Abraham: Called to Wrestle

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Are You in Partnership with God Yet?

Thus far—in our study of the life of Abraham, we have watched as God called this man out of a life of affluence and comfort to a life of wandering, worship, witness, warfare, and waiting—with each calling being accompanied by a new or expanded revelation of God’s plans for Abraham, and followed by a period during which Abraham’s stewardship of that revelation was tested.  In most instances, his success rate was much like those that we experience in our own walks of faith—as, more often than not, a case of one step forward and two steps back.  However, there have been some exceptions to this pattern—such as in Genesis 14, when Abraham successfully meet the challenge of warfare and then resisted the temptation to enrich himself by it; and, again in our last episode in Genesis 17, when Abraham readily obeyed God’s command to circumcise every male in his household.

In this Episode—we will witness another instance when Abraham successfully met the challenge placed before him, that being his call to wrestle with God in intercessory prayer for Lot, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other three cities in the surrounding plain.

A Surprise Visit from the Lord

Script #6 for Biopic #1
Cast:
     Narrator     Abraham     The Lord     Sarah

Pleading the Case

Setting the Scene—when this episode opens, not a lot of time has gone by since the Lord appeared to Abraham in Chapter 17.  We know this because, in that previous encounter, the Lord gave Abraham a one-year timetable which has not yet been met.  Here, Abraham is in his place of fellowship with God—possibly ruminating over the things the Lord had so recently told him—when…

Narrator:  …the LORD appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground, and said…

Abraham:  My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant. Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts. After that you may pass by, inasmuch as you have come to your servant.

The Lord:  Do as you have said.

Narrator:  So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said…

Abraham:  Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal; knead it and make cakes.

Narrator:  And Abraham ran to the herd, took a tender and good calf, gave it to a young man, and he hastened to prepare it. So he took butter and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree as they ate.  Then they said to him…

The Lord:  Where is Sarah your wife?

Abraham:  Here, in the tent.

The Lord:  I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.

Narrator:  Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.  Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing.  Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying…

Sarah:  After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

The Lord:  Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

Narrator:  But Sarah denied it, saying…

Sarah:  I did not laugh…

Narrator:  …for she was afraid.

The Lord:  No, but you did laugh!

Sarah Receives Faith for the Impossible

Narrator: Then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way. And the LORD said..

The Lord:  Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.

Narrator:  Then, turning to Abraham, the LORD said…

The Lord:  Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.

Narrator:  Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. And Abraham came near and said…

Abraham:  Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?  Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it?  Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

The Lord:  If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

Abraham:  Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord:  suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?

The Lord:  If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it.

Abraham:  Suppose there should be forty found there?

The Lord:  I will not do it for the sake of forty.

Abraham:  Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: suppose thirty should be found there?

The Lord:  I will not do it if I find thirty there.

Abraham:  Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: suppose twenty should be found there?

The Lord:  I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty.

Abraham:  Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: suppose ten should be found there?

The Lord:  I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.

Narrator:  So the LORD went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.

Revealing His Will to His Servant

*************************************************

Our Review

This, then, brings us to our Review of these events in Abraham’s life.  To help us better understand what is going on in this episode, let’s first break it down according to the Characters.  Apart from the Narrator, the Characters here are…

The Lord—this would be a pre-incarnate appearance by the Lord Jesus Christ;

The Two Angels—although their names are not given, we soon learn that they are on mission as Angels of Judgment;

Abraham—the epitome of the gracious, hospitable Middle Eastern chieftain; and,

Sarah—the equally gracious and hospitable—though hidden—wife of the Chieftain.

Next, let’s take a look at a summary of the Action taking place…

The Action

This summary of the Characters and their Actions presents us with several important…

Questions for Discussion

1. Why do you think the Lord appeared to Abraham so soon after His previous appearance?

The purpose of the Lord’s visit on this occasion appears to have been two-fold…

Since the Lord had already told Abraham that Sarah would bear a child but He hadn’t told her yet, His first purpose was to give her that word. Hebrews 11:11 tells us that…

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.

Because…

…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17)…

…for Sarah to have “received the strength to conceive seed,” she would first have to receive  the faith produced by the Word of God which was given to her here.

