Category Archives: Noah & the Flood

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 551 – Noah & the Great Flood

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups
08/25/16 – 551 – Noah & the Great Flood

Gen 9:28-29
After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 Altogether, Noah lived 950 years, and then he died.

So ends our account of Noah, but we still haven’t made it full circle back to Abram and Sarai yet. There is one more pretty well-known story missing. Let’s see if we can get there in today’s reading. As you can see from the short passage above, God still hadn’t shortened man’s lifespan. If you go on to read Genesis 10, it looks like a very dry genealogy of Noah’s family. But if you read it carefully, there are some hidden gems of knowledge sprinkled in there. I’ll try to summarize for you.

The sons (descendants) of Japheth are mentioned first. They became seafaring peoples, and so became very spread out and spoke many languages.

The descendants of Ham did indeed become the Canaanites, also the Assyrians and pretty much all of the other enemies of Israel that we hear about later on. They built cities like Babylon, Nineveh, Sodom and Gomorrah. The descendants of Shem lived in the eastern hill country. It was Shem who would eventually become the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather of Abram, who became Abraham after making his covenant with God.

If there is one thing that’s obvious from reading the Bible, it’s that man was very obedient when it came to ‘be fruitful and multiply’. They weren’t just raising families – they were building nations! But they weren’t being obedient in all things.

I notice as I read about the Line of Ham, for instance – everyone that we think of when we think of evil in scripture seems to have come from him, all that I already mentioned – all the ‘ites’. The Philistines, Goliath would have been part of that. Of course, those that were supposed to be on Israel’s side were no slouched at doing the wrong thing either – just look at the history of their kings!

It just seems that once we let sin take hold in our lives there are no limits to the damage it can do or the extent it will take you. Someone once said ‘Sin will take you where you never thought you’d be, and where you never wanted to go’ . Ham started by disrespecting his father. Some of us start with a little ‘innocent flirting’. Some start with a ‘little white lie’. But it’s just like a snowball – it keeps getting bigger and bigger, faster and faster until its out of control and has taken over your life – and now you don’t know how to stop it.

Others around you are getting hurt, and you still can’t stop it. Everything you have is being destroted as this monstrosity you have created rolls ever faster down an ever increasing slope – and you can’t stop it.

But I have some good news for you today. There is oone person who can. It’s not you, it’s not your dad, or your mom, or your best friend. It’s not even all of them together. It’s Jesus Christ. And all you have to do is ask.

So let’s make that our prayer for today, OK? If you are wrapped up in that snowball, or love someone who is – pray. If you’re not, pray a BIG prayer of thanks that God pulled you out before it was too late.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 550 – Noah & the Great Flood

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups
08/24/16 – 550 – Noah & the Great Flood

Genesis 9:20-27
Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father’s nakedness.
24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said,
“Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”
26 He also said,
“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. 27 May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave.”

This is the part of the story we tend not to talk about in children’s church, for some reason. But it’s one of those important parts, one of the reasons we do these ‘Bible Stories for Grownups’, right? There are a number of aspects to look at here, and as usual, a number of accusations and even some controversial viewpoints.

First off, many have suggested that our hero Noah was a nothing more than a drunk who caused the whole thing to happen. However, there’s nothing to suggest that he was habitually drunk in this or any other passage. In fact, you might recall that when we were introduced to Noah in Gen 6:9 he was called “a righteous man”, or in the King James “perfect in his generations”. So by his known history, I hardly think we can pin that label on him.

Whether or not Noah was an alcoholic would not have excused Ham’s behavior. From his walking into his father’s tent uninvited and without permission to looking at his nakedness to telling his brothers about it – everything we see shows us a great disrespect for Noah, and possibly worse. According to Wiersbe’s Bible Handbook the Hebrew word used for nakedness (‘erwat) is connected in Leviticus 18 &20 with sexual immorality, for which the Canaanites were well-known.

The stark contrast with the behavior of Ham’s brothers tells us the same story, as does Noah’s prophecy upon awakening. Shem and Japheth took great care to make sure that not only they, but no one else, would see Noah in that state again. When he woke up, Noah must have been surprised at being covered, and it probably didn’t take too long to solve the mystery.

