Before we dive into our study I want to warn you that thematically we’re going to be all over the map this morning. Through the rest of chapter eight and into the first half of chapter nine we’re going to discuss… The new birth and its results, baptism, the importance of waiting on the Lord before we act, offerings to God, weather cycles and seasons, eating meat and the controversy of blood, capital punishment, and the rainbow as a sign of God’s covenant.
The eighth chapter of the book of Genesis opens with a most glorious statement, “Then God remembered Noah!” While His focus had been on cleansing the world of its wickedness and perversity, this declaration marks an important transition in the story of the flood. Now that the old world had been laid asunder and divine judgment administered, this phrase “then God remembered Noah” is significant because it emphasizes the fact that God’s sole focus centers upon a new world He’s about to bring forth.
Whereas “in the beginning” God created by speaking all things into existence, it is now from the position of death that God will initiate a new work of recreation. Not only would the waters begin to decrease, but new life would start to grow on what had been desolated by sin. Honestly, could you have a better picture of the Gospel of Grace? The old man of sin being laid to rest through the death of Jesus (when the righteous demands of God’s judgment for sin were satisfied) rises anew - cleansed from all unrighteousness.
Never forget the new life you have been given in Christ can only come after your old life of sin was judged on the cross! In Romans 6:3-4 Paul writes, “Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
To this point C.H. Mackintosh writes, “It is interesting to look at this entire subject of the ark and deluge, in connection with that most important and deeply significant ordinance of baptism. A truly baptized person is one who has passed from the old world into the new, in spirit and principle, and by faith. The water rolls over his person, signifying that his old man is buried, that his place in nature is ignored - that his old nature is entirely set aside, in short, that he is a dead man. When he is plunged beneath the water, expression is given to the fact that his name, place and existence in nature are put out of sight, that the flesh, with all that retained thereto - its sins, its iniquities, its liabilities - is buried in the grave of Christ, and never can come into God’s sight again.”
“Then God remembered Noah!” While we noted last Sunday that this word “remembered” is an anthropormic Hebrewism designed to communicate the idea that God was now turing His attention from judgment onto Noah and his family, I find this concept of God remembering and therefore forgetting incredibly powerful and specifically relevant.
Concerning your life… What does God remember and what does He forget? I hope you understand God doesn’t remember your former sins, nor does He recognize your current ones. In the face of your misdeeds and shortcomings God remembers but one thing… You have been bought by the precious blood of Christ that has not only justified you but made you righteous before Him. What grace that when you mess up God remembers Jesus!
Jeremiah 31:34, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Psalms 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, He removed our sins from us.”
It’s of critical importance you remember what it is God remembers! How sad it is we, as Christians, allow ourselves to get bogged down with things God has already forgotten! Since “there is therefore now no condemnation” why should any of us walk around defeated?
Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Genesis 8:13-19, “And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry. And in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dried. Then God spoke to Noah, saying… ‘Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.’ So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark.”
If you take into consideration the date provided in Genesis 7:11 as to when Noah entered the ark with the date provided in verse 13 you’ll discover they spent 377 days in the Ark!
One of the things I find interesting about the way Genesis 8 unfolds is that even though Noah knew it was ok to leave the Ark (remember the tests he ran with the raven and the dove) he still waits for God’s ok before he acts. All human logic said it was ok, but still he waits on God. It’s been said, “The right thing done at the wrong time ends up being the wrong thing.” This idea of patiently waiting on the Lord while resisting the tendency to act impulsively weaves it’s way throughout all of Scripture. Let me give you a few quick examples…
Psalms 27:14, “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!”
Psalms 130:5-6, “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning.”
Isaiah 40:31, “Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Lamentations 3:25-26, “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”
Whether it be selling or buying a home, changing jobs, asking your girlfriend to marry you, starting a family, etc. never act before you get the go-ahead from the Lord. Even if the timing looks right if the Lord hasn’t told you to move acting anyway always ends poorly.
How do I know when the Lord wants me to act? The answer is simple… Peace! I have found over the years when I’m inclined to ask that question it’s often a tell that I’ve yet to receive God’s peace. Trust me you will know when the Lord says go… And when He does - Go! Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
“So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark.” Imagine what this day was like! They were the only humans to have survived the flood and here they were stepping out into a brave new world. Note: It’s not an accident we find a grand total of eight people remaining (Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth, and their wives). This is significant because eight is the number of new beginnings.
