Monday, May 21, 2012

The Darkest Ages Of Human History - Genesis 4-11 Summary

When you think of the darkest age in human history, perhaps you think of medieval Europe, shining knights, and towering castles. But the medieval era was not dark at all in comparison to another time period in human history.

The time period I am talking about began when Adam and Eve were thrown out of the garden; it ended with the dispersion at the Tower of Babel. I have decided to call this time period "The Darkest Ages of Human History".

In calling this era the "darkest ages" in human history, I don't mean that nothing happened over these first two thousand or so years of human history. I'm only calling this era "dark" because we don't know much about whatever was happening. Scripture gives us very little information.

What We Know About The Darkest Ages Of Human History

We know that Cain murdered Abel (Genesis 4:8). We know the name of a single city in the pre-flood world: The City of Enoch (Genesis 4:17-18). We know the names of a small number of Cain's descendants, including Jabal, who was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock (Genesis 4:20), Jubal, who was the father of musical instruments (Genesis 4:21), and Tubal-cain, who was the forger of all implements of bronze and iron (Genesis 4:22).

We know the lineage from Seth to Noah, including when each person in the lineage was born in comparison to his father; we also know the total number of years each man in that lineage lived (Genesis 5), which allows us to calculate the total numbers of years between Creation and the Flood.

We know that by the time of Noah, the pre-flood world was thoroughly corrupt (Genesis 6:5). We know that violence filled the planet (Genesis 6:11-13), and we are also given a little information about those mysterious, probably demonic "sons of God" (Genesis 6:1-4).

We know that God saw Noah as blameless in the midst of a corrupt world (Genesis 6:9-10). We know that God commanded Noah to build an ark and that only Noah's immediate family found safety in the ark when the flood came (Genesis 6:14).

We know that God sent a global flood upon the earth that destroyed all of humanity outside the ark (Genesis 7:21-22). We know when the flood came (Genesis 7:11), and we know how long it took for the earth to become dry again (Genesis 8:13-19).

We know that Noah offered up a sacrifice to God after the Flood (Genesis 8:20). We know that God afterwards established what has been called the Noahic covenant (Genesis 9:12-17).

We know that sometime after the flood Noah fell into the sin of drunkenness (Genesis 9:20-21), cursed Canaan (Genesis 9:24-25), and blessed Shem and Japheth (Genesis 9:26-27).

We know that Nimrod, a descendant of Ham, founded some of the most famous cities of the ancient world (Genesis 10:8-12). We also know the names of many of the other earliest descendants of Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Genesis 10).

We know that man rebelled again after the Flood by refusing to spread throughout the earth, and thus God decided to disperse all of mankind at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:6-7). We know that this dispersion confused the languages of mankind (Genesis 11:8-9).

We Don't Know Very Much

You probably feel overwhelmed after reading all of that (if you even did read all of it, that is!). Perhaps you're thinking that we actually know a lot about these supposed "darkest" ages in human history.

If you are comparing the amount we know about the darkest ages in human history to the number of pictures we have of the Loch Ness Monster, then I suppose you are correct. But if you compare the amount we know about the darkest ages of human history to the amount we know about the next 2000 or so years of history, then I think you'll see my point.

In Scripture, the first 2000 years are covered in the first eleven chapters of Genesis. The rest of the Bible (excluding the prophetic portions about the millennium and Heaven) covers the next 2000 years in human history.

For the first 2000 years of human history, the only reliable, authoritative source we have is the Bible. For the next 2000 years of human history, we not only have the Bible, but we also have ancient records from other nations (these, of course, are accurate to varying degrees).

From The Fall To The Dispersion: The Darkest Ages In Human History

I think I've proved my point in calling the time period from immediately after the Fall to the Dispersion the "Darkest Ages In Human History".

I ended up spending about two years writing on this era. In total, that amounts to over 140 posts, all of which are linked to in the Scripture Index. If I attempted to write to the same level of detail about the next two thousand years of human history, I think I would die before I finished (even if I lived as long as Methuselah!).

It's Over

This feels really weird to type, but.. it's over. I finished writing, verse by verse, on the darkest ages of human history. Perhaps one day I'll go back and write a few more posts on the names in Genesis 10, and perhaps in the near future I'll add a few more topical posts about the Flood or some other subject, but I don't intend any longer to focus on the "Darkest Ages" on this blog for months on end.

At this point, I'd like to thank all the readers that I might have left. If you have been reading since that very first post about Cain and Abel, I greatly admire your dedication.

When I look at the commentaries of various people who started their commentaries by writing about the book of Genesis, I am greatly encouraged. Why? Because for the most part, they aren't very good at writing yet (especially if you compare their writings about Genesis to what they wrote about some other book of the Bible much later in life!). This means that I have a lot of room for improvement. Sixty years down the road, if I'm still alive, I'll probably look back at everything I have written on "The Darkest Ages Of Human History" and want to rewrite the whole thing. But for now, I'll try to stop thinking about that and let out a sigh of relief that it's over.

It's Not Completely Over

I have written another post on what I plan to write about next, click here to read it.

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