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May 14 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

May 12, 2013 – Genesis 5

For A Healthier Spirit, Walk

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. Genesis 5:1-2

INTRO: Sprinkled throughout the Bible are these little teasers (or appetizers)

A short passage or verse that jolts our spiritual imagination
– these are usually hidden in unexpected places
• and they appear without elaboration or explanation
○ which means, it really is left to our imaginations to figure out the meaning and implications of the thought
– we’ll come to one of those “thought-bombs” today

Vv. 1-3, The “starting gun” for the human race

Genealogies do not make for the most interesting reading
– in the previous chapter, we found the brief genealogy of Cain
• there, a different form was used to create the genealogy
○ that helps us to see how genealogies are selective, not exhaustive
• the point: authors used genealogies to serve a purpose
– in Genesis, genealogies usually mark a transition between stories
• the distance from Adam to Noah spans approximately a thousand years
○ this is a big jump in story time–how will we get from one to the other?
○ with a genealogy

There are a couple of details in the first three verses I want to note briefly:

  1. God’s image as seen in humans is both male and female
    – I assume that God’s nature transcends gender
    • but when his image is filtered through humans, it splits into these two reflections (or refractions)
    • no theology is complete that doesn’t honor the dignity of both
    ○ and that both are subsumed in God
  2. Adam passed on to his descendants the same image and likeness in which he was created

Vv. 4-20, Let’s try to understand genealogies

Why were they important? and Why did biblical authors use them?
1. The most obvious use of genealogies was to support a family’s legal claims (property, honor, and rights–cf. Ezra 2:61-13)
2. The genealogy was a chain that anchored a person in the world
– for Israel, the genealogy wasn’t history so much as their collective memory
– identity is knowing where you’ve come from and where you’re going (cf. Jn. 8:14)
3. A living connection with the past–and to important events
– the genealogy is not just a legal or impersonal connection
– these are “my people” in this genealogy – I share their experience
• the genealogy says we really do stand on shoulders of our ancestors
• we are truly their sons and daughters
4. Time moves in a line; at different points people appear and disappear
– we cannot change our place in line–move backward or forward

Fundamentalists seem to be always at war with the present. The dispensationalists attempt to fast-forward to the end, having as little to do with the present as possible. The counter-culture fundamentalists try to roll back the clock to a happier, more innocent time (even if its innocence was mythical and superficial). Of course, we can sympathize with them, because in one generation we went from the culture of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson to Ozzie and Sharon Osborn.

– God placed us here, in this historical moment and “for such a time as this” (Es. 4:14)
5. The genealogy reminds me, I am not the center of history
– other people have gone before me and others will come after
• the world wasn’t waiting for me
– even now, lots of other people exist
• I’m not the center, but I am connected to all these people

I read this week that the creative person can keep in view both the whole category and at the same time, individuals within the category
– they can also observe an individual without losing sight of the category
– which for me raises a question:
Do genealogies give due recognition to individuality of each person?
• No – and it can be helpful to notice how our ego handles that
○ does it resist being identified with “the herd”? The “masses”?
• it may do us good to melt into the crowd sometimes
Francois Fenelon noted that the door to the kingdom is narrow and we must  “make ourselves small”

. . . I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith (Ro. 12:3)

– that is to say, God assigns us our various roles

Does everyone – have an equally important role in shaping history?
– No – most names in genealogies are forgettable
• but you can’t get to the great ones without the small ones in between
– on the other hand, we’re not placeholders
• no one gets lost in the crowd

In Philippians 4:3, Paul addresses Euodia, Syntyche, and Clement by name, then refers to “all the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the book of life.” It is enough if our names are registered in the book of life

Vv. 21-24, Read every verse in chapter and you’ll feel its rhythm

A person was born – matured – had a child – lived on – had more children – died
– the rhythm of the genealogy reminds us of two things
• God’s warning, “in the day that you eat from it, you will surely die” (2:17)
• the curse – they did not have access to the tree of life
– in fact, in verses 28-29, Lamech seems to be trying to soothe the ache of the curse

Once we get into the chapter’s rhythm, it is all the more noticeable when the rhythm is broken
– v. 22, does not say, “Enoch lived x number of years” as with all the others
• but “Enoch walked with God three hundred years”

