The Age (the ages) of the Patriarchs
Today’s lesson is meant to be kind of a “fun” lesson, with several interesting facts to think about. And to begin with, I want to read a verse that’s a bit hard to comprehend. But it kind of gets our minds going, and gets us thinking.
It’s 2 Peter 3, verse 8, and here’s what it says; “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord, one day, is as a thousand years, and a thousand years, as one day.” Time really doesn’t matte to God does it? I can’t imagine how a thousand years, can seem just like one day. And even if you’re having a really bad day, it sure doesn’t seem like a thousand years does it? But to the Lord, it’s all the same. We simply can’t fathom the way God sees things.
How about this analogy, from James 4:14; “..For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.” A day is like a thousand years, and a lifetime is but a vapor.
You might remember several months ago, I told how an old man who lived to be over a hundred, was asked what advice he could give to everyone. And he simply said; “Don’t blink, ’cause a hundred years goes by faster than you think.”
But what if our lives were ten times longer than they are? What if our average lifespan was somewhere around 900 years? And the oldest of us lived to be almost a thousand yeas old? Hard to imagine isn’t it? But yet, that’s the way it was in the beginning of time. In the age of the first of the Patriarchs. From Adam through Noah, and even beyond. For the first two thousand years of time, you might say that 9 hundred years was an “average” lifespan.
And when we look at the ages of some of the Patriarchs mentioned in the bible, some interesting, and sometimes amazing facts come to light.
For example, the bible tells us in Genesis 5, verse 5, that Adam (the first man) lived a total of 930 years. And Adam’s genealogy goes on and on throughout that 5th chapter of Genesis, and a lot of names are mentioned. But here’s something interesting.. Did you know, that only 126 years, separated the death of Adam, from the birth of Noah? Compared to 930, 126 years isn’t all that long.
Noah was born in the 1056th year after creation, which would have been in about 2944 BC. In the genealogy of Adam, Noah is listed as the ninth generation after Adam. Now remember, “a generation” back then, was typically over a hundred years. But here’s the names of the eight generations that came between, Adam and Noah.
They are Seth, the son of Adam; Enosh, the son of Seth; Kenan, the son of Enosh; Mahalalel, the son of Enosh; Jared, the son of Mahalalel; Enoch, the son of Jared; Remember that Enoch, was the one who was taken by God, when he was ONLY 365 years old. That would be like the equivalent of a 35 or 40 year old today. But Enoch was so faithful to God, that Genesis 5, verse 24 says; “And Enoch walked with God; And he was not, for God took him.”
You know, we don’t know what God had said to any of these men that are mentioned here. Like what instructions that God might have given them to follow. We know a little bit about what God said to Adam, and to Eve, and even to Cain and Abel. But we don’t have a clue how God might have instructed any of these other men to conduct themselves. But we do know this; Whatever God had told Enoch, Enoch aligned his life so perfectly with those words of God, (or at least as perfectly as a human can do) that the bible says.. “he walked with God”. He walked alongside God so closely, for 365 years, that God said; You don’t even belong here; You’re coming home to Me!
But when Enoch was 65 years old, he begat Methuselah; And as you remember, Methuselah was the longest living, of all these men named in the bible. Methuselah lived a total of 969 years before he died. And then we have Lamech, the son of Methuselah; And by the way, Lamech was the shortest lived of all these men. Lamech died at the age of 777 years. But at the age of 182, Lamech begat Noah.
And here’s an interesting couple of verses. Genesis 5, verses 28 & 29 say; “Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and became the father of a son. Now he called his name Noah, saying; “This one will give us rest from our work, and from the toil of our hands, arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed.”
The bible tells us, in Genesis 3, verses 17, 18 & 19; “Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying; ‘You shall not eat from it.’ Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”
These men toiled with their hands, in order to sustain themselves and their families, and they fought the thorns and thistles, for literally hundreds and hundreds of years! But Lamech said that his son Noah, would give mankind rest from their from their work, and from their toils. The name “Noah” in ancient Hebrew means.. “rest” or “comfort”.
It’s interesting though, that the bible never really tell us whether or not Noah did indeed give mankind a “rest” from the curse of the ground. After all, to this day, the ground still yields thorns and thistle. Some people have speculated that Lamech gave Noah that name in anticipation of Noah talking over the labors of their immediate family, thus giving the family “rest”.
Other have speculated that it was an unfulfilled hope, and that Noah never did end up giving anyone “rest and comfort” from their labor of working the ground. After all, mankind was virtually destroyed during the lifetime of Noah, not “comforted”.
And still others have speculated that Noah did give “rest” to mankind in their labors, by inventing new tools, and new methods of tilling the ground, and raising crops. The bible does say in Genesis 9, verse 20; “And Noah began to be an husbandman, (literally, “a man of the soil”) and he planted a vineyard.”
