A Legacy Of Godliness
Pursuing holiness requires that we are daily walking with God.
Genesis(86) (Part of the Origins(84) series)
by Marc Webb(56) on March 28, 2021 (Sunday Morning(282))
God's Will(8), Godly Legacy(1)
A Legacy of Godliness
Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their ancestors. You may wonder why people put together their family trees? Some people may not know a lot about their families past and would like to know more. Maybe a person was adopted and wants to find out about their biological family. Some people may want to know about their family’s medical history going back many generations. Some people may want to find out if they are eligible for membership into a lineage-based organization such as the Daughters of the American Revolution or the Sons of the American Revolution.
The Church of the Latter-Day Saints are one of the biggest groups that study genealogy. They believe that all humanity is one family and so everyone is literally and figuratively brothers and sisters. Because of this belief, it’s vital that the entire human family be connected to each other and doing genealogy is a way to show that connection. They believe that families are forever – and those family connections will exist beyond death so finding those connections are important. They believe that doing genealogy will open up the blessings of heaven and once members are able to show those family connections, they are able to do vicarious temple work for their direct deceased ancestors. Genealogies were also important for the Jewish people in the Bible in determining who could serve in certain roles. For example, only Levites were allowed to work in the tabernacle and temple, and only the descendants of Aaron were able to serve as high priest. There were also many activities in the Mosaic Law that were limited to those who could prove they were of Jewish descent.
There are a number of reasons why genealogy is important as we study the Bible. First, the Bible's genealogies help confirm the historical reliability and accuracy of the Bible. They include real, live people, who had real pasts, presence and futures. Second, the Bible's genealogies reveal the importance of man’s and the family’s value to God and to the writers of the Bible. The family unit has served as the foundation of human society since Adam and Eve and their children. The importance is that each person and family is known, remembered and emphasized. Third, the Bible's genealogies also prove many of its prophecies. For example, prophecy said that the Messiah would be a Jew from the tribe of Judah and would be a descendent of both Abraham and David. Fourth, the Bible’s genealogies show us the detail-oriented nature of God who is intimately involved with his creation and wants a relationship with them.
Fifth, the Bible's genealogies also teach how God has used a wide diversity of individuals throughout history to accomplish his purposes. For example, in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew's Gospel, four women are mentioned, including Rahab the prostitute and Ruth, a Moabite woman, emphasizing the importance of women to God. They were also Gentiles proving God’s love and care for all people. Lastly, the Bible’s genealogies show that the message of salvation is anchored in history. Luke traces the genealogy of Jesus back to Adam as the son of God and Matthew established Jesus’ mission in Jewish history back to the royal line of David.
One of the reasons I like genealogy is because of the legacy you can see passed down through each generation. It may be a legacy of first names. It is fascinating to see the different first names that are passed down many generations. It may be a legacy of occupations such as doctor, farmer and founding father. I have seen families who came over in the 1600’s whose father founded a town and then his son goes off and founds another. Our ancestors have made us who we are today. Our likes and dislikes, our personality and physical traits all get passed down to you from your ancestors. Another thing I have seen is the legacy of faith that has been passed down. With most of our country being formed because of religious freedom, a lot of our ancestors may have been Quakers, Puritans or Mennonites and you can see those values being passed down. I have been working on a friend’s genealogy who has many, many Mennonite pastors in their family tree. There is evidence of a legacy of faith in their family tree.
This morning we are going to be studying Genesis chapter 5 where we are given the genealogy of Adam through Seth, his third son. We will see a common formula repeated in the same way for each generation. The only times that the repeating of the formula is altered is when the narrator gives us special information about a few of Seth’s descendants. We will also notice that there was a legacy of faith passed down from generation to generation. It started at the end of chapter 4 when Seth’s son Enosh was born and “men began to call on the name of the Lord.” We will see in our scripture this morning and in a couple of weeks in Genesis 6 that two of Seth’s descendants are characterized as “walking with God.” And the narrator of Genesis wants us to understand this morning that “pursuing holiness requires that we are daily walking with God.” That is our big idea this morning and we will be looking at what it means to “walk with God” and how that is essential to us as we strive to live daily, holy lives.
Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, we come before you this morning humbling ourselves and asking for your Spirit to fill us so that we learn from your word. Help us to desire to walk faithfully with you every day and to join the ranks of Seth’s descendants as people of faith, righteousness and holiness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
There are three points this morning. The first is Adam and that is found in Genesis 5:1-5. This is what God’s word says, “This is the written account of Adam’s family line. 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. When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. 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.”
The first two verses are like a title page and prologue in a book, the title of the book being the genealogy of Adam. This “tolodot” or “beginnings” of Adam differs from other “tolodots” such as the “tolodot” of creation found in Genesis 1 because it is described as a “written account.” This leads commentators to believe that the narrator of Genesis used a written source for the genealogy of Adam that follows. The prologue takes us back to the beginning of the creation of mankind in Genesis 1:27-28, which says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Four comments on the creation of humankind are made in Genesis 5. One, God created mankind in his image. Two, God created them male and female. Three, God blessed them. Four, he named them “adam” or “man.”
The narrator’s purpose is to tie the genealogy of Adam to God’s creation of the world and of mankind in Genesis 1. God made Adam and Eve in his image and likeness and bestowed the blessing of “be fruitful and multiply” on them for the purpose of passing his image and his continued blessing down from generation to generation. And we see it being played out in the family tree of Adam through his son, Seth. There is a silence regarding the line of Cain in this genealogy because in the context of salvation Cain’s line is irrelevant and only Seth’s line survives the judgment of the flood.
The Hebrew word for mankind “adam” is repeated many times in the first three verses. In verses one and two it is referring to the human species but in verse three it changes to the personal name for the first man, Adam. This is the narrator’s way of transitioning from the “generic” man to the first man as his genealogy is introduced. Both “image” and “male and female” are emphasized because the blessing is to be passed down from generation to generation by the procreation of the descendants of Seth.
Before we dive into the actual family tree of Adam, I want you to be aware of a few things about the genealogical record. First, there is a formula used for each paragraph which corresponds to each generation. We see the age of the patriarch when he fathers the firstborn son, then we see the number of years they lived after fathering that son, then we see that they had “other sons and daughters”, then we see the total number of years they lived and then we see the ominous “and then he died.”
Second, there are ten generations from Adam to Noah. Interestingly, there are also ten generations from Shem to Abram in Genesis 11 and ten generations in the genealogy of David found in Ruth 4. Ten was a popular number for genealogies that signified completeness of order. Most commentators believe that these genealogies did not include every single generation. This was not unheard of in the ancient world because the purpose of these genealogies was not to include every generation but to trace family connections. In our genealogy this morning, the purpose was to rapidly bridge the gap from creation to the flood and to show that the image and blessing was passed down through each generation of Seth’s family tree all the way to Noah.
Lastly, we see the ages of the Patriarchs. All ten live to be anywhere from 895-969 years old except for Enoch and Lamech. Most commentators believe that these are actual ages. Mathews says, “The argument is that before the flood human lifespans were longer because of climate conditions and sin had not yet achieved its full effect and is reflected in the ages shown.” The long life spans in Seth’s line contributes to his lineage of blessing and hope. In the Mosaic Law, long life was the product of God’s blessing for obedience. Apart from the patriarchs only Job, Moses, Joshua and Jehoida lived longer than a hundred years.
Verse 3 now begins the actual family tree of Adam. It starts with him because it is all about connecting Adam who is created by God in his image and likeness with Noah, who God will use to save humanity from the flood. Adam, who was made in the image and likeness of God and given the blessing, will procreate a son in his own likeness and in his own image and that continues generation after generation.
We see a reversal of image and likeness here. In chapter 1 the emphasis is on God but the reordering here puts the emphasis on Seth’s likeness to his father in character and physical nature. God passes on his image by creating; Adam passes on his image by procreating. “The image of God” and the blessing, has not been obliterated by the fall, but a life lived in the image of God is drastically different from life lived in the likeness of sinful man. That is evident from the ominous refrain, “and then he died”, which will be repeated eight times in chapter 5. Adam’s story ends with the first obituary in human history which is a moment anticipated since Genesis 2:17, when God said, “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” God’s promise of punishment and the consequences of sin has now come to pass. The blessing has been passed down but so also has the curse of sin.
