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Home School of Biblical Theology Doing Biblical Theology: Uncreation, Judgement and New Creation: Genesis 6-9 - Talk 6

Doing Biblical Theology: Uncreation, Judgement and New Creation: Genesis 6-9 - Talk 6

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Doing Biblical Theology: Uncreation, Judgement and New Creation: Genesis 6-9 -

Talk 6

 

“Right, that’s it! I’ve had enough” Whenever a parent blurts that out badly behaved children know that they’ve gone too far. Mum or dad has been pushed over the edge.

Punishment is not far away. They are angry that their children have been so disobedient and so disrespectful, and that they are forced to the punishment that love demands.

Now, use this picture to pose a much scarier question – the big question of this next section of Scripture is: What happens when the Lord God of the Universe says to his creatures, “Right, that’s it!” I’ve had enough of this disobedience, rudeness and disrespect!”

The answer is given in Genesis 6:5-7 . Listen as the verses are read again: feel the frustration, hurt and sadness of the Lord God at the way his creatures treated him; hear his righteous anger spell out the deadly consequences for his world and his creatures in the world.

Before we get into the details of the flood story, let’s re-cap the flow of biblical history to this point. It may help to look at table 4 again.

God’s creation, declared good in Genesis 1:31 was now in a complete mess because of the open rebellion of Adam and Eve. The majestic image bearer is now a majestic ruin.

And the selection of historical events recorded in chapters 4 & 5 show how the effects of sin continue to spread in God’s world – through families and culture. Death is now the destiny of every person living in this abnormal world.

But as sin spreads, so does the evidence of God’s grace. The world, though in a terrible mess, was not devoid of hope.

God promised (Genesis 3:15 ) that a descendent of Eve would be ‘the bruiser’, who would undo the effects of sin and re-establish God’s kingdom, returning his sin-damaged image bearers to their true majesty – once again God’s obedient people, in God’s place of blessing and delight, and under God’s rule, enjoying the good life.

Hope of the bruiser soared with the birth of Seth and a godly line determined to live under God’s authority. But Seth was not the bruiser – death caught up with him.

And so the flow of history continues until the birth of Noah, Genesis 5:28 . Once more hope soars as his father anticipates that Noah would be ‘the bruiser’. And the hope associated with Noah is all the greater given how awful sin had become in Noah’s day.

Let’s look now at Genesis 6-9 and God’s act of judgment (un-creation). By the time of Noah, things had gone from bad to worse and God’s heart was filled with pain as he saw only rebellion and wickedness in his world.

What was happening, verses 1-4, that caused the Lord to determine to wipe mankind from the face off the earth? Commentators have suggested two main explanations.

1. That the ‘sons of god’ and ‘Nephilim’ were the result of humans breeding with divine creatures and creating a new semi-divine breed rivalling God.

But the text is clear that God’s judgment falls on people. The problem is with people and not with any other creature. It is the heart of people that is declared to be wicked.

2. The more common view is that the godly line had intermarried with the ungodly line of Cain. But why was their offspring special? It doesn’t seem to be serious enough to bring about God’s response.

A better alternative is to go with the ancient tendency to refer to rulers as gods. Therefore the problem is that society and culture had established ruling classes who set their own rules and acted as though they were God.

They were tyrants who ruled by force; who simply collected women into harems as trophies of power, without concern for those who were hurt or destroyed by their actions.

Even worse, they were viewed as heroes. They were the ‘big men’ of society; the benchmark of the successful person and the good life that everybody aspired to. A good life built on greed and at the expense of others.

God’s punishment was the flood, and in Gen 6:8 we are told that it was the reversal of creation. It was God’s act of un-creation. The language is very similar to that of Genesis 1 , but in reverse. God removes the order of creation and returns the world to a watery chaos.

People have argued over the details of the flood for generations. But the text is clear.

- The flood is God’s thoughtful response to sin and rebellion, because, 6:2, man is a creature made by God, yet acts as though he is God while rejecting the true God.

- The boat that Noah built was in specific response to specific details given by God. It was a barge big enough to put 522 modern railway carriages in.

- The whole world was covered and the whole event took just over a year. And Gen 7:11 , it was more than just rain that caused the flood. The Lord used the existing seas as well – tsunami like – to combine with the rain to drown all animal life.

- All up the flood event lasted just over a year.

- The length of the account and the detail it contains highlights the historical reality of the event and its consequences – Genesis 7:21-23

But an equally important theme throughout Genesis and likewise in this flood account is God’s ongoing grace to his world and sinful people, seen in salvation and re-creation.

As we have seen in previous chapters, in the midst of judgement God’s character is to show mercy and grace, or undeserved favour. In the same way there is heaps of evidence of God’s ongoing grace and mercy in this most severe judgement on sin.

1. God remains committed to his overall purpose in the world. Look at Genesis 6:17-21 . The wording of verse 18 is better rendered as “I will cause my covenant with you to stand”. A covenant is a contract. God is not making a new contract with Noah. Rather he is referring to his pre-existing contract with his world established at creation.

By creating the world God committed himself to it. That commitment to the good relationships of creation continues. God’s purpose is still to have his people in his place and under his rule. So his covenant or commitment means that sin demands judgment, but also his covenant demands God find a way to forgive his people.

So Noah becomes a picture of God’s salvation. Even while sin is being judged with the full force of God’s wrath, salvation is happening through God’s man, Noah, who becomes the head of a new humanity in a new creation.

