The Doctrine of Civilizations
1) We can use the word "civilization" in two ways. We can talk about it with a capital C, or with a lower case c, as in western or eastern civilization, etc. We are talking about it with a capital C in a much broader sense in terms of the panorama of Scripture, so we will define a civilization as an advanced state of human society in which a level of art, science, industry and government have been reached. For our purposes we are talking about civilization in terms of a broad spectrum of time in human history. So a civilization will be defined as an advanced state of human society, that is, when man advances in his state of knowledge. This, of course, took place in the antediluvian [ante = before; diluvian = related to the English word "flood," "deluge," and means the flood] period. The civilization prior to the flood was a very advanced civilization.
2) The civilizations as we are using it begins with believers only. Each civilization in human history begins with believers only and terminates with a cataclysmic judgment which removes all the unbelievers from the planet. Then things start over again. There is a divine judgment in order to protect the human race and to preserve the human race from self-destruction.
3) Each civilization has its own characteristics related to the Adamic curse. There is a difference in environment which affects plant life and animal life and human beings.
4) There are three great civilizations and three cataclysmic judgments. The first civilization is the antediluvian civilization which began with two believers, Adam and Eve, and terminated with the flood. So the flood is the cataclysmic judgment that ended the first great civilization on planet earth. Then we have the postdiluvian civilization, the one in which we live, which began with eight believers who came off the ark, and will be terminated by the baptism of fire at the second advent when Jesus Christ returns. Only the believers survive the baptism of fire at the end of the Tribulation. The Millennial civilization begins with only believers, and once again there is a gradual deterioration and degeneracy until the end of the Millennial kingdom when there is the release of Satan who leads a revolt against God, the Gog and Magog revolution, and there is fire and brimstone from heaven that wipes out all of those unbelievers. The surviving believers go into the eternal state. These three civilizations emphasize the self-destructive tendency of mankind, and each one comes to a crisis point where the Supreme Court of heaven has to interfere in order to protect the human race from total self-destruction.
5) There is a pattern in each of these civilizations. This pattern is seen historically in Romans chapter one. Each civilization begins with believers only, and then as the civilization continues a degeneracy sets in. Romans 1:18ff. There is a gradual removal of common grace during this time and man goes through cycles of judgment as God gives man over to various degrees of degeneracy. As that degeneracy develops various human viewpoint thought forms kick in. So human viewpoint continues to build on its redefinition of reality. It starts off with the reduction of responsibility for sin. We saw that from Cain's response: I am not my brother's keeper. That is an assault of divine institution #1. All of this takes place as a result of self-absorption. There is a redefinition of reality and a reduction of responsibility. Once you reduce responsibility—I am not accountable to God. God is not in the picture—then the next stage is the arrogance skill of self-indulgence. If I am not accountable to anyone, if there is not a God to whom I am responsible, then I can begin to indulge in whatever my fantasies allow. Once reality is re-defined it leads to living in a fantasy world. There are no longer any absolutes. This leads to rationalizations and self-justifications. More and more sophisticated and complex stories are erected about origins, about ethics, about the source of law the source of absolutes, in order to justify living in this fantasy world, in order to justify the rejection of absolutes, in order to justify the degeneracy that is now becoming normal. That leads to the point where man begins to call bad good and good bad. There is a complete reversal of norms and standards. This is the arrogance skill of self-deception. Man at this point is doing exactly what is described in Romans 1:23, "And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things." This leads to idolatry, worshipping elements of the creation, including self, and this is self-idolatry/self-deification. That takes place not only individually, but as it operates within a culture it takes place across the board.
Genesis 5:1 begins the next toledot, the history of the generations of Adam, and it runs through to 6:8 with, "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." This section begins with "This is the book of the generations of Adam." And then there is a reminder which relates to creation, "In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him." So we are told that when God created man He created him in God's likeness. Here we have the phrase bidmuth. The bi is the preposition and it should be translated "as"—"as his image." The word dmuth means likeness. There is a shift that takes place here. V. 2, "Male and female created he them; and blessed them" is a direct reference back to Genesis 1:26-28. There the prepositions and nouns shift around. All we want to say at this point is that this is a reminder by God the Holy Spirit through Moses that it started off with perfect environment; "and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created." Adam there means mankind. So Genesis 5:1, 2 looks back to perfect environment. Then we are going to see what happened. Remember that there was the penalty of death, and so the key phrase that we are going to see in this chapter is "and he died," over and over and over again.
