Origins

Unstoppable

(Genesis 11:10-26)

 

INTRODUCTION

“In his book An Unstoppable Force, Erwin McManus shares the story of how prayers resulted in what can only be called a miraculous re-creation.

 

While ministering in South Dallas, McManus's small congregation began to grow. Looking for a place to build a larger church building, the leadership spotted an acre of land for sale. Given its location near downtown Dallas, it seemed strange that the property was available. Excited at their good fortune, this small group of people—many on welfare—began to pray that the site would soon be theirs. Eventually, they were able to purchase the property after receiving financial help from an association of churches.

 

As the congregation began the process of obtaining building permits, they discovered the property had been declared "unbuildable." The acre of land in a prime location was nothing more than a worthless landfill. McManus grieved over this waste of precious time and money. He writes:

 

We had bought an acre of garbage. Several core samples were taken. From what I understood, they went at least twenty-five feet deep and found nothing but trash…All I could do was ask our congregation to pray with me and believe that God was with us and that he would even use the worst of human mistakes to perform the greatest of miracles.

 

After months of prayer, a woman from the congregation told McManus that since they had asked God to turn the land into something useful, surely it had been taken care of. Feeling God's confirmation of her words, McManus asked for more core samples to be taken. This time the researchers found soil. McManus writes:

 

How did this happen? Was it because the core sample was in a different part of the land? Or could it be that God had actually performed a miracle and changed the landfill to good land? What I do know is that the same realtor who sold the property to me came back and offered me three times the amount he had sold it for once he heard the clearance to build had actually come through. What I do know is that the previous owners could not build on the property, but we could. What I do know is that we were told the property was worthless and unusable. What I cannot tell you is what happened beneath the ground at 2815 South Ervay Street. All I can tell you is what I know—and that is that God took my failure and performed a miracle. Today Cornerstone worships on that acre of land in a sanctuary built by our own hands.”

 

Source: Erwin McManus, An Unstoppable Force (Group, 2001), pp.151-153

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2007/december/1121707.html]

BODY

  • ME

    • Hurricane Andrew

        • Judy and I had just moved to Florida and gotten our apartment all set up

        • Judy was ready to start her first day of teaching Kindergarten when the news came that Hurricane Andrew was going to make landfall in southern Florida the night before her first day

        • We prepared our apartment for the impending hurricane and then left with some friends to go to her parents’ house an hour further north and inland

        • Hurricane Andrew did make landfall in the middle of the night and I remember looking outside and seeing the palm tree in the front yard almost horizontal with the ground (we were two hours north of the eye)

        • We had no idea what we would find when we got back to our apartment, but everything was fine

        • I can’t think of a better example of an unstoppable force that I have experienced personally

    • Our new dog, Red

        • We recently got a new dog (he is a Redbone Coonhound and is super strong and powerful)

        • I’ve been walking him in the orchard every morning (rather he’s been walking me in the orchard)

        • The entire time we’re walking, he has his nose to the ground and is picking up different scents

        • There are times when I get pulled along and have to start running to keep up with him as he pulls on the lease

        • We’re learning together

        • The other morning, I slipped on the wet grass as we were coming down the steep grade out of the orchard

        • He basically pulled me down the hill

        • This winter should be fun, especially if we get snow, because I have a sled that I would like to ride while he pulls me through the orchard

        • Red is a powerful dog and his hunting and tracking instinct is almost unstoppable

 

  • WE

    • What unstoppable forces have you all experienced?

 

Pastor Marc mentioned last week that the narrative about the Tower of Babel actually occurred prior to the genealogy found in Genesis 10:1-32. ​​ The question that arises is why have the genealogy in chapter 10, then the narrative about the Tower of Babel, and then another genealogy. ​​ Why not have the Tower of Babel and then the complete genealogy? ​​ I’m glad you asked. ​​ Shem’s line through Joktan and then the narrative of the Tower of Babel show the sinfulness of humanity and the need for revelation/redemption. ​​ Shem’s line through Peleg to Abram shows that “human sin . . . cannot undermine the determined progress of God’s salvation for His people.” [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1A, Genesis 1-11:26, 489]. ​​ What we learn through this second genealogy of Shem is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ God’s plan of salvation is unstoppable.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 11:10-26)

    • Toledot (v. 10a)

        • This is the fifth of the ten toledot statements (the history of/the generations of/the account of/the origins of . . .)

        • Review

          • The account of the line of the heavens and the earth (2:4-4:26) – transition (4:25-26)

          • The account of Adam’s line (5:1-6:8) – transition (6:1-8)

          • The account of Noah’s line (6:9-9:29) – transition (9:18-29)

          • The account of the line of Noah’s sons (10:1-11:9) – transition (11:1-9)

          • The account of Shem’s line (11:10-26) – transition (11:26)

        • Next week we will begin a much larger account that will extend from Genesis 11:27-25:11 [The account of Terah’s line (11:27-25:11) – transition (23:1-25:11)]

    • Shem’s Line (vv. 10b-26)

        • Background information

          • We’re given the timeframe of when Arphaxad (ar-pak-shad’/air-pak-shad’) is born – two years after the flood

          • When we look back at Genesis 10:22 we see that Arphaxad is third in line, so perhaps Elam (ay-lawm’) and Asshur (ash-shoor’) were born within the two years prior to Arphaxad’s birth

          • One other important note is the formula used in announcing each father and son

            • The father’s name is mentioned and his age when the son was born

            • Next, we’re told how long the father lived after the birth of the son

            • Finally, it’s mentioned that the father had other sons and daughters

            • This formula is very similar to the one used in Genesis 5:1-32 where we saw the genealogy from Adam to Noah (both genealogies end with three sons mentioned)

            • The only differences are that the genealogy in Genesis 5 lists the total number of years that each father lived and it mentions that they died

          • This sets the stage for the account of Shem

        • Genealogy

          • Shem, 100 years old, lived another 500 years, other sons and daughters

          • Arphaxad, 35 years old, lived another 403 years, other sons and daughter

          • Shelah (sheh’-lakh), 30 years old, lived another 403 years, other sons and daughters

          • Eber (ay’-ber/a’-ver), 34 years old, lived another 430 years, other sons and daughters

          • Peleg (peh’-leg), 30 years old, lived another 209 years, other sons and daughters

          • Reu (reh-oo’), 32 years old, lived another 207 years, other sons and daughters

          • Serug (ser-oog’/say-roog’), 30 years old, lived another 200 years, other sons and daughters

          • Nahor (naw-khore’), 29 years old, lived another 119 years, other sons and daughters

          • Terah (teh’-rakh/teh’-rack), 70 years old

            • Three sons are listed under Terah, just like three sons were listed under Noah in Genesis 5:32

            • Terah’s three sons were Abram (ab-rawm’/ab-raw-hawm’), Nahor (naw-khore’), and Haran (haw-rawn’)

              • All three of these men will have prominent roles in the continuing story of God’s salvation

              • Abram will be the father of the chosen family [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 114]

              • Nahor is the ancestor of Rebekah, which will be Isaac’s wife, and mother of Jacob and Esau (Isaac is the chosen line from Abraham) [Keil & Delitzsch, 114]

              • Haran is the father of Lot [Keil & Delitzsch, 114]

            • We’re not told how long Terah lived after having his three sons

            • It is also not mentioned that he had other sons and daughters, but it’s probable that he did

    • Application

        • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is sovereign and keeps His promises!

          • One of the striking differences between the genealogy found in Genesis 5 and this one in Genesis 11:10-26 is the shortened lifespans of the patriarchs

            • In the line from Adam to Noah we see most of the patriarchs living well over 500 years’ old

            • In the line from Noah to Abram, Shem is the only patriarch that lives over 500 years’ old

            • Nahor and Terah live almost to 150 years’ old

            • What we see happening is the Lord keeping His promise about numbering humanity’s days

              • Genesis 6:3, Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

              • Genesis 6:5, The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.

              • God had not forgotten His promise to limit humanity’s lifespan to 120 years

              • He was allowing it to happen naturally over many generations

            • Factors in the shortening of humanity’s lifespan

              • Sin – “This the author implies is the consequence of encroaching human sin. ​​ Granted, sin has not altogether derailed creation’s promise of procreation, but it has altered the power of life so as to diminish its longevity.” ​​ [Mathews, 493]

              • Environmental conditions – the flood altered the climate of the earth [Keil & Delitzsch, 113]

              • Human behavior – the separation of the human race into nations changed the habits of men [Keil & Delitzsch, 113]

            • God certainly kept His promise about shortening humanity’s lifespan, but He has also made a promise about giving individuals a long life

          • God’s promise of long life

            • Old Testament – The Ten Commandments

              • Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

              • Deuteronomy 5:16, “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

              • Ephesians 6:1-3, Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ​​ “Honor your father and mother” – which is the first commandment with a promise – “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

            • Honoring our parents

              • To honor our parents means to respect and love them

              • It’s different than obeying them, which means that we do what we’re told

              • Honoring our parents continues into adulthood and even after they pass away – it is a lifetime commitment and command from the Lord

              • How do we honor our parents?

                • Speaking well of them

                • Speaking politely to them

                • Acting in a way that shows them courtesy and respect

                • Working hard

                • Providing for them in times of financial need

                • Providing for them when they are ill or unable to care for themselves

                • Passing on their godly values to our children, grandchildren, other family members, and individuals

          • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim God’s promise of a long life, by honoring my parents.

          • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Worship the Lord for being sovereign and keeping His promises.

        • PRINCIPLE #2 – Human sin cannot stop God’s plan of salvation.

          • “The important thing about this genealogy is that it records the faithfulness of God in watching over His people and fulfilling His promises. ​​ What to us is only a list of names was to God a ‘bridge’ from the appointment of Shem to the call of Abraham.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 63]

          • “Hence, while the threats of the flood and Babel are alarming, the return to the predictable pattern of genealogical descent after each (9:29; 11:10-26) shows that God’s purposes for humanity are back on course. ​​ Human sin, despite its damaging severity, cannot undermine the determined progress of God’s salvation for his people.” ​​ [Mathews, 489]

          • God’s plan of salvation is unstoppable.

          • Struggling with sin

            • Perhaps there is someone here today who is struggling to embrace and believe that God’s plan of salvation is unstoppable

            • We all probably have individuals we are praying for about salvation, but those individuals continue to pursue sin and the things of this world

            • When we think about those individuals and the many prayers we have offered up on their behalf, we wonder if God is listening or even cares

            • I’m here to remind us that God does care and He is listening

              • He is all-knowing and all-powerful

              • 2 Peter 3:8-9, But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: ​​ With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. ​​ The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. ​​ He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

              • Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. ​​ “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

            • The sins that our loved ones are pursuing right now will not stop God’s plan of salvation, because His plan is unstoppable

            • Keep praying, keep sharing, keep loving

          • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Embrace the truth that God’s plan of salvation is unstoppable, by continuing to pray for, talk with, and love those I live, learn, work, and play with.

 

  • YOU

    • You and I serve a sovereign God who keeps His promises and that should cause us to rejoice!

    • You and I worship a Savior whose plan of salvation is unstoppable and that should encourage us to press on!

 

  • WE

    • God has commanded every believer to help Him share the plan of salvation where we live, learn, work, and play

    • Who, in your sphere of influence, needs to hear the good news of salvation?

 

CONCLUSION

“During the troubled years of the Second World War, the Italian forces were driven out of Eritrea in North Africa. In an effort to make the harbor unusable to the Allies, the Italians took great barges, filled them with concrete, and caused them to be sunk across the entrance to the harbor. When the Allies entered, their problem was to remove those barges in order that the harbor might become usable.

 

They did so in a very ingenious way. They took great gas tanks—not the kinds of tanks we have on our cars or in our homes, but those huge tanks that hold hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel in great oil refineries. They sealed those tanks so they would float, and they caused them to be floated over the place where the barges were below. When the tide was out, they chained the tanks to the barges. When the tide came in, the barges were lifted by the tanks floating with the tide. The barges were pulled from the sucking sand at the bottom of the bay. It was then a relatively easy matter to remove them and make the harbor usable again.

 

Think of the power in that! The barges were chained to the tanks. The tanks were dependent upon the tides. The tides were pulled by the gravitational attraction of the moon, and the moon was moving in accord with the whole cosmos, the great sidereal system. Tremendous, unimaginable, dynamic power belongs to the tides.”

 

Bruce Thielemann, Tide Riding, sermon on Matthew 26:36-46.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/sermons/sermons/2010/july/tideriding.html]

8

 

What’s In a Name?

As most of you know I love genealogy and because of that I am fascinated with where names come from, both family names and place names. For instance, I was named Marc for the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius. My first middle name is Joseph and was named after my grandfather on my mother’s side. My second middle name is Jerome and was named after my father’s boss at the time of my birth. My mother’s first name is Elizabeth and she was named after her mother whose middle name was Elizabeth. I am not totally positive where my dad got his first name, Phillip, but his great-grandfather on his mother’s side was also named Phillip. I am also fascinated with where names of places come from. I grew up in and went to school in Temple Hills, MD which is named for a 19th century doctor named Edward Temple. When I met Judy, I was living in Fort Washington, MD which was named after a fort named for George Washington that was on the Potomac River. It was the only fort protecting Washington, DC in that area during the war of 1812.

Do you know where we get the name America? It is named after Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer who set forth the then revolutionary concept that the lands that Christopher Columbus sailed to in 1492 were part of a separate continent and wasn’t the West Indies. I looked up where we get some of the names for the states. Oregon comes from the Portuguese word for “cascades.” Texas comes from the Caddo Indian word for “friends” or “allies.” Virginia is named for England’s Queen Elizabeth I who was called the virgin queen. One of the more fascinating ones I came across was Idaho. In the mid 1800’s, mining lobbyist George M. Willing presented the name "Idaho" to congress for a new territory around Pike's Peak, claiming it was a Native American Shoshone phrase, supposedly meaning "Gem of the Mountains." But in reality he made the name up and by the time the deception was discovered, the name "Idaho" was already in common use.

Do you know where the name Pennsylvania came from? ​​ In 1681, King Charles II granted a land charter to William Penn to repay a debt owed to William's father, Admiral William Penn. William Penn, the son, wanted to name it New Wales but there were objections. He then tried to named it Sylvania which is Latin for “forest” or “woods” but the King named it Pennsylvania (literally "Penn's Woods") in honor of Admiral Penn. William Penn was embarrassed at the name fearing that people would think he had named it after himself, but King Charles would not rename the grant.

Adams County that our church is situated in was named after President John Adams. Gettysburg was name after James Getty. York Springs was once called Petersburg for the man who first built a cabin there, Peter Fleck or Thick. Bendersville was named for Henry Bender and Biglerville, was named for William Bigler, a governor of Pennsylvania. I found the origin of Mt. Holly Springs interesting. Holly was the name given to the gap through the mountains going towards Carlisle because there was a large holly bush or tree there. Arendtsville, or “John’s Pursuit” was named for John Arendt. Heidlersburg was named for John Heidler but at one time it was also called Starrytown named for Michael Starry who built the first house there. I also tried to look up where the name Idaville came from and found out it was once called Whitestown but there was no mention where the names originated. So I called Doris Hoffman thinking if anyone knew she would. Doris told me the reason our area was called Whitestown is because at the time all the houses were white. And the reason it is called Idaville is at that time there were a number of women named Ida including Doris’ grandmother. To me where names come from is fascinating.

In our passage this morning, which is the story of the Tower of Babel, we will see that names play an important part of the story in a couple of different ways. We learned a couple of weeks ago that Babel was part of the kingdom that Nimroad founded. Scholars believe that the city of Babel is where the later city of Babylon was also located. Babylon means, “the gate of the gods” and you may already know that Babel means “confusion.” We will also see that there is conflict between God giving the people their name and the people making a name for themselves. And finally we will notice that the name of God is not being held to the highest standard for which it should be and that brings us to our big idea that Moses, the author of Genesis, wants us to understand this morning which is “we must let God be God.”

Let’s pray and ask God for understanding as we study this passage. Dear Heavenly Father, open our eyes, our ears and our hearts to what you want to say to us through your word this morning. Give us supernatural insight from your Holy Spirit. May we learn more about you and allow you to be God in every aspect of our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Our first point is “construction” and is found in Genesis 11:1-5. Follow along as I read those verses. This is what God’s Word says: “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.

The first thing we can notice is that the story of the Tower of Babel happens chronologically before the Table of Nations in chapter 10 that Pastor Stuart taught two weeks ago. We see the proof of this in 10:5, 20 and 31. Verse 5 is talking about Japheth’s descendants, “From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.” Verse 20 is talking about Ham’s descendants, “These are the sons of Ham, according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, by their nations.” And verse 31 is talking about Shem’s descendants, “These are the sons of Shem, according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, according to their nations.” In chapter 11 the first thing we read is that the whole world still had one language and one common speech and when we read chapter 10 we see that has already changed.

God wants us to understand some important things from the way these chapters are ordered. First, he wants us to see the themes of mercy and judgment that are all through the first eleven chapters of Genesis. After Adam and Eve sinned he clothed them before banishing them from the garden. After Cain killed Abel, God put his mark on him so he would not be killed before he went out from the presence of God. God saves Noah and his family from the flood that was sent to judge the wickedness on the earth. God blesses Ham and his descendants to be “fruitful and multiply” even after he sins against his father Noah. This morning we again see these themes played out as God scatters the people across the face of the earth instead of destroying them. God is giving them an opportunity to repent and turn back to him. God continues to show mercy amidst judgment because his blessing to be “fruitful and multiply” is paramount.

