Sunday Gathering – Genesis – Life and Death- Rick Lewis
February 4, 2024

Sunday Gathering – Genesis – Life and Death- Rick Lewis

Passage: Genesis 4

Rick continues our new series on Genesis. This week he is speaking on Genesis 5:1-32. His topic is "Life and Death"


Summary of the Sermon:

Rick Lewis delivers a sermon titled "Life and Death" as part of a series on the book of Genesis. He acknowledges the challenges of the series, especially considering the dark and violent nature of Genesis 4. Rick highlights the lineage of Cain and the prevalence of hatred and violence in that line.

However, he points out a glimmer of hope at the end of Genesis 4, where people begin to call on the name of the Lord. Rick transitions to Genesis 5, emphasizing the new beginning through the line of Seth. He reads through the genealogy of Adam's family line, noting the rhythm and structure of the chapter.

The sermon addresses two issues: biblical genealogies and the unusually long lifespans mentioned in Genesis 5. Rick advises caution when interpreting genealogies, emphasizing their role in linking historical events rather than providing precise timelines. Regarding long lifespans, he explores the possibility that environmental conditions before the flood could have contributed to extended life.

The central focus of the sermon is Enoch, the exception in the genealogy who walked faithfully with God for 300 years and did not experience death. Rick explores different interpretations of Enoch's story and highlights the significance of walking with God, citing Hebrews 11:5. He discusses the phases of walking with God throughout life, from learning and adapting to slowing down and maintaining consistency.

The sermon emphasizes the covenant with God through Jesus, based on faith, trust, and agreement. Rick encourages the congregation to seek a meaningful relationship with God, pleasing Him through trust and walking in the light. He concludes by highlighting the promise of eternal life and invites the congregation to respond to God's offer.

Bible Passages Used:
- Genesis 4:26 (people began to call on the name of the Lord)
- Genesis 5 (genealogy of Adam's family line)
- Hebrews 11:5 (Enoch's faith and pleasing God)
- Genesis 3 (reference to walking with God in the garden)
- Amos 3:3 ("How can two walk together unless they are agreed?")
- John 1, 1 John 1:7 (walking in the light and purification through Jesus' blood)


