Vignette #5: Our Lineup to the Flood

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Genesis 1-4: The Story So Far

A Review of Our Story So Far…

Now that we have completed our critique of the story of Cain and Abel, it is time for us to move on to the next Vignette, or mini-story, in our presentation of “God’s One Big Story.”  In order to put things into perspective, and as a benefit to those who may be new to our group, I think it is a good idea to do a brief recap of our story so far.

Here at His Truth, My Voice, we are currently undertaking a guided tour of the Bible, a tour which we have been referring to as “The Journey into the Land of Revelation Knowledge.”  We have named it this because, in going deeper into the Word of God, we will be traveling to places where the priceless revelations of who God is, who we are, and the parts we are to play in His wonderful Love Story of Redemption will be made known to us.

In order to aid us in our understanding of this Story, it is being presented to us in the form of a Play, consisting of Two Acts, each containing Six Scenes, which are separated by one long Intermission.  The Scenes and Intermission are being acted out on a series of Fourteen Stages and, at present, we are at Stage #1 where Vignette #5 of Act 1, Scene 1 is about to get underway.

In Scene 1, we have been introduced to God in His role as “The Celestial Suitor”—the Supreme Being whose ultimate goal is to have a spiritual family to love for all eternity.  Since a family is naturally made up of a Husband and a Wife who have children, in this scene (covering the first eleven chapters of Genesis), God will create the world of nations, from which He will choose one—Israel—to be His Wife.  It will be through His relationship with her that His Son will eventually be born into the world; and, it will be through His Son that God will one day obtain the family He has always desired.  Thus far, this is what God has done toward the realization of His goal:

  • In Vignette #2/ Genesis 2He created Man and Woman to bear His image on the earth, and to multiply and fill the earth with that image of His glory. He also made them overseers of His creation, and charged them not to do one thing—eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
  • In Vignette #3/ Genesis 3…He allowed a malevolent spirit named Satan, who appeared in the form of a serpent, to test the first couple’s obedience to His will. In the serpent’s temptation, Adam and Even were presented with the only two real options in life—either to do things God’s way and live, or to go their own way and die.  When Adam and Eve chose the latter, sin, disease, and death passed upon them and all of their descendants.  But, when their sin resulted in their separation from God, He graciously showed them that their relationship with Him could be restored if their sins were atoned for through the blood sacrifice of an innocent substitute.
  • In Vignette #4/ Genesis 4…When the time came for Adam and Eve’s sons to offer their own sacrifices to God, on one such occasion, Abel’s offering was accepted while Cain’s was rejected. This made Cain so angry that he murdered his brother.  Then, when he refused to acknowledge and repent of this sin, God’s judgment led him to separate himself from God, and enter into a life of wandering.  God later provided Adam and Eve with another son, Seth, to take Abel’s place; and with his arrival, we see a division of humanity into two distinct groups beginning to take place—with Cain heading up the line of the wicked, and Seth at the head of those in the righteous line.  At the end of this Vignette/Chapter, and in keeping with the scriptural practice of identifying the members of the rejected line first, we were given the genealogy of Cain—an incorrigible line that would ultimately succeed in corrupting society, and one which would eventually end in the Flood.

This brings us up to date in our Story, and to Vignette #5, which covers the material contained in Chapter 5 of Genesis.  While there are many who would consider this to be one of the most boring chapters in the Bible, I hope to show you that there are some important things to be gleaned from its rather repetitious presentation of information.

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Now Playing…

With that being said, the time has come for the next installment of our Story to begin—and for the lights in the theatre to dim and the curtains to part once more.  As they do, we find ourselves looking upon a Stage that is pretty much in the same state as when Vignette #4 ended.  The major difference is that Cain and his line of descendants have moved from the front of the stage to the back, forming a line across the rear of the stage.  The spotlight, which was previously on our right, has moved to our left, and is once more focusing on Adam, as we hear our off-stage Narrator begin his recitation with…

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 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.

Biblical Characters

Seth

Biblical Character

Adam

At this, we see Seth walk across the stage and stand next to his father.  As the spotlight moves to highlight him, we hear the Narrator speak again, saying…

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. 

This scene is then repeated five more times, with only the names and years being changed, and with our Narrator continuing in his very formulaic fashion…

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.

Biblical Character

Kenan

Biblical Character

Enosh

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 days, 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.

Biblical Character

Mahalalel

Biblical Character

Jared

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.  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. 

Up to this point, everything has been going along monotonously well, but it is here—at the seventh generation from Adam—that we find something unusual taking place.  Our Narrator explains this, using the most economical description possible, by saying…

Biblical Character

Enoch

Biblical Character

Methuselah

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. 

In other words, unlike his predecessors, Enoch did not die but was translated out of his earthly realm of existence and into the heavenly realm of existence with God!  Then, without offering us any more to go on, and just as though this revelation was of little or no consequence, our Narrator once again resumes his narration with…

When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he fathered Lamech.  Methuselah lived after he fathered Lamech 782 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Methuselah were 969 years, and he died.

