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(Genesis 5) Truths From an Old Record

(Genesis 5) Truths From an Old Record

by Stephen Davey Ref: Genesis 5:1–32

Why would God choose to record an obituary column in holy scripture? What we discover in Genesis 5 is a long list of people we don't know. But God knows them . . . and that's all that matters.

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(Genesis 5)

If you have decided to read through the Bible from cover to cover, and you started in the book of Genesis, the first major hurdle you have had to overcome is Genesis, chapter 5.  In fact, many people have never hurdled that and so they’ve stopped in their reading in Genesis because you come to chapter 5 and in one sense it seems unimportant to the twentieth century Christian.  In another sense it seems almost discouraging or despondent.  You’re walking through the cemetery, and you are viewing the headstones of the deceased patriarchs.  Why would God spend time recording for us this ancient orbituary column in Genesis chapter 5?  I must admit or confess to you that those thoughts have crossed my mind.  In fact, I considered skipping chapter 5 with only a few comments and then getting into the more exciting chapter 6 of Genesis, where we know the story of Noah and the flood.  Yet, as I plowed into Genesis chapter 5, it wasn’t long before the discovery of so many precious gems were uncovered.  In fact, when I finished the week of study, I have even entertained the thoughts of making this a two or three part sermon.  We’ll never get through Genesis that way, right?  And all of you want to get through Genesis eventually.  We will cover some of the key thoughts in Genesis chapter 5.  Let’s answer, of course, the first question.  If you have the notes, I would give you three.  Why would God take the time to record this book of the generation of Adam?  “In the day God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.  He created the male and female and He blessed them and named them man in the day when they were created.  When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years he became the father.”  And now you begin your way through the graveyard.  Why take the time to give us this?  Let me give you three suggestions.

I think God is implying first of all that He is keeping His word.  God is saying, “I am keeping my word.”  You see God had promised a deliverer through the godly seed of woman.  He is listing the names of those in the godly line of Seth.  Chapter 4 of Genesis is the ungodly line of Cain.  God is taking time to remind Israel that, “I have kept a godly seed alive through Seth and here are their names.”

The second implication along that same line is this:  God always has a remnant of believers.  God always has a remnant of believers.  The god-fearing may be a tiny minority.  In fact, at the writing of this, man was becoming increasingly immoral.  Yet God is in effect letting us in on the fact that there are those that haven’t thrown in the towel.  There are still some who follow God.  I think of Elijah, who, when he took on the prophets of Baal, of course, won the great victory on Mt. Carmel.  The fire fell.  He was on the mountaintop experience of victory.  Then he had had all of the false prophets rounded up, and they were all killed.  He had also been praying for three years that no rain would  come, and it hadn’t.  God had answered his prayer as the prophet.  Then, after Mt. Carmel, Jezebel says these words, “May the gods deal with me this time tomorrow, if I do not take your life like those the prophets of Baal.”  In other words, she is saying, “You’ve got 24 hours to live, and then it’s curtains.  You’re done.  I’ve put a contract in effect out on your head, and I’m going to make sure this time tomorrow, you’re dead.”  You know the story where Elijah runs for his life.  He’s tired and discouraged.  Here’s what he prays to God.  Have you ever prayed this?  Listen.  He says, “I have had enough, Lord.  Take my life. I have been zealous Lord, but the Israelites, those around me have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars and put your prophets to death with the sword.”  Now note this: “I am the only one left.  Now they are trying to kill me too.”  I Kings 19.  God, I think, chuckles under his breath and then moves closer to Elijah and in effect whispers in his ear these words:  “Son, there are seven thousand people in Israel alone who have never bowed their knee to Baal.  Seven thousand--unknown--unnamed believers in Me.  You don’t know who they are.  You don’t know where they are, but I want you to know that I have a remnant.  And they have never bowed their knee to the false gods.”  I think of what Paul wrote to the Philippians in chapter 4 verse 22.  He said these words: “All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.”  We’re never given their names, but in the ungodly household of this emperor lived a believing remnant--those who were following God. And how about that long list in Romans chapter 16, names like Aristobulus and Junia and Phlegon and men we’ve never even heard about.  They were unnoticed, but they were not forgotten.  They were unnamed.  They might have been in the minority, but they were never overwhelmed.

