Last week we started looking at Noah and the Flood. We saw that it was not a cute story of a man and his zoo-boat. Someone asked me if it was appropriate for parents to have Noah and the Ark as a theme for their nursery. Probably not, unless you are willing to have dead bodies floating around the ark! This story is a tragedy and picture of the judgment of God, yet we see the grace of God in how God preserved Noah and his family through the Flood. And thankfully because Christ went under the waters of God’s wrath, so today we can go over it!
We looked at the fact that this story is not about Noah, the Flood or the ark. It is actually about God. God judges the seed of the serpent and preserves the seed of the woman. Let’s review. We saw:
I. God grieves over sin and judges it completely.
We saw that in Gen. 6:7-7 we have a God who weeps and has chosen to bind His heart with ours. God makes Himself vulnerable. The Flood is the releasing of His tears. One commentator says, “Here is the wounded spirit of the artist whose work is rejected, the broken heart of the lover whose love is not returned.” Secondly:
II. God saves and keeps His own faithfully.
We see throughout this story that God is the main actor from start to finish. God is faithful. God tells Noah to build the ark (Gen. 6:14), to bring the animals in (Gen. 6:19-21), to get in the ark (Gen. 7:1) as God shut them in (Gen. 7:16) and to get out of the ark (Gen. 8:16). God keeps His own. God is in charge of our salvation. He is the captain of our salvation. He will carry us all the way home faithfully. We also saw that salvation is a salvation through judgment. The same waters that sinks the unbelieving raises the believing. Thirdly,
III. True life is found when we trust and obey.
We saw that while God’s faithfulness shines through in this story, we find a lot about how we are to live in light of judgment. We saw that Noah found grace (Gen. 6:8) and as a result, he walked with God and his life was a demonstration of it in front of the watching world (Gen. 6:9). Because he walked with God, God spoke to him and disclosed Himself to Noah. Seven times we find the phrase “and God said to Noah.” We also saw that Noah worked for God as he walked with Him.
And from the get go, Noah had to trust God as well. Despite how foolish it seemed to his contemporaries, he obeyed and trusted. Interestingly, he, his family and all these animals were in the ark seven days before it rained (Gen. 7:10). That must have been a test as well. He ended being on the ark for over a year, even after the earth was dried up. He trusted God’s timing, even when it did not make sense to him. He trusted God even when he felt shut in the ark, which simply seemed to be floating. Now let’s continue with some more lessons from the rest of this story:
IV. God is a God of new beginnings
Interestingly, if you read the Flood narrative, there are a lot of similarities between it and the Creation narrative. Take a look here:
| Creation | Flood=Re-creation |
What the author is telling us here is that God is a de-creator as he wipes out the old, but God is also a re-creator, as He brings in the new. Remember again that the Spirit of God in Genesis so far has been one who makes order out of disorder (Gen. 1:2). God removed His Spirit as He warned He would do (Gen. 6:3) and so disorder came upon the earth. However, in grace, God’s Spirit returns again in Gen. 8:1. And God regathers the waters, brings up the dry ground again, houses birds in the sky and finally calls man again to bear His image and be fill the earth with God’s glory.
All of this is to say that God is a God of new beginnings. When Moses writes this, the children of Israel are about to enter the Promised Land and take it. They spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness. They too will enter the “new world,” i.e. the Promised Land, through water. Now this message comes to them. God gives His people fresh starts. There are times in all of our lives when we need a new beginning with God. Maybe some of us have failed the Lord terribly through deliberate rebellion and sin. Maybe we have drifted carelessly into the world and its ways, neglecting the things of God. Now we find ourselves far from Him. A disappointment or trial may have caused us to drift from the close fellowship with God and His people that were once enjoyed. We need a new beginning. And if we are born again, we have a new beginning with God. Paul says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). And the rest of the Christian life is a series of new beginnings. I am thankful for mercies that are new every morning (Lam. 3:23)!
One day, He will make all things new! (Rev. 21:5). It is interesting that John writes “there will be no sea” earlier (Rev. 21:1). I don’t know how literal that is or if he is alluding to the fact that judgment is over, the Flood of God’s wrath is over, and God is making all things new again? But until then, God wants me to experience Him in new ways. When was the last time you experienced God in a new way? Or are you living on old mercies? If you are, God offers you a new beginning in Him.
John Ortberg, in his great book Love Beyond Reason, talks about a time when he once was playing golf with his friends. During his turn, he hit the ball and it ended up on the roof of someone’s townhouse. He went to go track the ball when his friends said, “Don’t bother. Let it go.” Ortberg writes, “They told me to take what is called a mulligan…you won’t even have to count it. We won’t write it down. It won’t appear on the scorecard. I was given a clean slate. A fresh beginning. I could start over---as if for the first time. It was a grace note in an otherwise unforgiving game.”
