HUMAN HISTORY: FIRST THOUSAND YEARS
I have selected several verses from Genesis 5 which all contain the thought about which I want to study with you. They are verses 5, 8, 11,14, 17, 20, 23,24,27,31,32. They read as follows: ”All the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died. All the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died. All the days of Enosh were 905 years, and he died. All the days of Cainan were 910 years, and he died. All the days of Mahalalel were 895 years, and he died. All the days of Jared were 962 years, and he died. All the days of Enoch were 365 years. And Enoch walked with God; and Enoch was not for God took him. All the days of Methuselah were 969 years, and he died.” I have selected these interesting verses because they contain a unifying thought. They document the first one thousand years of human history. Genesis 5 documents the genealogy of the ea rliest ancestors of the human race, and it is the most ancient historical document in the possession of the human race. All we know about the human race for upwards of a thousand years is to be found in this chapter.
One of the interesting things about the men mentioned in this list is that they were all distinguished men. History is full of distinguished men, and it is interesting to study how they became so. There are many ways of becoming a distinguished person, and we shall notice some of those ways as suggested by the names contained in this immortal chapter of early history. Some men become distinguished by the peculiarity of the times in which they live. The first man listed in this chapter was Adam. He was a distinguished man because he was the first man to inhabit the earth, to admire its beauty and to care for its produce. He was the first human being to discover first the existence o Almighty God, the Creator. He and his wife were the first human beings to be led astray by Satan into the awful experiences of sin. God made him, and he entered into life under very unusual circumstances–hence his fame. However, there is no evidence that he was a man of great genius. We are not aware that he had any extraordinary mental and moral gifts. He was simply an ordinary person like the rest of us. We don't read of him making any great discoveries or building a city or becoming accomplished in musical or mechanical arts and accomplishments, as we read of some others. However, because of the miraculous way he came into the world he is compared to Christ who was the second person of Godhead before He came to this world and became flesh and dwelled among us. Christ is called the second Adam. Adam originated the natural race, and Christ originated the Christian race of Christians.
Some people are fortunate in the accidents of their lives. They happen to be born in a certain family, at a certain time, and as a consequence they become the world's rulers and favorites. Thus we find that some men and women are distinguished from the mere circumstances of their birth into the world. No one can doubt that Adam was one of the most distinguished men who has ever lived. He entered the world by the direct creation of God. I would like to mention one more thing about Adam that perhaps you have not thought about. Can you tell me what Eve's name was before she was called Eve? Eve had a name before she was called Eve. You will find her name in Genesis 5:2, “Male and female created He them; and blessed them and called their name Adam in the day they were created.” Adam means "the ground." They were made of the dust of the ground.. They were earth creatures. Adam is in truth the name of a specie and is the name of the whole human race. In applying the name Adam to both the man and woman the Holy Spirit teaches us that it was no merely an individual, but the human race whose history is given in the preceding chapters.
With the exception of Enoch, a number of men in the chapter are rendered distinguished by their miraculous longevity. We find that the men We find that the men whose names are given in this list were remarkable for the length of their lives. One of the most interesting things in this chapter is the long life that Methuselah and others lived. In our day and time 80 or 90 years is considered a long life, but Methuselah lived 969 years; and Adam lived 930 years. An unbelieving world rejects Deuteronomy 5 as actual history, and to them this chapter is nothing but myth and superstition.. They reject the Bible as a divine revelation from God to mankind. They prefer to believe that for millions of years the human race was half-animal and half-human. The atheistic theory of evolution is the real myth that teaches mankind descended from baboons and apes. Genesis 5 records the true descendants of the human race. We all descended from A Adam and Eve, and Genesis 5 mentions many of our earliest descendants by name. Our earliest descendants were distinguished men, not apes. Some Bible critics have even conjectured that the year in that early time signified a shorter period of time, perhaps consisting of only 30 days. If this were so, Methuselah lived about 80 years as we reckon time today, a shorter period than some live today. If Moses used a 30 day year in the book of Genesis, many of the people who lived before the flood had children when they were infants. According to that theory, Abraham died full of years when he was fifteen. However, we dismiss these unbelieving critics of the Bible and accept what the Bible says about longevity in this early time. God gradually shortened our life span after the flood, and by the same power he extended the life span of people who lived before the flood.
