Genesis 5:1-32 - The First Civilization and Society (Part 3)
I do not know why it is that in the minds of some people the most boring thing about the Bible is its genealogies. Perhaps it is because they do not read them. People who will pore over pages of fine-print stock quotations or lists of baseball players and their batting averages will not read the Bible’s genealogies. Yet these are in the Bible and are therefore part of that revelation of which it is said, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).
In the organization of Genesis by Moses this chapter introduces a new section, for it begins with the Hebrew phrase literally translated, “This is the book (sepher) of the generations (toledoth) of Adam.” The key word in that sentence, “generations,” occurs eleven times in Genesis, always as a superscription or title for what follows. Some writers have taken it as a subscription, that is, a summation of what has been narrated. But that is wrong, as we saw in our discussion of Genesis 2:4. The idea is that this is Adam’s story in the sense of its being the story of his family.
Eight times in Genesis 5 you find the melancholy phrase “and he died,” for death was now reigning over mankind because of Adam’s sin (Rom. 5:12–17, 21). Sin and death still reign today, but through Jesus Christ we can “reign in life” (vv. 17, 21).
The unique feature of Genesis 5:1, which does not occur in any of the other references, is the addition of the word “book” (sepher), which the New International Version points to by translating, “This is the written account of Adam’s line.”
There is no certainty that this is the case, but it may be that by this word Moses acknowledges the existence of a written source, a book however long or short, which he here incorporates into his narrative. If so, this is the oldest written document in all history. And what is it about? It is a record of the godly descendants of Adam.
This reminds us that God is particularly concerned to record the names and deeds of those who are faithful to him and that he will also record our names and deeds if we are faithful.
In Malachi 3:16 we are told of such a remembrance: “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.”
Again, in Revelation we read of those whose names were written in the Lamb’s “book of life” (Rev. 20:11–15).
Here is the first real lesson where genealogies are concerned. If we were writing this book, we would probably leave the names out. But God does not. It is because he is more interested in people than we are.
You and I are persons, like the patriarchs of Genesis 5. We are equally noted and remembered in God’s book. Let that be an encouragement. The world may not pay much attention to us; in fact, the more like Christ we are, the less the world will be interested. But God is interested, and that fact alone should encourage us to live for him.
A. Event 1: God created man (v.1-2).
1. “God created man, He made him in the likeness of God…” (v.1b).
a) Created man in His own likeness (v.1) – what does this mean?
(1) One thing it means is that men and women possess the attributes of personality, as God himself does, but as the animals, plants, and matter do not.
(a) To have personality one must possess knowledge, feelings (including religious feelings), and a will. Our God has this, and so do we.
(b) We can say that animals possess a certain kind of personality. But an animal does not reason as men do; it only reacts to certain problems or stimuli.
(c) It does not create; it only conforms to certain behavior patterns, even in as elaborate a pattern as constructing a nest, hive, or dam. It does not love; it only reproduces.
(d) It does not worship. Personality, in the sense we are speaking of it here, is something that links man to God but does not link either man or God to the rest of creation.
(2) A second element that is involved in man’s being created in the image of God is morality.
(a) In brief, we do not need to sin as we do or as often as we do. And even when we sin under compulsion (as may sometimes be the case), we still know it is wrong and, thus, inadvertently confess our likeness to God in this as in other areas.
(3) The third element involved in man’s being made in God’s image is spirituality.
(a) Meaning that man is made for communion with God, who is Spirit (John 4:24), and that this communion is intended to be eternal as God is eternal.
(b) Although man shares a body with such forms of life as plants or flowers and a soul with animals, only he possesses a spirit. It is on the level of the spirit that he is aware of God and communes with him.
2. “He created them male and female, and blessed them… and called them mankind…” (v.2).
a) Created man, both male and female (v.2a).
(1) God created both male and female, He created them...
(a) to love, comfort, and help each other.
(b) to carry on the human race. God appointed Adam and Eve to be the head of the human race, to stand as the first man and woman upon earth.
(c) to work and subdue the earth.
b) Blessed them – marriage is honorable (v.2b see Hebrews 13:4)).
(1) In God’s eyes, marriage is honorable. He established it at creation and has honored it ever since. In much of the world today, of course, marriage is anything but honored.
(a) Paul warns that in the last days apostate teachers will “forbid marriage” (1 Tim. 4:3). But God holds marriage not only to be permissible, but honorable, and we are to have the same high regard for it.
(b) God honored marriage by establishing it. Jesus honored marriage by performing His first miracle at a wedding.
(c) The Holy Spirit honored marriage by using it to picture the church in the New Testament. The whole Trinity testifies that marriage is honorable. No person, therefore, is justified in contempt of disapproval of marriage.
(2) Scripture gives at least three reasons for marriage:
(a) One is the propagation of children. At creation, mankind was commissioned to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28).