So maybe Noah did indeed make great strides in farming. But it’s still just speculation. Others have also speculated that since it was after the flood, and during Noah’s lifetime, that God allowed mankind to eat the flesh of animals for their diet, and not rely solely on vegetation, that this brought relief to mankind, from some of his toil with the ground. It’s all just speculation; But yet, the meaning of the name “Noah” is interesting, isn’t it?
Now let’s get back to the eight generations of men, leading up to Noah. But I’ve got a question for you related to this.. How many of you have grand children? How many have great-grandchildren? How about great-great grandchildren? Well, think about this.. Adam lived long enough to have great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren! Now that’s pretty amazing! Adam saw eight generations of grandchildren. I don’t know that he literally “saw” all those eight generations of children, but he was alive during their birth. Adam’s son Seth, saw 7 generations of grandchildren; And so did his grandson Enosh see 7 generations of grandchildren.
Now here’s something that I found interesting; Remember how I told you that Adam died 126 years before Noah was born. Well, Adam’s son Seth died only 14 years before Noah was born; But all the rest of the offspring of Adam, that are mentioned here, were still living on the earth, when Noah was born. Now of course that would exclude Enoch, because God took Enoch; Or I’m sure he would have been alive too.
Here’s another little interesting tid-bit of information that the bible gives us; Noah’s father Lamech, who had the shortest lifespan of all these Patriarchs (777 years).. He died just five years before the flood. The bible says in Genesis 5, verse 30; “Then Lamech lived five hundred and ninety-five years, AFTER he became the father of Noah, and he had other sons and daughters.” 595 years. And Genesis 7, verse 11, tells us; “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.”
It makes you wonder about all those other sons and daughters of Lamech.
Here’s something else that I wonder; According to the genealogies listed in the bible, Lamech was born in the 874th year after creation. Remember how old Adam lied to be? 930 years old. Lamech was alive for 56 years before Adam died. Did they know one another? Adam’s son Seth didn’t die until Lamech was 168 years old. Did they know one another?
How about Lamech’s father, Methuselah? Did Methuselah know, his great-great-great-great grandfather Seth? They lived at the same time, for 355 years! Did you know that Enoch, the one who “walked with God” whom God took, was living on the earth for 308 years while Adam was still alive?
It’s too bad we don’t have any information about the ages of the wives of all these men. How long did they live, and how did their lives intertwine with one another?
I was reading an article from February 2019, on life expectancy in men and women. At that time, the average life expectancy of men was only 76.3 years, while the life expectancy of women was 81.4 years. That’s a five year difference. But then I read a more recent report that actually showed a drop, for both men and women. As of 2020, it dropped to 75.1 years for men, and 80.5 years for women. But that actually widened the difference between men and women to 5.4 years. And these differences are not just in this country, but they’re world-wide. And not just recently, but the same has held true for decades.
So then we could say that on average, a woman’s life would be about 7% longer than a man’s. What if we applied that figure to the life spans of men and women in those days before the flood? What of we applied it to Methuselah’s life, the longest living man on record? 7% 0f 969 years, is another 67.83 years. Almost 68 years. So then, theoretically speaking, the longest living woman, just might have lived 1037 years. That’s a long time! But that’s nothing but curious speculation.
But here’s something that we can know, from what the bible has revealed. Methuselah, lived 969 years. Do you what year he died? Well, with a little bit of figuring, I found out that Methuselah died in the 1656th year after creation. Earlier I mentioned that Noah was born in the 1056th year after creation. And do you remember the scripture that I read, from Genesis 7, verse 11? It said; “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.”
The sixth hundredth year of Noah’s life, was the 1656th year after creation, the exact year that Methuselah died. Now isn’t that interesting? The longest living man in history, died the very same year as the great flood.
Now, there’s only a very few things that we know about Methuselah. We know when he was born, and how long he lived, and when he died. We know he was the grandfather of Noah, and we know that he was the son of Enoch, who walked with God, and was not.
But that’s really all we know about him. But I’m going to conclude something, but it’s only my conclusion. I’m going to conclude, that Methuselah was a faithful man. For the first three hundred years of his life, he was subject to the influence of a man so faithful to God, that the bible says, he “walked with God”. And then Methuselah’s grandson, Noah, was the only man out of his whole generation, that the bible says; “found favor in the eyes of Jehovah”. (Genesis 6, verse 8)
And so if my conclusion is correct, that indeed Methuselah was faithful to God, then I would also have to conclude that God waited until Methuselah had died, before He brought the flood upon the earth. Noah’s father died five years before the flood, and his grandfather died the same year as the flood. The bible is certainly an interesting book!
Here’s one more thing to think about before we close. When exactly does the Patriarch Abraham come into the picture? Abraham, the “father of the faithful”; The man to whom the promise was given. When was Abraham born?
I’ve mentioned that Noah lived for 950 years. He died 2006 years after the creation. Abraham was born 58 years BEFORE Noah died! He was born in the 1948th year after creation, or in approx 2052 BC.
Have you ever thought of Noah and Abraham, as being “contemporary” with one another?
So those are our “fun facts” for today. I hope you found some of them interesting.