Genealogies are Central to Genesis

Genesis 5:1-2 – This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.

God calling Noah to build the Ark begins with the lengthy genealogy of Adam’s descendants until the birth of Noah. The time span covered in this genealogy is at least 1600 years and may be even longer, if there are gaps in this genealogy with some generations missing, as there are in other biblical genealogies (e.g. compare Genesis 11:31 and Luke 3:36). Both traditional Judaism and Christianity, beginning in the seventeenth century with Archbishop James Ussher, have sought to total the lifespan of each person listed in this genealogy and work backward to creation, which is then dated at 4004 B.C., which would make the earth roughly 6,000 years old. However, this means of seeking to date the earth are uncertain.

The primary theological point of the genealogy is to simply show that every generation and person who descended from Adam were sinners who lived and died without exception in rather monotonous and unspectacular fashion. The genealogy opens with the first man, Adam, who was made and blessed by God, who named the race “man” as Adam was made first as the head of the human race. Subsequently, this genealogy, as well as the others in the Bible, are all patriarchal, meaning they trace the family line through the men, as they are the head of their family in each generation.

The genealogy does include at least two curious features. One, the man Methuselah lived 969 years, which is apparently longer than anyone else ever has. Two, in Genesis 5:22-24, we are told that Enoch “walked with God” which means that he had a lifestyle of worshipful obedience to God and was history’s first prophet who predicted the coming flood (see also Hebrews 11:5-6; Jude 14-16). Enoch is also the only man in the genealogy that did not die but was spared death (like Elijah who is the only other man in the Bible that did not die). In Enoch, Moses is showing us that the only way to avoid death and experience eternal life is to “walk with God.” As we continue throughout the book of Genesis, we will continue to see genealogies like this one, ultimately pointing to Christ. The genealogy ends in 5:32 for a lengthy excurses on Noah, which we’ll look at later this week, and then picks up again in 9:28 with the genealogy of Noah’s death and the birth of his sons.

What does it mean for you and your family very practically to “walk with God” like Enoch and Noah? Are there any next steps God is calling you to take in faith?

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