Ten Special Men

Genesis 5

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
December 2014

Our topic today is “Ten Special Men” but we will focus on one or two of them this morning.  Before we begin, I have to say that I have never met anyone who said that Genesis 5 was his or her favorite chapter in the Bible.  There is a reason for that.  Most people do not like to read genealogies.  They are long.  They are boring.  They are dry.  They do not seem real practical.  They have so many funny names which are really hard to pronounce.  By the end of this lesson, Genesis 5 may become one of your favorite chapters in the Bible. This chapter is practical.  It is very convicting.  It can even change your life.

There is a very common problem in the church today.  Many people in church do NOT really believe that the whole Bible is the Word of God.  They say that they do but there are really only parts of it that they think are God’s Word.  They read a passage, meditate on it and God speaks to them.  It comes alive to them.  Those are the passages that they get excited about.  They like Psalms or Proverbs or some other book.  They might even avoid reading certain books of the Bible.  They might spend all of their time in Acts or I Corinthians but avoid other books in the Bible, like I or II Chronicles.  What is the problem with that approach?

Paul says that “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable” (II Timothy 3:16).  It does not BECOME the Word of God to us when God speaks to us.  It IS the Word of God.  God does not have to breathe on it to make it alive.  It is ALREADY alive.  Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”.  It is already ALIVE.  It is already God-breathed.  That is what the word “inspired” means in Greek.

Paul didn’t say that some of it is inspired.  He didn’t even say that “most of it is inspired”.  He said that all of it is inspired.  The whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation is inspired – every promise, every teaching, every warning, every story or narrative, every prophecy, every genealogy.

If you do not read and study all of it, you do not get the whole counsel of God.  You just get the parts you like.  The result is that you become unbalanced.  Avoiding the OT because it has some genealogies in it is pointless because when you come to the NT you will find that it begins with a genealogy as well.  The first chapter of the NT is a genealogy.

II Timothy 3:16 not only says that all Scripture is inspired, it says that all Scripture is profitable for us today.  That means Genesis 5 is inspired by God and is profitable.  God wrote it because there is something important in that chapter He wants us to know.  I have seen some pastors, preaching through the Book of Genesis, who completely skip over this chapter, like it is not even in the Bible.  I am not going to do that.

I want to look at this chapter but before we do, let’s review Genesis 4.  Genesis 4 mentions three sons of Adam and Eve.  There are three of their boys mentioned in that chapter – Abel, Cain and Seth.  They had a lot more sons than these three.  One Jewish tradition says that they had thirty sons.  They lived over nine hundred years but the chapter only mentions these three.  I focused the last two weeks on Cain and Abel because that is what the chapter seems to focus on.

The fact is that Seth is very important.  He is very under-rated.  Seth is more important than both Cain and Abel combined.  Why?  There are two reasons.  First, the Messiah came through Seth.  Jesus was a descendant of Seth.  He was not a descendant of Abel.  Abel did not have any kids and He was not a descendant of Cain.  The NT tells us that Jesus was a descendant of Seth (Luke 3:38).

There is a second reason why Seth is very important.  He is our ancestor as well.  We are descendants of Seth.  Everyone in this room is a descendant of Seth.  People do not like genealogies, unless they are their own.  If you are finding out about your ancestors, somehow it is not boring.  It is fascinating to find everything you can about them.  This is our genealogy.  Noah came from Seth and everyone on the planet today is a descendant of one of Noah’s three sons.

Basic Observations

Before we look at some practical applications from this chapter, I want to make several observations about this genealogy.  There are several things you should know about this genealogy.

1. This genealogy was written.

Last week, I said that civilization before the Flood was highly advanced.  We saw that in chapter four.  Pre-Flood civilizations were technologically advanced. They were not primitive cavemen.  That is the lie of evolution.  Man was advanced from the very beginning with iron tools and musical instruments.

Here we learn something else. They also had writing before the Flood. Genesis 5:1 begins with the words “This is the book of the generations of Adam.” (KJV, NASB, ESV, ASV, RSV).  Those words are extremely important.  That is the first time that a book is mentioned in history.  The word “book” in Hebrew always refers to a written document of some kind.

According to secular history, the Sumerians were the ones who invented writing five thousand years ago (3100 BC).  Apparently, they were not the first to write, because we see writing in Genesis 5.  There was writing before the Sumerians.[1]  Genesis 5 mentions a book.  We do not know who wrote the book but it was someone who lived before the Flood (Adam or Noah) wrote these things down on a scroll or a clay tablet and may have been taken into the ark.

It was one of the sources of the Book of Genesis.  When Moses wrote the Book of Genesis around 1450 BC, he used sources.  He did not just write by divine revelation.  He used a book.  He used the book of the generations of Adam as one of his sources.

2. This genealogy covers ten generations

The genealogy in Genesis 4 only mentioned seven generations (Adam, Cain, Enoch, Irad, Mehujael, Methushael, Lamech).  This genealogy has ten generations, so it is a little longer. Genesis 5 mentions ten generations from Adam to Noah.  Noah is the 10th generation from Adam and Eve.  What do we notice about these ten generations?

