The Seed of the Serpent & the Seed of God
Music has always, and likely will always, be a big part of my life. Since I was young, I was drawn to darker and harder types of music. Extreme metal was an obvious love of mine. Many set beauty and darkness against each other, but I believe there is real beauty in darkness. This is not the time or the place for that debate, but that is where I am starting. Life contains sorrow, pain, are suffering. None of these experiences are inherently evil, but beauty can be found in their midst. We do not end there, because the grave is empty, but we can find goodness, and dare I say beauty, in the midst of our darkest hours in this life. Darker music connects with some of us much more sincerely than much of the happy pop music out there. In this post I will be thinking through a type of gothic metal, a style of a friend of mine refers to as “Beauty and the Beast”. I will also be walking through a few of the bible’s genealogies and exploring the reality of sin and death, futility and folly, when divorced from the God-man, the redeemer of mankind, Jesus Christ. Perhaps I will lose you at the beginning with metal, but there is a reason I chose the song I did; there is a reason I chose the scripture I did. Now go put on some black clothes, get out your black make-up, open your bible to Genesis 4, and let us listen to music and bring to life some of those dusty genealogies.
The song I have been thinking about is “The Cry Of Silence” by the band Draconian. The song is generally rather slow, a very pensive intro filled with a sense of longing and sorrow. Haunting, but beautiful. The song is rather long, coming in at almost 13 minutes, so it can afford to have very slow progressions (at least in the opinion of this writer). Aside from the sense of melancholy, which resonates with me very deeply, the song also demonstrates why such music would be referred to as “Beauty and the Beast”. The harsh growls of the male singer, with the clean singing of the female singer show forth both beastly and beautiful aspects of the music. These vocal styles give us a taste of both the light and the darkness in the music. This is also the pattern of the two seeds in scripture, the seed of the serpent and the seed of God. This is a picture of the city of light and the city of darkness.
The first human genealogies in scripture start at the end of Genesis 4 and continue through Genesis 5. In these genealogies, we see the establishments of the line of the serpent in contrast to the line of the Messiah. The battle for humanity that was waged in the garden in Genesis 3 between God and the serpent is pictured in these two family lines. Cain, the son of works, and Seth, the son of grace, are set against each other as a picture of the serpent being set against God. The patriarchs of each family are representations of this struggle. In their birth they were set in contrast to one another. When Cain was brought into the world, Eve declared, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord” (Gen. 4.1). This was the child of promise in the eyes of Eve, but it was not so in the eyes of the Lord. Cain, the first murderer, did not regard the Lord. Even after being indicted for the murder of his brother, his focus was on his own safety, not repentance. Cain was, in a real sense, afraid that the world was filled with people like him, who wouldn't hesitate to murder their closest of kin. The desire of Cain was his own glory, not that of the Lord. Seth, on the other hand, was brought into the world in stark contrast to this. When Seth was born, his mother Eve said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel” (Gen. 4.25b). Even in their conceptions, their mother's outlook was radically changed. What Eve intended to do to bring about the promise of God, God rejected, but he did not reject his promise. Even after the seed of the Serpent had killed the seed of promise, God brought forth his own seed through death. This is the pattern that God intends to defeat the serpent. Light will emerge from darkness. Beauty will be come through atrocity. Life will come through death. This is the pattern of Genesis, which is a shadow cast back through redemptive history from the cross.
There is still more to learn about the genealogies by paying attention to their names. Two names in particular are repeated in both lists and are set in contrast to one another: Enoch and Lamech. Let us briefly consider the Enochs. The Enoch of Cain had a city named in his honor. The seed of the serpent sets itself apart with monuments built to it’s own glory, and yet death finds this one. The Enoch of Seth sought the Lord and walked with God. Instead of having monuments enshrined to his glory, the seed of God never tastes death. The seed of the serpent boasts in his own glory, but his end is surely death. The seed of God desires communion with his creator and enters life everlasting; death has lost it’s sting!