It’s here that we read the only actual words of Noah in scripture, and they are not just an angry rant at his kid! They really are prophetic words that became all too real just a few generations later.

I often find myself wondering about kids and parents. How can the children of seemingly good or even great parents, raised as Christians, knowing what is right, go so far off track while others from what we would deem to be marginal or even bad homes turn out great? I wonder how, when God was cleansing the earth, He allowed Noah’s 3 sons to go along when He ad to know that one of them would became the father of so much evil? I mean, why look for trouble, right?

But then my thinking always has to come full circle, back to me. People look at me now and tell me what a great Christian they think I am. (I don’t feel that way a lot of the time – I feel much weaker than that). But, there was a time when not too many people would have looked at me and judged me to be that, at least from outward appearances (yet at the time I thought I was).

I can only say with certainty is this – I don’t know why. But I’m glad He does what He does. I’m glad He gives us second chances. And thirds. And fourths. And fifths. And….you get the idea. I’d be willing to bet that in all the time from the boarding of the ark to the forming of the nation of Canaan, God was hoping against hope that Ham would change his mind – repent and return to Him.

Again, it’s only that freedom of choice that gives our relationship with God any meaning at all. But it’s that same freedom in our human weakness that gives us trouble as well. Solution? Stop depending on your human strength – it is not sufficient! We need to be completely, utterly dependent on God and His strength – period. How’s that for a setup for prayer today?

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 549 – Noah & the Great Flood

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups
08/23/16 – 549 – Noah & the Great Flood

I should have done this yesterday, but I want to say thanks for your understanding and your prayers during these last couple of weeks. Maybe I should have been writing about Ezekiel’s valley full of dry bones rather than the flood – it would have fit right in! The truth is that we going through a crisis in our family that I never imagined happening, and I became physically ill on top of that, and just ran out of strength and motivation. But once again the prayers of many, but most of all the answers of One carried me through, and although it will be a long time before everything is again set right – we are on the track. Thank you again.

Anyway, yesterday we left Noah and God talking about about some new rules regarding food. Man could now eat meat – but not meat that still had blood in it. For the first time too, animals had a fear of man, and for good reason as they would now be hunted. But now we come to one of the most famous covenants between God and man in the Bible:

Gen 9:12-13
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

Most of us are familiar with God’s promise that goes along with that rainbow – that He would never again destroy all the earth with a flood the way He had. Whenever a covenant was made there was a visible mark of some sort made as a signal – a reminder to people of that covenant. In our marriage ceremonies today we generally use a ring (yes, on the finger).

In Old Testament and even New Testament days it may have been a tattoo of some kind on the hand or wrist, which would be shown to strangers as they approached telling them that ther is a covenant partner who will avenge you should anything bad happen to you. Some people believe this is where the practice of waving began.

For this covenant between God and all mankind the lines at the tattoo parlor would have taken forever, so God made a rainbow instead. Notice that it’s not only intended to be a reminder for us but for God as well. The text goes on:

Verse 18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the earth.

Now why point out that Ham was the father of the Canaanites? What was so different about him – or them? Or are we getting ahead of ourselves? Stay tuned! All I’ll say for now is that the Israelites had to come from one branch of the tree, and their enemies another, right? So, where’s the 3rd branch in all this? So many questions, so little time.

For today, let’s say a prayer of praise that God still thinks us worthy of keeping His covenant with us even though we so consistently break our end of the deal. Ask Him to send His Spirit to strengthen us so that we can live in righteousness – not having to fall to sin every day of our lives. His Word says we can do it – do you believe it?

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 548 – Noah & the Great Flood

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups
08/22/16 – 548 – Noah & the Great Flood

The rain fell for forty days and forty nights. However, Noah and his contingent were floating around for over a year! By the time the waters receded and the ground was dry enough that much time had passed. The text says that the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. This would be in what is now eastern Turkey.

According to the Bible, God told Noah and his family to leave the ark and take all the animals out as well. Needless to say, Noah was one happy guy – and he wasn’t afraid to show it!