But, just as he seems to be falling back into the same droning pattern of…

When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son and called his name Noah… 

…and the spotlight comes to rest on Lamech, we are surprised to hear a sudden outburst from him, as he makes this prophetic statement about his son…

Biblical Character

Lamech

Bible Character

Noah

…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…

…after which, our Narrator continues, as before, with…

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.

After Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

The Line of the Righteous from Adam to the Flood

The Righteous Lineup

And, with the line of the righteous stretched out on the stage before us, Genesis 5 or Vignette #5 abruptly comes to a halt.  The curtains close and the lights in the theatre come up again–and, we are provided with yet another pause in our production for the purpose of critiquing what has just taken place in the presentation.  Although it is tempting for us to think that there is nothing worth critiquing in this very abbreviated episode, there is quite a lot that has been revealed here that will need to be discussed.  So let’s  take a moment and change once more out of our Theatre Patrons’ Hats and into our Theatre Critics’ Hats, and get ourselves ready to analyze the People, the Patterns, and the Precedents being established in this one, seemingly uneventful, passage of Scripture.

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As Steve Green reminds us, let’s pray that when our lives are recorded  in God’s lineup of the Righteous, may all who come behind us find us faithful…

 

All the World’s a Stage–and Life its Cosmic Drama

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William Shakespeare

The Bard, William Shakespeare

Having just gone over the presentation of the Bible as a story, the program guide for that story, and the process by which that story will be presented to us—and, since we are rapidly approaching the first of the fourteen stages upon which our story will be presented—let’s use the few minutes we have before we arrive there to try and solidify in our minds the overall concept behind the production that we are about to witness.  The best way I know to do that is to draw upon what may seem like a rather unusual resource for instruction in Bible study, and that is the works of William Shakespeare.

It may come as something of a surprise to learn that there are two things that we can appropriate from Shakespeare’s works that will greatly aid us in our understanding of the Bible.  The first of these is Shakespeare’s view of or observation on life; something he makes known to us through the words spoken by Jaques, one of his characters in the comedy, “As You Like It.”  Jaques is the somewhat melancholy and philosophical traveler who pops up here and there in the forest of Arden, where much of the action of the story takes place.  On one such occasion, we find Jaques in the company of his lord, Duke Senior, a nobleman who is living in exile in the forest, and someone who—after meeting a hungry young man named Orlando—comments to his forlorn companion:

Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy.  This wide and universal theater presents more woeful pageants than the scene wherein we play.

It is in response to this statement that Jaques waxes his most philosophical, and mouths the now famous, and probably the most often quoted, of Shakespeare’s lines:

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts…

…And Life Its Cosmic Drama

Jaques then goes on to elaborate on these “many parts” by describing, in the monologue which follows, the roles in life that men (generically speaking) play as they go from birth to old age.

When these words were spoken, I am not sure if Jaques—that is, Shakespeare—knew of the real implication or importance of his remarks.  Certainly, being the student of human nature that he was, he was well aware that each of us, upon birth, makes an entrance into life on a small, very limited stage, where we play a variety of roles—those of son, daughter, sister, brother, grandchild, niece, nephew, or friend—only to have these roles reversed with the passage of time, until we find ourselves acting out the roles of father, mother, grandparent, aunt, or uncle to the next generation of players who are rising to take their places on their very own stages in life.  But, was it to these smaller stages and roles in life that Shakespeare was referring; or was he really aware of, and speaking about, the larger cosmic or heavenly stage upon which we all, at various times, play a contributing part?  While we may never know for sure the answer to that question, what we can be certain of is this:  that when we learn to view the world of the Bible as an earthly stage, upon which the people within its pages become very real human actors, the Bible will suddenly begin to make sense to us in ways that we never thought possible.

As for the other thing that we can borrow from Shakespeare’s works, it is his often-used theatrical device of a “play-within-a-play,” or a “story-within-a-story.”  Although this device isn’t something that originated with Shakespeare, it was a tool that he used to great effect in many of his plays, including “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” and “Hamlet.”  Sometimes, he used the scheme of inner plays and stories for the sole purpose of entertaining his audiences; and, at other times, he used it to provide his characters with examples or object lessons about life.  In still other instances, the play-within-a-play motif was used to convict consciences, or as a commentary on the many inconsistencies in life.  What we will find, as we apply this device to our study of the Bible, is that the very human story that is being acted out upon the earthly stage of the Bible is the tool that will be used by God to reveal the greater cosmic drama—that is, the very real, beautiful, but often unseen story of love and redemption—which is simultaneously being acted out on the heavenly stage above and behind the earthly one that we are viewing.