Let me apply this thought to you.  Today, or perhaps this past week, you’ve had the thought that you’re alone in your walk with the Lord, but you’re not.  You might even find yourself in the minority in your family.  You know like Thanksgiving and Christmas come along and you have the family reunions.  The last thing it does is lighten your load, refresh your heart.  It increases the burden of your heart.  You are the tiny minority in that realm of relatives that you see every year or every other year.  You might be in the minority at your job where it seems that you’re the only one that hasn’t bowed his knee or her knee to the gods of materialism and pleasure.  So you get to the point where you bow your knee to the Lord, and you say, “Lord, this isn’t worth it.  I am the only one and I want you to hear this morning, my friend, from Genesis chapter 5, God whispering in your ear.  “Son, or daughter, you are not alone.  I have a godly remnant out there, thousands, here, there, hundreds over there, one or two tucked away here, that you don’t know about.  But you’re not alone.”

The third implication, I think, even along that line, is that God never forgets His own people.  Now chapters 1 through 11 in the book of Genesis cover two thousand years.  Two thousand years to cover in 11 chapters.  You know what you and I would have done?  For heaven sake, we would never have taken an entire chapter to list peoples’ names.  There’s too much to cover here.  Too much ground in the history of the world.  Two thousand years and he stops and gives us a list of names.  You know it’s interesting that God is particularly concerned to record the names of those who follow Him.

Some illustrations would be Malachi 3:16 where he writes, the prophet, “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other and the Lord listened and heard.  A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.”  Revelation 20:11-15:  tell us that the names of those who believe in the Lamb are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  Isn’t it an interesting thought, ladies and gentlemen, that God is interested in you.  So much so that He has recorded your name.  Because you and I have a hard time remembering names, but God never forgets.  If you believe in Him, He will never forget you.  You know what it’s like to be forgotten.  Perhaps some husband out there this past week forgot a birthday, and you’re in trouble this morning.  Or maybe an anniversary, that’s worse.  I can remember growing up with a rather large family--the four boys and my father would normally go down in the afternoons to play basketball at the public school.  We were down there playing, and my smallest brother was about four years of age.  We were playing and having a great time.  Then we piled back into the car and headed home.  About ten blocks down the street, hey, where’s Jonathan?  We had forgotten the poor kid.  So we turned around and go back, and there’s Jonathan walking down the street with his hands tucked in his pocket.  He looked so forlorn, forgotten.  I can remember my father trying to explain to him, “I love you, son, I just forgot you.”

Maybe you know what’s it’s like to be forgotten at the airport.  Somebody didn’t come and pick you up.  They forgot.  It’s easy for us to forget.  But God never does.  He’s letting us know in Genesis chapter 5 that, “I remember all those who believe in my name.”

Now that we’ve discovered just a few general principles, let’s take some specifics.  I hope you’re there at Genesis chapter 5.  We won’t have time to read, or we don’t want to take time to read all through here.  But He makes notable mention of two men in this long list.  These men are kind of the salutatorians of the graduating class of patriarchs.  These two men are Enoch and Methuselah.  Since God took special time with them, let us take just a few more moments with them as well.

Enoch is the first.  He appears five times in Scripture and four different phrases or thoughts are connected with this man.  If you are taking notes, let me give you the first.  That is:  it is recorded of him in Jude verse14 that he is the seventh generation from Adam.  Why don’t you turn to Jude.  That’s the little book just before Revelation, the last book of the Bible.  It only has one chapter.  We are looking at Jude verse14 says:  “And about these also was Enoch the seventh generation from Adam.”  Why mention this.  Hold your finger there, in fact, stay there.  If we were to go back to Genesis chapter 4, we would discover in the line of Cain that there is an Enoch.  There are two Enochs that are contemporaries living at the same time.  God is saying, “I want you to know about the godly Enoch, the one who followed me, not the one in the line of Cain.  The one in the line of Seth, he’s the seventh generation from Adam.  He’s the godly one, and that of course I think gives us an illustration that during the course of world history there will be the Enochs who follow god and the Enochs who follow the way of Cain.

