Genesis 5

Did it hurt to be Adam? The last we hear of him is when he fathered Seth. After that, says Genesis 5:4, he lived for 800 more years.

Eight hundred years.

What was he doing during this time?

I think he was thinking. I think he was reflecting on the reasons for his sojourn, his centuries-long exile within a fallen world. I think he was talking about what he had seen—about the garden, about God, about the animals, about the day when Eve appeared. And, with pain that had turned to wisdom the way lava turns to rock, he talked about the choice. The fall. He talked about the way that did not have to be taken, and the extent to which the world was not what it ought to be.

But who would listen? Everyone in his line had been born into this world. They knew no other. They were busy—overwhelmed, in fact—with trying to live in this world and make at least some part of this world their own.

Adam lived 800 years after Seth was born. He lived 930 years total. We know this from Genesis chapter 5, which catalogs the timing of births and deaths in exacting and seemingly pointless detail. Seth had Enosh at age 105 and died at 912 (verses 6-8). Enosh had Kenan at age 90 and died at 905 (verses 9-11). And on and on. Why?

These numbers tell us something. They hint at a story. Specifically, they hint at the story of Enoch.

The early members of the line of Adam had such long lifespans that they lived to see their great great great great great grandchildren. Enoch was the exception. At 365 years, he had an unusually short time on earth relative to his kin. What’s more, he is the one member of this line singled out to avoid bodily death. Genesis 5 takes care to tell us how different he was, saying, “Enoch walked with God, and he was not there, because God took him” (verse 24).

You will need a scratch pad or calculator to confirm what I’ll tell you next. Because Enoch’s lifespan was shorter than the others—365 years instead of eight or nine hundred—his life ended out of sequence. Use the Genesis 5 numbers to add up Adam’s age at the birth of each of his descendants and you discover this fact: Adam lived to know Enoch. You will also discover that after Adam died, Enoch—his four-times great grandson—was the next to leave the world.

I think someone listened.

I think Adam was loved by God and had a divine purpose in the world, even after the world had fallen. I think Adam was kept in the world, kept on his sojourn, until he could fulfill his purpose. That purpose was to get someone to listen to him, to get someone to believe in what he knew, so that what he knew would remain in the world after he was gone.

That person was Enoch.

As I say, I “think” these things. Scripture’s details are sparse. But those sparse details contain a chronological connection between Adam and Enoch that provides context for a fuller connection between these men. The timeline of when these people lived relative to one another hints at the possible origin of Enoch’s special understanding, his walk with God.

Enoch turned to Adam. He sat down before him and he listened. More than that, he sought the sense and import in what Adam was saying.

What did Adam have to share? What did he know that Enoch accepted?

Primarily this:

Adam knew how good things could really be.

Enoch “walked with God,” says Genesis 5:24. His walk through the world was a walk in the presence of God. How could this be? The world was still the world. But Enoch was a different Enoch, because of the knowledge he now possessed. Enoch lived his life fully illuminated by a courageous trust in the fullness of how good things can be, how good the blessings are that God is willing to give us.

That is faith.

Adam is gone. He took his memory of the garden with him. We can’t do what Enoch did, turning to Adam and sitting before Adam to try to slowly comprehend how rich and full and magnificent the experience of life was made to be. We can’t do for Adam what Enoch did. Enoch turned Adam’s pain to gold by choosing the God who made the garden, taking this God into his heart and living with this God, no matter what the broken man-made outer world brought him. Enoch did not experience death after he made this choice, because he no longer could. Death no longer had any hold on him.

We can’t do what Enoch did. We have no Adam to turn to, no Adam to speak with who can transform us with this knowledge.

Except we do. We do have this person.

Unknown millennia later, the Apostle Paul came to understand something about the world's Redeemer that he wove into his letters. Adam was the pattern of someone who was to come, he said in Romans 5:14. Jesus Christ, he wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:45, is the new Adam.