Tag Archives: Genesis 5

Beneath the Text

Beneath the Text (CaD Gen 5) Wayfarer

Enoch walked faithfully with God.
Genesis 5:24

I’ve always been interested in family history. Over the years I’ve learned a great deal, but there’s a point at which the scant evidence of names and dates leave a lot to be desired from a story perspective. My “van der Wel” surname seems to spring from one particular neighborhood in Rotterdam, while the Bloem genes trace back to Gronigen. I have McCoy genes that likely lead back to the McKay clan in Scotland. My Hamblen genes trace back to Virginia during the American Revolution, and then back to England where there’s a knight entombed in effigy in eastern England. Informational clues that leave a lot to the mystery of history.

In the same way, the first 11 chapters of the Great Story are considered “primeval” history. They provide a broad brush sketch of creation and God’s relationship with all of humanity with scant information and a lot of mystery, but there’s plenty of good stuff to mine in the mystery.

For example, numbers and patterns play a role in the telling. The letters of the Hebrew alphabet do double-duty as numbers, and the authors of ancient Hebrew often hide numerical patterns in the writing. The number 10 is associated with harmony and completeness, especially related to humanity. The book of Genesis is divided into ten sections. Ten times in Genesis the phrase “God said…” is used. The genealogies in today’s chapter and again in chapter 11 both list ten generations. God will later deliver the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt through ten plagues, and subsequently provide humanity with ten commandments.

Yesterday’s chapter told of the sin and curse of Cain and then traced his family line to the 7th generation after Adam. Seven is also a number associated with “completeness” but it is more associated with the divine, as in the seven days of Creation. The seven generations of Cain’s line hint at the completeness of God’s divine judgement on the family which remained rebellious toward God in the 7th generation. The 10 generations listed in today’s chapter hint at the complete human family line of Adam that will perpetuate humanity to, and after, the flood.

Then there are the patterns that emerge in the telling. The seventh generation in the line of Cain was Lamech who continued his ancestor’s murderous and rebellious ways. The seventh generation on Seth’s line is Enoch who “walked faithfully with God.” There’s also the fact that Cain, the first born son, was cursed and it was through a younger son, Seth, that humanity was blessed and perpetuated. In human terms, the blessing, power, and position always go to the first-born son, but God’s blessing through the younger son is a pattern repeated through Genesis as well as the Great Story:

Seth over Cain.
Shem over Japheth
Isaac over Ishmael
Jacob over Esau
Judah and Joseph over their brothers
Ephraim over Manasseh
David over his brothers
Solomon over his brothers

The pattern of going against human tradition is a continuous reminder of what God would later say plainly through the prophet Isaiah:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.

As I always say, God’s base language is metaphor. Today’s chapter is more than a genealogy. It is layered with numbers and patterns that metaphorically speak to the moral contrast between Cain’s family line and Seth’s family, the contrast of divine judgement and blessing, and the contrast of death and life.

On Sunday, I’m giving a message among my local gathering of Jesus’ followers from Ecclesiastes 3, the passage made familiar to millions by the Byrds: “To everything there is a time and season.” One of the things I plan to discuss is that my own life contains patterns that lead to deeper understanding of self, of family, of life, if I’m willing to search under the surface of simple dates and memories.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

What “Bullet Point” Legacy Will You Leave Behind?

Daniel & Fanny Bloem
Daniel & Fanny Bloem

After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Genesis 5:22 (NLT)

As a lover of history, I’ve always been interested in genealogy. I think my love of acting has something to do with it, as well. When I learned how to do character studies of those I portrayed on stage, I naturally migrated to doing an on-going character study of myself. “Who am I, and how did I get here?” are natural questions. There are a lot of clues to be found in family history.

I’ve traced the branches of my family tree back a relatively long way. As I pour over the names and dates there is so much that I don’t know. There’s just a name and maybe a birth date or death date. As I get nearer to the present generations, there are names that conjure up scraps of knowledge handed down through the family. I have pictures of my great-grandfather, Daniel Bloem. The one thing the jumps to mind when I see his picture is that he had a drinking problem. There’s a great uncle, James Hendrickson. I know he was a Methodist circuit preacher in Illinois. Family legend holds that he was a good man and had a huge influence on my grandfather. That’s about all I’ve got.

Scraps. Tidbits. Legacy. The vital questions aren’t just “Who am I?” and “How did I get here?” but also “How will I be remembered?” and “What impact will I have on those around me?” What is the bullet point that future generations will remember and repeat about me when they see my name or my picture…

  • He had a temper. Everyone was afraid of him.
  • She was really mean. Nobody in the family liked her.
  • He was known to be the laziest of that generation. He went bankrupt a couple of times.
  • She was married six times.
  • He built a successful business, but his children all hated him.
  • She got married, but her first child was born six months later. Do the math.

As we read through the long list of Adam’s descendants, we are given little information. We have names, life spans and the name of the first born son. Then we get to Enoch and this tidbit of information is passed down to us: “he lived in close fellowship with God.” That’s not a bad legacy considering we’re still talking about it many millennia later.

Each day our words, actions, and relationships are etching the legacy we will leave. What’s the one thing you think people will remember about you? What’s the one thing you want people to remember about you? What will make the difference?