The Reality of Death & the Hope of Deliverance

Revisiting Faith in a Pandemic  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  55:57
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The Reality of Death & the Hope of Deliverance

Genesis 5 traces Adam's descendants through Seth to Noah. Enoch and Noah have a bit of description, the rest just record their age and death. This chapter isn’t normally the highlight of anyone’s Bible reading plan. Leupold, in one of the classic commentaries on the book of Genesis has this word of advice to preachers: “Not every man would venture to use this chapter as a text.”
The truth is every word of God is inspired, authoritative, and helpful when understood in its context. This passage will help us see the Reality of Death and the Hope of Deliverance.

No One* Gets Out Alive

Death was not part of Creation - vs. 1-2
Genesis The Second Account: Adam’s Line (5:1–6:8)

Moses reaffirms that when Adam and Eve were created, they bore the image of their Creator. Their intellect, emotions, and will were in perfect harmony with God’s, and they enjoyed perfect fellowship with him. Three times Moses refers to conditions as they were at the time of creation. The reason for this will become clear as Moses now contrasts man’s original perfect condition with his sad situation after he lost the divine image.

Death is caused by Sin - vs. 3-5
Genesis 2:17 NKJV
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Genesis The Second Account: Adam’s Line (5:1–6:8)

In sharp contrast with the preceding, we’re told here that when Adam fathered children, they bore their father’s sinful image. Adam had begun his life in a state of perfection. Every one of his descendants, with only one exception, began his or her life in a state of imperfection.

In these verses we can observe the three-step pattern Moses followed in describing the ten patriarchs from Adam to Noah. He did so by supplying chronological data about the life spans of these ten important people.

Moses first tells us how old the patriarch was when he fathered the next-named link in the messianic genealogy. He then tells us how long the rest of the patriarch’s life lasted and, finally, what the man’s total life span was. This three-step pattern is followed throughout the chapter with only two exceptions, which will be noted.

Chapter 5 does not make for exciting reading. Genealogies are not the sort of thing you pick up for the sheer joy of reading. But there are jewels for the taking in this chapter. The alert reader will note, for example, that with a single exception, each segment of the genealogy ends on this same note: “and then he died.” Here is the ultimate proof that humans have fallen from the high dignity that was theirs while they still possessed the image of God. In generation after generation, God’s warning in Eden (“When you eat of it, you will surely die”) proved to be true. Like the tolling of a bell at a funeral, the recurring phrase “and he died” is a forceful reminder of how true this statement is: Down through the years the death rate has remained the same: one per person.

We may be surprised that such an emphasis upon death occurs in the genealogy of chapter 5, while it is not mentioned in the fourth chapter. Would it not have been more fitting to have emphasized death in conjunction with the ungodly line of Cain?
The first thing we must recognize is the significance of death in the context of the book of Genesis. God had told Adam that they would surely die in the day they ate of the forbidden fruit (2:17). Satan boldly denied this and assured Eve that this was not so (3:4). Chapter 5 is a grim reminder that the wages of sin is death and that God keeps His Word, in judgment and in salvation.
But why not stress the relationship between sinfulness and death? Why not emphasize death in chapter 4? Let me suggest an explanation. In chapter 4 it would seem that death was not a popular subject. I believe that Cain found comfort in the fact that he had fathered a son in whose name he also founded a city. In addition, his offspring were responsible for great cultural and technological contributions. These ‘monuments’ to Cain may have given him some kind of comfort.
The sad reality was vastly different, however. As the writer in Proverbs has said, “The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot” (Proverbs 10:7).
The greatest tragedy was not that the men of chapter 4 died, for so did those of chapter 5. The tragedy is that the offspring of Cain did not survive the judgment of God, but that Noah, the seed of Seth, did. All men will die, but some will be raised to everlasting torment while the people of faith will spend eternity in the presence of God (cf. John 5:28,29; Revelation 20). Outward appearances would indicate that the children of this world ‘have it made,’ but the ultimate reality is vastly different.
Death did come to the godly seed of Seth. This is repeated eight times in chapter 5. But Enoch is a type of all those who truly walk with God. Death will not swallow them up. They will be ushered into the eternal presence of God, in whose fellowship they will dwell forever. Death can be looked squarely in the face by the true believer, for its sting has been removed by the work of God in the death of Christ Jesus, the ‘seed of the woman’ (Genesis 3:15).
Death humbles us

