first experience of life, and through this natural we learn so much about God’s spiritual works in the generation of the first Adam (1Co 15:46; Rom 1:20). However everything in the physical is just a shadow of the spiritual, meaning God is using the physical as a contrast and opposition to the spirit of God (Col 2:16-17; Heb 8:5; Heb 10:1; Matt 4:16):

Gal 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

The first two sons of Adam and Eve typified this opposing spirits – the evil versus the good – the first versus the last – yet both are essential parts in the revelation of Jesus and His works in us (1Cor 15:45; Rev 1:17-19). Cain, as a type of the seed of the serpent, was the firstborn of Adam and Eve and he was a murderer of his own brother Abel, who was a type of the seed of the woman:

Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Everyone born in the line of Cain should therefore be seen as representing the seed of the serpent and the evil which God created and is using within His broader scheme of things. All of the evil out there is a direct correlation with what is within our own natural hearts. For those who can receive this truth, the Scriptures become a journey of discovery as we will find that we truly live by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God, as per our own book (Matt 4:4).

Psa 139:16 ASV  Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance; And in thy book they were all written, Even the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was none of them.

We are therefore “guilty of all” that is written in our book:

Jas 2:10  For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

To see ourselves as “guilty of all” also helps us not to get offended by the truth in “the sum” of God’s Word (Jas 2:10; 1John 2:16; 1Tim 1:15; 1Cor 3:21; Ps 119:160 ASV):

Psa 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

When Cain slept with his wife (his own sister because the laws of Moses prohibiting incest were not in effect at that stage), they conceived their first son (Gen 3:20; Gen 5:4; Lev 18:6-18):

Gen 4:17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he [Cain] builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

Although the theme of a garden (pastoral, or rural in that sense) is the initial environment of man, the theme of a city is also foundational and helpful to our understanding of God’s spiritual work. A city indicates a process of building, and to understand what God is indeed busy building in His spiritual and “holy city”, Jesus Christ. But we need to learn about our own first carnal city – the first Adam and his generation. Flesh is this first “city” God builds for us to dwell in, even Jesus came to dwell in this same city with us for a period of time (Mat 2:23; Heb 2:14; Matt 4:5; Matt 23:34).

Joh 1:14  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Many cities are mentioned in Scripture which generally fall under the same type of the city of man, which opposes the spiritual city of God (Mic 6:9-10; Ezek 7:23; Rev 21:10-23; Matt 5:14; Ezek 48:35; Isa 60:14). Cain built his city from the very ground God cursed which gives us a clear indication of what the cities or hearts of mankind is all about (Gen 3:17; Gen 4:11):

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Those ruling in the evil cities of the world (inside ourselves and outside) cannot frustrate or derail God’s one will and plan (Eph 1:11). God told Cain he would be a fugitive and vagabond in the earth which Cain seemingly wanted to reverse in his natural rebellion by building something that can settle him down and give his family a type of foundation and protection (Gen 4:12). But even in this earthly city, man remains a spiritually blinded wanderer, even when he thinks he is doing good and in God’s service (Isa 53:6):

Lam 4:14 They [the false prophets and false ministers] have wandered as blind men in the streets, they have polluted themselves with blood, so that men could not touch their garments.

In Genesis 4 we read of Cain’s generational line, but only in the next chapter we read about Adam and Eve’s other son’s line of descendants. This is also showing us that long before God’s elect (typified by the other generational line of Adam and Eve’s other son, Enoch) can settle, the man of flesh has already established his (sandy) foundations, built cities and industries. Natural man wants to control everything and lord over others (Matt 20:25). All the natural and worldly competition and running for the front seats is just what flesh is all about. That is also why our fleshly solutions are always first in our mind when we are facing a problem. The flesh always wants to be first on the scene which indicates why the firstborn (or the flesh) will always feel threatened, depressed and defeated when the spirit man appears (1Pet 2:17; Rom 13:7; Luk 11:43; Luk 14:7-14; Jos 2:9-11):

Mat 19:30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

Luk 14:11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

All human-built cities with all the physical glamour and splendour that humanity is naturally attracted to, point to the one evil city which the Scriptures spiritually call “the great city”, Babylon (Gen 10:8-10; Isa 13:19; Jer 51:7):


Rev 18:16 And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!

