GENESIS - CHAPTER 5
A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
Copyright 2000 James Melough
5:1. “This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He him;”
As is not unusual in Scripture, the narrative having presented the extension of the ungodly line, from Cain to Lamech and his children, now goes back and picks up the thread of the godly line which will eventually produce the promised “Seed.”
Abel was the firstborn link in that line, but following his murder, in which it seemed as though Satan had succeeded in thwarting God’s intention to produce the promised “Seed,” God revealed Himself as the One Who has power over death: He produced Seth, appointing him as “another seed instead of Abel” (4:25).
It is interesting to observe, even in the godly line, the operation of the principle that the first must give place to the second. Abel represents Christ in His death, but Seth represents Him in resurrection. There is no record that Abel had any sons, nor could Christ have any “sons” (Heb 2:9-13), until He had first died. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (Jn 12:24). Seth, representative of Christ resurrected, takes the place of the slain Abel, just as the resurrected Christ takes the place of the Christ Who died.
Seth became the father of multitudes, countless generations of the godly line from which Christ, as to His humanity, came. Similarly the resurrected Lord has become the “Father” of multitudes: generations of the godly line of men who have trusted Him as Savior.
As the line of Seth was appointed to produce the “Seed” (Christ), so has it been appointed in regard to the godly line of which Christ is “Father.” Of every man and woman in that line it is written, “Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn (highest in rank or position) among many brethren” (Ro 8:29). Christ will one day be reproduced in every believer.
And the principle of replacement of the first by the second applies also to each believer. It is not in these earthly bodies, but in our resurrection bodies that we shall be in heaven, a great harvest of “wheat” each ear of which will be stamped with the resurrection likeness of that One which “fell into the ground and died” to make the harvest possible.
This “book of the generations of Adam” is the genealogy of those descendants of Adam, who as to their bodies, are in his likeness, but who by the new birth will, in their resurrection bodies, wear the likeness of the last Adam, as it is written, “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Co 15:49). All of the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians should be read in this connection.
“God created man, in the likeness of God....” Man’s creation “in the likeness of God” has already been discussed in our study of chapter 1, and need not be repeated here, except to notice again that Adam could and did fall from that position, but those who bear the divine likeness by descent from the last Adam can never fall.
5:2. “Male and female created he them; and blessed them and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.”
Since the significance of their having been created “male and female” has also been discussed, there is no need to repeat it here.
In God’s blessing them we have the assurance that He desires to bless all men, but in Adam’s failure to inherit that blessing we learn the necessary lesson that blessing is contingent upon obedience. It was by disobedience that Adam became a sinner and made himself an heir of death. God’s blessing is offered to all who are obedient, and no one will be blessed who fails to fulfill that condition.
“... and called their name Adam, meaning red earth,” reminding us that as was Adam so are all his descendants, “The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Co 15:47-49). The Corinthian letter was written to believers. Only those who have been born again will bear the image of the heavenly.
5:3. “And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image: and called his name Seth.”
See chapter 4 for the notes relative to Seth’s birth.
5:4. “And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begot sons and daughters.”
Since God’s numerical system ends with seven, the number of perfection or completeness, eight simply introduces a new beginning, e.g., the first day of the week would be the eighth, were it not for the fact that it is designated the first. The nucleus of the earth’s population after the flood of Noah’s day was eight. Adam’s eight hundred years following Seth’s birth are, by their very separation from his earlier one hundred and thirty, invested with the character of a new beginning. The birth of Seth introduced that time period that would cover many generations, but that would “in the fullness of time” produce the promised “Seed.”