We are not too important to die

The city of Covina was founded in 1882 by Joseph Swift Phillips
The City of Covina was named by a young engineer, Frederick Eaton, who was hired by Phillips to survey the area. Impressed by the way that the valleys of the adjacent San Gabriel Mountains formed a natural cove around the vineyards that had been planted by the region's earlier pioneers, Eaton merged the words "cove" and "vine", and in 1885, created the name Covina for the new township.
The story goes on without us

Death exposes the emptiness and shortness of this world

Ecclesiastes 1:12–14 NKJV
I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.
The Preacher’s experience of futility sounds a lot like ours. But Ecclesiastes offers an explanation for futility that has mostly faded out of view. In short, everything is meaningless because everyone dies. It’s a message that comes through over and over throughout the book.
our accomplishments are like a large balloon that seems impressive, but death is the pin that pops it
Without the sobering perspective of Ecclesiastes, our people might assume they’re dissatisfied because they haven’t arrived yet. They’ll believe the key to their happiness lies in reaching the goals they’ve set for themselves, whatever those might be. They’ll medicate their symptoms by doubling down on their work, their buying, their pleasure-seeking, or whatever else. In other words, they’ll keep blowing more and more air into the balloon. But the problem isn’t what we haven’t achieved. It isn’t that we haven’t arrived. The problem is where we’re going.
Like Proverbs, Job, and many of the Psalms, Ecclesiastes belongs among the Bible’s wisdom literature. This genre explores what it is to live a good life in the world as it is. It profiles and cultivates an instinct for living well, that is living based on careful observations about how the world works. But Ecclesiastes brings a darker shade to the vision of life Proverbs pictures for us. The Preacher was a wise man who enjoyed the benefits of wisdom Proverbs teaches us to expect, and then some.
But now that he’s had everything he wanted, he’s no longer wondering how to make the most out of life. He’s wondering what’s the point, where’s the gain, if you have all the benefits of wisdom but still end up dead? What does it even mean to live a good life if every life ends in the same place as a rat or cockroach or a common housefly (cf. 3:19–22)?
Ecclesiastes 3:19–22 NKJV
For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust. Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth? So I perceived that nothing is better than that a man should rejoice in his own works, for that is his heritage. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?
When you experience futility, you’re experiencing the power of death to topple what you thought to be substantive and secure. Ecclesiastes was written to help you learn what the Preacher learned, and sooner rather than later. It’s specifically aimed at the young, those whose lives are mostly out in front of them, because when we’re young, we’re most susceptible to self-deception. We tend to live heavily invested in what tomorrow will bring. We think of our lives like ladders we’re climbing rung by rung. Finish school. Pay off loans. Find a spouse and have some kids. Buy a home. Then buy a better one. Get tenure. Make part- ner. These goals seem so real, so substantive and worth- while. They especially seem substantive and worthwhile before you reach them.
Ecclesiastes sets the context in which the resurrection of Jesus makes sense. It prepares us to see why everything is vain if Jesus is not alive. So, by contrast, it helps us see how everything matters if Jesus is alive.
1 Corinthians 15:14 NKJV
And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
He’s telling the Corinthians that if Jesus is not alive again their faith is just as vain as everything else. It’s as vain as pleasure, as vain as money, as vain as work. It’s just another balloon full of vapor, waiting to burst in time.
the things that matter to us in life feel futile because they matter too much—because we look to them for meaning that death won’t erase, and they can’t deliver. As foundations for lives of substance, our work, our money, our pleasure-seeking will always remain empty. We trust them in vain. Paul has argued the same test applies to Jesus—if he can’t survive the threat of death, our faith in him is futile and empty too. We may find his talk on loving one another inspiring or sentimental.
But what if Christ has already defeated our enemy for us? What if death is not our enemy to fight? What if the purpose of our lives is no longer aimed at overcoming the grave? What is our purpose then? What is the use of the things that matter to us in life?
We must give up on any work we might do to establish names for ourselves.
Real meaning and eternal living come only through Jesus
Isaiah 25:6–8 NKJV
And in this mountain The Lord of hosts will make for all people A feast of choice pieces, A feast of wines on the lees, Of fat things full of marrow, Of well-refined wines on the lees. And He will destroy on this mountain The surface of the covering cast over all people, And the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken.

