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Genesis study & commentary

Genesis 5

By Doug Ford
Genealogy of Adam;
Enoch is raptured


The story of chapter four continues on into chapter five.  It's the genealogy of Adam.  It starts with a reminder of the blessing that we were created in God's image.  Then we see the generation come and go, each ending in death, the result of sin.  We see the expanding population, growth of civilization; there is progress and prosperity in spite of the curse.  Regardless of anything man does, God had told Adam, "You will surely die."  Every descendant of Adam is reminded of this truth that came from His sin.


Genesis 5:1-5

The genealogy of chapter 5 moves the story of the bible from Adam to Noah.  It provides the connection of creation to the days of Noah, in a sense serving as a prologue to Genesis 6 and the story of the flood.  This prologue shows the continual passing on of the sin nature through the bloodlines form year to year and age to age.  The underlying message is that mankind had a sin problem that wasn't going away and as mankind populated the earth, the sin became more widespread and abundant.


At the beginning of this prologue we are reminded that God created man in His image.  The Lord is portrayed as the Father of mankind.  He created them male and female.  Then, Adam, at the young age of 130, had a son in his likeness, according to his image.  God made Adam in his own likeness; righteous, holy, perfect & happy.   Seth is born of Adam, in his likeness.  In this likeness, we can know that the image of God is passed through Adam to Seth; but also, the sinfulness of mankind is also transferred.  Seth, who folks sometimes refer to as the godly line, was sinful, guilty and corrupt by nature.


The critical part of this genealogy is that Adam lived, he had sons and daughters and then he died.  Death being the penalty of sin had become 'normal' in the creation.  


Note:  Biblical genealogies don't show all the offspring, not do they necessarily show every generation. 


Genesis 5:6-17

Many times the genealogies get skipped over.  But stop a minute and consider just how incredible this is.  Do you know you Grandfather's name and how long he lived?  How about his father? How long did he live?  Just the presence of this genealogy testifies to the historical value of the scriptures.  Let's consider one of these guys: Mahalalel only shows up a couple places in the bible.  Here and the genealogy of Jesus in Luke 3:38.   What was special about Mahalel?  He was a real person.  He had a mom & dad.  He had been a baby who relied on his mother.  He had been a child who looked up to his father.  He had been a teenager finding who he was and finding his place in the world.  He had dreams.  He had worked, played laughed and cried.  He got married, had kids, lived and died.  And his offspring led to the birth of Christ.


Mahalalel had a testimony and didn't know it.  This guy had no idea thousands of years later, we'd be reading his name and considering him.  He was just a normal guy who was a key player in the great things to come.  His testimony is still active today.


What about you?  Will anyone be reading about us thousands of years from now?  Probably not, but consider our spiritual genealogy.  We are sons of God; spiritual brothers and sisters to Jesus Christ; and co-heirs with God the Son. 


The population of world is growing by leaps and bounds.  We must consider the life span and the overlapping lives of these men.  Even if they only fathered children for the first hundred years or so, the number of children would be so man you would struggle to remember their names.  There is one estimate that if Adam saw only half the children he could have fathered grow up, and if only half of those got married, and if only half of those who got married had children, then Adam would have seen more than a million of his own descendants.  How'd you like to organize that family reunion?


Genesis 5:18-24

Enoch was the son of Jared.  He lived 65 years and had a son he named Methuselah.  After he had Methuselah, Enoch walked with God for 300 years.  The name Methuselah is a prophecy; it means 'when he is dead, it shall be sent'.  What happened in Enoch's life that he named his child Methuselah and initiated a closer walk with God? 


In Jude 1:14 we also see that Enoch was a prophet.

14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." p 16 These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.


As a prophet, Enoch became aware that judgment was coming.  The impending judgment drew him closer to God.  What does this mean though?  Wouldn't a prophet be walking with God?  What does it mean to walk with God?  The term is only used to describe two men by name, Enoch and Noah (Gen 6:9).  It is also used to speak of priests who entered the holy of holies and spoke to God directly.  It describes a personal communion with God; as if they walked side by side all the time.  In other places in the bible we those who walked 'before God' or those who walked 'after God'.  These describe a different walk, a blameless walk within the moral and ethical boundaries of God. 