As noted already, Abel and Seth are both of the godly line, and both are types of Christ: Abel, of Christ in His death; Seth, of Christ in resurrection. Abel is “cut off,” but the line continues unbroken from Seth to Christ. It is as though after Abel’s death there was no death of the godly line, Seth’s life being perpetuated in the lives of his descendants. The truth being taught, of course, is that the resurrected Christ will never die, nor will those who trust Him as Savior. And as the godly line culminated in the birth of Christ, the promised “Seed,” so will it be with all who are of that same godly line: Christ will be produced eventually in each one of them, for of them it is written, “Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Ro 8:29). Paul, writing to the Galatians, expressed the same thought, “My little children of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you” (Ga 4:19). It was God’s purpose in the OT age to bring forth Christ “the Seed,” and it is His purpose now to bring forth a countless multitude of redeemed men all perfectly conformed to Christ’s image, a vast harvest, each grain of which bears the image of that “Seed” sown in death as the corn of wheat that fell into the ground and died to make the harvest possible, His life being perpetuated in them.
5:5. “And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.”
It might seem as though this is a contradiction of what has just been said, particularly in view of its being said of every link in the godly line that he lived a certain number of years and then died; and yet of the ungodly line descended from Cain, death is not once mentioned.
There is no contradiction. It is unnecessary to state the obvious. Cain and all his descendants were like all born of Adam, dead already. They never had spiritual life, for like all men, they were born dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1). Since they were “dead” even from birth, it could not be said of them that they died sometime after they were born. The only life they had was physical, that which pertains to the body. And the reason they never obtained spiritual life was because they were unwilling to admit that they were sinners, who could obtain eternal life only by accepting it as God’s gift secured for men through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. No such confession ever crossed Cain’s lips, nor will any of the serpent’s seed ever make such a confession: hence their lifeless state.
The division of the life of each link in the godly line into two parts - one part before, and the other part after the birth of the next link - points typically to what characterizes every believer. The first part of the life begins with natural birth, and is marked by what characterizes the serpent’s seed: spiritual life is lacking. The second part begins with the new birth, faith in Christ as Savior, and is marked by what characterizes Him, the “Seed” - spiritual life is present. Significantly there is no recorded division of the life of any of the line of Cain, nor is there any mention of the length of their lives, since the only life they had was physical, and the only life which counts with God is that which is spiritual.
From this it is easy to see how each link in the godly line portrays Christ, for the birth of each son answers typically to that moment when a sinner trusts Christ as Savior. As each father in the godly line became possessor of a son through whom “the Seed” would eventually come, so each believer becomes the possessor of that which will eventually stand “conformed to the image of Christ.”
But that moment of conversion marks the end of everything having to do with the seed of the serpent, except for the physical body. It remains unchanged and must therefore die, to be replaced at the resurrection or Rapture by an immortal spiritual body. The frequent mention of death in connection with the godly line applies only to their bodies.
As the absence of any mention of death in the Cainite line betokens that they were already dead, it indicates too, the absence on their part of any confession of their dead state: hence the impossibility of their receiving God’s gift of eternal life. Death is imprinted upon every link in the godly line, however, but the interruption of each man’s life by the birth of a son points to a new beginning, for in the life of the son the life of the father is perpetuated. As to their bodies received by natural birth, they died, but in the life which they afterwards received, the sons who are types of Christ, they lived. What God is teaching in the record of the godly line is one easily read: all who are of that line have a point in their lives when they received God’s Gift, His Son the Lord Jesus Christ (typologically portrayed by the literal son), in Whom they will live for ever. That point when they receive the Son marks the end of all that pertains to natural birth, and marks the beginning of life that will never die.
5:6. “And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begot Enos.”
Enos means mortal. The names of Seth’s and Cain’s sons are almost identical, but it is that slight dissimilarity that makes all the difference. Enoch, Cain’s son, means dedicated, but Seth’s son Enos speaks of that which is under sentence of death. It was Seth’s confession that he, himself under sentence of death because of Adam’s sin, could not beget that which would be beyond the divine condemnation. As he was, so must be all who would spring from him - mortal, subject to death. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one” (Job 14:4). That which is itself dead cannot beget life.
