The First Covenant of Promise (Genesis 8:1-9:17)

One year on a boat with hundreds of animals, cramped space, pungent odors, stale air, and no idea how long until the water subsided made for a marathon experience.  Noah sent out birds to try and find dry land to no avail until exactly one year after the rains began.  Noah could have lost his mind, but instead he kept his head about him and persevered until the very end, carrying his family and the animal life of the earth to safety.

After this experience ended, God instructed Noah to leave the ark with his family and the animals, which he did.  The first thing he did was to build and altar and make a sacrifice to God.  This was a strong indicator of his character and dedication to God.  It seems clear why God chose him to be the progenitor of the earth after the flood.  “Be fruitful and multiply (9:1,7)” was God’s command to Noah.

In verse 8 of chapter 9 we see the first covenant with promise.  The covenant was a promise from God to never again destroy the Earth by flood.  Although there have been localized floods in many places on the Earth, there has never been another flood that destroyed all humanity.  God is true to His word in all cases!

The sign of the covenant was unique, and is still present in today’s world:  the rainbow.  Up until the time of Noah, there had never been a rainbow.  How do we know this?  Genesis speaks of their being a firmament between the earth and the heavens, and that there was no rain on the earth until the time of Noah.  According to Genesis, there was a mist that came up from the Earth to water the plants, and there was water on the Earth for drinking.  At the flood, the springs of the Earth and the firmament of the heavens were both opened up to provide the water that covered the earth.  Therefore, there had been no rain, and therefore no rainbow!

But then here we have an environment where there was rain, clouds, and possibly a shower happening when Noah exited the ark, and God showed him the first rainbow.  Verses 12 through 17 all talk about the covenant and the sign: the rainbow.  Today, when I see a rainbow, I remember the grace, protection, and provision of God to humanity.  We are able to trust God for safety and salvation today because of God’s grace upon Noah.  Even in the midst of judgment, God’s grace is available to those who will hear His voice like Noah.

Lessons of the Flood (Genesis 6:13-7:24)

The Great Flood story is one of the most recognizable of all Old Testament stories.  Sunday School children everywhere can identify Noah and talk about the animals coming into the ark two by two.  But what does the story of the flood teach us for living today?

  • The earth is continually evil and judgement hangs over it.  God told Noah that the end of all flesh was before Him (v. 13, 17).
  • God gives complete instructions needed to fulfill His will (v. 14-16).
  • God provides grace and a way of escape to the righteous (v. 18).
  • Those who are living in grace should reach out to the creation in order to extend that same grace to others (v. 19-20).
  • God is looking for honest worship and sacrifice, even in the midst of tragedy (7:2-3).
  • Obedience to God brings one into a relationship of grace and favor (7:5-7)
  • Waiting upon the Lord, no matter how dire the circumstances may appear, will bring the deliverance of God according to His holy will (7:24)

The one addendum I would include is this:  While the flood is a common children’s Sunday School story, it is also a story of sin, judgement, and redemption.  The story parallels that of Jesus coming to Earth to live, die, rise again, and ascend to heaven.  How?  The earth is still full of sin, corruption, and degradation.  There is still judgement coming to Earth.  The ark is Christ’s grace extended to sinful men, shared by righteous people like Noah.  We can be builders of the ark of safety today if we will share the gospel, pray and invite souls to church and/or the kingdom, and disciple believers.  If we wait patiently for the Lord, He will return one day to take us to the promised land.

So, don’t ignore the call of God, the voice of God, when he asks you to build an ark.  The rain is coming!

Noah, Man of God (Genesis 6:9-12)

Noah.  Of all the men in the world of his day, he stood out.

Noah was just.  This signifies the righteousness of his life.  A just man lived a life of holiness before God.  God goes on to describe him as a man who was “perfect in his generations.”  Perfect here does not mean Noah never made a mistake or sinned.  It simply means he was complete, mature, ready for God’s service.  What a vaulted position of favor in which Noah found himself.  In this position, Noah was uniquely qualified to be the remnant for humanity to survive God’s judgement.  The final piece of the description says, “Noah walked with God.”

You might could compare this description to a Biblical superhero of sorts!

Then God describes the condition of the Earth: full of sin, corruption, violence.  Not a great place.  Definitely a place that could use a hero.  Kind of sounds like Planet Earth today to me.  A place in need of a hero!  The true hero, the ultimate supernatural Savior of the earth came about 2000 years ago.  However, I am sure that in times like these, God is looking for some heroes to step up and be men and women of God.  God is looking for some people to be available, and just, and perfect in their generations.

Are you willing to step up and be that hero?

Long Lives, Sons of God, and God’s Grace to Noah (Genesis 5:1-6:8)

Adam’s genealogy includes records of the longest lives in human history, many of which were over 900 years.  It includes perhaps the longest life in Methuselah, who lived a whopping 969 years!  Then Noah was born, and was given a designation as one who would “comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed.”  It seemed obvious that Noah had a calling or purpose that was evident to those around him.

Chapter 6 begins with one of the more puzzling passages in the Bible.  The allusion to “sons of God” in verse 2 has led to much speculation as to who these figures may have been.  Some speculate that these figures may have been angels.  However, other passages refer to the fact that angels are spiritual beings, heavenly creatures.  The Bible clearly states that there would be no marrying or giving in marriage in heaven.  Also, Jesus, even though he came in human form to Earth, did not take a wife or engage in sexual relations while on Earth.  Although angels did manifest themselves in a corporeal form, it is highly unlikely that they took wives and set up residence on earth.  So who are the sons of God?  Some scholars speculate that they were the most impressive princes or kings of the land, or that they were simply stronger and taller than at any other time in history due to their presumed lack of disease and long life span.  The mighty men of old could refer to the offspring of the sons of God or the sons of God themselves.  Either way, there is no other Biblical record of who exactly they were, and trying to determine that fact can only lead to conjecture and debate.  This is not a salvific issue, so I will stop my discussion here.