You can get mulligans in games, but in life, you don’t get mulligans. You can’t ask the police officer for a mulligan when you get pulled over. You reap what you sow. We have to pay for the choices we make. There is a cost to our disobedience. However, at the same time, God offers us mulligans because Christ was willing to pay the price for all of our wrong on the scorecards of life. God offers us mulligans. Peter actually uses the Flood as a picture of what baptism is (1 Pet. 3:21). You go under the water, as a picture of the old you buried with Christ, and you come up from the water, ready to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4).
We picture God as someone hesitant to forgive us. But I think we are more hesitant to ask for forgiveness than He is to give it. His feet towards us in forgiveness is faster than ours in repentance. I think if there is something we underestimate about God the most it is His willing longing to forgive us and give us fresh starts. We see that Jesus on the shore in John 21, going up to a disciple who has failed Him terribly by denying Him three times. And after Peter acknowledges his love (that was the root of the issue), Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.” In other words, Peter, you are still the right man for the job. Get back in the game. Take the mulligan. It reminds me of the old hymn by Annie Flint:
“When we have exhausted our store of endurance; when our strength has failed before the day is half done; When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun. His love has no limits, His grace has no measure; His power no boundary known unto men; For out of His infinite riches in Jesus He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.”
Praise God that He is a God of new beginnings! In addition,
V. New beginnings with God begin with holy worship
One of the things we see repeated over and over again is the mention of animals throughout the narrative (Gen. 6:19-21, 7:2-3, 8-9, 14-16, 8:6-12, 17-21, 9:2-4, 10). First of all, the question arises if Noah’s ark can actually hold all these animals. Aren’t there over a billion species? According to Apologists Geisler and Howe, “First, the modern concept of “species” is not the same as a ‘kind’ in the Bible. There are probably only several hundred different ‘kinds’ of land animals that would have to be taken into the ark. The sea animals stayed in the sea, and many species could have survived in egg form. Second, the ark was not small; it was a huge structure—the size of a modern ocean liner. Furthermore, it had three stories (6:16), which tripled its space to a total of over 1.5 million cubic feet! Third, Noah could have taken younger or smaller varieties of some larger animals. Given all these factors, there was plenty of room for all the animals, food for the trip, and the eight humans aboard.” Another author adds, “Another factor which greatly reduces the space requirements is the fact that the tremendous variety in species we see today did not exist in the days of Noah. Only the parent “kinds” of these species were required to be on board in order to repopulate the earth. For example, only two dogs were needed to give rise to all the dog species that exist today.”
Secondly, questions are raised about dinosaurs and the Flood. Dinosaurs were land animals, which were created on Day 6 along with man. No evidence suggests that they were extinct before the Flood. Job talks about a “behemoth” in Job 40, which seems like some kind of dinosaur. So some ancestor of “behemoth” was probably on the ark. But aren’t dinosaurs like really big? (I mean, we have all seen Jurassic Park). Hamm and Lovett, creationists, say, “Juveniles of even the largest land animals do not present a size problem, and, being young, they have their full breeding life ahead of them. Yet most dinosaurs were not very large at all—some were the size of a chicken (although absolutely no relation to birds, as many evolutionists are now saying). Most scientists agree that the average size of a dinosaur is actually the size of a sheep. For example, God most likely brought Noah two young adult sauropods (e.g., apatosaurs), rather than two full-grown sauropods. The same goes for elephants, giraffes, and other animals that grow to be very large. However, there was adequate room for most fully grown adult animals anyway. As far as the number of different types of dinosaurs, it should be recognized that, although there are hundreds of names for different varieties (species) of dinosaurs that have been discovered, there are probably only about 50 actual different kinds.” Again, this is all beyond the scope of our study here in Genesis, so please study this more on your own if you are curious.
I don’t want us to lose the point here thinking about all this. Why does God make a big deal about these animals? Well, one is that they will be part of the new world and God wanted them to reproduce and fill it (Gen. 8:17-18). Second, notice the mention of “clean” animals (Gen. 7:3). It wasn’t until later in the Pentateuch that we know what animals were clean and what animals weren’t clean. But here we see that this wasn’t anything new with God. He must have told Noah what those were. What’s the purpose of that? Is it because some animals are literally dirtier than others?" Does it have to do with health? Does it mean you can eat certain animals because they carry less disease (more clean) than certain other animals? Actually it had nothing to do with that.
When God asked His people to do that, He was telling them to be holy. God desires for them to be distinct and separated from the world. The seed of the woman must not look like the seed of the serpent, so to speak. That is exactly what holiness was about. It meant to be “set apart.” God did not want them to think they are just like everybody else. Pastor John Macarthur adds, “It was as if the Lord was saying to them, ‘I want you to learn to separate My ways from all other ways.’… From the very start God taught His people there was His way and there was another way. And it had to do with your sacrifices and it had to do with your offerings and it had to with even your diets; the common matters of daily life you needed to learn in the commonest things of life God's way.”
Noah was definitely distinct and holy in his generation. We can see that by the way the author contrasts him with everyone else in Gen. 6:8-13. He may have appeared “weird” and “strange,” but nevertheless, Noah was in the majority, because he walked with God. God destroyed the cities and great achievements of the unbelievers (Gen. 4:17-26). Only true worshippers of Yahweh remained.
