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Do You Hear What I Hear?

Preaching Canon as Christian Scripture  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Made in God’s Image

This passage starts off really good. We’re called back to the Garden of Eden as Genesis reaffirms that humanity is made in the image of God. This is reassuring news after all that has happened in Genesis up to this point! Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden, their son Cain murders his brother Abel, and then the line of Cain’s descendants ends with a man named Lamech who commits mass murder and brags about it to his wives (plural). So it is certainly reassuring to hear that, despite all of this, humanity is still made in the image of God. Maybe Adam and Eve’s third son, Seth, will finally live up to that high calling.

Made in God’s Image

Made in Adam’s Image

But, unfortunately, the passage quickly takes a turn for the worst, and not just because it turns into a long list of unpronounceable names. We see that, while humanity is made in the image of God, Adam’s son, Seth, has now also inherited the image of Adam. Seth, whose name means “foundation” in Hebrew, becomes the foundation of all humanity, which from this point forward will bear both the regal image of God as well as the image of Adam. We quickly learn what it means to be made in the image of Adam as Genesis continues on:
“The days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years; and he had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred thirty years; and he died.”
4 The days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years; and he had other sons and daughters. 5 Thus all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred thirty years; and he died.
The warning of God, that to rebel and eat from the tree in the middle of the garden would result in death, has now become a reality for humanity. As the genealogy goes on, things begin to look bleaker and bleaker for mankind.
Seth, has a son, Enosh, and then he died.
Enosh has a son, Kenan, and then he died.
Kenan has a son, Mehalalel, and then he died.
Mehalalel has a son, Jared, and then he died.
The refrain of death rings out louder and clearer with each line, like a funeral bell announcing the doom of humanity. The cold hand of death grips each son of Adam, one by one, the voice of the grave calls out overshadowing the lives of each of these men. The text spends no time elaborating on who these men were, or what they did, or whether they were good or bad.
For “the same fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to those who sacrifice and those who do not sacrifice.” No matter the person, at the end of the story comes the line, “And then he died.”
“Vanity of Vanities! All is vanity!”
2 is vanity, since the same fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to those who sacrifice and those who do not sacrifice. As are the good, so are the sinners; those who swear are like those who shun an oath.
All hope seems lost for humanity. Death reigns supreme, and the sound of the funeral bell rings out across the earth.

Pivot- Enoch Walks with God

That is, until we reach son number seven. Enoch’s story is different,
“Enoch walked with God, and then he was no more, because God took him.”
Enoch’s story, surprisingly, does not end in death. While Adam and Eve hid from the God who walked with them in the Garden, Enoch chose to walk alongside Him. Enoch entered into faithful communion with God, and in doing so received a foretaste of the future to come.
God had been mysteriously absent from this particular story. As death reigned over humanity, we might ask, “where was God?”. We might imagine that Enoch thought the same thing. Time after time, he had no doubt witnessed those before him enter into the cold abyss of death, never to return. He heard the funeral bells ringing. As the life breathed into humanity turned to vapor, the God who first breathed that life was nowhere to be seen. Yet Enoch chose to seek that God out and walk with him nonetheless. And in doing so, Enoch was granted a vision of the future: a glimpse at the glorious end of all things when death would be no more, when the ending of the story, “and then he died”, would be re-written, and the marred image of God restored.
As death reigned over humanity,
But Enoch’s story comes like a flash in the pan, a brief glimpse at something that won’t be seen again, at least not any time soon. After Enoch is taken by God, the ringing of the funeral bells continues.
Enoch’s son, Methuselah, had a son, Lamech, and then he died.
Lamech had a son, Noah, and then he died.

Climax- Hope for Rest

But Lamech did not go gentle into that good night. We see that he clung to a hope likely long forgotten. In , even as the curse of sin begins to take root in Adam and Eve, God gives humanity a hope to cling to: that a descendant of Eve would come to crush the head of the serpent. Lamech clings to that promise, praying that his son Noah might be the one to finally bring relief from the curse. The genealogy began in despair, but ends on a note of hope. The ring of death is loud, but the hushed tenor of hope begins to rise alongside Lamech’s prayer.
“Out of this cursed ground, one will bring us relief.”

Fulfillment- Christ provides Rest

If you stopped reading at this genealogy and never made it to Noah’s story, I hate to spoil it for you, but Noah is not the answer to Lamech’s prayer. While Noah was certainly a righteous man, his story ends the same as the rest.
“After the flood Noah lived three hundred fifty years. All the days of Noah were nine hundred fifty years; and then he died.
Yet there is one man, many years later, who finally fulfilled the hopeful prayers of Lamech. Jesus of Nazareth entered into the cursed ground, he was nailed to a cross by the Romans and then he died. Yet that was not the end of his story. Three days later, Jesus rose from the grave, and from the very ground that was cursed he brought forth life and relief from the curse of sin. Christ removed the curse by becoming a curse. He was crucified, and then he died, yet death was not the end of the story for Christ. The ring of death was loud on Friday as he entered the grave, but the cry of victory echoed far louder when he arose on Sunday! Christ became the New Adam, and the shout of his victory has overpowered the voice of the grave.
The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989. Print.

Rest and Walking

But, though Christ is victorious, the ringing of the death bell has not stopped. Its shrill clanging can still be heard echoing through the streets we walk each day. Where is God in the midst of all this death? Where is Christ’s victory? What are we to do when the voice of the grave still echoes so loudly?
Enoch surely wrestled with similar questions. And yet he continued to walk with God. It is precisely this faithfulness, clinging to the promises of God, walking with God even in the midst of a world full of death that will carry us through the grave. It is only through the death and resurrection of Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life that we might finally halt the ringing of the funeral bells. So while voice of the grave continues to cry out, we are called to continue walking in the Way. And though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, fear not, for God is with us. We may not see him clearly now, but he is preparing a table for us even in the midst of our great enemy Death.
Noel Regney was a French songwriter that lived in New York during the Cuban Missile Crisis. One day, as he was walking the streets of New York, he noticed how quiet it was. The fear of nuclear war was everywhere. The sound of silence was deafening, and no one Noel passed on the streets was smiling. The Sound of Death rang loud in New York. Yet, as he continued his walk, he noticed a group of babies smiling and laughing with one another as their moms pushed them along together, and Noel couldn’t help but remember the hope we have in Jesus, the promise of eternal life, of all things made new. And then the sound of death didn’t seem quite so loud. Later that day, inspired by those smiling infants, Noel went home and wrote the famous song, Do you hear what I hear?” with his wife, Gloria.
Day by day, the sound of Death rings loud. “And then he died. And then he died. And then he died.”
But do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the sky
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, A song
High above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea
O death, where is your victory?
O hell, where is your sting?
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