The Lord’s second and more obvious purpose was to give Abraham the privilege and the responsibility of interceding for the cities that were about to be judged.

2. From Sarah’s response, do you think Abraham had shared with her what the Lord had promised in His previous visit?

From her laughter, it seems that this was the first she had heard of it.

3. Why do you think the Lord brought the news of Sodom and Gomorrah’s impending judgment to Abraham? From a personal standpoint?  From a legal standpoint?

First of all, the Lord wanted Abraham to understand why He was about to destroy these cities—that is, as a Holy God, He could not allow the injustices perpetrated by these cities to continue to go unpunished.  Although God is long-suffering and merciful, His mercy has its limits and will be tempered by His holiness and justice.

On a personal level, God’s judgment directly impacted Abraham because Lot, his nephew and adopted son, lived there with his family; and, from a legal standpoint, because God had already given the land to Abraham and his descendants, it was essential that he be informed of any major changes taking place in his land.

4. How did Abraham’s actions in receiving his guests prepare him for his later intercession on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah? What important principles of prayer did they demonstrate?

Before being given the opportunity to intercede on behalf of the doomed cities, Abraham prepared himself by first running to greet his visitors, demonstrating his eagerness to receive them; then, in humbling himself before them, he was, in effect, bestowing upon them his worship.  Once this had been done, he set before them a table of fellowship that he had prepared for them which they gladly received—a time of fellowship during which the Lord was able to reveal His heart to His servant, a revelation which then prompted Abraham’s intercession.

5. In his intercession, why do you think Abraham was so bold as to “haggle” with God? On what were his arguments based?  Why did he stop at ten?

By this time, Abraham had grown enough in his knowledge of God and His character that he could appeal to him boldly on the basis of His character.  In his prayer, he demonstrated that he knew God to be not only righteous but also merciful.  On that basis, and believing that there were at least ten righteous people living in these cities, he could then appeal to God to protect them, even while bringing judgment upon the wicked.  Today, like Abraham, we who know who God is and who we are in relationship to Him, can…

…come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

6. Why was God going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? Why was it necessary?

While we tend to focus on the sexual sins that were so rampant in these cities, Ezekiel 16:49-50 gives us some insights as to the root causes of those sins…

Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.  And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.

And, in Romans 1:18 ff, the Apostle Paul explains that…

…the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

In other words, even though those cities had been blessed with prosperity and wealth, rather than acknowledge and thank God for it, they became proud and selfish—sins which ultimately led to the whole catalog of sins which followed…

Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.  Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

So, it was this sad situation in Sodom and Gomorrah and their sister cities that, at the time of the Lord’s visit in this episode, warranted the Lord’s invention and judgment.

…mean more Answers!

In Summary

Now, to complete our Review of this episode, we need to ask ourselves the following questions…

1. What Life Lessons can we take away from this part of Abraham’s story?

In God’s dealings with Sarah, we have learned that there is no situation that is too impossible for God; that He will keep His promises; and, that through His Word, we will obtain the faith needed to believe and receive those promises.

In God’s dealings with Abraham, we have learned some valuable principles when coming before the throne of grace in prayer; that, in the intimacy of our fellowship with Him, God will reveal the things that burden His heart—so that we, as His children, will be provoked to pray and stand in the gap for those who are in danger of perishing.

In God’s dealings with Sodom and Gomorrah, we have learned that sin will be judged–that judgment may be slow in coming but it will surely come, and when it does, it will be complete, deserved, and appropriate to the nature of the offense.

2. Does this episode have any Contributions to make to God’s One Big Story of Redemption?

In 2 Peter 2:4-11, we learn that God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Lot’s subsequent rescue, were intended to serve as…

…an example to those who afterward would live ungodly…

For, if God…

…delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked…then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.

This example has served as a source of comfort and encouragement for the righteous who have suffered throughout the ages, as well as a warning for the wicked who, like…

…Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire (Jude 6-7).

It also provides us with a prophetic picture of God’s protection of Israel during the last half of the Tribulation Period, when God will pour out His judgment upon the wicked at the end of this age.