Second, God is making a critical point to the first hearers of Genesis and to us today. If the Table of Nations had come after the Tower of Babel it would have been seen as a negative continuation of the Tower of Babel story. By putting the Tower of Babel story directly before the genealogy of Peleg and the call of his descendant Abraham it shows us two things. One, it reminds us that humanity after the flood is as sinful as before the flood. Two, it shows us that God’s solution is going to be in his covenant made with Abraham and his chosen people, Israel. God’s solution to humanity’s sinfulness is the person of Jesus Christ. This point would not have been made as clearly if the Table of Nations had come after the Tower of Babel and before the call of Abraham.

In verse 1, we see that the whole world had one language and a common speech meaning that everyone had the same vocabulary. This unified the people making communication and cooperation easier for them. In verse 2, we notice that the people journeyed east. There are two things to consider here. What does it mean to journey east? It reminds us of Adam and Eve and Cain and where they went after they sinned. Genesis 3:24, “So He (meaning God) drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” And Genesis 4:16 says, “Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” Both Adam and Eve and Cain after their sin leave the presence of God and go east. Moving eastward seems to imply that it is away from the presence of the Lord. Our sin, especially unconfessed and unrepentant sin, takes us farther and farther away from God’s presence. ​​ 

Second, who is journeying east? Is it everyone on earth or a smaller group of people? Commentators are split but I really don’t think it matters because the story is not necessarily about the people as much as it’s about the people’s hearts. But we can know of one person, specifically, who goes there. Again, two weeks ago, Pastor Stuart showed us that Nimrod, the son of Cush who was one of the sons of Ham, established eight cities, four in the land of Shinar and four in the land of Assyria. One of those cities in the land of Shinar was Babel, so we can know that at least Nimrod went east and we know he didn’t go alone. ​​ 

This group of people come to the plain of Shinar, settled there and start to build a city and a tower. We are given insight into the building materials they used, which were bricks baked thoroughly and tar for mortar. It also states that they didn’t use stone. I find it interesting that we are specifically told about a certain type of material they did not use? I feel we need to go back to what the original hearers, the Israelites, would have thought. By the time Moses would have been recounting the book of Genesis to them they had already built some of the Egyptian pyramids while in slavery or heard stories from their parents about building them. We know that the pyramids were huge stone edifices not made of brick and tar. It kind of makes me wonder if Moses and the Israelites are sharing “an inside joke” here. Everyone knows that stone is better than baked bricks, right.

It also reminds me of the story Jesus told in the NT about building your house on the rock as opposed to the sand. From the beginning of time, Babel or Babylon as it probably became, was not built on a firm foundation. It was built with brick and mortar not with stone. And we will see that it was built by people who were not following after God. It was built by people who wanted to follow their own will and not God’s will. It was built by people whose foundation was Ham’s character and not the character of God. It was built by people who wanted to make a name for themselves and not let God give them their name. It was built by people who did not want to let God be God but instead wanted to be their own god. (BIG IDEA)

Their plan was to build a city with a tower that would “reach into heaven.” And the reason for building the city and tower was to make a name for themselves. They felt that by doing this they would not be scattered over the face of the earth. Commentators are split on what exactly the tower was. It was either a tall skyscraper-like tower or a ziggurat, which was a pyramid-like structure. Again, I think about the context. They are not in Israel, but in Shinar, which was in the area known as Mesopotamia. In Israel there were watchtowers which were to provide an early warning system for invasions from their enemies. In Mesopotamian literature when they described a building whose top will “reach into heaven” almost every time it refers to a ziggurat. Ziggurats were solid terraced pyramids made up of successive receding stories or levels. Their main feature was a stairway or ramp that led to its top. (picture of ziggurat)

In Mesopotamia, towers had a religious function. At the top was a room for the patron god of the city that included a bed for the god to sleep in and a table filled with food for the god to eat. There would have been a temple next to the ziggurat where the people would have worshipped. The ziggurat was the place where the god would stay and then could come down the ramp to interact with the people if their worship pleased the god. Two interpretations are that they were building the tower for themselves to reach heaven and be like God or they were trying to humanize God by saying he had needs that man could meet thus making God in their own image. In either case, they were not letting God be God. (BIG IDEA)

Now if it was just a massive skyscraper the effect is the same. Once this huge structure was finished they would get the glory and the accolades for their awesome achievement. They would make a name for themselves among the peoples of the earth. Their reputation would be great but the motivation for doing so would be to honor and glorify themselves not God. They also seem concerned with being scattered over the face of the earth. This may have had something to do with wanting to be safe and secure but are not willing to rely on God for that. Such a massive, imposing structure would give others the impression that they shouldn’t be messed with or dominated. No matter what the tower was, their motivation for building it and the city was to make a name for themselves. Their motivation was not God-centered but self-centered.

Have you ever tried to make a name for yourself or tried to ensure your own safety and security apart from God? Have you ever done something that was all for your own glory and honor? Have you ever tried to ensure your safety and security leaving God totally out of the picture? In Genesis 12:2, the Lord says to Abraham: “I will make your name great and you will be a blessing.” If Abraham obeyed God’s will for his life, God would make Abraham’s name great. Abraham did not have to make a name for himself because God would do it for him. That brings us to our first next step, which is to “let God make a name for me through obedience to his will for my life and rely on him for my safety and security.”

Next we see that God comes down to see the tower and the city that the people had built. Again, I feel that Moses is sharing an “inside joke” with the first hearers. The plan was to build a city and a tower to “reach into heaven” but God has to come down to even be able to see it. Of course we know that God didn’t need to come down to see it but again I think Moses is making a point. The builders are called “sons of men '' which Hamilton says, “reduces these pretentious human beings to their real size. They are but mere earthlings.” For all of Nimrod's and his people's mighty deeds in building what was probably a magnificent city and massive tower, God was not impressed.

But even though God doesn’t seem to be impressed, he is not taking the implications of what they are doing lightly and we see that in our second point this morning, which is “confusion”, found in verses 6-9. This is what God’s Word says, “The Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

God comes down to take a look at what the people have built and then he goes back to heaven and we see a conversation taking place. Some commentators think that God is talking to the angels here, but in the NASB the “us” is capitalized which seems to refer to the Trinity. We see the same language in Genesis 1:26. “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Also in the scriptures when God comes down out of heaven it seems to be a prelude to judgment like we will see with Sodom and Gomorrah, but he doesn’t enter into judgment rashly.

God declares that because they are one people and have the same language they can be unified as a community and would be able to accomplish any purposes they put their minds to. Those purposes could be for good or for bad as we see here with the people of Babel. We notice the same conversation happening after Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. Genesis 3:22 says, “Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.” The idea is “if they can do these things who knows where their actions will lead?” Job 42:2 says, “Then Job answered the Lord and said, “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” Job recognizes that God’s purposes are the only ones that should always be fulfilled not man’s. If all of man’s purposes are fulfilled then he becomes like God.

Here, at Idaville Church, we want to and need to be unified. And in that unity we need to purpose to do what is right, by living holy lives, by keeping and following God’s decrees found in his Word and by doing his will and not our own. If we want our church to be relevant in this community, if we want to be able to make disciples who make disciples, we must all covenant together to allow God to give us our name and not try to make a name for ourselves. We must let God be God. (BIG IDEA)

God’s judgment plan is decided. He confuses their language so that they can’t communicate with each other and he scatters them over all the earth. Both these things kept the people from completing the city. We see the irony in that by scattering the people, the very thing they wanted to make sure didn’t happen, is the very thing that God did to them. By confusing their language the people would not be able to further cooperate in their selfish plans. Their sin was the same sin as in the garden. Their desires became more important than God’s desires for themselves and their will took precedence over doing the will of God. But we see the grace of God as he spares their lives giving them an opportunity to repent and return to him.

Finally, we see the name of the city and how it got its name. The name of the city is Babel which sounds like the Hebrew word meaning “confusion.” This same word also sounds like the Hebrew word for Babylon. I mentioned earlier that Babylon means “gate of the gods.” I like what Weirsbe says, “Because of God’s judgment the “gate of the gods” became the “door to confusion.” God is not the author of confusion (as it says in 1 Cor. 14:33) but in the world God sometimes uses confusion to humble people and keep them from uniting against his will.” The place was called Babel because it was where God confused the language of the whole earth causing the people to be scattered across the face of the earth. They were no longer unified and of one purpose going against God’s will and pursuing their own way.

It is telling that the two post-Flood stories involve sin and disgrace and that Ham is directly or indirectly involved in both. God wants the Israelites, to remember that they need to be on guard to not follow the ways of their ungodly neighbors. In the Promised Land they would be influenced by the Canaanite culture around them. And then in exile in Babylon and Assyria they would be influenced by those cultures as well. ​​ I don’t think it a coincidence that all three of those peoples are connected to Ham and his descendants. God wanted them to remember who they are: they are a chosen and holy people, a royal priesthood, and children of God. This should also remind us that as Christians we are all those things and that we are to be in the world but not of it. We are to resist the devil and flee from him. This reminds me of the verse we memorized together back in January, Leviticus 20:26, “You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.”

My conclusion comes from Walton’s commentary. The people of Babel had a distorted view of God and what their relationship to him was to look like. Our story this morning represents a constant movement away from God in all areas of human conduct. Walton asserts that humanity is already morally and socially destitute and now are on a path to becoming theologically destitute as well. The people of Babel were either trying to be like God or diluting God by believing he had needs and those needs can be met by man. The definition of paganism is the degradation of deity and the view that God is limited and we can make him do what we want when we want him to do it. We do this when we forget or discount the character, the transcendence and the sovereignty of God. We do this when we make God in our own image. The gods that the people of Babel and the Babylonians worshipped were capricious, immoral, unethical, unfair and dishonest because they were all those things. What follows is that we don’t know what God expects from us because those expectations change with the wind just like man does.

But we follow a God that does tell us exactly what he expects and desires from us and what his will is for us and those things have never changed and will never change. I mentioned that Chapters 9-11 show us the continuity of grace, mercy, judgment and covenant. The first eleven chapters of Genesis has shown us the need for covenant. The covenant that God gave to Noah and will give to Abraham was his revelation to his people of how they were to live just like God’s word is for us today. God’s revelation to his people was the first step to his redemption plan for mankind.

What does this mean for us today? We can see that the corruption of the deity God is prevalent in our culture today? I don’t think we can miss it unless we have our heads in the sand. God is not treated with the awe, holy fear and respect that he deserves. God’s Word is not considered absolute truth in our culture today. We want to set ourselves up as god in our own eyes or we want a god that we can manage. We don’t want to let God be God.

There are three ways that we dilute the deity of God today individually and corporately. One is by redistributing his power. That is when we rely on other things besides God. People rely on what they think has power. That might be money, or people, or possessions, or the government, technology or ourselves, etc. In church history, God’s power has been redistributed to Mary, the mother of Jesus and to saints. In New Age his power is redistributed to crystals or angels. We also see a pluralistic view of religion where Allah and Buddha share power with Christ, which reminds me of this bumper sticker, Coexist (show picture). We may use horoscopes or transcendental meditation and not think they are harmful. We can all fall into this trap of draining God’s omnipotence from him and giving it to something or someone else. ​​ 

Fully relying on God and his power asks us to take risks by letting God be God. We need to step out in faith and allow God to make us uncomfortable for his honor and his glory. This might mean serving in the mission field or serving in the church where our skills and gifts are needed. It might mean raising the level of our giving to where we are totally relying on God for everything we need. It may mean taking a stand for godliness in a difficult situation at home or at work.

The second way we dilute the deity of God today is by restricting his autonomy. This is the belief that God is obligated to us and that we owes us something. The people of Babel felt that by meeting the needs of the gods such as providing a bed, food, etc. the gods would be happy and bless them and bring protection and prosperity to them. In what ways do we feel, today, that God is obligated to us? It speaks to our motivation. What is our motivation for giving our time, our talents, our prayers, our praise to God? We love God because he first loved us and we need him to have an abundant life and for our salvation. We must not make the mistake that God loves and needs us for the same reasons.

The third way we dilute the deity of God is by regulating his power. God’s power is an awesome thing and we dilute it when we try to tap into his power and redirect it for our own purposes and benefits. All power comes from God and through the Holy Spirit his power will work wonders in our lives. But sometimes we just want to see the physical end results of his power and are reluctant to allow his power to cleanse and purify us spiritually. This is seen in wanting God to give us something without wanting to change our habits. In wanting God to work his changes for us not in us.

So what is the solution for us today if we have a diluted view of God individually or in our church? We need a renewed vision of his character, his sovereignty, his transcendence and his power. This renewed vision comes from his self-revelation to us in his Word, the Bible. The Bible will show us the proper view of exactly who God is what he is like. Our spiritual growth is dependent on developing an increasingly informed understanding of who God truly is and bringing our whole lives in orbit around him instead of trying to bring God into orbit around us. We must allow God to impact our attitudes, choices and lifestyles and be sincere in wanting him to work in us and through us. It’s all about God and nothing about us. It’s about letting God be God. That brings us to our second and third next steps this morning. My next step is to increase my understanding of who God truly is by daily being in His Word. And my next step is to allow God to impact my attitudes, choices and lifestyles and to be sincere in wanting Him to work in me and through me.

As the praise team comes to lead us in our final song, let’s pray: Heavenly Father, help us to have a proper view of who you are. Help us to purpose to be in your Word daily and we pray for insight and understanding of your character, sovereignty, transcendence and your power. Help us to surrender our attitudes, choices and lifestyles to your will. And give us sincere hearts in wanting you to work in and through us. Help us to rely on you for our safety and security and let us be like Abraham and allow you to give us our name in this world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Origins

God of the Nations

(Genesis 10:1-32)

 

INTRODUCTION

The Guinness World Records provides information about the most prolific mother ever.

 

“The greatest officially recorded number of children born to one mother is 69, to the wife of Feodor Vassilyev (b. 1707–c.1782), a peasant from Shuya, Russia. In 27 confinements she gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets.

 

Numerous contemporaneous sources exist, which suggest that this seemingly improbable and statistically unlikely story is true and she is the woman with most children.

 

The case was reported to Moscow by the Monastery of Nikolsk on 27 Feb 1782, which had recorded every birth. It is noted that, by this time, only two of the children who were born in the period c. 1725–65 failed to survive their infancy.”

 

[https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/most-prolific-mother-ever]

 

That was a long time ago! ​​ Most of us think about the Duggars when we think of a family that has a lot of children. ​​ They have 19 children between Jim Bob & Michelle. ​​ Most of us can’t fathom having that many children, but God has truly blessed them.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Our parent’s families

        • Stuart

          • Dad – four sisters

          • Mom – nine sisters and one brother

        • Judy

          • Dad – four brothers and six sisters

          • Mom – one sister

    • Children

        • The Lord has blessed Judy and I with three boys, whom we’re really proud of

        • We’ve been blessed with two wonderful daughter-in-laws, one granddaughter and another granddaughter on the way and a grandson on the way

        • We had one miscarriage between our second and third sons

        • Our second son had a bump removed from his belly when he was really young, that had cartilage, hair, and other items in it (we believe that this was perhaps his twin that never developed)

    • More children

        • We would probably have had more children if the last two pregnancies would not have been so difficult on Judy’s body

        • We were privileged to have two sisters stay with us, for a period of time, under a private guardianship

 

  • WE

    • Take a moment to think about your own family

    • How many siblings do you have?

    • How many siblings did your parents have?

    • Give me some feedback this morning

        • Whose immediate family had the most children?

        • Whose parents had the most siblings?