While God was going to give several specific instructions, also notice the first command He gave was the same one originally given to Adam… “Be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” Aside from the obvious practicalities of this command - repopulating the earth, carrying forth on all of this being a picture of our own new birth I want to point out that this basic command is given to everyone who is born again. God’s desire for your life is twofold:
1. We’re called as Christians to “be fruitful…” This English phrase is one Hebrew word “parah” meaning “to bear fruit.” Understand, fruitfulness is not something you do but instead something you should see manifest. You can try your best to be fruitful, but without a work of God the best you can muster is barrenness. Galatians 5:22-25, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
2. We’re also called as Christians to “multiply on the earth…” Once again this English phrase is the Hebrew word “rabah” meaning “to increase or become many.” While fruitfulness is only the result of a supernatural work of God in our lives, the idea of “multiplying” is something we’re to be actively engaged in. As a Christian Jesus gave everyone one of us a commission… Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Spiritually speaking there is a truth that “healthy sheep reproduce.” May I ask you this morning when was the last time you shared your faith, told your story, prayed with someone, gave a friend a Bible, or at a minimum invited them to church?
Genesis 8:20-22, “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.’”
Please notice “Noah built an altar to the Lord… and offered burnt offerings” as a response to God’s grace and goodness and not as a way to curry the favor of God. There was no law that demand such an offering. God hadn’t given him this directive. This action was something that had naturally manifested out of a thankful and grateful heart.
What’s amazing about this is that God’s favor motivated Noah’s offering and not the other way around. He wasn’t making an offering to God so that he could be saved. He was making this offering because he had already been saved. Consider… If you go back to chapter 6 Noah was already deemed righteous before God and perfect in his generation!
Understand, Noah’s offering demonstrated faith in God’s original promise back in Genesis 3:15. Though the world had been judged, Noah recognized God’s plan was still in motion. As God illustrated to Adam and Eve in the garden when He spilt blood to make effective coverings, so to does Noah spill blood in this new world. The ultimate, permanent salvation of man would only be possible through the spilt blood of an innocent offering made for sins.
We’re told as a result “the Lord smelled a soothing aroma.” While there have been many to make the argument from this verse that God is a huge fan of Southern BBQ, keep in mind we have presented here another anthropomorphism as God cannot “smell” in the way we do.
The idea behind this phrase was to communicate Noah’s offering in response to God’s grace and motivated by his faith in a coming Savior was something God delighted in. Today, you should always remember that your offerings of praise, giving, time, service, etc. should never intend to get something from God, but should always manifest from all that He’s given to you.
Notice, while God concedes that “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth,” He makes a promise to Noah that He would never again destroy the earth with a flood - with one caveat: “I will never again destroy… As I have done.” According to Revelation 20 there will come a future day God will judge the world again, but this time it will be with fire.
One more observation before we dive into chapter nine… God also promises Noah that “while the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” What makes this interesting is that we have no mention of these natural weather cycles existing in a pre-flood world. Now not only do we see the earth functioning in a new manner, but this rhythm would not be broken until final judgment.
Genesis 9:1-3, “So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.”
In addition to wind patterns as well as weather cycles (things not found in the description of the pre-diluvian world) we also find a new dynamic between man and animals. Because man’s diet would now be carnivorous (man has the freedom to eat meat), God places a healthy “fear” and “dread” of humanity within the animals. Imagine that initial moment.
Understand, while it’s well within your right to share the dietary proclivities of a rabbit by being vegan or vegetarian because you believe it’s either healthier or you’re protesting the unethical treatment of animals, it’s wrong for you to think you’re better than someone who eats meat. God says, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food, even as the green herbs.” Personally, I’m not all that worried eating steak and bacon might shave off 10 years from my life. In my case it’s not like 85 to 95 were going to be my peak years anyway!
Genesis 9:4, “But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.”
“With its life” is the Hebrew word “nephesh” a feminine noun that derives from the verb “naphash” meaning “to take breath.” Though the word is translated as “soul” 475 times in the Old Testament, it’s also translated as “life” or “living creature” 117 times. Note: Every time the word is used for an animal you find it translated as “living creature” and not “soul.”