The second thing that is said about him is that he is the preacher of righteousness.  Look back at Jude 14 and notice what he says, “Behold the Lord came with many thousands of his holy ones to execute judgment upon all, to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds.”  You ought to underline ungodly, it will appear four times.  “For they have done these things in an ungodly way.  And of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against them.”  He’s a preacher, and his sermons are two-fold, or two themes in his sermons.

First of all:  the current ungodliness and the coming judgment.  Boy, he’s a popular preacher.  Those are the things that he preaches about.  It’s so known of Enoch that he preaches on ungodliness that, when it lists his autobiographical statement, he uses the word ungodly four times.  Ungodly, ungodly, and the interesting things is you know who his audience would be.  His relatives.  Those related to him.  He didn’t have an easy task, and yet he preached righteousness.

Now back to Genesis chapter 5 verse 22:  I want to notice the next phrase that you are very familiar with. “Then Enoch walked with God.”  For a day, a week, a year, no, he walked with God 300 years.  The original stem of the word walk would indicate close and intimate communion.  He fellowshipped with God.  You notice this is a walk.  It isn’t a hundred yard sprint.  It isn’t a mad dash.  It’s a walk.  Nor is it a casual take it or leave it stroll.  I can take it, or I can leave it.  No, this in an intimate walk.  It is a pursuit.  Here again is a subject for an entire sermon.  Let me at least suggest two things that are necessary for you to walk with God.

The first is harmony.  You can’t take a walk with someone you’re at odds with.  There must be harmony.  A walk with someone in an intimate fellowship means that your hearts are in harmony.

Second thing I think we could suggest is agreement.  You’re agreeing, in effect, as he did with the direction God is going.  I think the reason more of us do not want to walk consistently with God is because there come times in our life when we don’t like the direction He’s taking us.  We say turn left.  He says turn right.  We say stop.  He says continue.  Well, Lord, I don’t like the direction of this walk.  I can’t agree.  Yet for 300 years he obviously agreed.

The fourth descriptive thought concerning Enoch is found back in Hebrews chapter 11.  Would you turn there.  That’s near Jude.  If you were there, just turn left and head toward Matthew, a couple of books later you’ll run into Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 5.  This I believe is even more powerful in its implication that his walk with God.  Obviously a synonymous thought and yet I keep bringing up different thoughts. “By faith (that was the key) Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death.  And he was not found because God took him up, for he obtained the witness.”  Note:  this is his reputation that, before his being taken up, he was pleasing to God.  Enoch pleased God.  Well that’s great for Enoch.  He was a great man of the faith.  He was one of the patriarchs.  He had an extra dose of grace.  I mean God kind of padded the way for him.  He could please God.  Is it really up to me to please God today?  Well, there are three times in the New Testament that the word ambition is used.  One of those texts is in II Cor. 5:9 where it says that “...whether we are present or absent with you (Paul writes) we are ambitious to be pleasing to God.”  We are ambitious to please God.  How do we please God?  Here again is a subject of another study.  But let me just take you to one thought.  Will you turn to I Kings.  That’s back in the Old Testament, halfway between Genesis and Psalms.  I Kings chapter 3.  I want to take you to an incident in Scripture where a man did something, and we hear God turning around and saying, “Hey, that pleased me.”  I think we can learn what it takes to please God from just this one incident.  I Kings 3:5:  “In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night and God said, ‘Ask what you wish, and I’ll give it to you.’”  How would you like that for Christmas?  Anything you want to have, you wish it, you’ve got it.  Boy, I can think of three or four right off the bat.  So Solomon said, verse 6, “Thou hadst shown great loving kindness that I serve in David my father according as he walked before thee in truth and in righteousness and uprightness of heart toward thee.  And thou hast reserved for him this great loving kindness that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne as it is this day.”  Well, get to the wish, Solomon, verse 7:  “And now, O Lord, my God, thou hast made thy servant king in place of my father David.  Yet I am but a little child.  I do not know how to go out or come in.  And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen.  A great people which cannot be numbered or counted for multitude.  (verse 9) So, (here’s the wish) give thy servant an understanding heart to judge, to judge thy people to discern between good and evil.  For who is able to judge this great people of thine.  And it pleased God.”

