Genesis 7: Judgement and redemption

“The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family,because I have found you righteous in this generation.”  The Flood is one of those Bible stories which, like the Creation account, sparks a lot of debate and conjecture.  Obviously, if you reject the authenticity of the Bible or deny God’s existence, both of these stories are problematic to say the least.  But even among believers there are so many interpretations and perspectives.  This morning, I meditated on the contrast between the salvation of Noah and his family and the judgment of sinful mankind.

First, I think its important to dispel any suggestion that God was somehow cruel or merciless in destroying the world with a flood.  Consider why He thought it necessary to start over: mankind was thoroughly corrupted.  Men everywhere abused and killed each other.  It was one big war zone in every direction.  “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” (Gen 6:5).  God WAS being merciful here.  He saved mankind from itself, choosing the last remaining man with decency and moral character, together with his family, to start over–to give humanity a second chance.  And don’t forget that he gave mankind over a year to heed Noah’s warning and join him in the ark.

Second, look at the ark and think about the comparison to Jesus.  The ark was the only way of escape, you had to believe AND enter, once in side you were all in (completely covered/protected), God sealed the door and kept it sealed.  There are other comparisons to be made, but that last one is interesting.  God had told Noah to cover the ark with pitch.  But what sealed the door against the waters?  Nothing.  Only by God’s grace and mercy did that door stay closed and not leak.  I’ve heard people make comparisons between the wood of the ark and the wood of the cross, suggest that the ark was shaped like a coffin to symbolize life through Jesus’ death, etc.  The big takeaway here is God provided a way of salvation for mankind; Noah and his family believed and showed their faith by entering it; God kept them safe inside the ark; the destruction outside was complete–there was no escape for the unbelieving.

In the Flood account we are given a pretty complete picture of God’s plan of salvation for mankind; there is ONE way offered to ALL mankind to escape the judgement of God on sin.  Reading Genesis 6-7 from this perspective makes this familiar Bible story we heard as children come alive with eternal meaning.  Need help explaining the cross?  Look at the picture given by the Flood.

Reading: Genesis 7

Genesis 6: Mighty men of Mordor

Mordor, credit: http://lotr.wikia.com
Mordor, credit: http://lotr.wikia.com

Genesis 6 is one of those chapters so full of “food for thought” that its hard to pull out one line or verse for it.  Consider the world it describes, for example.  Blessed with an average lifespan of 700-900 years, mankind thrived in the prediluvian world.  Who knows what they achieved?  Imagine if men like Einstein and Edison had lived that long.  We tend to think of the ancient world as simpler and more primitive than ours, but was it always?

But this world was so corrupted by sin that it was rapidly declining into chaos.  Human life had no value.  Men did as they pleased, without regard for others.  Satan’s corruption of mankind was succeeding.  Evil was spreading over the Earth like a shadow, a spiritual darkness that blinded men to the truth about the Creator God and His love.  I imagine a place like Mordor (my fellow LOTR fans will understand that image), a war-zone ruled by cruel men and maybe even demons under one dark lord.  But maybe it was a lot like our world, hiding the darkness with a lot of makeup and money.  I’m letting my imagination run here so I’ll get back to the passage at hand.

Another intriguing thought, who were these “sons of God” and Nephilim?  Answers in Genesis has an interesting article on this question that’s worth reading.  I lean toward theory that the “sons of God” refers to descendants of Seth, who fathered a lineage of men who worshipped God (as opposed to Cain’s lineage who seemed to rebel against God); these men intermarried with the daughters of Cain and gradually fell away from God, that is, they turned from worshipping Him and embraced the way of the world around them.  Nephilim is an interesting word; it’s related to the verb series “to fall” in Hebrew.  Some think that they were giants, others that they were just mighty men.  I’ll let you read the article and decide for yourself.

Probably the most important part of this account is the description of Noah and God’s call upon him.  In the midst of a thoroughly corrupt world filled with violence, Noah “walked faithfully with God” just like his ancestor Enoch.  But God didn’t remove Noah from this world, He gave him a critical mission, to preserve mankind and life on Earth.  I love that phrase, “but Noah found grace (or favor) in the eyes of the Lord.”  I think that as believers we can all relate to that.  Surrounded by an evil world so corrupt that it calls sin entertainment and evil good, we have found grace in eyes of God, who has called us out of darkness and made us His children.  Like Noah, we’ve been given the opportunity, no the “divine mission,” to rescue others from the coming destruction, beginning with our own children and extending to our neighbors near and far, by pointing them to the safety of the Ark, Jesus Christ.

Reading: Genesis 6

Genesis 5: A great epitaph

“Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”  Genesis 5 delivers another genealogy with an interesting story tucked in the middle.  Between Adam and Noah, there’s a man who escaped death and went directly to heaven.  I’ve heard it preached that God did this because Enoch was somehow special, that he was so faithful and obedient God took him home early.  I disagree.  Noah was faithful, but God didn’t take him.  Other men and women in Scripture were faithful, yet God left them here to live out their lives and in some cases to die for their faith.  Was Enoch better than they?   I don’t know why God took Enoch home early, but I do know that those faithful believers God has left here on earth to live and die have had a purpose for being here.  Enoch wasn’t dearer to God than you or I.  But He walked faithfully with God, something we can do.  God loves us as much as he loved Enoch, and He has a purpose for us here.

