************ Sermon on Genesis 5 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on June 19, 2011
"The Line of Seth"
If you compare Genesis 4 to Genesis 5, you will notice that the line of Cain and the line of Seth both have an Enoch and both have a Lamech. In addition, the two lines also have names that sound very much alike: Cain/Kenan, Irad/Jared, Mehujael/Mahalalel, Methushael/Methuselah, Enoch/Enosh. Some scholars claim that the Biblical composers got their names mixed up. They say that, of course, because they do not believe the Bible is inerrant and inspired.
The best explanation is the simplest one: that we are dealing with two distinct family lines that have a common ancestry. Don't we have the same thing today? Look in our church directory and you will notice, for instance, that "Ed Brower" and "Frank Leyendekker" both appear three different times. Why? Because they have a common ancestry.
So, let's start off by saying there are no mistakes in an inspired Bible.
I The Organization of Genesis
A Did you notice the first sentence in verse 1 of our Scripture reading? "This is the written account of Adam's line" (Gen 5:1). This is not the first time we have come across a statement like this in our study of Genesis. Listen to what we came across earlier:
(Gen 2:4) This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
When we look ahead in Genesis we see the phrase, "this is the account of" nine more times. I mention this to tell you the divinely-inspired organization of the material in Genesis. It is God's Spirit Who made Moses organize Genesis according to eleven different "accounts":
-Genesis 2:4 – the account of the heavens and earth
-Genesis 5:1 – the account of Adam's line
-Genesis 6:9 – the account of Noah
-Genesis 10:1 – the account of the sons of Noah
-Genesis 11:10 – the account of Shem
-Genesis 11:27 – the account of Terah; an alert reader/listener should wonder why this is NOT the account of Abraham
-Genesis 25:12 – the account of Ishmael
-Genesis 25:19 – the account of Isaac
-Genesis 36:1,9 – the accounts of Esau
-Genesis 37:2 – the account of Jacob
These are the Spirit-inspired divisions of Genesis. Each of these statements are placed by the Spirit at the end of each section.
Meaning what for us today? Meaning we are entering a new section, the third section, of Genesis today. We've already looked at the account of the heavens and the earth. Last week we finished the account of Adam. Today we begin the account of Noah.
B I am sure you realize that our Bibles are divided into books, chapters, and verses. You should know that the chapter and verse divisions were later additions and not part of the original inspired Word. They were added, I believe, by printers for the sake of convenience.
Now, sometimes our Bible's chapter and verse divisions fall in the most inappropriate of places. Last week, if you remember, we saw that our chapter and verse divisions separated the Ananias and Sapphira incident from its immediate context. I want you to know it is the exact same thing in the first two chapters of Genesis because Genesis 1 should actually end with Genesis 2:4.
(Gen 2:4) This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.Similarly, the words "this is the account of Adam" should mark the conclusion of Genesis 4 instead of the start of Genesis 5.
C Let's go back to the opening verse of our Scripture reading: "This is the written account of Adam's line" (Gen 5:1). Do you notice anything strange? Something different from every other account? The word "written": "This is the written account of Adam's line" (Gen 5:1).
I can understand why the first account – the account of the heavens and earth – was not written. After all, no one but God was around as witness. But why is the word "written" emphasized with the account of Adam?
If you remember, Genesis goes about the business of denying evolution. Genesis 1 and 2, of course, denies the evolution of the universe and everything in it (including mankind). In a strange sort of way, Genesis 3 denies the evolution of sin and evil. As for Genesis 4, it denies the evolution of culture, civilization, technology, agriculture, religion, and urbanization. Today, we see that Genesis 5:1 denies the evolution of language and writing and books when it says, "This is the written account of Adam's line" (Gen 5:1). We are told that at the time of Adam, already, there is writing and books and advanced speech. Contrary to what evolutionists say, language and writing are not part of an advanced evolutionary process.
Telling us what? Telling us that the humans made and formed by God were not bumbling, ignorant cave men – as depicted by evolutionary anthropologists and archeologists or as depicted by magazines like National Geographic. Just like God made a fully formed and developed universe so did God make a fully formed and developed man. But what else would you expect of a creature made in the image of God?!
