IIT UBF - University Bible Fellowship at IIT




The Great Great Grandfathers

Date: Feb. 4, 2018

Author: Michael Mark

Genesis 5:1-32

Key Verse: Genesis 5:29

“He named him Noah and said, ‘He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.’”

Have you ever wondered why we call our ancestors great, or grand?  Good fathers are worthy of honor, but the father of our father we call grand-father.  The father of our grandfather is called our great grandfather.  The father of him we call great great grandfather.  His boss was called the “godfather” (just kidding).  But what makes grandparents so great?  Maybe it’s because they tend to spoil their grandchildren.  I worked with a man who once said, “It’s great being a grandparent, we just give them candy and give them back to their parents.”  Sometimes we look at grandparents and see them as old people, but you may be surprised at the things they have gone through in their lives.  Some of your grandparents may have served governments.  Some of them may have owned land for generations.  In any case, they had to toil through life like you and me, they became wise through experience, and without them you would not be here.  You might not be impressed with all of your ancestors, but somewhere down the line I’m sure there are some you can be very proud of.  Did you know, that you have ancestors that have lived to be more than 900 years old?  Did you know, that you have forefathers that are patriarchs, fathers of massive families, inventors of writing and agriculture?  Patriarch is made up of those words: patri for father and arch for ruler.  In today’s passage we will learn about the select lineage of 10 patriarchs from Adam to Noah, who not only lived long lives spanning centuries, but in a way teach us how we may live even longer than they did, in eternal life.  Keep in mind, that in this series in Genesis we are looking into the beginnings of history, and by looking back to our great great grandfathers, we will learn about who we are, where we come from, and how we got here today.

We begin with v.1a, “This is the written account of Adam’s family line.”  This begins another section, or another account in the book of Genesis.  From Ch. 2:4 up to this point, we learned about “the account of the heavens and the earth,” which is the history of mankind, from the creation to the fall.  Now we are diving a little deeper into the history of humankind through the descendants of Adam.  Notice that v1a says the “written account.”  Throughout the book of Genesis you will see the word “account” ten times to indicate certain divisions, but this is the only section you will see the words “written account.”  This suggests that the following is a documented genealogy of the descendants of Adam.  It shows us that Moses may have compiled Genesis from different sources he had available.  This account may have been passed down from Noah himself, who knew the fathers.  It may not have been written by Noah himself, as over 800 years would have passed between the Flood and Moses, but at some point in between, this genealogy of Adam’s descendants who lived before the Flood was written down.

Now let’s get into the genealogy.  Look at v.1b-2, “When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God.  He created them male and female and blessed them.  And he named them ‘Mankind’ when they were created.”  Here we see a summary of when God created man.  They were created in the likeness of God – perfect, beautiful, holy, without shame, and immortal.  Death had not entered in yet.  He created them male and female, and blessed them.  This is another hint at the beauty of marriage, the blessing of the bond between one man and one woman uniting and becoming one.  And they were named “mankind,” because all came from the man Adam.  Now look at v.3, “When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.”  This stands in contrast to the image of God when man was originally created.  Because of the fall, Adam had become corrupted, ashamed, guilty, and under the power of death.  Consequently, all of Adam’s descendants, including Seth, inherited this image.  Because of sin, we all fall short of the glory of God.

The rest of the genealogy follows Seth’s family line.  But remember from last week Adam had another son: Cain.  Why Seth’s line?  It is because all of those who will live and inherit the earth will come from Noah, Seth’s descendant.  All of the fathers listed here may not be the firstborn sons.  Like Seth they may be a younger sibling.  But all of the fathers in this genealogy lead to Noah.  In addition, this is the family of those who worshipped God faithfully and in truth.  Cain was not faithful to God, but Abel was.  Cain killed Abel, but God granted Adam and Eve another child in his place – Seth.  Seth was faithful to God in place of Abel.  And after Seth gave birth to Enosh, Gen 4:25 says “At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.”  Seth’s descendants were distinct from Cain’s descendants, in that they began to call on the name of the Lord.  They were true worshippers of God, spiritually they were the faithful children of God who had not abandoned him.  This faith was passed on from generation to generation in the line of Seth, and in this passage we see a list of 10 patriarchs from Adam to Noah.

Look at v.4, “After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether, Adam lived a total of 930 years, and then he died.”  No, there is no mistake or typo in this written record – Adam lived 930 years.  Keep in mind that these are solar years, 365-day years.  930 years.  Think about that.  Today you are truly blessed if you live more than 90 years.  If you are 240 years old, you would have witnessed the American Independence in July 4, 1776.  If you are over 500 years old, you would be able to meet Martin Luther before he nailed his 95 thesis on Oct 31., 1517 to spark the Protestant Reformation.  Why were these lifespans so long?  One reason is that you can see how we were originally created to live forever.  Even 930 years is short compared to eternity.  There are many theories as to how people could live that long.  Perhaps the air, food and water was better, most of the earth may have been a tropical environment and climate in the beginning.  Even as you sit here today, your body is constantly renewing itself.  Liver cells last about 5 months, so every 5 months you basically have a new liver.  Your skin is renewed every 2 to 4 weeks, but the reason why you still get wrinkles is that it loses collagen over time.  Your bones renew every 10 years.  Your intestines, 2-3 days.  Yet still, we die.  How come?  There are lots of reasons for that too.  We can permanently damage certain organs, with too much smoking, drinking or other abuse.  There are also diseases and sicknesses, many of them hereditary.  Otherwise, the again process also catches up with us.  The causes of aging are uncertain, but some theories apply the concept of damage accumulation to our cells over time.  Perhaps these things were less common in those days, but ultimately, the Creator determines the number of our days.  Adam died.  This is the first natural death recorded in the Bible.  God’s word, you shall surely die, was fulfilled.

Now the fact that these fathers lived so long was also a sign of the mercy and patience of God.  In the Garden, he promised that they shall surely die if they eat of the forbidden fruit.  But they do not die immediately.  Eventually they will die, but God has enabled them to live a long life.  Their long life is not because they are faithful and holy either.  I believe Cain’s descendants could live similar lifespans, because God has mercy on all people.  Another reason for their long lives could be to establish civilization.  With a long life of hundreds of years, the human race can advance far enough to benefit future generations, especially future generations that will not live as long.  You might have also noticed in this genealogy that sons were born at a very late age.  Seth had Enosh when he was 105 years old.  Jared became the father of Enoch at 162 years old.  Methuselah was 187 when Lamech was born.  Could they have had other sons and daughters before that?  I believe so.  But one reason I think these sons were born so late was that they were born at a time the fathers could mature in faith.  So one reason for the long life was so that people could mature, intellectually and spiritually.  And it was these sons who are named in this genealogy that could pass on a tradition of faith that eventually produced Noah.

Look at v.6-8, “When Seth lived 105 years, he became the father of Enosh.  After he became the father of Enosh, Seth lived 807 years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether, Seth lived a total of 912 years, and then he died.”  This is the pattern for most of this chapter: When X lived N years, he became the father of Y.  After he became the father of Y, X lived N years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether, X lived a total of N years, and then he died.  This is repeated 8 times in this chapter: and then he died.  V.5, “and then he died.”  V.8, “and then he died.”  V.11, “and then he died.” v.14, “and then he died.”  No matter how great these patriarchs were, no matter how faithful, they died.  No one could escape the power of death.  Death reigned over all men.  Romans 5 says this very clearly, that even in a time when God’s law was not yet written down by Moses, in v.14 “Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses.”  Even though this was a holy bloodline of faithful worshippers, they were all sinners, as evidenced by their deaths.

There was one exception: Enoch.  Enoch was not sinless, but he did get to escape death.  He was for that generation a picture of God’s grace and promise of salvation.  Look at v.21-22, “When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah.  After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters.”  This is a break in the pattern of the patriarchs we have seen since Seth.  The pattern would usually say, “Enoch lived 300 years and had other sons and daughters.”  But instead of “lived,” the verse says Enoch walked faithfully with God.  There is a difference between living, and walking faithfully with God.  How did Enoch walk faithfully?  We can get some clues from Hebrews.  The testimony of Enoch in Hebrews comes right before one of the greatest verses about faith.  Heb 11:5-6, “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.  And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and the he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  Enoch was commended as one who pleased God.  He was commended for his faith.  Same as Abel.  Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see.  Faith is believing that God exists, and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  Earnestly seek God.  And believe in God.  That is how I think Enoch walked faithfully with God.  Only 2 people in the Bible were commended as walking faithfully with God – and that is Enoch and Noah.

Verse 22 says Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years.  300 years!  Enoch must have become the wisest and holiest man on earth.  To walk with God for that long, I bet that’s only scratching the surface of knowing who God is.  Enoch must have been intimately acquainted with and knowing more of the character of God: his sovereignty, his majesty, his holiness, his wisdom, his justice, his humility, his graciousness, his compassion, and his love.  Paul says this in Rom 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”  “The mystery of godliness is great! (1 Tim 3:16).”  I have been in UBF for 21 years now, yet still it is a struggle to walk with God faithfully every day.  Yet the more I seek him, the more I do his will, the more I continue to learn and experience his goodness and grace.  I can only but taste that the Lord is good, but Enoch must have been bathing in the goodness of God.