Verse 3, "And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, according to his image; and called his name Seth." Likeness is the word dmuth and image the word tselem. The first word that we find in Genesis 1:26 is that man is created, God says, "in our image," be preposition bi plus the noun tselem, and it should be translated "as out image." Man was to be created as God's representative. He isn't in the image of God, he is the image of God. Then the next phrase that is used is a word which comes from the word "likeness," and it has the preposition ki which means according to, so we have "as out image and according to our likeness." That is the phraseology and this is foundational to understanding the distinctiveness of mankind. Man has nephesh, which is roughly translated soul or breath, and the animals also are said to have nephesh. What makes the difference between the animals and man is that mankind is created as the image of God, according to His likeness. Then in Genesis 5:3 there is a slight reversal of these words. First, instead of "as our image" the preposition bi is now with dmuth. What happens is the prepositions switch on the nouns, so instead of "as out image" it is now "as his own likeness." It is that Adam begot a son "as his own likeness" and "according to his image." So we see this reversal of the prepositions with those nouns. The main emphasis here is simply that a change has taken place. It is ever so slight. Man is still created as God's image and this is the reason given in Genesis chapter nine for capital punishment. The reason God delegates the right to capital punishment to the human race is because when somebody kills someone they have destroyed someone who is the image of God. Even though it may be distorted and corrupted because of sin man is still the image of God. The shift of the prepositions with the nouns here indicates that there has been a change, that instead of being identical to Adam as he was created his son is now as his likeness and according to his image. It is still in the image of God but it is distorted by sin and the sin nature.
From verse 3 down through the end of the chapter we are in a genealogy. Seth is born when Adam is 130 years old. He gives birth to Enos when he is 105 and was 912 years at his death, which is the year 1042. Then Enos was born in the year 235. His child is born when he is 90 years of age. He lives another 815 years for a total of 905 years, and he dies in the year 1140. Cainan is the fourth, he is born in the year 325. So we see that the generations of Adam, Seth, Enos and Cainan are all still alive. He gives birth to his son at seventy, lives another 840 years for a total of 910 years, dying in the year 1245. Then his son is Mahalaleel, one of the youngest. He is born in the year 395. He has his son at 65, he lives another 830 years until death and dies at 895 in the year 1290. There is only one son mentioned by name in each of these generations, but the text says that they had many other sons and daughters. Jared was born in the year 460. He gives birth to the son mentioned in the genealogy at 162. One would assume that by the year 162 he would have had a lot of children. So when Enoch is born to Jared at age 162, Enoch is probably not the first one. Jarod lives another 800 years until he dies in the year 1422 and he is 962.
Enoch is the special case here. He is born in the year 622, he gives birth to his son, Methuselah who is the oldest man in the Bible. But the oldest man in the Bible died before his father did because Enoch did not die. He lived another three hundred years and at the age of 365 the text says that he walked with God and he was not for God took him. God took him and they walked right on into Eden and into Paradise. The walking with God there is different from another phrase that is found in the Old Testament, "walking before God," which has to do with a lifestyle. That is certainly present here. The idea of walking with God certainly indicated that he was following a super lifestyle as a believer in that dispensation, but it implies an intimacy with God that was far beyond the intimacy that anybody else had with God. Noah is the only other person mentioned. In Genesis 9:6 it is mentioned that Noah also walked with God and he found grace in God's eyes. So Enoch stands out as a special believer. He was a prophet and during this time he prophesied about the second coming. One of the things that is always noticed throughout the Bible is that Noah and the flood of Noah always referred to in the New Testament in a context that is talking about the second coming. Enoch prophesied about the second coming and he goes to be with the Lord. It is believed that this time God is still physically on the earth with His headquarters in Eden. That hasn't been destroyed yet and it is not destroyed until the flood.
Methuselah is born in 687. He has a son, Lamech, when he is 187 years of age. He lived another 782 years after the birth of Lamech and died at the age of 969 in the year 1656. Think about this. Adam lived into the life of Enoch. Adam didn't die until the year 930; Enoch is born in 632, and is taken in 987, which is approximately 50 years after Adam died. Lamech is born in 874. At the age 182 his child, Noah, is mentioned. He lives another 595 years and dies at the age of 777 in the year 1651. Notice that Methuselah died in 1656, five years after his son Lamech. Methuselah dies in the same year as the flood. Noah is born in the year 1056. At the age of 500 he has had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. He does not die until about 2006.
It has already been pointed out that Adam lived until Lamech. The father of Noah was 56 years of age when Adam finally died. That was just a few years before Noah was born. These same names are mentioned again in two other genealogies in the Bible—1 Chronicles 1:1-4; Luke 3:36-38—which attest to the legitimacy of these names in this particular genealogy. In Noah's 600th year the flood comes, i.e. 1656, right after Methuselah dies. In most of the Bible we don't have many references to Enoch, but there are a couple of passages that are mentioned. For example, Jude 14, 15, "And Enoch also, the seventh [generation] from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." That is a prophecy about the second coming. It is interesting that the first person in the Bible to get raptured was known for prophesying about the second coming. The quote in Jude is from the apocryphal book of Enoch, but remember the Holy Spirit can quote from anything. When he quotes from it it makes that section of the book inerrant, but it doesn't mean the book of Enoch is itself inerrant or Scriptural. Hebrews 11:5 also mentions Enoch: "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." This is parallel to the taking of Elijah. In 2 Kings chapter two we have the Hebrew verb laqach, meaning to take or to remove. "And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." Elijah and Enoch are the only two individuals in the Old Testament that do not die physically. Therefore it is often thought that it is those two individuals who will be the two witnesses who come back during the Tribulation period. Zechariah 4:14 mentions these two, "Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." Revelation 11:7-12 mentions these two witnesses. Since Elijah and Enoch never died many people think that this refers to them. The Bible never specifies it as such but it is probably a likely conclusion to identify them as such.