Thursday, December 30, 2010

Righteousness leads to life (Gen 5:1-32)

Enoch, in Figures de la Bible,
by Gerard Hoet (1648–1733)
Genesis five sounds almost like a restart of the human story. It echoes the note that Adam and Eve were God's image and likeness (Gen 5:1-2). Now the story passes through Seth, Adam's "son in his own likeness, in his own image" (Gen 5:3). These notes assure us that Adam's offspring inherited the image and likeness of God. The fall didn't obliteate the image or restrict it to Adam and Even.

Yet sin brought death to humanity--even the line that worshipped God (Gen 2:7; Rom 5:12-21; 6:23). From Adam on, a man was born, grew up, sired children, and "lived" a certain number of years; "then he died" (Gen 5:5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 27, 31). But when we come to Enoch, the seven from Adam in this line, we read a different story:
  1. Instead of "lived," we read that Enoch "walked with God" (Gen 5:21, 24). Like Noah (Gen 6:9), his lifestyle pleased God (Heb 11:5).
  2. Instead of "died," we read that "he disappeared because God took him away" (Gen 5:24 NET). Sometimes "was no more" and "God took him" serve as euphemisms for death. But here they imply a rapture experience like that of Elijah (2 Kgs 2:1, 5, 9, 10), Jesus (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9), and those living when Jesus returns (1 Thess 4:16, see 1 Cor 15:52; 1 Thess 5:10). The New Testament understands it that way (Heb 11:5). 
Waltke concludes, "Enoch's life affirms that those who 'walk with God' (Gen 5:22, 24) in this fallen world will experience life, not death, as the last word."[1]

In the coming year, let's resolve to walk with God. And if we do so, just as we were anxious for the coming of Christmas--and much more--we will long for our Lord's return. "He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus" (Rev 22:20).

1. Bruce K. Waltke and Cathi J. Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2001), 115; citing Deut 30:15-16; 2 Kgs 2:1, 5, 9-10; Pss 49:15; 73:24; Heb 11:5.

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