The first Genealogy – Genesis 5

The study of Genealogies can be both intriguing and mundane. There are many gold nuggets that can be discovered when you study one’s genealogy. Modern society has become obsessed with such studies. There is a market for helping people discover their ancestry. As a matter of fact, some companies will take your DNA and give you a complete history of your bloodline and even tell you the medical history of your ancestors. Of course, they do this a quite a cost and also in the fine print they state that they would own your DNA and they can use it any way they desire. When it comes to genealogies in scripture, we most often simply skip over and ignore it. However, if it is in the Bible, then it is there for a reason. We must remind ourselves that ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable…’ Perhaps you read the Bible through each year and every time you come across the genealogies you skip through it quickly wondering why it is even there or what purpose it has. However, if we take our time and examine the genealogies of the Bible, we will learn some fascinating truths that makes our faith stronger.

In looking at the very first genealogy in scripture there are several interesting truths that we discover.

Divine Image and blessing are continued in the human race (v. 1-2). Reference is made to Genesis 1:27. The purpose for such a reference being made is to show how all human beings are created in the image of God. Though marred by sin, every single human being has certain characteristics given to them by God. Every human being is made to be either male or female. Notice there is no mention of anything in between male and female. God distinctively made male and female with different roles and functions. The New American Commentary says, “By imitating 1:27–28, the author ties the significance of the genealogy to creation theology, where human life stands in the descent of God (cf. “sons of God,” 6:2) and is the preeminent recipient of God’s blessing. This linkage is achieved by a number of lexical repetitions, including “man,” “created,” “likeness,” “male and female,” and “blessed.” The same creation themes of 1:1–2:3 are rehearsed in 5:1b–2 by its appeal to the parade passage of the creation narrative, the making and blessing of mankind (1:26–28). Divine image and blessing are continued among the human family, it would seem, without suspension.”[1]

God is Sovereign (v. 3-8). With the birth of Seth we see the great Sovereignty of God. Sin would not in any way stop God’s sovereign redemptive plan. Consider what Warren Wiersbe says, “The only ray of hope in that dark day was God’s promise that a Redeemer would one day be born of the woman and conquer the serpent (3:15). But Abel was dead, so he couldn’t beget a child; and Cain, the unbelieving murderer, had wandered off and built a city in the Land of Nod, east of Eden. Would God’s promise be fulfilled? How could it be fulfilled? God is sovereign in all things and His plans aren’t frustrated by the foolish and sinful ways of mankind. Because He is the sovereign God, He “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11, nkjv). “But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases” (Ps. 115:3, nkjv). The Lord enabled Eve to conceive and bear a son whom she named Seth (“granted”) because God had appointed him to replace Abel.”[2] It is a marvelous thing to know that God never gives up on mankind. Even though, as the human race, we have failed Him over and over again, He still has a plan to redeem the world from the penalty and curse of sin. It is still God’s plan to give salvation to all who come to Jesus by faith. As we see in the genealogy of Adam, God has a plan, and God’s plan will not be thwarted.

Death reigns in the human race (v.9-20). With each passing generation we see the continual refrain that ‘he lived and then he died.’ Death is a direct result of a world that is cursed by sin. Before Adam fell in the Garden there was no death. Now that sin has entered into the world so has death. Read Romans 5:12. Death has been passed down to all men because all men are born in sin. Notice how the men in this genealogy lived for hundreds of years. I believe this is due to a combination of two things. One, before the flood, the earth’s atmosphere was much more stable and suitable for long life. Secondly, the effects of sin are gradual. Therefore, we see a slow and steady downward spiral of death and decay.

By God’s grace death can be defeated (v. 21-24). In the middle of this narrative of life and death, we have one man who seems to defy the odds. His name is Enoch. This man was an exception because he ‘walked with God.’ In the midst of all the death and decay that we see in this world, we see peering through the darkness, the light of God’s grace. I believe that God took Enoch to heaven before he faced death in order to show us that He has the power over death. All who believe on the Lord will be saved from eternal death and will be given eternal life.

There is always a messenger (v. 25-32). As you study the genealogies of scripture, it is interesting to note who were contemporaries of each other. In the Godly line of Seth, all of the men mentioned in this genealogy from Adam to Lamech lived at the same time. Think about. The father of Noah was living at the same time that Adam was still living. As the ungodly line of Cain continued to grow they have a powerful influence on the entire known world and men became increasingly wicked. However, in the midst of all the wickedness, the story of Adam’s experience in the Garden of Eden was being passed down from one generation to another. Perhaps even Lamech sat down with Adam himself and learned about God’s grace, love, and forgiveness. Lamech then taught these truths to his son, Noah, who later built an ark out of obedience to God so that the human race could continue. What we learn here is that in every generation there is always a messenger. God always has someone or a group of people that are faithful to tell the world of His great love. Today, you and I as the church, are His messengers. It is our responsibility to pass down the truth of God’s Word to the next generation.

The underlining thread we see in this first genealogy is the amazing grace of God. By God’s grace, He never gave up on mankind. He continues to this very day to give us a way of escape from the penalty of sin. Thank God for His amazing grace!

[1] Mathews, K. A. (1996). Genesis 1-11:26 (Vol. 1A, p. 307). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1998). Be basic (pp. 82–84). Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub.

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