The Development of Mankind

Table of Contents / Overview


So far we have studied the way in which man was created and leamed of the immediate consequences of his failure to obey God's command in Eden. Now we have to look at the subsequent history of mankind as unfolded in the Bible.

This lesson extends up to the birth of Abraham and, although by the end of it we have progressed only ten chapters or so into our Bibles, we will have covered a great length of time. The time from Creation to Abraham's birth is approximately 2,000 years, a time when man was multiplying and spreading upon the earth.

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The tree of life was planted in the midst of the Garden of Eden but Adam did not eat of its fruit because, after sinning, he was driven out of the garden. A guard was placed to prevent access to it; but the hope of everlasting life had not gone for ever. Paul wrote that we earn death by our sins and that death happens to all, but that life without end is God's gift.

Genesis 3 v 23-24
Romans 5 v 12
Romans 6 v 23

The tree of life is promised to him that overcomes. It is a gift and cannot be earned. There is however a way to it.

Revelation 2 v 7
Proverbs 3 v 13-18

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From this time, instead of being a delight, man's existence was to be a struggle to the day he died. The whole earth suffered the punishment which the sin of man had brought about.

Genesis 3 v 17-19

The prophets, however, tell of a time when this would be reversed, when the harvest would be so great that ploughing time would come round before harvest had finished.

Amos 9 v 13
Isaiah 35 v 1

The ground was cursed because of sin. When sin is abolished, then there will be no more curse.

Revelation 22 v 3

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In Adam and Eve's first two sons we have an immediate example of the two different "seeds" or types of descendant of which God spoke. Cain and Abel must have known what sort of offering was acceptable to God, and the example of animal sacrifice was given by God in the garden of Eden. Every sacrifice pointed forward to the great once-for-all sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God.

Genesis 3 v 15
Genesis 3 v 21
Genesis 4 v 4
Hebrews 11 v 4

In sacrifice we see the connection between sin and death, and the need for the shedding of blood for sins to be forgiven.

Cain wanted to worship God, but in his own way. Man must understand that God can only be worshipped acceptably in the way He decides and tells us. Any other way is wicked.

I John 3 v 12

Abel's good deed showed that he had faith, and it was a rebuke to Cain. His faithfulness led to his being killed, just as much later Jesus was to be murdered also, for the same reasons.

John 8 v 42-45

The reason for the fall of man was that he did not believe God's word. Now Cain was repeating the mistake. His jealous impulse resulted in murder; an example of how sin comes from within. Abel, however, took God at His word. He had faith and his sacrifice was accepted. So one of the first requirements is to have faith in God's word.

Genesis 4 v 7

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The division between righteous Abel and wicked Cain was continued in the children of Seth, the replacement for Abel, and the children of Cain. The seventh generation from Cain was Lamech. His sons had different skills, which can be described as the development of the arts and sciences. Jabal lived in tents and raised cattle.

Jubal was a musician on lyre and pipe. Tubal-Cain was a smith who forged bronze and iron, i.e. weapons, amongst other implements. The application of these things was towards violence and revenge. Lamech boasted of what he could do now that he had weapons. Contrast his boast with Jesus' command to forgive.

Genesis 4 v 20-25
Matthew 18 v 21-22

In Seth's line we see the development of the righteous seed, called "The Sons of God". The seventh generation from Seth was Enoch, whose life was a contrast with Lamech's. The New Testament tells us more about him. Note the ungodliness which clearly was rife in his day.

Genesis 4 v 26
Genesis 6 v 2
Hebrews 11 v 5
Jude v 14-15

Enoch too had faith in God's word, and made it so much part of his life that he was taken away so that he should not see death. Enoch walked with God. Our way of life can be called a "walk", and if we want to serve God then our "walk" must show the character of God.

Hebrews 11 v 5
Genesis 5 v 24

We must walk in light - for God is Light.

I John 1 v 5
Ephesians 5 v 8

We must walk in love - for God is love.

I John 4 v 8
Ephesians 5 v 2

We must walk in truth - for God is truth.

I John 5 v 20
II John v 4

In Genesis 6 we have a sad picture of the world before the Flood.

Genesis 6 v 1-2, vs 5-6, & vs 11-13

The sons of God married the daughters of men. The inevitable result was not to make the daughters of men righteous, but for the sons of God to forget their own standards and to become worldly, not caring about God.

This is seen in the fact that of all the World's population, only Noah and his family were righteous.

Genesis 6 v 9

This action of the sons of God teaches us that it is important to marry only one who is likeminded.

Amos 3 v 3

So God's way was corrupted.

Genesis 6 v 12

Yet in His mercy there was time and opportunity to repent.

II Peter 2 v 5

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Note carefully the descriptive verses.