(b) Marriage is also provided as a means of preventing sexual sin.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7 that “Because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2),
Paul advises, and then goes on to counsel the unmarried and widows to marry if they do not have self-control (vv. 8–9).
(c) Marriage is also provided for companionship. “God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him’ ” (Gen. 2:18).
(3) Marriage can be held in honor in many ways.
(a) One is by the husband’s being the head. God is glorified in a family where the husband rules.
In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul says “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman” (1 Cor. 11:3).
He also says in Ephesians 5 that “The husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church” (Eph. 5:23).
(b) Another way is a corollary of the first, namely, that wives be submissive to their husbands, as Sarah was to Abraham (1 Pet. 3:1, 6).
(c) A third way marriage is honored is by being regulated by mutual love and respect.
Peter says that the husbands are to “Live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (v. 7).
(i) The concern of both husband and wife should center on the welfare and happiness of the other, on what can be given rather than on what can be obtained.
c) Sexual purity (Hebrews 13:4).
(1) God is serious about sexual purity. Men and women may play around with illicit sex and be perfectly within their rights in the eyes of most people.
(2) But in the eyes of God, it is always sin and will always be judged.
Paul warns, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 5:6).
The apostle also tells us to “flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18).
(3) “Immorality” (porneia, “fornication”) is from the same basic Greek term as fornicators (pornos). In other words, the same sexual sin is involved in the two passages.
(4) Sexual sin not only is against God and other persons, it is also against ourselves. Part of our moral responsibility to ourselves is to be sexually pure.
d) Called them Mankind, which means “man” (v.2c).
(1) God called both the male and female “Adam.” The word “Adam” means man earth, red earth. God gave this name to the male and female so they would have a constant reminder...
(a) that they had come from dust as well as from God’s hand.
(b) that He is God, the only living and true Intelligence and Power, who alone could take dirt and create life.
B. Event 2: Adam had a son, born in his likeness and image (v.3a).
1. “Adam begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth…” (v.3).
a) Adam had a son born in his own likeness, in his own image.
(1) There is a deliberate contrast between the statements...
(a) that “God created Adam in His likeness” (Genesis 5:1).
(b) that “Adam begat a son in his own likeness” (Genesis 5:3).
(2) The point is this: Seth was a being just like Adam, in the image of Adam, and not in the perfect image of God, at least not in the perfect image that man had when God first created Adam.
(a) Adam experienced the transformation from a perfect and innocent human nature to a fallen human nature.
(b) Whatever is involved in a fallen human nature, Seth was born “in his father’s likeness, in his father’s image.” Seth too possessed a fallen human nature.
!!!! b) What is involved in a fallen human nature?
(1) A perfect human nature would be absolutely perfect, without any flaw or defect whatsoever. But a fallen human nature is full of defects and flaws.
(2) A perfect human nature would be holy: sinless, righteous, pure, and godly. But a fallen human nature is the exact opposite. A fallen human nature is unholy and wicked.
(3) A perfect human nature would be love: always devoted, loyal, cherishing, loving, merciful, gracious, and compassionate. But a fallen human nature is the exact opposite.
(4) A perfect human nature would have the spirit of immortality, the power to live forever. But a fallen human nature is the exact opposite: it has the spirit of death. A fallen human nature dies; it returns to the dust of the earth.
(5) A perfect human nature would be in perfect union with God: it would worship, fellowship, and serve God in an unbroken consciousness of His presence. But a fallen human nature would be the exact opposite.
(a) It is alienated and separated from God. It follows its own will and desires and does its own thing.
(b) It creates gods of its own and worships and follows the gods created by its own mind and imagination. A fallen human nature desperately needs to be reconciled with God.
The apostle Paul writes about this in Roman 1 saying "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures." (Romans 1:21-23, NASB95)
Writing to those in Galatia, Paul also says "However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods." (Galatians 4:8, NASB95)
Man desperately needs to be reconciled with his creator thru Jesus Christ, Paul says "Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:18-21, NASB95)
(6) The point is this: when Adam and Eve sinned, they experienced the transformation from a perfect, innocent human nature to a fallen human nature.
(a) When they had children, the children were born in their likeness, in their image. The children were born with the same fallen human nature.
"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me." (Psalm 51:5, NASB95)
C. Event 3: God was faithful to His Word, to His promise (v.3b-5a).
1. “Adam begot Seth…all the days that Adam lived were 930 years…” (v.3-5).
a) The faithfulness of God.
(1) God faithfully causes one godly son after another to be born. Only one son could be the godly line through whom the Savior comes. How was that son to be chosen? By God or by man?
(2) Since the fathers were godly men, could they ever determine who should be in the godly line?
(a) Think of all the temptations within the world, all the increasing lawlessness and wickedness, how far short man really is, even the godly. How could any human being conceivably choose which child was to carry on the godly line?
!! D. Event 4: Man died (v.5b).