Great Glory In Genealogy

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Manage episode 259299530 series 1051957
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1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2 Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. 3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. 4 The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. 5 Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died.

6 When Seth had lived 105 years, he fathered Enosh. 7 Seth lived after he fathered Enosh 807 years and had other sons and daughters. 8 Thus all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died.

9 When Enosh had lived 90 years, he fathered Kenan. 10 Enosh lived after he fathered Kenan 815 years and had other sons and daughters. 11 Thus all the days of Enosh were 905 years, and he died.

12 When Kenan had lived 70 years, he fathered Mahalalel. 13 Kenan lived after he fathered Mahalalel 840 years and had other sons and daughters. 14 Thus all the days of Kenan were 910 years, and he died.

15 When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he fathered Jared. 16 Mahalalel lived after he fathered Jared 830 years and had other sons and daughters. 17 Thus all the days of Mahalalel were 895 years, and he died.

18 When Jared had lived 162 years he fathered Enoch. 19 Jared lived after he fathered Enoch 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 20 Thus all the days of Jared were 962 years, and he died.

21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. 22 Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

25 When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he fathered Lamech. 26 Methuselah lived after he fathered Lamech 782 years and had other sons and daughters. 27 Thus all the days of Methuselah were 969 years, and he died.

28 When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son 29 and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” 30 Lamech lived after he fathered Noah 595 years and had other sons and daughters. 31 Thus all the days of Lamech were 777 years, and he died.

32 After Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

INTRODUCTION

I have a riddle for you.

Two who lived but were never born.
Two who lived but never lied.
Two who lived but never died.

How’d you do? I first heard this riddle as a very new Christian. I got half right (I think), but hadn’t even heard of the rest. You can ask me later if you can’t figure it out, but we find one of the answers in today’s passage. It’s buried at the end of v.24. One of the people who lived but never died was Enoch. That’s interesting for sure, but is that all we get out of this passage, a little trivia? Absolutely not! In fact, although this is the kind of passage we tend to skim over in our bible reading time, there are four particularly glorious truths, mostly revealed through three men (Adam, Enoch, and Noah), that I want to point out to you from this passage.

First, I want to help you to see a reminder of your nature as a divine image bearer. Second, I want to help you to see God’s faithfulness to His promises. Third, I want to help you to catch a glimpse of the miraculous power of God over his creation. And forth, I want to help you see the march of history and humanity toward Jesus Christ.

Let’s pray that God would help us see everything that’s in this passage for his glory and the good of the world.

DIVINE IMAGE BEARERS

Clearly, this passage consists mainly of genealogy. It is, as the first words tell us, a record “of the generations of Adam” through Noah. How exciting is that? Really, who among us gets worked up over our own family trees, much less someone else’s, much someone else’s from thousands and thousands of years ago (most of whose names we cannot even pronounce)?

Probably none of us are naturally fired up when we come to genealogies in the bible. Most likely skim (or skip) right over them. And yet, rightly understood, there’s great glory in them. Once again, I hope to help you with that today. That is, I hope to help all of you reread this passage in a way that allows you to see the glory that is in it, in order that we might all grow in our praise of and obedience to God.

With that said, one of the keys to seeing the glory that is in this passage is to recognize the basic pattern of this account of Adam’s lineage (because the glory is largely seen in the variations from it). The pattern is fairly clear: So and so lived for a certain number of years, fathered a son, fathered more children, lived a certain number of years longer, and then died. There are 10 clauses in the 32 verses and all but three fit that pattern perfectly. The three breaks in the pattern are the accounts of Adam, Enoch, and Noah. And, once again, it is in these breaks that we most clearly see most of the most remarkable aspects of the passage. For that reason, much of this sermon focuses on the uniqueness of those three men and their relationship with God as described in this short chapter. With that, let’s begin by considering Adam as a divine image bearer.

Adam and Eve are said to have been created in God’s likeness (1, 2), but Adam’s offspring are said to be created in Adam’s likeness (3).

3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.

What does the change in language mean? What did it mean for Seth, and what does it mean for us?

