Notes for January 5, 2012
After months on the ark – without TV, telephone or email – Noah opens the window to a new world.
1: God remembered Noah. Sometimes the believer’s obedience puts him in isolation from all outside influences. If this seclusion is prolonged, one is tempted to think that he has been abandoned, and many have driven themselves into depression because their minds were too focused on the environment rather than the Eternal, on the situation rather than the Savior. But God has promised never to leave nor to forsake His people (Hebrews 13:5); so we should remember Him and be content, knowing that all things work together for the good of God’s elect, them who love Him (Romans 8:28).
2: The most protracted natural disaster in history came to an end. Looking back, it was so long ago; and 6 months seems such a short time in light of the length of human history. Of course, no trouble seems good at the time; but then, and now, our troubles are but for a moment and nothing to be compared to the eternal glory that awaits the children of God (Romans 8:18).
God, who caused the rain and the floods, put an end to them when they had fulfilled His purpose. The Creator is also the Controller-there are no freak accidents in nature.
3-12: The rain stopped, but the ark continued to float (you should recall that there was no steering mechanism-it was an ark). Eventually the waters subsided and the ark came to rest upon the mountains of Ararat. Imagine the relief of those inside to sense that their gopher wood life boat had finally landed!
After about 6 weeks, Noah opened the window. A raven and a dove were set free; the scavenger bird never came back, but the dove returned. A week later (note the references to days and months and years throughout this passage) the dove was loosed again; and this time the bird returned with an olive leaf, signifying that the waters had receded.
Another week onboard, and the dove was set free again, never to return.
13: How long was Noah on the ark? Subtracting Genesis 7:11-13 from Genesis 8:14-15 we see that about a year had elapsed. When was the last time that you spent a whole day relying completely upon God? When he entered the ark, Noah didn’t know how long the adventure would last, but he obeyed. We, too, should obey God; even when we don’t know the duration or final outcome and any particular acts of obedience.
16: Go forth. Remember, God had been inside with them the whole year. Who would know by looking at the pitched outside?
17: Breed abundantly, be fruitful and multiply. Offspring are to be increased, not only for the perpetuation of the species, but because God is worthy of His creatures’ praise; and the more voices there are to praise Him, the better!
20-21: Noah built an altar unto the Lord; and he offered a sacrifice of every clean beast and fowl that had survived. It’s a good thing that he took more than two of these animals or they would have become extinct immediately!
The Lord accepted Noah’s offering; and the Lord, recognizing that man’s heart is sinful from birth, promised not to send a universal and temporal judgment upon the earth again (even though such might and would be deserved).
22: Further, the Lord promised that seasons of winter and summer, planting and harvesting, day and night, would remain in tact as long as the earth remained. Those in eternal hell will be tormented day and night forever (Revelation 20:10); but those in heaven will see no night (Revelation 21:25,22:5) and have no need of planting or harvesting.
Here, as often elsewhere, there is a break in the chapter numbering of our English Bible; but the thought continues from Chapter 8 directly into Chapter 9.
1-2: A new relationship to the animals. In Chapter 2 the animals came to Adam, and in Chapter 7 animals came to Noah. But after the flood the animals would be afraid of Man.
3: A new diet. Before the flood, Man was vegetarian; after the flood, Man was allowed to kill animals for food. (Maybe that’s why the animals became afraid of Man, the hunter.)
4: No blood in the meat allowed. See also Leviticus 17:10-14.
5-6: Sanctity of life. God establishes a rule of law: thou shalt not murder. Both beast and man who murder shall be put to death. Later, in Numbers 35, we shall see the distinction between manslaughter and murder; but for now, in more primitive society, announcing the prohibition and the punishment will suffice.
And why is God careful to enjoin men from taking each other’s lives? Because Man was made in the image of God; and he who strikes at Man strikes not only at the mirror, but also at the God who is reflected thereby (James 3:9-10).
8: Where were the wives?
9: Seed. There’s that seed again. It seems like we can’t get away from this idea that God’s blessing is to this promised “seed”. Indeed, take away Christ Jesus the Seed and there is no blessing.
10-17: A promise to man and creation. Although creation suffers because of the sin of Adam (Romans 8:22), demonstrated most recently by the great flood judgment, God covenants never to send such a global disaster again. As a token of God’s promise, He leaves a rainbow in the sky when it rains.
Parents may joke with little children that thunder is angels bowling; but the rainbow is the weatherman’s opportunity to remind us of a faithful and covenant-keeping God.
20-27: The drunkenness of Noah, sin of Ham and the curse of Canaan. If the grandfather hadn’t gotten drunk, the son never would have so sinned, and the grandson would not have been affected by these events.
Among other things, perpetual drunkenness is an indication that one will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21). To be sure, one who never once gets drunk will never be guilty of perpetual drunkenness. Even godless societies have forbidden public drunkenness. The believer, who desires to glorify God in all that he does, should be careful not to allow himself to lose control of his conscious ability to glorify God.
What did Ham do? He “saw the nakedness of his father” and “he told his two brethren.” In Leviticus 18 and 20, to uncover the nakedness of someone close of kin was forbidden. In this situation, the sons know full well that what Ham had done was wrong; and Shem and Japheth attempted to cover up their brother’s sin; but Noah awoke and knew what his younger son had done. Apparently more than a momentary glance was Ham’s offense.
The curse came upon Canaan; but associated with it is the blessing upon Japheth and even more so upon Shem. What is good news for one is bad news for the other.
Note: In the past, some have suggested that the descendants of Ham are under this curse today; further, they read Genesis 10 to delineate which people groups specifically are under the curse of servitude. This false teaching even had proponents who went farther and taught that Ham’s descendants are genetically inferior to descendants of the other two brothers. You will remember that the curse was actually upon Canaan; and this fact alone disproves the whole errant teaching. Let us pray that none today would take this passage to justify their racism.