Monday, November 16, 2015

Genesis 6: 9-22 ; Hebrews 11:7 "Noah found Grace in the Eyes of the Lord "

The Paris shootings  on Friday night,  at 6 different locations  by  ISIS terrorists  reminds us that  this world is not  a safe place. The land that has  created   a  humanist haven  under the idealistic  banner  of  “liberty, fraternity  and equality”   finds itself  assaulted by  human beings  to whom it has somewhat naively  offered asylum. Ironically, the  place where   most people  were killed was at a concert  venue  where an American band “Eagles of Death Metal”  had been playing!  Our world  is in turmoil  and many thinking people  ask where all this is leading to.   Well, we  turn to the Bible, the Word of  God,  where we find  an accurate analysis  of   the origin of man and of sin, and how  sin has impacted  itself upon man.  Here we learn what man is capable of, if  left to himself.

Genesis 6   becomes a turning point  in  Genesis. In  Gen. 6:9 we read:  “These are the generations of Noah" . This is a  formula [1] frequently  employed  in the book of Genesis. It  indicates  that a  new section or division  of Genesis begins. Each of these sections  end with a picture that portrays the effects and results of sin.

The chronology of the godly offspring in  Genesis  5  introduces  us to Noah, a major OT character. Noah came from a remarkable line  of men. He was the grandson of Methuselah, the oldest man  in the Bible  and the great grandson of Enoch, the man who walked with God  and of whom no death is recorded (Gen. 5:24). The  father of Noah was Lamech[2], who said  upon the birth of Noah,“Out of the ground that  the LORD has cursed this one shall bring us relief (or rest)  from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” (Gen. 5:29).  Noah’s father,   Lamech,  was a man of faith, for he was able to discern the Lord’s hand in the affairs of the world when he said that  God through  Noah  was going to bring  a time of  relief  or rest  into the world. But just what  will  be  the nature of that relief or rest that  Noah will usher in? Be prepared  to be very surprised !

Genesis 6: 1-8  provides us  with an assessment of  the sinful  and shocking state of mankind in the days which preceded the Flood.  It is reaffirmed in  Gen.  6:11-12. It all begins  in Gen. 6: 1-3  when the godly offspring of Seth (the sons of God)  began to mingle with the daughters of man (the offspring of Cain).  This serious compromise  constitutes the beginning  of the collapse of  that civilization. The major  problem  is that the sons of God are  now  tempted to move  away  from their godly roots, and the  main way in which they  manifest  that fact is  through giving into their  hormones.  Unrestrained sexual  desire  leads to all sorts of  further grief , and God is    grieved, and not only grieved. He is determined  to deal decisively with this situation and this sin. He will put an end to this civilization.

A typical pattern now emerges  in  the  Bible. The doctrine of the remnant is established. God  destroys  a civilization due to  its wickedness and  yet not completely.  God says: “I will blot out man whom I have created  from the face of the land… but Noah  found favour or grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (Gen. 6:8)   In the midst of this devastating announcement  we find an exception, Noah! And so the  next verse says:  “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his  generation. Noah  walked with God." (v.9)  All is not lost. In the Bible there is always a remnant.  There  are always those  who,  by the grace of God, do not  share that wickedness.  

"… Noah found favour (grace [3]KJV) in the eyes of the Lord"  (Gen. 6:8).

This is the first thing that we are told  about Noah. Grace is the foundation of every life that is well-pleasing to God. It was the grace or favour  of God,  and not the personal goodness of Noah which  made Noah who he was. This is the first time  the word "grace” or “favour" is mentioned in  the Bible, although the concept already exists immediately after the fall e.g. in Gen. 3:21 when God made garments for Adam and Eve, who after the fall felt exposed and naked, and God  clothed them. Surely  this  is a token of God’s Grace!
So then,  it was when the sin had reached its climax that  God  was pleased  to  exercise His Grace. Paul  speaks  about this  in his letter to the Romans, “ … where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…” (Rom. 5:20).

