Genesis 5-The Blessed Life of Nomadism (Nomads)

Genesis 5:1-5, 18-24;

This is the written account of Adam’s family line.

When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind”[a] when they were created.

3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. 4 After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 5 Altogether, Adam lived a total of 930 years, and then he died.

18 When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch. 19 After he became the father of Enoch, Jared lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 20 Altogether, Jared lived a total of 962 years, and then he died.

21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. 22 After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. 24 Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

The Apple that fell a little further from the tree

Genealogies tend to be quick reads for me as the list of names and repetitive writing style used in conveying Biblical family trees is often dry and overwhelming to me. That being said, these trees are still important documents, and if we take some of these under a microscope we may end up finding some nuggets of truth.

Of the genealogy we read in Genesis 5, there was one particular figure that stood out to me: Enoch.

I’ve recently been encouraged to go through the apocryphal writing of the Book of Enoch. It’s a rather illustrative and fascinating “Old Testament” Book that tells of Enoch and the visions he had, such as those of heaven, hell, the underworld, angels, demons, and the like. It’s at times a difficult read, but you might be surprised what you find in there.

It is no surprise to me after going through Enoch that his name is given some attention in this family tree. It’s actually a curious thing to me how of all the sons of Adam Enoch is the only one mentioned as walking faithfully with God. We aren’t given details in this family tree as to what that looked like, but I thought we’d hone in on that little detail.

Reading through the laconic descriptions of this family tree is a bit disappointing at first, having to go through 7 generations before we hear something holy and good about Adam’s kin. Finally we hear about Enoch who walks faithfully with God, though it took us seven generations to get that accolade. As a father, that detail is a concerning one. I’m no more perfect than Adam, and to hear that even Seth is given no accolades and not even his grandchildren is a sobering message to me of how truly difficult it is to lead a blameless life.

walking faithfully

But what of this walking faithfully? Does that make Enoch blameless? Righteous? Perhaps neither, though the word choice of “walking faithfully” ought to grab our attention. The text could have merely described Enoch as “faithful” or used an entirely different word. Enoch is perhaps the first man given any accolades, and what is praised so simply is that he “walked faithfully”.

Walking implies movement, it is the opposite of stagnancy. There’s a number of possible interpretations of what that may have looked like. Perhaps Enoch left the settlements of his forefathers and traveled. Perhaps his relationship with God was not that of rote ritual and professed belief, but action. Perhaps he endeavored to adventure in his relationship with God, further than any of his forefathers. Perhaps he simply took walks and gave some sacred time to God in quiet contemplation.

What seems to be a constant theme of the noble Biblical characters is that of travel. Abraham left his father’s home and traveled to different countries and lands, hearing from God as he traveled. Joseph left his father’s land and became something great in Egypt. Moses and the Israelites ventured for a long time then after Egypt. Jonah travels to a distant land to preach repentance. Jesus, the Son of God, seems to have never had much stagnancy at all since His Birth and infancy, and this is repeated throughout the Gospels as Jesus tells us “a prophet is never welcome in his own hometown” and “foxes have dens, and birds of nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest.”

But let us venture all the way back to the beginning, to perhaps the first and most subtle “praise” we see in the BIble: Abel. We might forget this in the detail of the story, but Abel’s profession is not one of stagnancy. Although Shepherds had pens, this profession was largely nomadic given the needs of the herd to continue to find greener fields to graze. Abel had signed up to a life of adventure and movement, and with said movement came a great deal of risk, a great need for one to trust in God. What if he entered into lion territory, or stumbled into a land struck by famine or plague? Abel’s life is not one of comfort, but of noble danger, of constant movement and vigilance in order to keep his herd safe and well fed.

Not so with Cain. While we never really understand why Cain’s sacrifice does not gain much acceptance, I think we can infer here that there is something less noble about Cain’s profession by comparison. Cain is a farmer, the primordial “planner”. Within this life, Cain can form a schedule of rising and rest, can structure out the work needed to work the soil, fertilize, and nourish his crop, and he has the seasons to inform him when it’s time to plant, to reap, to rest. Cain’s life is one we can all appreciate, because it is a life of routine, of normalcy, of comfort. Most of all, Cain does not need to travel for his work…on the contrary…he needs to stay still.

modern nomads and farmers

This is not meant to be a criticism on work that keeps us sedentary or in a routine; there ought to be praise of schedules and routine, especially when it assists our health and our spiritual lives. That being said, there is a challenge in this life that one grows less reliant on God, finds fewer reasons to trust in His power and protection. Sure, we can pray for good crops and good weather, but even the wise farmer saves up for dry spells, and we all learn in this sedentary way of life to be self-reliant and perhaps even lazy in our spiritual lives and our personal growth as human beings.

And so, of all the accolades we read in the Old Testament, the first we hear given to mankind is that Enoch “walked faithfully with God”. Enoch may have not been a shepherd, but I think it’s very likely that this man stepped outside of his comfort zone, trusted God to go on some sort of adventure, and through this journey grew closer to God and grew as an individual. Enoch is remarkable not for winning any outstanding battles, not for appearing a certain way, not for having a certain amount of offspring or wealth. Enoch stands out merely because he walked faithfully with God.

To close, we can’t forget about the “faithful” adjective here. Faith carries a connotation of conviction and reliability at the same time. When someone is “faithful” to a spouse, they come through on their vow to their spouse, they invest in that union, they do not compartmentalize that person to specific times or needs. Enoch examples the spousal relationship we are meant to have with God as “co-yoked,” a relationship that requires of both parties to lean on the other, to come through on their part, and to stick it through even when the going gets tough. More over, like any good relationship, it does not become comfortable in the routine. Any good relationship will require effort to keep things “exciting” or “fresh.” This too is where the kinetic nature of Enoch’s life is important: we do not sit or stand in stasis with our loved one, but rather walk, move, try new things, and learn to trust the other along the way.

Some things to consider today:

  • Which parts of my life are sedentary or comfortable? Are those aspects necessary to remain as such?
  • What parts of my life invite growth or newness? How have they changed me?
  • What adventure or travel would I find edifying to partake in?
  • What venture or goal could I set for myself to bring some life, some movement, some growth into myself?
  • What relationships could use some more “movement” or trust? 

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