3. Are there any Revelations of God that we need to make note of here?

In this episode, we have seen completely different aspects of God’s character revealed.  To those who are in covenant relationship with Him, He has been revealed as loving and kind—their gracious, omnipotent  Heavenly Father.  But to those who have rejected Him, He has been revealed as their Righteous Judge.  These revelations are consistent with others that we find of Him throughout the Scriptures—such as these in Isaiah 3:10-11 and Psalm 34:15-16…

Say to the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.  Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given him.

The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.  ​​The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

Although this brings our Review of this part of the story to a close, it isn’t the end of this episode in Abraham’s life.  That will take place next time, when we meet again to discuss Part 2 of Abraham:  Called to Wrestle…

 

To Be Continued…

Some images used courtesy of freebibleimages.com

 

 

The Biblical Overture

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The End of Act 1, Scene1
I know it may be hard to believe but, now that our critique of Vignette #9 has been completed, Act 1, Scene 1 of God’s One Big Story has finally come to an end.  Of course, this means that it’s now time for us to climb back on board the Truth Train, leave the first of the fourteen stages in our production, and move on to Stage #2.

We have spent a considerable amount of time at Stage #1, and that’s because the part of the Bible being presented here, covering the first eleven chapters in Genesis, is one of the most important parts of the entire Bible Story.  Some of the reasons for this are…

  • It introduces us to the sovereign God of the Universe;
  • It explains how He brought the Earth and Mankind into being, and how it and we got into the mess that we’re in;
  • It presents, either in literal or figurative form, a number of the Main Characters of the Story; and,
  • It serves as the Overture for the rest of the Story, set to begin at Stage #2, where Act 1, Scene 2 will soon be getting underway.
Conductor calling1

All Aboard!

That being said, let’s all return to our seats on the Train and get comfy; for, as we journey from Stage #1 to Stage #2, we will again be Making the Most of Our Travel Time by reviewing the first three of these reasons, which will lead us into a preview of the Overture that follows.

  1. The Introduction of God

Back in …Where It Is Showtime for God’s One Big Story!, we found that our introduction to God began in Genesis 1:1, the very first verse of the Bible…

…In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth… 

…and, from this very brief but powerful verse, we learned some key pieces of information about the Being who is both the Author and the Main Character of the Book…

  • From Elohim, the name used for Him here, we learned that God is a Trinity of Three Unique Persons who are united in One Divine Purpose;
  • From His appearance in our Story before the existence of anyone or anything else, we learned that God is Pre-existent and Eternal—that He was Before all Things, Over all Things, and the Originator of all Things; and,
  • From the things that He does, we learned that God is All-Powerful, All-Knowing, and Present Everywhere at All Times. 

Then, during the rest of this chapter, we learned that…

  • God created everything from nothing;
  • He executes His will through His spoken Word;
  • He evaluates or makes judgments about everything He makes;
  • He orders, organizes, and controls everything—even the darkness and chaos; and,
  • He has the power and will to bless the things that He makes.
  1. The Creation of Earth and Man 

As for God’s Creation of the Earth, we learned that this was accomplished in a very orderly and systematic way over the course of six days; with Him, during the first three days, calling into being the Kingdoms of Light and Darkness, Sky and the Sea, and the Land; and, during the last three days, making and creating the Rulers over those Kingdoms in the forms of the Sun, Moon, Stars, Fish, Fowl, and Animals.  In Between the Vignettes, we learned that this massive undertaking—done with such precision and attention to detail—was for the sole purpose of providing Man, The Capstone of God’s Creation, with an ideal place to live.

In Another Learning Interlude, we learned that once He had their earthly home ready, God set about the task of Creating the Man and Woman who would be living there; fashioning them into male and female beings so much like Himself that they could readily be adopted as His children.  However, when we got to the Fundamentals of the Fall, we discovered that just looking like God was not going to be enough to guarantee their adoption into His Family.  Before that could take place, the Man and Woman would have to be Holy, like God—something that would be proven if only they could maintain their innocence in the face of testing.  Unfortunately for them, for the earth, and for us—they failed, with disastrous results.

God's Orderly Creation

God’s Orderly Creation

 

3. The Characters Presented 

Up to this point in our Story, our Cast of Characters has consisted of…

God, the Father;
God, the Word who, according to John 1:1 and 1:14, is the Son, Jesus Christ;
God, the Holy Spirit; and,
Man and Woman. 

