In Junior Confirmation, we read through the Old Testament. We didn’t get very far before I was having trouble. In Genesis 5, we hit “the begats.”
“The begats” is a listing of the generations from Adam to Noah. They were repetitious and boring. Someone is born. They live for awhile, do some stuff, and have kids. After that, they live awhile longer, and then they die. In the King James Version, that part about having kids was worded, “he begat” sons and daughters. That’s why I call them “the begats.”
What could be the use of all this repetitive information about people with foreign names so long ago? I couldn’t see it.
Something happens to us as we get older. We realize we are going to a lot of funerals. The age of the people we know is bringing on death all around us.
Thanks to Confirmation instruction, those nine repetitions of “and he died” in the begats echoed back to me sitting in a funeral one day. Maybe, I thought, God made those nine repetitions of “and he died” to try to help me see a truth, the bitter truth of death. Death is a truth. None of those nine people made it out of this world alive.
The begats were still boring, but not as useless as I had thought. They hold truth that is best to accept while still young. That’s why they have you read it in Junior Confirmation.
That set me to thinking. Was there something more of value in those boring begats? There was. Standing out like a lone tree on the prairie, there was one generation that did not end with, “and he died.” Suddenly, something was different. “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” Enoch made it out of this world alive.
God took Enoch off the earth alive to give us a hint, a foreshadowing of what Jesus would later fully explain, the resurrection. With the bitter truth of death, God shows the sweet truth of the resurrection. The begats were becoming more useful to me, and less boring. And there was still more.
Before God took Enoch, Enoch walked with God. That’s the opposite of death. When Adam and Eve were in the Garden, it was God’s custom to walk with them in the cool of the day. But after they sinned, they tried to hide themselves and not walk with God. How was Enoch able to walk with God?
Hebrews 11:5-6 tells us how. “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him.” By faith Enoch walked with God. By faith Enoch pleased God. By faith Enoch made it out of this world alive.
This whole series of generations in the begats began with Adam. God already had promised Adam and everyone descending from him that He would give his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins, to redeem us from the curse of death, and give us new life. Jesus is the “seed of the woman” as God called Christ when He preached the Gospel to Adam and Eve. (Genesis 3:15) This Gospel, known from the time of Adam, included the hope of the resurrection, as confessed in that very ancient book, Job.
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
Enoch heard the Gospel, believed it, and by faith he received the grace of walking with God.
The bitter truth of death. The sweet truth of the resurrection. The gracious truth of walking by faith with God. I no longer call them the boring begats. They are the blessed begats. Blessed truth is found everywhere in God’s Word, even in the begats.