But that confession is all God wants to hear. In response to it He comes in and makes the vile clean, replacing death with life, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn 1:9). While this verse applies to believers in the context of having communion restored, the principle it demonstrates applies no less to the sinner.
By analogy therefore it is as though Christ had come from Seth in the person of Enos. That this view is justified will be evident from a reading of Heb 7:9-10, “Levi also ... paid tithes (to Melchizedek) ... for he was yet in the loins of his father (Abraham) when Melchizedek met him (Abraham).” Just as the yet unborn Levi analogically paid tithes to Melchizedek, so did
Seth analogically beget the promised “Seed,” Christ. By the same analogy every believer, having received Christ as Savior, will eventually produce Christ, for, as has been noted already, it is predestinated that we shall be eternally conformed to His image: we shall produce Christ. The Christian life has this end in view - to reveal Christ in us.
5:7. “And Seth lived after he begot Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begot sons and daughters.”
It is significant that in regard to every one of the human links in the godly line of the “seed of the woman” it is recorded that, after the birth of his son, “he lived... and begot sons and daughters.” Before mentioning his death, God dwells on the fact that each man lived, and, as though to indicate the eternal character of that life, records its fruitfulness, in which the life of the father is continued in burgeoning life, sons and daughters.
Another fact worth noting is that up to Enoch, who did not die, each man lived for at least eight hundred years after the birth of his son. Since eight is the Scriptural number of a new beginning, the very duration of each life is stamped with the character of newness in contrast with the part that preceded the birth of the son. It goes beyond seven, the number of completeness or perfection, on to eight, the new beginning which has no ending: it is eternal.
This is the nature of the life each man possesses from the moment he receives Christ, the Seed, the Son, into his life. Christ said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
A practical lesson that should not be overlooked in this chapter is the fruitfulness that followed the birth of the son. They “lived ... and begot sons and daughters.” It is God’s desire that every believer should be equally fruitful in begetting spiritual sons and daughters. The mark of His blessing on the lives of Israel, His earthly people, was in the number of sons and daughters given. The same criterion measures His blessing in the lives of spiritual Israel - the number of spiritual children begotten through the Gospel.
5:8. “And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died.”
While we were dealing with the part of the life that represents spiritual life, everything dwelt on longevity and fruitfulness, but as soon as we bring in and add on the first part, which represents the unsaved state, immediately we read, “And he died.” All that belongs to our natural birth, which links us with Adam, is under sentence of death, and everything that touches it is similarly infected. Because spiritual life is inherited from the last Adam, Jesus Christ, those who are “in Christ” will never die; even though the body of the believer may “sleep” it will awaken again in resurrection life. But because death is the only thing the first Adam can transmit to his posterity, even the believer’s body, received from the first Adam through natural birth, must die physically and be resurrected, not as a physical, but as a spiritual body.
The realization of what belonged to him by natural birth, in contrast with what he had by the new birth, caused Paul to lament, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Ro 7:19). As he pondered this he cried out, “0 wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death, (lit., this body of death)?” But, as he remembered the superiority of what he had by the new birth, he exulted, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Ro 7:24-25).
The salutary lesson to be learned from this is that anything of the old nature, brought into contact with the new, can only result in pollution of the new, never improvement of the old. If the old nature were capable of improvement, God would have improved it. That He had to bring in a new nature teaches the impossibility of His ever improving the old.
This is the same lesson taught in the Nazarite’s being defiled by coming into contact with a dead body (Nu 6:6-9). The dead body represents the old nature. It is corrupt. “The body is dead because of sin” (Ro 8:10). Every thought, as well as every word and deed proceeding from the old nature, is corrupt, and can only defile when its activity is permitted. That old nature is to be kept in the place of death where God, through Christ’s atonement, reckons it to be.
It is only in regard to his physical body that Seth died, and his body died because it had come from Adam. The God of resurrection, however, will yet display His power in raising that body, not as it was, but as something new, immortal, spiritual.