"If I wished to find a man's most familiar friend it would surely be one with whom he daily walked… In walking, friends become communicative — one tells his trouble, and the other strives to console him under it, and then imparts to him his own secret in return." (Spurgeon)


Amos asked the question:

Do two walk together

unless they have agreed to do so? (Amos 3:3)

Enoch walked in agreement with God, not expecting God to follow him in his walk.  Jesus invited the disciples to "Come, follow me."  Too many times we Christians make wrongly expect God to follow us in our walk, our plans and our way of life.  As Enoch walked, God chose the direction and Enoch walked in complete agreement.  This is a fellowship we seem to view as the next step beyond normal, only attainable by bible characters.  We should not accept this; we, too, can walk with God as Enoch did.


To walk with God, we cannot rely on what we see.  Walking with God means one would be keenly aware that our circumstances are determined by unseen things.  We walk in faith, then, knowing that He is in charge. 


Many times in our walk, we can't see the movements of God.  We cry out, "Where are you, God?"  Later, when the dark clouds clear, we realize how He carried us through, sustained us and provide for us.  Many times, it is then we find that we've grown.  We find that He was in control all along.  It's difficult for us to stay in that place where we know God is in control of every circumstance of our life and keep our fingers out of it!  Enoch did so for 300 years. 


Because of this walk, Enoch walked with God and then God took him.  Enoch was, and then he was not.  In our day, a man who walks and talks with God is not really respected.  His disappearance might be explained as a wild-eyed religious fanatic who 'talked' with God likely walked off a cliff.  While folks who walk with God are expendable to the world, the disappearance of an unbeliever would draw accusation, speculation and compassion from the likeminded.  It makes sense thought; those who don't find hope in this world will be missed by the world, however they won't miss it.   


In Hebrews 11:5 it 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." p For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.


Hebrews then tells us more about Enoch.  He believed that God was who He said He was and that as such, He would reward those whose life was spent in pursuit of Him.  We see then that Enoch was translated or maybe we'd call it raptured.  He was taken to heaven.  This is a stark contrast to the rest of this genealogy.  We see men were born, they lived and died.  This characterized the life of mankind after the fall of man with the curse of sin upon them.  From generation to generation, one after another, they lived and died; then Enoch was and then he was no more.


Because of sin, death reigned over the entirety of the human race.  Yet, we need not live as victims without hope.  Mankind still bears the image of God and the blessing of walking with Him is still available to us.  We know something Enoch did not know; death no longer reigns, Christ overcame death on the cross and was resurrected, the first fruit of many to follow, for all those who would trust in Him.



Genesis 5:25-27

Methuselah lived to the ripe old age of 969 years.  This is the oldest recorded age and approaches a one sixth of the entire history of the creation.  Since Enoch was a prophet and Methuselah means "a forth coming" it's believed Methuselah's life was a prophecy and timing of the flood.  The fact that he lived so long shows God's long suffering and His grace displayed.  The door to repentance was open for a very long time.  The Jewish tradition says that Methuselah died 7 days before the flood.  There were many who heard the warning that judgment would come when Methuselah died.


Note: there are other opinions regarding the meaning of the name Methuselah.  There are a couple choices on the words that make up the name.  One means 'missile' or 'weapon' making the name 'man of weapon'.    The other word creates the message 'when he is dead, it shall come'.  This second option, in combination with the prophecy of Enoch, becomes the obvious and meaningful choice, while the other seems obscure and meaningless. 



Genesis 5:28-32

Enoch was the seventh generation from Adam as was Lamech in Cainite genealogy.  This is quite a contrast.  Lamech known as the first man taking multiple wives, who bragged of killing a young man who had simply wounded him.  He boasted that if God promised sevenfold vengeance then he boasted seventy-seven-fold vengeance.  In contrast then is Enoch, the faithful prophet who walked with God, believed He was who He said He was and that He would reward the obedient and faithful.  Lamech's name means destroyer, one who overthrows; while Enoch means initiating, teacher or consecrated.  It's a life and death, humble and proud, light and dark, heaven and hell comparison. 


In a similar contrast, we could compare quotes from the two men named Lamech.  Lamech, of the Cainite line, is quoted as singing the braggadocios song of taunt (4:23-24) while the Lamech of the Sethite genealogy is quoted as desiring relief from the curse of sin and looking through his son Noah for comfort.


Life, prior to the days of Noah, is characterized in this way.  Read Jude 14 again, it seems as though Enoch was speaking of Lamech and those characterized in that way. 