Now God will go over in the next verse and put His finger in verse 11 on the three wishes that you and I would normally ask.  God said to him, “Because you ask for wisdom and have not asked for yourself (here’s the first one, underlined it) long life (that’s health) nor have you asked riches (that’s wealth) for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies” (that would mean no one is against you, you’re popular, everybody loves you).  Health, wealth, and fame, there it is.  Those are the three where we would have camped.  He said, because you didn’t ask for these three, instead you asked for discernment to understand justice, behold, I’ve done according to your words.  What pleases God, ladies and gentlemen, from this little incident?  It is when you and I pray, “Lord, I don’t ask for help, I just ask for the discernment to understand when sickness comes.  Lord, I’m not going to ask or wish for wealth, I just ask for the prudence and the wisdom to steward what you have given me.  Lord, I don’t ask for popularity or fame, I just ask for grace to handle my enemies.”  God says to you and me, “I’m pleased.”

Note one other honorable mention in Genesis 5, turn back to Genesis 5.  He mentions another man, just briefly, and yet there’s so much about just this one character.  Verse 22 again of chapter 5, “Then Enoch walked with God 300 years after he became the father of Methuselah.  And he had other sons and daughters.”

I want to give you three things about Methuselah.  First of all:  his birth evidently brought about a change in his father’s life.  His birth evidently brought about a change in his father’s life.  Would you note verse 22, and I want you to underline the word after. “Then Enoch walked with God 300 years after he became the father of Methuselah.”  The cry of his newborn baby son pierced his heart, and God used that to in effect cause in Enoch’s heart the desire that now my son is watching.  He’s here and I must now walk with God.  For 300 years after the birth, he followed God, and he pleased God.

There is the story of the alcoholic who lived a terrible life of sin.  He abused his wife, he never took care of things around the home, and he spent most of his money on liquor.  Into their home a baby boy was born, and all the town thought what a tragedy for a baby boy to be born into a home like that.  Sure enough, this man continued his carousing, continued his drinking, never giving any thought to his son and wife.  One winter, the record tells us, when the boy was five, the father slammed out of the house and began walking across the freshly driven snow toward the local tavern.  As he was talking, he heard the door close behind him, and he heard someone call out, “Daddy, slow down.”  The father turned around and found his son taking large strides so he would step where his father had already pressed the snow down.  His father angrily said, “Son, get back in the house.  What are you doing?”  The son stopped and kind of stuck out his chest and said, “Daddy, I’m big enough now so that, wherever you step, I can step.  Now I can follow in your footsteps.”  That man turned and came back to his son, and he knelt in the snow and gathered his boy into his arms and said to his son, “In that case I need to change direction.”

Now we don’t know what Enoch was like before the birth of his son, but something about his birth told Enoch, “Even though you’re in the godly line, evidently not godly, you change direction.  You begin walking with God.”  The best thing that you and I can do for our children, men and women, is not provide for them the most expensive education, not give them the finest clothes, automobiles.  The best thing that we can do for our children is to walk with God.  To press down the ground where we are not ashamed if they should follow step after step.

