Lamech, the ninth from Adam
Yes, I am Lamech, son of Methuselah. I was told that you wished to speak with me, and now is a good time, as the family reunion of the 10 generations of Adam will not start for a while.
From what I was told, you, who lived as a witness of earth’s last hour, would like to know more about what happened between the creation and the flood. That is a tall order – more than 1,650 years of the world’s history!
I remember when I was a young man, 56 years old, Adam died. It was a shock for all of us. It’s true that other people had already died – some by violence, others through accidents, and some of the Cainites of natural causes. But to have the man whom God Himself had formed, who had been in Eden and eaten of the fruit and leaves of the tree of life, who was robust and had never been sick, who had lived for 930 years, suddenly cease to live, was a difficult blow. During those 56 years, however, I had ample opportunity to spend time with Adam.
He was impressive – twice the height of men at the end of earth’s history, strong and vigorous, with a ruddy countenance and bright, penetrating eyes. What vast knowledge he had! You could ask him about anything, and he could give you an answer. It wasn’t that he had a vast library of books. We didn’t have any, because they weren’t needed. We never forgot anything.
What I remember most were the experiences that Adam would relate. Eden was a piece of heaven. Everything was peaceful and beautiful. Adam and Eve conversed with the angels and cared for the garden. In the center of Eden was the tree of life, with fruit that looked like apples of gold, speckled with silver.
One day, though, everything changed. Adam and Eve knew about the test of the tree. They knew about Lucifer and the great battle in heaven. They knew that they should not become separated. But Eve was not satisfied and began to doubt what God had told them. The serpent, colored like polished gold, was eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve was curious, intrigued, fascinated. She took the fruit and ate it. She then took some to Adam, as the serpent suggested.
Adam understood immediately what had happened and was convinced what the consequences would be. He told Eve that he was quite sure that she had been talking with the enemy. But he did not want to lose Eve, that beautiful woman, so he impulsively decided to share her fate. He seized the fruit and ate it.
They had to leave Eden
I remember as a lad having looked in on Eden from the entrance of the garden. If you haven’t yet done so, you will have to take a walk and see it. It is not far from the Holy City.
Outside of the garden, the effects of sin began to be felt. The climate became unpredictable. Thorns appeared on some of the most beautiful plants. Adam told me that when they saw the first leaf fall from one of the trees, they wept as if they had lost a cherished friend.
Cain and Abel
After a number of years, Adam’s first son was born. Adam and Eve were quite surprised – the little person at first did not have teeth, and could neither walk nor talk. They named him Cain. They thought that he would be the Messiah. After a time, another son was born, and they named him Abel.
As Cain was growing up, he began to complain bitterly that he could not enter Eden. He especially felt rebellious when the family would come before the cherubim at the entrance to the garden to offer sacrifices. Abel, however, maintained that God was merciful in allowing their parents to continue to live, even after their disobedience.
The words and the life of Abel irritated Cain, and one day, in a fit of rage, he silenced him. How sad that Cain, the first new life upon the earth, should be the first to take life from the earth. Adam and Eve lost both of their sons that day. Cain fled to the east, where he lived in the land of Nod near the river Euphrates. It was a less fertile land. In Nod, he built a fortified city, which he called Enoch.
The descendants of Cain began to multiply. Many, like Irad, his grandson, lived clumped together in the city, while other parts of the earth were nearly desolate. One of Cain’s descendants, Tubal-Cain, became an expert in metals, and began, after a time, to manufacture implements of warfare from bronze and iron. Another, Jubal, invented various types of musical instruments, although he did not use them for holy purposes.
The Cainites tried to forget about God. They constructed magnificent buildings – palaces, temples, formal gardens, and broad avenues shaded with fruit trees. They made idols and planted groves of trees, which they dedicated to their idols. The Cainites also lost their reverence for the Sabbath.
Continually, they tried to exceed one another in decorating themselves and their dwellings, utilizing gold, silver, and precious stones. The result of this intense rivalry was violence and bloodshed.
Adam was 130 years old when his third son was born. They called him Seth, “the Substitute.” He was of a more noble stature than either Cain or Abel, and he resembled Adam more than any of his sons. Through him began the lineage of the patriarchs to which I belong.
