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Noah’s at the bottom of the list!

[Genesis 5]

Lists often seem boring at first glance, but in the Bible every list can yield interesting things if we look closely.  In Genesis 5 we find such a list, a short list of ten men, who died.  What could be more boring, right?  Yet I find it interesting.  For instance, the chapter starts with: “This is the written account [or book] of Adam’s line”, yet the bloodline is traced only through only one of Adam’s sons, Seth.  Genesis 5:4 tells us that “After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.”  The obvious question is: If Adam had other sons, then why does Gen 5 trace “Adam’s line” through Seth only?

The answer may be found in the last few verses of the chapter, vv28-32, where the list stops at Noah and his three sons.  Then we see that only Noah’s line continues after the Flood that God sent to cover the whole earth.  For all human life, apart from Noah’s family, perished in the Flood.  That includes all of Adam’s other living descendants; their story ended at the Flood.  After Gen 5, the rest of the Bible is about the descendants of Noah.  What a key role Noah played in world history!  Every human being alive today is a descendant of Noah; think about that.

But what do we know about Noah?  The Bible does not say what he looked like.  Physical appearance is apparently not important enough to be recorded in the Bible.  Do we know what Jesus looked like?  The Bible does, however, record some important details about Noah.  The first thing we are told is that his father, Lamech, chose his name, Noah, which sounds like the Hebrew word for “comfort”, because “He will comfort us in the labour and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground that the Lord has cursed” [Gen 5:29].  Thus we glimpse the hard life Noah lived as a farmer.

Next we are told that Noah became a father after the ripe old age of 500 [Gen 5:32].  Adam became a father at the age of 130, Seth at 105, Enosh at 90, Kenan at 70, Mahalalel at 65, Jared at 162 Enoch at 65, Methuselah at 187 and Lamech at 182 [note this well!].  The average was 117 years.  Noah, however, was over 500 when he became a father, more than four times the average age for attaining fatherhood in his era.  Should we say, “Poor Noah”? 

However, wasn’t it a miracle that Noah became a father when he was a very old man?  God can do what seems impossible to Mankind.  Did this miracle give Noah the confidence to do the colossal task of constructing a huge ark that God commanded him to make?  What do you think?

Was Noah what Bible scholars call a “type”, a precursor pointing to Abram/Abraham becoming a father at 100?  Indeed he was, for the Bible account about Noah flows straight into that of Abraham!  In fact, the account of Abraham also starts with a list of descendants [Gen 11:10-26].  And because we already know that God gave children to Noah after he was 500 years old, we can smile smugly when we read the account of Abram waiting to be a father at 75.  What is Abram’s 75, or 100, compared to Noah’s 500 year wait?

Gen 6 tells us more about Noah.  In a world filled with wickedness and violence [Gen 6:5, 11], “Noah found favour in the eyes of God” [Gen 6:8].  For “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God”.  “Righteous”, “blameless” and “walked with God” sum up the kind of man Noah was, and the kind of person we should strive to become. 

Noah was so righteous that he was one of only three outstanding examples of righteousness held up by God in Ezekiel 14:14, 20.  How hard it must have been for Noah to steadfastly remain righteous and blameless amid the wickedness and evil deeds going on all around him.  Through it all he clung to God, and walked with Him.  Say, who was the other famous descendant of Adam who walked with God?  Wasn’t it Enoch?  God “took him away” [Gen 5:24], and Paul tells us “he did not experience death” [Hebrews 11:5].  Though Noah also walked with God, God in His wisdom and sovereignty did not take Noah away. But, assuredly, Noah will walk [or fly!] with God through eternity.  And we share the hope of doing so too.  We have so much to look forward to!

Lamech was 182 years old when Noah was born.  “Noah was 600 years old when the floodwaters came on the earth” [Gen 7:6].  That made Lamech 182+600=782 years old at the Flood.  But Gen 5:31 says Lamech lived 777 years.  So Lamech was not in Noah’s Ark because he was not on the passenger list God gave Noah, but also because he was already dead for five years.

It is also interesting to compare the pre-Flood bloodline list in Gen 5 with the post-Flood list in Gen 11.  The people in the first list lived for many hundreds of years: Adam for 930, Seth 912, Enosh 905, Kenan 910, Mahalalel 895, Jared 962, Methuselah 969, Lamech 777 and Noah 950.  The average was 912.  Let’s look at the list after the Flood [Gen 11:10-32]. Arphaxad lived 403 years, Shelah 403, Eber 430, Peleg 209, Reu 207 Serug 200, Nahor 119, and Terah 205.  Immediately after the Flood, lifespans fell to an average of 412 years, less than half the pre-Flood levels.  After a few generations, this was halved again.  And in recent years, lifespans have been less than half of that level.  Some bright Christians with Science and/or Medical backgrounds should perhaps look into why lifespans dropped; then perhaps we will know how to reverse the downward trend, if it is in God’s will.