These genealogies connect Adam to Noah, connecting creation to the flood.  It likewise maintains the connection between Adam and Christ, the last Adam and ultimate deliverance from the curse of sin (1 Cor. 15:45).  


The longevity of life created some interesting scenarios.  A few of these become noteworthy:

  • Enoch didn't live very long and was taken up at a relatively young age of 365.
  • Enoch was raptured midway between Adam and Abraham.  (Elijah was raptured midway between Abraham & Jesus.)
  • Noah was 500 before he had Shem, Ham and Japheth – relatively old.
  • Noah's father & grandfather appear to have been killed in the flood.
  • Noah's father could have heard a firsthand account of the fall of man from Adam before he died.
  • Noah would have met his great, great, great, great, great grandfather.


At this point in our study, the earth is about 1550 years old.

We've now we've seen 10 generations.

Adam  means 'Man'

Seth  means 'Appointed'

Enosh means 'Mortal'

Kenan  means 'Sorrow'

Mahalalel means 'The Blessed God'

Jared means 'Shall come down'

Enoch means 'Teaching'

Methuselah means 'His death shall bring'

Lamech means 'The Despairing'(but also destroyer, powerful, overthrower) to the Lamech characterized by despair and longing for hope, life; to the Lamech characterized by evil, judgment and death.

Noah means 'Comfort, Rest'


So the genealogies read:

Man appointed Mortal sorrow.  The Blessed God shall come down teaching His death shall bring the despairing comfort, rest.


We know from a glance ahead that in Noah's day the earth is corrupt (6:11).  God's indictment shows the darkness the world was running towards at that time.  We see how quickly it happened.  The blood of Adam and Eve coursed through the veins of mankind.  With it came the rebellious desires and heart that wanted to be like God as Eve desired her own moral autonomy; along with Adam who willingly sinned to join Eve in direct disobedience of God.  This is what is in the human heart and it resides within the image of God mankind still bears.   


The men of God were speaking to mankind and warning them.  I wonder if mankind responded then the way we do now.  Did they remember Enoch and think it was long ago, people were not as wise back then?  Did they recognize sin all around them and say think they would be different and be able to handle dabbling a little here and a little there.  They may have thought life was becoming harder, having to work more to earn a living and acquire certain things.  Some may have thought God's ways and requirements were unreasonable and unfair.  We do all that and more today.  These thoughts and justifications for our sinful ways combine with a love growing cold to create a dark world rushing toward destruction.


One commentary put the approach of judgment this way:

The day came fast for the long-lived patriarchs. At death, life is short for all. "Where did it all go?" we wonder. "Only yesterday I was young and running through the fields." Vast multitudes of people have been born bearing the image of God, originals all, so beautiful, so full of potential—but they have been plowed under. The rains have washed their names from the tombstones. Their bones are no more.


Death spread its dark cloud over the patriarchs' bright hopes, and the cycle went on and on and on—"and he died"—"and he died"—"and he died."


The texts of the genealogies show the contrasting outlook upon life and the trend toward the corruption spreading across all of mankind. 


In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man died and found himself in Hades.  He was tormented endlessly and part of his torment was to see the poor man with Abraham in paradise.  He cried out for mercy across the voice, but the chasm could not be crossed.  Finally, he begged Abraham:

Send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'
29 "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'
30 " 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'
31 "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "


Of course, these words were spoken by the very one who would rise from the dead for the sins of men. 


Our world is running headlong to destruction.  Every day we look more and more like the 'days of Noah'.  The contrasting worldviews looks more and more like the difference between Lamech and Enoch, one walking purposefully and meaningfully with God and the other seeming to walk with equal and opposite purpose, in defiance and disobedience. 


Enoch was a prophet who delivered the message, Methuselah was a walking, talking time clock for the judgment that was coming.  Those who knew this may have gotten nervous every time he got sick.  These men served as a warning to the people of their time but no one would listen.  Only a few would be saved.  Even if one came back from the dead, they would not have listened.


The days are getting darker.  The storm clouds of our day are on the horizon.  The difference is, this world doesn't face a flood, but the fires of the final judgment.   You must be sure of your salvation; you must know that your sins are forgiven.  Repent, turn from your sins agreeing with God that you are sinful and in need.  Then trust that Jesus died for you and he will take your sin debt and even credit your spiritual account with a righteousness that is not your own.  It is then that you may have the assurance the Lord will save you out of the judgment and you will live eternally with Him. 


©2019 Doug Ford