Seth was 105 years old when his son Enos was born; in the days of Enos, those descendants of Seth that loved God began to be known as the “sons of God.” For centuries, they would meet at the entrance to Eden to worship God and to offer sacrifices.
The son of Enos was Cainan, and the son of Cainan was Mahalaleel, the first of the patriarchs to die before reaching the age of 900. The son of Mahalaleel was Jared, and Jared was the father of my grandfather Enoch.
Sons of God and of men
In those years, the descendants of Cain began to spread out from the land of Nod. They invaded the plains and valleys where we, the descendants of Seth, were living.
Cain’s descendants were called the “sons of men.” Due to their lifestyle, the Cainites had begun to lose vitality, nobility, and stature. And as they lost the divine likeness, they began to die at an earlier age. Many were polygamists. Lamech, the Cainite, for example, had two wives – “Ornament” and “Jingle,” Ada and Zilla. The multiplicity of wives, however, brought much unhappiness and perversion, and was one of the great sins that brought the wrath of God upon our world.
The descendants of Seth, however, were loyal to God’s principles and conserved their strength and stature from generation to generation. Thus, the descendants of Seth, the “sons of God,” came to be viewed as giants by the Cainites.
When the Cainites invaded our land, they entered with violence, carrying armaments of war; many of the Sethites, a peace-loving people, had to flee to the mountains. After a time, however, some of the Sethites ventured down again to the plains and began to associate with the Cainites. They saw that the daughters of the Cainites were beautiful, and many of the Sethites took wives from among the daughters of men. They chose them, not because of virtue, but based solely upon sensual attraction.
The sons originating from these unions were also of great stature and strength, like their fathers. But no one instructed these children in the way of the Lord. They grew up undisciplined, rebellious, steeped in vices, and without moral principles. The result was a great apostasy.
When my grandfather Enoch was born, the seventh generation, Adam was 622 years old. Enoch was thus able to learn from Adam the sad story of the fall of man and of the precious promise that God’s Son would save our fallen race. Adam, who had conversed with God in Eden, also instructed him in the law of God.
My grandfather was an exceedingly wise man, with a brilliant, cultivated mind. Yet he was meek and humble, courteous and compassionate.
Enoch also possessed moral courage. He separated himself from among the descendants of Cain, and went to live in the mountains. He wanted to place his family in as pure an environment as possible. He did not wish to mingle daily with the wicked, who would openly boast of their transgression of the law of God. He feared that he might be affected by their infidelity and lose his reverence for God.
Up in the mountains, Enoch spent much time alone, in meditation and prayer. He prayed that he might know the will of God and fulfill it perfectly.
Enoch was 65 years old when his son Methuselah was born. Although during those first years Enoch had loved God and had honored His commandments, after the birth of his first son, he reached a higher experience. As he began to understand the depth of a father’s love and of the complete confidence of a helpless infant, he began to comprehend more clearly the love of God and his relationship toward his Creator. That was the beginning of his walk with God.
You must understand that Enoch’s walk with God was not that they would wander together. Nor was it a trance or vision. Enoch, in fact, never saw God face to face.
Rather, his walk with God was in all that he did. In the concerns of his daily life, he would always ask, “Is this the way of the Lord? Is this acceptable to God?” To be like God was the great desire that filled his heart. Truly, he came to have the mind of Christ.
One thing, though, concerned Enoch. The Cainites would often boast, “There is no recompense for the just nor punishment for the wicked.” And the sons of God would ask, “Of what gain is it that we have feared the Lord and kept His commandments, since death is the end of us all?” Even Enoch himself wondered, “What really happens to a person who dies?” He prayed to God about this dilemma, and God responded.
In vision, Enoch saw Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. He saw the second coming, the end of the world, and the resurrection of the righteous. He saw the Holy City and how we would once again be allowed to live in Eden. He saw the resurrection of the wicked after the millennium and their destruction by fire. Angels also visited him and informed him that God would soon be sending a flood to destroy the wicked. That is how Enoch came to be the first prophet.
