Chapters 4 and 5 of Genesis contrast. Genesis 4 is filled with ugly things (murder, pride, and regret). Genesis 5 is filled with good things (long life, faithfulness, prayer, and comfort). Years ago Wilbur Smith and Wilbur Fields marked these two chapters out as the two great lines of humanity (Old Testament History). Those lines, the way of Cain and the line of Seth, continue with us today. We see them as the people of God and the earth dwellers (see the Book of Revelation), Israel and the nations, and the church and the world.
Both biographies in today’s lesson are from the line of Seth, walking faithfully in the life-giving ways of Genesis 5. Enoch’s narrative is brief. Noah’s narrative is extended. It is like Moses took the last name in the faithful list (Genesis 5:32) and provided a detailed narrative of it. But both men walked faithfully (go, come, proceed, live in a certain manner) with God. The idea is to be in fellowship with and obedience to God.
Short Epitaph; Quick Exodus
This Enoch is the seventh generation from Adam and a decedent of Seth (not Cain’s first child of Genesis 4:17). His name means “dedicated one” or “one trained up.” Even though Enoch did not live that long (a mere 365 years), he had longevity on both sides of him. His father Jared lived 962 years, and his son Methuselah lived the longest of anyone at 969 years. God enjoys rewarding obedience with long life (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16).
Two things were remarkable about Enoch. First his epitaph was short, and his exodus from this life was quick. His epitaph was one phrase. He walked faithfully (mentioned twice in this brief text and also used of Noah in this next section). That is a short phrase but a whole sermon. God blessed this man with a large family (Psalm 127:3-5). Second, his departure from this earth was unusual. Similar to Elijah, Enoch’s end was more of a translation than a death (see 2 Kings 2:11, 12).
Large Narrative; Long Obedience
Genesis 6:8-7:1; 9:1
As near as we can tell, Noah’s name means “comfort.” His obedience would bring creation comfort. Four chapters are devoted to the story of Noah and the flood (Genesis 6-9). He is also referred to in 10 other Bible books besides Genesis. He was highly regarded by God (Ezekiel 14:14, 20). In contrast to the rest of the world (Genesis 6:1-7), Noah found favor (acceptance or grace) in the eyes of the Lord. His long obedience did not earn God’s favor, but he did please God with his faithful walk.
Noah’s noble character showed up in at least three ways. First, two adjectives described him. He was called righteous twice in this text. This word meant “to conform to a standard” or “abide by the law.” He was also called blameless. This word means “without blemish” or “entire” or “complete.” Second, his life stood in stark contrast with the rest of the world. Verses 12 and 13 underline how bad Noah’s environment was. Three times the word corrupt was used. The word meant “to be marred or spoiled.” The world was full of violence. This expression meant “cruelty or injustice.” Finally, Noah was perfectly obedient in building the ark according to the instructions that God had given him—the type of wood, the sealant, the size, the roof, the window, the door, and the decks. Noah also obeyed God regarding the occupants—his wife, his three sons and their wives, specified numbers of clean and unclean animals, and food to store for everyone.
God judged the world for its disobedience through a flood. God would destroy the people and the planet. (These are not unrelated as Romans 8:20-25 makes clear.) The floodwaters would destroy all life under the heavens and every creature that has the breath of life. The phrase that is daunting is, “Everything on earth will perish.” No wonder Jesus related this judgment of God to the one that will yet come (Luke 17:26, 27).
But all was not lost. God would establish his covenant with Noah and his family. Hope lives as long as God is merciful and people walk in faithfulness. The mandate of Genesis is repeated. “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.” God is reiterating his plan to save the world through Jesus, and he will do so through the walk of a faithful servant.
Dr. Mark Scott teaches Preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Lesson based on The Lookout’s Scope and Sequence ©2018. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.