We believe God granted longevity to the pre-flood world for special purposes and useful ends. In this historical document we read of men who lived through time periods varying from 800 to almost a thousand years. For one purpose longevity served to help populate the world. Adam named his wife Eve which signified that she as the mother of all living. The human race descended from two people, a man and a woman. A mother ape never could, never did, and never will produce anything but another ape. You decide for yourself whether it is more reasonable and scienetific to believe that man descended form a dumb ape or was created by an all powerful, all wise God. The theory of Evoltuin is he ultimate myth. Since humanity descended from the first man and woman God made longevity in this early time helped greatly to populate the earth. Afer the earth had become colonized there would no longer be the same need for such long life. Consider another fact. For the first thousasnd years of human histry, there was no written record of the events of the creation of the world by God and the creation of Adam and Eve. Longevity took the place of a written revelation. From the death of Adam to the call of Abraham was a period of about 1100 years. During that period a large population grew, and the truth about the creation and the events in the garden of Eden came down by tradition and word of mouth No written records existed. But no written record was necessary, for Adam lived almost a thousand years, and he could give eyewitness testimony of the events in the garden of Eden. Many others lived for near a thousand years.
But during this unique period of history there was no historian to hand down to children the experience and discoveries of their forefathers. Consequently, early mankind was slow to make progress and discover ways and means to improve the health, well being and comforts of life. It is astonishing that most of the advancement the human race has made has been in the last three or four hundred years. Thus the longevity of man supplied the place of books. Adam lived for nearly a thousand years, and was an eye-witness of the events in the garden of Eden. He personally kept alive the Biblical truth of man's creation for 930 years, and many others did likewise. The extended life of these men kept the knowledge of God alive from Adam to the flood, for approximately some 1500 years. God had His had His own good reasons for extending man's life hundreds and hundreds of years.
Annother distinguished man in this list who deserves s special mention is Mathuselah who lived to be 969. It has often been said that Methuselah was the oldest man who ever lived. Strictly speaking, we really don't know that is true. Among the multitudes who lived from Adam to the flood, of whom no information has been given us, for all we know someone might have exceeded in this respect. However, he is the oldest man on record and was older than any of the patriarchs mentioned in the Bible. Mathuselah either died in the flood or died in the year of the flood. There is one more man in this distinguished list of men who deserves special admiration and respect. Enoch was one of the world's great teachers during the most ungodly period of human history. Genesis 5:23,24 says, “All the days of Enoch were 365 years, and Enoch walked with God; and he was not for God took him.” The New Testament says that he pleased God and was taken away so that he did not see death and was not found because God had taken him(Hebrews 11:5). The book of Jude says he was the seventh from Adam and predicted the second coming of Christ from heaven with ten thousand angels to execute judgment on an ungodly world, like the ugodly world in which he was presently living. However, there are three very strange things that strike us in connection with the history of Enoch. The first is it is strange that so little is said about him. I have told you all that is said about him in the Bible. Another quite unusual thing that strikes us is the comparative shortness of his stay on earth. When others lived from 800 to a near 1,000 years yet his life span was only 365 years. Even though 365 years is equal to ten of our generations, still it was not so much as half the age of his contemporaries. One more thing that strikes us as strange is the outstanding life of goodness he lived among such an evil population. He taught the world of his generation by his life. He walked with God, and it is said he had the testimony that he pleased God. How that testimony came to him we are not told. Enoch must have been the light of the world of that day time shining in the darkness. There is no teaching like life teaching. He taught the world a great truth by his translation from earth to heaven. The Old King James version says, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death and was not found because God had translated him.” The words, “He was no found” suggests that people missed him and looked for him. Such a good man would be missed and doubtless that generation knew him well. How he was taken to heaven we know not, but I will tell you one thing we do know. Death is not a necessity of human nature. He did not see death, and all of us sin and come short of the glory of God; and Enoch was no exception. Yet he did not see death. We learn here a great truth. The translation of Enoch shows that if death is the law of man's nature, God is stronger than that law and can annul it at His pleasure. He annulled the law of death one other time when Elijah was translated and taken into heaven. A chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire; Elijah stepped into the chariot and a whirlwind took the chariot and Elijah to heaven. Elijah lived in an evil time similar to that of Enoch. Enoch showed the world in his day that there is a state of human existence beyond the present state of existence. Elijah showed Israel in the days of Jezebel that there is a life beyond this life. Jesus Christ put this fact beyond all dispute when He arose from the dead on the third day after dying for the sins of he world, and later was taken up to heaven in a cloud. In addition, Enoch showed his world and ours that there is a God in heaven who approves of goodness, no matter how much badness there is in the world..
I have one more thing to say about the first thousand years of human history. The longevity of this period of time contributed to their ungodliness, depravity and wickedness. The longer they lived the more worldly they became. There are many in this list whose lives were characterized by utter degeneracy. The goodness of God and the life of early man is in terrible contrast. These verses do not contain a record of the sins of which some of the men named were guilty. But it is well that sin is not always made known in its full extent in human history. Anyway, history cannot write the full wickedness of men; it is too dark for the pen to sketch. It would be too awful for the world to read. and contemplate. When men die it is best that the remembrance of their sins should be buried with them . It is well they are forgotten, but history will not altogether permit the sins of some men to pass from remembrance. Death is an absolute necessity and blessing for the well being of the human race. The fear of death somewhat restricts evil men, even in the worst of men. If the Nebuchadnezzars, Caesars, Herods, Neros, Alexander the Greats, Napoleons, Hitlers, and such like, if they should live for hundreds of years as in the first period of human history, life on earth would be like a hell on earth. As long as evil and depravity exist on earth, it is necessary for society that such people be removed by death. Death is a useful minister. The shortening of life by God was a blessing to the human race in more ways then one.
If you will take Deuteronomy 5 and read it for yourself, you will learn all we have of the human race for upwards of a thousand years. They were myriads of people just like you and me, and they had the same relation to each other, to God, and to the universe as we do. Each person had a history of his or her own, but there is no record of their personal lives. The only thing you will find about all these people is the mention of their names. In a real sense this is very sad. To leave this world in which we have lived, labored, enjoyed and suffered, and to be forgotten forever is unthinkable to our sense of importance. We are all important. Nobody is a nobody in God's world. Everybody is somebody. In spite of this fact, millions of people are forgotten as in a dream a few years after their death. If you will read this chapter, all that is recorded here of these great men, except Adam and Enoch, is they had sons and daughters. That's it; nothing else. What kind of people were they? Did they have a relationship with God?. Did they build any altars to the God of heaven?. Did they accomplish anything useful in life for themselves and their fellow human beings. Read it for your self. Not one thing is mentioned. They only had sons and daughters. Why is not something said about what they accomplished in life? Because nothing was accomplished. They were lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. These men lived hundreds years, yet it is said of each one of them, “And he died. God took them away in the flood. Evil was so horrible that God did not tell us how bad they were. Evil and violence were so great, God had to remove for the future welfare of the human race. All that God said about the depravity of the human race was, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thought of his heart was only evil continually”(Genesis 6:5). God was sorry that He had made man on the earth. Let us be thankful that He permitted the human race to continue after the flood.. However, most of the evil that is in the world today came into existence during the first thousand years of human history. Much of the human wickedness which produced the flood carried over into the post-flood world. Let us do what we can for the people of the world. In the 21st century. May it be said of us all that we did some good while we lived here and tried to make this a better world in which for our children grandchildren and great grandchildren to live their lives. Amen.