Gen 8:20-22
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
22 “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

Now, I think it’s important to remember that this was God’s promise to Himself. The promise He was about to make to Noah was just a little different, and I’ve heard a lot of argument about it over the years:

Gen 9:1-3
Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

This is the first time that God specifically gave man permission to eat the flesh of animals in addition to plants – with one stipulation:

Verse 4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. 5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.
6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.

Why the difference? Because here as throughout scripture, God is saying that the life is in the blood, and that life must be respected as His gift. Think about how reverently the blood is used in almost every sacrificial ceremony throughout the Old Testament. What was it that washed away our sins again? Oh yeah – the blood of Jesus! When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we drink the juice of the vine that represents the blood of the Lamb.

It was always so. From the time of the fall, an innocent life had to be sacrificed so clothing could be made to cover the shame of their nakedness. This wouldn’t have been necessary had they not sinned. Cain spilled Abel’s blood into the ground, and the ground cried out to God.

So it is with many of the things God gives us. They are ours, but not to be treated any way we see fit, or carelessly. God’s gifts must always be seen as such, treated with care and reverence, respect and love. If you received a personal gift from Princess Kate, would you toss it around till it hit the floor, leave it there for people to walk on? Yet how often we receive beautiful gifts from our King, don’t even bother to thank Him, and treat them as though they were meaningless? Then we complain when we think we deserve more.

Don’t let this happen to you. Recognize each and every gift He gives you for the precious blessing that it is. Thank Him for it, care for it. If you can, pass it along to someone who will care for it in the same way.

How about we make that our prayer for today – think of at least 3 of those gifts that you haven’t thanked Him for, and do it now.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 547 – Noah & the Great Flood

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

08/09/16 – 547 – Noah & the Great Flood

Gen 6:11-16

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month — on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. 14 They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. 15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.

 That last line gets you, doesn’t it? . “Then the Lord shut him in.”

 God didn’t wait for Noah to think about it any longer. He didn’t prolong the pain of watching as the waters began to rise. I still have this picture of Noah’s neighbors standing outside in the rain making fun of him and his family, even after witnessing the miracle of the animals coming in two by two.

We still do that today, you know. We watch miracles day after day, and rather than recognize them for what they are and give God the glory that’d rightfully His, we chalk them up to ‘science’ or coincidence – luck. I heard that a few weeks ago about the big bang and the primordial soup theory that all these chemicals got mixed a certain way and spontaneously created life, and the fact that the planets aligned perfectly to support life etc, etc, etc; and the fact that any of these things by themselves is mathematically impossible let alone all of them together. One of the top scientists supporting evolution explained it all by saying that we were just “incredibly lucky”.

What’s that? You don’t see miracles all the time? Really? Here’s the definition of a ‘miracle’ from Dictionary.com:

  1. an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.
  2. such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God.

Did you watch the Inner Life of a Cell video I pointed you to a few weeks ago? Have you looked at the incredibly complex chemical, electrical and physiological processes that are involved just too allow you to have an opposing thumb so that you can pick up that cup of coffee? How about the development and birth of a baby without defects?

If you can show me a human that can reproduce those events, I’ll concede that they are not miraculous. Back to Noah.

The people probably got quieter when the water got knee-high, maybe started to worry when it hit their thighs and they had to load their kids into anything that would float. Remember, these were desert dwellers for the lost part, not a lot of boats lying around. I’m guessing that by the time the last of them were sitting on the mountain peaks watching the waters rising to take them, they were thinking ‘I should have listened’. But Noah and his family saw none of that.

I think that very often God ‘shuts us in’ to protect us from the things He knows will hurt us the most. I For example, in my work as a paramedic and nurse I have seen Him prevent people from seeing the horrific images of loved ones lost in traumatic ways. He helps us to remember the things we need to heal, and shuts out those that do nothing but hurt. Sometimes we do need to deal with those too, but when we do, He’s always there with us.

I think today’s prayer is pretty simple. Let’s just thank God for His protection – for ‘shutting us in’ when we need to be. For not letting us linger at the precipice of a sinful world even though it’s because we care so deeply about the people in it.