And notice what Noah does as soon as he gets out on to land in Gen. 8:20. He worships. Taking all of Noah’s life up to this point, I see a picture of a believer who is set apart. A believer is one who walks with the Lord in sweet communion. A believer also works for the Lord by faith. Thirdly, a believer waits for the Lord with perseverance and a believer worships the Lord with gratitude.
What I like about Noah is that he not only can build a ship for God (big things), but he remembers build altars for God too (small things). Maybe you can preach a sermon or lead a small group or lead worship or teach Sunday School, but are you an altar-maker at your home? At your workplace? Does holiness go down to your day-to-day most routine part of your life? Think about it for a second. How busy do you think Noah may have been after the Flood? I think he would have been pretty busy setting his foot on dry ground again. I’m sure he had to think about building some sort of a shelter for his family. I’m sure they had to tend to the domestic animals. They may have had to move everything off the ark to their new homes. And yet Noah took time to remember the Lord by building an altar and offering sacrifices. Pastor Stephen Cole rebukes us when he says, “Like Noah, most of us have a million other pressing things we could be doing with our time. It’s so easy to get busy with life and forget the Lord and His blessings to us. Forgetting, we grow ungrateful. And ungratefulness leads us away from God. We must guard against thankless hearts by regularly setting aside time in our busy schedules to remember the Lord and the great salvation He has granted us.”
As Noah builds the altar, the author is telling us a few things: First of all, that the seed of the woman is alive and well. Like Sethites of old, Noah is a worshipper of Yahweh (Gen. 4:26). Secondly, total consecration. Notice also the burnt offering. Warren Wiersbe says, “In Old Testament days, when you sacrificed a burnt offering, you gave the entire animal or bird to the Lord with nothing kept back (Lev. 1). “All on the altar” (Lev. 1:9) was the biblical law, because the sacrifice symbolized total dedication to the Lord. In a new step of commitment, Noah gave himself and his family completely to the Lord. God had graciously protected them and brought them through the storm, so it was only fitting that they make themselves available to the Lord to do His will.” Hughes adds, “As it burnt and then incinerated to ashes, Noah was indicating in effect, “All my life is yours—everything!” Lastly, it also meant sin was atoned. God starts a sacrificial system where those who are sacrificing see that there is a cost to sin and that the wages of sin is death.
Notice that God smelled “the pleasing aroma” (Gen. 8:21). This means that this symbolic act of worship was pleasing to the Lord because it outwardly demonstrated what Noah felt inwardly. The New Testament alludes to this in pointing to Christ as the ultimate sacrifice (Eph. 5:2). He was consumed completely on the altar of God, fully paying for our debt of sin. God was pleased with Christ’s offering. As a result, God accepts our offering because we come to God through Christ. Here in Ephesians Paul says we offer ourselves to God and others as response to what Christ has done. Because He died for me, I will live for Him and for others.
I want to stop here and pick it up next time. I want to pause and call us to rededicate our lives to Christ once again. I think the Christian life is a series of new beginnings and second chances. I want to do the same here for myself. I want a new beginning with Him. I believe Jesus went thrown overboard and went under the waters of God’s wrath for my sins so that I can over it and float to safety. Therefore, He accepts me just as I am. I can have a new beginning. I can take this mulligan. However, He does not want to keep me just as I am. He wants me to live a life of holy worship with Him. I want to be totally consecrated to Him. As I submit myself to Him, I want Him to totally consume me with Himself.
On the bulletin, you see the words: walk, work, wait and worship. Those words I think demonstrate what it means to be a holy worshipper. Perhaps you can write short prayers next to each word? Lord, I want to walk with you in sweet communion. Lord, I want to work for you by faith. Lord, I want to wait for you with perseverance. Lord, I want to worship you with gratitude. I want all of this, Lord, because love so amazing, demands my life, my soul and my all.
Atkinson, D. (1990). Genesis 1-11 (137). The Bible Speaks Today series. Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP.
Taken from Waltke, B. (2001). Genesis: A Commentary (128-29). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
No Day 4 since luminaries need not be recreated.
Ortberg, J. (1998). Loye Beyond Reason (67-68). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Taken from http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/He_Giveth_More_Grace/ accessed 28 October 2011.
Geisler, N. L., & Howe, T. A. (1992). When Critics Ask: A popular handbook on Bible difficulties (42). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.
Hamm, Ken and Tim Lovett. “Was there really a Noah’s ark and Flood,” http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/really-a-flood-and-ark#fnList_1_5 accessed 28 October 2011.
Macarthur, J. From the sermon, “Judgment on the Horizon,” http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/90-258/Judgment-on-the-Horizon#.TqsbVVb4_Z0 accessed 28 October 2011.
Cole, Stephen. From the sermon “When you feel forgotten by God,” http://www.fcfonline.org/content/1/sermons/041496M.pdf accessed 28 October 2011.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1998). Be Basic. An Old Testament study. (109). Colorado Springs, Colo.: Chariot Victor Pub.
Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: Beginning and Blessing. Preaching the Word (144). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.