From the very beginning of the Bible we are taught  and reminded  that man contributes essentially nothing  to the fact  that his civilization  remains.  The truth is  that we exist only  by God’s favour. Left to ourselves we would not preserve one another, for we have become graceless. We  would  kill one another without God’s restraining grace. Who we are and what we are able to do  right,  is by God’s grace alone. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.  Every Christian  is a member of the remnant community, saved by  the same Grace as Noah  (Eph. 2:10),   and  so we live by that same Grace. 

How did the grace of God  manifest itself  in  Noah’s character ?  We see it in  Genesis 6:9
"Noah was a righteous  man, blameless in his generation.  Noah walked with God."

(i)           He was "righteous”.  He is the first man in the Bible who is so called righteous. To understand the nature and meaning of his righteousness we need to understand the biblical use of the word.  What makes a man  righteous in the Bible is not  his ‘self -righteousness’, but  an ‘imputed righteousness’. Let me explain. In  and of ourselves we do not possess  sufficient self -righteousness to   satisfy  the holy God. How then can we  appear  righteous before God?  That is one of  the  grand subjects of the Bible:  imputed righteousness! The nature of this righteousness is  described by Paul in Romans  3:21- 4:12 and Galatians 3:1-14. Imputed righteousness is that righteousness  given to me  (imputed to me)  when I   trust  in the Lord Jesus Christ entirely   for my salvation. He imputes His  perfect righteousness  to me by His shed blood on the cross.    The  way  in which  that righteousness  is shown  in my life  is  by  my  faith in Jesus.  “The just shall live by faith” [4], and therefore we find Noah among the fifteen believers mentioned in the great faith chapter of Hebrews 11. The faith by which Noah  demonstrated  that  Noah believed God  was  ‘ …in reverent fear  he constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of righteousness that comes by faith.” (Heb. 11:7).  We shall consider this text  in a moment.
(ii)  He was "blameless in his generation”. The Hebrew word  translated as blameless[5] means literally  "without blemish". Noah was  a pure  man when compared  with his generation.  He was known by God and  he lived  in fellowship with God. 
(iii)        He "walked with God."  In this regard he  has like his great grandfather, Enoch.  It is this   ongoing walk that  keeps us  with God,  and   which keeps us from  evil.

The faith of Noah is described in Hebrews 11:7 and it  amplifies  the nature of the grace that Noah had received from the Lord :

"By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”  

7  Aspects concerning  Noah's  Faith and some Diagnostic Questions 

1.The foundation of Noah’s faith:  The Word of God —"being warned by God."  Noah  listened  to the word that came to Him from God . The foundation of all faith which is pleasing to God is that  it  rests on the plain Word of God. 
Some illustrations:
·         Peter and his partners had fished  all night and caught nothing. The Lord  said, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch" . Peter replied, "Master, we have worked  all the night, and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets. (Lk. 5:4,5).  
·         Acts 27:25.  For many days the ship in which  Paul was travelling  to Italy battled with stormy  weather. Then, when everything seemed to be lost Paul said, " keep up your courage , men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me.”  Their lives were  saved, just as Paul said.

A faith that does not rest upon the God’s word has no substance. But when God has said it, we may believe it. That is what  Noah  did and  therefore he found grace in the eyes of the Lord. 
Is the Bible  the foundation of trust for your life in this world?

2.The scope  of  Noah’s faith: "concerning things unseen …"   Noah trusted God, although He had seen no evidence  of the flood  so far. This illustrates  the fact that  believers walk by faith in the revealed truth of God’s word. “We walk by faith and not by sight”  (2 Cor. 5:7). As Noah  built the ark,  the world must have considered him  mad.  What  evidence was there that there was going to be a great flood ?  What then caused Noah to do what he did ? Nothing  but the word of God. Noah’s spiritual eyes, the eyes of faith looked beyond that which was seen. Therefore Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. 
How do you look at your world?   

3.The character of Noah’s faith:  "in reverent fear “. Noah believed God more  than  what  his society  or  what his own eyes  told him. 
Do you fear God more  than man?  