According to Strong’s Definitions Legend the word “nephesh” literally means “a breathing creature” and in context spoke of an animal’s vitality. In just the next verse when you find the word “lifeblood” it’s actually the two Hebrew words found here… “dam (blood) nephesh (life).”
While the Jews believe it’s not kosher to eat anything with blood in it and there are even some Christians who believe you should only eat meat well-done, I don’t believe this is what this verse is stating at all. For example, the KJV translates this verse as “But flesh (basar - meaning body) with the life thereof which is the blood thereof shall ye not eat.”
It would appear God is not prohibiting eating the meat of a dead animal that still has blood in it (a medium rare steak). Instead, the text indicates the prohibition is on eating an animal that’s still living. Though man can now eat of every living thing, because of the sanctity of all life you must kill the animal before you proceed to eat it. Note: This sanctity of life context seems to fit seamlessly within God’s instituting of capital punishment in the next few verses.
Genesis 9:5-7, “Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man. And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth and multiply in it.”
It’s interesting that while God places the fear of man within the animals these verses are designed to place the fear of God in the life of man. Because man is created “in the imagine of God” the act of taking of a human life is a capital offense to be administered by the men who make up society… “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed.”
In a profound way we find here another example of a law instituted by God before God instituted the law. At it’s core what’s being defined is the basic concept of justice. You might have heard the famous saying, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind;” and yet, how rarely is this ever the case. You see when you get harmed your natural inclination is not to get even, but get back at! You want to get them and then some.
The problem with our natural reactions for justice is that they’re rarely just. You see “justice” can be defined as a person “getting what they deserve.” True justice is a punished that’s measure and calculated. It’s a punishment that’s in proportion to the crime itself. This is why God says if a person takes a life the only just repercussion is for that person’s life to then be taken - with the rest of society given the responsibility to act justly on behalf of the deceased.
So often those who argue against the death penalty claim the moral high-ground of compassion, but compassion for who - most often the murder. They claim a life sentence is a more just form of punishment without ever considering the victim who’s life was taken. Justice demands death with anything less being from God’s estimation - unjust.
Aside from establishing this core concept of justice, there are three other reasons God instituted the death penalty. (1) To emphasize the reality that all human life is sacred because we’ve been created in His image and likeness. (2) To establish a deterrent to those who’d commit murder. (3) To eliminate from society people who are likely to kill again.
Genesis 9:8-17, “Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: ‘And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth. Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’
And God said: ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ And God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.’
As with all of God’s agreements with man this “Noahic Covenant” was completely monopolistic… The fulfillment of the terms were completely dependent upon God. God promised to never again destroy the earth with a flood. Note: Further evidence the flood in Noah’s day was global in nature because we see localized floods occur all the time.
According to our text the rainbow (this cool phenomenon when rain refracts light in such away that we can see the spectrum of colors) was created by God to be a sign of this covenant. What’s interesting is that the rainbow was to be a reminder to God of his covenant, not necessarily to act as a reminder to us - though it does. In a sense God is saying, “While you’re looking up I’ll be looking down and I will remember My covenant.”
Understand… The rainbow is a symbol of God’s grace and His mercy! As the world grows more and more wicked and recalcitrant, in his mercy God is holding off His judgment so that by His grace mankind may have more time to repent and accept His Son Jesus.
With this in mind, how insulting, brazen, and deeply offensive it is that this Biblical symbol of God’s grace has been hijacked by Gilbert Baker and used to instead celebrate sexual freedom from God’s ideals and become the universal symbol of the homosexual lifestyle. You know it’s interesting he didn’t choose to use the star and crescent of Islam and instead borrowed a uniquely Christian emblem dating back 5000 years.
That said… I do believe that when God looks down and sees that rainbow flag He’s still reminded of His mercy and grace! Christian, the reality is that when we see this rainbow flag we should not be filled with a sense of moral-superiority, hate, or even condescension; instead, we should be reminded of God’s covenant to withhold his judgment so that by His incredible mercy, amazing grace, and abundant love all men might come to Jesus!
So there you have it… The new birth and its results, baptism, the importance of waiting on the Lord before we act, offerings to God, weather cycles and seasons, eating meat and the controversy of blood, capital punishment, and the rainbow as a sign of God’s covenant.
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