Who likes genealogies? Who has spent the time to research their own genealogy – who their parents and grandparents and great grandparents are? Where they lived, when they died, the children they had, the work they did – all of this is part of our history and where we come from. My descendants do not captivate me but I do find it a little interesting to know that I come from Irish-Scandinavian root, particularly the Irish part. I love Irish music and the mountains and I attribute that to my descendants.
But frankly when it comes to reading genealogies, especially other people’s family histories, I am just not that excited. And you probably aren’t excited either, which is why most of us skip over the lists of names found throughout the Scriptures. But I want you to reconsider whether reading these names is important, for they are included in the Bible by God and according to Paul, all scripture is useful for correcting, rebuking, teaching and training in righteousness (2Tim 3:16), and that includes the genealogies, of which I spent a considerable amount of time reading this morning.
So what can a list of names like the one we read teach us about righteousness? I believe there are many things.
First, today’s list begins with God, proceeds to Adam and concludes with Noah and his three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. Along the way, these 32 verses catalog 11 generations and 13 individuals, aside from God. And nestled right in the middle at number seven is a man named Enoch who walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. (Genesis 5:24) But more on Enoch in a few moments.
Let’s begin with the very first name in the list and that is God. God is the author of all life. It originates in him. In fact it is his world. He created it and fashioned it. Humans proceed from the Almighty. Let us hold fast to this truth and never forget that our Lord made everything that is seen and unseen and he holds it all together. He made men in his image, and women in an image of righteousness and holiness as the 6th question of the Heidelberg answers, God created [humans] good and in his own image, that is, in true righteousness and holiness. But life didn’t stay that way, without going into the details, the genealogy declares that something happened for Adam’s descendants aren’t created in that image any longer, rather they are created in Adam’s likeness, a likeness that is stained by sin, rebellious to God and his law and living under a curse, instead of a blessing. These elementary truths are all worth recalling.
Following this basic introduction, or anthropology of the human race, begins the long list of begats – one name after another. A list that progresses through the normal cycle of raising children and then dying. That same cycle still exists in our world, but that was not part of the original creation for death found its way into the world through our sin (Genesis 2:17). And right in the middle of this list of names we find mention of Enoch.
Now I am not a numerology kind of guy, but there is significance to certain numbers in the Bible. Seven and twelve and 40 are special numbers that God refers to over and over (seven days of creation, seven years, seventy sevens and the twelve tribes of Israel, twelve apostles, twelve gates into the heavenly Jerusalem, 40 days between feasts, 40 years in the desert, 40 days fasting, 40 days from crucifixion to ascension). I am not going to talk about the numbers 12 and 40 today, but we are going to look at the number seven.
In our case seven fits nicely between the numbers 1 and 13, falling right in the middle. To an oral culture, this is a great memory aid for helping those memorizing the ancient texts to know what the point of the story or passage is. After Enoch became the father of Methuselah, he walked with God 300 yeas and …then he was no more, because God took him away (Gen 5:22, 24). Here, the teaching worth remembering, the whole point of the genealogy is this: Walking with God is the key to life.
Walking with God, I love it. Walking with God is like strolling down the beach with your spouse. There are good ways to do it and bad ways. You can both try and tug each other to see this or avoid that and in the process your body is jerked around and the stroll is difficult, far from peaceful and enjoyable. Or you can allow one person or the other to take the lead and determine the path and gait. In saying Enoch walked with God, the Lord is declaring to us that Enoch took the secondary position and determined to let the Lord set the direction of his life and determine his activities. And this is beautiful because…
Enoch pictures what happens when we walk with God, death has no claim upon us. Enoch never died, God took him, that simple. He was saved from death. Letting God take the lead resulted in the conquest of death in this man’s life. So into what kinds of things did God lead Enoch? We don’t know much about this man Enoch. He is only mentioned 4 other times in the Scriptures, once in a genealogy recounting the generations from Adam to Abraham (1 Chr. 1:3), once in the genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:37), once in the Hall of Faith recorded in Hebrews 11 and finally in the Epistle to Jude? So let’s turn to these last two passasges – Jude, first, then Hebrews in order to learn what we can about how God led this man who never tasted death.
Jude 14-15 tells us that God made Enoch a prophet:
14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
Enoch walked with God enjoying a relationship with the Lord, and he was led to proclaim God’s judgment upon sin and his desire to convict sinners of their wrongdoing.
