Methuselah was the son of Enoch, a man who walked with God so nearly, so dearly, that God ushered him into heaven without the experience of death. “Enoch walked with God; then he was not there because God took him” (Genesis 5:24). “By faith Enoch was taken away, and so he did not experience death. He was not to be found because God took him away. For before he was taken away, he was approved as one who pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5). He never died. Only he and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) exited planet earth without falling prey to physical death. If the rapture comes today, we’ll join their ranks.
In the days that Enoch walked with God, the rest of mankind was living in rebellion. “Human wickedness was widespread on the earth and every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time… The earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with wickedness. God saw how corrupt the earth was, for every creature had corrupted its way on the earth” (Genesis 6:5, 11–12).
Enoch preached and prophesied that God’s harsh judgment was coming! “Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied: “Look! The Lord comes with tens of thousands of his holy ones to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly concerning all the ungodly acts that they have done in an ungodly way, and concerning all the harsh things ungodly sinners have said against him’ ” (Jude 14–15).
Even the choice of a name for his son was prophetic. According to Dr. Judson Cornwall and Dr. Stelman Smith’s “Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names,” the Hebrew name Methuselah means “when he is dead it shall be sent.” When did Methuselah die? What was sent?
Using the genealogy in the fifth chapter of Genesis, we can do a little arithmetic.
“Methuselah’s life lasted 969 years; then he died” (Genesis 5:27). What came 969 years after the birth of Methuselah?
“Methuselah was 187 years old when he fathered Lamech” (Genesis 5:25).
“Lamech was 182 years old when he fathered a son. And he named him Noah” (Genesis 5:28-29).
“Noah was six hundred years old when the flood came and water covered the earth”
So, here’s the simple calculation: 187 + 182 + 600 = 969. In the year that Methuselah died, God sent the flood upon the earth.
Here’s the good news: God “is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). He demonstrated His remarkable patience as He withheld the devastating flood for 969 years. Why did Methuselah live so long? Because God is longsuffering!
Our generation seems to mirror the days of Noah, when “the earth was filled with wickedness.” Judgment is coming, but God is patient and longsuffering… that’s grace!