It is amazing to think about how much can happen in just a short amount of time. Especially today with the tools of technology and social media, information sparks change at such a rapid pace that it can be hard to keep up sometimes. The clock moves at the same pace, but the amount of activity that takes place in short periods of time is pretty significant. It is weird to think that the United States is only 238 year old. In general terms, that only spans to be about 3 to 4 generations worth of time; yet consider all that's taken place in American history!
It is no different with the Bible. So many things change so quickly in the Word of God. One of the most remarkable things to observe in the Bible in regards to rapid change is the affects of the flood on life. In Genesis 11:10-32 the scriptures provide another genealogy of the line of Noah's son Shem, up to the line of Abram (Abraham). There are 9 generations from Shem to Abram and there is a striking change that one can observe taking place on the earth as a result of sin and the flood. As the Bible presents the genealogy, one can't help but notice how different the genealogy is from the genealogy presented just a few chapters before in Genesis chapter 5. Prior to the flood, the genealogies show that the men in the family tree of Noah lived to be an average age of 832 years old. While it might not be obvious to immediately see the exact average age of the genealogy in Genesis chapter 5, one can't help but notice how many people lived to be over 800 years old. In fact, the average age would be higher if it were not for Enoch who was taken away by God at age 365. His age throws off the average.
Yet when one progresses in the scriptures and comes to the genealogy of Genesis 11:10-32, one can't help but notice that the numbers are much smaller. There is not one person that lives to be 800 years old in the genealogy of Genesis 11:10-32. In fact the oldest man that lives, who was born after the flood, is Eber, who lives to be 464 years old. That age represents half of the average age as before the flood. The scriptures reveal that Eber's son lived only to be 239 years old - half the age of his father. While these life spans are far greater than what we are familiar with today, one can't help but notice that the flood caused life to change dramatically. The conditions that the Lord had created in the beginning had been destroyed by the flood because of sin; and as a result, life was shortened and dramatically affected.
The Bible explains that within just 9 generations, life came to resemble modern circumstances in terms of life span. By the time Abram was born, the world seemed to mirror the world today in terms of how long people lived. In such a short amount of time, the average lifespan of a person had decreased by 700 years! Sin and the flood had caused people to loose 700 years of their lives. Today people are desperately trying to find ways to extend life and improve the quality of living in old age. However, where the Bible reflects that 100 years of age was normal then, the average American is only projected to live to be 79 years old in 2014. In about 2,000 years of time, despite all the medical advancements that have been made and the scientific discoveries, Americans have lost another 20 years of life.
It is not by coincidence that the flow of the scriptures is presented in the way that it is. Genesis chapter 11 begins by describing the rebellious nature of mankind. The second half of Genesis chapter 11 confirms the Bible's teaching that the wages of sin is death. The more the world sinned, the less the world lived. The affects and consequences of sin are simply seen in the math. Thankfully, the God of the Bible is eternal and able to give of His own nature. Thankfully, the God of the Bible is gracious to freely offer the quality of life that defines His nature - eternal life. Thankfully, God is merciful so that He has provided ample opportunities in the short lifespans that we have to receive the gift of eternal life freely. Then, it is amazing to see that God spoke about the provision of eternal life through Messiah all the way back in Genesis 3:15, but then began to make efforts to guarantee His offer through promises made in the scriptures. There is great purpose for the genealogy presented in Genesis 11:10-32. The line of Shem led to the person of Abram. The person of Abram became "father Abraham" - the father of the Jews, who are the people of God, and the Lord's public demonstration of His love, mercy, grace, patience, and power. The genealogies show that sin is as dangerous as God warned that it is. However, the introduction of Abram reveals that God's plan and power to offer eternal life is far greater than the power of sin and death!