2. God makes a ‘new creation’ including the reality of sin. Look at Genesis 8:1 – God remembered Noah. This doesn’t mean that God had forgotten about Noah floating around, but that in line with his covenant, judgement gave way to mercy and renewed grace. So God removed the watery chaos and re-established the order of his world.

8:15-22 God commands them to return to the earth and resume the role they had previously had as his image bearer and rule of the earth under God.

But now there is a really interesting difference. Verse 21, the Lord promises to work out his purposes for creation through the reality of sinful, rebellious people. The bruiser would somehow come from the sinful descendents of Noah.

So the Lord promises that never again will he say, “That’s it, I’ve had enough”. Never again will he punish sin by a physical destruction of the world.

He doesn’t say that sin will go unpunished. We know the Lord cannot ignore sin, but the promise is that sin in the future will be punished in a different way. Noah’s sacrifice hints that God will vent his anger and punish sin through an acceptable sacrifice, thus allowing for ongoing relationship between God and his sinful people.

Likewise God’s plan for the new humanity in Noah is stated in Gen 9:1-7 . And once again the reality of sin is now built into God’s command to Noah. Until the bruiser comes as promised the reality of life in God’s world will be conflict, violence and death.

But equally true and hope-giving is the reminder in the rainbow that God is committed to undoing the effect of sin and restoring things to the Garden of Eden conditions.

3. But God’s ‘final solution’ is ahead – Noah is not ‘the promised bruiser’ of Gen 3:15 .

Noah the man is truly of the godly line. He stands apart from the sinful lifestyle of those around him, (6:9). He is totally obedient to God’s word (6:22; 7:5). He showed proper and pleasing response to the Lord’s grace and mercy in his sacrifice after being delivered from the flood (8:20-21). He had God’s promise to work with and through him.

But sin gets the better of Noah as his drunken behaviour, 9:18-28, shows. So, once again hope of the bruiser shifts to the next generation and. Would he be the one? And so the flow of history continues in the record of Genesis.

So, friends how does the story of the flood apply to our world in 2010? We don’t have to guess about this because Jesus and other New Testament writers refer to the flood.

1. It is a picture of the seriousness of sin and God’s judgement. Listen to Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:36- 41and hear the parallel he makes to our own day. Peter makes the same point in 2 Peter 3:3-7 .

It is the same today. Life may seem normal and quiet, but suddenly people can be swept away in death to face God’s judgment. Good things such as serving the Lord are seen as bad things to be ridiculed and dismissed.

Also bad things such as ignoring God and making your own rules in life are called good things and praised. Even worse we envy those who do this and even want to be like them in the way they live.

So the flood reminds us that God hates sin so much he was prepared to undo his own creation to deal with it. He was prepared to sacrifice the life of Jesus to deal with it in the lives of his special people.

In the same way Christ’s return, though mocked and ignored will bring God’s final judgment on this world. Natural disasters that we hear of daily are but a partial glimpse of God’s coming and final judgment on those who live as though they are God.

2. So don’t use Noah and the ark as a cute children’s story about animals. So often bible teachers simply see this account as a nice story for children and focus in on little animals skipping along 2 x 2 into the ark. In fact it is one of the most terrifying and tragic stories of God's wrath in the Bible.

Gustave Dore, the French artist, captures the mood of the story in his engraving of a huge expanse of empty sea with one lone rock sticking out a few feet above the waves.

There are three terrified children on the rock, and slipping into the sea are a mother and father trying desperately to push a fourth little baby to safety.

On the rock sits a giant tiger. Bodies are floating in the water and overhead circle the exhausted vultures. Whatever else we may say about this story, it is not cute.

3. In Jesus (the bruiser) we experience the reality of God’s promise to Noah. Noah gave us a glimpse of what the bruiser would be like. Noah stood apart from those around him. He broke the cycle of sin and violence and was marked by obedience service of the Lord. As such he was a saviour figure.

God’s judgment was only avoided through being in Noah’s family. Being in Noah’s family was the key to new life and new creation – being put back into God’s new creation as God’s new people, to enjoy new life and blessing under the Lord’s rule.

Likewise for our day. God’s judgment is only avoided through being in Jesus’ family. He is the key to being made new, to be in God’s kingdom – God’s special person in God’s safe and delightful place and under God’s rule.

So again we see how these promises come true in Jesus. The final remedy for sin has been put in place. Listen to Hebrews 9:26 . The cup of God’s wrath, which the Lord promised would never be poured out on his people or his world again, was poured out on Jesus.

Jesus was destroyed, as the flood of God’s wrath swept him away in death to satisfy God’s justice and wrath against sin.

But at the same time God showed grace and mercy to his people because Jesus experienced the death his sinful people deserved so that they never have to face God’s judgment.

What a wonderful thing it is that we, as Christians have now experienced the promise given to Noah. That in spite of the fact that our hearts are full of rebellion and our attitudes constantly push us to ignore God and do our own thing, that we enjoy God’s blessing of new life and relationship in Jesus.

Friends if you are reading this part of Scripture correctly then it will put you in touch with your roots. It will answer the question, “Who do you think you are”

- It will confront you with an accurate description of your heart and your sinful, rebellious heart.

- It will explain how you experience life with its divisions, violence and brokenness.

- It will show you God’s character and his hatred of sin and his determination to punish sin.

- It will encourage you to listen to God and obey him so that they would know God’s blessing and actually find real life, good life that only God can give.

- It will point you to Jesus as the bruiser who finally puts things right and who enables us to live for God as we were created to live.

Go to Talk 7

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:07  

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