But, with the testing of Adam and Eve, another very shadowy Character made his way onto our Stage.  Initially appearing in the guise of the serpent who tempted the first Man and Woman into sinning, he was none other than Satan—aka Lucifer, the Devil, and the dragon mentioned in Revelation 20:2.

Although he has remained largely invisible, Satan’s activity in and influence upon our Story has been evident throughout it.  For, as we learned in…

The Fruit of the Fall,
Sowing, Reaping, and the Nature of the Trees,
Fruit Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree, and
Closing the Case on Cain and Abel…

…he was no doubt instrumental in inciting Cain to murder his righteous brother, Abel, and in Cain’s refusal to repent.

As a result, Patterns of Generational Sin and Patterns of Conflict Between the Righteous and the Wicked, which would go on to wreak havoc in all future generations, became established—something which was made evident to us in…

Our Lineup to the Flood,
Searching for Truth in the First Book of Begats,
But Noah…
Obedience Doesn’t Come Cheap, and
The Washing of the World…

…where life on the earth had become so corrupt that God decided it must be destroyed with a universal Flood.  And, later in…

A New World, An Old Nature, 
Blessing, Cursing, and Big Time Rebellion, and
More Blessing, Cursing, and Big Time Rebellion…

 …we witnessed Satan’s reappearance on our Stage, initially in the person of Nimrod—the first incarnation of the Antichrist in our Story—and then, as the power behind the creation of Mystery Babylon—the spiritual Harlot of false religion who would eventually lure the nations of the world away from the worship of the one true God, and into the worship of the Devil.

     4.  The Overture of the Story

Before our production of God’s One Big Story began, we learned from All the World’s a Stage—and Life Its Cosmic Drama that the device used in its presentation was going to be the same type of “story-within-a story” device so often used in the works of William Shakespeare.  For our purposes, this meant that the stories of real people recorded in the Bible were going to be used by God to tell more than one story—that is, in addition to the Earthly Level Story being recounted, elements from each individual story were going to be used to help tell the Prophetic Story taking place on a Heavenly Level.  In Act 1, Scene 1, this meant that every event from the Creation of the World to the Rebellion at Babel, and the subsequent division of the people into Nations, would have its spiritual level parallel; a parallel forming a theme or motif that would reappear later in the Story.

This concept will become easier for us to grasp if we think of the first eleven chapters of Genesis as the Overture to the entire Bible.  In much the same way that an overture introduces to the audience the musical themes which will be running throughout an opera or play, Genesis 1-11 introduces us to the spiritual themes which will be played out in the rest of the Bible Story.

For example…

  • The story of Creation becomes a picture to us of the spiritual process of Re-creation or Rebirth, where we go from darkness to light, chaos to order, and from death to life in response to the Word of God and the “hovering” work of the Spirit.
  • The story of the First Adam and his wife, Eve, becomes a spiritual picture of the Second Adam, Jesus, and His Bride, the Church—who, like Eve, was fashioned from a “rib” (the disciples) taken from the Second Adam as He slept in death.
  • The story of the Two Trees in the Garden serves as a picture of the two “salvation” alternatives available to mankind—either the counterfeit system of works or the genuine system of salvation through faith in Christ.
  • In the story of Cain and Abel–where God’s acceptance of Abel’s offering by faith and His rejection of Cain’s self-righteous offering provoke Cain to envy, anger, and the murder of his brother–we are provided with a spiritual illustration of the wicked’s rebellion against and persecution of the righteous; as well as, a picture of Cain as a type of Israel—the brother who, after his slaying of the righteous Son, is marked for protection as he begins his wanderings in the wilderness of the world.
  • In the long “Reign of Death” taking place between the stories of Cain and the Flood, we are shown how living life in the power of the flesh has affected all men, and ultimately led to their Deaths.
  • In the translation of Enoch before the judgment of the flood, we are given a picture of the Rapture which will take place prior to the Great Tribulation, when those who are “walking with God” will be translated to heaven without dying.
  • In the lawlessness and demonic activity preceding the Flood, we are given a picture of the conditions existing before the Tribulation, as self-absorbed humanity abandons faith in God, violence increases, and doors are opened to ever-increasing satanic activity.
  • In the story of the Flood, where the wrath of God is being poured out from heaven against the unrighteousness of men, and a small righteous remnant in the Ark are being spared, we have a picture of the Tribulation, when the wrath of God will be poured out from heaven against the unrighteousness of men, while a righteous remnant is preserved.
  • In the story of Noah after the Flood, when those in the Ark come out to a new earth and enter into a new covenant with God, we are given a picture of the “new world” which will exist when Christ sets up His Millennial Kingdom following the Tribulation–where the righteous remnant will live on a cleansed earth, under a new covenant with God, for a thousand years.
  • In the rebellion at Babel, we are given a prophetic picture of Satan’s final act of rebellion—when, at the end of the Millennium, he is released from his thousand year imprisonment to test those who are born on the earth during that time.
  • And, in the Judgment of the Nations at the Tower of Babel, we are given a picture of the final Judgment of the Nations—when the Lord gathers the nations and judges them according to the way they have treated His “brethren;” separating the “sheep” nations from the “goat” nations, and giving each one its due reward.

