Summary: Lessons from Genesis 5 explain what it means to walk with God in a ever darkening world.
Walking With God
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Introduction: On December 26, 2004, the world watched in horror as the story of the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia unfolded. An earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean triggered a huge tidal wave as high as 100 feet tall that came crashing on shore across the region. The tsunami did damage as far as the east coast of Africa, 5000 miles away. Over a quarter million people died in the rampaging waters and devastation that followed. Entire island populations and coastal villages were wiped out—every man, woman, and child in some cases.
According to the Associated Press, there was one notable exception to the loss of life. The Morgan sea gypsies are a small tribe of fishermen who spend much of the year on their boats fishing between India, Indonesia and Thailand. Each December, between fishing seasons, they live in small thatch huts on the beaches of Thailand. Last December, they were living directly in the path of certain disaster. Yet every single member of the tribe survived, while most of their neighbors disappeared in the rampaging waters.
Why? The tribal chief explains, "For generations our fathers warned us that if the waters ever receded fast, they would quickly reappear in the same quantity in which they disappeared." On December 26 when the sea suddenly drained away, many of their neighbors ran to the beach with baskets to pick up stranded fish. Not the Morgan sea gypsies. The chief ordered his tribe to run in the opposite direction, to the mountains and safety. When the tsunami hit, the entire tribe was spared. (Sourced by Craig Brian Larson, Arlington Heights, Illinois; "How ’Sea Gypsies’ Survived the Tsunami," Associated Press, as seen in cbs2chicago.com (12-31-04).
That remarkable story provides a striking parable for the events surrounding our text. The opening chapters of the Bible are an introduction to the rest of Bible history. They explain who we are, why we are the way we are, and how our world came to be the way it is. The great redemption plan begins to unfold with the call of Abraham in Genesis 12. Genesis 4-5 sets the stage for the great flood which God unleashes upon a world gone wrong. Everyone perished except one family. Noah’s small tribe survived because they listened to the voice of their fathers and their fathers’ God.
Make no mistake about it. We also need to listen to these stories. Judgment is coming again. The final judgment will not come with a mere tsunami or even a world wide flood. But it will come. Those who survive the coming judgment, like the ones who survived the last, will be those who have listened. Remember what Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Mt 24:37).
At first blush, Genesis 5 contains a lot of what might look like irrelevant information. It is just a genealogy, an ancient family tree. What’s the big deal? Why’s that in the Bible anyway? What’s it got to do with us? When we dig into some of the details of this rather odd chapter I think you’ll be surprised at how truly relevant the lessons are.
Admittedly, these chapters raise a number of other questions about the ages, numbers, and names that are recorded. Those are also important questions. I want to save those for another time. Today I want to go directly to the bottom line. What’s the Lord saying to us in this chapter? Consider five timeless lessons:
Lesson 1: Families Make A Difference. Genesis 5 intentionally mirrors Genesis 4. Chapter 4 begins with the story of brother murdering brother. It ends with Cain’s family tree. Cain’s family went from bad to worse. They built cities, invented technology, and created music. On the surface they prospered, but all the while they fell apart spiritually and morally. Jesus’ question applies here, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?” The family tree ends with Lamech who promises to be ten times as mean as his ancestor Cain.
Evil never stands still! Once it takes root, it always grows. Only the presence of God can stop its spread! Woe to parents who ignore this lesson. Which brings us to the story of chapter 5. Chapter 4 ends with the birth of Seth, the next son born to Adam and Eve. Note the all important last sentence: “At that time men began to call upon [or proclaim] the name of the Lord.”
Not everyone followed the way of Cain and his children. Seth’s family didn’t. Two families—one drifted farther and farther from God. The other called upon God. Good families and godly children don’t happen by accident. One generation blazes a trail of faith that the next can follow. That’s what God intends. While there are no guarantees, even in a dark world people can find their way back to God if the previous generation lights the way.