Despite the harsh reality of physical death, we also see that Adam had “other sons and daughters” which shows the grace and mercy of God and his provision for the line of Seth. Just as we saw God’s orderly creation in chapter 1, we now see God’s orderliness in the regular birth of human life. This repeated formula of the genealogy of Adam will continue until we get to the favored person of Enoch, which is our second point this morning and found in verses 6-20. Follow along as I read those verses: “When Seth had 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. When Enosh had lived 90 years, he became the father of Kenan. After he became the father of Kenan, Enosh lived 815 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enosh lived a total of 905 years, and then he died. When Kenan had lived 70 years, he became the father of Mahalalel. After he became the father of Mahalalel, Kenan lived 840 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Kenan lived a total of 910 years, and then he died. When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he became the father of Jared. After he became the father of Jared, Mahalalel lived 830 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Mahalalel lived a total of 895 years, and then he died. When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch. After he became the father of Enoch, Jared lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Jared lived a total of 962 years, and then he died. 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. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”
We are quickly taken through the next five generations of Adam’s family tree. There is not a lot known about these men but that doesn’t mean they are insignificant. Think about your own family tree. If you were to go back ten generations you would have over 1,000 direct ancestors. Now you would have some awesome ancestors and you would probably have some scoundrels in your family tree, just like I do. The point is none of my ancestors are insignificant because if something had happened to one for any reason I am not here today. The significance of Adam’s ancestors, and even mine and yours, are that they passed down the image of God and the blessing to each generation.
The formula for each generation doesn’t change until we get to the seventh generation where we have Enoch being born to Jared. The seventh generation of biblical genealogies seemed to have significant importance. The seventh generation from Adam in Cain’s line was the prideful, polygamous, and vengeful Lamech. Interestingly, in the genealogy of David that I mentioned earlier found in Ruth 4, the seventh generation was Boaz, who played the significant role of being the “kinsmen redeemer” which meant being a relative of Ruth’s dead husband, he was able to marry her and continue the lineage which descended all the way to Jesus, the Messiah. Here in the godly line of Seth, Enoch stands out in contrast to Lamech.
Enoch is different in a couple of ways. One, he only lives on the earth for 365 years and two, he never dies a physical death. It seems that after Enoch fathered Methuselah he began to “walk faithfully with God.” We aren’t told why he started to do this at this particular time or if it means he wasn’t doing it before Methuselah was born. But we are told twice that he “walked faithfully with God”, which indicates Enoch was outstanding in this godly family line. “Walking faithfully with God” meant that Enoch had on-going companionship, fellowship and close relationship with God. “Walking with God” captures an emphasis on communing with God and living a life of holiness. It was a lifestyle characterized by devotion to God and not something that was just a one-time thing.
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.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.” Willet defines “pleased” as Enoch channeling all his love and desire into fulfilling the will of God. God was pleased with Enoch’s faith, righteousness and holiness and spared him dying a physical death and took him to heaven. This was something extraordinary God did for his friend. Elijah is the only other person who was taken to heaven and never suffered a physical death.
The godly legacy in Seth’s line of “calling on the name of the Lord” after his son was born now continues to bear fruit as Enoch “walks faithfully with God.” We will also see in a couple of weeks that one of Enoch’s descendants, Noah, will also “walk with God.” Mathews says, “The finality of death caused by sin, and so powerfully demonstrated in the genealogy of Genesis, is in fact not so final. Man was not born to die; he was born to live, and that life comes by walking with God. Walking with God is the key to the chains of the curse.” God will be pleased with us when he have faith in him, when we pursue holiness and walk daily with him. (BIG IDEA). Enoch’s “walking faithfully with God” was a godly legacy that had been passed down from generation to generation, even in the midst of a world that God looked to destroy in the flood. This should be our example which brings us to our first next step this morning which to channel all my love and desire into daily walking with God and fulfilling his will.