As an aside, the first mention of book or writing in the Old Testament is found here in Genesis 5:1: "This is the written account of Adam's line." The first mention of book or writing in the New Testament is found in Matthew 1:1: "A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ." Thus the first book of the Old Testament tells of the origins of the first Adam while the first book of the New Testament speaks of the origins of the second Adam. There is one major difference, however: Adam stands at the beginning while Christ stands at the end. Jesus is not the subject, but the object, the One towards Whom salvation history moves.
D One more thing. As we learned last week, Cain went out from the Lord's presence. Which means he also went out from the presence of Adam and Eve. Yet, in Genesis 4, the written account of Adam's line includes Cain and his family tree and their accomplishments. Telling us what? Telling us that Adam and his family somehow stayed informed about Cain and his descendants.
II And Then He Died
A From one point-of-view what we have in Genesis 5 is a third account of human origins. Genesis 1 tells us about the creation of man in the image of God. Genesis 2 tells us that man was formed from the dust of the ground and woman from man. Genesis 5 tells us how the chosen line of Seth descended and grew and flourished from its first ancestor.
I remember a picture that was taken in 1981: in the photo was my grandfather, my mother, me, and my son David. Why was this picture taken and why do I remember it? Because we consider it exceptional for four generations of one family to be alive at the same time. When we look at the genealogies of Genesis 4 and 5, we see that Adam remained alive through nine generations of those who followed him. He stayed alive for an amazing 930 years. This is a span of years virtually equal from the Norman conquest of Britain to the present day. Think of all the time and all the history and all the people.
B Yet, in the year 930, Adam drops dead; Genesis 5:5 gives Adam's obituary announcement: "Altogether, Adam lived 930 years, and then he died." After nearly a millennium of existence, natural death entered the human world. Next, in 987, Enoch "was no more, because God took him away" (Gen 5:24). And then, in 1042, Seth also dies: "Altogether, Seth lived 912 years, and then he died" (Gen 5:8). After this, Genesis 5 repeats the same monotonous refrain over and over again: "and then he died," "and then he died," "and then he died."
Do you know what we see in the death of Adam? We finally see the physical fulfilment of the death sentence pronounced upon man. God had warned Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, "for when you eat of it you will surely die" (Gen 2:17). After man ate from the tree anyway God pronounced a death sentence upon Adam and all of mankind:
(Gen 3:19) By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.
Cain's (and Lamech's) act of murder showed that death can occur by violence or, I suppose, by accident. But, until the death of Adam, there was no physical proof that death was inevitable for all men, that death was unavoidable. So, the death of Adam was something totally new in the experience of men. I can only imagine how shocking Adam's death must have been: that someone who lived almost a thousand years could die of natural causes.
C Think of the message this gave to the original audience of Genesis – the people of Israel on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. The people of Israel knew and experienced death first-hand as their baby boys were drowned in the River Nile, as they were worked to death by their Egyptian task-masters, and as they died in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land. In Genesis 5, Moses lets them know this is nothing new because the original humans, who were able to live for an incredible number of years, also faced death. As Romans tells us, the wages of sin truly is death (Rom 6:23).
D Man is mortal. That's the message we see here. Says the book of Hebrews, "Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Heb 9:27).
Let me talk to our young people, young adults, and young couples. If Adam died after 930 years what makes you think you also won't die? The problem with the young is that they all think they are immortal. Most of those who are young never consider the possibility of their own death. But, let me tell you, someday you will die and then you will face judgment. That happened to Adam. That happened to Seth. That happened to Abraham and Moses and David and Solomon. And, that will happen to you as well. In fact, unless Jesus comes back first, it will happen to everyone of us – young and old, healthy and sick, including those trying all sorts of heroic methods to stay alive. We all will die and then face judgment.
Are you ready? Are you prepared? Unless you know Jesus as Savior and Lord, you are not ready and you are not prepared for your death.
A The point of the genealogies is not just to warn us about death but to also, and especially, show the work of God. So, as we look at the records, we see God preserving the divinely ordained line of the Seed promised in Genesis 3:15 – a line, of course, that culminates in the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Furthermore, did you hear and see the repetition of the phrase "and had other sons and daughters"? In fact, this is said about everyone in the promised line: Adam, Seth, Enosh, and so on; it is even said about Enoch. By His providence, God's command to "be fruitful and increase in number, [to] fill the earth and subdue it" (Gen 1:28) was being carried out by His image bearers. As the psalmists later put it, man is able to do this because children are a blessing from the Lord (Ps 127, 128).