When Enoch returned from these communions with God, his countenance would be illuminated with a supernatural light. This caused a deep reverence to fall upon all who saw him; even the wicked and the scoffers were awestruck. He was truly a light shining in the darkness.
Enoch, however, was not a hermit. He believed that he had a work to do for God. Although he did not live in the cities, he would frequently travel there, seeking the salvation of their inhabitants. He did not only work among the Sethites, but would even journey to the land of Nod, where Cain had tried to flee from the presence of God.
I can still hear him: “God is coming with thousands of His holy angels. He will save the righteous and destroy the wicked. O, repent and turn from your evil ways. God loves you, and He wants to save you.”
After remaining for a time among men, he would depart again to spend time alone with God. Sometimes he would take with him a few who had accepted the message. Other persons would seek him in his secluded places of communion with God, where he would instruct them and pray for them. But finally he had to set aside certain periods and not permit anyone to find him, to interrupt his communion with God. After these intervals, he would then go forth and meet with the righteous and the wicked at appointed times and places.
In essence, Enoch walked with God for 300 years. Then one day, when I was 113 years old and my grandfather Enoch was 365, God sent His angels to take my grandfather to heaven. In the presence of the righteous and also of the wicked, the heavens opened and he was taken away.
You must understand that Enoch was taken to heaven not simply as the reward for a holy life, but to demonstrate the certainty of God’s promise and of His power to save us from sin and death. Maybe soon you will have an opportunity to talk with Enoch. He is now over 5,000 years old, the first of the human race to enter through the gates of the Holy City.
My father, Methuselah, was born when Adam was 687 years old. Of all that my grandfather Enoch told him, what impressed him the most was the news that a flood was coming.
When I was born, the ninth generation from Adam, Adam was 874 years old. What I remember most about those first years was how hard we had to work in order to cultivate the earth.
We were living in the mountains of Havilah. The Cainites and apostate Sethites had saturated the fertile plain of the river Pison. They had also coveted that land because there was much gold and precious stones. In the mountains, it was simply more difficult to work the land, and I had no one to help me for 182 years, until my son was born. When he arrived, I remember exclaiming, “Now, at last, we have someone who can help us farm this land!” And I named him “Peaceful Rest.” That’s right, you know him as Noah.
The antediluvian world
Noah was the 10th generation since Adam; although he never had the opportunity to talk with either Adam or Enoch, Noah also walked with God.
A number of times, Noah asked me if the flood would come during his lifetime. You see, the human race had multiplied rapidly, until there was a vast population upon the earth, and the world was filled with crime and violence. War, theft, and murder were the order of the day. If one desired the goods or the wife of his neighbor, and could prevail over him and kill him, he would do it and then boast of his violent exploits.
Justice was trampled to the ground. The strong not only violated the rights of those who were weak, but forced them to commit acts of violence and crime. They also exulted in destroying the lives of the animals. They would then devour them, and this served to foster the violence and inhumanity of their nature, and caused them to look upon the lives of human beings with astonishing indifference.
If there was one sin above any other, however, that brought about the destruction of the human race by the flood, it was the perverse intermingling of beasts one with another, and with men. It brought in confusion everywhere and disfigured the image of God in humanity. From this genetic engineering, strange beasts resulted, creatures that God had not created and that did not have names given them by Adam. When the flood came, God preserved in the ark only those species that He had created.
The scientific and technological advances of the antediluvian world were incredible. You thought that your world was sophisticated? You should have lived before the flood. More great inventions of science, art, and technology perished in the flood than the world afterward ever knew. We gained that knowledge by carefully studying the form and habits of the different animals, how they used their bodies, and how they defended themselves. Besides, we had lives of nearly a thousand years to gather knowledge, and we never forgot what we learned.
As the climax to all their sins, the Cainites and the apostate descendants of Seth decided to take the Garden of Eden and the tree of life by force. They armed themselves and trained. But on that day, Eden ceased to exist upon earth. God, in His mercy, took it to heaven so that the Cainites would not perish before they had one final opportunity to hear the message of salvation. God also desired to preserve a sample of His creation without the blight of sin, and to return it to those who would be faithful.
