The Book of the Genealogy Of...
October 1, 2017
Brothers and sisters, as we wait for the return of Jesus Christ, it can be hard for us to live in this world. The festivities and advancements of the world seem so nice, and yet we know that we do not belong in this world. What are we to think when we feel the allure of a world that is passing away?
And as we wait for the return of Jesus Christ, it can be easy for us to be dismayed by the reality of death. Believers die. Non-believers die, but so do we who believe in Christ. What are we to think when we are at the next funeral of someone who professed faith in Jesus Christ?
Brothers and sisters, please remember that we are different from the world. Notice the contrast between this genealogy and the family tree before it. Notice the difference between the people in Genesis 5 and Genesis 4. On one hand we have the line of the ungodly, a line of descendants marked with the wickedness and worldliness of the one who will bruise the heel of the savior. On the other hand we have the line of the godly, a line of descendants marked with the hope of the promise of the one who will crush the head of the serpent. On the one hand we have a family tree that climaxes in Lamech, who murdered people. On the other hand we have a family tree that climaxes in Enoch, who walked with God. On the one hand we have coming out of the mouth of a man words of boasting in man’s adventures. On the other hand we have coming out of the mouth of a man words of hope in God’s promises. And as we will see soon in later weeks, on the one hand we have a lineage that will die in the flood. On the other hand we have a lineage that will live through it.
You see, this genealogy is making a simple but profound point: there is a difference. There is a difference between people who believe in the promised salvation of God in Christ and people who do not. And the difference is poetically shown in this genealogy. Both Lamech back in chapter 4 and Enoch right here in chapter 5 are of the same generation from their forefather. Lamech is the seventh generation of Adam in the line of Cain. And Enoch is the seventh generation of Adam in the line of Seth. The fact that they are both of the seventh generation indicates a fullness or a high point in their respective lines. And the fact that the two different lines share same names - for every bad Lamech who boasts in himself there is a good Lamech who hopes for a future rest and for every bad Enoch who gets a city named after him there is a good Enoch who is taken up by God - shows that there is a deep underlying contrast between the two lines. There is a difference.
Brothers and sisters, we are of the same line as that of good Enoch and good Lamech. We belong to the same kingdom that they belong to.
And we have the same hope that they hold on to.
The genealogy repeatedly tells us that people died. “And he died…. And he died…. And he died…. And he died….” Every man lived, and then every man died. And there is a sense of hopeless that builds and builds to what can be described as “a drumbeat of death.” Nothing seems to change. And as the years and centuries and millennia go by, God’s great promise of Genesis 3:15 seems to fade away into a quiet whisper long meant to be forgotten, as if history were to become legend, as if legend were to become myth.
But this line would never forget God’s words. Enoch would walk with God. And Lamech would name not a city after his child but a child after God’s promises. Enoch would remember the good news of God’s salvation that was handed down to him from his forefathers who all died before him. Lamech would remember the bad news of God’s curse for sin but look forward to a relief from his work and from the painful toil of his hands. Both Enoch and Lamech would have an assurance and a conviction that they had no lasting city here on earth. Both knew that there was more to this world than just living and dying. Both looked forward to a world where they could be with God their Maker.
And both looked forward to and pointed forward to Jesus. For one day, God’s words all came true in Christ.
First, our Lord Jesus walked with God for us. Enoch and Noah walked with God. But their walk was a walk of faith and righteousness relative to the rest of the world. But our Lord Jesus, so to speak, perfectly “walked with God.” He walked the walk that we were supposed to walk. He was perfectly righteous. He was perfectly obedient to the law. He fulfilled the covenant of works that Adam failed to fulfill. And he credits his walk with God to us so that we can go to heaven. Our Lord Jesus walked with God for us.
Second, our Lord Jesus brought us ultimate and final rest. Noah’s name means “rest.” But it is Christ who ends our cursedness and brings us definite relief and swallows up the painful toil of our lives. It is Christ who has ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father and is now resting in final sabbath glory. He has secured for us that sabbath rest that Adam and Eve failed to earn. And now in him we have it ready and waiting for us. Our Lord Jesus brought us ultimate and final rest.