Genesis 6 v 17
Genesis 7 v 11
Genesis 7 v 17-20

The Duration

Rain stopped after 150 days
Tops of mountains seen after 74 days
Raven sent out after 40 days
Dove returns after 7 days
Dove returns with olive leaf after 7 days
Dove does not return after 7 days
Ground drying after 29 days
Earth dried after 57 days


371 days
Genesis 8 v 2-3
Genesis 8 v 5
Genesis 8 v 6-7
Genesis 8 v 9
Genesis 8 v 11
Genesis 8 v 12

The Ark

From the measurements given in the Bible, it has been estimated that the Ark was about 440 ft long, 73 ft wide and 44 ft high.

Genesis 6 v 14-16

Before the Flood, wickedness was universal.

Genesis 6
Luke 17 v 26-27
I Peter 3 v 20
II Peter 2 v 5

Out of millions, only Noah and his family were righteous.

Genesis 6 v 8-9
Genesis 7 v 1
Ezekiel 14 v 14
Hebrews 11 v 7
II  Peter 2 v 5

All except Noah and his family were destroyed.

Genesis 7 v 21-23
Luke 17 v 26-30

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This covenant of God stipulated that there would not again be a similar destructive flood and, as a token of this covenant, God set the rainbow in the sky. Note the strict command concerning taking of life: remember Cain and Abel.

Genesis 9 v 11-17
Genesis 9 v 5-6

The regularity and continuity of harvest and seasons and day and night were promised by God. This permanence made possible the later great covenants with Abraham, with David, which depend upon the continuance of things on the earth, and the development of a line of descendants.

Genesis 8 v 20-22
Isaiah 55 v 10
Jeremiah 33 v 20-21

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In connection with the Flood, we find an interesting idea where the salvation which can be obtained through baptism is a figure of the saving of eight persons by water. The original Greek word translated "figure" means literally "antitype". In the Bible we find a great number of types and antitypes which means that the way or the order in which certain things happen (the type) are duplicated later (in the antitype) and are linked by a common theme or idea. An obvious example is that of Jonah (the type) and Jesus (the antitype). In the verses from Peter the ideas common to the Flood and baptism are "salvation" and "by water".

I Peter 3 v 20-21
Matthew 12 v 40

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The days in which Noah lived are also a type of the "last days". The "last days" are the days immediately prior to Christ's second coming. Jesus pointed back to the Flood as a reminder of God's intention to intervene again in an equally sin-filled world in the last days.

In Noah's day, people cared only for the pleasures of life, the everyday things, and gave no thought to God.

Matthew 24 v 3
Matthew 24 v 37-39
Genesis 6 v 11

The earth was full of wickedness and violence. God's judgments came suddenly after warnings from faithful men. So will be the days of Christ's second coming.

II Peter 2 v 5
Matthew 24 v 38
Luke 17 v 26-30

Judgment will not take the form of a flood, but will be carried out by the Lord Jesus Christ.

II Thessalonians 1 v 7-9

In the last days men will ridicule the idea of Christ's return, but they deliberately ignore the Creation and the Flood.

II Peter 3 v 3-10

Just as surely as these things happened, so the day of the Lord will come therefore ...

II Peter 3 v 11


  1. Concern only for material things.
  2. Practically no thought for our duty to God.
  3. God's way corrupted.
  4. The earth full of wickedness and violence.
  5. Those who scoff at the thought of Christ's return.
  6. Those who deny the reality of the Creation and the Flood.

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In disobedience to God's command, men wanted to consolidate themselves in one large community rather than spread abroad. Their ambitious project in building Babel shows an advanced civilisation and a pride in man's achievements. God confounded their language (Babel means confusion) and man was scattered over the earth. The effect of different languages has been to produce a powerful mistrust among nations to this day.

Genesis 9 v 1
Genesis 11 v 1-9

In the Kingdom of God there will be only one language.

Zephaniah 3 v 9

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Two points stand out from this consideration of 2,000 years of human history as recorded in the Bible.

First, this Old Testament history is confirmed completely by the many allusions in the New Testament. Christ and his apostles accepted it implicitly, so can we. Second, this history is all the time teaching us lessons and principles. From it we have learnt how careful we must be in our approach to God, how important it is to do exactly as He requires and not to please ourselves. We have seen how faithful men were led astray by unwise marriages and that when men and women persist in wickedness there must come a time when God intervenes to judge as He did in the Flood. Yet for the righteous there is always a way of escape if only they have the necessary faith and the determination to do exactly what God says, as Noah did when he built the ark.

We are living in the days when once again God is to reveal His power to destroy the wicked and deliver the righteous. God is speaking to you through His word inviting you, as He did Noah, to separate from an evil world and enter the ark of refuge He has provided in His Son, Jesus Christ. We can only enter this ark through baptism after believing the Gospel.

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Using references where possible to support your reply, answer the following:-

  1. Describe the condition of the earth after Adam and Eve had sinned.
  2. Why was Abel's sacrifice accepted and Cain's not accepted?
  3. Describe in your own words the details of the Flood in Noah's time.
  4. What was the covenant with Noah and how was it confirmed?
  5. In what way was the Flood a type of
    1. Baptism
    2. The "last days"?
  6. What happened at Babel?