Curiosity is the mother of all learning, and that is certainly true in your reading of God’s Written Word. It is often the most unexpected chapters in Scripture that fill us with a sense of meaning and purpose in this life. Genesis chapter 5 is one of those chapters.
From verse 3 to verse 32, the pattern of the verses echo the dismal pattern of:
[Strange name] lived [large number] years and fathered [other strange name] after which he lived [an ever larger number] years, and he died.
It is a sad testimony to life in a sin-cursed world. Life was supposed to be eternal, but got shortened to a few hundreds of years (and after the Flood even more to only about 80!). The sad reality in this all is “and he died”. That is the fulfilment of the warning given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:17).
But, when you look at Genesis chapter 5 with a little more curiosity, there are two parts that jump out at you. Each one is a dramatic break in the pattern of the rest of the chapter.
The first is regarding a man named Enoch.
When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.Genesis 5:21-24 (ESV)
The addition of Enoch walked with God (twice!) and then the utterly surprisingly end to his earthly life and he was not, for God took him, take us by complete surprise. If you were dozing off in your reading up to verse 21, you are wide awake now. In the middle of the most depressing commentary on life in this sin-cursed world, there is this profound glimpse into the fact that maybe death isn’t the end after all. Every person (except apparently Enoch) might end their life with death, but God isn’t affected by it, and it appears that there is life with God after this earthly life after all. This earthly life that ends in death, can be redeemed by walking with God. Isn’t that still true today that those who fear the Lord and walk in His ways have the best perspective of all the sin and suffering in this world?
The same is true for the next interruption in the depressive pattern of Genesis 5. This time it is about Lamech (not to be confused with his evil name-twin in chapter 4):
When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” Lamech lived after he fathered Noah 595 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Lamech were 777 years, and he died.Genesis 5:28-31 (ESV)
What makes this stand out in the chapter is that it is not only a record of a person’s life and death, but also a recording of the person’s words. This one sentence from Lamech got penned down for all those of faith to realise that those who know “the LORD”‘s faithful character always live a life of hope. The LORD will provide deliverance from the futility of this life.
So, when you get up in the morning, complete your daily routine, only to wake up again the next morning, completing another round of your daily routine, remember that in the great monotony of life on this earth, there is purpose for those who walk in God’s ways, and hope for those who know the Lord.