 

As Moses continues to write about Noah’s family, we see in Genesis 10 what many scholars call The Table of Nations. ​​ It’s from Noah’s three sons that the earth is repopulated. ​​ What we see in The Table of Nations is 70 descendants of Noah that span four generations. ​​ Compare that to Mrs. Vassilyev who had 69 children by herself. ​​ We realize that The Table of Nations does not reflect all of the descendants of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, but certain ones have been selected that will help us as we continue to study Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch. ​​ Many of the names listed played a significant role in the life of the Israelites. ​​ What we’ll learn from this passage of Scripture is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ God is concerned about all people.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 10:1-32)

    • Introductory statement (v. 1)

        • This begins the fourth toledot (the account/origins of . . .) statement

        • Here we see the account of the line of Noah’s sons, which will carry through the tower of Babel narrative in chapter 11, verse 9

        • Shem, Ham, and Japheth had sons after the flood, which fulfilled the command from the Lord, found in Genesis 9:7, “As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”

        • The increasing in number and multiplying is what we see in The Table of Nations

        • In most lists of Noah’s sons, it is in the order Shem, Ham, and Japheth and we see that in verse 1

          • There is significance to listing Shem first, even though he is the middle child

          • As we’ll see in Genesis 11:10-32, Abram (Abraham) comes through the line of Shem, which means that David and Jesus descended from Shem

        • When Moses begins to list the descendants of Noah, he begins with Japheth and ends with Shem

          • This is important, because after the narrative about the tower of Babel, Shem’s line continues

          • Then chapters 12-25 recount the story of Abraham

        • So, we begin with Japheth’s line

    • Japheth’s Line (vv. 2-5)

        • Sons of Japheth (yeh’-feth) [show flow chart of Japheth]

          • Gomer (go’-mer), Magog (maw-gogue’), Madai (maw-dah’-ee/maw-die’), Javan (yaw-vawn’), Tubal (too-bal’/too-val), Meshech (meh’-shek) and Tiras (tee-rawce’)

          • Moses only highlights the next generation of Gomer and Javan

          • Japheth’s grandsons [continue flow chart of Japheth]

            • Gomer’s sons – Ashkenaz (ash-ken-az’), Riphath (ree-fath’) and Togarmah (to-gar-maw’/toe-gar-maw’)

            • Javan’s sons – Elishah (el-ee-shaw’), Tarshish (tar-sheesh’/tear-sheesh’), the Kittim (kit-tee’/kit-teem’) and the Rodanim/Dodanim (row-daw-neem’/do-daw-neem’)

          • All three genealogies contain a combination of three kinds of information [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1A, Genesis 1-11:26, 434]

            • Individuals’ names (e.g., Nimrod, Peleg, Eber)

            • People groups, including tribal names and nations (they are easy to spot because they either have the plural suffix – ‘îm at the end (e.g., Kittim) or the gentilic suffix – ‘î within the name (e.g., Jebusites)

            • Place names (e.g., Babylon, Ninevah)

        • “It is clear that the descendants of Japheth are primarily, if not exclusively, ethnic groups that represent maritime nations, peoples who practiced the profession of seafaring and whose interchange was largely by sea.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, 334]

        • They were located to north, northeast, and northwest of Israel (Canaan) [show map, point out red area at the top]

    • Ham’s Line (vv. 6-20)

        • Sons of Ham (khawm) [show the flow chart for Ham]

          • Cush (koosh), Mizraim (mits-rah’-yim), Put (poot) and Canaan (ken-ah’-an)

          • Again, Moses only highlights certain sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons

          • Ham’s grandsons and great grandsons [continue flow chart of Ham]

            • Cush’s sons – Seba (seb-aw’/sev-aw’), Havilah (khav-ee-law’), Sabtah (sab-taw’/sav-taw’), Raamah (rah-maw’), Sabteca (sab-tek-aw’) and Nimrod (nim-rode’)

              • Ham’s great-grandsons

              • Raamah’s sons – Sheba (sheb-aw’/shev-aw’) and Dedan (ded-awn’)

            • Mizraim’s sons – Ludim (loo-dee’), Anamim (an-aw-meem’), Lehabim (leh-haw-beem’/leh-haw-veem’), Naphtuhim (naf-too-kheem/naft-kaw-heem), Pathrusim (path-roo-see’), Casluhim (kas-loo-kheem) and Caphtorim (kaf-to-ree’/kaf-tore’)

            • Canaan’s sons – Sidon (tsee-done’), Hittites/Heth (khayth), Jebusites (yeb-oo-see’), Amorites (em-o-ree’), Girgashites (ghir-gaw-shee’), Hivites (khiv-vee’), Arkites (ar-kee’/air-kee’), Sinites (see-nee’), Arvadites (ar-vaw-dee’/air-vad’), Zemarites (tsem-aw-ree’) and Hamathites (kham-aw-thee’/ham-moth’)

        • Nimrod’s history (vv. 8-12)

          • Nimrod was perhaps the founder of the first imperial kingdom [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 104]

          • His kingdom included all of Mesopotamia, which included Babylonia in the south (10:10) and Assyria in the north (10:10-12) [Waltke, Genesis A Commentary, 169]

            • Moses lists four cities that were part of Shinar (Babylonia)

            • Next he lists four cities in the region of Assyria

          • Nimrod made a name for himself by doing bold and daring deeds

          • His name means “rebel” or “we shall rebel,” which is important since he built the city where the tower of Babel would be erected

          • The parenthetical note about Nimrod is significant, because the two regions he founded played an important part in Israel’s history – they would be taken into captivity by the Babylonian and Assyrian empires

        • Filling the earth

          • In verses 18b-20 that descendants of Ham were fulfilling the command from Genesis 9:1 to be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth [show map, point out green area]

          • The Canaanite clans scattered and expanded their borders [show map of Canaan]

        • That completes the genealogy of Ham, which leads us to Shem’s line

    • Shem’s Line (vv. 21-31)

        • Important information about Shem

          • His older brother was Japheth

          • He was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber (his great-grandson)

        • Sons of Shem (shame) [show flow chart of Shem]

          • Elam (ay-lawm’), Asshur (ash-shoor’), Arphaxad (ar-pak-shad’/air-pak-shad’), Lud (lood) and Aram (arawm’)

          • Moses again only highlights the genealogies of two of the five sons

          • Shem’s grandsons, great-grandsons, great great-grandsons, and great great great-grandsons [continue flow chart of Shem]

            • Aram’s sons – Uz (oots), Hul (khool), Gether (gheh’-ther/geth’-air) and Meshech/Mash (mash)

            • Arphaxad’s son – Shelah (sheh’-lakh)

              • Shelah’s son – Eber (ay’-ber/a’-ver)

                • Eber’s sons – Peleg (peh’-leg) and Joktan (yok-tawn’/yoke-tawn’)

                  • Peleg means division (perhaps he was born during the time of the tower of Babel when division came as a result of confusion of their languages)

                  • Joktan’s sons – Almodad (al-mo-dawd’), Sheleph (sheh’-lef), Hazarmaveth (khats-ar-maw’-veth/hets-air-maw’-veth), Jerah (yeh’-rakh), Hadoram (had-o-rawm’), Uzal (oo-zawl’), Diklah (dik-law’), Obal (o-bawl’/o-val’), Abimael (ab-ee-maw-ale’/avee-maw-el’), Sheba (sheb-aw’/sh-va’), Ophir (o-feer’), Havilah (khav-ee-law’) and Jobab (yo-bawb’/yo-vawv’)

        • Shem’s descendants were located east and southeast of Canaan [show map, point out yellow area]

          • Moses identifies the region where they lived

          • It stretched from Mesha (may-shaw’) toward Sephar (sef-awr’) in the eastern hill country

        • We have the finishing statement that has been a part of all three genealogies concerning each son – we’re made aware of the fact that these were the clans and languages, in their territories and nations

    • Closing statement (v. 32)

        • This closing statement reminds us again that what we’ve just read is the account of Noah’s sons

        • The purpose of this section in Scripture is highlighted in verse 1 and 32

        • It was to repopulate the earth and fill it

    • Application

        • What can we take away from this genealogical account found in Genesis 10?

        • Warren Wiersbe does an excellent job of highlighting four main principles [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 60]

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – Jehovah God is the Lord of the nations.

            • God is in control and keeps His promises

              • All throughout Genesis so far, we have seen how God is in control

                • After Adam and Eve sinned, God brought restoration through animal sacrifice and started the process of redemption for mankind through the line of Seth

                • After God destroyed the earth by flood, He brought restoration through Noah and his family

                • As we’ll see over the next few weeks, with the tower of Babel and the continuation of Shem’s genealogy, God confused their language, but continued His promise of redemption through the line of Shem to Abraham

                • Noah’s prophecy about his sons came true

              • Biblical support

                • Deuteronomy 32:8, When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.

                • Acts 17:26-28, From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. ​​ God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ​​ ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ ​​ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

            • God is still in control and Lord of the nations

              • It’s all over the news, right now, about Russian hackers infiltrating certain companies in the United States

                • It has happened multiple times this year

                • That can make us feel uncertain and fearful about the security of our identity and finances

                • But I want to encourage you that God is in control, even of Russian hackers

              • This past week we learned about the assassination of the President of Haiti, yet God is still in control

              • We may be concerned about the political climate in our own nation, but be encouraged – God is in control

              • Some people may be concerned about China’s influence and control within the global community, but God is still greater than China

              • He is the Lord of the nations!

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Put my trust and faith in the God of the nations, when I feel afraid or insecure.

          • PRINCIPLES #2 – All nations belong to the same human family.

            • Biblical support

              • Acts 17:26a, From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth;

              • Proverbs 22:2, Rich and poor have this in common: ​​ The LORD is the Maker of them all.

            • “All human people, even of different national and cultural identities . . . are of the same origin, have the same dignity, and belong in the same world. ​​ This undercuts all human divisiveness based on nationality, culture and race. ​​ However good, however rich national and cultural diversity can be, it should never be allowed to cloud the more fundamental fact that all human people share the same nature, breathe the same air, live on the same earth, and owe their life to the same God.” ​​ [Atkinson, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of Genesis 1-11, The Dawn of Creation, 174]

              • We have to embrace this principle and truth as followers of Jesus Christ

              • The old saying is, “blood is thicker than water,” which supposedly means that family is more important than friendships or family bonds are closer than friendships is important for this principle/truth

              • Since we have all come from one man, we are all family – that includes every nationality and race

            • Divisiveness in our nation

              • When we listen to the news and political leaders in our country, it doesn’t take long to realize that, as a nation, we don’t believe this Biblical truth

              • The news highlights our differences

                • We hear of the white police officer that shoots and kills a black man/woman

                • We hear about violence against different ethnic groups or races

                • Politicians are making ridiculous claims about the Declaration of Independence being racist

                • Our educational system is trying to teach our children that simply the color of their skin determines whether they are racist or not

              • Our holidays highlight our differences

                • There are holidays and months that are dedicated to different races and cultures

                • While it’s wonderful to celebrate our heritage, it should never overshadow that we’ve all come from one man

              • As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to be careful that we don’t focus on our differences, but rather on our familial bond with all people

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize that we all belong to the same human family and celebrate that truth.

            • Within the body of Christ

              • The same is true within the body of Christ

              • We need recognize that we all belong to the same Savior and celebrate that truth instead of denominational distinctives

              • Paul writes about this truth to the Galatian believers

              • Galatians 3:26-29, You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. ​​ There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. ​​ If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

            • While we covenant with the United Brethren in Christ denomination, we should be willing to cooperate with and partner with other evangelical churches that preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ (we did that this summer with the Revival on the Farm)

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God has a purpose for the nations to fulfill.

            • As we continue to study Genesis we’ll see how God chose one nation to fulfill His promise to send a Savior to redeem all mankind – He chose Abraham and his line to bring about the birth of Jesus

            • “. . . God also used Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Media-Persia, and Rome to accomplish His purposes with reference to the Jewish people. ​​ God can use pagan rulers like Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Darius, and even Augustus Caesar.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 60]

              • We know that the Israelites experienced war and exile at the hands of other nations

              • This is the repeated cycle throughout the Old Testament when they turned away from the Lord and worshiped idols

              • God would punish their rebellion by sending them into exile, until they recognized Him and repented, and then he would restore them to the Promised Land

              • We also know from the New Testament that God used the Roman empire to bring about the death of Jesus, by crucifixion (to fulfill prophecy), so that we might be saved

            • God still punishes our rebellion against Him

              • Hebrews 12:5b-6, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

              • The writer of Hebrews is quoting the wisdom of King Solomon from Proverbs 3:11-12

              • Solomon had been visited by the Lord after he completed the temple of the Lord

                • The Lord then reminds Solomon that when He stops the rain and sends locust to destroy the crops, and when He sends a plague among the people, that it is to discipline them for their rebellion

                • He tells Solomon what the people must do in order to restore their relationship with Him

                • 2 Chronicles 7:14, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

                • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Do my part by humbling myself, praying, seeking God’s face, and turning from my wicked ways, so that God will heal our land.

            • We may not understand what is happening nationally or globally, but we can trust in the fact that God has a purpose for the nations to fulfill

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – God is concerned for all the nations.

            • God’s desire is that all nations come to know & serve Him

              • Read Psalm 66:1-8 & Psalm 67:1-7

              • Read Matthew 28:18-20

            • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord how and where He wants me to accomplish His Great Commission.

 

  • YOU

    • Do you need to remember today that God is in control?

    • Are you celebrating the truth that every human being is family?

    • Are you doing your part to bring God’s healing to our land?

 

  • WE

    • What part should we be playing to accomplish the Great Commission?

 

CONCLUSION

“Noah’s three sons left a mixed legacy to the world, but the Lord of the nations was still in charge, and history is still His story.” [Wiersbe, 60]

10

 

Humanity Exposed

Have you ever thought that the stories of the Bible would make for good headlines? The first chapters of Genesis show humanity on such a rollercoaster ride that I truly wonder what the first hearers would have thought. Imagine with me the following headlines ripped from the pages of the Bible: in Genesis 1, we see of highs, “The Creation of the World” and “Man Created in the Image of God.” And in Genesis 2, “Man and Woman = One Flesh” and “The First Marriage.” Then in Genesis 3 we see the lows of, “The Fruit of the Forbidden Tree is Eaten” and “Kicked Out of Paradise.” Then we see highs again as “God Gives Them Clothes” and in Genesis 4, “The Blessing Continues, Part 1” as Eve gives birth to Cain and Abel. But the lows come quickly as “Brother Kills Brother” and “Sin Abounds.” And those are quickly followed by the highs of “Seth Is Born” and “People Call on the Name of the Lord.” In Genesis 5, we see the ominous “And Then He Died” but we also see “The Righteous Ones”, Enoch, Methusaleh and Noah, who will bring comfort, rest and relief. In Genesis 6, we again see the lows in “God is Starting Over” and “The Lord Regrets He Ever Made Us.” And later in Genesis 6, we see that God will save a remnant as “Noah’s Building a What?” and in Genesis 7 and 8, there’s the “Storm of the Century.” At the end of Genesis 8 and the beginning of Genesis 9 we see highs of “On Dry Land”, “Pleasing Worship”, and “The Blessing Continues, Part 2.” The first hearers might now be thinking that the hard times are behind Noah and his family and things can only go up from here. But as we come to this morning’s headlines, “Fallen Hero” and “Humanity Exposed” we will see that man’s sinful nature rears its ugly head again. The blessing that God pronounced on Adam and Eve and on Noah is still intact but so also is man’s sinfulness that started in the Garden. But again the rollercoaster ride that is humanity’s history continues and by the end of our passage this morning we will see a curse and we will see a blessing. Two of Noah’s sons will show that their father’s righteousness and holiness has been passed down to them. And because they have emulated their father they will be blessed which brings us to our big idea that “God blesses those who are living holy lives.” We will see what blessings Noah’s sons receive and also what blessings the Bible promises to us today when we live a daily holy life in obedience to God and his son, Jesus.

Before we dive into our scripture this morning let’s begin by dedicating to God this time and this opportunity to study His Word. Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for your Word, the Bible. Thank you that we can read and study it. Thank you that it tells us how to live holy lives set apart to do your will. I pray that you would open our hearts and minds to what you want to say to each of us this morning. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

There are two points this morning. The first point is, “Family Tragedy” and it is found in Genesis 9:18-23. Follow along as I read those verses. This is what God’s Word says, “The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the whole earth. Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father’s nakedness.

This is the final section of the Flood toledot. The flood story is set in between references to Noah and his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The sons are first mentioned in Genesis 5:32, again in Genesis 6:10, in Genesis 7:13 and finally here in Genesis 9. This links them back to the genealogy of Adam and to before, during and after the Flood. The focus is shifting from Noah to his three sons.

We are given two new pieces of information that were not mentioned before. First, Ham is the father of Canaan. This is evidence that the blessing of procreation God reintroduced after the flood is already at work. The mention of Canaan is also important as it introduces the first hearers to a major character in the lives of the Israelites later in the OT. Second, the three sons of Noah will be the ones whom all peoples will come from that are scattered over all the earth. One of the reasons God saved Noah and his sons from the flood was so that the blessing would be passed down to all future generations.  ​​ ​​​​ 

Next we are introduced to a family’s tragedy. Noah is called a “man of the soil” or “ground.” The ground has been significant in the early chapters of Genesis. Man is created from the ground and the ground is cursed because of man’s sin. The ground endures the punishment of the flood and has survived. Noah and his sons have also survived the flood and are given a second chance along with the ground. Noah’s livelihood is linked to the ground from which the blessing of food and drink has come from. ​​ Noah has come from a long line of farmers including Adam, Cain and his father Lamech. Noah, as a second Adam, seems to be fulfilling the original purpose of humanity in the garden. As a farmer Noah proceeds to plant a vineyard. Commentators are split about if Noah was the first person to ever plant a vineyard and make wine. If so, they would contend that Noah probably didn’t know what effects wine would have on his body. But there is evidence that vineyards and the making of wine came before the flood. We can surmise that Noah knew exactly what he was doing when he grew and picked the grapes, pressed them and waited for the juice to ferment.

After drinking the wine that he made Noah became drunk and laid uncovered inside his tent. Noah’s drunkenness is not excused or condemned here but it would have been disgraceful to be in that condition. This is the first of two incidents in Genesis that include drunkenness and both result in sin. I can’t imagine that Noah being drunk would have made God happy and just because he doesn’t address it doesn’t mean it's ok. We are reminded of what God said before blessing Noah and his sons: that man is evil from childhood. Wenham says, “The humanity that begins with Noah fully parallels the humanity that preceded the flood.” Noah is still human and humanity is still sinful. The flood has not wiped sin out. I think it is interesting that this story comes on the heels of blessing and covenant. We always need to be careful of Satan’s attacks especially right after a God moment in our lives. He will try to steal our joy every chance he gets.