Because God has placed within mankind the desire to live in His City one day, nothing on this earth will satisfy. Mankind always has the counterfeits first before they discover the genuine, but the genuine takes a long time to come forth. Earthly cities reveal natural man’s pride and lust for instant gratification and impatience. Like the prodigal son, we naturally want our inheritance (the spirit man) now. We do not like the way and time God is taking to bring us to our desired heaven. So we foolishly want to “help” God and in doing so bring more frustration, complaining and eventual destruction (Luk 15:11-24; 1Sam 13:8-14). But only in Godly patience through much tribulation we are made worthy to inherit the desired City of God (Luk 21:19; Acts 14:22; Eph 1:18; Rom 5:2-4; Hab 2:3; 1Pet 1:4):

2Th 1:4-5 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: 5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer.

Our natural city is also marked with high towers because it shows man’s pride, self-righteousness and self-exaltation which blind us to God’s mighty works in us (Ps 107). But all these human efforts to make our mark reveals our natural short-sightedness as they will all be brought down at the appointed time (Isa 30:25; Mat 11:20-21):

Mat 11:23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

Even the city that looks spiritual to most because it proclaims the name of Jesus (even quote scriptures) and do many wonders and miracles in His name on the outside, is nothing else but the same spiritual harlot harbouring spiritual murderers who mix and twist God’s true doctrine to gain their huge following (Gal 4:25; Rev 11:8; Matt 7:21-23):

Isa 1:21-23 How is the faithful city become an harlot! It was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. 22 Thy silver is become dross [the spiritual cleansing has stopped], thy wine mixed with water: 23 Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.

The first man Adam’s generation through the genealogy of Cain are the ones who reveal to us all these kinds of physical pride, lusts and recognition that the flesh naturally yearns for. Even in the meanings of the names of Cain’s offspring the evil or negative is applicable. In these names we also can see more of the dynamics of the city-life or the heart of the natural man:

Gen 4:18-19 And unto Enoch was born Irad [fugitive, wild ass, dragon]: and Irad begat Mehujael [smitten of God – complaining]: and Mehujael begat Methusael [strength (of man)]: and Methusael begat Lamech [powerful; the strikerdown; the wild man]. 19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

Lamech, for example, was the first man to have multiple wives in the Scriptures and this point to our unfulfilled lusts of the flesh and the eyes which can never be satisfied with seeing – our natural adulterous spirit for the doctrines of the world (Matt 5:28):

Ecc 1:8 All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

The pride in our natural man’s heart even convinces itself and others (with the same mind-set) that it can take vengeance out of the hand of God. We think that God is too lenient with the evil in others, and we want to bring a complete end to that evil now:

Gen 4:23-24 And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. 24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.

Just like Jonah, we do not like God’s mercy on those evil people out there when we cannot see that the biggest evil is in our own hearts. This is when we want our enemies and those bad sinners out there to be killed and go and suffer in an unscriptural eternal hellfire. We naturally cannot accept that God can and will indeed save all mankind, yes even our enemies (1John 2:2; 1Tim 2:3-6; 1Tim 4:9-11):

Jon 4:1-2 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. 2 And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.

Then we read in the book of Jonah:

Jon 4:5-8  So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.  6  And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.  7  But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.  8  And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

Jonah’s heart is exposed!

Jon 4:10-11 Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night [In the Hebrew it relates more to being a son of the night and this son of the night will die in the night]: 11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

Jonah had more pity on the gourd than on the people – he was more obsessed with his own salvation than with that of others. How sad is the state of our human heart. In our spiritual blind state (the night) we naturally love and worship the creature (our old man and the things God uses in this world to distract) rather than the Creator (Rom 1:25). The cities or hearts of man are the heavens where God works His will, also the negative applications in the lineage of Cain:

Gen 4:20 And Adah [one of the wives of Lamech] bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.

Although Abel was the first to be “a keeper of sheep”, Jabal was the first to keep cattle and he dwelled in tents. His name means “stream” and all of this is trying to tell us that Jabal was wandering all the time to find greener pastures for his beasts. Again the point is emphasized that flesh can never find true satisfaction. It is only in “the last Adam” that all our desires are met:

Joh 6:35  And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Jabal’s brother, Jubal, was the first musician on earth. He was the first to make and play stringed and wind instruments:

Gen 4:21 And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.

