Gen.5 What Happens When You Die?
Redeemer Church Sunday School
Genesis Class Semester 2
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Gen. 5 “A Theology of Death”
Crucial Question: What is Death, Why do we Die and what happens after death?
From vs. 5 on there is a phrase repeated throughout the chapter, what is it? “…and he died.” We need a theology of death, because death hunts each of us. The very young do not understand death. The adolescent and younger adult think death could never happen to them. By the time you get married and have kids, a job and a house payment, you look forward to watching your kids grow up…you start to be more cautious and maybe fear death a little. You purchase life insurance, you start taking better care of your health and watch what you eat. In your older adults there is a constant fight to ward off death with various medicines and procedures and check ups. Finally, when you are aged and infirm, sick and in pain, you welcome death if you are a believer. I heard an evangelist a long time ago say that you are never ready to live until you are ready to die. Death is what each one of us faces; humans are 100% mortal. Unless the Lord comes, we all will face death. Here in Gen. 5 is a sad litany: and he died, and he died, and he died.
What Is Death?
In Genesis 2:15-17 The Lord promises Adam that if he eats of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he will surely die. You have to ask at this point, how did Adam know what death was? Did God explain it to him in some kind of a logical manner? Many people assume that even the animals did not die at this point in world history. Rom.5:12 indicates to some that death came from man’s sin and Rom.8:19-25 may support this. But I think the 5:12 passage is speaking of man’s death, not animals. If there was no death for animals, including insects, fish, etc., then there would very likely be an overpopulation problem soon. But if animal death was common even in the Garden, when God warned Adam about death he would have a point of reference that would make sense. Grudem, p.292-293 seems to support this interpretation. Those who deny that animals died before Adam’s sin must also ignore the great amount of fossil evidence and must also believe in a young earth creation. It is perhaps another element of being created in the image and likeness of God that man, and man alone was created with the ability to live forever, should he remain obedient and eat of the Tree of Life.
The judgment of God upon sin is sure; man was created for eternity, but now is mortal; his end is certain. Heb.9:27 “it is appointed unto man once to die.” Rom.5:21 “sin reigned in death”. The reality of death also runs through 1Cor.15. Notably, if Christ is not raised, then our faith is futile and we are still in our sins and there is not hope beyond the grave and death is the final victor.
In existentialist philosophy there is an attempt to deal realistically with the reality of death. To the existentialist death robs humans of purpose and hope. The universe is a cruel joke in that we can conceive of eternity but in the end we lie moldering in the grave. And even at the cosmic scale the existentialist who understands entropy knows that the universe will ultimately either go out like a candle or collapse into itself with the opposite of the Big Bang. Mankind, if we do not succeed in blowing ourselves up in this world, will ultimately perish with the universe. Hopeless. Death awaits us all. Therefore we should eat, drink and be merry; go for the gusto because we only go around once in life.
Death then, is the gradual outworking of original sin. God promised death to Adam if he disobeyed and now death reigns. Adam did not die immediately, his spirit died, he was separated from God and needed God’s grace, needed to be saved, but his body lived on. And for a long time too! But nonetheless he dies. His body, though genetically pure, eventually wore out and he died. As 1 generation passed another the principle of death became stronger and stronger; men gradually did not live as long and life itself became a struggle. Death was the new normal.
What is death? In Matt.10:28 and Lk. 12:4f Jesus tells us to not fear those who kill the body, but fear him who has power to cast us into hell. In other words, he contrasts physical death with spiritual, and the spiritual death is worse! Eccl.12:7 gives us a very good definition- “and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” The body stops functioning- the heart stops beating, the brain waves cease. The soul departs from the body. All the testimonies of those who have died but been resuscitated indicate leaving their body, going up and being able to look down and see themselves and those around them, before going towards the light. The people I have been around who were dying could see angels, hear the music and sense the spiritual realm very strongly. As far as these folks who die on the operating table or whatever, and see the light and see dead relatives or see Jesus- I tend to believe their stories to a degree. What you don’t hear are the stories of those who die and go to hell and come back. I have a book that relates those stories written by a heart surgeon and they are very realistic and frightening.
At death you immediately go to your eternal destination. Jesus to the thief on the cross said that this day you will be with me in paradise in Luke 23:42f. Paul says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord in Phil 1:20-23. In the little church I pastored for so long, several of the people believed that a person’s spirit hung around for about 3 days so that you could “feel their presence”. I had a deacon who practiced necromancy, talking with his dead grandfather, being visited by his dead grandfather, etc. When I confronted him with the scriptures on this, he was not real receptive.
Is there an intermediate state between death and the final judgment? I think based upon the clear teaching of the two passages above (Lk. 23:42f and Phil. 1:20-23) combined with Gen.5:24; 2Kings 2:11; Matt.17:3; Lk.16:19-31; we see that to leave this body or this earth is to be present with the Lord or in the fires of hell. Yet, there is also the clear teaching of the resurrection of our bodies in 1Cor.15 and the analogy of falling asleep is used repeatedly in both the OT and NT. The idea of Soul Sleep ultimately fails because of the overwhelming evidence in Scripture. Similarly, there is zero evidence in Scripture for Purgatory. The clearest statement of Purgatory by the Catholic Church is from the Decree of Union adopted by the Council of Florence in1439: “souls are cleansed by purgatorial pains after death, and in order that they may be rescued from these pains, they are benefited by the suffrages of the living faith, viz: the sacrifice of the Mass, prayers, alms, and other works of piety.” The council of Trent reinforced it. The only scriptural support comes from 2Maccabees 12:43-45.
There are only two destinations after death: heaven or hell.
According to Paul is our enemy, the last enemy to be defeated in 1 Cor 15. But notice that Jesus fully participates in our life from birth to death. We have a Lord who died and overcame death.
We live in a culture of death. The widespread acceptance of abortion, the high suicide rate, the way that so many young couples live together without marriage and deliberately choose to remain childless for selfish reasons (I know that some godly couples do not have children for other reasons) the homosexual culture, and the declining birth rate in many western countries all points to a culture that is self destructing. For the lost person, death has no positives. They may think that death will give them rest, but after death comes the judgment.
Now let us return to our exposition of Gen.5
Vs. 6-20- Here is a long list of names but no action, no details. Why? Most of us are anonymous, small people; we are never famous, we simply are born, we live our lives and die in obscurity. But God knows us; God knows you and me. Nothing escapes his notice. To Him no one is obscure or insignificant. Though there are billions of us, he knows us each by name and all the details.
Vss.21-24- Enoch walked with God. This means that Enoch lived in intimate communion with God. What does it mean to walk with God? Notice that Enoch walked with God and all his days were 365 yrs. Does that number mean anything to you? Do you think maybe Moses was signifying something with that number?
Kenneth Matthews, writing in the NAC, p.313, “Walked with God is metaphorical and indicates that Enoch had a lifestyle characterized by his devotion to God. The sense of walk halak …indicates a communion or intimacy with God. It is reminiscent of Adam’s initial experience…and is the same wording that typifies Noah…Moreover, the Abraham narrative has similar language where God exhorts Abraham to godly faithfulness (17:1; 24:40) …For the Psalmist to walk before God means life and prosperity.”
1) God centered, Christ focused like Heb. 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus
2) Mark 12:30 “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.”
3) Forsake sin.
4) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly- hear the word, read the word, study the word, memorize and meditate on the word.
5) Pray without ceasing
6) Rejoice always
7) Walk by faith not by sight
8) Walk in the Spirit putting on the whole armor of God
9) Love your neighbor as yourself.
VSS 28-31- Lamech names his son Noah, meaning rest, comfort.