Over the last several weeks, I’ve been re-reading one of my favorite books called “The Days of Lamech” by Jon Saboe. The plot revolves around the biblical characters Lamech and Enoch (Genesis 5-6) resisting a strange race called the Semyaz, and ends with Noah and the Flood. The author weaves in his own clever sci-fi spin on the Antediluvian (pre-Flood) world by casting Enoch as an ancient version of Nikola Tesla who invented power-generating pyramids, wireless electricity-transmission, and rudimentary radios. On a personal note, it was great to finally meet Jon in person when I was heading to Israel last summer!
The first time I read the “The Days of Lamech” several years ago, I tore through it in a weekend. But this time, I read it more for leisure and to escape a little. That’s what long days at work and evenings of trying to drum algebraic equations into a distracted thirteen year-old tend to do! Anyway, several observations stood out to me after digesting the book more slowly:
1. Humanity is Better with Hardships
If one considers mankind’s greatest limitations and challenges, the two most significant ones are a difficult environment: lack of food, water, shelter, extreme weather patterns caused by the seasons, and natural disasters; and short lifespans riddled with disease. By the time we start to accumulate knowledge and really apply it, our bodies are already wearing out.
What would the world be like if we lived for nearly a thousand years without disease, famines, and natural disasters? What would we be like with nearly perfect bodies living in a paradise-like environment (compared to today)? What could mankind accomplish with most natural hindrances removed or at least minimized? At first glance, the world could quickly become a very rich, technological, and cultural place – but more likely it would become one of unspeakably cruelty, barbarity, and indulgence. As fallen creatures, when our attention and energy isn’t consumed with basic survival and then later in making ourselves more comfortable, it tends to be exerted towards becoming more selfish and sinful. Like all addicts who need more and more to get high, our natural fallen selves tend to dream up new degrees of wickedness, especially in a world full of toil.
Instead of having to work a mere 40-50 years, what would would it be like to work for 800? I think it would quickly become very wearisome and full of loathing. In fact, according to Genesis 6, Lamech prophetically named his son “Noah” because he would comfort mankind and relieve them of their painful toil from the Curse. We really have no idea what the Antediluvian world was like other than it was unspeakably wicked and violent, so much so that God wiped nearly all trace of it away. All we have left are a breif account in the Bible, legends, and fossils (and a few other curiosities). With a long-suffering God, I don’t think we can really fathom how horrible it really was. He sees and feels everything that happens, and to have Him declare that every inclination of man’s heart was only evil all the time… it’s just beyond our comprehension. I imagine it was like Jurassic Park mixed with Lord of the Flies, but not just on one small island, but covering the entire world with possibly millions of people. And it wasn’t just for a couple of days or weeks, but for hundreds of years.
2. Man’s technological prowess — and depth of wickedness — is almost boundless
It struck me a few years ago that the world has looked much the same throughout history – except for the last two hundred years or so. Consider that the Sumerians, Greeks, and other ancients had astonishing similar levels of language, agriculture, sanitation, travel, urbanization, writing, history, and mathematics that Europe and America did even as late as the early 1800’s. Aside from gunpowder and building techniques, George Washington’s world in 18th-century America wasn’t all that technologically different than Abraham’s in ancient Ur.
It wasn’t until the steam-engine and the generation of electricity that our world really began to change. We owe Nikola Tesla (not Thomas Edison) credit for much of our modern world, who pioneered and theorized many electro-magnetic related inventions like the radio, alternating-current, electric motors, etc. Tesla accomplished most of his breakthroughs in 40-50 years (or less), about the same as Einstein. But what could a Tesla or Einstein have devised if they lived ten times longer than they did? We cannot even begin to speculate! Yet that appears to be common in the Antediluvian world. According to the first ten chapters of Genesis, early mankind was very technological and innovative, inventing agriculture, husbandry, music, and metallurgy within only a few generations. Knowledge can accumulate very quickly if resources are plentiful and lifespans are longer, particularly the more they overlap.
However, just as longer lifespans would likely lead to greater technological wonders, longer lifespans would also lead to much more tyranny, evil, and cruelty. The firstborn man (Cain) built the first city and presumably became the first king, or even tyrant. Just like great inventors keep pushing the envelope, so do tyrants – they dream up new ways of being evil and push mankind to even greater depths of depravity and wickedness. Most tyrants are limited by their lifespans – if they’re not killed or deposed. How horrible the world would be if a Hitler, Stalin, or Mao ruled for 500 years instead of 50? And what if those tyrants had access to technology that they could weaponize? It would be a literal hell on earth – and it probably was.
3. Treasure people and use things, not treasure things and use people
One of the Ten Commandments that has always stood out to me is the very last one: “Do not covet.” The others involve more tangible Do’s and Don’ts, but the Tenth deals directly with the heart. To me, the Tenth is the “Catch All” commandment, in which even if you could somehow keep all the others, you’d fall by the Tenth sooner or later just because we’re fallen creatures and we all covet at one time or another.
Treasuring things – money, clothes, gadgets, property, sex, and even time – and being greedy and selfish comes completely natural to us, and coveting is just a small step beyond treasuring. In order to get or keep what we want, we tend to use people in the process. We put ourselves and our own interests ahead of others’, which goes all the way back to the Fall. Adam and Eve put themselves and their interests ahead of God and one another, and we’ve been doing the same thing ever since they disobeyed in the Garden.
Philippians 2:3 is a great verse to not only memorize, but when put into daily practice can help us treasure others AND fight against covetousness: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Not only that, but it can help put ourselves in our proper place: after others.
4. God is more concerned with obedience than results
Our American culture has always been rather results-oriented, even from the Mayflower. There were homes to be built, crops to be grown, kids to be raised, work to be done, and money to be made. As we’ve become more secularized, it seems we’ve become much more comfortable with the motto “The ends justify the means” than we should. When we justify the ends at the expense of the means, very often others get used or even harmed, or at least taken advantage of.
“The ends justify the means” way of thinking couldn’t be more wrong when it comes to God’s ways. Remember all those Bible stories where God seems to go out of His way to do things that just don’t really make sense? Maybe those are there for a reason. Recall the stories of Jericho, Gideon, David and Goliath, and the near-sacrifice of Isaac — God is far more concerned with our obedience and faithfulness (even in the little things) than He is with the results. Why? Because He’s already got those covered since He is completely, unfathomably sovereign. His plan of redemption and certain victory hasn’t changed since the Garden of Eden, and nothing can ever alter that.
But one thing that God doesn’t have control over is our obedience, our faithfulness, our self-will. Our self-centered, self-interested hearts that put ourselves and our own desires ahead of everything else. The biggest problem in the world isn’t lack of resources, global-warming, pollution, unemployment, or politics – the biggest problem is the sin and self-interest dwelling inside each and every one of us.
5. Nothing can thwart God’s Plan of Redemption
Something I believe that we are all guilty of is that our view of God is far smaller than it should be. He is completely, unfathomably, perfectly sovereign over the smallest subatomic particle to the largest galaxy. Nothing – absolutely nothing – happens in His creation without His knowledge and permission. We have no grasp of His majesty, beauty, power, understanding, and awesomeness, nor can we fathom His incredible mercy, grace, and love for us.
From even before Adam and Eve fell, the Triune God has had a Plan to redeem His creatures and creation from sin and death. Nothing can stop Him nor thwart that Plan, not Satan, not his angels, and certainly not mankind. With just the thought of a thought, He could wipe everything from existence as if it never existed in the first place. We cannot even begin to grasp the wholeness of His greatness and sovereignty.
An observation from the Bible is that Satan is not very creative, and that he tends to emulate God in his schemes. Depending on your interpretation of Genesis 6 and other supporting passages, roughly five thousand years ago, Satan and his angels came up with their own plan of redemption involving their own “seed”: they would inject themselves into the human race and mingle their seed with man’s. If God had promised to redeem mankind by one born of a woman, then He would certainly have to redeem them if they were mixed with us too, right? Besides, the God of Love would never destroy His creation no matter how corrupt or sinful it became, would He?
Wrong. He would. And He did. Those fallen ones – both men and angels – erred because they didn’t believe that God would go to such great lengths to redeem mankind and His creation. They didn’t believe that He would go so far as to destroy countless multitudes of people and practically all life on the planet to preserve His Plan. Curiously, the apocryphal Book of Enoch declares that after dying in the Flood, the demonic offspring of the fallen angels became the unclean spirits that Jesus and the apostles cast out of people. Because they were both heavenly yet earthly, the offspring of mortals and immortals, they were condemned to restlessly roam the earth until the Judgement, where they would be cast into Hell with their “fathers”.
“The Days of Lamech” is one of those books that can (and probably will) change your perspective of not only what the first world could have been like, but your perspective of who God is and the incredible lengths He has gone to in order to save us from our sins and reconcile us to Himself.
“The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood, and the Lord sits as King forever. The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.” — Psalm 129:10-11