Noah was 500 years old when his first son was born. He had three sons, and they found young women who loved God – which was not easy – and married.
Meanwhile, God spoke to Noah about a coming worldwide flood. He said that it would be a judgment on the wickedness of the earth’s inhabitants. The entire world would be destroyed, except for those who would repent and come back to His ways. God also mentioned an ark.
Noah was surprised when he heard about the ark, and he was even more astonished when he realized that he was the one chosen to build it! You see, my son had no prior experience in building boats or in navigation.
Noah was not wealthy, but from the time that God spoke to him, he invested everything he had in the construction of the ark. It was built with wood from the acacia trees – trees nearly 400 feet tall, with a very fine grain, hard as stone. It took much time and effort to work the acacia, even for our race before the flood. We would then cover the wood of the ark with a coating of resin without and within, filling every crack.
The ark looked like a boat below and an enormous building above. It contained three levels, with a skylight that ran the length of the entire structure, illuminating each of the levels.
The ark became a great attraction. People would come from far and near to see the sight. Noah, along with my father Methuselah and others, began to preach about the flood. It was the same message that my grandfather Enoch had announced.
At first, a great multitude of the descendants of Cain believed the message. Some, however, continued in their vices, and after a time joined the ranks of the scoffers. Others were dissuaded by the descendants of Seth who had joined with the Cainites. In fact, it was these apostate Sethites who were the leaders in rejecting Noah’s message. Some of the workmen that Noah contracted, however, faithfully believed the message, but died before the flood.
Although the opposition to Noah’s message was not universal, as the years passed, it became intense. “Look for how many years Noah has been preaching. And still nothing happens. Each day is the same. The sun always shines. The sky is always blue.” “Men of science know what they are talking about. It is impossible for water to cover the earth. There is simply not that much water.” “Water falling from the sky! What an absurd idea! The sky cannot contain water! Even if it were to rain, it wouldn’t cover those mountains. That is where I would escape.”
And so they ridiculed, caricatured, and criticized Noah. They called him a crazy fanatic, an alarmist. They scoffed at the sincerity and intense emotion with which he warned them of the coming judgment.
They celebrated a great carnival, with Noah and the ark as the central attraction. It seemed that the whole world had come together.
Scientists stood up and spoke of the laws that controlled nature: “Ladies and gentlemen, the laws of nature are fixed and immutable; even God himself will not and, in fact, cannot change them.”
The theologians announced: “Beloved people, you simply must understand that it would not be in harmony with the character of God to destroy beings that He himself has created and only save Noah and his family from a flood.”
The philosophers came forward and suggested that the construction of this immense ship upon dry land was but a parable, that Noah was speaking figuratively, in metaphors and symbols.
And everyone continued on as always – eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.
Each day, except for the Sabbath, we worked together, my father Methuselah, my son Noah, and I, building the ark… .
And that is all that I remember.
At 777 years old, I was the first patriarch to die before his father. After the resurrection, I found that my father Methuselah lived for a few more years, dying in the very year of the flood at 969 years of age.
Except for Noah’s family, all of my close relatives and dearest friends perished in the flood. If only they had believed Noah’s message and had accepted God’s plan of salvation, they could have been saved… .
Oh, here comes Enoch. He has arrived from the Holy City where he resides. See, he carries a palm branch in his right hand. On each leaf is written the word “Victory.” On his head, there is a shining wreath with white leaves. In the middle of each leaf is the word “Purity.” Set in the wreath are precious stones of myriad colors that reflect and magnify the words. The wreath is held in place with a ribbon upon which is written the word “Holiness.” Above the laurel, his crown shines brighter than the sun.
It seems that the family reunion of the 10 generations of Adam is about to begin, and I must bid you farewell. But we really must spend more time together. You must tell me about the final events of earth’s history, and about your experience living in those momentous times, those final hours.
“As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it also be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:37)
John Wesley Taylor V (Ph.D., Andrews University; Ed.D, University of Virginia) serves as associate director of education at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He is also an editor of Dialogue. E-mail: email@example.com. John Wesley Taylor VI is a college student at Southern Adventist University.