I was reading in Genesis 5 today and the number of years these men lived stood out to me. Not because I had any questions about it or I need some explanation…but because the Flood Narrative (or Noah story) really changes the world, particularly the human lifespan. Now, this isn’t odd or surprising because God announces that He will not “contend with humans for such a long time” and God limits their mortality to 120 years. Of course Noah is 600 years old when the flood happens so the text is telling us that perhaps the change will happen in the generations to come. Moreover, other than Noah’s three sons, all other persons are now dead because of the disastrous flood.
Well, the book of Genesis moves on from the flood reporting the families of Noah’s three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Then we have the Tower of Babel narrative and We arrive at the genealogy that will produce the main patriarch of budding Israel—Abraham, or Abram as he is introduced. A couple things about the genealogy of Abraham is that the lifespan of each generation gets shorter and shorter and the men are having their sons earlier that those before the flood…and I mean decades earlier. All of this to say…Abraham is 99 years old when God says that he will have a son with Sarah. I’m just observing that if this was pre-flood, Abraham would have just been getting started, but it is post-flood and the thought of having children at that age is completely laughable to Sarah…(and maybe like most men, completely frightening to Abraham).
I wonder sometimes what it is that we tend to scoff at, laugh at, or react in a way that shows we know our world better than God does. We know the rules and we abide by them. “Who has kids in their nineties,” Abraham says. And we say all kinds of things that just a few generations back would be either unknowable or completely foreign the world before us. Yes, it did exist. There was a world before computers, cars, smart phones, internet, and other things… The world changes, it did in the time of Noah and it continues to do so right now. We can go back to the very beginning of the Bible and realize that the world is not meant to be the same or stay the same. Change is inevitable, but in the midst of the world in which we know, we need to trust that the purpose of God, the calling of God, may not make sense in the world that we know—but it makes sense in the world God knows. How does a single blot on the line of history laugh at the one who holds the pen and draws the line of history?
God who is from beyond us and comes to live with us, help us to trust in you beyond the world we see.
I want to share thoughts, insights, and scriptures that lead us in the direction of Christ.