There is one more work of God that we find in this chapter. It is a work that comes to expression in the life of Enoch. Two times we are told that Enoch "walked with God" (Gen 5:22,24). He did not walk with God in the same way Adam walked – side-by-side in the Garden. Enoch was a sinner and thus shared the fallen nature of all men; as such, he could not physically even look upon God and live, unless God veiled His glory as He later did with Abraham and Moses (Ex 33:20).
Enoch "walked with God." Hebrews tells us he did so by faith (Heb 11:5). Enoch "walked with God." Which means his was a life of prayer, worship, and obedience. Enoch maintained close fellowship and communion with God. Enoch earnestly sought God (Heb 11:6). Is this said about you? Is it said that you walk with God? Let me tell you, in Christ and by His Spirit, we have the same privilege as Enoch – to also walk with God (Col 2:6; Gal 5:25; 2 Cor 5:7).
Enoch stood in a long line of Old Testament saints who valued their relationship with God and lived by faith (cf Heb 11). Enoch was like Noah, who also walked with God (Gen 6:9). Enoch was like Abraham, the friend of God (James 2:23). Enoch was like Jacob and Moses who both spoke with God face to face, as a man speaks with his friend (Gen 32:30; Ex 33:11). Enoch was like Job and Jeremiah and Isaiah. By faith, Enoch "pleased God" (Heb 11:5,6).
B Where is Enoch in the genealogy of Seth? Enoch is the seventh person in the line of Seth that begins with Adam. By way of contrast, who is the seventh person in the line of Cain that begins with Adam? It is Lamech. Remember Lamech, with his two wives, his boasts, his murder of a man who injured him?
By the providence of God what a difference, what a contrast, between the Lamech of Cain and the Enoch of Seth. We see the difference that comes about because of God's election, God's preservation, and the reception of true faith. The line of Cain is self-reliant: it boasts the first city, the invention of arts, the development of weapons, and murder. The line of Seth seems to be simpler and gentler, contains no inventors or warriors, and its most distinguished members walk with God and talk with God – even though they too are sinners.
Do you know what the letter of Jude says about Enoch? Jude describes Enoch as a prophet or preacher against wicked men. Listen to what Jude says:
(Jude 1:14-15) Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones (15) to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him."It almost seems as though godly Enoch had godless Lamech in mind when he spoke these words.
C Now, notice what God does with Enoch or to Enoch. Scripture tells us, "Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away" (Gen 5:24). Notice, unlike everyone else in Genesis 5, Scripture does not tell us that Enoch died. Instead, "God took him away." Hebrews puts it this way:
(Heb 11:5) By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.Somehow, in actual physical flesh, Enoch was carried into heaven, where he remains to this day.
God "took him" into heaven. Even as He later took Elijah into heaven (2 Kings 2:11). Even as He took Jesus into heaven – as we celebrated just a few weeks ago.
Enoch did not experience death. Instead, God "took him." God "took him" – not in death, but in life. God "took him" into heaven. Do you know what Scripture shows us here? Scripture shows us that there is life beyond this life, that life continues beyond this present existence. Scripture shows us here that death – the result of man's sin and disobedience – can be defeated. Scripture shows us here that death does not have the last word. In Enoch we get a foretaste of the life everlasting that is ours in Christ. In Enoch we get a foretaste of Christ's resurrection – and our resurrection because of Christ!
Does this apply to you? Yes it does! IF. IF. If you are ready to die, then you are also ready to live with Jesus and Enoch. But this means you need to have Enoch's faith. This means you need to believe in Jesus Who defeated death. For those who are joined to Jesus in faith share with Him in His victory over the death and the grave.
Today's passage illustrates the principle that whenever godly people die, God takes them. God takes them from here and receives them to Himself. Even though most of the Lord's people have to experience physical death, those who by grace through faith walk with God will receive the same eternal reward as Enoch. That is God's promise.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page