Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Genesis 5 & 6 - Noah Did All the Lord Commanded

LINK: Genesis 5 & 6

BACKGROUND

We have just finished the first toledot (the account of) of the creation. (Genesis 2:4-4:26). There are ten toledots in the book of Genesis. Give yourself a pat on the back. You have reached the first mile marker in this long journey through Scripture!

Genesis 5 is all about the genealogy from Adam's son, Seth. Seth means "compensation" in Hebrew. He was certainly compensation for Adam and Eve after their murderous first son, Cain, was banished as a vagrant wanderer to Nod (Nod means "wandering" in Hebrew).

What is striking in this genealogy is the contrast between the line of Cain and the line of Seth. Seth is the line that is referred to as those who "call on the name of the Lord" going down the line to the seventh son of Adam, Enoch, who "walked with God" and "the Lord took Him up." His cousin of the same seventh generation in Cain's line was Lamech (4:19-24) who killed a man and a boy. What a contrast between the godly and the ungodly.

Just as Abel is lauded in Hebrews 11, so is Enoch in verse 5: 
By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death, AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP, for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.
(Note that capital letters in the New American Standard Bible means that it is an Old Testament quote.)

This line follows all the way to Noah who we meet up-close in Genesis 6 where he is, like Enoch, one who "walked with God."

Before we get to the details of Noah, we have this question? Who are sons of God, the daughters of men, and the Nephilim?

I took a "Theology of the Pentateuch" class in seminary back in 1988. You would be amazed at how many pages and pages have been devoted to this one subject!

Here are three main positions:

  • The "sons of God" were the godly line of humanity (Sethites), and the "daughters of men" were the ungodly line of humanity (lineage of Cain) based on the literary context and resulting judgment on the human world. This was the position of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin.
  • The "sons of God" were angelic beings because this term is used in this way in Job, the Psalms, and Enoch 6-7 (an apocryphal book). There are possible references to this sin in 1 Peter 3:18-20 and 2 Peter 2:4. Josephus and other early Christian writers took this position. This is the more traditional view.
  • The "sons of God" were probably powerful rulers who were controlled (indwelt) by fallen angels.
Nephilim means "giants" in Hebrew. They are referred to later in Numbers when the spies come back and give their report about the land where they report they were of great size. Again, we do not know much more than that, but commentators have speculated that their "renown" was not good.

The simple fact is we do not know for sure what this all means (for what it's worth, I tend toward position #1), but what we do know is that mankind had become so corrupt to the point where "every inclination of the heart was evil." They were so wicked that God was "grieved in His heart," and that is all I really need to know.

YET, in the midst of all of this, there was Noah, who found favor in the eyes of the Lord. He was a righteous man, blameless among all those corrupt and wicked people. He walked with God! (Somehow that phrase in the midst of this passage just makes me stop in the midst of the grief and say, "Ahhhhhhhhh, there is hope.") When God told Noah that He was going to destroy the earth and he needed to build an ark, Noah did everything just as God had commanded him. He believed. He had faith. So much faith that God wanted to make a covenant with him. We will talk about that in the near future.

Noah is also in that Hebrews 11 "Hall of Faith" behind Abel and Enoch, "By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith."

Thank God for Noah.

The Scarlet Thread of Redemption

Who says that genealogies in the Bible have to be boring? Luke 3 traces Jesus' genealogy all the way back to Adam, and Noah is right on the way!

REFLECTION

In the midst of the darkness, there is light in a man named Noah who found favor in the eyes of the LORD by walking with Him. I want to be like Noah. I want to walk with God in everything I do and say! I want to walk by faith and, in reverence, pour out my life and do everything He says. It means going the different path than the ungodly ones of the world though. Hebrews even says "he condemned the world," and I need to reflect more on that.

APPLICATION

While I meditated in Noah this fall, I was stuck on the phrase, "Noah did ALL the Lord commanded him."  My "I WILL" statement for that week was to do all that He told me to do (even if it sounded ridiculous), and what a week it was! 

One example, God told me to forward an email about family relational harmony to a friend. I did not know why. She wrote back to tell me that she was having big conflict with her teenage son. 

Then God told me, "Tell her to call you if she needs to talk more." I do not usually push myself on people like that. It was enough for me to forward the email. (I do not like to come across preachy.) But my commitment was to do "all the Lord commanded me to do" that week. So, I forwarded it.

A few minutes later, she called me. After I listened to her pour out her heart for about 30 minutes, God said, "Do listening prayer with her. I have some things to say to her." So, I launched right into it. An hour later, God had healed her of a deep emotional wound from the past. It was not easy, and even in the midst of the listening, I wanted to stop because her pain was so great as God did spiritual surgery on her soul, but I continued to do "all that He commanded" me to do.

I am so glad that I did "all that the Lord commanded" me!

Please join me in making this new year one in which you walk like Noah who did "all that the Lord commanded"!

PRAYER

Lord, we know that Your eyes move to and fro throughout the whole earth that You may strongly support those whose heart is completely Yours. (2 Chronicles 16:9). Lord, make us people of faith like Noah! I want to do everything as You have commanded, even if it means being alone in building something like an ark. Thank You for this example of a person of faith, Lord. Amen.
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