If you add them up, you would find that they cover a period of 1556 years. The chapter ends with the birth of Noah’s three sons.  Noah is 500 years old at the end of the chapter (5:32). The chapter ends exactly one hundred years before the Flood. The Flood does not take place until he is 600 years old (7:6).

Some of the same names are used in both chapters.  There is an Enoch in Genesis 4 and one in Genesis 5 but they are not the same person.  One is a descendant of Cain and one is a descendant of Seth.  There is a Lamech in chapter four and one in chapter five.  The one in Genesis 4 is a cold-blooded killer.  He murders a young boy in cold blood and boasts about it.

Lamech in Genesis 5 is Noah’s dad.  He is not a poet like the other Lamech.  He is a prophet.  After he has Noah, he says, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed” (5:29).  He didn’t say that about his other kids.  Apparently, he knew that that boy would do something special.  God was going to use him in an incredible way.  That didn’t happen until he was five or six hundred years old.  That gives some hope to the rest of us.

3. This genealogy is selective.

It is not exhaustive.  It is not a complete family tree of Adam and Eve.  It doesn’t cover all of Adam’s descendants.  Adam had many sons and daughters.  This chapter focuses on only one of his sons, Seth but it does not cover all of Seth’s descendants.  Seth had many sons.  It only mentions one of them.  It goes through ten generations and covers one person in each generation.

Noah’s dad was named Lamech.  He had many sons and daughters but Genesis 5 focuses on only one of his sons, Noah.  That shows how selective this genealogy was. Noah had some brothers and sisters.  They all drowned in the Flood.

4. This genealogy contains life spans.

The one in chapter four did not contain any.  We do not know how long Cain or Lamech lived.  We do know how long all of these ten men before the Flood lived.  What we know is that they lived really long.  They all lived about 900 years. Eight of these ten men lived an average of 907 years.  Two of them were not included because one does not die in this chapter (Noah).  He dies later in the book (9:29).  The other does not die at all (Enoch).

These Pre-Flood Patriarchs lived more than eleven times longer than we live today. It is the reverse of evolution.  We are NOT living longer today.  We are living shorter.  It is eleven times shorter.  Life expectancy in the US today is about 78 years old.  It is a little higher for women (81%) and a little lower for men (75%) but the national average is 78%. The youngest person in the list lived 365 years (Enoch).  The oldest one on the list lived 969 years (Methuselah).  Enoch was the father of Methuselah.

The man who lived the shortest in this chapter fathered the man who lived the longest, Methuselah.  Methuselah lived about a thousand years.  If he would have lived thirty-one more years, he would have been a thousand.

Methuselah lived in the eighth generation from Adam.  Here is the shocker.  When Methuselah was alive, Adam was still alive.  Adam lived to be 930 years old.  In fact, when Lamech (Noah’s dad) was born, Adam would have been 874 years old.  When Adam died, Lamech would have been 56 years old.  Lamech could have talked to Adam before he died and asked him what it was like to live in the Garden before the Fall and get his perspective.  Noah was the only one of the ten in this chapter who was born AFTER Adam died.  Lamech died five years before the Flood.  Methuselah died the same years as the Flood.

That raises some questions.  Why did they live so long?  Did they live longer because of external factors (e.g., environmental factors, diet, vapor canopy)?  Did they live longer because of internal factors in the gene pool?  Adam and Eve had perfect DNA and may have been highly resistant to disease and infection.  The earth in the beginning may not have had the bacteria and viruses we have today.  The answer is that we do not know.

For skeptics of the Bible, this is a problem?  How can you believe in a book that has people living a thousand years old?  It sounds like a myth.  How would you answer them?  This was a common view in the ancient world that the very first people lived a long time. There is extra-biblical evidence for this among the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Babylonians and the Sumerians.

5. This genealogy emphasizes human mortality.

There is a common phrase that runs through out the chapter.  It is the three words “and he died”.  You see it eight times in the chapter (5:3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 25, 28).  The whole chapter is a diary of death.  These men before the Flood lived a very long time but they all died.  Satan promised them that they would not die but every one of them did with just one exception.  The ones who died in this chapter were Sethites.  They were God’s people.  They were not the evil Cainites.

Hebrews 9:27 says “It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment”.  We all have an appointment date with God.  None of us knows when the appointment is but we all have it, unless we live in the final generation when the Lord returns.  We will all die.  One hundred people die every minute and one hundred and fifty thousand die every day.

Some of us will die young and some will die old.  Some will die quickly and some will die slowly.  Some will die peacefully and others will die painfully.  As Ben Franklin said, “only two things in this world are certain – death and taxes.”  You may escape paying your taxes but you will not escape death. There are many physical causes of death (cancer, heart disease, stroke) but there is also a spiritual cause.  Death occurs because of sin.  The wages of sin is death.  Adam’s sin led to death for all of us but we sin every day, so we cannot really blame him.

