Genesis 5 is a genealogy chapter, and therefore not many people’s favorite section of the Bible. Most people view it as just a collection of facts, as a mere historical record, or even as unnecessary. It does seem odd that the Lord would devote a whole chapter in the first section of His Word to a genealogy. Why not something more interesting, like an account of daily life outside the Garden of Eden or the story of Adam’s struggles and toils with the ground and his family? Maybe we could have been provided with an explanation of the mysterious “sons of God and daughters of men” account. Maybe we could have been given an account of the day to day life of Noah and his family before the flood, at least that’s what a human author would have likely done. Genesis 5 just seems so out of place to us Westerners. It just seems boring.
Some people have tried to make it more interesting by reading into it what is not there. They use ancient techniques to give each digit a letter and each number a message. While this certainly makes for interesting best-sellers and study, it is by no means Biblical. That sort of interpretation is never commanded in Scripture, and therefore a faulty way to interpret Scripture.
So what then is the purpose of Genesis 5, and why did it stick out to me? How did I ever come to relate to a genealogy? The answer is found all throughout the chapter in the phrase, “and he died”.
“And all the days that Adam lived were 930 years: and he died.” (v. 5)
“And all the days of Seth were 912 years: and he died.” (v. 8)
“And all the days of Enos were 905 years: and he died.” (v. 11)
“And all the days of Cainan were 910 years: and he died.” (v. 14)
“And all the days of Mahalaleel were 895 years: and he died.” (v. 17)
“And all the days of Jared were 962 years: and he died.” (v. 20)
“And all the days of Methuselah were 969 years: and he died.” (v. 27)
“And all the days of Lamech were 777 years: and he died.” (v. 31)
You may have noticed that I skipped over someone. Keep calm and carry on, because I intentionally omitted the account of Enoch. And no need to pull out your dusty pitchforks and heretic stake, we’ll talk about him later.
So what does the phrase “and he died” mean? Well it means exactly what it appears to mean: they all died. That is the shared fate of the entire human race. We all die. You are going to die. I am going to die. Everyone is going to die. We are a sinful people, and sin brings death.
In all of history, there have only been two people who never faced death: Enoch and Elijah. And that was only by the miraculous power of God Almighty! I do not know why He chose to deliver these two men, but I know they didn’t deserve it. Even though Enoch “walked with God”, he was still a descendant of Adam. And since he was a descendant of Adam, he was a sinner.
So since we are going to die, what must we do? Or rather, where should we place our hope? We obviously can’t place it in material possessions, for they will mean nothing after death. As Denzel Washington said, “You’ll never see a U-haul behind a hearse.” Similarly, we can’t place our hope in other people, for they will all die too. They are in the same boat as us. If we probe every worldly answer to this question, we will find that there is no satisfaction. We can’t place our hope in relationships. We can’t place our hope in success. We can’t place our hope in our legacy. We can’t place our hope in our nation. We can’t even place our hope in “love”. Simply put, there is no hope in this world! But there is hope…
There is hope in a man called Jesus, which means Deliverer. God the Son became the God-man in order to bear our sins and suffer the wrath of God in our stead. He died, so that we may live. He died so we can place our hope in Him. He is our Only Hope, our Only Source of Deliverance, our Great Intercessor.
And so, Genesis 5, a genealogy, becomes the message of a shared fate. That shared fate leads to a search for answers. That search for answers yields desperation. Desperation opens our hearts to hope. And hope is found in Jesus Christ. Our shared fate of death leads to the cross, where He died so that we may live. Throw yourself onto the mercy of God today. Plead for His mercy and forgiveness to wash over you. He is Life!
“For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
-1 Corinthians 15:52-57 (ESV)