These concepts will be much easier for us to understand if we will try to remember that, at each of the fourteen stages which we will be visiting on this Rocking and Rolling trip through the Land of Revelation Knowledge—the stages where the Two Acts, Twelve Scenes, One Intermission, and One Epilogue will be presented to us—this is what we will actually be viewing:

At Stage #1 – The Celestial Suitor

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At Stage #1

On the earthly stage, as we are witnessing the major events taking place in Genesis 1-11;
On the heavenly stage, we will be seeing God, as the Celestial Suitor, getting the stage ready for the entrance of Israel, His Beloved and future Bride;

At Stage #2 – Israel, the Beloved of God

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At Stage #2

On the earthly stage, as we are witnessing the major events taking place in Genesis 12-50;
On the heavenly stage, we will be seeing God’s negotiation and covenant with Israel’s father, Abraham, for his future offspring’s hand in marriage;

At Stage #3 – Long Engagement, Short Honeymoon

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At Stage #3

On the earthly stage, as we are witnessing the major events taking place in Exodus – Deuteronomy;
On the heavenly stage, we will be seeing Israel as she is whisked away to her wedding, only to see her violate her wedding vows immediately afterward;

At Stage #4 – The Wayward Wife

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At Stage #4

On the earthly stage, as we are witnessing the major events taking place in Joshua – 2 Chronicles;
On the heavenly stage, we will be seeing the sad spectacle of Israel’s long and unfaithful relationship with her Husband;

At Stage #5 – Words of Warning and Woo

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At Stage #5

On the earthly stage, as we are witnessing the major events taking place in Isaiah – Zephaniah;
On the heavenly stage, we will be seeing God’s repeated efforts at trying to warn and win back His unfaithful wife;

At Stage #6 – Separation and Reconciliation

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At Stage #6

On  the earthly stage, as we are witnessing the major events taking place in Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and Haggai – Malachi;
On the heavenly stage, we will be seeing the inevitable separation taking place between God and Israel, brought about by her many adulteries; later witnessing their eventual reconciliation;

At Stage #7 – The Intermission

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At Stage #7

On the earthly stage, as we are witnessing the major cultural, political, and religious events taking place from Malachi to Matthew;
On the heavenly stage, we will be seeing the stage as it is being redressed in preparation for the imminent entrance of God’s Son;

At Stage #8 – The Righteous Redeemer

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At Stage #8

On the earthly stage, as we are witnessing the major events taking place in Matthew – John;
on the heavenly stage, we will be seeing Jesus, the Righteous Redeemer, as He comes to earth, finds a Bride for Himself, enters into a marriage covenant with her, and then pays the “dowry” or Bride price for her.  Sadly, in the process, we also see Him rejected by His “mother,” Israel—a rejection which results in another, even longer, period of estrangement between her and God;

At Stage #9 – The Bride in the World

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At Stage #9

On the earthly stage, as we are witnessing the major events taking place in Acts;
On the heavenly stage, we will be seeing Jesus, the Bridegroom, going back to His Father’s house to begin preparing a home for His Bride—leaving her, the Church, on earth to begin the long process of preparing for their wedding;

At Stage #10 – Long Engagement, Rapturous Wedding

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At Stage #10

On the earthly stage, as we are witnessing the major events taking place in Romans – Revelation 4;
On the heavenly stage, we will be seeing the Church, the Bride of Christ, getting ready and waiting for the appearance of Her Bridegroom—Who, at the time appointed by His Father, returns and whisks His Bride away to their Marriage Supper in Heaven;

At Stage #11 – Israel and the Impostor

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At Stage #11

On the earthly stage, as we are witnessing the major events taking place in Revelation 5-18;
On the heavenly stage, we will be seeing Israel duped by her Husband’s long-time enemy into believing that he is her long-lost “Son.” We will also witness his eventual betrayal of her, and the horrific consequences of that betrayal;

At Stage #12 – Reconciliation and Righteousness Restored

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At Stage #12

On the earthly stage, as we are witnessing the major events taking place in Revelation 19-20;
On the heavenly stage, we will be seeing Israel’s true Son, Jesus, return to the earth with His Bride, the Church, where  He defeats His Father’s enemies, rescues His “mother,” and restores her relationship with Him and His Father.  He also establishes a kingdom of righteousness on the earth, over which He rules for 1000 years—the time, after which, when those who have been His enemies will finally be judged and punished.

At Stage #13 – Happily Ever After

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At Stage #13

On the earthly stage, as we are witnessing the major events taking place in Revelation 21-22;
On the heavenly stage, we will be seeing God and His family taking up residence in their new home, a paradise where they will live together in righteousness and peace—happily ever after!

At Stage #14 – The Epilogue

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At Stage #14

On the earthly stage, as we are reviewing the parts we each are currently playing in this Cosmic Drama;
On the heavenly stage, it is my hope that we will be seeing all those who have yet to make Jesus their Bridegroom, come to Him in faith, and be united with Him in love, forever.  I can think of no better way for us to end this play!

 

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Secret Garden and “Did I Not Love You?”