5:9. “And Enos lived ninety years, and begot Cainan (or Kenan).”
Cainan means their smith. For the spiritual significance of smith the reader is referred to the study of Genesis chapter 4 in connection with Cain. As was noted there, the Israelitish smiths were the OT representatives of those amongst God’s people today, who by instructing them, furnish them not only with weapons, but also with the means of producing what they need to sustain their new spiritual life.
Smiths who are of the ungodly line represent false teachers, but the false teacher is the enemy of God and of His people.
As has been indicated in Chapter 4, it was in one of the darkest periods of her history that “there was no smith in Israel,” and God’s people had to take their implements to Philistine smiths to be sharpened.
Satan always has his Philistine “smiths,” false teachers amongst God’s people to disarm and impoverish them. Under the Philistines, neither smith nor weapon was to be found in Israel - they were defenseless, and their agricultural implements were sharpened at the Philistines’ pleasure.
When the knowledge of the Word is taken from them God’s people are without defense, and what the spiritual “Philistine” will permit in the way of “food” for God’s people will be neither abundant nor rich. The present day condition of the Church reflects the activity of these Philistine “smiths”.
But Cainan was of the godly line, and as such would symbolize those, who by instructing God’s people, place in their hands both spiritual “weapons” and “agricultural implements.”
This early appearance in the godly line of one who represents spiritual teachers, is perhaps designed to impress upon us the necessity of every believer’s giving himself to the study of Scripture. Apart from the fact that the teacher, like the evangelist and the pastor, is a Spirit-given gift to the Church (Eph 4:11), it is incumbent upon every believer that he personally give adequate time to the study of Scripture. It will not only nurture his new life and cause him to grow, it will also furnish him with the weapon he needs to repel the attack of spiritual foes, and to expel them from his own God-given inheritance, just as the sword in the hand of the Israelites dispossessed the Canaanites. In addition, each Scriptural truth grasped enlarges the capacity to grasp more.
Without the birth of Cainan the godly line would have been broken. He was an essential link in that long line which would eventually produce “the Seed,” Christ. Since it is God’s desire that Christ be produced in every believer, it is clear that that objective will not be achieved if there is missing from the believer’s life that which answers to Cainan. One of the characteristics of the new life is an interest in the study of Scripture both for the purpose of finding instruction, and of being able to instruct others (2 Tim 2:23-26). Lack of interest in the study of Scripture by a professed believer renders his profession suspect.
5:10. “And Enos lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters:”
5:11. “And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died.”
The pattern already alluded to repeats itself. Fruitfulness and longevity follow the birth of the son, but as soon as the former years are added, the years of spiritual death, it is recorded that “he died.”
5:12. “And Cainan lived seventy years, and begat Mahalaleel.”
Mahalaleel means praise of God,” and it is unclear whether it refers to Mahalaleel’s giving praise to God, or of God’s praising Mahalaleel. Both ideas, in fact, are acceptable, for the man who praises God is himself praised by God.
The lesson to be learned from the inclusion of this name in Seth’s line may be, perhaps, that praise is characteristic of what belongs to the line of faith. The gratitude of the redeemed man expresses itself in praise and worship.
It might be well to consider for a moment what praise is. Obviously it includes offering worship in words or songs, but it includes much more. It embraces everything that has to do with the contemplation of God, and from the standpoint of the redeemed man, that begins with gratitude for redemption procured at such cost, and reaches on to include gratitude for blessings beyond the ability of the finite mind to grasp, and to be enjoyed eternally.
That contemplation will produce a thankful heart whose gratitude will be expressed in obedience, and it will preclude murmuring against any circumstance which God may see fit to order for our lives.
5:13. “And Cainan lived after he begat Mahalaleel eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters:”
5:14. “And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died.”
5:15. “And Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years and begat Jared.”
Jared means a descender, and since the whole context of the godly line is of good in contrast with evil we can rule out any thought of its having reference to descending moral quality. It would seem, in fact, to point to another feature that should mark all who belong to the line of faith - a complete abnegation of self.