Again we see that the desires of flesh are only satisfied on a temporary manner, even through music:

1Sa 16:23 And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.

This links also to the words of Lamech which he spoke to his two wives. His words were set in poetic form showing natural man’s artistic attempts to hide or soften the pain and evil inside and outside.

Gen 4:23-24  And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah,

Hear my voice;

ye wives of Lamech,

hearken unto my speech:

for I have slain a man to my wounding,

and a young man to my hurt.  

If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold,

truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.

Zillah, the other wife of Lamech, bore Tubalcain who was an instructor and artificer in brass and iron. This points to the base metals or the natural strength, the beauty and seductiveness of flesh which the generation of Cain also spiritually represents. Tubalcain also had a sister, Naamah, and her name also links to this seductiveness of flesh:

Gen 4:22 And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah [her name means fleshly beauty and pleasantness].

Like king Solomon in his apostatized state, we naturally build beautiful glorious cities (“strongholds” and “imaginations”) – all that our carnal heart desires (2Cor 10:4-5):

1Ki 9:17-19 And Solomon built Gezer, and Bethhoron the nether, 18 And Baalath, and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land, 19 And all the cities of store that Solomon had, and cities for his chariots, and cities for his horsemen, and that which Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion.

This accumulation only emphasizes our natural and fleshly emptiness and hopelessness. Through the necessary learning phase which will come to us through much trials and tribulations, we will discover incrementally that the city of the first Adam is built on sand and it will be destroyed eventually. This destruction of our flesh through God’s righteous judgement forces us to concentrate more on that city which is eternal in the heavens (Ecc 2:4-10; Matt 7:25-26; 2Cor 5:1). All these natural “cities” in our natural heart cannot fulfil the deepest desire of man for the true city of God – Jesus Christ. Everything the earthly “great city” of Babylon and her daughters can produce is just to make the longing for God’s spiritual city grow deeper and deeper. Abraham, a type of the elect, is depicted as a man who always searched for the city of God – this is what all mankind will eventually receive – the true city of God, Jesus Christ.

Heb 11:8-10  By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.  9  By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:  10  For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

The True City, the true Jerusalem, Jesus Christ, is indeed from above and He rules over all cities on earth and every dwelling in this creation:

Gal 4:26-27  But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.  27  For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.

In the New Testament the churches that were established first were city-based bringing to us the positive application of how God’s elect is always made aware of that City of God. Its compactness helps us to see how His people are “fitly framed together” in unity – the one mind of Christ (Eph 2:19-22):

Rev 21:10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.

Heb 13:14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

God is a God of mercy, even on all the inhabitants of the city of the first Adam where the greatest evil is taking place (our own hearts). God ordered the establishment of “cities of refuge” under the old covenant where those who know they are guilty of murder can get a hearing and their ordained merciful judgement (Jos 20:1-9; Num 35:14). Jesus’ compassion for those in the city of Jerusalem (“which now is”) shows that salvation is also for them whose eyes are still blinded to that truth for the time being (Gal 4:25):

Luk 19:41-42 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.

When we see the city of God, then we do not look neither to the right nor to the left, or backwards and fixate on earthly things, like the wife of Lot (Gen 19:26; Pro 4:27; Pro 21:16; 1Tim 1:6; 2Pet 2:15). The spiritual city of God, Jesus Christ and His Christ, have the opposite “measure” to the seductive doctrines of the city of the first man Adam. The line between the two become more apparent as we die daily to all the “rudiments” of our first carnal city (Col 2:20-22; 2Cor 6:17; 1Cor 15:31). Jesus Christ and His doctrine are the only true “measure” or “the shekel of the sanctuary” by which all will be conformed to (Rom 8:29). The Jerusalem coming down from God has safety in its true doctrine which is indeed a “great high wall” (Ps 48:1-2; Isa 55:8-9; Heb 1:3; Rev 3:12; Gal 4:26; 2Jo 1:9 ). Those in that city of God see themselves, even now, as ambassadors of that spiritual city and they do not resist or interfere in the affairs and “measure” of this foreign earthly city. They obey and submit to all ordinances of God, even the earthy, by the indwelling fruit of the spirit of Christ (Dan 4:34-35; Rom 13:1-10; 1Pet 2:13-17; Gal 5:22-23):

2Co 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

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