Sometimes we are amazed when we hear of the exploits and deeds of our ancestors, such as our grandparents.  What was Enoch’s life like?  Jude 14-15 gives us a glimpse, when Jude urges the church to contend for the faith against ungodly people.  He writes, “Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: ‘See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and all of the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’”  Enoch was a preacher of righteousness.  He warned of the coming judgment.  These were primitive times in the earth, but you see that sin was already well advanced, and the message then is the same as the message now: repent and trust in the Lord.  Now do we have to go out to the streets and do the same as Enoch?  Probably not.  But whenever there is opportunity, preach about the salvation of people’s souls through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Enoch was the 7th generation from Adam, and the pinnacle of the lineage of the faithful.  Contrast this with Lamech, who descended from Cain.  He was also the 7th generation from Adam, but he was the epitome of godlessness.  Look at v.23-24, “Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years.  Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”  Enoch did not die, but God transported him directly to heaven, I believe due to his faith in God’s salvation.  There is only one other person in the Bible who did not die and was taken directly to heaven; this other person was the prophet Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) who preached during the reign of one of Israel’s most wicked kings.  Enoch was like the prophet Elijah before the Flood.  He was taken up relatively early.  People in those times were living on average of 900 years, but he was taken at 365.  Perhaps it was God’s grace, to spare him from further evil and trouble.  I imagine like Elijah, there were others who witnessed God taking Enoch up to heaven.  This would be proof of the reality of God and the spiritual world, and also be a sign of hope for those who had the same faith as Enoch – that God will indeed deliver his people out of the curse of death.  The number 365 has some significance as well.  As there are 365 days in a full year, Enoch had lived a full life before he was taken up.

Enoch’s son was Methuselah.  Though he follows the same pattern as most of the other fathers, he can be distinguished as the person who lived the longest ever.  There is a tree named after him in eastern California.  The tree is named Methuselah, and is 4,849 years old.  It was germinated before the Pyramids of Giza were built in Egypt.  Methuselah the son of Enoch had the longest lifespan of all the patriarchs – 969 years.  No man ever lived to be 1,000 years old.  If you calculate his years, he died right before the Flood.  The Flood happened when Noah was 600 years old.  Between Methuselah and Noah’s birth was 369 years, so when you add 369 to 600, Noah’s age in the Flood, you get 969, the age when Methuselah died.

Noah was Methuselah’s grandson.  Methuselah’s son is named Lamech, and when Noah was born, we see an additional verse in the written account that describes his naming.  Can we all please read v.28-29, “When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son.  He named him Noah and said, ‘He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.’”  This shows that in some way, Lamech was aware of the toil, and had a desire for comfort and rest.  He might have even learned all this from his grandfather Enoch, who taught the truth.  Noah means “rest.”  He may or may not have been aware that naming Noah, the one who would save the human race through the flood, was kind of prophetic, or he may have had some dim glimmer of hope in his son.  You can contrast his heart with that of the Lamech from Cain’s family.  The Lamech in Seth’s family is the son of Methuselah.  The Lamech in Cain’s family is the son of Methushael.  Sound’s similar doesn’t it?  It indicates that these families lived close together, and often used similar names.  Just like in UBF there are a lot of Davids, Sams, Sarahs and Marys.  Lamech son of Methushael boasts in his sin and misunderstands God, but Lamech son of Methuselah recalls the curse of God from Gen 3, and with this remembers the promise of God to save, through the gospel in Gen 3:15, “he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel,” since the two are connected.  The difference between the two Lamechs is the knowledge of God’s word and faith in it.

Look at v.31-32 “Altogether, Lamech lived a total of 777 years, and then he died.  After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.”  There is some significance to the number 777 as well.  These are definitely literal years, but might also be symbolic.  The number 7 is the number for completeness, and to a lesser extent, the number 3 as well.  So three 7s here may signify the last of the patriarchs before the Flood.  Lamech would die 5 years before the Flood (Flood = Noah is 600 years old, Lamech lived 595 years after Noah was born), so his father Methuselah actually outlived him for 5 years.  Adam lived long enough to see 9 generations from Seth, up to Lamech, but he died before Noah was born.  The genealogy closes with the names of 3 of Noah’s sons, who would be the fathers of all of humanity after the Flood.

We are all descended from Noah.  That means that these fathers of Noah are our fathers too.  They are our great great grandfathers who have pointed to us the way to comfort, rest and eternal life.  All of them were people who called on the name of the Lord; they worshipped God.  They were faithful to God.  Enoch was the supreme example of faithfulness, who walked with God for 300 years.  Noah and his three sons each had only one wife, showing that they honored the sacredness of marriage and each generation raised up godly offspring for God in the midst of an increasingly wicked generation.  Though they were not perfect, they trusted in God’s word.  They looked to God to bring them comfort and rest, and God sent them a son Noah who would do so.  This was but a shadow of the one and only Son of God, who would come into the world to give us eternal comfort, eternal rest, and eternal life.  Our sins weigh us down, they load us with sorrow and shame and burden us with guilt, giving rise to the reign of death.  Judgment is coming because of sin, which brings us more fear.  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)”  That is the comfort!  That is the rest! While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!  Your sins have been forgiven by the blood of Christ.  And he rose again to conquer death.  Repent, and believe the good news!  When Christ comes, you, believer, will not be judged, but you will be taken to eternal rest in heaven in the peace of God, and you will meet Enoch, Noah, Seth, Methuselah and all those who have left you the footsteps of faith.  You will live forever in the true likeness of God.  Then after 5000 years you will say to Methuselah, how long did you live on earth?  Only 969 years?  But we owe our thanks to him.  Our great great grandfathers pointed us to the good good Father who sent his Son Jesus, who says to us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28).”

comments powered by Disqus
Daily Bread

Prepare the Way for the Lord

Luke 3:1-20

Key Verse: 3:4

As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

  “The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
  ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight.

Read More

Intro Daily