We also see that Noah is lying uncovered which would have increased his disgrace in the eyes of the first hearers. The Bible talks in various places about drinking to excess and the problems that could arise. Here alcohol has caused Noah to become drunk and he has exposed himself and that is a disgrace not only to himself, but also to his family. Lastly, we see that Noah was inside his tent. This is important because it would have been something else entirely if he was drunk and naked outside in public. We see a parallel here in that when Adam and Eve sinned they knew they were naked and Noah in his sin and disgraceful condition became naked. ​​ 

Next we see what Ham does when confronted with his father’s nakedness. Ham somehow sees his father lying uncovered inside his tent meaning he may have gone into his father’s tent without permission. This act would have shown a clear disrespect for his father. The word for saw implies “he gazed or he took a long look. It seems he had a certain satisfaction at seeing his father in his shameful condition. Once he had noticed his father uncovered, the proper thing for Ham to do should have been to quietly cover him up. But there was something in the character of Ham that caused him to not do that and instead go outside and tell his brothers about what he saw. Literally, the text means that he told his brothers with “delight.” He seemed to have enjoyed his father’s shame and the embarrassment it would cause. He may have relished the opportunity to gossip about “righteous” Noah. Ham shows blatant disrespect for his father again and again. We are again reminded that Ham is the father of Canaan and it would have alerted the first hearers to pay special attention. Ham shows his true character as he finds his brothers and gossips about his father’s indiscretion. He was probably making fun of his father and was trying to get his brothers to join in the fun of looking at his father’s nakedness as well. We notice a couple principles here. One, God’s desire is for us to show respect to our parents. Two, God’s desire is that we do not gossip about the sins of others. We need to be careful not to revel in the other’s sin because we are all sinful creatures.

What Ham does reminds us of Eve in the garden. She saw that the fruit of the forbidden tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye. Eve ate of the fruit and then gave some to Adam who sinned as well by eating it. Ham saw his father’s nakedness, made fun of it, and tried to entice his brothers to sin as well but his brothers refused to be tempted and even did something about their father’s condition. We need to be careful of what we allow our eyes to see. We can easily be tempted to sin by what we allow ourselves to look at. With our eyes we are tempted to lust, covet, etc. In Job 31, we see these words from Job. “I have made a covenant with mine eyes to not look lustfully upon a young woman” and “my heart has been led by my eyes.” Job understood that what he allowed his eyes to see could cause him to sin. He covenanted with his eyes to not let them look upon another with lust and, in doing so, keep his sinful desires at bay. We live holy lives by controlling what our eyes look at and not allowing those temptations to become sin “lived out” in our actions. That brings us to our first next step on the back of your communication card which is to live a life of holiness by controlling what my eyes are allowed to see. ​​ 

After being confronted with Ham’s disrespect we see the decency that his brothers, Shem and Japheth have for their father’s condition. They did not fall into the same temptation that Ham did. Scripture says they took a garment and laid it across their shoulders and walked backward and covered their father’s nakedness. They showed decency in covering their father but they also went above and beyond to not even look at him in his disgraceful condition and be tempted by what they saw. They made sure that their faces were turned the other way. Shem and Japheth countered the sin of Noah by covering the “uncovered” and countered the sin of Ham by not seeing what Ham “saw.” This reminds us of God covering Adam and Eve in the Garden after they sinned and found that they were naked. We need to remember we are all sinful people and the shame of our sin requires a covering just as Noah’s did and Jesus Christ is the only one that can cover our sin and shame.

We notice that more is said about what Shem and Japheth did than what Ham did. That is because we are to focus on the actions of Shem and Japheth more. They covered their father’s shame, honoring him by not looking at his nakedness and by not gossiping about it to others. These are the actions of people who knew what was right and did what was right. When we are loving people the way Jesus loves, we do not go around exposing their sin and encouraging others to make fun of them. That is not the way of holiness. Shem and Japheth had seen their father’s faith in the Lord as he built an ark not knowing what rain probably even was. They had watched their father’s obedience as he did everything God commanded him. They learned about the worship of the Lord as they saw Noah build an altar and sacrifice burnt offerings to the Lord on it. They had learned from their father how to live a holy life and now have exhibited the kind of behavior necessary to do the same. This brings us to the second next step on the back of your communication card which is to live a life of holiness by knowing what is right (found in God’s Word) and by doing what is right.

Our second point this morning is called “Family Prophecy” and is found in Genesis 9:24-29. Follow along as I read those verses. “When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.” He also said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave.” After the flood Noah lived 350 years. Noah lived a total of 950 years, and then he died.

When Noah wakes up from being drunk he discovers what his youngest son has done to him. Noah may have heard the rumblings of family members outside or maybe he went to his oldest son, Japheth, and asked how he had been covered up. The result is, that when Noah, who has not spoken in the entire narrative of his life in the Bible, finally speaks, his first words are a curse on his grandson, Canaan. The word “curse” is only used here once, so this is probably more a prophecy by Noah about his grandson. It took the form of request to God asking him to fulfill what Noah had said. This would have been different from a prophecy spoken by God but still would have carried weight. Wenham says, “Though it is not stated Noah’s words evidently have divine authority and affect the future.”

Why did Noah curse Canaan and not Ham? We need to go back to Ham’s sin. Ham showed a blatant disrespect for his father. This would have been a very serious matter in Noah’s time and later in Israel as well. The punishment for insulting or disrespecting your parents could have been death. Disrespecting parents was not just a crime against them but against God in showing contempt for those he put in authority over you. One of the Ten Commandments is “Honor your father and mother.” Respect for parents was paramount. When we disrespect our parents we start to see the downfall of the family itself. Satan has been attacking the family already. Adam and Eve’s relationship would have been strained because of their sin. Cain kills his brother Abel and we’ve seen the ungodliness passed down from Cain through his family to Lamech, who had multiple wives and boasted of killing someone. Satan again attacks the family as Ham is infected with contempt and disrespect for his father. And it brings a curse on his family, his son and the generations to follow. Our families are being destroyed by sin which is why it is so important that we live holy lives so our families will see it, can emulate it and pass it onto the next generation who will be blessed by God. BIG IDEA

Cursing a person’s son would have had the same effect as cursing the father because it would be cursing his future line. Noah has seen something in the character of his son that disturbed him. Ham’s character was not formed in that instant but had been forming his entire life. Noah notices this and realizes that those character traits will be passed down to Ham’s son, Canaan. In fact, Canaan would become the father of the Canaanite people who were wicked and sexually immoral. Their wickedness and immorality was the reason why God gave their lands over to the Israelites. The Israelite hearers would have understood why Noah cursed Canaan. They would have seen firsthand the evil and wickedness of the people who lived in the Promised Land before they did. Noah’s curse/prophecy represented God’s punishment of the sins of the Canaanite people which Ham exemplified.

The curse on Canaan was enslavement. He would be the lowest of slaves to his brothers. The enslavement to his brothers is mentioned a total of three times by Noah. Wenham says, “This threefold repetition of the curse makes it unusually emphatic: there can be no doubt about its fulfillment.” Most commentators believe that this curse was fulfilled as the Israelites displaced the Canaanites from the Promised Land and eventually enslaved them during King David’s reign. The enslavement to Japheth is harder to historically explain. Through this incident, God is warning the Jewish people not to compromise with the Canaanite way of life. They would need to destroy anything and everything that would tempt them to sin as the Canaanites did. Lastly, the curse Noah speaks on Canaan did not have anything to do with race. The Canaanites were not racially different from the Israelites or the other people they lived among.

Next, we see Noah turn from cursing to blessing. Notice that Noah doesn’t bless Shem or Japheth. He blesses the Lord, the God of Shem. This the first time that God is referred to as the God of an individual in the Bible. Noah’s reference to the Lord means he was not a vengeful individual who was out of fellowship with God. Noah recognizes that any blessing that Shem receives will come from the Lord. It reminds us that just as we’ve seen all throughout the narrative of Noah, that it is God who is the main character of the story. It is all about God and not about man at all. Noah blesses God and asks that God bless Shem and Japheth for their actions in showing dignity to him.

What are these blessings Noah is asking for on their behalf? Shem receives the blessing of the firstborn as Noah asks for God to enrich him. We notice that Shem’s name is always mentioned first when the three sons are listed. This is another instance of God’s grace given to the second born as we have seen with Abel over Cain and will see with Isaac over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau. By calling the Lord, “the God of Shem”, Shem is identified in terms of his relationship to God. It also means that Shem’s line will be the elected line just as Seth’s line was and just as Abraham’s, Isaac’s and Jacob’s will be. This is the line that Jesus Christ, the Messiah will come from. Noah is prophesying about Shem’s descendants just as he has about Ham’s.

Noah also asks for God to bless Japheth by enlarging his territory and allowing him to live in the tents of Shem. This blessing on Japheth to be enlarged has seemed to be fulfilled as his descendants were those who settled west and north of Israel which includes the Greek peoples and the Philistines. His descendants also reached as far as Asia Minor, Europe and finally to the Americas. In essence the descendants of Japheth are us, today. If you look at present-day maps, we see that descendants of Japheth have settled more land than Ham’s descendants who went to Africa and Shem’s descendants who settled in the Promised Land which is by far the smallest land area of the three.

Most commentators struggle to explain the blessing of Japheth “living in the tents of Shem.” It may mean that their descendants will live peacefully with each other. More likely it means that the God of Shem will be the God of Japheth as well. Japheth will benefit from the spiritual blessing of being united with Shem’s God. God was said to dwell or “pitch his tent” with his people the Israelites. God’s presence was in the Holy of Holies in the Tent of Meeting while they were in the wilderness and in the Tabernacle in Jerusalem. In John 1:14a it says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Literally, Jesus (the Word) became a man and dwelled or “tented” among us. And now the Holy Spirit dwells within each person who is a Christ follower. This happened because it was Shem’s descendants, the Jewish people, that Jesus came from. And his Word was spread by his disciples to the Gentiles. Shem means “name.” The blessing of Shem is seen in the fact that God would reveal his saving Name to the world through him. God would use Shem’s descendants to bring Divine revelation and salvation through Jesus Christ to the world.

Lastly, we are again reminded of the genealogy of Adam found in Genesis 5 as we finish the Flood toledot. The ten generations that started with Adam are now finished and we will now embark on the next ten generations which will take us from Shem to Abraham and the covenant that God will make with him. Noah lived another 350 years after the flood and he lived a total of 950 years. We notice that the phrase “he fathered other sons and daughters” is missing. This makes it clear that all mankind after the flood has descended from Shem, Ham and Japheth. We also notice that just like all his ancestors before him except for Enoch, it says, “and then he died.” This phrase again reminds us of our humanity and our sin. Our humanity has been exposed time and time again and it will continue to be exposed but God’s blessing is also still alive and nothing will stop his blessing from being passed down until the end of time as we know it.

We’ve seen the blessings that Shem and Japheth received from living holy lives and we have seen those blessings being passed down to their descendants as well. As Christians we can receive blessings from God as well. In living a holy life, God wants to and does lavish more blessings on us than we can even imagine. Here are just a few of the blessings we receive when we are living a holy life. Psalm 15:1-2a says, “Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous.” Holiness brings us intimacy with God and helps us to grow spiritually. 2 Peter 3:14 says, “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this (Jesus’ return), make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” Holiness brings us peace with God. 2 Timothy 2:21 says, “Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” Holiness makes us useful and effective for God’s purposes. It is a blessing to be used by God for his purposes. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us of the fruit that we can have when we are living holy lives and listening to the Holy Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” These fruits are evident when we are living holy lives. In fact we cannot do these things very well if we are not living holy lives.

Ephesians 1:3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” The spiritual blessings we receive when we are living a holy life are sanctification, forgiveness, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which gives us insight and power to do God’s will and eternal life with Jesus. There are so many more blessings we receive when we are living holy lives and we do not want to miss out on these blessings. Which brings us to our last next step on the back of your communication card which is to Live a life of holiness and receive the blessings that God has for me.

As Gene and Roxey come to lead us in a final song, let’s close in prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that we would strive to live holy lives set apart for your special purposes for each one of us. I pray that we would covenant with our eyes that we would keep them from seeing those things that would cause us to be tempted to sin. I pray that we would study your Word so that we would know the right way to live and then proceed to live the right way. I pray that as we live holy lives you would lavish your blessings upon us for your honor and your glory. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tied Up With A Bow

When I think of the word “bow” I think of presents. Birthday presents, Christmas presents, etc. I don’t know how it’s done in your family but in mine Judy does almost all the Christmas shopping. She shops for her family, my family, and for me. The only shopping I usually do is for her. I must admit that I do not like wrapping presents and I usually find myself wrapping her presents on Christmas Eve or if I am lucky on December 23. A lot of it’s because I am just not very good at it. I also don’t see the point of wrapping the presents and putting ribbons and bows on them just to have it all ripped off and thrown away. Almost every year I ask Judy if it’s ok to skip the ribbons and the bows on her presents and her reply is always the same: NO. So I put the ribbons and the bows on all her presents, why? I do it for her because she likes them and because I love and care for her.

One of the most extraordinary and beautiful natural wonders is the rainbow. Rainbows have fascinated people throughout the ages. The rainbow is a bent or curved line in the sky composed of or consisting of seven colors...red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Since only one color of light is observed from each raindrop because the sun hits each different raindrop at a different angle, an incredible number of raindrops is required to produce the magnificent spectrum of color that is characteristic of a rainbow. Usually a rainbow is seen when part of the sky is dark and it is raining and the sun is shining in another part of the sky. For the rainbow to be visible, the sun has to be behind the observer who is, in effect, facing the rainbow. God chose the rainbow to be his sign to humanity that he would never destroy the earth by flood again. Honestly, he did not have to give us this sign to seal the covenant that he made with Noah. He made a promise and we can either believe it or not. Instead God blessed Noah and covenanted with him and his sons to never destroy the earth by flood again and he tied it up with a bow, the rainbow. And he did this because of his love and care for us which brings us to our big idea this morning that “God loves and cares for his creation.” Everything that we will see in our passage this morning God does because he loves and cares for us and every time we see a rainbow after a storm it should remind us of that love and care.

As we think about how much God loves and cares for us, let’s pray and dedicate this time of worship and of the study of the Word to Him. Loving Father, we thank you for your love and care for us. We thank you for sending your son to die on a cross as the ultimate act of love for us. Help us to appreciate your love and care for us and to show your love and care to others. Pour out your Holy Spirit upon each one of us and guide us in the study of your Word this morning. May it speak truth and life to us and may we speak its truth and life to others as we share it with them. In Jesus’ name, Amen. ​​ 

There are two points this morning, Commands and Covenant. The first point is Commands and is found in Genesis 9:1-7. This is what God’s Word says, “Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth, and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man. As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”

In this section God addresses three areas about life. The first is multiplying life. God is speaking to Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. This is the first time during the entire story of Noah that God has spoken to his sons. So far it has been about the righteousness and blamelessness of Noah that has saved not only him but his family from the flood. Now Noah’s sons will start to take center stage. We will see in chapter 10 that they will be the ones who repopulate the earth. Shem’s descendant, Abraham, will be the next major player in the Bible as he becomes the father of the chosen people, which will birth the promised Messiah, who will save the world from their sins.

God repeats the blessing command, “to be fruitful and multiply,” to Noah and his sons, that he first gave Adam and Eve in the garden. This would have taken the first hearers back to Genesis 1 and would have reminded them of their special place in God’s creation. God is jump starting the blessing that has been stalled by the flood and infected by sin. Despite sin and the resulting flood judgment man would still be able to reproduce and fill the earth with his kind. They have been given a second chance and even though man will continue to sin God still blesses them. This would have instilled hope for the future in the hearer. Human beings are still made in the image of God and are still supremely important to him and he loves and cares for them.

The second area about life that God addresses is sustaining life. We notice that God does not repeat the command “to subdue and rule over the earth” as he did in the garden. There is no longer harmony between man and the animal kingdom because of sin. Now all the beasts of the earth, all the birds of the air, every creature that moves along the ground and all the fish of the sea will have a “fear and dread” or “terror” of human beings. Before the flood “subdue and rule” meant that man was able to easily domesticate and have use of the animals in a mutual respect. They came to Noah but now will be terrified of man and the tendency will be to flee from him. Man will still rule over the animals but it will be a forced and subservient rule. This new response of “fear and dread” will be a means of survival for the animals since they are given into humanity’s hands and are now food for them. This will be the natural response of the animals to being hunted prey. God’s command allowing humans to kill animals for food is further evidence of his grace toward them for a couple of reasons. One, with the extreme temperatures of hot and cold and summer and winter, meat would now be needed to sustain the human metabolism. Two, because animals reproduce at a quicker rate than human beings, they would soon overrun humanity on the earth. This was seemingly not a problem before the flood because of the special relationship and mutual respect between human beings and the animal kingdom. We have seen that Cain was a farmer, Abel was a shepherd and now Noah and his sons are hunters.

Just as God gave all the trees in the garden as food for Adam and Eve, with one exception, here he gives everything that moves as food for Noah and his sons, with one exception. This exception would also test humanity’s obedience. He commands them not to eat meat that has the lifeblood still in it. The way that the Hebrew language states this exception means that it is permanently binding. This put a limit on humanity’s rights over God’s creation reminding them that everything belonged to him. The blood is considered to be where life comes from and therefore is sacred and should be respected because all life is given by God. This is why those who hunt deer or rabbit, etc. skin and drain the blood before preparing it to be eaten. Walton says, “Ritually speaking, draining the blood before eating the meat was a way of returning the life force of the animal to God who gave it life. This offers recognition that they have taken the life with permission and are partaking of God’s bounty as his guests. Its function is like saying a blessing before a meal.”