Two years ago I was here and I expected
that was the last time I was gonna be visiting this church.
Well, what did I know?
I think God's having a bit of a laugh with me.
You know nothing, Rick, about your future.
So I'm not gonna make any more predictions.
I'm just gonna roll with whatever God's got for me.
And I think that's what you're doing here as a church.
You don't know what the future's gonna hold,
but you can look back at the past and say,
gosh, God has done some amazing things.
He's been so faithful and he's not gonna change.
He's gonna keep on doing new things with you.
So heads up, look out, here it comes, you know?
It's gonna be good.
Now this series in Genesis, this is such a good thing
that you're going through this book.
It's good, but it's difficult.
And most of the time when I've come here,
I've had a free kick, you know?
Well, Rick, you could just talk about whatever you like.
Not this time.
I got in Genesis 5.
Which is not what I would have chosen,
but I'm really glad to have had Genesis 5.
Genesis 4 is dark.
It's a tough, tough chapter.
It's violent.
There's murder.
Finishes off with, well, almost the finish.
There's one of the Lamix beating his chest
about how violent he is.
I'm a dangerous man.
Don't mess with me.
The line of Cain comes through and the violence
that is the solution to everything that comes up there.
It's just so horrible.
But you get to the right, the very end of chapter 4,
and there's just this tiny little note of hope.
Did you notice that last week?
Right at the end.
At that time, people began to call on the name of the Lord.
Ah, that's great, isn't it?
Because in the darkness, God doesn't leave us alone.
Okay, he's going to step in.
There's going to be a new beginning.
And the way that Genesis tells a story,
that new beginning comes with a new line.
There was Cain and Abel, and Cain killed Abel.
But Adam and Eve had another child, Seth.
So chapter 4 follows the name of Cain down
and all his descendants, and it's just bad.
It's that same hatred and violence and darkness
comes down the line of Cain.
But then with the line of Seth, there's a new possibility.
So even though it's going to take a little while,
I want to read chapter 5 to you,
and you can get involved here,
because chapter 5 has a real rhythm and structure about it.
You could say it's really boring and repetitive,
but I'm going to say it has rhythm and structure.
And as I read it, you'll get it.
That there's the same words I said
about different people in different ways
as it goes through with one notable exception.
There's this repeated pattern,
and all of a sudden, something's different.
See if you can pick it up.
So this is from the beginning of chapter 5 of Genesis.
This is the written account of Adam's family line.
When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God.
He created them male and female, and blessed them.
And he named them mankind when they were created.
When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness,
in his own image, and he named him Seth.
After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years
and had other sons and daughters altogether.
Adam lived a total of 930 years, and then he died.
Listen out for that line,
because it comes up a lot in this chapter.
When Seth had lived 105 years,
he became the father of Enosch.
After he became the father of Enosch,
Seth lived 807 years and had other sons and daughters.
Altogether, Seth lived a total of 912 years,
and then he died.
When Enosch had lived 90 years, he became the father of Keenan.
After he became the father of Keenan, Enosch lived 815 years
and had other sons and daughters.
Altogether, Enosch lived a total of 905 years,
and then he died.
You're getting the hang of this really well.
OK, it's not repetitive, is it?
When Keenan had lived 70 years, he became the father of Mahalo.
After he became the father of Mahalo,
Keenan lived 840 years and had other sons and daughters.
Altogether, Keenan lived a total of 910 years,
and then he died.
When Mahalo had lived 65 years, he became the father of Jared.
After he became the father of Jared, Mahalo lived 830 years
and had other sons and daughters.
Altogether, Mahalo lived a total of 895 years,
and then he died.
When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enosch.
After he became the father of Enosch,
Jared lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.
Altogether, Jared lived a total of 962 years, and then he died.
When Enosch had lived 65 years, he
became the father of Methuselah.
After he became the father of Methuselah, Methuselah, Enosch
walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters.
Altogether, Enosch lived a total of 365 years.
Enosch walked faithfully with God.
Then he was no more.
For God, took him away.
Yeah, whoa, OK.
And then, when Methuselah lived 187 years,
he became the father of Lambic.
After he became the father of Lambic,
Methuselah lived 782 years and had other sons and daughters.
Altogether, Methuselah lived a total of 969 years world record,
and then he died.
When Lambic had lived 182 years, he had a son.
He named him Noah.
You know that name?
Yeah, and now we're getting a familiar territory.
And said, he will comfort us in the labor and painful
toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.
After Noah was born, Lambic lived 595 years
and had other sons and daughters.
Altogether, Lambic lived a total of 777 years, and then he died.
After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem,
Ham, and Japheth.
So fascinating to meet that character Enoch.
And I do want to talk about Enoch,
but there's a couple of things to clear off first.
By the way, there's another Enoch in chapter four,
different guy.
When you're looking through these genealogies,
do watch out because the same names do crop up from time to time,
like there's more than one Andy in this church.
And, you know, there's more than one Enoch.
There's more than one Lambic.
Just be careful which ones you're out to.
It's very intriguing looking at Enoch,
but the first couple of things I do just want to clear off,
something about genealogies and something about these really,
really long lives.
The genealogies, first of all,
we've got to remember that biblical genealogies,
they record the most prominent members in a family line,
not necessarily every single person in that family line.
So because the Hebrew word for begat or became the father of
can mean, became the grandfather of,
great, great grandfather of,
so the begetting isn't necessarily one generation.
So, I mean, in my own family trees like that,
my auntie, Quita, looked at our family tree.
She got back to 1060.
You think, how on earth can you get back to 1060?
Well, when I asked her about this,
she said, well, the first 200 years was easy.