4.The evidence  of Noah’s faith:  he "constructed  an ark." "Faith, if unaccompanied by works is dead" (Jas. 2:17). Read through Hebrews 11 and it will be seen that in every case recorded there, faith was evidenced by works. Abel had faith. How did he display it? By presenting to God the divinely ordained  sacrifice. Enoch had faith. How did he manifest it? By walking with God. Noah had faith. How did he  show it? By building the ark.  
How do you display your faith ?

5. The concern  of Noah’s faith : Noah "build an ark for the saving of his family" . This fact deserves prayerful consideration. While it is true that parents cannot  save their  children’s souls, there are evidences  of God’s blessings  where the obedience of one leads to the salvation of many. Because Abraham exercised faith, God gave the land of Canaan  to his offspring. Because Rahab believed the report of the spies, her whole household was preserved from destruction. In the NT  we find  that the faith  of a centurion’s  is the catalyst to his servants healing (Lk.7:1-10);  Jairus’  daughter is  healed as a result of his faith  (Lk.8:40-56) etc.  Noah’s faith  issues in the temporal salvation of his  family.  
Does your faith include  the future  of your family ?  

6. The witness of Noah’s faith : "By this he condemned the world.”  Every Christian who is walking by faith condemns the world. His conduct is a silent rebuke upon the course followed by the ungodly. His life is a witness against their sin. 
Does your life  testify against  your  world ?

7. The reward of Noah’s faith:  " …and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith." This is the crowning statement  and it brings us back  to  the fact as to why Noah is  an exception  in this backslidden community. He  was “an heir  of the righteousness that comes by faith.” God had  chosen him to belong to that long line of faithful men in  Genesis 5 and in Hebrews 11. He had the godly seed in Him and that is why He had the faith and inclination to act contrary to whatever everyone else was doing.  
Are you looking  forward to receive your inheritance kept in heaven for you ?

Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord and the  evidence  is seen  in  Hebrews 11:7“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”  

  • Have you found grace in the eyes of the Lord ?
  • Take the 7 diagnostic questions  and  examine your own faith ! 

[1] The first division (the concluding verses of Genesis 4) , closes with the account  of Abel’s murder by Cain, and  Lamech ( an offspring of Cain’s line)  boasting over a young man whom he had killed
The second division closes (Gen. 6:1-8) with God looking down on the wickedness of those before the flood  ( the Antediluvians. )
The third division closes (Gen. 9:20-29) with the sad scene of Noah’s drunkenness, leading to  a curse pronounced on  the line of his youngest son . This  is followed by Noah’s death.
The fourth division  starts with the account of Shem , Ham and Japheth , the descendants of Noah  (10:1)  and closes (Gen. 11:1-9) with  the overthrow of the Tower of Babel.
The fifth division  introduces the line of Shem  and  closes (Gen. 11:10-26) with the births, ages, and deaths of Shem’s descendants.
The sixth division closes (Gen. 11:31, 32) with the death of Terah.
The seventh division closes (Gen. 25:10, 11) with the burial of Abraham.
The eighth division closes (Gen. 25:18) with the death of Ishmael.
The ninth division closes (Gen. 35:29) with the death of Isaac.
The tenth division closes (Gen. 36:8) with the departure of Esau from the promised land, the birthright which he had forfeited  & sold  because He  considered his bodily appetites as more important that his birthright .
The eleventh division closes (Gen. 36) with a list of the descendants of Esau, and significantly ends with the words, "He was Esau the father of the Edomites."
The 12th division starts at 37 :2 ( The account of Jacob )  and closes (Gen. 50:26) with the death of Joseph.

[2] not the Lamech of Cain’s line ( 4:19-24) , but  the Lamech of Seth’s line  ( 5:25-31)
[3] חֵ ן : chen - grace , to favour someone
[4] Hab 2:4 ; Gal 3:11
[5] "tamim" – without blemish , mentioned  forty-four times in the OT 

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