Later in the OT, the blood of animals was important in the sacrifices that the Israelites were to make to God and was to be treated with reverence. In the sacrificial law handed down by God the substitution of the animal’s life, represented by its blood, in place of the offerer’s life, was the atonement for human sin and averted divine judgment. Even though animals would now be part of the human diet they are still valuable in the eyes of God and are to be cared for and not abused. This is seen in the fact that the animal sacrifices were to be the firstfruits of the flock and unblemished. The sacrifice was to be costly to the person offering it, testifying to the enormity of their sin.

The third area about life that God addresses is protecting life. The life blood of human beings is supremely precious to God and he will demand an accounting for it. God will even demand an accounting from an animal that takes the life of a human being. Exodus 21:28 says, “When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner of the ox shall not be liable.” In Israel the punishment for an animal that took a human life was the death of the animal.

God will also hold human beings accountable for the taking of the life of another human being. God establishes capital punishment or the death penalty here as he says “whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.” Any person who willfully murders another human being should be held accountable for their actions. God is establishing the idea of a human government here to be the entity to carry out the punishment. God would no longer punish human beings universally. He would deal with our sin on an individual basis and the protection of human life would now reside in humanity’s hands.

God demands this accounting because a human being who murders another human being is killing their fellow man or brother. This is the first time the word for “brother” is used since Genesis 4 when Cain kills his brother Abel. In that story the word brother is used multiple times to show how serious the killing of a family member was. God is reminding us that we are all family and the killing of another family member is not ok with him.

There may be two reasons why God is now establishing capital punishment in order to signify the value he puts on a human life. First, to help limit the violence that existed before the Flood. Second, since he is now allowing human beings to kill animals for food, the stigma against taking life would fade and the weapons used to kill animals would be readily available. But the bigger reason is because man is created in the image of God and even though that image is diseased by sin human life is still regarded as sacred. To take the life of another human being is to extinguish a revelation of God and display contempt for him. Wiersbe says, “To attack another human being is to attack God and God’s judgment will come down on that person. All life is a gift of God and to take away life means to take the place of God. The Lord gives life and he is the only one who has the right to take it away.” This section finishes with God again repeating the command to be fruitful and multiply and increase in number on the earth. Mankind was to be “makers” of life not “takers” of life.

Our second point this morning is Covenant and is found in Genesis 9:8-17. This is what God’s Word says, “Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

Again God speaks to Noah and his three sons. They are now partners with Noah in the second chance that God has given to humanity, the animals and the earth. He has commanded them about what to do, which is to procreate, and he has commanded them about what not to do, which is to not eat meat with blood in it and to not murder other human beings. Now God testifies about what he will do, which is establish a covenant, and what he will not do, which is never again destroy the earth by flood. This is the first time we see a covenant being made in the Bible and God promises three times (twice in verse 11 and once in verse 15) that he will never again send a flood to destroy all life on earth. He also starts his covenant with Noah and his sons with an emphatic “I now” meaning the covenant obligation rests with the Lord alone. This covenant is unconditional meaning God is the doer and humanity did not have to do anything to see it come to pass. This testifies to God’s resolve to never destroy all living things by flood again and shows his great love and care for his creation.

God addresses his covenant in three ways. The first way is with Noah and his sons and their descendants. This covenant looks beyond the present generation even to all generations to come including us. It points to his commitment to be involved with people and families forever. The second way is with every living creature that came out of the ark with Noah and every living creature on the earth. Again this was for all animals for all time. God mentions “every” or “all” living creatures at least four times in this section reminding us that the animal kingdom is special to him. In Revelation 4:6-7 we see these words, “Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. These are the four living creatures that are before the throne of God in heaven. They have the faces of a lion, a calf, a man and an eagle. These faces parallel the four kinds of creatures with whom God made his covenant: wild beasts, cattle, humans and birds. These four living creatures are eternally worshipping God before his throne because he loves and cares for them. God now spells out exactly what he is covenanting to do. He promises to never cut off all life by the waters of a flood and to never destroy the earth by flood again. This was a promise of permanent security for all living beings on the earth. God loves and cares for his creation.

The third way that God addresses the covenant with Noah and his sons is by instituting a sign. A sign signified that it was more than just a promise. It was the way to know that the covenant was being fulfilled and its conditions were being met. It would remind people of God’s presence and his obligations and seal the covenant giving them reassurance. The sign God gives is the rainbow and it was well-suited to fulfill the function of a covenant sign. Man was not going to be able to produce a rainbow, God was the only one who could make it happen. So every time that God set the rainbow in the clouds it would be a reminder to us that he promised to never destroy all living creatures and the earth by flood again. It would be a sign seen by man but it would also remind God himself of his promise. The sign of the rainbow was like the blood that the Israelites were to put on their doorposts during the first Passover. It was a sign for the people but it was also for God to “see” and pass over the house. God certainly doesn’t need external signs to remind him of his promises but signs like the blood and the rainbow moves him to a certain course of action. The sign proves that God’s promises are entirely believable and trustworthy. He backs up his word with a sign that eliminates the possibility of forgetfulness by man or himself.

This brings us to our first next step this morning which is to claim and believe that the promises of God are entirely believable and trustworthy.

This covenant that God made with humanity is remarkable in its extent, it included “every living creature”, in its permanence, it was “perpetual and everlasting”, and in its generosity, it was “unconditional and undeserved.” It also included a sign which emphasized that it originated with God and was totally out of the reach of human beings to initiate. This covenant could only have come from God and could only have been kept by God. Hamilton says, “Whenever the rainbow appears it serves as a reminder that despite the fact that the world deserves judgment God will show restraint and mercy.” It is an indication of the unique relationship which we have, even in our fallenness, not only with our creator but a covenant God. Lastly we see that God repeats that he has established this covenant between himself and all life on the earth. In Genesis 8:22, God stated that he would not interfere with the functioning of the cosmos. Now he states that he would not interfere with the functioning of the blessing. With the flood, those functions were stalled but now God is covenanting with all living creatures that he will never interfere with those functions again. ​​ In this way the covenant is connected to the blessing showing how much God loves and cares for his creation.

There is a now iconic American elm tree that has stood vigil in downtown Oklahoma City for a century. Foresters agree it was likely planted sometime around 1920. In historical photos, the already mature tree is visible in the backyard of a family home. In time, that home gave way to commercial development. Serendipitously, it is the only tree to survive when the parking lot called for the removal of all other trees. Through the decades, the tree bore witness to the changing skyline, the growth of the city and the day-to-day lives of generations of people. It was largely ignored – just another tree dotting downtown – until April 19, 1995. On that fateful day, it became much more than just another downtown tree. It endured one of the worst terrorist attacks ever to occur on American soil. The tree was situated directly across the street from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, completely exposed to the full force of the 4,000-pound bomb that killed 168 people and injured hundreds more. It easily could have fallen victim to the attack. And it nearly did – the tree was slated to be destroyed so shrapnel and evidence embedded in its trunk and branches could be recovered. But like the city’s resolve and unity – it survived. Ever since, it has been known as the Survivor Tree – an ever-present symbol of resilience. As a tribute to renewal and rebirth, the inscription around the tree reads, ’The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated; our deeply rooted faith sustains us.’"

In Genesis, we have one of the greatest survivor stories ever told, Noah. He is the unlikely hero. He is an all too human survivor. Not only does he carry the entire future of God’s crown of creation but also the seed of sin which infects all of us, even today. Through the entire story of the flood Noah has been faithful and obedient to God. He has been righteous and blameless in his generation and God because of his perfect mercy and grace saves Noah and his family from destruction. He saves Noah and the rest of humanity because he created us to be in relationship with himself and he loves and cares for us. The story of Noah and the Flood and every time we see God’s rainbow in the sky should remind us of his love and care for us. It should remind us that God wants to be in relationship with us and it should cause us to turn to him, to repent of our sins and be put back in a right relationship with him. The Creator of the Universe wants to be in relationship with you, because he loves you and he cares for you, will you accept his invitation today? This brings us to our second next step which is to embrace God’s love and care for me and strive to be in a right relationship with Him.

As the worship team comes to lead us in a final song of praise let’s pray: Heavenly Father, we thank you that your promises are entirely believable and trustworthy. Open our eyes so we can daily see how much you do love and care for us. Help us to strive to be in a right relationship with you as we pursue holiness daily. Thank you for your Word. Help it to be nourishment for our soul. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Father’s Day

A Father’s Love

(Luke 15:11-24)

 

INTRODUCTION

VIDEO – The Prodigal Son, A Father’s Love.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Wrecked car

        • When I was in high school and working at Chick-fil-A we were always the last group to leave the mall

        • The security guards would close the upper parking lot before we were finished, so one person would go up and bring everyone else’s car down and park it in the regular parking lot

        • One evening I gave my Dad’s car keys to the one employee who was bringing everyone’s car down

        • I asked if she knew how to drive a stick shift and she said, “Yes!”

        • Within the half hour I got the news that she had driven my Dad’s Ford Bronco II into the cement base of the light that I had parked under

        • I was so afraid to call my Dad, but I did anyhow

        • I remember crying as I told him what happened

        • His response was love, care, and concern for me and not the car

        • He wanted to make sure that I was alright

    • My brother

        • If you were here on May 23, 2021 you heard my Father begin the message by telling you how proud he was of his children

        • They are all serving the Lord in some capacity

        • He told you about how my brother had been an alcoholic for 16 years

        • My Dad and Mom never stopped loving him and praying for him

        • The love and prayers are what sustained my brother through a very difficult time in his life

        • He returned to the Lord and has an active, intimate relationship with Jesus

 

  • WE

    • Loving father

        • I know that some of us here, this morning, could tell similar stories about our father’s

        • We would be able to share how our fathers were loving, caring, and concerned about us, instead of a car or some other material possession that was ruined on our watch

    • Unloving fathers

        • I’m also aware that there are those of us, here today, that don’t have any good memories of our fathers

        • Our fathers were harsh, unkind, and unloving

        • Perhaps they were verbally, mentally and/or physically abusive

        • We don’t want anything to do with our fathers

 

Jesus told three parables in Luke 15 about lost things (lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son). ​​ We’re going to focus on the lost son this morning, because it talks about human beings and relationships. ​​ Jesus used the parable to illustrate God the Father’s love, card, and concern for us as human beings. ​​ Since God the Father is holy (perfect) we can look to Him, especially when our earthly fathers have failed us, or after our earthly fathers have passed on. ​​ Luke wants us to understand that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ God never stops loving us.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Luke 15:11-24)

    • Rebellion (vv. 11-16)

        • Financial windfall (vv. 11-13a)

          • Most of us would probably say that we expect some kind of inheritance from our parents

            • Proverbs 13:22, A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.

            • 1 Timothy 5:8, If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

          • We would probably agree that we don’t really talk about our inheritance, though

            • The Lord has blessed Judy and I

            • My parents have talked to my brother, sister, and I about various furniture pieces in their house, so they know what we would like to have when they’re gone

            • I’ve told my parents that there isn’t anything I have to have

            • I’m content to have whatever is leftover – the sentimental value is more important to me than the item itself

            • I’ve heard stories of that not being the case in some families – there are fights and hard feelings after the individual passes away, because more than one person wants a particular item

          • Unusual request

            • In this parable, the younger son makes an uncharacteristic request

            • In the Ancient Near East it was not common practice to divide the inheritance prior to death

            • That normally happened after the patriarch was gone

            • The younger son wanted his share of the estate while his father was still living

          • Request granted

            • We begin to see the character and love of the father at the very beginning of this parable

            • He grants the younger son’s request

            • The father divided his property between the older and younger son

              • The older son received double the inheritance – two-thirds

              • Deuteronomy 22:17, He must acknowledge the son of his unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double share of all he has. ​​ That is the first sign of his father’s strength. ​​ The right of the firstborn belongs to him.

              • The younger son would only receive one-third

              • That was enough for him

            • I can only imagine what the younger son was saying prior to receiving his portion of the estate

              • Perhaps it’s the same things we hear today from our own children

              • “I can’t wait to leave this house and be out on my own!”

              • “I can’t stand being a part of this family, I want to move out!”

            • While it was certainly not the desire or wish of the father, he lovingly grants the younger sons request

          • Liquidating his portion of the estate

            • Not long after that . . .

              • The younger son had to have time to liquid his portion of the estate

              • He didn’t waste any time

              • Certainly part of his inheritance included property and land

              • He had to sell that, so he could have the money he desired

            • Once he had the money in hand, he was ready to move out and move on

          • “Schrenk (TDNT 5:983-84) perceptively suggests that this image pictures the heavenly Father letting the sinner go his own way.” ​​ [Bock, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Luke 9:51-24:53, 1310]

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God allows us to pursue our free will.

            • God never forces human beings to be in a relationship with Him

            • His desire is that we will want to be in a relationship with Him, since He created us

              • Jeremiah 31:3, The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with lovingkindness.

              • Acts 17:27-28, God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ​​ ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ ​​ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

              • John 1:12, Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

            • Most of us know of someone who is currently pursuing their own free will

              • As followers of Jesus Christ, we know what God’s desire is and that’s what makes it so difficult to watch a loved one pursue the things of this world instead the Lord

              • We can certainly give them sound advice

              • We can also pray for them

              • Never stop loving them and letting them know that you love them

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Pray for the person I know who is pursuing their free will and let them know I love them.

            • We’ll see that the father, in this parable, never stopped loving his son

          • The younger son has sold all of his inheritance and has the money in hand – now it’s time to leave

        • Freedom (v. 13b)

          • The younger son left for a distant country and wasted his wealth on wild living

          • Out on our own

            • Most of us didn’t move to a distant country – although most mothers would say that having their child move out of state is like them moving to a distant country

            • Do you remember what you did when you were finally out on your own?

            • Whether it was renting your first apartment or going off to college, do you remember what you decided to do or not do, since you were independent?

            • I remember deciding to stay up as late as I wanted, although my parents pretty much let me do that the last two years of high school (I just remember not feeling guilty about)

            • I know that other young people decided that they were no longer going to go to church

            • Others made decisions about what they would eat or drink, who they would hang out with, what they would watch or listen to, and perhaps how they spoke

            • Maybe they were already doing those things, but were guarded around their parents – now they pursued those things without being guarded or feeling guilty

          • I’m sure life was grand, for the younger son, until the money ran out

        • Famine (vv. 14-16)

          • To make things worse, the country where he was currently living experienced a severe famine

          • The young man had no money and now there was no food

          • He did want he needed to do to survive

            • He hired himself out

            • We have to remember the setting in which Jesus is telling this parable

              • Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. ​​ But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2)

              • The Pharisees and teachers of the law were concerned with who Jesus was welcoming and who He was eating with

              • Jesus was trying to help them understand that they needed to be reaching the lost, which required welcoming them and eating with them

              • The Jewish religious leaders would have struggled with one of their sons feeding pigs

              • Pigs were considered unclean animals, which had to be avoided

            • Although the young man had a job, no one gave him anything

              • He probably had some meager wages, but was still having trouble finding food to buy

              • The famine was so severe that he was still going hungry

          • Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom, before we realize what we had when we lived at home

        • That’s exactly what happened with this young man

    • Repentance (vv. 17-20a)

        • Wisdom (v. 17)

          • This young man knew that the men his father hired were not starving like him

          • In fact, they had food to spare

          • These hired men were not even family, yet they were well taken care

          • Wisdom is “the ability to use your knowledge and experience to make good decisions and judgments.” [https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/wisdom]

          • This young man used his knowledge of his father’s household and his current experience, of starving to death, to make a good decision to humble himself and return home

        • Humility (vv. 18-19)

          • We see humility in the rehearsed statement he is planning to share with his father

          • Recognizing that his desire to pursue his own free will, by requesting his portion of the estate and then wasting it on wild living, was sin, and that showed great humility on his part

            • Humility is not an easy characteristic to achieve, because it requires the acknowledgment of wrong

            • It requires that we repent and own our faults

            • The young man realized that he had not only sinned against his father, but also against God

          • We also see his humility in the fact that he was willing to be considered a hired hand instead of family

            • He had disgraced his family’s name, through his wild living

            • Even though he had done these things in a distant country, word had gotten back to his family

            • We see that in the older son’s response to his father

            • “But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” (Luke 15:30)

          • When this young man comes to his senses, he doesn’t hesitate

        • Action (v. 20a)

          • He got up and went to his father

          • He left his job of feeding pigs

          • He left the distant country where he had pursued his own free will to return to his father’s house

        • PRINCIPLE #2 – With wisdom and humility comes repentance and restoration.

          • The young man was ready to repent, which showed great wisdom and humility on his part

          • Perhaps that’s where some of us are at today

            • We have been pursuing our own free will

            • We have turned away from our family and from God

            • We have sinned against heaven and our families

            • We have separated ourselves from those who love us and support us (family and God)

          • It’s not too late to pursue wisdom and humility and to repent and return

          • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize my sin, repent of it, and return to the Lord and my family.

        • We see the humility of the son in returning home, but we also see the humility of the father in his response

    • Restoration (vv. 20b-24)

        • Compassion (v. 20b)

          • The son hasn’t even gotten to his father’s estate yet, but the father sees him

            • This tells us that the father was looking for the son every day

            • His desire was that his son would return home

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – No matter how sinful you are, God waits patiently and lovingly for you to return to him.

