Genesis 4 concluded with Cain being driven from the presence of Adam’s household (4:12-16), and him taking a wife, and establishing an ungodly lineage (4:17). Several sons and daughters were born of Adam and Eve’s union (5:4); however, it was a son whom Eve named Seth, that God chose as His godly lineage (4:25). Seth had a son whom he named Enos, and then we read, “then began men to call upon the name of the LORD” (4:26).
Genesis 5 – A Tale of Two Lineages
Before we identify the two lineages that proceeded from Adam and Eve, consider for a moment the incredibly long life spans of men from those first generations. For instance, Adam lived 930 years (5:4); his son Seth lived 912 years (5:8); and Enos lived 905 years (5:11). How might we explain the longevity of early human life?
Various scholars have tackled that question, and many have scoffed at the possibility of men living 900 years or more. There are generally two explanations that give some merit to the thought of men living long on the earth. One widely accepted belief concerns the earth’s atmosphere as an expanse of water “above the firmament” (1:7). Such an unpolluted atmosphere shielded man and the world from aging factors, such as, harmful UV radiation from the sun, and contaminates from space.
A second explanation for longevity, and one I believe may hold more weight, focuses on man’s DNA. It could be argued that the human race was genetically purer in the beginning (i.e., unadulterated, and stronger), with the exception of sin’s influence. Thus, there was less sickness and less propensity for disease as man had a greater ability to withstand the entrance of viruses, and cell mutation. Given the longevity of human life in those early centuries, the result was a boom in population growth that some have estimated could have reached billions of souls before the Flood!
The ungodly lineage of Cain was chronicled in Genesis 4:16-24, but we should note only a few of his descendants were named. Those who were recorded are named only because of their role in the Biblical narrative. The godly lineage of Adam, through his son Seth is given in Genesis 5 and takes us through to the birth of Noah, and his three sons, “Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (5:32).
Genesis 6 – Judgment and Destruction: The Worldwide Flood
The World Before the Flood (6:1-7)
The Antediluvian period (i.e., pre-flood) witnessed not only a population explosion (6:1), but an eruption in gross wickedness (6:1-3). That time was characterized by an unholy union, for we read, “the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose” (6:2). The hearts of men were so consumed with wickedness, that even the godly lineage of Seth (“the sons of God”), intermingled with the “daughters of men” (6:2) [Some believe the “sons of God” is a reference to fallen angels or demons, taking possession of men’s bodies, and procreating a race of giants, described as “mighty men which were of old, men of renown,” 6:4].
Whichever interpretation you choose to follow, the compromise was so grave, God moved to intervene, and used the waters of a worldwide flood to cleanse the earth. Seeing the proliferation of sin, the LORD vowed, “My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years” (6:3).
To fulfill His promise of a Redeemer who would be the seed of a woman and crush Satan’s seed (3:15), the LORD set the date of His judgment: “My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years” (6:3). God observed “every imagination of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (6:5). Grieved by man’s wickedness, the LORD declared universal judgment, saying, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them” (6:7).
The Heart of God (6:3, 6-8)
Yet, the Lord was loving and longsuffering, and gave mankind 120 years before His judgment (6:3). Grieved by man’s sin (6:6), God’s holy nature demanded He “destroy man…from the face of the earth” (6:7). Nevertheless, we read: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (6:8). (Note, this is the first mention of God’s grace, but not the first evidence of grace. For example, it was an act of God’s grace when He sacrificed to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness with skins, 3:21.)
Noah’s Response to God’s Grace (6:9-18)
In all the earth, one man was chosen as the object of God’s favor. Concerning that man, we read, “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (6:9). He believed God, and determined to raise a godly seed in a world “filled with violence: and corruption (6:11-12). God foretold His judgment, saying, “The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (6:13). Then, in an act of grace, the LORD commanded Noah, “Make thee an ark”(6:14).
How did Noah respond to God’s commandment, and covenant promise to save his sons, wife, and their wives? (6:18)
Closing thoughts – Noah responded in the same way all sinners must to be saved…Faith. He believed God! The author of Hebrews wrote, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things [and events] not seen as yet, moved with fear [took heed of God’s warning], prepared an ark to the saving [deliverance] of his house; by the which [faith] he condemned the world [of unbelief], and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Hebrews 11:7). Noah’s obedience was an expression of His faith in God, and he did “according to all that God had commanded him, so did he” (6:22).
I close with James’ exhortation: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:17–18).
What do your works say about your faith, and trust in God?
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