In the event that this concept still proves to be a little difficult to understand, perhaps this graphic will help show how the events in Scene #1 prefigure some of the most important future episodes in the Story…

The Biblical Overture
Now that we have an idea of the real meaning and significance of the opening scene of our Story, we can move forward to Stage #2, better prepared to appreciate  what Act 1, Scene 2 is all about.

 

Smiley Face with Earphones2
Whenever I think of an “overture,”  the Bugs Bunny Theme always comes to mind–so I just had to include it at this point in our Story.  I hope you enjoy this brief bit of levity…

 

Searching for Truth in the First Book of Begats

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The Book of Begats

Genesis 5 is the Bible’s First Book of Begats

Although I now use the English Standard Version as my study Bible, when I first started out, oh so many years ago, I used the King James Version—a translation that I loved because of the more melodic and poetic language it used in its presentation of the Bible Story.  The one aspect of that translation that I did not care for, though, was its use of the word “begat” in the many genealogies recorded for us in scripture.  “Begat” always sounded so harsh and impersonal that its use made those already tedious and uninteresting passages all the more difficult to get into and to appreciate.  And yet, when I was finally able to get past the archaic wording, as well as all of the repetitious and somewhat sanitized documentation contained in the passages,  I found that there was a lot of truth waiting to be discovered there among all of those old “begats.”  And, searching for some of those truths is what we will be attempting to do next, as we pause to critique the first such list in the Bible—the one which was presented in our most recent Vignette, “The Lineup to the Flood.”

This Vignette, number five of the nine which make up Act 1, Scene 1 of God’s One Big Story, covers the material found in Genesis 5; a chapter which introduced us to the descendants of Adam though his son, Seth.  It should be noted here that Cain’s descendants, as the rejected line, were introduced back in Vignette #4 and, following their brief moment in the spotlight, they moved to their proper place at the rear of the stage.  Now, as for how we will conduct our search for truth in Seth’s line of begats, it will be done by analyzing the People, Patterns, and Precedents that were presented to us in the course of this Vignette.

The People…

An important thing for us to remember, when coming to this first genealogical list in the Bible, is that all of these funny sounding and sometimes hard to pronounce names belonged to real people, living in real time, and doing life in very real ways.  They were people who had to work for a living, who had to find and make homes for themselves and their families, who had to learn to relate to the other people around them—however difficult they may have been, and who had to learn to cope with the raising of children—many, many children, in fact.  Because they were all descended from Adam, this meant that they were all members of the same family—with everyone, at any given time, having to fill the roles of mother or father, brother or sister, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew, or grandparent or grandchild to someone else.  What a relationship nightmare that must have been!