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the perfect example. He was willing to be an object of reproach and mockery that the Father might be glorified. John the Baptist exemplified the same spirit when he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). Paul, the once proud Pharisee, was willing for Christ’s sake to be “made as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things...” (1 Co 4:13).
This would seem to be the lesson of Jared a descender. A willingness to be nothing, that God may be everything, is the mark of the spiritual man.
As Jared was a necessary link in the line that would produce Christ, so is what he represents (self abnegation) necessary in the life of the man who would “bring forth Christ.”
5:16. “And Mahalaleel lived after he begat Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters:”
5:17. “And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred and ninety and five years: and he died.”
5:18. “And Jared lived an hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch.”
As has already been noted Enoch means dedicated, but unlike his namesake in the line of Cain, this link in the godly line is dedicated only to what pleases God.
One of the lessons of Enoch’s life is the necessity of dedication. God finds little to commend in the purposeless life, nor is much glory brought to Him from such a life. “No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk 9:62). “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ec 9:10).
Unswerving purpose marked the Lord’s life, as it did also that of His servant Paul. From the moment he knelt on the Damascus road and cried, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” Paul never looked back. Years later he could write “... this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind ... I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Php 3:13-14).
Enoch, then, would point to the need of wholeheartedness in going in for what belongs to the kingdom of God, and an equally wholehearted renunciation of everything else.
5:19. “And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:”
5:20. “And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died.”
5:21. ‘And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah.”
Methuselah means they died - the dart: man of the dart, and some give a third meaning when he is dead, it (the flood) shall be sent.
While the meanings of Methuselah’s name may seem to yield no clear message, the thought of death is found in all three, and in Scripture the dart is invariably presented as the instrument of death. When we keep in mind that each link in the godly line up to this point has set before us a different characteristic which should mark all who belong to that same line, we should expect the same in regard to Methuselah. Certainly no truth is more clearly taught in the NT than that which has to do with the believer’s position in regard to sin, the law and the world: he has become dead to all of them. Ro 6:5-11 “... dead indeed unto sin ...”; Ro 7:4 “... ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ ...”; Ga 6:14 “... by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
Those who are of that godly line - and every believer is - are to live therefore in such fashion as will demonstrate that these things are realities to them and not mere shibboleths.
5:22. “And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:”
5:23. “And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:”
5:24. “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not; for God took him.”
Up to this point the record has been, that following the birth of the first named son, each father begat more sons and daughters and then died. With Enoch the pattern changes. Following immediately upon the birth of Methuselah, it is said of Enoch that “he walked with God.”
It is surely not without significance that this walk began immediately after the birth of him who sets before us so clearly the believer’s position in regard to sin, the law and the world. A man cannot walk with God until his life becomes the practical demonstration of the fact that in regard to these things he has indeed died. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Ga 2:20), and in Amos 3:3 the question is asked, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” Enoch’s walking with God implies an obedient life. The man whose life testifies to his being crucified with Christ, doesn’t “die” - he simply passes out of the place where death reigns, into the sphere where life reigns.
Enoch was translated. The NT sheds further light on Enoch’s life, for in Heb 11:5 it is written, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”
The Epistle of Jude supplies the further information that he was also a prophet, verse 14, “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
Enoch’s warning concerning the Lord’s coming to execute judgment most certainly was directed to the men of his own time, and may have had reference to the impending judgment of the flood, yet Jude makes it clear that Enoch’s prophecy had much more than a local application: it extended far beyond the flood and pointed to a day yet to come long after the flood, but now very near, when the Lord will return with those He has first translated from earth, to that same earth to judge the nations and establish His millennial kingdom.