The second thing about Methuselah is the meaning of his name.  Would you jot into your notes the name means when he is dead, it will come.  Boy, that’s a great name to have.  They always chose names according to meaning.  And Enoch saw his baby boy born and he was thinking, “What should I name this boy so that the meaning will ring into the ears of all who hear Methuselah.  When he is dead, it will come.  That’s strange unless you understand the chronological history and discover this:  the year Methuselah died, the flood covered the earch.  You see, Enoch was a prophet according to Jude 14.  God must have given him revelation, that when your little boy dies, and you don’t know if it’s two years, two weeks, 200 years, but when he is dead, it will come--judgment.

I want to give you the third thing that is even more powerful because of this point, and that is this.  Methuselah lived longer than any other person has ever lived.  You get it?  God said, “When this boy dies, judgment is coming.”  But, in order to illustrate his grace and patience towards humanity, he made it so that Methuselah would live longer than anybody ever lived.  When he died, judgment came.  One phrase receives repeated attention in Genesis 5.  You ought to take time some time, maybe this afternoon, to underline the phrase.  It is the phrase, “And he died.”  Adam  lived 930 years, and he died.  Seth lived 921 years, and he died. Enos lived 905 years, and he died. Kenan lived 910 years, and he died.  Mahalaleel lived 830 years, and he died.  Jared, 962 years, and he died.  Methuselah, 969 years, and he died.  Lamech lived 777 years, the last in this geneological record, and guess what happened after 777 years.  And he died.

You see, God told Adam that “In the day you eat from the fruit of this tree, you will die.”  Genesis 5 said “And Adam’s days were 930 years, and he died.”  God kept His word.  By the way, ladies and gentlemen, that is why one day you and I will grace the column of some orbituary in the newspaper.  Why?  Because we, like Adam, will die.  We cannot skirt it, we cannot avoid it, save the coming of Jesus Christ for the church.

There’s a fable that tells the story of a wealty merchant who sent his servant to market to purchase goods that were needed.  So the servant went to the market obedient to his master--this market of course being in the city of Samaria.  He went to the marketplace there in the region of Samaria where they sold their goods.  He began purchasing. He decided to take a little shortcut and cut through an alley.  Halfway there, he ran face to face with lady death.  The fable tells us that this servant was so startled that he turned and ran.  Lady death must be after him.  So he went back to his master.  He said, “Please loan me one of your fastest horses.  I must flee to Baghdad tonight.  The master could tell his servant was distraught.  He said, “Okay, take the horse, it’s yours.”  So his servant fled to Baghdad.  The master went back to Samara there at the marketplace and finished buying the goods.  He also went back through that same alley, and he came face to face with Lady death.  He perhaps knowing that his time was not come said to Lady death, “Why have you startled my servant?”   Lady death said to him, “Actually it was I who was startled.  I couldn’t understand why he was in Samaria.  I have an appointment with him tonight  in Baghdad.”

The writer of Scriptures tells us, “It is appointed to man once to die.”  That could be literally translated, “It is the destiny of everyone to die.”  We don’t like to think about that.  And yet one of the godliest men who ever lived said, “Lord, teach me to number my days.”  You see, we are not ready to live until we are prepared to die.  Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for taking precious space in Scripture to record the names of the godly line of Seth.  We have not even done it justice.  We’ve just skimmed the surface.  Yet, father, the overall theme of this chapter is that You love us.  You take note of us.  We have the possibility of having our names written in the Lamb’s book of life.  But it is also a stark reminder that we will all experience the fruit of Adam’s sin.  We shall all die.  Thank you, Lord, for the promise that is only physical and not spiritual, because to be absent from the body is to be present with You.

While your heads are bowed and your eyes are closed, I may be speaking to someone who is not ready to die.  The truth is, you aren’t able to enjoy life, because it is by coming to Jesus Christ that you are introduced not just to life but to abundant life.  We’re going to sing in just a moment a hymn that I believe should express the desire of all of our hearts as we repeat the words back to the Lord, My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine.  For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.


Lord, make me a part of the godly line, those in the family of the second Adam, who’ve created a race of people who will live forever in heaven.

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