However, there was more to being a descendant of Adam than merely belonging to the same huge physical family; it also meant being members of the same huge spiritual family.  Since each one had come into the world bearing the image and likeness of Adam, this meant that they, like he, were all sinners in desperate need of redemption.  Even though not all of them would go on to acknowledge this need in their lives, the ten that did were lined up across our stage—with one representing each of the ten generations from Adam to Noah.  As the men who held on to their faith in God, and to the promise He had made to Eve concerning a coming Redeemer, they, as the members of the Antediluvian Spiritual Hall of Fame, were the ones who kept the promise and the lineage of that Redeemer alive all the way to and through the Flood.  Of these ten, there are four—Seth, Enoch, Methuselah, and Noah–who merit special recognition; something which we will be sure to give them when we get to the Precedents section of this critique.

The Line of the Righteous from Adam to the Flood

The Antediluvian Hall of Fame

The Patterns…

But for now, let’s take a step back and try to get a look at the big picture presented to us by the men in this genealogy.  For, in so doing, we will see some Patterns starting to develop, as a result  of the sin nature passed down by Adam, which will characterize the human experience from this point on.  They are…

  • Life becomes a tedious and monotonous cycle of birth, reproduction, and death;
  • As this cycle repeats itself and as more and more people are born into the world, the level of wickedness increases dramatically while righteousness decreases in a corresponding manner;
  • This decrease in righteousness leads to a diminishing of the hope that God’s promise of a Redeemer will ever be fulfilled which, in turn, leads to an ever increasing sense of despair among the people of God;
  • But, even in the face of this all of this wickedness and despair, God repeatedly proves His faithfulness by His on-going preservation of a remnant through whom the Redeemer will one day come.

The Precedents…

As for the precedents that were established during this pre-flood period in history, if we look at the unusual way in which this chapter opens, and at the unique characteristics of the men previously singled out for special recognition, we will find these Precedents to include…

1.  The Precedent of The Book of the Righteous… 

When Chapter 5 opens, it does so by saying, “This is the book of the generations of Adam”—a statement marking out a whole new section in the book of Genesis.  We know that it is the beginning of something new because toledoth, the Hebrew word for generations, is used eleven times in Genesis, and each of those times it is used to designate a break or a transition in the story.  But, while a break in the story is significant, it isn’t unusual enough to qualify as a precedent-setting event.  For that, we need to direct our attention to sepher, the Hebrew word for book, because its use here marks the first time that a record of human history is made, and that God begins recording a list of the righteous.

The Book of Life

First Mention of the Book of Life

This list of names will become a special set of books, later referred to as The Book of Life, which, when human history comes to an end, will be brought out for all to see.  Its ultimate revealing will take place at an event called the Great White Throne Judgment; the climactic end-time event described in Revelation 20 where, in verses 12 and 15, the Apostle John describes how these books will be used…

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.  Then another book was opened, which was the book of life.  And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done…And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

From this, we can conclude that the name of every human being who has ever lived will be written in one set of books, The Book of the Living, along with everything he or she has ever done.  In addition to these, there is another set of books, referred to here and in other places as “The Lamb’s Book of Life,” which contains the names of all of those who, through faith, have trusted in God for their salvation.  While everyone’s name will be listed in the first set of books, only the names of those who are deemed righteous according to God’s standards will appear in the second set of books—books which had their origins here in Genesis 5.

2.  The Precedent of The Practice of Prayer… 

From what we can gather about Adam’s and Eve’s, and Cain’s and Abel’s encounters with God, they appeared to have taken place on a personal and very intimate level.  However, with the appearance of Seth, and at about the time that his son, Enosh, was born, a new and different shift in the way men approached God seems to have taken place.  This change is noted for us in Genesis 4:25-26, where it says that…

…Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.”  To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.

Praying Hands

The Precedent of Prayer Established

Although this passage tells us that men, for the first time, began to call upon God in prayer, it doesn’t explain why this practice became necessary.  Was it because, as more and more people were born, worship became less of an individual practice and more of a corporate one? Or, was it because God, in response to the ever-increasing level of wickedness upon the earth, had withdrawn His presence from among the people?  Whatever the reason, here in the lifetime of righteous Seth, the practice of prayer had become a necessity and became an established precedent in the lives of godly men. 