The unique character of Enoch’s removal from earth to heaven, plus his prophesying concerning the Lord’s return, should prepare us to see that the events of his life are simply the foreshadowing of events of far greater significance. The picture given us of the world in which he lived is all too clearly but a picture of the present. It was wicked and ripe for judgment, but “by faith Enoch was translated...” before judgment came. His translation to heaven is the miniature of the Rapture, when all who are of like faith with Enoch will also be translated to heaven before judgment falls.
While he waited for the moment of that translation, however, he was busy sounding a warning of coming judgment. The Lord has left us a commission, to be fulfilled in the interval between our salvation and our being ushered into His presence, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15). However much faithless timidity may have watered down that Gospel, the message given us to preach is no less a warning to men to save themselves from coming judgment than was the message committed to Enoch.
John the Baptist asked unbelieving hypocrites of his day, “... who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Mt 3:7).
Enoch warned the men of his day. Who is warning the men of ours?
5:25. “And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech.”
Lamech means why thus with thee?: unto bringing low. As has been noted already it is not only the meaning of the name that conveys God’s message, but also whether the name is found in the line of the seed of the woman, or in the line of the seed of the serpent.
The question propounded in the first meaning of Lamech why thus with thee? has a very different significance from what it has when related to the ungodly line. It suggests that the believer does well to ponder why he has been so much blessed. The second meaning unto bringing low, would seem to be directing attention to the fact that in the soon-coming judgment of the flood, sinful man would be brought low by the God he had defied. The only way of escape was that which everyone in the godly line takes - when we ourselves take the low place of the repentant sinner, God comes in and not only pardons, but lifts the believer to a position of safety, far beyond the reach of judgment.
Lamech died just five years before the flood came, and from the viewpoint of those who survived him, but who refused to believe that the flood was coming, it may have seemed that he had been brought low by death. God, in reality, had taken his soul into paradise, thereby saving him from the coming judgment.
For the believer the death of the body is not being brought low: it is but the step by which his soul and spirit go higher into the very presence of God.
As it was belief in impending judgment that brought Lamech low before God, so must it be with all who would find a place in the line of the godly. Fear of judgment will bring men low and thereby make it possible for God to lift them up; or they will not believe until judgment itself brings them down to death, and it is too late for God to lift them up. “He that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Mt 23:l2).
5:26. “And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters:”
5:27. “And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.”
5:28. “And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son:”
5:29. “And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.”
Noah means rest. He and seven members of his family were the only antediluvians to survive the flood, and become the nucleus of the new world population.
The language of Lamech concerning Noah, “This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed,” seems to indicate that he was aware that Noah would survive the flood. He saw in his son’s survival the perpetuation of his own life beyond the coming judgment.
This clearly presents Noah, then, as a type of Christ, for this is the expectation of every believer, that in Him we shall live eternally beyond judgment. In this fragment of man’s early history we are given a miniature of the whole of that history. Covering more than a thousand years and ten generations from the creation of Adam, man’s history culminates in the birth of Noah, whose name is synonymous with rest. The expectation of each generation of the godly line was that it would be the one to produce the “Seed” promised to Eve, and perhaps it may have seemed to Lamech that the promise was indeed fulfilled in Noah; but the time had not yet come.
Noah was only a type. Certainly he would survive the judgment of the flood, and become, as it were, the head of a new creation that would dwell upon a renewed earth, emerged from under the waters of judgment. But he was still of the old creation, incapable of transmitting to his posterity anything but the legacy of corruption and death inherited from Adam. Another thirty centuries must pass before He would be born Whose descent was not from Adam but from God.
Noah died typically under the water of judgment, but the One he symbolized died in reality, and arose out of death to be the Head of a new creation, free from the taint of Adam’s corruption, imparting to His “sons” His own perfect life and nature. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature” (2 Co 5:17).
The rest into which Noah led the human race after the flood was only typical, and consisted of nothing more than the assurance that there would never be another flood to destroy the earth. The rest into which the Lord Jesus Christ leads men is eternal.
5:30. “And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters:”
5:31. “And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died.”
