You know where you came from, right? At least, you can name a few of your ancestors. Maybe just your parents, but probably your grandparents and a few more. You might, though, wish you knew more going back. Some folks even make a living doing that type of research or running Ancestry.com to help you do it yourself.
Imagine, though, if you could run your family history back more than just hundreds of years. Consider what you would do with knowing thousands of years of history.
Many of us don't have that and so don't think it's all that important. Yet even filling in some of those gaps can provide a sense of stability. Perhaps a sense of destiny (or density, too) about your life and future fills in when you know the past.
For example, in the early years of America, there was a man named John Hibbard. he was a Major in the Kentucky Militia during the War of 1812. He was also a tavern-keeper, sheriff, commissioner, and…a preacher.
I am not named after my Great-to-the-fourth-power Grandfather, though I do share his name. What do I learn? We Hibbards are interesting bunch. Preachers, tavern-keepers and more, all at once. Farther back and farther forward, there's many a preacher/minister/pastor and many a hooligan, and oftentimes they're the same person on the family tree.
In a way, I can see where my family has come from by seeing even just the names I've found on Ancestry. They've survived wars and famines, troubles and tribulations. There have been some successes and some failures. There has not been much in the way of fame or fortune—that is left to future generations, I suppose. Yet these men and women have been part of the ebb and flow of history. For all I can tell, Anglais Hibbard's presence at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 was critical to William the Conqueror. (Yes, his name is recorded for history as "English Hibbard." Probably from helping conquer England. Or being from England when it was conquered.)
They are a portion of my heritage. There's a Hibbard that studied at Cambridge (doesn't say he graduated). And so on, so forth…The Hibbards have survived, moved forward, tamed wildernesses and urban settings. We're not famous, but we're here.
This is Genesis 5 (link) for the people of Israel. It's the record of where they've come from. It's likely got a few places where "Son/Father" is more of "Descendant/Ancestor" but that's for the Hebrew experts to teach you—the important names are there.
The events seem to be missing, but think about it: you know history separately from your genealogy too, don't you? You know whether to ask Grandpa about World War II or Vietnam because you know when he was born and when those wars were fought. You know it separately, and the one reinforces the other.
I see Genesis 5 as having the one, the family list, but the history is likely lost to the sands of oral history time.
Aside: write it down. Seriously. Record it, then transcribe it. What you did in the Depression. How your family handled the wars, the Civil Rights Era, where you were when…the stories will be lost. Also the recipes. Get someone to film you making the family secret sauce and then write it down. Keep it in a safe if necessary, but don't let it be lost!
These names, ages, years are recorded to remind the Israelites of where they have come from. They are not just a random lot of people but people with a history. People that have come after one group—and will precede another group. It helps to place the history in line with people.
Enoch is there, Genesis 5:21-24, who has a shorter life but is recorded as walking with God. I think he reminds us that what we do with the years is as important as how many years we have.
We're reminded as we look at this chapter that God works in the lives of people, not just in a void without us. He works in and through living, breathing human beings. In the midst of the living, eating, sleeping, and breathing, God is there and not to be ignored.
Will you use your years?