Before the Flood, the average age for fathering a son was 117, as we saw above.  Of those born after the Flood, Arphaxad fathered a son at 35, Selah at 30, Eber at 34, Peleg at 30, Reu at 32…., you get the idea. The Flood changed the environment so drastically that men were becoming fathers at about a third the age of their pre-Flood ancestors.  Were men reaching sexual maturity or becoming sexually active at a much earlier age?  Again, knowing why could be very useful.

By the way, did you notice that every person, right from Adam, had a name; and many, if not all, the names had a meaning?  So when we see movies or read books in which the earliest men went about speaking in grunts, let’s have a good laugh, for we know that it wasn’t so!

Now, Chinese [or Lunar] New Year comes in a few days’ time.  Our God is Lord over every kind of New Year, be it Jewish, Gregorian or Chinese.  I was surprised to find from the NIV Exhaustive Concordance that “New Year” cannot be found in the NIV Bible.  The people of the Bible were not required to celebrate the New Year.  Many people today look to a new year to make a fresh start on a clean slate.  But one need not wait for a new year to come around before making a new start.  A person can do that anytime, by accepting Jesus Christ as his or her Saviour.  Thankfully God will not send another worldwide flood to wipe out sinful Mankind and make a fresh start. 

May God bless your new year, no matter when you start it.


Atomic Leow Chuan Tse, Grad Dip CS (summa cum laude), M Div (summa cum laude).

Dr Atomic Leow has been Biotechnology Lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Senior Biotechnology Lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic, and Course Manager and Principal Lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic, where he pioneered the General and Medical Biotechnology courses. Currently, he heads the Biotechnology Specialist Unit of the Temasek Applied Science School of Temasek Polytechnic. Dr Leow is the church evangelist of Queenstown Baptist Church and a prison counselor. His life verse is Philippians 3: ‘I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.’

Thesis Summary: Hell – The Case for Eternal Punishment

The traditional view of eternal punishment in hell is the most widely attested in church history and it remains the dominant understanding among evangelical Christians. However, in recent years, a number of well known evangelicals have abandoned the doctrine of conscious, eternal punishment in favor of various forms of “annihilation” views, particularly conditionalism, which teaches that those who die apart from saving faith in Jesus Christ will be ultimately destroyed. This dissertation undertakes an in-depth examination of the main issues in the debate, based on a thorough survey of the teachings in the Old and New Testament. It concludes that the arguments of the annihilationists and conditionalists are unconvincing, guilty of speculative distortion and based on dubious biblical exegesis. This dissertation provides strong biblical evidences to support the historic Christian doctrine of eternal punishment.

We congratulate Atomic on his five awards:

  • Dean’s Prize (M Div)- awarded by Mount Carmel Bible-Presbyterian Church

  • Greek Prize - in memory of the late Rev Quek Khee Swee

  • New Testament Prize - in memory of the late Dr Benjamin Chew

  • Applied Theology Prize - in memory of the late Elder Ng Ngian Kwang

  • Field Education Prize - in memory of the late Pastor Harry Hughes

We hope to feature our other graduates next week. Praise the Lord with us for each one of these who worked hard and  completed their studies.

News Bits

  1. For an update on Dr Quek please visit our website. If you will like to drop him a note, you may send to Mrs Emily Quek at emily@zionbpc.org.sg. Emily will print them out for Dr Quek to read.

  2. Chapel speaker on 25 January will be Ms Choy Wai Fann from Bethesda Hall (Ang Mo Kio).

  3. Closure for Chinese New Year. The Library will be closed on Chinese New Year’s Eve 28 January, Saturday. The Library and Office will resume operation on 1 February, Wednesday.

A Blessed Birthday to… 

Mr Tan Song Chua 23/1
Mr Kim Hak Soo  23/1
Ms Lim Ing Sin  23/1
Ms Tham Choi Foong  24/1
Mr Zebedee Lee  24/1
Ms Chen Sheau Ing  24/1
Mr Ng Zhi-Wen  25/1
Ms Han Huan Mei  26/1
Dr Tee Kim Leong  26/1
Mr Ng Kok Ann  26/1
Ms Teo Li Lin  26/1
Mr Yap Giau Peck  27/1
Ms Tan Li Diang  28/1
Mr Jeffrey Lim  28/1
Ms Lim Fang Ting  28/1
Mr Paul Chua  29/1

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This page was updated on 20 Jan 2006. 
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