Leaving a Legacy
Scripture: Genesis 5
This morning, I was originally going to discuss a passage from Matthew. After hearing of sister Marti’s passing, I thought better of it and decided to look for a different text to cover. As it turned out, I was already planning to examine Genesis 5 sometime in the next couple of months. As we’ll see, it’s not a particularly interesting text at first glance, but I believe every part of Scripture is useful and can give us insight into what God wants us to learn.
“This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created.
When Adam had lived 130 years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. Then the days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were 800 years, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died.
Seth lived 105 years, and became the father of Enosh. Then Seth lived 807 years after he became the father of Enosh, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died.
Enosh lived 90 years, and became the father of Kenan. Then Enosh lived 815 years after he became the father of Kenan, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enosh were 905 years, and he died.
Kenan lived 70 years, and became the father of Mahalalel. Then Kenan lived 840 years after he became the father of Mahalalel, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Kenan were 910 years, and he died.
Mahalalel lived 65 years, and became the father of Jared. Then Mahalalel lived 830 years after he became the father of Jared, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Mahalalel were 895 years, and he died.
Jared lived 162 years, and became the father of Enoch. Then Jared lived 800 years after he became the father of Enoch, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Jared were 962 years, and he died.
Enoch lived 65 years, and became the father of Methuselah. Then Enoch walked with God 300 years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
Methuselah lived 187 years, and became the father of Lamech. Then Methuselah lived 782 years after he became the father of Lamech, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Methuselah were 969 years, and he died.
Lamech lived 182 years, and became the father of a son. Now he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed.” Then Lamech lived 595 years after he became the father of Noah, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Lamech were 777 years, and he died.
Noah was 500 years old, and Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” (Gen 5:1–32)
A key to studying Scripture is to notice not only what the authors say, but also how they say it.
If they usually speak in one manner, and then choose to say something else instead, there’s likely a reason. Moses presents this genealogy in a very regular, repetitive way. Only occasionally does he vary from the format. If we’re looking for his point, we have to look at the contrasts.
Now let’s look at the format he employs, using verses six through eight as an example:
“Seth lived 105 years, and became the father of Enosh. Then Seth lived 807 years after he became the father of Enosh, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died.” (Gen 5:6–8)
It’s this sequence right here:
- “He lived so many years and became the father of his son.”
- “Then he lived so many more years after he became the father of his son, and he had other sons and daughters.”
- “So all his days were so many, and he died.”
Instead of moving through the chapter in the order of the text, I’m going to pull our points from the introduction to the chapter, then from the sequence itself and from some of the variations in the chapter.
This life is cursed.
Did you notice what Moses does here when talking about the birth of Seth?
He reminds us that when God originally made mankind, He made us in His image, and in His likeness. As we saw last Sunday, that not only includes the spirit Adam possessed, but also the perfection and sinlessness God created him with. Of course, Adam and Eve forsook that blessing by sinning and destroying the image of God.
In chapter 4, their first son Cain murdered their second son Abel, and Adam begins to see the effect of his actions. Cain’s descendants are listed to the fifth generation, and they get exceedingly worse. At the end of the chapter, Adam and Eve have a third son, whom they name Seth, hoping that he will be better.
“Adam became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.” (Gen 5:3)
When Adam bore a son, his son was still in the image of God. As Seth grew up and fell into sin as well, he turned out to be in Adam’s likeness and image.
Then Adam lives on for 800 cruel, awful years. Adam went on to see every person in this chapter except Noah and his sons. I can only imagine listening to this ancient man beg his son Seth, his grandson Enosh, and so on, all the way to his six-times-great-grandson Lamech, begging them all to stop the cycle of sin.
And yet, it is his curse to watch that very thing unfold. Beholding the curse of death iterating over and over, as predictably as a clock. Seeing every generation struggle and fight with the ground, hoping to bring forth food. How much he must have longed for the Garden, wishing he were in the Paradise even for a moment. Adam was cursed, and he passed those curses on to his son as well.
Your life can be different.
The first part of the sequence: “He lived so many years and became the father of his son.”
After the text mentions his father’s passing, we read of a life. Adam found hope in life (Gen 1:20). Seth has a chance to be different and have a better legacy. No matter how much Adam might have preached in his old age, his legacy is reduced to a single act, to a single sin. Seth has an opportunity to change that.
There is not a single exception to this in the entire chapter, nor in this room today. No matter what your upbringing was, whether good or bad, God gives you a chance to decide what you’ll do with your life and how you’ll use it.
Moses later presented this choice before the children of Israel:
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him. (Deut 30:19–20)
Your legacy can be different.
The second part of the sequence: “Then he lived so many more years after he became the father of his son, and he had other sons and daughters.”
This pattern is not very interesting by itself, but as I said earlier, I want to notice an exception from it. There is only one, and it’s in verse 22.
“Then Enoch walked with God 300 years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters.” (Gen 5:22)
For Enoch, the word “lived” is replaced with “walked with God.” Although six generations preceded him, none of them ever are said to have walked with God! In fact, only one other person is ever described this way: Noah.
No one ever remembers Enosh or Mahalalel, but we remember Enoch. His life was different because he chose to dedicate it to God. For 300 years, he fought temptation and sin so that he could walk with God.
“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:20–21)
Will you store up your treasure on earth, where your possessions and your body will eventually decay, or will you store up treasure in heaven, so that your legacy will be eternal?
Your death can be different.
The third and final part of the sequence: “So all his days were so many, and he died.”
Every man and woman on this earth will pass from this life. There are no exceptions in the chapter nor in this room.
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (Rom 5:12)
And again we can read,
“It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” (Heb 9:27)
Now you may be thinking—”But what about Enoch? Is he not an exception?” Yes, he is. But not because he did not leave this life. Not because he did not die, but in that his death was different. He chose to live a different life, and so he partook of a different death. Although his spirit still left his body, it did not do so in the normal natural way; God allowed him to experience a different kind of death.
Death was not a curse for Enoch. Instead, it was the end of a curse. He no longer had to deal with temptation, sickness, and pain. God granted him release from those things.
While Paul was in prison the first time, he opened up about how he felt:
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better.” (Phil 1:21–23)
When we die, we don’t automatically transfer into the presence of the Lord. That will only happen in the resurrection, after the Judgment. But when righteous people die, it’s not a curse. We have the hope of resurrection; we know that when we rise, we will be with the Lord!
What will you do with your life?
Will you leave a different legacy?
Will you meet death sorrowfully or joyfully?