Generations | Genesis 5:1-20
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. When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died. When Seth had lived 105 years, he fathered Enosh. Seth lived after he fathered Enosh 807 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died. When Enosh had lived 90 years, he fathered Kenan. Enosh lived after he fathered Kenan 815 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enosh were 905 years, and he died. When Kenan had lived 70 years, he fathered Mahalalel. Kenan lived after he fathered Mahalalel 840 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Kenan were 910 years, and he died. When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he fathered Jared. Mahalalel lived after he fathered Jared 830 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Mahalalel were 895 years, and he died. When Jared had lived 162 years he fathered Enoch fathered Enoch. Jared lived after he fathered Enoch 800 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Jared were 962 years, and he died. Genesis 5:1-20 | ESV
Genealogies. They don’t exactly make riveting reading for us, nor do we typically imagine them to the be the stuff of best selling devotions (to my knowledge, no one has ever tried to publish a book of devotions derived from the genealogies of the Bible – I can see it now: Generations Calling). Of all the things for the Genesis author (or authors) to blank, the genealogies would be one of them most of us wish they had. But these genealogies serve a crucial purpose – and that purpose actually has little to do with the use we often make of them as a set of chronological clues to help us calculate the age of the earth and satisfy our curiosity. Such genealogies as we encounter here in Genesis 5 actually serve to propel the story of Genesis forward and to provide some key relational links. Such a “linear” genealogy as meets us in Genesis 5 were used by the ancients to demonstrate “the legitimacy of an individual in his office or to provide an individual of rank with connections to a worthy family of individual of the past” (M.D. Johnson, The Purpose of the Biblical Genealogies). In this case, it’s the legitimacy and claim of Noah representing the one through whom God will “rule the earth” and “crush the serpent’s head.” Those two themes are where this Story is going, and Adam had three sons who potentially could have picked up that baton. But Abel was killed, and Cain wandered off to his own path of self-preservation and performance. Genesis 4 provides us with ten names in the unfolding history of Cain – seven generations from Adam with three sons listed as emanating from Cain’s descendant Lamech, who, as the pinnacle of Cainan development, brings both cultural achievement and human devaluation to new highs – and lows. Stay tuned to Genesis 6 to see that thread fully unravel. Genesis 5 presents us with the line of the third son of Adam: Seth. Ten more names. Ten generations. All culminating in Noah with his own three sons, who functions much as another Adam on the precipice of planetary rebirth. Each generation serves as a ripple, bequeathing both life and death as the inheritance of humanity, but the rippling of Adam’s line through Seth leads us to radically different shores from the violent ripples of Cain. Perhaps this is a key reason why our judgment has to take place at the end of time: it will take generations upon generations to fully observe the effects, for good or ill, of each of our rippling lives…
What do you know of your ancestors – those whose lives have rippled into yours? How is your own life rippling forward? How can you live today in such a way that your life ripples forward in life-giving ways?
Lord, give me the grace not to be enslaved to the worst of my past, known and unknown to me; but to take the best that you have in it and through it, and to ripple that forward into an unstoppable tsunami of your grace and mercies leaving only life in its wake. Through Christ.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.