At the end of Genesis 4 are two verses that are almost as cataclysmic as the Fall was in the previous chapter. We’re given news that Adam and Eve had another child, and named him Seth. “Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, ‘God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.’” (Genesis 4:25)
In Hebrew, Seth sounds like the word shiyth, which is the word used for “has appointed” in verse twenty-five. We are also told, in verse twenty-six, that Seth had a son called Enosh.
And then the big news: “Then men began to call on the name of the Lord.”
It’s almost a throw-away line. But, it indicates a HUGE shift in Mankind’s relationship with God. God had to be called upon. He was no longer obviously present with them.
It would take another four thousand years for this to change. For four millenia, God was distant. Yes, He was here, but we couldn’t relate to Him any more. We had to ask that He hear our prayers. We know from other places that God cannot tolerate the presence of sin. So, His leaving is an act of mercy: if He didn’t leave the scene, He would eventually destroy Mankind completely. He does anyhow (the Flood of Noah), but He is able to wait until there is a righteous man to save: Noah. His plan was for redemption, so He had to hold off on judgement until Mankind’s lineage could continue, by having Noah carry it forward.
A throw-away line? Perhaps. But, I think it’s one of the saddest lines in the whole Bible. We lost direct access to God.