2. Faith is the Only Way Forward

“Death says you are less important than you’ve ever allowed yourself to believe. The gospel says you are far more loved than you’ve ever imagined. You are not too important to die. But you are important enough that God gave his only begotten Son, so that if you believe in him you will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).17 You will not be defined by death.”
Seth’s line of descendents is marked by faith
There are two distinctive things about Enoch: He walked with God (mentioned twice); and, he did not die; God took him.


(1) A walk with God is begun by faith. The world takes note of those who achieve in science or business or entertainment. It makes celebrities of notorious criminals. But God takes note of the person who walks with Him by faith.
Hebrews 11:5–6 NKJV
By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Enoch believed God; God rewarded him accordingly.
The starting place of a walk with God is to come to Him in faith. You must trust in the sacrifice He has provided for your sin in the Lord Jesus Christ, just as Abel, by faith, offered to God a bloody sacrifice, and was accepted on that basis (Heb. 11:4). You must put off any trust in your own goodness or works and rely solely on Christ’s death as the just penalty for your sin.
(2) A walk with God is helped, but not guaranteed, by a godly family. The people in this chapter are related to one another, as are the people in chapter 4. The contrast of the two families, Cain and Seth, shows us the importance of godly families. In just seven generations from Adam through Cain we come to the arrogant, violent Lamech. In seven generations from Adam through Seth we find the godly Enoch and, later, Noah. It’s not certain, but Enoch could have begun his 300 year walk with God after the birth of his son, Methuselah (5:22). Often the birth of a child makes us think about the kind of life we’re leading and the kind of example we’re going to set for our children. God uses that to bring us to repentance. God often works through families to call people to Himself.
There’s both good news and bad news in this observation. The good news is that any person can be the start of a godly line that will be used to turn many from their sin. Although you may have come from a godless family, if you will walk with God, your children and grandchildren can have the privilege of being raised in a godly home, where the love of Christ reigns. Of course that means that those of us who have had the privilege of being raised in a Christian home have a great responsibility to carry the torch ourselves and to hand it on to our children.
That leads to the bad news--that it only takes one generation to turn a godly family into a godless one. At the time of the flood (four generations from Enoch), Noah and his sons were the only ones on the face of the earth whom God saw fit to save. Enoch and his descendants had other sons and daughters than those mentioned here by name (5:22, 26, 30). Apparently they followed the way of the world, not the way of the Lord. Consequently they all came under God’s judgment in the flood. Matthew Henry notes, “Grace does not run in the blood, but corruption does. A sinner begets a sinner, but a saint does not beget a saint” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary [Revell], 1:47).
Did you know that the famous writer, Ernest Hemingway, came from a solid Christian family? His parents and both sets of grandparents were evangelical Christians. As a boy he sang in the choir, tithed his allowance, and read through his King James Bible. Yet he rebelled against his upbringing and became notorious for his profligate, godless life. Lonely, bitter, and depressed, he shot himself at age 61. His descendants are thoroughly pagan.
But, thankfully, it can go the other way. Hudson Taylor, founder of the great China Inland Mission, traced his spiritual roots through his mother back to his great-grandfather who was converted from a worldly way of life. Today, Taylor’s great-grandson is a prominent missions leader. Millions of souls have been won to Christ because Taylor’s great-grandfather established a Christian home.
What about you? Are you walking with God and raising a godly family who will walk with God? If you are single, I cannot overemphasize the importance of your marrying a mate who will join you wholeheartedly in walking with God and raising up children who walk with God. But even then it is not easy. That leads to a third observation:
(3) A walk with God is distinct from the crowd. Enoch stood out in his day. He lived at the same time as the lustful, boastful murderer, Lamech (they are both the seventh generation from Adam). Jude 14-15 records what Enoch prophesied: “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” He warned the ungodly of God’s coming judgment.
That probably didn’t make Enoch the most popular fellow of his day! People like to hear upbeat messages on how they can succeed and be happy. They don’t like to be confronted with their ungodly ways. But the closer a man walks with God, the more he realizes how ungodly his own heart is, and how ungodly his own generation is. As he grows in holiness, he stands out as distinct from the crowd.
Thus a walk with God is begun by faith; it is helped, though not guaranteed by a godly family; it is distinct from the crowd. Finally,
(4) A walk with God is not spectacular. Can you imagine how we would write the biography in our day of a man who was translated bodily to heaven without dying? We certainly wouldn’t title it, “The Man Who Walked With God.” We might call it “The Man Who Flew With God.” We’re so caught up with the sensational and the shallow, but we ignore the things that are truly sensational in God’s sight. Walking with God for 300 years in the midst of an ungodly generation is what counts with God.
Walking is a graphic word picture of the spiritual life. It is not the quickest or flashiest way to get someplace. But it’s the way God ordained. Walking is a steady progression over time toward a goal (“Pilgrim’s Progress”). To walk with God means that our lives are going the same direction God is going. We are yielded in obedience to Him.
Walking with God also pictures intimacy and fellowship. Walking with a friend is a time for talking, for getting to know one another better, for sharing the things that are happening in your lives. Walking with God is a daily process of growing more intimate with God as you go through life. Of course you have to do your own walking. Someone else can’t do it for you. You must take the initiative, effort, and time necessary to walk with God. Enoch’s life shows that if we walk with God ...


