Our text today includes Genesis 8:1-10:32, Matthew 4: 12-25, Psalm 4:1-8, and Proverbs 1:20-23. Today we continue our study of Noah. As you know, Noah walked with God. Noah and his family were the only humans spared from the great flood. Scripture tells us that “The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.” Genesis 6:5-6
How hard it must be that the Lord knows our thoughts. Those secret things that no one else knows, that we never admit or confess. Oh, the Lord can handle it for sure when we are honest. He longs for us to admit it to Him, to answer the question, “Where are you?” And “What have you done?” Just like He asked Adam and Eve. He, of course, knows it all. But He knows we need to admit it so He can change it. And that was the problem. Not only were people not admitting it, they were so used to it, it no longer seemed wrong.
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.
One thing we must note about the story of Noah is the similarities between the account of Adam. The very first thing that God spoke to Adam was “Be fruitful and multiply.” This was God’s blessing for them. (Genesis 1:28) And I believe that this fruitfulness involved spiritual fruitfulness as much as procreation. Yes the number of people had multiplied. But their spiritual fruitness—the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—had not multiplied. And so it seems that the purpose of the Flood was the cleansing needed to get back to the beginning. The first thing the Lord spoke to Noah after he had exited the ark was word for word the same as He first spoke to Adam:
“Then God blessed Noah and his sons and told them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth.’”
Let’s pause here and describe the fear which could have hindered Noah. Do you know that Noah had never heard of rain before the Flood? No, it didn’t exist. The earth was watered by underground springs. (Genesis 2:5) And yet, Noah simply obeyed all the instructions the Lord gave him, though he had no context from which to draw to even know what God was describing that was to come. He went inside the boat, trusted the Lord to close the door behind him (Genesis 7:16), and held on tight throughout the storm.
Have you ever wondered how 40 days and 40 nights of rain could actually flood the whole earth? It was not just the rain coming down, it was the spring watesr rising up. During the process of creation, we find that God separated the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.” And that is what happened. God made this space to separate the waters of the earth from the waters of the heavens. God called the space “sky.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the second day.
When He brought the cleansing flood He was going back to the beginning. He was going starting all over. At creation He separated the waters and at the Flood He brought them back together.
Another similarity was that Adam had three sons, Cain, Able, and Seth, just as Noah had three sons. At first, we learn of Cain and Abel, brothers growing up together, struggling to live outside the garden. Cain worked the soil and Abel was a shepherd. When I was young I was very confused as to why God did not accept Cain’s offering of his crops. I kind of felt sorry for Cain. But I understand now that God saw their hearts. We find in Genesis 4: 3-5 that Cain offered “some” of his crop to the Lord, while Abel offered “the best” of the first-born lambs.
When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the LORD. Abel also brought a gift—the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The LORD accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.
Cain went about the motions of offering to the Lord as merely a requirement. Abel offered his best out of his devotion to God. And we cannot pass over another important reason God preferred Abel’s gift. Abel was a shepherd. He was offering a lamb. A pure, perfect lamb—the best one he had. This act was prophetic and reflective of what was to come. The Ultimate Sacrifice that would make the wounded world right again. It was symbolic of the Lamb of God, Jesus. And with this gift, I believe the mind of God traveled through time to the moment He would send the dove to descend and rest upon His Lamb and He could already feel the sensation of the words to come, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” (Matthew 3:17)
Of course, Abel’s gift was more pleasing to God! It was sincere and pure and reflective of God’s greatest joy.
What grief the Father must have felt when Cain killed Abel. Again, he confronts sin with a question, the answer to which He already knows. “Where is your brother… What have you done?” Of course God knew the answer and punishment was soon to come. Cain was forever after a homeless wanderer. But our good Father God extended mercy along with the punishment and promised to protect Cain and vowed to give a 7-fold punishment (There’s that number 7!) to anyone who tried to kill him.
And so it was that Adam and Eve lost both of their sons in one sad event. But God brought a great mercy in the midst of the severe grief. He brought a third son, Seth.
Seth and his descendants brought about a righteous line, a redeemed lineage. And it was through Seth that Noah came, the only righteous one left on earth. Tomorrow we will find out more about the similarities of the three sons of Adam and the three sons of Noah. But today, let’s pause and reflect on the heart of God to send the Flood and get back to the beginning. He brought the waters he had separated on Day Two back together. But why didn’t He go back to Day One. Why didn’t he go back to the total darkness and emptiness?
We are told in the book of John that Jesus was the Word and was at the beginning of creation. We are also told that Jesus is the Light of the World.
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'”
God did not go back to day one and snuff out the light because Jesus was the light of the world. And though he may have regretted he had created man, he wanted to begin again offering the great Light to the world He created.
We find in our New Testament reading today that Jesus consistently fulfilled the prophesy of Messiah, the hope for the world.
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee. He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah:
“In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali,
beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River,
in Galilee where so many Gentiles live,
the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light.
And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow,
a light has shined.”
From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
(Matthew 4: 12-17)
God did not go back to Day 1 and snuff out the light, because could not, would not permanently snuff out Jesus.
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,a
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
Can you imagine the fear Noah must have had when God said, “Leave the boat…” The boat was safe, the boat was secure. The boat had been their safety. They were now walking into the unknown with the command to be fruitful and multiply. And that is what we must do, too. This year, let’s leave the boat, let’s be spiritually fruitful and multiply. Because there are those around us still living in a land where spiritual death casts its shadow, and they need to know the Light of the World.