          • The father was filled with compassion

            • He never stopped loving his son

            • The same is true of God – He never stops loving us

            • God’s desire is that we return to Him

          • Humility expressed

            • In the culture of the day, a father would never have run

            • He definitely wouldn’t have run to embrace a son who had humiliated and brought disgrace on the family name

            • And yet, that’s exactly what this father did

            • He expressed his love for his son by hugging and kissing him

            • Too often men are stoic when it comes to expressing their love, even for their children

              • How many times have we heard adult children say that their father never told them that he loved them?

              • Father’s will tell us that their children knew they loved them, even if they didn’t say it

              • Guess what, guys? ​​ Our children need to hear us say that we love them

              • It’s not too late to tell them that, even if they are grown

              • My challenge for father’s today is to take time this week to reach out to your children and tell them that you love them

              • Their response may be, “Dad, have you been diagnosed with a terminal illness?” ​​ “Are you going to die?”

              • It may come as a shock to them, but I encourage you to do it anyway, and continue to do it!

          • Perhaps there are those here today who didn’t have a loving father

            • Our fathers may have passed away, so we’ll never hear them say that they love us

            • I want to encourage those of us, who are experiencing that, with these words from Scripture

              • Psalm 103:13-18, As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. ​​ As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. ​​ But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

              • John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

              • Jeremiah 31:3, The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with lovingkindness.

            • God never stops loving us.

          • The son repents and receives forgiveness and restoration

        • Forgiveness (vv. 21-24)

          • The son only gets to share the first half of his rehearsed statement

            • It’s the most important part – repentance!

            • He tells his father that he has sinned against heaven and against him

            • He is no longer worthy to be called his son

            • He never gets to express his willingness to forfeit his status as a son and be considered a hired hand

          • Restoration

            • What we see next is the restoration of this young man to the family unit

            • The father won’t consider his son anything but family

            • The items requested by the father were for family only (best robe, ring, sandals)

            • Hired hands didn’t receive these items – most hired hands didn’t wear any shoes

            • PRINCIPLE #4 – God restores us when we repent.

              • Sin separates us from God (Rom. 3:23; Rom. 6:23)

              • Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection enables us to have that relationship restored (2 Cor. 5:18-21, All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: ​​ that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. ​​ And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. ​​ We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. ​​ We implore you on Christ’s behalf: ​​ Be reconciled to God. ​​ God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God)

              • Children of God (John 1:12, Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.)

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Repent of my sins and become a child of God.

          • Celebration

            • The father instructs the servants to bring the fattened calf and kill it

            • A celebration is about to begin

            • The father is celebrating the fact that the son, he thought he had lost through death, is alive and has returned!

            • There is a celebration every time someone repents and returns to the Lord

              • Luke 15:7, I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

              • Luke 15:10, In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

            • God is poised and ready to start the celebration when you repent and turn to Him

            • Today is that day!

 

  • YOU

    • Who do you know that is pursuing their own free will? ​​ (are you praying for them and have you told them you love them?)

    • Are you ready to pursue wisdom and humility and repent and return to the Lord? ​​ (God is waiting patiently and lovingly for you to return to Him.)

    • God is ready to restore you, are you ready to repent?

 

  • WE

    • As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to love those who are pursuing the things of this world.

    • Who do we need to love today?

 

CONCLUSION

“I will never forget the man’s face that June afternoon as he sat there on those hard bleacher seats in the high school football stadium. The hot sun was constantly pulling sweat from his body and turning his face a nice shade of pink. He was oblivious. His eyes focused on one young man on the football field. ‘What’s up?’ I whispered. ‘I am waiting for my son. Soon he will cross the stage and get his honors diploma. Then it is off to college on a full academic scholarship. We are so proud of him.’

 

Two years later I met the same man. He called me to go with him. We rode in silence up the interstate to the university town. We met a lawyer and walked across the street to the county jail ‘What’s up?’ I finally asked. ‘I am waiting for my son,’ he sniffed, trying to hold back the tears. ‘Police picked him up for shoplifting. Afraid he is on drugs, too.’

 

Just a few months ago, I met my friend yet again. This time I was seated in a beautiful little church. The man stood by his son at the front looking up the aisle. If I could have whispered again, ‘What’s up?’ he would have whispered back, ‘I am waiting for my son to get married. His beautiful, vivacious bride will be walking down the aisle toward us in just a minute. I am so proud of him. This time I have been waiting ten years, but finally the wait is over. Drugs, alcohol, and jail are all behind him. He is back in church and thinking about going into the ministry. I am so excited.’

 

This father can read Luke 15 with special understanding. He knows what it means to wait for a prodigal son. He can identify with all the emotions that run through the father after he watched his son disappear down the long road to oblivion. Now he knows the joy of seeing the son come back, penitent and sad, seeking another chance at life. He knows the joy of running to the returning son with outstretched arms, ready to plant a big kiss on him. He truly understands party time. Now each day is a celebration as he experiences the joy of finding a lost sinner, reconciling with a lost son.

 

Our Father in heaven still stands at the corner looking for another lost child to come home . . . You have a heavenly Father who loves you that much. His open arms wait for you to see that you are a lost sinner needing to come home to Abba, your daddy in heaven. The party can be ready in a flash if you will come. Having come home and enjoyed the party, then you can join the Father at the corner watching for more lost children to come home . . . You can sit beside the elder brother and show him how much the Father has always loved him even if he never got around to party time. You can let the joy flow as you seek the lost and watch as the Father saves them.

 

[Butler, Holman New Testament Commentary, Luke, 253-54].

12

 

Smells Like Pleasing Worship

What is your favorite smell? There are so many to choose from but here’s a few: freshly cut Christmas trees, a rose, lavender, vanilla, fresh bread baking in the oven, freshly popped popcorn, fresh brewed coffee, bacon, freshly cut grass, meat barbequing on the grill, that new car smell, freshly baked chocolate cookies. What would be your least favorite smell? Again there are a lot to choose from and some are very unsavory. I will try to stick to the least unsavory ones and you can use your imagination for the worst smells you’ve ever encountered. A full kitchen trash bag or dumpster, sewage, rotten milk or rotten food, plastic burning, car exhaust, bleach.

As we all know, humans have five senses: touch, sight, hearing, taste and smell. Our sense of smell is considered to be the strongest. Here are some facts about our sense of smell: it is the first of all our senses to develop. Even before we are born, our sense of smell is fully formed and functioning. Our scent cells are renewed every 28 days, so every four weeks you get a new “nose.” A woman’s sense of smell is much stronger than a man’s. Our sense of smell is the most closely linked with memory. We can remember smells with 65% accuracy after a year, while our visual recall is only about 50% after three months. One of our most evocative smells from childhood is crayons. A survey found that 85% of all people remember their childhood when they caught the smell of Crayola crayons.

The Bible also talks about the sense of smell. In 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, Paul says that Christians, as we spread the gospel of Jesus Christ wherever we go, we are the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ. To those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior we are the fragrance of life but to those who reject him we are the fragrance of death. ​​ In Psalm 141:2 the psalmist says, “May my prayer be counted as incense before You; the raising of my hands as the evening offering. He was remembering the sacrifices that the priest would make on the altar of incense while the Israelites were praying each morning. When we are praying pure, holy and fervent prayers in Jesus’ name, those prayers become a fragrant and sweet odor to the Lord. In Philippians 4:18, Paul called the gifts that the church at Philippi sent him a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. In Ephesians 5:1-2, Paul says we are to imitate God by living a life of love for others just as Christ loved us and sacrificed himself on a cross for us. Jesus’ act of love and sacrifice was an offering to God as a fragrant aroma, just as our love for others would be to God, as well.

Last week, Pastor Stuart taught us about God’s perfect timing as Noah patiently waited for the flood to end and the earth to become dry so he, his family and the animals could leave the ark. They had been in the ark for over a year and after landing on the mountain range of Ararat Noah sent out a raven and dove to check the dryness of the earth. Finally after the third time when the dove didn’t return Noah knew that the water had dried up from the earth. But it still took almost another month and a half until the surface of the ground was completely dry. All during this time, Noah did not take it upon himself to leave the ark. He waited on the Lord. Isaiah 40:31 says “those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” Now “waiting” on the Lord doesn’t mean we sit idly by but it means to “bind together” with God. It’s the idea in John 15 to be connected to the vine which is Jesus. Some of the ways that we can be connected to Jesus is by being in God’s Word, being in prayer and by being focused on the Lord through true and genuine worship. As we wait upon the Lord we are connected to Him and are renewed and strengthened. I see this “waiting on the Lord” in Noah. He could have rushed out as soon as the dove didn’t return. The circumstances on the earth looked suitable for them to leave the ark but that was no guarantee that God wanted them to leave yet and begin their new life. I think Noah was so tuned into God and his will for him that he waited for God’s perfect timing to be revealed.

This morning we finally see Noah, his family and the animals leave the ark and the first thing Noah does is build an altar and sacrifice burnt offerings to the Lord. God smells Noah’s sacrifice and it was a pleasing aroma to him. What was it about Noah’s sacrifice and worship that was pleasing to God? What are the ingredients of our worship that pleases God and shows we are striving to live daily, holy lives? Those are the questions we will answer this morning as we study our passage which brings us to our big idea: our holiness is expressed through the pleasing aroma of our worship. Let’s pray and commit our time together to the Lord. Heavenly Father, we ask that you pour out your Holy Spirit upon us as we study your Word. Open our hearts and minds and give us supernatural insight. Use your Word this morning to teach us, rebuke us where needed, correct us and to train us in righteousness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

There are two points this morning. Our first point is God’s command & Noah’s obedience and is found in Genesis 8:15-19. This is what God’s Word says, “Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.” So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another.

Finally, after a little over a year, God commands Noah to come out of the ark with his family. We notice two things. One, this is the first and only time God talks to Noah while he is in the ark, and two, God is still only talking with Noah. God commands Noah to bring out every living creature that was with him in the ark. Then God commands them to multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it. This reminds us of God’s command in the garden to be fruitful and multiply. The multiplying of creatures on the earth had been stymied by the flood but now God is rebooting creation.

As we have seen before, in the story of the Flood, it follows the same pattern as God speaks and Noah obeys. Noah has waited on the Lord’s perfect timing and now obeys God’s command to come out of the ark with his family. He is followed by all the animals, the crawling things and the birds, one kind after another. We notice that God is restoring not only the population but orderliness in the world after recreating through the flood. Later on in our scripture, we will see God continuing to restore his order on the earth.

Because Noah was righteous and blameless in his generation God chose him to recreate humanity on a recreated earth. All through the story of the flood Noah has shown his faith and has been obedient to what the Lord commanded time and time again. His obedient faith is played out again as he disembarks from the ark followed by his family and the animals and his faith is counted to him as righteousness. His righteous and holy life was expressed through his obedient faith. As we strive to live holy lives set apart from the world, we must follow the example of Noah and be faithful and obedient to God as well. That brings us to our first next step on the back of your communication card which is to follow the example of Noah in having an obedient faith in response to God’s Word and commands.

Our second point is Noah’s worship and God’s response and that is found in verses 20-22. This is what God’s Word says, “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

We see Noah’s holiness and righteousness in his expression of faith as he responds to God’s deliverance from the ark and his salvation from the flood. Imagine that you are Noah and you have just been stuck in the ark floating on the water for over a year with your family and all the animals. What would be the very first thing you might do as you step onto dry land? I can imagine that I would be so happy that I would kiss the ground. On May 21, 2021, a number of Indonesian fishermen were rescued from a boat that had been taking on water for three days off the coast of Western Australia. They were visibly emotional and kissed the ground beneath them as they got on dry ground.

This reminds me of a trip Judy and I took to Chicago a number of years ago. One night we needed to go from one end of town to the other so we took a taxi cab. I don’t remember exactly how long the ride took, maybe 15-20 minutes. And I really didn’t have a strong opinion about the ride except that I had no idea that the back seats of cabs were so small. But I could tell that Judy on the other hand was not enjoying the ride. In fact when the taxi cab finally reached our destination and we all got out of the cab, we found Judy face down on the ground by the curb and it looks like she is kissing the ground. She was so thankful for God’s deliverance from that cab. At least that’s what we all thought. In reality as she got out of the cab, probably in a hurry to get as far away as possible, she tripped on the curb and went straight down. No matter what Judy was definitely very happy to be out of that cab.

Noah’s first thought as he gets out of the ark for the first time in over a year is Godward. He wanted to worship the Lord in gratitude for saving him and his family. And his first act of worship was to build an altar and sacrifice some of all the clean animals and birds as burnt offerings on it. Goldingay says, “The building of an altar is significant in that it means proclaiming Yahweh’s name over an area. It signifies that this area belongs to Yahweh and recognizes this place as a place where Yahweh has acted.” And Hamilton adds, “The point is that Noah’s first act indicates his faith that God brought him through the flood.”

We are reminded of when God commanded Noah to take both clean and unclean animals on the ark. He was preparing Noah to have the capability to make these sacrifices. These sacrifices were burnt offerings which meant the entire animal or bird was sacrificed on the altar. Burnt offerings are probably the oldest and most common of all the OT sacrifices. Reverence, petition, gratitude, dedication and atonement are all expressed in burnt offerings. By sacrificing the entire or whole animal on the altar it meant Noah was totally committed to the Lord. Noah’s righteousness and holiness was expressed by his faith, his obedience and now his total commitment to the Lord in worship. Our righteousness and holiness is also expressed by our faith, obedience and total commitment to the Lord in worship. (BIG IDEA)

We see God’s response to Noah’s total commitment to Him. It says the Lord “smelled” the pleasing aroma. This is the only time in scripture that the Lord is said to have “smelled” a sacrifice meaning that God approved of Noah and his worship. If God had refused to smell the fragrance of the offering it meant he wasn’t pleased. The aroma of Noah’s sacrifice was “pleasing” or “soothing.” “Soothing” sacrifices have a restful or pacifying effect on God. God’s righteous anger at sin is “appeased” or “soothed” by sacrifice. Mathews says, “Noah’s worship soothed the broken heart of God which had been injured by man’s wickedness. The “soothing” aroma is best reflected in the idea of “rest.” Yahweh “smelled” the rest-inducing odor of Noah’s sacrifice which reminds us of the meaning of Noah’s name. Pastor Stuart mentioned it last week in his message and it comes up again here. Lamech named his son Noah because he hoped Noah would bring rest to mankind from the labors of his hands. Here it is implied that Noah’s sacrifice has had a restful, soothing and pacifying effect on God. Noah’s worship was authentic, genuine, reverent, and was offered with clean hands and a pure heart which made it acceptable and pleasing to God. That gives us an important principle that God is pleased when his people genuinely worship Him. That is what God is looking for in our worship. Is our worship authentic, genuine, reverent and offered with clean hands and a pure heart? If we are striving to live daily, holy lives our worship will be all those things. (BIG IDEA)

One of the commentaries told a story about a girl in a youth group who was preaching on this passage and the title of her message was “Stink for God.” He was a little worried where she was going with that but she made her point. “Stink for God” means to live a life that God would take notice of because of our total commitment to him in worship. That brings us to our second next step on the back of your communication card which is to live a life that God would take notice of because of my total commitment to him in worship.

Next we see that in response to Noah’s worship the Lord makes a promise. Notice he doesn’t voice his promise to Noah but only in his own heart. Maybe he didn’t want Noah to be prideful thinking he was the one who caused God’s promise to be made. Through the entire story of the flood it has been God doing the moving. It has been God giving his grace to Noah, his family and the animals. It was not because of anything Noah did but totally because of the grace and mercy of the Lord.

God’s promise was three-fold. First, the ground will never be cursed again because of man. This didn’t mean that the curse the ground received from Adam and Eve’s sin would be reversed or taken away. It meant that the ground would not be cursed any further. The next statement can be difficult to understand what God meant. The NIV says “even though” every inclination of his heart, (talking about man) is evil from childhood.” The NASB says “for” the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” The first may be saying that another judgment will not solve the problem of the human heart because it will always be evil from childhood, so God says he will never again destroy all living creatures. The second seems to imply that human hearts are wicked, will persist in sin and not learn the lesson of the flood but God in his grace determines to never again destroy all living creatures as he has just done.  ​​​​ 

I like how Wiersbe in his commentary puts it. He says, “Perhaps both are true but the important thing is God spoke these things in response to Noah’s sacrifice and the sacrifice was a picture of the sacrifice of Christ. On the basis of the atonement accomplished by Christ on the cross God could withhold judgment because justice had been met.” Noah’s sacrifice of burnt offerings may have been seen by God as an atonement for a wicked world that would continue in sin after the flood. God would continue to show his grace and mercy to a lost world and withhold judgment because justice had been met by Noah’s sacrifice.

The second promise God makes is that he will never again destroy all living creatures by flood. God will still deal with our individual sin and we still receive judgment through the consequences of our sins but we will not experience universal destruction by flood again. Noah was totally committed to God and God is totally committed to the human race. This commitment is not based on us being worthy, in fact, God makes this commitment knowing that our heart would be evil from our childhood. Noah and the rest of humanity will have a sense of security in that they will not have to worry about building an ark every time it rains.

The third promise God makes is that there would be no further interruption of the cycle of nature. In the beginning at creation God established an order to the world as he created day and night and the sun and moon. The earth was created in an orderly fashion to sustain life on a continual basis. But because of humanity’s sinfulness and wickedness, the flood halted those rhythms and chaos was again upon the earth. In re-creating the earth God reestablishes its order and rhythms as it was at the beginning.