It’s interesting that the most godly man in this genealogy has by far the shortest life--365 years. (The next shortest is Lamech--777 years.) Walking with God is not a guarantee of a long life on earth; it is a guarantee of eternal life with God. In Enoch, as Calvin points out, there is “an instruction for all the godly, that they should not keep their hope confined within the boundaries of this mortal life” (Calvin’s Commentaries [Baker], 1:232).
Enoch is also a type of those who will be alive at the Lord’s coming and who will be taken directly to heaven without dying. This is the blessed hope of every believer, to be caught up “in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:13-17).
Those who do not walk with God do not have the hope of eternal life, but only the fear of judgment. Enoch prophesied of God’s coming judgment, and he did it through more than just his preaching: He named his son Methuselah. The most likely meaning of that name is, “When he is dead, it shall come.” What does that mean? Apparently God revealed to Enoch that He was going to send His judgment upon that godless world. Enoch responded by naming his son, “When he is dead, it shall come.” What would come? God’s judgment! If you figure out the chronology of the ages listed in Genesis 5 (assuming no gaps), you discover that Methuselah died the same year that God sent the flood to destroy the earth.
Do you know why Methuselah lived longer than any other person in recorded history? Because his life is a testimony of the patience and grace of God, who “is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). In the context Peter is discussing the flood and the certainty of God’s judgment. Peter is arguing that just as men then scoffed for almost 1,000 years at the fact that judgment had not come, so in the last times men will scoff and say that the Lord is not coming. But, just because judgment is delayed does not mean that it is not certain. Rather, it reveals God’s great patience and mercy. Repent before His certain judgment falls!


The greatest enemy is not death
Matthew 10:26–28 NKJV
Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Application Questions:
Should we think often about our own death? Is this a biblical focus?
What does it mean to “walk” with God?
Are we guaranteed that if we raise our children properly, they will grow up to follow the Lord?
What is the most important ingredient in raising godly children? What is the most difficult aspect of raising godly children?
Christians today are too caught up with this world and not caught up enough with the world to come. Agree or disagree?
Genesis 5 traces Adam's descendants through Seth to Noah. Enoch and Noah have a bit of description, the rest just record their age and death. This chapter isn’t normally the highlight of anyone’s Bible reading plan. Leupold, in one of the classic commentaries on the book of Genesis has this word of advice to preachers: “Not every man would venture to use this chapter as a text.” Well, tomorrow I will attempt to use Genesis 5 as the text of the sermon!
The truth is every word of God is inspired, authoritative, and helpful when understood in its context. This passage will help us see the Reality of Death and the Hope of Deliverance. See you Sunday!
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