For Adam’s descendents it simply meant that they too were made in God’s image. God put His image on Adam and Eve and they passed that image on to their children. Though death and curse had entered humanity through sin, all of God’s blessing was not lost. His image remained on his people. James 3:9 (and others) confirm this.

As for you and me, what does this mean? This is a critical thing for us to settle on. It has implications for every minute of every day. Either we are made in God’s image, along with the rest of humanity, or we are not.

If we no longer bear God’s image our identity is rooted in our performance and our performance continually falls short of God’s design for us. If our identity is not found in God, we are only our sin and rebellion. We are only our failures and shortcomings. We needn’t care much about our life or the lives of others’. Issues like abortion and euthanasia would be much less significant. Loving our neighbors, much less our enemies, would make little sense. Mankind would have no inherent value or worth. In that case we would be right to feel lost and ruined and discouraged and lonely and worthless.

But Grace, we too are descendents of Adam and Eve. And that means we too are made in the image and likeness of God. And so are all human beings (James 3:9). That means every one of us, along with every other person who has been brought into this world, from conception to natural death, have intrinsic value and worth and dignity; for those things have been woven into the very fabric of our being by our Creator. They cannot be taken or shaken, diminished or destroyed. They find their fullness in surrender to Christ, but they are in all of us as part of our very personhood. In that case we are right to feel significant and valuable and dignified. Let the lowly hear this and be encouraged; remembering that God alone determines who you are. And let the proud hear this and be humbled; remembering that whatever good there is in you is from God.

And as I said above, this has implications for every minute of every day—both for the way we live with ourselves and everyone else in the world (in the womb, in our neighborhood, in the farthest corners of the world from us, in the hospitals and nursing homes, and everywhere else). It ought to effect how we talk to ourselves and the people we encounter. It ought to effect the way we pray for ourselves and the people around us. It ought to effect how we think about ourselves and everyone else in times of peace and health and in times of coronavirus-induced turmoil and sickness. That we are all made in God’s image means that we simply cannot look in the mirror or out into the world and fail to first see someone made in the likeness of God…and when we do, it will change almost everything about how we interact with the person we see.

Was it Adam and Eve alone who were made in God’s image? Genesis 5:3 answers that question with a resounding “NO”. The first glory of this passage, then, as seen most clearly in Adam, the first deviation from the genealogical patter, is that God’s image is passed down from generation to generation as part of God’s gift of life.

GOD’S FAITHFULNESS TO HIS PROMISES

The uniqueness of Adam’s story helps us to see a second revelation of God’s glory as well: God’s faithfulness to his promises. We see it in two main ways; one expected and one probably not. Expectedly it shows up in God’s faithfulness to his promises to bless. We’ll look at that in a minute. Unexpectedly, however, God’s glory shows up in His faithfulness to His promises to curse. And both, as I hope to help you see, are gifts to God’s people.

Promise to Curse

In Genesis 2:17 God promised death to Adam and Eve should they eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They ate and so they died. They immediately died spiritually and eventually, as we see here, they died physically as well. God was faithful to his promise to curse them in this way.

What’s more, not only did Adam and Eve die according to God’s promise, all of their children did too. Eight different deaths are reported in Genesis 5—all but Enoch (more in a bit) and Noah and his sons (who would die later). Adam (5), Seth (8), Enosh (11), Kenan (14), Mahalalel (17), Jared (20), Methuselah (27; and another trivia question), and Lemech (31) all died. God was faithful to his promise to curse.

We take death for granted so the reports of long life are more shocking to us in Genesis 5 than are the reports of death. According to God’s design for humanity, however, the opposite should be true—we should expect long life and be shocked by death. But God remained faithful to his promise to curse.

We see this as well in vs.28-29 where Lamech, speaking of his son, Noah, acknowledged that God was still faithful to his promise to curse the ground and make it painful and difficult to make it bear fruit (3:17-19).

28 When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son 29 and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.”

