Thursday, 2 January 2014

(3) January 3: Genesis 6-8 and Matthew 3

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:
As you read, consider what you learn of Noah. Why do you think these details are recorded?

To ponder:
The flood should shock us. It shows how serious sin is. God warned Adam and Eve that if they disobeyed they would die. To reject the creator means rejecting life. So God’s right response is de-creation. He restores it to the watery chaos of Genesis 1v2. He washes it clean.
But what a legacy for Noah: He “walked with the Lord.” It’s the language of Eden (3v8) and of ongoing relationship. It was this that set Noah apart. Being “righteous” and “blameless” doesn’t imply perfection, but that he sought to obey God and appeared without fault. These always mark the exemplary man of God (1 Thess 2v10). Noah knew God, and it was for this reason that God showed favour to him and his family.
            However Noah was aware that his sin warranted judgement too. His first act on leaving the ark was to make a guilt offering (8v20, see Lev 1). Sacrifice is a big idea in the Old Testament. Although the penalty for sin is death, in great mercy God was prepared to accept the death of animals in the place of people - when offered in faith. This effected atonement (at-one-ment) with God. Strikingly, it is on this basis that God committed to never again destroy all life in a flood.
             In describing human nature in general, 6v5 describes us too. The point is that every day of human life warrants another flood. So the only reason we wake up, breath, live and enjoy what we enjoy is because of God’s commitment to Noah. Absolutely every good we receive is therefore a gift of God’s grace – God’s favour freely given to all, even to those who hate him. However, a more terrible judgement will one day come. On that day too, only those who walk with the Lord will be saved - but in the ark of Christ and on account of his sacrifice of himself. Noah’s righteous and blameless life is therefore one we should seek after (2 Pet 3v3-17).

Praying it home:
List and thank God for the numerous everyday things we take for granted but that are actually gifts of his grace. Ask him to keep you and your family in the ark of Christ, walking closely with him and increasingly righteous and blameless. Be specific about areas you need him to work on.

Thinking further:
Many think the “sons of God” in chapter 6 are angelic beings. However, their action warrants judgement on humans not angels. So the phrase may refer to key men or rulers such as those in chapter 5 (as in Ps 82v6-7). The Nephilim shouldn’t be seen as mystical beings. They are just a noted (and large - Num 13v33) race of men known to the first readers. Scholars today differ on whether the text requires us to hold that the flood covered the entire globe, or whether the writer is referring just to the known world of his day - as in Genesis 11v1 and 41v57. The detail and purpose of chapters 6-8 should help us draw our own conclusion.

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