Monday, February 11

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Genesis 6:9-22
This is the account of Noah and his family.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.
Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.  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.  You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.  Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.  You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”
Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

The story of “Noah and the Ark” is certainly one of the most well known and best loved stories in the whole Bible. Even people who don’t particularly believe the Bible can recite the story in at least some detail. It’s often seen as a kind of sweet bed-time story that allows children to drift off to sleep with images of a great floating zoo swimming in their heads.

But, if we look more closely, the story of Noah is not sweet and cuddly at all. It’s a story that begins with the judgment of God.

Genesis teaches us that God created the heavens and the earth and that everything he created was good. Then he created human beings in his own image for the purposes of filling the earth, managing its resources, and to live in an intimate and joyful relationship with himself and with each other. At the center of human existence God established a limit by his command: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

God’s limit was an expression of his love, and was intended to protect the man and the woman. But God also created Adam and Eve with the gift of free will, meaning they were free to obey his limit, or to choose to violate that limit.

The serpent, then, questions the limit of God; lies about the consequences of disobedience; and promises that the woman and the man can become like God.

Following their sin, Adam and Eve realize their nakedness and make coverings for themselves; thus, hiding from each other and from God.

While God pursued Adam and Eve in his love, the consequences of their sin were far reaching.

Within one generation we see the first human murder as one of their sons, Cain, kills the other, Abel, in a jealous rage. Now, in Genesis 6, we see a chilling view of what the world looks like as the sinful nature of human beings takes its natural course.

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. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth…” Genesis 6:5-7

Like you, I have heard thoughtful people ask, “Why would a loving God judge the world so severely?” Those who have been blessed to be parents already know the answer to the question! When a parent disciplines a child; whether that be a “time out” for snitching a cookie before dinner, or grounding an adolescent for using the car without permission; the parent is judging the child. The parent judges the child because he or she loves that child and is unwilling to allow dangerous or unhealthy behavior to continue unchallenged.
No parent enjoys disciplining children. The old line that a father says to his child before delivering a spanking, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you,” makes us smile, but it is also true. Notice what the Bible says about the heart of God:

The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.

God grieved over the wickedness of his children; God’s heart was filled with pain over the necessity of judgment. This glimpse into the heart of God shows us that God’s judgment can only be understood from the context of his holiness and his love.

In his holiness, God confronts our sin; in his love, God provides for our salvation. The story of Noah and the Ark is about both.

Brian Coffey

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