 

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 546 – Noah & the Great Flood

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

08/08/16 – 546 – Noah & the Great Flood

Gen 7:1-5

The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”

5 And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him. NIV

What do you suppose Noah was thinking when he heard that? ‘Well, here we are. I finished the boat, but I don’t know how I’m supposed to collect all those animals in 1 week! And how do you even tell if you have a male and a female mosquito? And why?’

I think a better question might be this: what do you suppose you would be thinking? Would you be afraid? Probably. Would you want to try to warn your friends? Most likely. Would you try to talk yourself out of believing that you really heard what you heard again?

I do know this – a lot can happen in 7 days. When you have to wait for 7 days, it can seem like an eternity. But I’m guessing that for Noah and his family, it went by pretty quickly. You see, the next part of the story in scripture actually does read like a Hollywood movie script! Noah didn’t have to go and get any animals at all. The text says that all these pairs of animals “, came to Noah and entered the ark” (v9).

I can almost imagine the look of relief on Noah’s face as all he watches all his work beginning to come to fruition, but also mixed with dread because he knows what that means for everyone else. What I can’t imagine is what his neighbors must have thought or looked like as they watched these animals from all over the world come together and board the ark. Maybe at least a few were thinking ‘oops’? Probably not.

Sadly, I honestly think that their eyes had been so blinded by sin that they didn’t accept the truth until they were neck deep – literally. I hope that the noise of the rain and the animals was loud enough to protect Noah and his family from hearing the screams for help from those outside as the water lifted the great vessel from the ground, and as it floated away in the darkness.

Sometimes it’s hard to stay true and watch others – those who you love – sink in the waters of sin. It hurts. But the truth is, it’s not your choice whether or not to rescue them. I think that’s why God has given His promise:

Rev 21:4

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” NIV

He knows that everyone we love won’t be standing at His throne in the end. Remembering and mourning forever would be forever painful. So, I think He takes care of us – forever. What we must remember while we walk in this life is to do the best we can to show the truth of Jesus Christ to others – starting with our loved ones, and pray that they make the right choices.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 544 – Noah & the Great Flood

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

08/06/16 – 544 – Noah & the Great Flood

Gen 6:13

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.

 I would say that God was pretty clear with Noah, wouldn’t you? Once again, I would love to ask 100 questions – like what did Noah do first, how did people react when he told them etc? But sadly, we are npt given the opportunity, and really, I don’t believe that Noah was either. I know there are plenty of movies that tell of him trying to talk to people and get them to repent, but scripture really shows us none of that.

Remember, if people hadn’t been completely corrupted, God would not have been pushed into such extreme destructive measures in the first place. So you might notice that God didn’t tell Noah to go out and warn the people. He didn’t order Noah to give them a deadline to repent or else. He simply announced that their time was up.

But even so, He was going to save a few to give the earth a fresh start – a new chance. He had chosen Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives. Call me cynical, but I’ve always thought that maybe part of the problem, the reason mankind fell back into sin so quickly after the flood, was not that Noah himself wasn’t a righteous man – the text tells us he was. But it says nothing about the spiritual state of the rest of the family.

Evangelist Corrie Ten Boom, who was famous for surviving the Nazi prison camps in WWII after helping hundreds of Jews escape occupied Holland, used to say “God has no grandchildren.” That’s true. The Bible never mentions any. It only ever talks about the ‘children’ of God. Something to think about. What does that mean for us?

We can’t be saved for our children. As much as we love them, our faith will not carry them to heaven. We can and should teach them all we can, lay the foundation as best we can. But ultimately it’s up to them. They get to make the same decisions as you and I. Not fair, you say? Well, look at it like this. Our faith can’t get them to heaven, but neither can our lack of faith condemn them to hell.

No, whatever work Noah may have had as a prophet was done. Now he was simply a ‘DIYer’.

Gen 6:14-22

14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. 16 Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. 17 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. 18 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. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 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. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”

22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

I’ve often asked myself – if God gave me these instructions, could I drop everything and get busy? Or would I talk myself into believing that they were the result of last night’s bad pizza or my own imagination, or simply procrastinate until it was too late? I think the key is in recognizing God’s voice when you hear it, so that when He tells you something this important you can be certain it’s Him. And the key in that is to not only speak to Him often, but to listen for His response.