This is one of the hallmarks of those who walk with God. As one spends time in the presence of a holy God, sin becomes truly ugly, a nasty cancer that must be recognized and cleansed. So, a person who walks with God isn’t afraid to speak about sin and to declare its ultimate destiny – the wrath of God. Part of walking with God is being a prophet of righteousness and truth in his world. Part of walking with God is not being afraid of what the world thinks of you but being willing to speak the truth even when no one else is listening. For there is a judgment coming and the Bible declares that Jesus Christ will judge people’s hearts and convict everyone of their sin. Truly, Christ is the judge the living and the dead as Peter declared to Cornelius,
[Jesus] commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:42-43)
Similarly, Paul told the Athenians, For [God] has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising [Jesus] from the dead. (Acts 17:31)
The world needs to hear this message. But it also needs to hear about the Holy Spirit who will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness because I am going to the Father…and in regard to judgment because the prince of this world now stands condemned (John 16:8-11).
But as Believers in Jesus Christ the full message of the gospel can now be proclaimed. When we walk with God, we walk with God through Jesus Christ by the power of his Spirit and so the message of judgment is now wedded to the message of grace. As modern day prophets, every Christian must declare fearlessly God’s hatred of sin, but just as passionately we must also declare the forgiveness of sins available in Christ. So let us declare the message truly and boldly, for the spirit gives us strength and boldness, love and a sound mind. So people of God, let us rejoice that even in a list of names from thousands of years ago, our Lord was right, all Scripture certainly testifies to him, walking with God is the key to eternal life and it was made possible when Jesus lived, died, ascended and sent his Spirit back to dwell in our hearts. So a life of proclamation is one of the ways Enoch was led to walk with God. If that doesn’t characterize your life, then pray for it to as Paul prayer for Philemon 6: I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.
Now let’s look at Hebrews 11:5-6 and find another way God will lead us as we walk with him:
By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Here we find faith being extolled as the means by which Enoch pleased God. This is similar to Abel and his sacrifice earlier in Genesis 4:4 and all the life of God’s elect people as recorded in Hebrews 11. In fact, faith in God’s provision of a savior, and that savior being Jesus Christ is the sole means of salvation from death that occurs according to the Apostle Paul and the book of Romans.
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. (Rom. 3:22)
If you want to walk with God, then live a life of faith. Pray for your faith to be strengthened. Pray for yourself as Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus and Thessalonica: (Eph. 3:16) I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Exercise your faith in the Son of God, declaring that he takes away sin, giving you the ability to freely confess your sins and search your soul in order to ask God to change you. Develop a life of confessional prayer, truly acknowledging all your sin but declaring after every sin you can bring to mind that Christ died for this sin too. I guarantee that far from beating yourself up, as some might expect, you will be encouraged and amazed at how wondrous your savior truly is, how expansive his love and how unbounded his grace to you.
I remember hearing of a man who prayed, “Lord, grow my faith in your ability to financially provide for my family.” His wife responded, “you know what you just prayed don’t you. Now we are going to have financial problems and unexpected expenses, don’t you.”? And sure enough, various medical bills, broken cars and other emergencies came and later he wondered, “why did I pray that prayer?” As he recounted the story to me, he said, “But then it came to me, without being in need I could never understand or have a faith that was vibrant and alive. As long as I had enough, I didn’t need to have faith that God is the provider of all that I need to live.”
Exercise your faith by practicing those commands and teachings of God which the Scriptures declare: forgive and it will be forgiven, give generously, show no partiality, blessed are the peacemakers, true religion that God our Father accepts is caring for widows and orphans in their distress, etc. Trying to live life by these things will bring each of us into constant areas where our faith can be tried and extended. And again you will find yourself praying for your faith to sustain you in your newfound obedience. Again Paul encourages us: (2Th. 1:11) With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.
As you read God’s word he will undoubtedly prompt you to obedience, such is his leading along the beachfront stroll of life. Will you respond and allow God to develop greater faith in you?
So live a life of faith and pray prayers that will grow your faith. Ask God to direct you into places where your faith will be extended and grown so that you may walk with God as Enoch did. Pray for opportunities to become like the heroes of faith who faced persecution, led masses out of slavery, declared the truth, were eaten by wild animals, and such. But realize all those events simply serve as a means to direct your gaze and mine, your hope and mine upon Jesus Christ, the author and perfector of our faith.
As we come to communion this morning, God invites us to walk with him and allow the message of the gospel to strengthen us and lead us deeper into a life of faithful obedience. You see, just as our passage continues on from the life of Enoch and ushers us into the story of Noah, another story about how God saves his chosen people from judgment, wrath and death by faith. So also communion points us towards the object of all faith, Jesus Christ the only one who walked with God blamelessly. He is the one on whom God’s Spirit rested, the one who went to the Father and opened up a way for us to approach the Father as well, so that we may walk in step with the Spirit of God.
Be encouraged, your Lord has conquered all sin, destroyed death, poured out his blood in righteousness, provided a comforter to intercede for your growth in the faith and he invites you to walk with him into a life of holiness this morning. If that is your desire, come to the table this morning with glad tidings. Would the elders come forward as we sing a hymn of praise to the Lord Jesus, the object of our faith.