August 14, 2011 | David F. Coppedge

Book Review: The Days of Lamech

To Biblical creationists, the period before the Flood lasted some 2,000 years – an immense span of time for humans with an explosive mix: high intelligence and a murderous sin nature.  Yet the Bible provides few details about this period.  How far did civilization proceed?  What technologies did they develop?  We know from Genesis they lived long, built cities, worked metals, made musical instruments, and mastered farming.  We also know that the world was filled with violence.  A new novel explores the possibilities of that tantalizing past.

Building on the success of his first novel The Days of Peleg, novelist Jon Saboe has just published the long-awaited prequel, a drama set in the height of the antediluvian civilization: The Days of Lamech (Outskirts Press, Denver, 2011; 503 pp).  Key characters come right out of the Genesis genealogies: Lamech the protagonist, his father Methusaleh and grandfather Enoch, and his son Noah and their wives.  While keeping faithful to the Biblical texts, and drawing from potential technologies available to intelligent people with lifespans of centuries, Saboe has portrayed a fascinating world of city-dwellers and “forest people” living among strange creatures on a supercontinent with an ecology much different from ours.

Their world is filled with travel, communication, architecture, stratified societies, commerce, and conflict.  After the devastations of the Family Wars, the mysterious Semyaz promise enlightenment, peace, and improvement of the human race.  Welcomed by the masses but distrusted by a dissident minority, the secretive Semyaz are exposed by Lamech, acting as a spy, to be perpetrators of atrocities on captives in their secure compound in a rocky coastal mountain range.  Their nefarious plans erupt into a global evil that requires a global purge, and therein lies Saboe’s tale.

As with Peleg, the new Days of Lamech is a page-turner, filled with sudden swerves of events, intrigue, suspense, action and close calls, yet softened with moments of love, loyalty, sacrifice, promise, hope, and spiritual insight.  And as with Peleg, the first chapter hooks the reader, leaving no escape but to find out how it all ends.  Some of the technologies are at the edge of credibility (after all, this is a sci-fi novel), but certainly within the permission a reader of fiction is willing to grant the author.  For doubters, Saboe provides several appendices with support for the technologies he describes. 

Unlike evolutionists, Biblical creationists, who take the early chapters of Genesis seriously, have no reason to think the antediluvians were dumb brutes.  In a healthier world not so far removed from the perfect creation, without the accumulated mutations several millennia after the Flood, who knows what long-lived “men of renown” could have achieved.  One thing is certain: high intelligence with a sinful nature is a volatile mix.  Fans of C. S. Lewis will hear in the stone halls of the Semyaz faint echoes of the N.I.C.E. in That Hideous Strength.  As always, masses of people follow the propaganda of the experts, unaware of what is really happening around them. The limited revelation antediluvians had (especially from the promise of Genesis 3:15) remains the pole star of hope for the diminishing numbers of righteous ones.

Jesus said that the last days would resemble “the days of Noah” when people were engaged in commerce, marrying, and going about their daily lives, unaware that judgment was about to fall.  The Days of Lamech will surely open minds to possible scenes from a lost civilization obliterated under waters and sediments, but more than that, will cause readers to ponder the coming evil that will one day result in a judgment of fire.  Along the way, readers are sure to experience a mind-bending adventure, full of drama and suspense, technology in the cities and survival in the wild, courage in the face of evil, promise and purpose.  The book can be ordered from the author’s website that has links to Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

CEH deals with non-fiction almost all the time, but this fictional tale (based on Biblical history) was a welcome diversion.  Little has been written about this period; non-fictional scholarship would necessarily be restrained by limited information available, but the setting is perfect for a novel.  Jon Saboe, a man of many talents, has done Bible believers a great service by opening up this era for serious contemplation.  Your editor admits he was hooked from Chapter 1.  Though cognizant of the outcome in general terms, he was continually surprised by Saboe’s plot lines, woven with picturesque descriptions and lifelike dialogue.  The characters are plausible, distinctive, and nuanced.  It was very satisfying to see how all the diverse threads came together at the end in the way required by Genesis 6.

If this wasn’t the way things actually happened, maybe it should have been, because The Days of Lamech is a thrill ride for the mind and spirit, equal to – no, exceeding – the drama in The Days of Peleg, which says a lot.  The take-home message is that, just as we should never underestimate the potential for evil in fallen beings, we should never underestimate the patience, mercy, and provision the Creator has made for the redemption of the creatures he loves in spite of their sins.  And just as in the days of Noah, it is the few – individuals who trust and obey their Maker – who change the world, even when all seems lost. “Even one is worth it,” Lamech said, when the fruits of his sacrificial labors seemed outwardly disappointing.  That one might become the mother of a new world, the bearer of a promised Seed.  God works through flawed but faithful individuals.  We can be, we need to be, the Enochs, Lamechs, and Noahs of our day.

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