After that, it gets pretty sketchy.
And sometimes then you jump several generations
because the records aren't there.
To go back a thousand years?
Like, that's ridiculous.
But, yes, you took about two, what was his name?
Llewellyn App Cataphor.
Llewellyn App Cataphor in 1060.
But only because she had several missing generations.
Well, that's what it's like with biblical genealogies.
You don't necessarily get every single one.
Why is that important?
It means that we need to be cautious
about using genealogies to date biblical events.
You can't just add up the numbers,
it's not that simple.
That's not what Genesis was written to achieve.
In spite of the gaps in the record,
the point of Genesis chapter five
is to link from the historical story of Cain and Abel
through to the historical story of Noah.
That's the two ends, and it does that link in the middle.
In fact, the big thing that's going on in Genesis
is to link from the earliest origins
of creation through to the death of Joseph in Egypt.
That's what Genesis is doing.
It's not really about a timeline,
it's giving a continuous narrative
that tells the story of how God was involved
from the very beginning right through to Joseph dying in Egypt,
and then Exodus takes up the next part of the story.
So it's not about the dates and the numbers,
it's about seeing how God is involved
at every stage of the journey.
That's something that we really need to get out of Genesis.
God's involved in every step of the journey,
even when we don't see Him, even when things are dark,
even when it's like Genesis 4,
and there's a lot of violence and hatred,
God is there every step of the journey.
Now, I know that some people say that the events
of the early chapters of Genesis
are meant to be taken as parables,
that they're made up stories that tell a timeless truth.
Personally, I'm not convinced about that.
I wouldn't want to lose a friendship over it.
You'll need to make up your own mind about those things.
But my advice is,
don't come to the Bible simply for facts
so that you can know stuff.
Come to the Bible seeking wisdom so that you can live well.
It's a way better way to approach the Scripture.
The second issue is these really long lives.
I mean, we get really impressed with anyone who lives past 100.
Is King Charles still giving out telegrams to people who...
Yeah, that's a question.
If you ask for it, do you need to make a donation
or something to the royal family?
Yeah, you're not far off at 10 years and a bit, yeah?
Yeah, very good.
So, we get impressed with that.
But you look at Genesis 5 and the ages of these people
who lived before the flood are huge.
What do you do? Methu's like 969 years.
Like, are we meant to take that literally?
No, I don't think...
And I know my mum, when she was getting older,
she was said, no thanks.
I'm ready to go home and take me.
I don't want to live 969 years.
But that's there. The numbers that we've got, several,
who lived more than 900 years, says Genesis 5.
So, what are we to make of that?
Other years, maybe actually months.
Because if the years were months, maybe that kind of...
But then we've got people becoming a father at the age of five.
So, that don't quite work, do it.
Some people have come up with the theory that the names
that we get in Genesis 5 are actually
not the names of individuals, but the names of tribes.
So, like, the family line lasts for 969 years or whatever it is.
And then that family dies out because there isn't a male here.
But clearly, some of the people, at least in Genesis 5, are individuals
on what basis do you say that some are and some aren't.
That seems to me to be not a convincing argument at all.
I'm just not prepared to write it off as a myth or explain it away.
Because it's not just the Bible that claims really, really long life
for people who lived before the flood.
The Sumerian King list, it's a list of kings that lived
before the flood after the flood in Sumeria, that is in modern-day Iraq.
And some of those people had enormous long lives, it's reported there.
There's a Chinese tradition that says that in the Indian Sea,
Penzu lived over 800 years.
Now, I'm not claiming that these sources are authoritative.
I'm just saying, it just makes me stop and think,
because geneticists tell us that technically there is no biological limit
to how long people can live.
But there's no death gene in our DNA that switches on
and tells us when we've got to die.
We die because of the accumulation of molecular and cellular damage
in our bodies.
That's why we die.
Isn't it possible that in the time before the great flood,
conditions existed in which that molecular and cellular damage
was much less than it is today?
I think it's just possible.
And I don't know.
I would rather leave this as an open question.
Maybe they actually did live that long
because the environment was very different back then.
Or maybe there's another explanation.
But I just thought we should cover that point
and I'll leave it for you to decide what you want to come up with.
But the really important thing in Genesis 5 is Enoch.
He walked faithfully with God for 300 years.
He's the odd man out in this long list.
He didn't die.
There is one other person in the scripture, somebody can tell me.
Elijah, yeah.
Elijah was taken up in a chariot, a whirlwind and Elisha saw him go.
But only Enoch and Elisha are the ones who actually escape
a physical death in the Bible.
He was transported directly to heaven.
Do not pass death.
Go directly to heaven.
Collect your reward.
Hebrews 11, 5, expands on this a little bit.
It says, 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.
So you've got these two things that are said about Enoch,
that he walked with God and that he pleased God.
I'd love to have people say that about me when I'm gone.
How about you?
He walked with God.
He pleased God.
That's a great epitaph.
365 years, it seems like a pre-old age to us.
But compared to his contemporaries, he was cut off in his prime.
Only the good die young, right?
So why would God have taken Enoch like this?
Genesis 5 is suggesting that it was far from being a punishment.
That he was taken actually because he pleased God and he walked with God.
It's almost as if Enoch was so precious to God,
he wanted to have him with him in heaven.
In the church that I attend in Sydney,
there was a man called Ron Hewitt who was diagnosed with cancer.
It was very late, very serious and he wasn't expected to live very long at all.
The church got busy. We prayed for him.
He was miraculously healed when into remission.
And he stood up in front of the church and he said,
Well, I want to thank you all, but I want you to know I got second prize.
Because he was saying, first prize is to go and be with the Lord.
It really is.