Third, our Lord Jesus defeated death and is the Lord of the living. When Moses drew near toward the burning bush on Mount Horeb, God called out to him and said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” These are very famous words that I’m sure you’ve heard before. But do you know what is behind these famous words? Resurrection life. For in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke (Mt 22:31-32; Mk 12:26-27; Lk 20:37-38), Jesus said that these famous words prove that there is such a thing as resurrection. God did not say, “I am the God of your father, who is dead, the God of Abraham, who is also dead, the God of Isaac, dead, and the God of Jacob, dead.” No. God said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” This means that God is not God of the dead, but of the living! Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and everyone else who believed in Christ - they are not dead. They are alive! Our Lord Jesus defeated death and is the Lord of the living.
Fourth, our Lord Jesus brings forth a new creation. Our scripture text for today begins with a very important phrase: “This is the book of the generations of Adam.” This phrase pops up several times throughout the book of Genesis. It acts as a marker that shows us how the entire book of Genesis is to be divided up. But a very interesting thing happens outside of the book of Genesis. That phrase pops up in glorious and majestic fashion in Matthew 1. The entire New Testament begins with these words, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ….” This is no coincidence. Matthew intentionally took that marker and that phrase from Genesis in order to make an amazing gospel point: Jesus is the second and final Adam (Rom 5:12–21; 1 Cor 15:42–49) - a better Adam who succeeds where Adam failed. And we who are united with Jesus fall under his spiritual genealogy. Just as Adam fathered his son Seth in his own likeness and after his image, so Christ would make us born again in the Spirit and nurture us in his likeness and after his image. Our Lord Jesus brings forth a new creation.
Brothers and sisters, let us find great comfort in the story of Enoch. Enoch was taken by God. And according to Hebrews 11, Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death. This is amazing. Generation after generation saw death. But Enoch’s account in today genealogy is an unexpected but wonderful interruption of the drumbeat of death. And Enoch’s story will becomes yours soon. We will soon be taken by God, taken up so that we should not see ultimate and final death.
Brothers and sisters, let us have a proper perspective of our time here on this old and fading earth. Enoch was on this earth for 365 years. Lamech was on this earth for 777 years. That seems like a long time. So does waiting for Christmas. So does being stuck in traffic for an hour. So does a college or a graduate education. So does marriage. But that is nothing compared to the time that we are going to spend in the kingdom of God in the new heavens and the new earth. Weeks, months and years may seem like a long time, but your entire lifetime is nothing compared to eternity and life with God. Your life is like a blink of an eye. Your life is like a drop of water in an ocean. Tomorrow’s nine-to-five has nothing on the thousands and thousands of years that we will spend in the kingdom of God. May this truth change your perspective on everything right now. May this truth stop you from worrying and being angry and being greedy and so much more.
Finally, brothers and sisters, let us not be sad about how our lives are different from that of the world. Take a good final look at today’s scripture text. Unlike the genealogy of Cain, the genealogy of Seth is rather plain. The people of the kingdom of God were not recorded as having built great cities. They were not renowned for their cultural achievements. They were not a very festive people. They did not settle down in this world. They did not boast about anything. Instead, they lived quietly and then died quietly. And in the eyes of the world, they did not amount to much during their brief time on this earth. But in the eyes of heaven, they are greatly loved and greatly blessed in Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters, do you read travel magazines and have a burning desire to see the world before you die? Don’t. Are you bothered to be at church singing to God and listening to God’s Word when the rest of the world is counting down to the new year? Don’t. Are you jealous that non-believers have it pretty good in this life? Don’t. Are you going through a pre-mid-life crisis? Don’t. Do you feel like crying when the world wins and you lose? Don’t. Do you have regret that your grandmother or grandfather who believes in Christ is alone in the nursing home and do you feel like they did not live life to the fullest? Don’t.
One summer, I worked at a retirement home as a waiter. I served breakfast and lunch to old people. It was a profound experience. I remember serving an old man for weeks at a certain table. And then I remember that one day he was not there anymore. I remember reading online that retirement homes are one of the most saddest places on earth if children put their parents there and avoid them and never visit them.
And I remember briefly talking with one old lady.
We somehow got around to talking about going to church and being a Christian. She said that she believed in Jesus and that she knew God loved her. But the funny thing is that she would definitely know that and say that while at the same time have the hardest time ordering bacon and eggs and remembering people and places and things with her memory loss.
In the eyes of the world, that woman will depart quietly. But in the eyes of the new heavens and the new earth, that woman will depart with with the roar of the gospel of the Lion of Judah. For her biological lineage and family tree may not go down in history as anything great or special. But her spiritual lineage and family tree has already gone down in history as the greatest of all time. For hers is a genealogy that defeats sin and death. Hers is a genealogy of the living. And now she dances to a new drum beat.
This world is hard to live in. And death is real. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.