Monday 10 September 2012

Read with me: Genesis 5

The entire book of Genesis can be summed up under one heading: The search for the Son. With each new generation, Genesis asks the question, “Could this be the one? Is this the son whom God promised?”

Each story begins with hope and expectation but sadly ends with disappointment and despair. We saw this in the the last chapter in the biblical account of Cain and Abel. Adam and Eve had high hopes at the birth of their firstborn, Cain. But Cain ended up murdering his brother, rejecting God’s word and defying God’s judgement. Sadder still was the perpetuation of his rage and anger down to his children and to his children’s children.

But Genesis is a book about new beginnings. And Chapter 5 signals the beginning of a new hope.

Notes on Genesis 5

[5:2] “This is the book of the generations...” signals the beginning of a new section of the book. Each time this occurs, Genesis will trace the family line of one man, or more specifically, one son of man. In this case it is the family line of Adam (The next one up ahead is Noah, in Genesis 6:9). Incidentally, Matthew’s gospel picks up on this formula when he opens his gospel with these words, “The book of the genealogy (or you could even say, Genesis) of Jesus Christ,” signalling a new beginning, and connecting back to the search for the Son that began way back in Genesis. It’s the Star Wars theme song indicating a new epic adventure is about to start!

[5:3] “Adam fathered a son in his own likeness, after this image, and named him Seth.” Intentionally mirroring God’s creation of man in verse 1 (notice how it just focusses on man, the creation of the heaven and the earth are left out), this highlights two important themes: Firstly, Adam as God’s Son (whereby Son = king, bearing God’s image, entrusted with his authority); and secondly, this same authority and blessing being passed down - not to all sons - but to one particular chosen Son. Verse 4 tells us, “(Adam) had other sons and daughters.” The focus is on this one son, Seth. This is the search for the Son.

[5:5] “Adam lived … 930 years, and he died.”

The search for the Son of Adam, the promised Son of God

As we progress down the family line of Seth, we begin to see a pattern emerging in the genealogy.
     Each generation has multiple children, but Genesis focuses on the birth of just one son, presumably the firstborn.
     Although each son goes on to live for an incredibly long time on the earth - hundreds of years - we generally see a decrease from generation to generation: Adam lived to the age of 930; Seth, 912; Enosh, 905; Kenan, 910; Mahalalel, 895. The pattern breaks from Jared onwards. In the next chapter, God drastically cuts the maximum lifespan (Genesis 6:3)
     Most importantly, each and every generation ends with death. “And he died.... and he died... and he died,” as if to remind us, that each son of Adam, still lives with the same sentence of death...
     With the exception of one individual, Enoch. Genesis 5:24, reads, “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” Significantly, Enoch is the seventh generation from Adam.
     We are meant to remember the other son, who was seven generations down from Adam, Lamech - the descendant of Cain. Genesis is giving us hope in the midst of death, decay and disappointment. Enoch walked with God, even if Lamech didn’t. There is a break in the chain of death with Enoch...
     But it is temporary. The cycle of death continues with Enoch’s son, Methuselah (the oldest recorded living individual here in Genesis 5, and perhaps the bible). “And he died... and he died.”
     The genealogy ends with Noah, whose name means “rest.” “Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed, this one shall bring us relief/respite.” (Genesis 5:29) Perhaps this is the one. Noah’s father, Lamech, places all his hopes on his firstborn. Not just his personal expectations as a father, but the anxious anticipation of all humanity - all on this son. Notice how this is the same hope held onto by Adam, and I suggest to you, the same hope held onto by each and every son of Adam. It is hope in the promise that God gave the day he cursed the ground because of man’s sin: the promise that one day a son of man would reverse the curse of death and remove the suffering of all mankind.

     Who is that Son?

No comments: