This is an interesting chapter, even though it may initially seem to contain nothing except the descendants of Adam and Eve’s son Seth. When we consider that this is the family line which ultimately leads us to the promised Seed, and does not end until it reaches the Person of the Lord Jesus, we understand that this chapter is not what the Apostle calls the fables of endless genealogies (1 Tim. 1:4). Rather, it contains the power of an endless life (Heb. 7:10).
Adam was made in the image of God; but when he was fallen, he begat a son in his own image (verse 3) – sinful, defiled, frail, wretched, and mortal, like himself. Not only was he a man like himself, consisting of body and soul; but he was also a sinner like himself. This was the reverse of that Divine likeness in which Adam was made; having lost it, he could not convey it to his children. Adam lived for a total of 930 years, and then died, according to the sentence passed upon him: “To dust thou shalt return.” Although he did not die on the very same day that he ate the forbidden fruit, yet he became mortal on that day. It was then that he began to die; his life after that was running downhill, so to speak.
The lifespans of the men who are recorded in this chapter cover the first 1,656 years of the world’s history. Concerning each of the patriarchs except Enoch, it is said, “and he died.” They all lived very long lives; not one of them died until he had seen almost 800 years, and some of them lived even longer. It is interesting to note that all the patriarchs in this family line that lived before the Flood, except for Noah, were born before Adam died! From him, they might receive a full account of the Creation, the Fall, the Promise, and the Divine precepts about religious worship and a religious life. Hereby God kept up the knowledge of His will among His people.
Enoch was the seventh generation from Adam (confirmed in Jude 14); and of him, it is said that he “walked with God.” Walking with God implies reconciliation with Him, for two cannot walk together unless they agree with each other (Amos 3:3). To walk with God is to set Him always before us; it includes all the parts of a Godly, righteous, and sober life. It is to constantly take care, in all things, to please Him; and to offend Him in nothing. It is to be followers of Him as dear children. The Holy Spirit – instead of saying, “Enoch lived” – says that he “walked with God.” This shows that this was his constant care and work; while others lived for themselves and the world, he lived for God. It was the joy of his life on earth; and he was removed, without dying, to a better world in heaven. “God took him.” He was changed, as will be the case with the saints who are still alive at Christ’s Second Coming. Those who begin to walk with God when they are young may expect to walk with Him long, comfortably, and usefully.
The name Noah signifies “rest.” His parents gave him that name with a prospect of his being a great blessing to his generation. Observe his father Lamech’s complaint of the calamitous state of human life, by the entrance of sin and its curse. Our whole life is spent in labor, and our time is filled up with continual toil. Since the ground is cursed, it is often difficult – even with the utmost care and pains – to get a hard livelihood out of it. Lamech said concerning Noah that he “shall comfort us.” These words not only signify that desire and expectation which parents generally have about their children, that they will be comforts and helpers to them; but it also signifies a prospect of something more. Is Christ ours? Is heaven ours? We need better comforters under our toil and sorrow than the dearest relations and the most promising offspring. May we seek and find our comfort in Christ alone!
It is interesting to note that when the Hebrew names of the ten patriarchs in this chapter are written out in order, and then translated into their English equivalents, the meanings of their names spell a sentence that embodies the truth of the Gospel message: “Man (Adam) is appointed (Seth) mortal (Enos) sorrow (Cainan); but the blessed God (Mahalalel) shall come down (Jared), teaching (Enoch) that His – that is, Christ’s – death shall bring (Methusaleh) the despairing (Lamech) comfort and rest (Noah).”
Lord Jesus, as we read here of how one man lived so many years, and died; and another lived so many years, and died – O what a relief it is it to our souls, amidst all the death of this world, that You live and abide forever! We beseech You, Lord Jesus, to walk with us; and by Your blessed Spirit, may we be enabled to walk with You, until – like Enoch – we are lifted from this region of shadows and ordinances, to serve You in heaven forevermore! Amen.
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