Again, we take it for granted that providing food and shelter involves unending, and often frustratingly hard work, but that should only remind us of God’s faithfulness to his promise to curse mankind because of our sin.

Now this (God’s faithfulness to his promises to curse) may not seem like good news. In one sense it isn’t of course. And yet in another very important sense it is. God always keeps his word. Whether it is to curse or bless. God never lies. He always follows through on his promises. That is why He cannot simply ignore sin or let it slide. He promised death for it and so death must come. But that is also what makes his means of salvation so remarkable. We are saved by death. God, in killing His Son for our sins, was both just and justifier (Romans 3:26). To be under a curse is painful, but God failing to keep his promises would be infinitely more painful still—if you want to see this in action just look at how frustrating it was for all the pagans with fickle, fake gods in the time of the OT. Our God is faithful to his promise to curse.

Promise to Bless

But God is also faithful to his promise to bless. We see this primarily in the three men, the three breaks from the genealogical pattern.

Adam and Eve’s growing family tree is an expression of God’s faithfulness to his promise to bless with fruitfulness and multiplicity. The repeated expression “had other sons and daughters” is important to note as it helps us to see God’s ever expanding faithfulness to this promise.

That the divine image is passed from Adam and Eve to their children (3) is an expression of God’s faithfulness to His promise to bless.

That Enoch did not die gives us a hint that God will be faithful to his promise to provide rescue (3:15).

Likewise, that Noah’s death isn’t recorded in this passage, along with his father’s words about him (29), give us hope that God would be faithful to his promise of deliverance (more in a bit).

Grace, in God’s simultaneous faithfulness to his promises to bless and curse we find a tension that continues to Christ. In it we find a constant, promised, battle between the offspring of the serpent and the offspring of the woman (3:15). God made us for and promised us blessing, but our sin brought about God’s promised curse. Until death takes us or Jesus returns, we will always live in this tension. The cross of Jesus provides the remedy for this tension and that is the great promise for all who will believe—another promise to which God will surely be faithful.

The second great glory in this passage is seen in God’s perfect faithfulness to his promises. Let that drive you to the Word of God, then, Grace. Poor over it, mining it for God’s promises. They are what we’re meant to build our entire lives upon—and nothing else.

THE MIRACULOUS POWER OF GOD

The third great glory—the miraculous power of God—is most clearly seen in Enoch. It is also seen in the long lives of the first humans. In the first two chapters of Genesis, we’ve already seen God’s miraculous power to create. Here we are able to see God’s miraculous power over His Creation.

Enoch’s Rapture

Look quickly at v.24. It is a subtle, but truly remarkable verse. In stark contrast to the curse and death that is so prevalent in the rest of this passage we find this…

24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

Enoch “walked with God” (22). This does not mean that Enoch was without a sinful nature, that he lived perfectly, or that he had no guilt. It means that he trusted God and set his heart on the things of God. This became an expression that God’s people maintained even into the NT.

Colossians 2:6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him…

That is God’s call on us as well. We too are to walk with God. There is a great difference between being simply being alive (life) and walking with God (fullness of life). We are to delight in his presence, follow his lead, and trust in his ways. Every decision is a decision to stay with God or walk away from Him and his glory. This is not to say that God always leads us down easy paths or that he always reveals to us where he is going. But it is to say that walking with God means that we trust Him to lead only to good places.

For Enoch, or any of God’s OT people, to walk with God was to experience relief from the curse even as they awaited God’s ultimate cure—the chosen Seed of the woman. For us, or any of God’s NT people, to walk with God is to know Christ as example and cure. Jesus walked to the cross on our behalf so we could walk with Him with God. This is the essence of the Christian life—walking with Christ into fellowship with God. And that is a mighty expression of the power of God. Because we’re born into sin, no one walks with God on our own. To do so requires God to cause us to be born again. And that is power!

Grace, do you see the unique and awesome power of God in this? And is this how you understand the purpose of your life; walking in friendship with God through Jesus? Is there a higher desire in your heart? In this short sentence, embedded in this short genealogy, we find the very purpose for our existence, an expression of the power of God, and in all of that, great glory.