Today when you pray, give Him equal time. Just sit in silence and allow Him time to speak to you. You’ll be amazed at how hard that is to do. But you’ll also be surprised at how wonderful it is when you finally, assuredly hear His voice.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 543 – Noah & the Great Flood

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

08/05/16 – 543 – Noah & the Great Flood

Well, I see you’re still here, eh? Then you’ve made the right decision! I’m glad! Anyway, now that we have the background material behind us, we can begin the actual story.

Gen 6:9This is the account of Noah.Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

I have always thought that the simplest statements are usually the ones that carry the most impact. (Soooo, right now you’re asking why I write so many long run-on sentences? All I can say is this: please don’t give me a hard time–I haven’t had my coffee yet)

I think that if I could have God say just one thing about me besides “I love you”, that would be it. “He was righteous”. “Blameless”. That says so much about the man Noah, does it not? Yet, we can throw it all away in one fell swoop with the pen of a Hollywood screenwriter.

That simple statement says even more when we consider the next two.

Verses 11-12

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways

Again we see the broad generalizations, the sweeping overviews that take in all people and tell us of the totality of their depravity. We look around us today and see the battle against evil raging. There was no battle then. It was over, and good had lost. Not only was the battle over, but the war between good and evil was about to end.

I can picture the commanders of the two armies in their headquarters. Satan in some lavish palace that He had taken from some poor soul – much like Hitler during WWII. I see him with His feet up on a priceless old table, drinking champagne from a beautiful crystal glass that was once used by some great high priest, then smashing it into the fireplace in premature celebration of his apparent victory. He had but one skirmish left to win, and that against an old man and his small family. No problem. Either He would win it or Noah would be dead soon, after that his sons would soon succumb to pressure to be like everyone else. Then the world would be his.

Then, I picture God, heartbroken but knowing what He must do. His heartbreak comes not from defeat, He has known all along that He would never know that state. His heartbreak is for the loss of those He created and loved as His own children, who turned away from Him and must now be cut off. It is for the beautiful earth He fashioned out of nothing, which now must also be destroyed.

President Harry S. Truman was the one who made the decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan to end WWII. I imagine God’s heartbreak might have been similar to what Truman might have felt – if he had had to drop the bomb not on Japan but instead on Lamar, Missouri – his hometown.

Once again we see a God who is not the angry, vindictive ‘Old Testament God’ that we keep hearing about, but a merciful, loving Father God Who does everything He can to turn people away from evil for hundreds if not thousands of years before He resorts to drastic measures. Why? Because He loves us that much.

Still, there comes a point when our sin nature – our self-centeredness starts affecting others and hurting them. That’s the point at which our ‘right’ to do as we please ends. That’s the point at which we begin to force God’s hand – He can either allow us (and through our evil and rebellion, Satan) to take over His world and destroy His innocent children, or He can step in and stop it.

00Let me ask you a simple question. If it were a bully threatening your innocent child or your home – what would you do? Today, let’s ask God how we can help Him (for a change) in this battle?

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 542 – Noah & the Great Flood

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

08/04/16 – 542 – Noah & the Great Flood

Gen 6:5-8

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. 6 The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth — men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air — for I am grieved that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

How quickly we go from God looking at His creation and seeing that it was good to looking at the pinnacle of His creation and seeing that he was purely wicked. This man (not any individual man, but mankind) that He loved so much had completely turned away from Him, willingly chosen to live in disobedience to Him.

To understand verse 5, you should know that although there are a number of Hebrew words for ‘heart’, the one used here was libow [lay-bough], which had a broad definition meaning the will, intellect, feelings – pretty much the center of the being. Why is this so important? Because it changes the meaning so much.

God wasn’t grieved because of what men were doing – He was grieved because of who they had become! The next part of the verse ‘on the earth’ tells us that the problem was universal. In other words, not just some people, not just most people, but all people. “Every inclination” meant more – not just some of the time, not just most of the time, but all of the time. Except for one.