Reading: Genesis 5

Genesis 4: The Wanderer

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”  I tried that Biblical line on my mother once when I was about 6 or 7.  It didn’t go over so well.  Of all the Bible characters to quote, Cain probably isn’t the best choice.   Two things caught my attention this morning.  First, was the question which sparked Cain’s snarky reply: “Where is your brother?”  It reminds me of the second greatest commandment identified in Matthew 22: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  From the beginning, God has desired and expected us to  love not only Him but also each other.

The second thing was the curse on Cain:  “When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”  Cain sin cost him both his job and family.  The formerly successful farmer who had been so proud of his crops that he thought they should suffice for a blood sacrifice would never again be able to coax food from the ground.  He would be a nomadic hunter and gatherer, ever wandering far from his family.  The punishment is so appropriate and just.  The source of his pride was taken away, as was the comfort of the family he despised.

Yet this passage also demonstrates God’s love and mercy, even for the rebellious son.  When reading the Old Testament, I’m always tempted to gloss over the geneologies.  Here Genesis 4 gives the first geneology in Scripture, the descendants of Cain, which at first glance seems insignificant.  But it occurred to me this morning that this short description of Cain’s children and grandchildren has a point.  In spite of the curse, God did show Cain mercy.  He lived, prospered and raised a family.  He had a lifetime of opportunity to repent and turn back to God.  God’s justice and mercy have always coexisted and always will.

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.  -Ps 85:10

Reading: Genesis 4

Genesis 3: Eyes wide-open

Vitruvian man, by Da Vinci
Vitruvian man, by Da Vinci

“Their eyes were opened, and they saw that they were naked.”  What happened here?  Why didn’t they know they were naked before?  I propose it is because they were “cloaked” with divine light as a result of their daily communion with God.  Remember when Moses returned from Mount Sinai with the tablets, how his face glowed so brightly that no one could look upon him?  Adam and even walked with God every evening.  Daily they absorbed His holy light, and as a result, I think their bodies were radiant, literally “clothed” in light.  The moment they sinned, that holy light went out, revealing their nakedness.  They hid from God, because they could see that the light was gone.  It was not so much their anatomy as their darkness that made them ashamed.  Their eyes were “opened” to evil and darkness.  They could suddenly conceive dark thoughts—lust, envy, greed, hatred, jealousy, selfishness.  Think how immediately Adam turned on Eve, the companion and lover he adored, and blamed her for his sin.  The serpent’s lie, “Your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” contained a sliver of truth. They were nothing like God after they fell, but they did “know…evil”.  They had always known good, because they knew God.  Evil, His polar opposite, was a new concept and unfortunately the only promise that Satan delivered.  The ability to conceive dark, unholy thoughts, to rebel against the Creator, is the poison that came with that forbidden fruit, and it did indeed bring death.  The hope I find here however is that we can have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and in His eyes, we are once again clothed with the light of Christ’s righteousness.  We can’t see it yet, but one day, we will.

Reading: Genesis 3

Genesis 2: The Divine “transfusion”

Creation of Adam, Michelangelo
Creation of Adam, Michelangelo

“The Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”  Everything else the Creator spoke into existence.  He caused the earth itself to “bring forth” the other living creatures.  But man He personally sculpted.  Adam was hand-crafted.  As an artist I can relate to the joy of creating things with my hands, patiently detailing my work and feeling that thrill of making something beautiful.  That’s how God created man, with patience and delight.  Then, as God alone can do, He have his handiwork LIFE—not just animation or energy, but an eternal spirit.  He made man to dwell with him forever.  Surrounded by death and decay as we are in this world, it is easy to lose sight of our eternal destiny.  We think of life as this present existence.  But the life God breathed into man was so much more than that.  Like a transfusion of God’s life force, that breath transformed a sculpture of clay into an immortal being, a child of the eternal Father God.  We were created to live, love and worship forever in His presence.  This truth answers the age-old question of every man: What is the meaning of life?

Reading: Genesis 2

Genesis 1: Those familiar words…

Crab Nebula
Crab Nebula, Credit: NASA

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Possibly the most familiar sentence in Scripture, this verse represents for many their introduction to God’s Word—the first scripture they ever heard.  To the unbeliever, it may sound like myth, legend, dogma, or just foolishness.  But for the believer, it encapsulates one of the fundamental tenets upon which our entire faith is based: that everything we know, this reality in which we live, began with God.  I never cease to be amazed by how the story of the creation speaks to me when I read it.  I have heard it so many times I can recite it from memory.  Yet reading it, I am struck once again with the awesome truth of the Creator’s love for mankind.  Everything He created—from the beautiful to the practical—He crafted to make a perfect home for us.  Each day of Creation represents a layer of loving preparation for day six, when He stepped down onto planet Earth, pulled clay from the ground beneath his feat, and fashioned His most cherished creature, man.  You and I are the reason He made everything in this amazing universe, and He made us for one purpose: to worship Him.  We are the offspring of God, created in His image to enjoy a loving relationship with Him forever. 

Reading: Genesis 1