There’s even more power and glory here as well. Consider what happened to Enoch in light of his faithfulness. The text says that having walked with God “he was not, for God took him.” This, of course, does not mean that he escaped the penalty for sin. It does not mean that he escaped the curse. It does not mean that he had no debt to pay. But it does mean that he too was justified by faith—faith in God’s promised rescue, even as our faith is in God’s provided rescue. We too—those of us who walk in faith with God like Enoch—escape the pains of death (spiritual, rather than physical) through Jesus.

What great glory this is. What an unforgettable example of God’s power this is. What a great contrast this provides for the generations to come between the effects of walking with God in faith and walking without God.

The Long Lives of the First People

But there’s more. This passage describes another example of God’s unique and glorious power over His creation. After the flood God limited mankind’s days to 120 years (Genesis 6:3). Before that, though, as this passage makes clear, many lived closer to 1000 years. We are amazed when people live into their 90s. In the days of Genesis 5 it was not uncommon for people to live into their 900s. On one hand this is amazing. Can you imagine going to grandma’s 950th birthday party? What would you even do? But here’s the point: For anyone to live 1000 second, 1000 days, or 1000 years are all in the sovereign hand of God and all are an absolute miracle. God is not only Lord of creating, He is also Lord of creation. His power is without end.

There is great glory in Enoch’s miraculous walking with God and his rapture, and there is great glory in God’s miraculous power over the number of the days of his creatures.

THE MARCH TOWARD JESUS CHRIST

And that leads to the last thing I want you all to see: the great glory of God in his plan to move all things to Jesus. That is, this passage helps us to see the great glory of all of history and humanity working toward the point and pinnacle of both—Jesus Christ!

Jesus himself said, “…O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27). That is, Jesus acknowledged and taught that He is the point of history.

In our passage we see this—the glorious march toward Jesus—in two ways in particular.

Noah

First, we see it in Noah. We’ll get to this in much greater detail in the next chapter so I just want to mention it here. Look at vs.28-29.

28 When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son 29 and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.”

There is a kind of hope placed in Noah; a hope for curse-relief. In the very next chapter we find a partial vindication and fulfillment of this hope, but it is not until the NT that we see the full meaning of it.

1 Peter 3:20-21 …when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…

In ways Moses couldn’t have imagined we see the glory of God in Noah in that he imaged salvation in Jesus.

Genealogy

The second main way we see the glory of God in his conducting of the march toward Jesus in this passage is in the genealogy itself. The first readers of Genesis did not really know where this was going. Perhaps they thought it ended in Moses—their great leader. That would have made for a very significant and glorious genealogy indeed. God did great things through Moses. He lifted much of the curse through his leadership. God provided amazing deliverance through Moses.

But Grace, this is not the end of the march. As you know, it continued on all the way through King David to King Jesus. This genealogy is the family tree of Jesus Christ. In Luke 3 we find this same genealogy with many more names added to it on the glorious march to Jesus. If we have eyes to see, all of history is HIS story. And in that is the greatest glory.

CONCLUSION

There is great glory in this Genesis genealogy. We see God’s glory in the fact that he maintained his image in all mankind, in his faithfulness to his promises, in his miraculous power over his creation, and in the march toward Jesus that this passage begins.

To see the glory in this passage is to draw us into worship. We cannot understand the God of this passage or the works of God recorded here and not be brought to awe and wonder. But to see the glory of this passage is also to be brought to tremble and obey. Who can stand before this God? Who can come up against the rule and reign of a God who is able sew his imprint onto the fabric of all he touches, keep his word without exception, move every atom in the universe at will, and unveil all of history to glorify his Son? Who can stand against this God? Who would want to? Let us join Enoch, then, and walk with God. Let us look to Jesus, entrust ourselves to the power of the Holy Spirit, and lock our steps with the God who made us and whose image we bear. That’s the great hope and message and glory of this passage. May we press on in faith to that end, Grace. In Jesus name, amen.

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