What can this mean?
– that God had Enoch’s attention and total affection
• that Enoch’s primary interest was God
• that he wanted God more than anything else – a recognized name, riches, etc.
○ everything he did, he did with God

And God “took him” — fascinating!
– one day his family and friends went looking for him, but he had disappeared
• the only explanation they could give for his disappearance was, “Well, he walked with God”
– but what excites me more than God taking Enoch, is that a human person could actually walk this close with God

We are not told, “Enoch was a monk”
– we make a wrong turn when we assume that a life of pure devotion can only be lived in monastery or a cave
• that the only sacred activities are prayer, Bible reading, worship, rituals
– it isn’t what we do, that determines how closely we walk with God
• but our state of mind and heart in whatever we do
• and for whom we do everything
– we don’t have to withdraw from life to walk with God
• we walk with God and he draws us to himself
• and he does not allow the rhythm of our genealogy to define us

Walking with God means that we are awake to the mystery of normal life
– what is that? That another possibility exists than what we see
• another reality is present — in the crashing wave, the bird’s wing, the weed’s blossom
• there is another way to go about our normal routine
– that the mystery is present everywhere
• and if we look for it, we’ll find it

Out of all these names, only one person gets taken
– this tells me, God makes something available to everyone, but only a few people grab it
– why aren’t more of us developing this part of ourselves?
• maybe, like Lamech, we’re just trying to find a little comfort in this life
○ we’re not looking for more than surviving the curse
○ but the fact remains, there is more!

CONC: I’ve recently learned something about genetics

That even though there are physical traits we can’t alter (yet)
– psychological and behavioral traits are not fully predetermined
• e.g., a child may have a genetic predisposition for bi-polar disorder
○ but conditions in his environment or his own choices may avert its development
• one neuroscientist put it this way: some genes can be turned off or on
– we’re given a particular game board, how we play the game is up to us
• cheerful/gloomy, active/inactive, deep/superficial
– we can change what goes on between the neurons in our brains
• here, in Reflexion, that is one thing we are intent on doing
○ this is the definition of repentance — a change of mind that changes the person

All of us got here by way of our genealogies
– but our story doesn’t have to be a repetition of our ancestors
• at any point in a genealogy, someone can “walk with God”
• we can’t change our place in line, but – we can get out of line

If we ask, “What does this look like?” or “How do I go about it?”
– the answer is likely to be, “Use your imagination” or
“Why don’t you drop everything and find out?”

It may help if you do something that helps draw your attention to God and holds it on him
– plant a garden and enjoy it (!) with him
– light a candle, or incense – write a poem, draw a picture; anything creative that fully engages your attention
– make a small fountain and listen to the water’s song
• pull your mind out of the march of your genealogy
• turn off your iphone and your computer for a day
○ tell yourself each morning, “I’m going to look for beauty today,” “I’m going to look for mystery”
○ and let the world surprise you — let people surprise you

Listen . . . God is asking you, “Wanna’ go for a walk?”


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  1. paul Udell / May 14 2013

    Epigenetics are above genetics. Genes are not self-emergent or self actualizing.
    The environmental signals control gene activity. These new ideas are changing our perspectives and
    our lives.

    Yesterday I read an article about a professor at U.C.I., who is creating a new microscope
    to see molecules and electrons and they are not as we all have thought.
    He said ” If you can see, you can understand.”
    To me this speaks to Christianity. Little by little as our perspectives are changed and we begin to see

  2. Ingrid / Jun 12 2013

    Right now I remember that I am connected to the One Life, the Life of the Divine.

    The seeds that I plant for this full moon cycle are declarations.

    I declare and accept that this year is the most wonderful year of my life so far.

    This month the most wonderful month and this moment the most wonderful moment.

    I declare that intimacy begins with me. My feelings are messengers of truth that I honor with my words. Knowing what I want is effortless and asking for what I want spontaneous.

    I declare that love is my birthright. Perfect love, joy and peace flows through me now and always connecting me with family, friends and creation.

    With a heart filled with gratitude I give thanks for all is well.

    Thanks for your Reflexion Chuck. It took me to where I need to be.

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