Enoch: A Case Study

Genesis 5 gives us some information about a man named Enoch. There are two very unusual things about this man Enoch.  He was unusual for two reasons.

1) Enoch never died (5:24).

God just removed him from the planet.  Hebrews 11:5 says, “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.”  Enoch and Elijah are the only people in the Bible who never died.  Enoch was raptured (Genesis 5) and Elijah was taken into heaven in a chariot of fire (II Kings 2).  Both men were born.  Both men never died.

They will not be the only people who will not die.  All the believers who are alive on the earth when Jesus returns will not die.  “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds (instead of dying) to meet the Lord in the air.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

2) Enoch walked with God.

All of the other ten men just lived.  All we are told about them is that they got married, had kids, lived a really long time and died.  With Enoch we are told something that was not said of most of the other ten men.  Other men lived.  Enoch walked with God.  We are told that two times in Genesis (5:22, 24).  There were only two people who never died (Enoch & Elijah).  There were also only two people who walked with God (Enoch and Noah).  Two of these ten men walked with God.  As I thought about Enoch and Noah, I realized that they had many similarities.

Enoch and Noah: Similarities

1) They both lived BEFORE the Flood.

2) They were both Sethites.

They were both descendants of Adam through Seth. Noah’s father was Lamech.  His grandfather was Methuselah. Enoch was Noah’s great, grandfather.

3) They were both were married.

They were both husbands.  They had a wife.

4) The both had children.

They were both fathers.  They had sons and daughters (5:22, 32).

5) They both lived in a wicked environment (cf. 6:5-6).

6) They were both righteous (Hebrew 11:5; Genesis 6:9).

Enoch pleased God.  Noah was called both righteous and blameless.  Neither one of these men were sinless.  Their wives would tell you that but they were both righteous.

7) They were both men of faith.

Noah was a man of incredible faith, as we will see next week.  God told him that a Flood was coming and that he needed to build an ark.  Noah believed God and did exactly what he told him to do, even though what God asked him to do sounded crazy.  He did it, even when there was no sign of any rain coming.  His faith led to actions.  It led him to do something.  He built an ark.  Enoch was also a man of faith.  How do I know?  Both Enoch and Noah are both mentioned in the Faith Hall of Fame (Hebrews 11:5, 7).

8) They were both preachers (Jude 14-15; II Peter 2:5).

Genesis does not mention either one preaching but the NT does. They both took a stand for their faith.  They were not silent.  They were vocal.  Not only were they preachers, they preached a similar message.  The both preached against sin.  They both preached about a coming judgment.  Noah preached about the upcoming Flood.  Neither one of their preaching produced any great revival.

Noah became one of the most unsuccessful preachers of all time.  The only converts he had were his own family.  Many preachers act as if you are a great failure unless you are winning souls every day.  If that is your criterion for success, Noah was a complete failure.  He had seven converts in 120 years, although he did win over his own family (which is not always easy).  We know from Jude 14-15 that Enoch also preached about judgment for sin. They both preached an unpopular message.

9) They were both were delivered by God.

They both experienced a miracle.  Enoch was protected from death.  Noah was protected from the Flood, even though he died eventually.  They both found grace and favor in God’s eyes (cf. 6:8).

10) They both walked with God (5:22, 24; 6:9)

Application

What does it mean to walk with God?  It does not just say that Enoch spoke FOR God.  It does not just say that he lived FOR God.  It says that he walked WITH God.  It goes back to Genesis 2.  God used to take walks with Adam and Eve.  Now Enoch and Noah walked with God.  What does that mean?  It is a picture of communion, and fellowship.

Walking was used as a means of transportation in the ancient world.  That was how they got to places.  On Easter Sunday, a few men went from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  It was a seven mile trip.  They got there by walking.  Jesus showed up incognito and played dumb.  He asked them what they were talking about (Luke 24).  Today, it is a way to exercise.  It is also a picture of fellowship.

The question to think about is this:  Would it be said of us that we walk with God?  It is possible to know about someone and not know them personally.  There are all kinds of famous people that we do not know personally.  It is also possible to know someone but not know them well.  We have all kinds of acquaintances at work that we know but are not close to.  To walk with God means to be close to God.  Just going to church, even going to church regularly, is not the same thing as walking with God.  Do we walk with God?

Some of us cannot walk with God for one day.  Enoch did it for three hundred years (5:22).  He did not do it in a good environment.  He lived before the Flood which was an extremely wicked environment.  He also did not do it in a monastery as a monk.  He was married.  He had kids.  He had family responsibilities and he still found the time to walk with God.  Noah had to build an ark.  Noah wasn’t retired with all kinds of free time on his hands.  He had a job to do.  He was very busy and he still had time to walk with God.

How do we walk with God?  We have to do two things.  We have to talk to God and let God talk to us.  This is not rocket science.  It is very simple.  Our goal for this week is to spend time in prayer on a regular basis and to spend time in God’s Word, talking to Him and letting Him talk to us.


[1] Jubilees 4:17 says that Enoch was the first one who learned how to write but there is no way to verify this statement historically.

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