Lamech is the other name found in both genealogies, and it is also the only person in both genealogies that speaks. The similarities end there. The Lamech of Cain boasted to his wives (the first polygamist?) of his autonomy. When Cain killed Abel, God established the Lex Talionis and nature has testified to it ever since. The “sevenfold” vengeance of Cain is a picture of the completeness and fullness of justice, a life for a life (and no more). The punishment fits the crime. This is the justice of God. Lamech decides that this will not do. He establishes his own code of retribution, “I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me” (Gen. 4.23b). This is the picture of autonomous man, casting off restraint and making unto himself a law. Lamech’s pride is his autonomy, not simply his name. In the Lamech of Cain, wickedness grew. And then there is in contrast to this the Lamech of Seth. When the Lamech of Seth gave birth to Noah, he praised God saying, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands” (Gen. 5.29b). Much like his grandfather, Enoch, the Lamech of Seth looked unto God for his joy and deliverance. The seed of the serpent does whatever is right in his own eyes and establishes his own law. The seed of God waits patiently upon the Lord and seeks salvation and redemption from the Son of God.
These parallels in the genealogies bring me to the reason I chose this song in particular: the lyrics. While not quoting the entire song, the first thing that is rather obvious is the song’s sense of hopeless, it’s self-centered nature. Here is a sampling:
Filled with sorrow
Bleak inner self touched by pride
Such an exquisite pride in my suffering
alone, all alone with the emotional
streams of my soul
I am truly left alone
but somehow, just somehow
it feels like my loneliness is a victory
This pride of man is the product of the seed of the serpent. There is no hope in this life for the child of darkness. Life is meaningless, except for the pride and pleasure that one can achieve for themselves, but it always ends in death. This is the only end for the seed of the serpent. Toward the end of the song, one lyric in particular grabbed my attention and made me see the genealogy of Cain in vibrance:
I need, I want, I long for my retribution
I need, I want, I yearn for my retribution
I want my retribution
I want it now
This lyric brought to mind the boast of Lamech. The curse of autonomous man isn’t devoid of a deep longing for justice. Even the most self-absorbed of us all long for retribution when we have been slighted. It is the proportionality and timing of God’s justice that we reject. We want others to suffer (though we want mercy for ourselves), and want want it now. Draconian captures exactly what Lamech did before them, the perverted justice of autonomous man. This desire of man will never be satisfied outside of the seed of God, Jesus Christ. Apart from him, all justice will be corrupt, and retribution will never ultimately satisfy, but this is the lie of the serpent in full bloom. The promise of the serpent is desirable, but it will never satisfy and will end in death and pain.
One other thing that was noticeable from the genealogies is that music (as well as cultural and technological progress) were first developed through the the line of Cain. It is easy to look at the hopelessness in the line of Cain and assume that everything they do was bad. Certainly, they willfully lived in rebellion against God, but that doesn’t mean that he abandoned them to utter corruption. God’s common grace was present among his enemies, and they did do many things well in the common kingdom, things that believers and the children in the line of the Messiah can enjoy. Music is among these gifts of God. We are free to enjoy these gifts, even when they come from the hands of those who are of the seed of the serpent. There is much beauty that man can stumble upon, as it were, because of God’s common grace. Part of taking dominion is accepting what is beautiful, virtuous, and good in the common kingdom. We take dominion as we plunder the Egyptians. It is a mistake to believe that we cannot enjoy, benefit from, and even praise God for good things unbelievers do. We do not have to redeem culture, in the sense that we take it from the pagans and keep everything that is good and beautiful for ourselves. God blessed Jubal with the gift of the lyre and pipe, and though he was in in the line of Cain, part of the seed of the serpent, we can enjoy this gift and praise our God for his gift in spite of the wickedness of Jubal. We must view common grace in light of the antithesis between the seeds, but we ought not overlook it.
One of the great things about music is that inspires creativity in those who enjoy it. We can listen to it and our minds make all sorts of various connections. I have shared with you some of my thoughts, inspired from a song that I love, about the greatest story ever told. Though many will likely not like the song, or even the style of music, I hope that the genealogies were given fresh life. There is no part of scripture that is insignificant, and even the more tedious and boring parts can give us special glimpses into redemptive history, the great battle between the seed of the serpent and the seed of God. The battle between the seeds started in the Garden and was won on Calvary. While we await the consummation we can rest assure of the end of this story. John the Revelator shows us the climax of this great story:
And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days. Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.” - Revelation 12.1-10