This restoration of order and rhythm is seen in four couplets that express extremes. These testify to the resurrection of predictability on the earth that is necessary to sustain life on it. First, seedtime and harvest. Each year there will be a time of plowing and seeding and later there will be a time to harvest. Second, cold and heat. This may be talking about an extension of the seasons and go along with the next couplet, summer and winter. At creation God created an expanse or firmament to separate the waters below from waters above. This canopy seemed to create a “hothouse effect” on the earth which may have been why people were living longer lives before the flood. It is also possible that the canopy caused the earth to be warmer overall than it is now. With the flood, God took the canopy away and now there will be more diverse temperatures, cold and heat, summer and winter. Lastly, we see there will be day and night continuously. God’s three-fold promise addresses the three foundational functions started at creation: agriculture, weather and time. Mathews says, “They are all at the command of God who guarantees their punctual arrival giving security to the world and its inhabitants. To say that the earth will continually go from one of these extremes to the other without end means we don’t have to worry about those things as we live our lives.” Balance has now been restored and God promises that it will never cease as long as the earth endures.

Play-Doh was originally invented as a substance to remove soot from wallpaper, and it wasn’t until decades later that it was marketed as a product for children. And now, in a manner of speaking, Play-Doh is returning to its roots. The latest Play-Doh innovation is a product line entitled “Grown Up Scents,” and according to Play-Doh general manager Leena Vadaketh, it’s designed to appeal to the sensory cravings of adults. Notable examples include the floral ambiance of a “Spa Day” or that strong smell of suburban success — freshly cut grass, for the “Lord of the Lawn” in your life. There’s “Overpriced Latte,” and “Mom Jeans,” a fragrance vaguely described as that of “clean denim” and “Grill King” which smells like the wafting odor of smoked meat.

Just as we are soothed by familiar aromas, God is pleased and soothed by our holiness expressed through the pleasing aroma of our worship. What should the pleasing aroma of worship “smell” or look like? Paul describes it in Romans 12:1-2, which says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

This passage contains all the elements of pleasing worship. First, there is the motivation to worship: “in view of God’s mercy.” God’s mercies are everything He has given us that we don’t deserve and the knowledge and understanding of those mercies should motivate us to praise and thank him. Second, the manner of our worship: “offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice.” This means giving all of ourselves to God; we are to give up control of our hearts, minds, hands, thoughts, attitudes and turn them over to Him. How do we do this: “by the renewing of your mind.” This means replacing the wisdom of the world with true wisdom that comes from God. We are to worship Him with our renewed and cleansed minds. There is only one way to renew our minds, and that is by the Word of God. To know the truth, to believe the truth, to hold convictions about the truth, and to love the truth will naturally result in “pleasing” worship. Pleasing worship is done in Spirit and in truth meaning we worship from the heart and in the way God has designed. Pleasing worship is God-centered worship meaning it is reserved for God alone because he is the only one who is worthy of our worship. "Worshiping" out of obligation is displeasing to God and is completely in vain. He can see through all our hypocrisy. Pleasing worship is not confined to only what we do in church but should be a daily lifestyle. Pleasing worship is the acknowledgment of God and all His power and glory in everything we do. Pleasing worship is all about glorifying and exalting God. The highest form of praise and pleasing worship is obedience to Him and His Word. If we are striving to live daily, holy lives it will be expressed through the pleasing aroma of our worship.

As the praise team comes to lead us in a final song this morning, let’s pray: Holy God, we want our worship to be a pleasing aroma to you. Help us to live a life that you would take notice of because of our total commitment to you in worship. Help us to follow the example of Noah and let our faith and obedience be counted as righteousness. Help us as we strive to live a life of holiness and I pray that we would leave here changed and transformed by your Word and ready to serve you in all the ways you have called us to. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Origins

Perfect Timing

(Genesis 8:1-14)

 

INTRODUCTION

“In March of 2006, the Associated Press and Ipsos surveyed 1,003 adults concerning Americans' attitudes and behavior regarding impatience. Some of the findings included:

  • While waiting in line at an office or store, it takes an average of 17 minutes for most people to lose their patience.

  • On the phone, it takes about 9 minutes for most people to lose their patience.

  • Women lost their patience after waiting in line for about 18 minutes. For men, it was an average of 15 minutes.

  • People with lower income and less education are more patient than those with a college education and a high income.

  • People who live in the suburbs are more patient than people who live in the city.”

 

Source: Trevor Thompson, "Impatience Poll Glance," www.hosted.ap.org (5-28-06).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2006/june/2062606.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Patient

        • I would like to think that I’m a pretty patient person

        • I will take a long time to untangle a rope or fishing line

        • I’m patient when I’m building an architectural LEGO to make sure I’m putting it together properly

        • I’m patient when putting a puzzle together

    • Not Patient

        • There are other times when I’m not patient

        • I’m usually impatient when I’m frustrated or tired

        • There have been times when I’ve tried to untangle fishing line while I’m frustrated or tired and the result is me cutting the line and throwing the knotted mess away and starting fresh

        • My family knows when I’m not patient, because it usually ends in the same way as the fishing line, with something being scrapped and starting over

 

  • WE

    • Every one of us can probably recall a time when we were patient

    • We can also recall a time when we weren’t patient

 

As we’ll see today, the rain has stopped and the flood waters go down, but it takes time. ​​ We see that Noah patiently waits and tests the earth to determine when the ground is dry. ​​ Even after the ground is dry, Noah waits for God’s perfect timing to leave the ark. ​​ We’ll learn through this passage that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ God’s timing is perfect.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 8:1-14)

    • Remembers (v. 1)

        • Last week we saw that the waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days (Gen. 7:24)

        • But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark (Gen. 8:1)

          • When we think about the word “remember” we immediately associate it recalling something that has been forgotten

            • That’s not the case with God here

            • He hasn’t forgotten Noah and the animals

          • God’s remembering

            • Hamilton expresses it as God extending His saving mercy, either from death or barrenness [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, 299]

            • Waltke, Mathews, and Wiersbe see it as keeping a covenant promise [Waltke, Genesis, A Commentary, 140; Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1A, Genesis 1-11:26, 382; Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 49]

              • Genesis 6:17-18, I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. ​​ Everything on earth will perish. ​​ But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark – you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.

              • God has kept His covenant promise to Noah, his family, and the animals – they have come through the storm

              • There are other Old Testament examples of God remembering His covenant promises

                • God fulfilled His promise to bring the Israelites out of Egypt and establish them in the Promised Land (Exod. 2:24; 6:5; Num. 10:9) – He remembered them

                • God remembered Abraham when He brought Lot out of Sodom and Gomorrah prior to their destruction (Gen. 19:29)

                • God remembered Rachel and opened her womb (Gen. 30:22)

                • God remembered Abraham, Isaac, and Israel when Moses interceded for an apostate Israel (Exod. 32:13)

                • God again remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when the Israelites were being disobedient (Lev. 26:42, 45)

            • Gangel and Bramer explain, God remembering, as having concern or care for Noah and the animals [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 88]

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is concerned about and cares for His creation.

              • God knew how long Noah and his family had been cooped up with all the animals

              • He hadn’t forgotten His covenant with them – the promise He had made to them

              • The same is true for us as His children – as followers of Jesus Christ

              • God is concerned about us and cares for us

              • He hasn’t forgotten any of the promises He’s made to us, found His Word, the Bible

              • In the middle of the “storm,” we may feel like God has forgotten His promises to us, but His timing is perfect

              • We can trust in His timing, concern, and care for us

              • God’s promises to us

                • Presence – He promises to never leave us or forsake us (Deut. 31:6; Heb. 13:5-6)

                • Provision – He promises to give us a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11)

                • Power – He promises to give us strength (Phil. 4:13)

                • Prayers – He promises to hear our prayers (John 14:13-14)

                • Protection – He promises to fight for us (Exod. 14:14)

                • Peace – He promises to give us peace (John 14:27)

                • Passion – He promises to always love us (1 John 4:9-10)

              • Where are you struggling to trust in God’s concern and care for you?

              • What storm are your going through right now?

              • What promise, from God, do you need to claim today? (presence, provision, power, prayers, protection, peace, passion/love)

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim God’s promise of His ___________. (presence, provision, power, prayers, protection, peace, passion)

          • Out of His concern and care for Noah and the animals and in His perfect timing, God sent a wind over the earth

        • God sent a wind over the earth

          • We realize that this wind was part of God’s plan to cause the water to recede

          • This is perhaps talking about evaporation and in vv. 2-5 we’ll talk about other potential places where the water may have gone

          • God’s power is revealed through the wind

            • Here, the wind is used to dry up the floodwaters

            • Exodus 10:13, 19, So Moses stretched out his staff over Egypt, and the Lord made an east wind blow across the land all that day and all that night. ​​ By morning the wind had brought the locusts; . . . And the Lord changed the wind to a very strong west wind, which caught up the locusts and carried them into the Red Sea. ​​ Not a locust was left anywhere in Egypt.

            • Exodus 14:21, Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. ​​ The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

            • Numbers 11:31, Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. ​​ It brought them down all around the camp to about three feet above the ground, as far as a day’s walk in any direction.

          • We can and should rejoice in God’s omnipotent power displayed through nature

        • We also see His omnipotent power displayed through, once again, restraining the waters

    • Restrains (vv. 2-5)

        • PRINCIPLE #2 – God’s sovereign power restrains His creation.

          • In Genesis 7:11 we talked about how God removed the boundaries or restraints from the springs of the great deep and the sky above

          • The waters contained there were allowed to rise and fall at will

          • God once again establishes the boundaries He formed at creation for the oceans, seas, the great deep, and the sky

            • God closed the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens

            • God caused the rain to stop falling from the sky

          • Illustration

            • I remember as a child going to Harvey Cedars Bible Conference every summer for vacation

            • We would spend the afternoon at the beach building sand castles, digging holes, and running away from the waves

            • Most waves would come up on the beach a certain distance and it was easy to get away from them

            • Every once in a while a larger wave would crash on shore and it would wash over our legs

            • We weren’t able to get away from those waves, because they came further up the beach

            • But, I never worried about the ocean completely covering the entire beach and perhaps going inland

            • I trusted that it would only go a certain distance on shore

            • That’s God’s sovereign power restraining His creation

          • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Worship the Lord for His restraining power displayed in creation.

        • Receding water

          • I believe that several things happened that caused the water to recede

            • Obviously the wind was causing some of the water to evaporate and return to the sky

            • I also believe that the waters were returning to the great deep (either to the oceans and seas or underground)

          • The water receded steadily, but it was still on the earth after 150 days

            • Five months after the flood began, the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat

            • Remember that I challenged you to keep an eye out for the next time we see the seventeenth day

              • Here it is!

              • On the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark rested

              • On the seventeenth day of the second month is when the flood began (Genesis 7:11)

              • That’s a five-month period

            • Rested

              • We would miss this little golden nugget if we didn’t look at the original Hebrew language

              • The Hebrew word for “rested” is nûaḥ

              • It’s the verb from which Noah’s name comes

              • Noah’s name literally means rest

              • I’m reminded of what Noah’s father said about him in Genesis 5:28-29, When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son. ​​ He named him Noah and said, “He will comfort us [give us rest/relief] in our labors and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.

            • Mountains of Ararat

              • This mountain range is in modern day Turkey

              • [Show map]

              • [Show picture of the mountain range]

          • Waters continue to recede

            • God is a God of order, so we see parallel time periods in this narrative

            • “The ark at last comes to rest on the ‘seventeenth day of the seventh month’ (v. 4), giving a five-month period from first rains (7:11) to the ark’s grounding. ​​ The same five-month period extends from the first sighting of the mountains (8:5) to the completely dried earth (v. 14).” ​​ [Mathews, 385]

            • The waters continued to recede and during the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains were visible

            • This is just a reminder that God’s timing is perfect

            • He knew exactly how long He needed Noah and the animals to be in the ark

        • God has remembered Noah and the animals and restrained the waters once again and now we see Him renewing the earth

    • Renews (vv. 6-14)

        • Bird testing

          • Noah waited 40 days after the top of the mountains became visible before he started using birds to test the earth’s readiness/condition

            • We see God’s order once again as He executes His perfect timing

            • “The 40 days correspond to the 40 days during which the rain fell and the waters rose; and Noah might assume that they would require the same time to recede as to rise.” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 94]

          • Noah opened the window

            • This is not to be confused with the door on the side of ark that was used to load the ark and which God closed after everyone and everything was inside

            • This would have been a hatch either on the ark’s roof or side, close to the top

          • Birds used

            • Raven

              • Noah sends out a raven first after waiting 40 days

              • There is some significant to the sending out the raven first

                • It was a larger and stronger bird, so it could remain in flight longer

                • It could also feed on carrion (dead things) or plants

                • “The foremost significance of the raven is its symbolic value as an ‘unclean’ bird, unfit for consumption (Lev 11:15; Deut 14:14). ​​ According to rabbinic tradition, the raven was released first as expendable since it was neither good for food nor sacrifice.” ​​ [Mathews, 387]

              • The raven never returns to the ark, because it doesn’t mind landing on areas that are unclean

            • Dove

              • Most scholars seem to agree that, while it’s not stated here, because it is stated two other times in the passage, Noah waited seven days to send out the first dove after sending out the raven

              • The dove was considered a clean animal and good for sacrifice

              • It was also a low-flying [Waltke, 141], valley-dwelling bird, so Noah is sending it out to determine how far the water has receded [Hamilton, 304]

              • Keil & Delitzsch share that “a dove will only settle upon such places and objects as are dry and clean.” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, 94]

              • First flight

                • Noah sends the dove out, but it returns to him because it can’t find a place to land in the valley

                • There were not dry and clean places available, yet

                • Noah reaches out his hand and brings the dove back inside the ark

              • Second flight

                • Noah waited seven more days and then sent the dove out again

                • It didn’t return until evening, but when it did return it had an olive leaf in its beak

                • The olive leaf was proof that new life was springing up on the earth, but there was still water on the ground

                • An olive tree will produce leaves even under water [Keil & Delitzsch, 94]

                • If the water had been completely dried up, then the dove would not have returned

              • Third flight

                • Noah waited another seven days and then sent the dove out a third time

                • This time the dove did not return

                • It had found a clean, dry place to nest

          • What we see next are two time frames to help us know how long the floodwaters had remained on the earth

        • Two time frames

          • First day of the first month of Noah’s 601st year

            • Verse 13 is from Noah’s perspective

            • The verb used here for dried up/dry means “to be free of moisture” [Hamilton, 305]

            • The NLT translates this verse with that meaning in mind

            • Noah was now 601 years old. ​​ On the first day of the new year, ten and half months after the flood began, the floodwaters had almost dried up from the earth. ​​ Noah lifted back the covering of the boat and saw that the surface of the ground was drying.

            • Noah is patiently waiting for God’s perfect timing

          • Twenty-seventh day of the second month of Noah’s 601st year

            • Verse 14 is from the narrator’s perspective

            • The verb used for dried up/dry means “the complete absence of waters” [Hamilton, 305]

            • So, from the first day of the first month until the twenty-seventh day of the second month (another 57 days) the waters were completely gone from the earth

            • When we compare timeframe given for when the flood begins and when it ends there is an interesting point that emerges [Hamilton, 305]

              • Flood begins (7:11): ​​ 17th day/2nd month/600th year of Noah

              • Flood has gone (8:14): ​​ 27th day/2nd month/601st year of Noah

              • “The Flood ‘lasted twelve months and eleven days, the exact period required to equate the year of twelve lunar months, 354 days, with the solar year of 365 days.’ ​​ The Flood lasted one solar year.” ​​ [Hamilton, 305]

          • Noah was patient through the many months after the rain and flood waters stopped

          • He was waiting for God’s perfect timing, which we’ll see next week

        • PRINCIPLE #3 – God’s timing is perfect.

          • Because Noah was a righteous and blameless man, he was content to wait on God’s perfect timing

          • The old saying is true, “patience is a virtue!”

          • Application

            • Perhaps you’re struggling today to patiently wait for God’s perfect timing

            • It’s difficult to patiently wait when:

              • You’re dealing with chronic pain

              • You’re ready to graduate from high school or college and get out on your own

              • You’re wanting to be married and you’re having a hard time finding a godly man or woman

              • You’re not sure if you should remain in your current job

              • You’re uncertain about whether or not you should change careers

              • Your debt load seems overwhelming and you’re completely stressed out

              • You’ve been praying for that loved one to come to Jesus for salvation

              • You’re waiting for that relationship to be restored

            • Through every difficulty that we face, we can trust that God’s timing is perfect

              • He’s never early and He’s never late

              • He’s perfectly on-time

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Patiently wait for God’s perfect timing for the thing I’m struggling with today.

 

  • YOU

    • Which one of God’s promises do you need to claim today? (presence, provision, power, prayers, protection, peace, or passion)

    • Are you ready to worship the Lord for His restraining power displayed in creation?

    • Do you need to exercise patience for God’s perfect timing concerning an issue/struggle?

 

  • WE

    • We can help each other with all of these areas by:

        • Reminding one another of God’s promises, found in His Word

        • Worshiping together as we recognize God’s power at work in our lives

        • Holding each other accountable to patiently wait for God’s perfect timing

 

CONCLUSION

“Former pro football star and coach Tony Dungy told the following story about his father's Christian character:

 

My dad was usually a quiet, thoughtful man. A scientist at heart and by training, Wilbur Dungy loved to be outside, enjoying the scenery. Fishing allowed him time to contemplate, to listen, and to marvel at God's creation. My dad used fishing to teach his children to appreciate the everyday wonders of the world God created—the sandy shoreline, the dark, pine forests, the shimmering water, and the abundant wildlife. The lessons were always memorable, whether we caught a lot of fish or not.