5:32. “And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham and Japheth.”
Since God has not written the Bible to gratify mere idle curiosity, speculation is useless as to whether Noah and the other antediluvians had had other children before those whose names are given.
Shem means a name; Ham, hot: father-in-law: (as a place name Ham means tumult: he raged); Japheth means let him spread out.
Bible scholars are generally agreed that the three great divisions of humanity have their origin in these three sons of Noah: Shem being the father of the Hebrew race; Ham, of the colored races; and Japheth, of the remaining races.
There is undoubtedly a lesson contained in the meanings of these three names, but I regret being unable to discern just what that lesson may be, and must therefore leave it until such time as God may give further light on it.
The following table is given as an easy means of comparing the life spans of these antediluvians who constituted the godly line of faith. The year of Adam’s creation is taken as zero:
NAME BORN IN LIVED DIED IN Adam 0 930 930 Seth 130 912 1042 Enos 235 905 1140 Cainan 325 910 1235 Mahalaleel 395 895 1290 Jared 460 962 1422 Enoch 622 365 9871 Methuselah 687 969 16562 Lamech 874 777 1651 Noah 1056 950 2006
1 He was translated.
2 This was the year of the flood, but Methuselah died before it came.
From this we learn that Adam was contemporary with all of them except Noah, and all of them except Noah died before the flood came. (Methuselah lived until the year of the flood, but died before it came.)
Two thoughts suggest themselves in this connection. All of them, including Noah, were descended from Adam, but in addition, all except Noah, were also contemporary with him. Thus all except Noah had, as it were a double link with him, and all except Enoch died. Death is inseparable from Adam except where God comes in and translates, as he did Enoch, out of Adam into Christ. It is as to our bodies that we are linked with Adam, and in the physical death of these godly antediluvians we learn, that except for the generation which will be translated, we too, must die physically.
The absence of this link of contemporariness between Adam and Noah, sets Noah apart from the others. In the experience that befell Noah, God would show us the way of life. This is demonstrated typically, first in the fact that there was a gap of one hundred and twenty six years between the death of Adam and the birth of Noah. The Adam nature must die before the new nature can live. And secondly, the link must be broken by another death. Noah died typically as he went through the flood, though he was actually safe in the Ark. The Ark is a type of Christ, and the man who is “in” Christ has died typically, safe in Him while He bore the fury of the flood of God’s wrath against sin.
As Noah emerged from the Ark on to the renovated earth, it was typically his coming out of judgment and death to stand on resurrection ground. All who would join him on that ground must have a similar experience. They must not only be willing to die to everything that connects them with Adam, but they must also be willing to enter into the “ark” (Christ), and believe that He has borne the judgment they deserved.
The twofold nature of Noah’s break with Adam is the typical annunciation of every believer’s experience. The one hundred and twenty-six year gap before the flood points to the conversion experience while here on earth. The passing through the waters points to the end of the believer’s life on earth. Those waters of death, which will overwhelm the unbeliever, become for the believer that which delivers him eternally from everything connected with Adam and earth, and through which he will pass safely to stand eternally on resurrection ground.
This concludes our study of chapter five, except to look very briefly at a few things relating to the years mentioned in connection with each man’s life.
Those years are divided into three parts: the years he lived before the birth of his son, the years he lived after that event, and finally the total number of years of his life. Since three is the number of resurrection the lesson would seem to be that each of these godly antediluvians stood before God on the ground of faith which guaranteed for him a part in the resurrection of life.
Nothing in Scripture is without meaning, though we often fail to see it, and because everything has meaning, nothing in Scripture is recorded unnecessarily. The numbers of years relating to the different parts of each man’s life are no exception. They wouldn’t have been written had they no meaning, but I regret that much study of these numbers has failed to yield the meaning, and where God has not given light mere speculation would be folly. It is with reluctance therefore that this chapter is concluded leaving undiscussed the spiritual significance of these numbers.