A Lamech Christology

The Apostle Paul regularly utilized what is called “Adam Christology” – that is, a way of understanding Christ in light of Adam. Just as Adam brought death, so Christ brought life. Just as all those who are in Adam will die, so all those who are in Christ will live.

However, I don’t think Adam is the only foundational human being capable of being utilized in the christological enterprise. Another monumental figure among our “older siblings” is a man named Lamech. His story is told in Genesis 4 – he hails from the line of Cain (the first murderer), is the first polygamous man in Scripture, and intensifies the violence of Cain. His story ends with this poetic brag:

“Lamech said to his wives:
‘Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
  you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:
I have killed a man for wounding me,
  a young man for striking me.
If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold,
  then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.'”

Lamech’s song is the song of human history. Our world is a world of glorified violence, a moral ghetto where revenge is trusted above all else.  If there is one non-negotiable creed in our blood-stained culture, it’s the myth of redemptive violence.

In a world like ours, Christ appears as a kind of “second-Lamech.” While our older brother Lamech forged the path of vengeance on which we slavishly walk, our even older brother, Christ, has charted a new path of Kingdom peace and forgiveness.

Interestingly, Jesus explicitly alludes to Lamech’s infamous speech after an inquiry into the number of times required to forgive one’s enemy: “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” As Richard Beck says poignantly, the Song of Lamech is not the Song of the Lamb.  One might also read Jesus’ statement in Luke 6:27-29 as a direct retort to Lamech’s lyrical boast: “But I say to you who hear, ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To the one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.'”

Vengeance came through Lamech, forgiveness has come through Christ.
Lamech brought glorified violence, Christ has brought peace.

All in Lamech will die, but all in Christ shall live.