 

Although we fished countless times together throughout our lives, one particular day stands out in my mind. It was a summer day in 1965. Summers in Michigan are beautiful, with comfortable temperatures and clear, blue skies. I was nine years old, and my brother was five. My dad had taken us fishing at one of the many small lakes around Jackson. On that day, my dad was teaching my brother and me how to cast. We were both working on it, mostly in silence, until my dad's voice finally broke a period of stillness.

 

‘Hey, Linden, don't move for a minute, please.’ I looked back and watched my dad move his hand toward his face. Calm and deliberate, he continued to speak.

 

‘Now, Linden, always make sure that you know not only where your pole is when you're starting to cast’—at this point, I realized my dad was working my brother's hook out of his own ear— ‘but also make certain that you know where everyone else is around you.’

 

I learned something about proper casting that day, but I also learned something about patience. Years later, when I got hooked myself, in my hand, I realized how much it hurts. Remembering my dad's patience that day when Linden's hook was caught in his ear, I finally understood the importance of staying calm and communicating clearly.”

 

Source: Wess Stafford, Just a Minute (Moody, 2012), pp. 73-74.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2012/july/6070912.html].

12

 

RE-CREATION

Today’s scripture deals with a couple of major themes: one of them being the sovereignty of God. And I want to start out with wrestling with that this morning. First of all, the sovereignty of God is not an easy subject to wrap our heads around. Second, I believe we have a hard time with the sovereignty of God because it makes us uncomfortable. So, I am going to read a definition of the sovereignty of God and as I do I want you to think about the parts that make you uncomfortable.

God’s sovereignty is defined as His complete and total independent control over every creature, event, and circumstance at every moment in history. Subject to none, influenced by none, absolutely independent, God does what He pleases, only as He pleases, always as He pleases. He is in complete control of every molecule in the universe at every moment, and everything that happens is either caused or allowed by Him for His own perfect purposes. Unlimited in power, unrivalled in majesty, and not thwarted by anything outside Himself, our God is in complete control of all our circumstances, causing or allowing them for His own good purposes and plans to be fulfilled exactly as He has foreordained.

Did anybody feel uncomfortable? That is the God we serve. That is God who cannot be put in a nice, neat, little box. But isn’t that what try to do? We put God in a box and really only interact with him when it’s comfortable to do so or when we can understand what he is doing in our lives. But God is so much greater than what our finite minds can grasp. At the last Secret Church, the subject was God and David Platt commented that we don’t give God the awe, the reverence, and the holy fear that he deserves. We don’t take the time to truly understand who God is. He is so much higher than we are. He is perfect and holy and just and loving and compassionate and we could go on and on and he does all those things perfectly together. We can rejoice in our God’s sovereignty, because it is overshadowed by His goodness, His love, His mercy, His compassion, His faithfulness, and His holiness.

When I look back on my life I can see the sovereignty of God at many different times. I can see that he was in control of my life in that he kept me from trouble and harm. Not that I never got into trouble or was never in harm’s way but it could have been much worse than it was. I can also look back and see times where he was guiding my life. A lot of those times are very evident in the jobs that I have had, in fact, I believe that me speaking to you this morning is proof of the sovereignty of God in my life. He was in control of my life and circumstances that directly brought me to Idaville Church. I have two personal examples of the sovereignty of God in my life to share with you this morning. ​​ 

I will start with the earliest one which is my marriage to Judy. When I look back on how, when and why I met her in the first place, the path was not a straight one. It was full of so many far-fetched and random events that had to take place for us to even meet, much less get married. Of course those events weren’t random. He has been in complete control of my life and circumstances, causing or allowing them for His own good purposes and plans to be fulfilled exactly as He has foreordained.

The next example was the car accident I had in July 1999 on Rt. 34 just outside of Mt. Holly. Now it’s not the fact that I am still alive today that proves to me that God is sovereign even though that was part of it. To me the proof of his sovereignty are the events in the month prior to the accident. In the middle of June 1999, I had driven a van load of youth down and back to Kentucky. Then the next week, I drove youth to the Creation Festival. Then the following week Judy and I were counselors at our Church camp in Waynesboro and I had to drive up and back twice that week to Uriah Church to fulfill the secretarial duties I had at the time. What proves the sovereignty of God to me is that he was not only in control of my accident but he controlled my accident. The consequences of falling asleep at the wheel could have been so much worse than totaling my car, spending three weeks in the hospital and having to eat by an IV for four months. He was in complete control of that event and even controlled it, causing or allowing it to happen for His own good purposes and plans to be fulfilled exactly as He has foreordained.

What about you? Have you seen the sovereign hand of God at work in your life? How do you feel about it? You see a lot of people are not ok with God controlling and being in control of their lives and we can see that in their rebellion against Him. I believe that the problem is one of submission. They don’t feel that they should have to submit to God or that God doesn’t deserve to be submitted to. Romans 9:20-21 says this, “But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?” God is our creator and as creator he has the right to control and be in control of our lives. Too many people want to tell the creator how it should be used. Worse yet, many times the creation doesn’t want anything to do with the creator. But guess what? The creator is still sovereign and in control whether we want him to be or whether we believe he is or not.

This morning, we continue with the flood narrative. We have seen that Noah has totally submitted his will and his life to the sovereignty of God. And as the flood has begun, God has been in control of many things. He has been in control of the waters of the great deep and the floodgates of heaven. This morning we will see he is also in control of life and death, in control of his judgment and his grace and in control of the lives of Noah and his family. Two weeks ago, Pastor’s big idea was that God is in control of his creation and this morning we will see he is in control of re-creation as well. Ultimately God is in control of all things but he also controls all things and we need to be willing to come to grips with those truths in our lives. That brings us to our big idea this morning: God controls and is in control of all things.

I don’t know about you but that makes me exceedingly happy. I for one am glad that human beings are not in control of our world or of my life. I want the one true God, the Creator of the Universe, the Alpha and the Omega in control of not only this world and what happens in it but my life and what happens in it as well. And I hope you do too. Before we dive into our passage this morning, let’s pray: Sovereign God, we thank you for being in control of our lives because you are the only one who can do it perfectly. Help us to accept your rule and reign in our lives. Continue to pour out your Holy Spirit on us as we learn from your Word this morning. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

We will be looking at two points this morning. The first is indescribable judgment and that is found in Genesis 7:17-23a. This is what God’s Word says, “For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth.”

Earlier in the chapter we were told that the rain fell on the earth for forty days and forty nights. Now we are told that the flood kept coming on the earth for forty days and we can suspect that not only the rain fell for that period of time but also the springs of the great deep kept bursting forth for forty days. Next, we see the effect that the flood had on the ark, on the earth and on every living thing. Each statement that is made about these three things builds upon the last to gives us a picture of the devastating effects of the Flood.

First, we see the waters affected the ark. As the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. That statement is built upon as the waters rose and greatly increased on the earth and the ark floated on the surface of the water. Second, we see the waters affecting the earth. As the waters rose greatly on the earth all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. That statement is built upon as the waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits or about twenty feet. This means that the water rose to a height of more than twenty feet above the highest mountain. This would have allowed the ark to float over the surface of the water without running aground. In verses 18, 19 and 20 when it says the waters “rose” it means the waters “triumphed or prevailed.” This word is a military word for succeeding in battle. In the battle between the earth and the waters the waters won and is proven by the fact that the waters covered the mountains above and beyond to a height of more than twenty feet.

Third, we see that it effected every living creature that moved on the earth including mankind. Our scripture states that every living creature that moved on the earth perished. That statement is built upon as everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died, and then it even continues to be built upon in that every living thing on the face of the earth was not only wiped out but wiped from the face of the earth. All the birds, all the livestock, all the wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth and all mankind died. In fact life did not simply die, it was wiped out and wiped off the face of the earth. Hamilton says, “The use of “perished” or “died” instead of “drowned” reinforces the idea that the loss of life is a divine penalty rather than death due to natural catastrophe.” This is a picture of the devastating effects of the flood. Everything outside the ark came under the indescribable judgment of God. The process of creation that God started in the beginning has now been reversed.

I want to pause here talk a little bit about the universality of the flood. Maybe you have never questioned whether the flood was universal or not or maybe you never even thought about it. But I can tell you scholars are split. For instance, some use science to say there is no way that the flood was universal in scope and others use science to say that it was. I want to give you some compelling arguments for a universal flood and then I will give you my thoughts on the subject. Many of these arguments come from Whitcomb and Morris’s commentary.

The first argument for a universal flood is that the language used in the flood narrative is definitely universal. But the opponents of a universal flood would say that the same all-inclusive language used in Genesis is used elsewhere in the Bible and doesn’t mean all-inclusive in those passages. Also, some scholars say that because man had not scattered all over the globe, a universal flood was not necessary. They say that a localized flood would have been good enough to accomplish the purpose of the flood, which was universal judgment. The second argument is the concept of displacement. Our scripture says that the flood covered over and above the mountains by twenty feet. If it covered the mountains in one area it had to cover the mountains in every area of the world because the water would have had to have been displaced somewhere. Whitcomb and Morris state that “the fact that water seeks its own level seems to be decisively against a local flood.”

The third argument is that the floodwaters covered the earth for more than one year from the time that Noah entered the ark until he left it. No local flood in history ever lasted that long and for the water to have covered the earth for that period of time shows it was a universal flood. The fourth argument is about the size of the ark. If it was a local flood why did God command Noah to build an ark the length of one and a half football fields and 30 feet high. If he only needed to save the indigenous species of Mesopotamia he could have built a smaller boat. Honestly if it wasn’t a universal flood Noah and the animals could have just walked out of the flood area. Which brings us to another interesting thought. If it was only a local flood and Noah and the animals could have just walked to another area to get away from it, why couldn’t the rest of humanity done the same thing. In that scenario, God’s judgment would have been thwarted and we have seen that was not the case.

The fifth argument for a universal flood is the testimony of Peter in 2 Peter 3:3-7. Peter says, “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” Peter is saying that at the end of the age God will destroy the world in fiery judgment. He bases the universality of that judgment on the universality of the flood judgment in Noah’s time. If Peter is teaching a universal judgment by fire at the end of the age why would he compare it to a local flood in Noah’s time.

Here's one last argument: If the flood was not universal, why did God give the rainbow as a universal sign of his covenant. We see the all-inclusive language in Genesis 9:11 and 15, which says, “I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And verse 15: “I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” Weirsbe says, “God promised to never send another flood like the one he sent in Noah’s day. But if the flood was a local event God didn’t keep this promise.” We see instances of flooding every year in the world. If Noah’s flood was a local event like, for instance, the Jamestown Flood, then God’s promise and the covenant sign of the rainbow meant nothing. The flood bears witness to universal sin and universal judgment.

Now I said I would give my thoughts on the subject. There are two things I want to say and I want to preface the first one with this: I believe that the flood was universal. With that being said, God is all-powerful. Could God have used a localized flood causing no water to be displaced in order to bring about judgment on those outside the ark? I believe he could because he is all-powerful. The second thing is, this argument is not the point of the flood narrative. Just like the point of the story of creation is not how God created the heavens and the earth but that it was God who created them; the point of the flood narrative is not whether it was universal or local but it’s about God’s sovereignty over his creation. He has the right to rule and he rules rightly. But it’s also about his judgment and his grace being poured out on his creation perfectly.

And that brings us to our second point this morning which is indescribable grace. We see his indescribable grace in the midst of his indescribable judgment. Look at verses 23b-24 with me. This is what God’s word says, “Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.” God out of his infinite love not only for Noah and his family but ultimately for us saved a remnant from out of the world so that he could continue to be in relationship with his creation, so that he could continue to show his love and care for his creation and it overflowed out of his perfect sovereignty. I find it interesting that in this passage there are seven and a half verses describing the judgment of God and only one half of a verse describing the grace of God. Everything outside the ark came under the judgment of God and everything inside the ark came under the grace of God. Everything outside the ark died and everything inside the ark was saved. God’s purpose of judgment had been achieved but also God’s purpose of grace was achieved in the midst of judgment. ​​ 

Hamilton says, “The use of two passive forms of the verbs to describe the fate both of the ungodly and of the righteous Noah suggests strongly that it is Yahweh’s action which controls eternal destiny.” They were saved not because of anything they did to deserve it but solely on the grace and mercy of God. Hamilton also notes that “Noah is saved because of Yahweh and Noah’s family is saved because of Noah. Every human being in this narrative owes his preservation to someone else.” We also see this in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah where Lot is saved because of Abraham and Lot’s family is saved because of Lot except for his wife. In God’s perfect sovereignty he gave his grace and mercy to Noah, his family and the animals on the ark. He did this because he is in complete and total independent control over every creature, event, and circumstance at every moment in history. He is subject to none, influenced by none, and absolutely independent. He does what He pleases, only as He pleases, always as He pleases. He is in complete control of every molecule in the universe at every moment, and everything that happens is either caused or allowed by Him for His own perfect purposes. He is unlimited in power, unrivalled in majesty, and not thwarted by anything outside Himself. Our God is in complete control of all our circumstances, causing or allowing them for His own good purposes and plans to be fulfilled exactly as He has foreordained. THE BIG IDEA

Lastly, we see that the waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days. The water continued to rise for another 110 days and then reached its peak. The forty days and forty nights of rain and the earth being flooded for a hundred and fifty days demonstrates that no living thing could possibly have survived by escaping to a high place or by clinging to floating debris. Try to imagine what that would have looked like. Wenham says, “This section closes with an awe-inspiring picture of the mighty waters covering the entire earth as though the earth has reverted to its primeval state at the dawn of creation, when the waters of the deep submerged everything.”

The title of the message this morning is Re-Creation and was really another of those major themes I mentioned earlier. God brought the judgment of the flood in order to re-create not only the earth but to re-create his image-bearer, mankind, as well. God was re-creating by sparing Noah and his family and the animals that were in the ark. Think about this idea of re-creation as God’s salvage operation of humanity. God so loved humanity and wanted to be in relationship with those that he created in his image that he salvaged Noah, his family and the animals. Salvaging involves retrieving something valuable from the wreckage. We see this in God’s heart so many times in his dealings with his chosen people the Israelites and we see it in individual’s lives such as Saul. God salvaged from the wreckage that was Saul’s destructive zeal for God and turned that valuable zeal into Paul’s apostolic vision for the church. God salvaged Noah from the wreckage of an evil world in his generation and turned it into a new beginning for the human race. God is able to restore even where he has brought destruction. The same God salvages the valuable parts from the wreckage of the sinful rubble of our lives and transforms our lives into a useful ministry on this earth for his honor and his glory and for his purposes.

As I studied this passage, I struggled with what the next steps this morning for us would be. What should our response to this passage be? ​​ I could have had a next step based on the sovereignty of God or on his re-creation or salvaging of us, but as I continued to study this passage I kept coming back to two things. The first is found in Luke 17:26-30, which says, “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.” Jesus is describing the indifference of the ungodly in those days. The people of Noah’s and Lot’s time didn’t care about God and their lives were filled with evil. In fact about Noah’s generation, Genesis 6:5 says they thought about evil all the time. All they seemed to care about was living their lives in total submission to themselves. Jesus in the gospel of Luke is telling us that when the Son of Man comes, just like in Noah’s day, those people will not be prepared for the judgment that will come. It is imperative that we are ready for Christ’s return or for our physical death, whichever comes first. That is what God desires for every one of his creations. That brings us to the first next step on the back of your communication card which is to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior and totally submit my life to him in every way. If you take this next step you will be ready when final judgment comes.

Also I believe that in the stories of Lot and in the Flood, Abraham’s and Noah’s heart was breaking for those who were going to perish. And we know that God’s heart is breaking for every one of his creations that has rejected him or will reject him. Our hearts should be breaking for those who don’t know Jesus, as well, whether it’s a family member, friend or even a stranger we come in contact with. We need to be like Noah and imploring our friends and family that don’t know Jesus to turn to him for salvation because judgment is coming. I did not have that as a next step but it is the most important step we can take for them and salvation is the most important step they can take for themselves.

The second thing I kept coming back to is found in 2 Peter 3. Earlier I read verses 3-7 in which Peter was comparing the universality of final judgment to the universality of the flood judgment. But if we move ahead to verses 10-14, we read these words, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”

The bottom line for Peter, as he compared the fiery judgment on the day of the Lord to the flood judgment, went beyond hope for the future. Peter wanted his readers to respond in a certain way right then and there. He wanted his teachings to impact the way they were living their daily lives. The point of the flood narrative for us today is the same. God’s judgment and grace are both real and we will see it played out in the end just as it played out in Noah’s time. We need to respond to this passage in a way that will impact our daily lives. But the question is how should we respond? God doesn’t desire to scare us by threats of judgment but to win us by acts of love, mercy and grace and our response to that should be to live holy and godly lives. Peter ends verse 14 with “since you are looking forward to this, (talking about the new heaven and new earth) make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him (meaning God). That brings us to the last next step which is to live a holy and godly life being found spotless, blameless and at peace with God.

As the worship team comes forward to lead us in our final song, let’s pray: Holy God, we praise you not only for your sovereignty but for your salvation that you freely provide for us. Help us to be holy people as you are holy. Help us to make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.