GENESIS 5: THE FIRST EPITAPH
HOW OLD WAS THE OLDEST MAN IN THE BIBLE?
“He walked faithfully with God.”
This is the Bible’s first epitaph.
It remains the world’s greatest.
Genesis chapter five serves to move the story from Adam to Noah. It’s a chapter easy to skip. After all, it says the same thing over and over:
When NAME had lived X years, he had a son,
then he had more children,
then he lived a total of Y years,
finally he died.
Eight times we read this formula:
- Adam and Seth,
- Seth and Enoch,
- Enoch and Keenan,
- Keenan and Mahalalel,
- Mahalalel and Jared,
- Jared and Enoch,
- Methuselah and Lamech,
- Lamech and Noah.
But when we come to Enoch, the formula changes. Enoch’s life isn’t just about living and fathering. He alone in this list of humans is described as one who “walked faithfully with God.” He walked so closely with God, so intimately with God that, he alone in this list of humans is described as one who did not die. Instead “he was no more, because God took him away.” The author of Hebrews thus points to Enoch as one of those supreme examples of piety (Heb. 11:5). Interestingly, this word “walked” is the same word used to describe what God was doing with Adam and Eve in the Garden (Gen. 3:8). What Adam and Eve have lost, Enoch has regained.
WHAT WILL BE YOUR EPITAPH?
Will it merely be “He/she lived”?
Will it be “He/she fathered/ mothered”?
Or will it be “He/she walked faithfully with God?” Will your headstone stand out, in a sea of others, as the one adorned with these ancient words?
“Father, thank you for wanting to walk intimately with us in this life. Help me to walk closely and faithfully with you today, and every day.”
Imagine attending your own funeral. Imagine three of your closest friends standing to speak about you. What will they say? Will one or more say, “He/ she walked with God”? What steps can you take today to make that a reality?
Chris is a spiritual director, the author of seven books, a father to Jordan and Jacob, a husband to Kendra, and has preached for the Highland Church of Christ since 1998.