You've got to get your perspective beyond this life.
Second prize is to stay here and wait.
You're not being taken by God as witness to the prospect of eternal life.
Death won't always have the power over those who please God.
It's the first indication in the Bible of a theology of immortality.
So what does this walking with God mean?
I think perhaps it means different things at different stages of your life.
I remember when I used to walk with my sons when they were little,
we would hold hands and we would walk together that way.
And then they stopped wanting to do that and they grew up.
They didn't want to hold my hand anymore, but they still wanted to walk with me.
And now they're in their thirties and we still walk together.
But we walk differently these days.
I think we walk with God in different ways, at different stages of our lives.
I mean, being younger, walking with God,
I had to learn a lot of things first of all, get up because I was a bit of a stay in bed,
a lazy kind of a guy.
Walking with God meant that I needed to get on my feet and get active.
I also needed to know that I couldn't just walk anywhere I wanted.
If I was going to walk with God, I had to go his way.
Guys, we're not going to adapt to me.
I got to adapt to him.
And I'll tell you these days, walking with God
means that I need to slow down.
Because the pace of my life doesn't serve well me keeping in step with the spirit.
I wonder what it means for you, the stage of life that you're at.
What would it mean to walk with God, to keep in step with him?
To keep company with him?
What does he require of you in order to walk with him now?
He not walked with God for 300 years.
And that kind of consistency of loyalty to the Lord is a beautiful thing.
I love to see people at the beginning of their Christian journey when they start
walking with the Lord.
There's an excitement and a bounciness about that that's really delightful.
But when I meet an old saint, someone who's been walking with the Lord for a long,
long time, I tell you what, there's a depth and a beauty about that.
Through all the ups and downs, walking with God in the light and in the dark,
on the mountaintops and in the valleys.
Just consistently walking with God.
As walking with God is just one step at a time.
That's how we walk, isn't it?
One step at a time.
And as Jeff will say, the older you get,
you've got to be a bit more careful about your walking.
Jeff mentioned yesterday, he doesn't want to go out when there's ice on the ground because that's...
Yeah, a little one little slip.
No, there's a good wisdom there about just choosing when and where you walk.
I think there might be a reference here, this walking with God.
It's a phrase that reminds me of Genesis chapter three,
remember when God would walk in the garden in the cool of the day, seeking fellowship with Adam and Eve.
But Adam and Eve, they wanted to chart a different course.
They didn't accept the boundaries that God had given to them.
And that walking with God in the garden, the beautiful opportunity that they had to walk with God
was taken away.
But somehow Enoch found it again, he found a way to walk with God.
It means being close to God and a loyal allegiance.
I think it means agreeing with God.
Almost three, three says, how can two walk together unless they are agreed?
So you've got to come to an agreement with God,
you've got to enter into that covenant with him.
And he offers us the covenant through Jesus.
He says, you can be part of my family, you can walk with me.
I'm opening the door. The offer is there.
You want to walk with me? You can.
Let's come into an agreement here.
And here's the deal.
I'll forgive you.
You've got nothing I want, except your heart.
So give me that.
And I'll give you forgiveness and eternal life.
That's the deal.
Do we have agreement?
Do we have a deal?
And then you can walk together.
It means pleasing God.
In Hebrews 11 it says, the way that you please God is to trust him.
You believe that he exists and that he's good.
That pleases God.
God, I believe you're real.
I believe you're good and I trust you.
God finds that very pleasing that you can walk together.
It means walking in the light, the light that God provides.
John 1, 1 John 1, 7 says, as we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus, his son.
We sang about that blood of Jesus this morning.
The blood of Jesus, his son purifies us from all sin.
That is, we don't purify ourselves in order to be able to walk with God.
It works the other way around.
We walk with God and we get purified as we walk with him in the light.
It's really important, you know, because people who walk with God,
they're the ones who have a spirituality that reflects Enoch in Genesis 5.
That is not about strictly obeying moral laws.
I'm not against moral laws, but that's not how you get to walk with God.
It's about the intimacy with God.
Walking with him, the Pharisees of Jesus day inexplicably got this completely wrong,
because they had somehow got this thought that you've got to do stuff to impress God
in order to be in his good books.
Walking faithfully with God is a different thing from performing impressively for God.
Enoch was taken to be with God, but was that because of what he did?
Did Enoch do something really amazing that was so, you know,
pious and holy and impressive?
Actually, there's nothing at all record about what Enoch did,
except that he walked with God.
One day, Enoch went out for a walk and he strode straight into eternity.
Genesis 5 has got a list of people who were born and had kids and died,
and Enoch's the one exception, and we focused on him because of that.
Let's not get too carried away with the numbers.
It's not the amount of years in your life, but it's the amount of life of your years,
but that's what we're going for in the Lord,
and that life in our years that God offers us is the life of the Spirit.
It's his own life, and God is offering to walk with us as we walk in his life.
He's offering us a deal.
Will you agree?
Will you agree to give me your heart?
Because that's really all I want.
And will you accept my deal of free forgiveness and eternal life?
Will you walk with him?
Walking with God doesn't necessarily mean that you'll suddenly be translated to heaven
without going through death.
You've got to tell you that.
Unless of course you're alive when Jesus returns,
and then that's exactly what it means.
But it does mean that when finally you close your eyes in death,
you'll open them again to an eternal life.
That'll make those really long lives of Genesis 5 seem like nothing at all.
Roland, would you come and just close our service off-force
and maybe give us an opportunity to respond to that agreement that God's offering for us?

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