3.  The Precedent of Preaching and Prophesying… 

Because the population and the level of wickedness began increasing at such an alarming rate, it wasn’t long before the preaching of repentance and the prophesying about a coming judgment became a necessity.  And, as we learn in Jude 14, 15, 16, 19, this was something that Enoch undertook with great zeal…

It was also about these [the wicked] that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” …These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage…It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.

Preaching

The Precedent of Preaching Established

Although there may have been others who had seen the need for this type of ministry and practiced it before the time of Enoch, it was during his lifetime and as a result of his ministry that the preaching of repentance and the prophesying about judgment became, for us, a Biblically-documented Precedent. 

4.  The Precedent of The Translation or Rapture of the Saints… 

Not only was the Precedent of Preaching and Prophesying established in the life and ministry of Enoch, the Precedent of a Translation or Rapture of the Righteous was also established by him.  For in Genesis 5:24 we are told that…

…Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him…

…and in Hebrews 11:5, that…

…By faith, Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.

Rapture

The Precedent of the Rapture Established

Although another translation from this life to the next, without experiencing death, was realized centuries later by the prophet Elijah, the ultimate fulfillment of the precedent set by Enoch is still to take place at the end of time when, just before the onslaught of an event known as The Tribulation, a global translation or Rapture of the Saints from the earth will take place.  Just as Enoch was removed from the early world prior to the Tribulation of the Flood, those who are alive and whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, at the end of time, will also be “taken up” because they, like Enoch, had obtained the witness that they walked with and were pleasing to God.

5.  The Precedent of God’s Long-suffering and Mercy…

In Genesis 5: 21-24, we learn that…

…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.

And, then, in Genesis 5:27 that…

…all the days of Methuselah were 969 years, and he died.

The implication in the first passage is that before his son’s birth, Enoch had gone his own way, but that following Methuselah’s birth, he began developing a close, personal walk with God.  This, to me, begs the question of “Why the big change all of a sudden?”

Although the meaning of Methuselah’s name has not been completely settled for some, many believe that it means, “When he is gone, it will come”—with “it” referring to the judgment of the flood about which Enoch would later prophesy.  If so, it could be that Enoch had received a revelation about the coming judgment at the time of Methuselah’s birth; and, if he had, it would only be logical for him to believe that he might only have a short period of time in which to repent.  What if his son only lived a year or five years?  Not knowing how long a life his son would have would certainly have been reason enough for getting his life right with God as soon as possible—and to begin preaching to others about their need to do the same.

Could it be that Methuselah lived longer than other human because God, in His mercy, was trying to give men every opportunity to repent, like Enoch did?  It would certainly seem so, for as the second passage tells us, not only did God extend Methuselah’s life longer than any other human being’s, but that the year he died was the same year that the flood came upon the earth.

6.  The Precedent of The Preservation of a Remnant through Tribulation and Judgment…

Remnant in the Ark

The Remnant in the Ark

By the time Methuselah’s son Lamech had a son of his own, things must have seemed pretty dismal because, when he named his name Noah, he spoke this prophecy over him, recorded for us in Genesis 5:29…

… ‘This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the Lord has cursed.’”

We shall see the fulfillment of this prophecy in our upcoming Vignette, for it will be through Noah that God will…

  • Reach out to the lost in his generation;
  • Bring the judgment of the Flood upon all of those who refuse to repent; and,
  • Faithfully protect and provide for His own, through the Precedent of the Preservation of a Remnant through Tribulation and Judgment.

As you can see, there is a lot more truth in this First Book of Begats than initially meets the eye; and, since…

…All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…(2 Timothy 3:16)…

…it is still relevant and has application for our lives today.  That’s because, like those living between Adam and Noah…

  • We are all sinners whose natural end is death and eternal separation from God;
  • However, we can choose life instead of death by choosing to follow in the way of Seth instead of in the way of Cain;
  • This choice will always put us at odds with the majority who will be following Cain and the ways of the world;
  • But it will also mean that our names will be written in the Book of Life;
  • This will give us access to God through prayer;
  • It will motivate us to reach out to the lost through our testimony of the truth; and,
  • It will provide us the assurance that God will either take us out before, or preserve us through, any kind of tribulation or judgment that may come upon the wicked.

Smiley Face with Earphones2

 

Selah reminds us that throughout every age, God remains the “Faithful One…”