Aspire to Walk with God

Explore the Bible Series

December 16, 2007

 

Background Passage: Genesis 5:1-8:14

Lesson Passage: Genesis 6:9-18; 22

 

Introduction: The Epistle to the Hebrews mentions Noah as an exemplar of faith.Hebrews Eleven catalogues the faith of great men and women of God, and Noah takes his rightful place in this list of honor.In important ways Noah mirrors Godís gracious work among his people.Note these four points.

  1. Noah was a sinner.We should guard against the tendency to make icons of Bible characters.Noah lived in a very sinful period of human history, and he needed grace to escape the consequences of disobedience to God.In fact, the Scriptures make plain that Noah continued to struggle with sin after the Flood.
  2. God bestowed grace on Noah and his family.This favor arose from the character of God, and issued in Noahís righteousness and blamelessness.
  3. Noah believed God.The prediction of a terrible flood must have seemed alien and fantastic to Noah.If I understand the text properly, Noah may have never seen rain; yet, God predicted a catastrophic flood that would take the life of all creatures.His belief in Godís word moved Noah to build the ark.
  4. Noah obeyed God. The Lord gave Noah instructions to build an enormous ship.For more than a century the patriarch labored to build, along with his sons, the instrument of their salvation from the Flood.I do not believe that God saves sinners because they merit his favor; however, if Noahís faith had not issued in careful obedience to God, he would have perished in the Flood.

 

 

Outline of the Background Passage:

 

I.                   The Lineage of Adam (5:1-32): Genesis traces the line of Adam through the life of Noah; that is, from the birth of Seth to the Great Flood. Many Bible scholars believe this chapter contains material first recorded in an independent source, marked by the statement, ďThis is the book of the generations of Adam.ĒAt least two factors stand out in this chapter.First, note the pattern of birth and death that characterized the plight of man, in the aftermath of the Fall. Second, the text makes clear that these men lived for a very long time.Of course, we donít know if these men marked time as we do.

A.    Adam (vv. 1-3)

B.     Seth (vv. 4-6a)

C.     Enosh (vv. 6b-9a)

D.    Kenan (vv. 9b-12a)

E.     Mahalalel(vv. 12b-17)

F.      Jared (vv. 18-20)

G.    Enoch (vv. 21-24)

H.    Methuselah (vv. 25-27)

I.       Lamech (vv. 28-31)

J.       Noah (v. 32)

 

II.                Manís Corruption Prior to the Great Flood (6:1-22)

A.    The sonís of God and the daughters of men (vv. 1-4): Interpreters have viewed this text in several ways.

1.      Some ancient interpreters believed the ďsons of GodĒ refers to supernatural beings who had relations with human women.This view teaches that these unholy unions gave rise to a race of Nephilim who dominated the earth in the period leading up to the Flood.Some Jewish scholars held to this position in the centuries prior to the birth of Jesus, and a number of early Christian leaders also taught this view (Justin, Irenaeus, and Clement of Alexandria).

2.      Other ancient authorities saw the Nephilim as powerful rulers who governed the earth prior to Noah.According to this view, these despots acquired large harems of women (the daughters of men) whom the tyrants dominated by cruelty and rape.Several early Jewish scholars held this position.

3.      The Reformers (Luther and Calvin) drew on the insights of Augustine of Hippo and concluded that the ďsons of GodĒ refers to the descendants of Seth, and the ďdaughters of menĒ has reference to the lineage of Cain; thus, these interpreters traced the moral decline of the human race to the intermarriage between the godly line of Seth and the rebellious line of Cain.Ken Matthews and Derek Kidner, modern Old Testament scholars, believe this is the best interpretive option.

B.     Godís response to the wickedness of man (vv. 5-22)

1.      Godís awareness of manís sin: The moral decline of the race did not escape Godís notice; indeed, the Lord saw manís evil deeds and noted the wicked intent of the human heart.

2.      Godís grief for manís sin: Verse Six denotes Godís sorrow for the sinfulness condition of the antediluvians.

3.      Godís determination to blot out man from the face of the land:The dire circumstances called for drastic measures, and God determined, as a result of his sorrow, to send catastrophic judgment.Nevertheless, even the midst of such a terrible verdict, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

4.      Godís provision of a means of escape for Noah and his family: The Lord revealed to Noah that the earth would experience a terrible flood, a deluge so disastrous that all flesh would be destroyed from the earth.Notice the pattern of Godís offer of salvation to Noah: grace, faith, and obedience.Noahís salvation was grounded in the unmerited grace of God, and this dear man appropriated Godís grace by believing in the promise of the Lord.The evidence of his faith worked itself out in Noahís obedience to the Lordís command to build an ark.Noahís compliance followed specific directions, and he followed the Lordís instructions explicitly.

 

III.             The Great Flood (7:1-8-14)†††††††

A.    God sealed Noahís family in the ark (7:1-16): Having made the divinely-appointed preparations, Noah entered the ark.With him, Noah took his family and pairs of animals of every species (seven of the ceremonially clean animals, and, a week before the flood, God sealed Noah in the great ship.

B.     Forty days of destruction (7:17-24): The waters rose for forty days until very living thing had drowned.For 150 days the flood prevailed over the earth.

C.     Departure from the ark (8:1-14): It took months for the earth to recover from the Flood (vv. 1-19): After testing the flood waters by sending out a raven and a dove, Noah finally determined that the waters had abated; then God gave the patriarch permission to leave the ark.

 

†††

Conclusion:

I donít have satisfactory answers to the great mysteries that attend this story.

 

1. Other ancient civilizations have flood stories that make up part of their mythological traditions.Some scholars believe these myths discredit the story of Genesis.I see this differently.Perhaps these legends reflect a common human ďremembrance" of the Great Flood; thus they are corruptions of the account found in Genesis.

2. How could four men build such an enormous ark?This was, to say the least, a monumental task; yet, Genesis indicates that Noah and his sons, working for 120 years, completed the task.

3. How could the ark house all the species of the earth?How could the ark store enough provisions for all these animals?How did Noah provide for carnivorous animals?If the ark was sealed, how did Noahís family store enough water for the animals? How did Noah dispose of the waste materials produced by all of these animals (in light of a sealed ark)?

4. Was the Flood universal; that is, did the waters envelop the entire surface of the world?The text indicates a universal Flood, but modern anthropology and paleontology claim that human populations lived in Africa, Asia, and the Americas at the time of the Flood.How does one account for these divergent claims?

 

Frankly, some scholars have dealt with these problems by refusing to interpret this story historically.Perhaps, these interpreters reason, the text describes an important part of the mythological heritage of the ancient Hebrews.While I do not have easy answers to these troubling questions, I have little doubt that the author of Genesis intended his readers to see the historical weight of this account.It just doesnít read like a myth.Dear reader, encounter the text with humility and prayer for insight into the Lordís intent in the passage.