The genealogy of Adam is now rounded out as we see our third point this morning, which is Noah, found in verses 25-32. This is what God’s Word says, “When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech. After he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Methuselah lived a total of 969 years, and then he died. 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.” After Noah was born, Lamech lived 595 years and had other sons and daughters. 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.
The next generation in Seth’s family tree is also significant in that it gives us Methuselah who is known as the oldest human being to ever live. When you count the years, Methuselah seems to have died the same year that the flood started. Even though Methuselah lived the longest of any human being nothing special is said about him. But we see that the formula changes again with his son, Lamech. Lamech was significant in that he had a son called Noah, who God was going to use to save the human race.
When Lamech named his son Noah he expectantly prophesied “he will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.” Commentators have been puzzled because Noah’s name means “rest” not “comfort.” But Noah’s name sounds like the Hebrew word for “comfort.” We saw this before in the naming of Cain. Cain’s name means “smith” as in blacksmith but the name Cain sounds like the Hebrew word for “acquired” which is why Eve said “I have acquired a man with the help of the Lord” when Cain was born. Lamech was looking forward expectantly to a time when Noah would bring comfort to the human race in the midst of their labor and painful toil of the ground. Because of Adam’s sin the ground was cursed and Adam and the rest of humanity had to work harder for the ground to produce for them.
What was this “comfort” that Lamech was prophesying about? Maybe it had to do with the flood cleansing the earth and erasing the curse on the ground thereby bringing comfort to people that way, though, I am not so sure that tilling the soil is easier now then it was before the flood. I would put forth that the naming of Noah foreshadowed his righteousness in the face of sinful humanity that would save the human race from the flood. His lineage would live on until his descendant Jesus, the Messiah, came upon the earth, died on a cross for our sins, and rose from dead, bringing comfort to us all. In that way, Noah lived up to the prophecy his father made on the day he was born. Whatever Lamech may have meant when he names his son, he ties the widespread wickedness in his day to man’s first act of disobedience in the garden and his hope for a better future resided with God’s blessing being on Noah. There is a deviation in the age of Lamech as he was only 777 years old when he died. Seven stands for perfection or completion in the Bible. Lamech also stands out in stark contrast to the ungodly Lamech in Cain’s line. Both of them are remembered for their words. One for his arrogance and the other for his expectant yearning.
Lastly we see a narrowing of the genealogy of Adam in that Noah’s three sons are named. This reminds us of the three sons and daughter of Lamech being named at the end of Cain’s genealogy in chapter 4. We will also see this later in the genealogy of Shem as his lineage will be traced to Terah and be narrowed to his three sons, which includes Abram. The purpose of this narrowing is to continue to highlight the godly line. Adam’s genealogy is traced through Seth, Seth is traced through to Noah and Shem and Shem will be traced through to Terah’s son, Abram, who will be the father of the chosen people, that Jesus the Messiah will descend from.
There are many terms that describe genealogy such as ancestral, heritage and legacy. I tend to like this last one because we can see how a legacy can be passed down from generation to generation. We saw in chapter 4 how the ungodly legacy of Cain was passed down and culminated in Lamech, who had distorted God’s plan for marriage, was prideful and was ready to murder others at a drop of a hat. Then we saw today in chapter 5 how the godly legacy of Seth was passed down culminating in the faithful and holy Enoch and the expectant promise in Noah. We all have a family legacy. It doesn’t matter what your family legacy has been up to now. What matters is what your families’ legacy will be now starting with you. Will you purpose in your heart to continue a godly legacy in your family or purpose in your heart right now to start a godly legacy in your family. That brings us to our second and third next steps this morning. My next step is to purpose in my heart to continue a godly legacy in my family line. Or second, my next step is to purpose in my heart to start a godly legacy in my family line today.
As the praise team comes to lead us in our final song this morning, let’s pray: Dear Heaven Father, we desire to please you by walking in daily communion and fellowship with you. We desire to live faithful, righteous and holy life every single day. I pray that you would pour out your Holy Spirit on us because we can’t do it, in this world, on our own. Thank you for sending your son to die on a cross for our sins, and rising again so that we can be in relationship with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.