Turn in your Bible to Genesis 5:1-32. Here, Moses recounts for us the original creation, and then he tells us about the effects of sin in the human race and records for us the godly line from Seth to Noah. The chapter begins with the phrase, "This is the book of the generations of Adam," reminding you that it is a self-contained unit. There is no way that we can possibly do justice to all the truth that God has recorded in His words here, so we’ll concentrate on three things.

I. Our fallen human self-image must comprehend dignity and humility.

First of all, in verses 1-3 Moses recounts the original creation. He reminds us that God made man in his image, and that teaches us that our fallen human self-image must comprehend both dignity and humility. Look again at these words: "In the day when God created man, he made him in the likeness of God." Moses begins the chapter by reiterating the fact that humans are made in the very likeness of God.

Notice in verse 2 we are specifically told that male and female are called “Adam,” Hebrew for “man.” This reminds us both of the headship of Adam, the man, and that both male and female share in the image of God. Notice also in verse 3 that we are reminded of the unique sonship that God has destined for us. Just like image and likeness had been used for our relationship to God, so those words are used for Adam's son's relationship to him. This calls attention to the dignity with which God had invested man, and in this we see a foreshadowing of the glory that we have as adopted sons and daughters of God through Christ.

There's much application to be gleaned just from those few verses. First of all, that each of these men and women in the line of Seth are remembered by God shows how He cares for His people. That there are only brief outlines of the patriarch's lives teaches us that, in the end, the only thing that mattered was that they were in the line of belief and had children in the line of belief. Our lives are filled with busyness, but this puts perspective on where our focus should be as believers in the rearing of covenant children. Finally, this passage reminds us what we have lost by the fall. We were created in the likeness of God, but now we enter this world in the likeness of fallen Adam. As we consider ourselves as fallen humans, we must not only remember the dignity with which we are still invested but also the proper humility we ought to have before the Lord.

II. God preserves a people for Himself.

Then look at verses 3-32. We learn from some of the emphases in this passage that God preserved a people for Himself even in a time of wickedness. Let's look at four of these people: Seth in verses 3-5, Enoch in verses 21-24, Lamech in verse 29, and Noah in verses 29 and 32.

Seth is the son of Adam. Notice how deliberate God is in carrying out His promise to Adam and Eve that there would be a seed which would rise against the serpent. The hope in both Cain and Abel was disappointed, but finally Seth appears, and the line of salvation is set in motion. We often have to wait for an answer to our prayers, but God arrives with His promises.

In verses 21-24, Enoch is the one who walked with God and was no more. “Walked with God” is a phrase in the Old Testament which reminds us of the intimacy which the righteous have with God. We also see a stark contrast in the spiritual posture of lines of Cain and Seth by comparing Lamech in the line of Cain to Enoch. Compare Genesis 4:23-24 to Jude 14-15, which records for Enoch’s words. The contrast between these two lines is apparent: one curses with his mouth, and the other utters words of judgment and warning about wickedness.

Notice also Lamech of the line of Seth in Genesis 5:29. Lamech the Sethite is the father of Noah, and he says in verse 29, “This one shall give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the Lord has cursed.” Lamech is remembered for his words just like his counterpart in the line of Cain, but the Sethite Lamech is remembered for his longing for relief from the curse of the fall, and so he named his son Noah, which means rest.

So we turn to Noah in verses 29 and 32. He is the one who would be the Lord's instrument to bring in a measure of rest. Noah's mission was something far more radical than his father, Lamech, even envisioned. There would be a judgment far greater than any judgment that had ever been visited by God to this point in the history of the world. But out of that judgment Noah's family would be destined for the restoration of the second world. So we learn again the lesson that God preserves for Himself a people, even in their time of degeneracy.

III. No sin will go unpunished.

Finally, we see from verses 5-31 that no sin will go unpunished. The consequences of sin are gravely chanted over and over again in the phrase, "and He died." Death and its constant appearance in this passage remind us of God's judgment against sin. Satan had said you shall surely not die. God proved him wrong repeatedly in Genesis 4 and 5. And remember, because of their age, Adam and Eve would for hundreds of years witness the effect of their sin in the world. We think how wonderful it would be to live that long, but can you imagine living for nine hundred years having your wife say, "This is all your fault," and Adam saying, "Yes, but you gave me the fruit"?

In this passage which constantly repeats the refrain, "and he died," there are but two rays of hope: the ray of hope in Noah, and the ray of hope with Enoch in verse 24: "God took him." God received Enoch to Himself because he regarded God more than man. He walked with him all the days of his life. If we would follow in the line of Seth, then we must care more about what God thinks than what man thinks, just like Enoch. Notice how the posterity of Seth maintains the cause of religion even in the midst of increasing degeneracy. And there is no worse contagion than bad examples. And in the midst of a world full of bad examples, the line of Seth had held up the worship of the true God and the hope of the godly line.

If we are to follow in the way of Seth, we must hope beyond the boundaries of this mortal life. Does not the story of Enoch remind us again that this is not all there is? The very sparsity of these accounts also reminds us of this. All our work, labors, writings, industry--gone. Never more to be again. But our families and our faithfulness to God, remembered by God forever. May the Lord help us to walk with God in the line of Seth.

The Rev. Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III is Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary. He can be reached at 601-923-1600 or by email at jhyde@rts.edu.