The wickedness of the earth was great at this time.  God was sorry He had made man.  This characterization of God is a bit incomplete.  Sure, God was grieved over the sin of the human race, but this did not take God by surprise.  The omnipotent God knew sin was coming, and had a plan to cleanse the earth and start fresh.  Noah was the righteous remnant that would carry on the human race.  “…Noah found grace in the eyes of Lord(6:8).”  That is where I want to be.  I want to be in God’s grace before God’s eyes.  Let the giants rage around me.  Let sinful people flood the space around me.  I want to live in the grace of God, and share that grace with every giant and every sinner that comes my way!

New Beginnings (Genesis 4:16-26)

Sin has entered the world through Adam and Eve’s sin.  Curses have been meted out.  Adam and Eve have been banished from Eden.  The world’s first murder is in the books, and Cain has been judged, banished, and marked.  Everything is different, and not for the better.  Cain, though, began a new life in the land of Nod.

17 And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, rand called the name of the city after the name of his son—Enoch. 18 To Enoch was born Irad; and Irad begot Mehujael, and Mehujael begot Methushael, and Methushael begot Lamech.

Everything seems to be getting back to a normal existence until Lamech kills a young man!  It seems that the sins of the father carried down to his progeny.  How do our actions affect our children?  Perhaps it is much more important that we set a powerful example of godliness than we ever knew!  We must show the way with our walk, and not just with our talk.

On another note, Adam and Eve had another son and called him Seth, which means “appointed.”  Although Adam and Eve had sinned and been banished from Eden, they were stilled the father and mother of humanity, and God gave them another chance to populate the earth.  From Seth came Enosh, and then a simple, but powerful statement is made:  “Then men began to call on the name of the Lord(4:26).”  This statement seems a bit obscure, and begs for further explanation, but is just simply stated with no editorializing.

The moral of the story?  In tough times of sin and failure, disappointment and grief, men can call on the name of the Lord and be saved.  What are you facing today?  Call on the name of the Lord!

Mismatches, Murder, and Marking (Genesis 4:1-15)

Adam and Eve began the first family after the fall from the Garden of Eden.  They had two sons that pursued two very different vocations: one a farmer, the other a shepherd.  There is much speculation as to why one offering was accepted above the other.  The primary thought offered by scholars was that Abel’s motives were more pure and that he offered only the best as an offering to the Lord, whereas Cain simply offered “an offering.”  This was an obvious mismatch in motive and quality of the offerings given to God.

The lack of acceptance by God of Cain’s offering made him especially angry and jealous of his brother Abel.  He “rose up” against Abel his brother.  The language here seems to signify an act of rage.  Maybe Abel said something negative, maybe he simply praised God for accepting his offering, or maybe he said nothing at all.  Whatever triggered Cain’s rage, he murdered his brother in cold blood.  God asked Cain about Abel’s whereabouts, and Cain denied knowledge and uttered the infamous statement, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Cain was banished from the family and area, and complained that God was punishing him more harshly than he could handle.  He felt he would instantly be killed because of his sin.  So God marked him and proclaimed vengeance upon anyone who would kill him.

So what is the lesson here?  Check your motives for anything you do.  Keep a level head, no matter what disappointment, disgust, or embarrassment you may experience.  And if you commit the crime, prepare to do the time.  All the while, understand that God will grant a measure of grace, even as you suffer the consequences of your actions!

Provision, Problems, and Prophecy (Genesis 2:8 – 3:24)

Genesis 3:15 (NKJV)  15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

In the cradle of civilization, where the Tigris and Euphrates, and the Pishon and Gihon meet, God created man and provided him a beautiful, fruitful place to live and be in direct fellowship with God.  He provided Adam with food, with dominion, and with a wife!  God set Him up perfectly for a life that would not be equaled at any time in history.  Then, Satan appealed to the pride and lust of human frailty and Eve, then Adam, ate of the forbidden fruit.  The problem of the human fall changed everything.  The curse was upon the serpent, Eve, and Adam, the ground, the plants, the animals.  This is a problematic continuing issue in the life of all humanity!

In addition, Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden of Eden so that they would not eat of the tree of life and live forever.  Sin sabotaged their existence and robbed them of the direct fellowship with God they had enjoyed.  They would now experience hard labor in childbirth for woman, hard labor in planting and harvesting for man, and a dusty, crawling existence for the serpent.

In the midst of this season of loss, God sent a message of hope.  He prophesied that the seed of woman would bruise the head of the serpent.  We know today, although it may have been a vague reference at the time, that the seed of woman is Jesus!  How do we know this?  Jesus was born of a virgin, so therefore was only descended by blood from her.  Hence, the seed of woman.  Also, this passage is definitely a messianic passage relating to the one who would liberate, save, and heal all of humanity who would respond.  Although his heel would be bruised, the greater victory still goes to the seed of woman, Jesus Christ!  And because of Christ, that victory is available to us as well.  Praise God for the Messiah!  Praise God for victory over the enemy Satan!  Praise God that even in the midst of our fall, God is working on our behalf to heal us if we will look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith