2. The Legacy of Seth: The Worship of God (Gen. 4:25-5:32)Related Media
We move on in our study of “The Life and Times of Noah” from the ungodly line of Cain to the godly line of Seth. Just as the ungodly line of Cain develops from the start so also the godly line of Seth.
Our subject in this article is: Faithfulness in the midst of worldliness. This entire article could be summarized in the following statement: In the midst of spiritual and moral darkness, godly people remain faithful to God.
Nothing in the line of Seth is said about industrial developments or technological discoveries or entertaining distractions. This is a line of godly people whose lives have a totally different character to those of the Cainites. You’ll notice that of the Cainites it is not recorded when they were born, or how long they lived or even that they died. But of the Sethites in our passage all is recorded – their births, their length of life, and their deaths.
Why the difference? Could it be because the Cainites did not live for God but the Sethites did? The Cainites lived for self, not God. They experienced prosperity, power, and progress but their lives were amoral, unspiritual, and unfruitful for God. As a result the Scripture writes no headstone, no epitaph, over their deaths. But the Sethites lived for God. They were the godly line of Adam. In each case, their births, lives, and deaths are recorded. They lived, they fathered children, and they died.
So, why the refrain, “…and he died”? Could it be because the Spirit of God is refuting the devil’s lie: “You will not surely die” (Gen. 3:4) by repeating over and over, “and he died… and he died”?
Why then is this recorded of the Sethites and not the Cainites? Could it be because God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 18:23)? But the deaths of the Sethites were precious to God, for “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints”(Ps. 116:15), who then entered their heavenly reward, so that the number of years that they lived was but a fleeting moment compared to eternity ahead of them.
Well, after noticing in the previous article (“The Life and Times of Noah: The Legacy of Cain”) the similarities between the ungodly society of Cain and our society today, we can now take courage that God still has a testimony of godly people. Notice the characteristics and activities of godly people in the midst of ungodliness…
1. Godly People Call On The Lord (4:25-5:5)
The birth of Seth is recorded as a replacement for Abel, for “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him” (4:25), Eve said. Notice the air of hope that goes beyond sin and death. Eve seems to be taking courage from God’s promise that her “offspring” would bruise Satan’s “head” according to Gen. 3:15. Seth is the appointed offspring, the seed of promise, which ultimately would lead to the Messiah. This is a new beginning, a new birth that starts a new, godly line from Adam. This is a line of descendants from Adam marked by faith. These people are characterized by a new spirituality: “At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord” (4:26). The Bible says that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13). These are regenerate people, who are not drawn into the vortex of worldliness that surrounded them. They aren’t pursuing prosperity and power. They aren’t self-sustaining, self-propagating, self-enriching, self-advancing, self-centered people like the Cainites. These are people who “call on the name of the Lord.”
What exactly does that mean? The phrase to “call on the name of the Lord” encompasses the entire spectrum of worship, which at that time would have included prayer and sacrifice. Genesis is a book of beginnings. This records the beginning of godly people, who came into the presence of the Lord to worship Him. While the previous verses record the beginning of a degenerate people, who “went away from the presence of the Lord”(4:16). This marks the beginning of the public, regular worship of God by the people of God. Within the degenerate society of Cain are godly, faithful people, whose lives are characterized by the worship of the Lord.
This should be a model for us. We live in an ungodly, degenerate society when things are spiritually and morally bleak. So, our first and most important function and resource is to come into the presence of God, to “call on the name of the Lord.” We are concerned about the ungodly society around us, and we should be. But should we not be even more concerned about those who follow after us? Do we not want our churches and our families to be men and women who call on the name of the Lord, as did the patriarchs? (cf. Gen. 12:8; 13:4; 21:33; 26:25). So let’s take note of this early paradigm in Scripture. The degenerate society around us demands that we, God’s people, be a devoted, worshipping society, people who are known for calling on the name of the Lord.
This genealogy of Adam through Seth marks a new beginning in Genesis (one of 12 genealogies in Genesis). Given the disasters of the fall and the murder of Abel it is refreshing that this genealogy begins with this reminder, “1This 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” (Gen. 5:1-2). What a great reminder after such a disaster! The Spirit of God takes us back to the beginning, reminding us of God’s glorious, sinless, perfect creation. Adam was created in the likeness of God and from Adam Eve was formed and God blessed them! God gave them everything possible for their happiness. He gave them a paradise to live in with everything provided. But the greatest blessing of all was that they walked with God in the cool of the day. What a blessing that was! But sin entered and marred the image of God in mankind, so now it is recorded that Adam “fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth” (Gen. 5:3). Note that it does not say that Adam’s son was born in God’s image, but that he was born in Adam’s likeness.
As a direct result of Adam’s sin, we bear Adam’s likeness. The image of God in us has been marred, blurred, and the fallen likeness of Adam has been transmitted to us. It’s not that the image of God has been erased in us, but it has been marred and Adam’s fallen image has been stamped on our identity; his fallen nature is embedded in us from birth. Thus, through the transmission of original sin, we are sinners by nature and by practice. That’s why we need new life in Christ. This is why Jesus said, “You must be born again” (Jn. 3:7).
“Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died” (5:5). He lived 830 years after Seth was born. God in his grace granted him this extension of life before carrying out the death sentence handed down in the Garden of Eden. Adam left Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahaleel, Jared, and Enoch, predeceased by Abel. Though Adam had lived to experience such disasters as the fall and the murder of his son, Abel (by his other son, Cain), yet God also graciously permitted him to see a godly line of descendants through the new beginning under Seth.
“And he died” (5:5b). Death is the inevitable and inescapable end of human life because of sin. God had told Adam that “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). And he did. From that very day he experienced separation from God, which is spiritual death, and now in our passage he experiences physical death. And because of Adam’s sin “death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Because of sin, death is our final enemy. But thanks be to God that Christ became flesh so that “14through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Heb. 2:14-15).
So this is the characteristic and primary activity of godly people in the midst of ungodliness: godly people call on the Lord. Secondly…
2. Godly People Walk With The Lord (5:6-32)
The rest of the chapter traces the continuation of the first family. Here we have the list of descendants from Seth to Noah, from the Fall to the flood. Because of how long they lived, their lives are intertwined with one another. Each person’s life carried on the testimony of the one before and passed it on to the one after. Isn’t this what we would all love to experience in our biological and spiritual families - unbreakable links in the spiritual chain, each one learning from the previous generation, living it out, and passing on the baton to the next? I just want to look at Enoch leading up to Methuselah and Noah.
“23 Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Gen. 5:23-24). Enoch walked with God. Notice the contrast in lifestyles: Adam hid himself from God; Cain went out from the presence of God; Enoch walked with God. This statement overshadows anything else he did or was. This was the sum and substance of Enoch’s life, the overriding characteristic of his 365 years. He exuded the presence of God, reflected the image of God the best that any fallen human being could. He walked with God.
Did you know that the average pair of feet take 7000 to 8000 steps a day; about 2.5 million steps a year? It makes you tired just thinking about it, doesn’t it? That means that in a lifetime, you will walk approximately 115,000 miles. The first man to walk around the world was a man by the name of David Kunst of Waseca, Minnesota. He completed his historic walk on October 5, 1974, after walking 15,000 miles. The trip took 41/2 years, during which time David went through 22 pairs of shoes and wore out 2 mules. At the completion of his historic journey, an auction was held, with eager bidders paying $150 for his right shoe, $170 for his left shoe, and $140 for his remaining mule (“Walking With God,” by Curtis Kittrell, Sermoncentral.com). Most of us couldn’t be persuaded to undertake a walk like that of David Kunst. But the reminder from the life of Enoch is that the entirety of the Christian life is a marathon walk with God.
To walk with God means you are in harmony with God, united with God in thought, purpose and action. You reflect God in thought, word, and deed. You live your life in the presence of God, in fellowship with God. To walk with God means you follow God’s direction, walking in the path that he marks out, working toward the same ends that God is working toward - not pulling away from God but moving towards Him; not trying to map out your own life’s journey but faithfully following God’s will for your life.
To walk with God necessitates agreement with God, for as Amos 3:3 says, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”(NKJV). The rhetorical answer is: “No. They can’t.” For two persons to walk together, they must be agreed. For us to walk with God we must be in agreement with God, so that we think his thoughts, we pursue his purposes, we love what he loves, we hate what he hates.
To walk with God implies fellowship with God. Two people can’t live separate lives apart from one another and at the same time claim to be at one with each other, to be in fellowship with each other. To “walk together” implies physical, emotional, and spiritual unity - oneness, harmony, peace, contentedness, security, enjoying each other’s company, sharing thoughts, plans, and hopes with one another. This evidently was characteristic of Enoch’s walk with God and it should be characteristic of our own personal relationship with God, as well as our marital and family relationships, and our church relationships.
For us to be together as a church, we must be at one with each other and with God, heading in the same direction, having the same spiritual goals, priorities and purposes. To be together implies spending time together, conversing together, sharing innermost thoughts and feelings together. This is Christian fellowship. Fellowship means that we walk alongside each other; we live our lives with each other; we share common thoughts, feelings, desires and purposes.
Notice what 1 Jn. 1:6-7 says, “6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” John is saying, to claim that you walk with God and yet to live in and practice those things associated with spiritual darkness is to live a lie. To truly have fellowship with God demands that you “walk in the light as He is in the light.” Spiritual light and darkness have no fellowship with one another and 1 Jn. 1:5 says, “God is light and in him is no darkness at all.” So, don’t think that you can walk with God if your life does not reflect his life. Don’t say that you are in fellowship with God if you are practicing sin.
To walk with God also implies identification. To be identified with God means that we live in such intimacy with God that when others see us, they see God in some way; when others hear us, they hear God in some way. That’s what it is to walk with God. It means that you are identified with him in speech, thought, purpose, and action.
To walk with God involves subjection to his scrutiny. You live your life in obedience to his Word and in the light of his all-seeing gaze.
To walk with God means you immerse your life in God. You commune with God in daily and moment-by-moment fellowship. You pour out your innermost hurts to Him, you share your deepest joys with Him, so that when others witness your life they say, “He or she is walking with God.” Is that what you want written on your tombstone? “He / she walked with God” – plain and simple?
Not only did he walk with God, but also Enoch pleased God. Heb. 11:5 says, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.” What a testimony! He pleased God. Walking with God produces a life that is pleasing to God. You can’t please God if you don’t walk with God. What a legacy! He walked with God. He pleased God. When God looked down on Enoch, he smiled at his life because he “pleased God.” I wonder if God will say that about my life. What about yours?
Notice another thing about Enoch. Not only did he walk with God and please God but also Enoch prophesied for God according to Jude 14-15: “14 It was also about these (the apostates of vv. 12-13) that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
You cannot prophesy (speak) for God if you do not walk with God such that your life is pleasing to God. Don’t go around talking like you’re the most spiritual person on earth when underneath your life is out of step with God. Enoch prophesied – he spoke for God to the people, warning them of coming judgement.
You have to walk with God to know the mind of God. Here was a man whose life and times were surrounded by a generation marked by corruption, self-sufficiency, prosperity, pleasure, all of which was quickly deteriorating towards the judgement of God at the flood. Enoch was taken by God only 69 years before Noah was born. Wickedness was increasing and was the primary characteristic of that age. Yet he was a man set apart by God, a man who testified of God’s saving grace and faithfulness, a man whose ministry focused on the coming of the Lord and the coming judgement.
A notable difference in the record of Enoch’s life is that it doesn’t end with “and he died.” Rather, it says, “he was not for God took him.” The refrain, “and he died,” takes a break with Enoch. When the time came, he was simply taken up, translated into God’s presence. What a wonderful way to end his life – “God took him”!
Why did God take Enoch and Elijah without dying? We don’t know. But one thing we do know is that both these men walked with God. There was an extraordinary degree of faithfulness, albeit with Enoch we have no details about what that looked like. Surely their translation to heaven is a picture of what will take place at the end of our age, after the gospel of the grace of God has sounded out for thousands of years, when God will take his people home to heaven, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:52) - taken out of a world marked by violence and corruption; taken out of the world before the judgement of God falls.
Does this translation of Enoch not give us a window of hope through the enclosing gloom of their day and ours? Does this translation of Enoch not encourage us that one day we will also be translated to our heavenly home, the basis of which is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead? Because he is raised we also shall be raised. Because he lives forevermore, so shall we. Jesus assures us, “25Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die “(Jn. 11:25-26). Do you believe this?
Surely we can take courage from Enoch’s life. The increasing wickedness around us does not prevent us from walking with God nor does it hinder us from pleasing God and speaking for God from his word. We can and must be faithful in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation. If you walk with God you will have a life that is pleasing to God. You cannot have one without the other.
To walk with God means that we walk worthy of the gospel, boldly standing for the faith of the gospel, brightly shining for the hope of the gospel, sacrificially serving out of love for the gospel.
To walk with God means that we courageously prophesy for God the truth of God even as the onslaught of wickedness increases in intensity every single day. Someone has said, “Enoch’s testimony was to the presence of God, to the possibility of living a quiet, godly life in a corrupt and careless age” (John Phillips, Exploring Genesis, 77).
At the end of this list of Adam’s godly descendants come …
B) Methuselah And Noah
Methuselah means “when he dies, it shall come.” Throughout Methuselah’s long life, God had been withholding judgement for “He is not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). But it seems that the death of Methuselah carried with it this solemn pronouncement: “When he dies, it shall come.” What shall come? Is this a hint of the flood judgement to come?
Then came Noah the son of Lamech (5:29). Lamech called his son Noah, saying “This one shall bring us relief from our work and form the painful toil of our hands” (5:29). The consequence of sin is already becoming toilsome, burdensome. The ground which the Lord had cursed is causing them to work by the sweat of their brow. Life was no longer a walk in the park. And along comes Noah, whose birth signals deliverance from their toil. But how? They did not know. They could not have anticipated in their wildest dreams the awful judgement that God was about to pour out, or that the way Noah would relieve them from their toil was through a universal flood.
This then is the godly line of Adam, which starts with Seth and culminates with Noah. Genesis is the book of new beginnings. We have seen the beginning of an ungodly society in Cain and his descendants and of a godly people in Seth and his descendants. The godly line of Seth is truly a new beginning from a new birth, leading to a new line of people characterized by a new spirituality, which would be carried on through Noah and his three sons, who would be the heads of a new race of people after the flood.
Throughout this long line of history, God has always had a line of godly people, a testimony to the truth. God is never left without witness. So take courage in the day in which we live. Despite all the spiritual and moral darkness and opposition and persecution, God still has a faithful remnant who call on the name of the Lord.
Remember our thesis: In the midst of spiritual and moral darkness, godly people remain faithful to God. We need to be more than ever focused on walking worthy of the gospel. Let us be people who, like Enoch, walk with God, speak for God, and please God. Let us be like Noah - preachers of righteousness in an evil, unregenerate society.