What has always amazed me about this entire story is that in the actual reading we find the exact opposite picture of God as the one I’ve always heard about (and by the way, continue to hear about). People seem always to talk about an angry, vengeful God who could not or would not control His temper, and just because people were exercising the freedom that He gave them, He killed all of them.

But that’s not the God we’re reading about here, is it? The God we see here is a heartbroken, grieving Father whose children have gone far astray. They have gone where they have gone freely, and have no desire to return. They know the evil they have done and are doing, and they are not remorseful in the least. They know the wrong and the harm they are doing, yet they are teaching their children to do the same or worse. And because He has given them that freedom to choose, the Father is broken. Hurting.

Some of you might understand a little bit, especially if you’ve raised kids who have gone ‘off the reservation’. At this point, God was really faced with only 3 choices that I can see.

  1. He could have just let things go and disappeared. Walked away and let Satan have the world that He created. That would have been great for us, right?
  2. He could have wiped out everyone liked we spoke of when Adam & Eve first disobeyed – started with a clean slate. But then we have the same problem, don’t we? That pretty much negates free will for us.
  3. He could have salvaged the remnant that was still good and given us another chance. A chance to start over and do things right. As we know, this was His choice. Noah and his family would be that remnant.

Why does an all-knowing God keep allowing us to start over, giving us chance after chance when He has to know we will fail Him? I think it’s for the same reason we parents give our children multiple chances to do things right. We may know that chances are they’ll make the bad choice, but we keep trying to teach them the lesson and give them another shot, hoping that they’ll make the right one next time.

God’s still waiting for some of us to make that choice today, isn’t He? It might be you, or it might be a family member, a neighbor. Today might be the day they need to hear that lesson from you. It might be something as simple as this – God isn’t an angry, vengeful God at all. But He does love us enough that His heart gets broken because of the things we do, the people we become.

Let’s pray about that today, OK? Who is it that God wants you to reach today?

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 541 – Noah & the Great Flood

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

08/03/16 – 541 – Noah & the Great Flood

 

OK, as you probably all noticed yesterday, I made a mistake. There are really 2 more stories before we run back into Abram and Sarai. These are the story of Noah and the story of the Tower of Babel. This is a short but important one, and if you all behave I’ll even tell you the right way to pronounce ‘Babel’ when we get to it!

I saw one of those sad but funny videos about a week ago, a man-on-the-street interview in which people were asked in they believed that Noah was a real person and whether the story told about him was true. Many of them said that they didn’t believe he ever was a real person, because a fish couldn’t really swallow a man whole like that. Others said that it was just a story designed to scare kids into being good. Some said things like ‘It’s a story. I can’t believe in a god who would do such horrible things.’ I’ve heard similar ones in the past in which people thought Joan was Noah’s wife. Think about it – it’ll come.

To those of us who know the story and believe in the Bible as God’s Word, some of the responses may draw a chuckle at first. Then, we feel guilty as we think about how lost is the person who is making that remark. They have either never heard, ignored, or rejected God’s Word completely. No matter which, it’s no laughing matter.

The really sad part is that we can’t help those that reject Him, or truthfully, even those that are ignoring Him. Those 2 things are pretty much the same. But we can help those that have never heard – if we know the stories and if we have a foundational knowledge of the Bible. Hmmm… Maybe that should be our next one – the story of the Bible itself. What do you think? Anyway…

Gen 6:1-4

When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days — and also afterward — when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

Saturday I wrote that the 120 years referred to in verse 3 meant that our lifespan would be decreased from the 800 plus years that many were living before that time. However, there are some that believe that this was meant more as a warning – a sort of countdown to the flood. Regardless, after the flood, men no longer lived anywhere near as long as they did before, so you decide. Maybe it was both.

Verse 4 is the intriguing one here. Who were the Nephilim [NEFF ih lem]? They are only mentioned one other place in the Bible, in Numbers 13:33. It was the name used by the Israelite scouts who had gone into the promised land to check it out, and came back so afraid of the giants (Nephilim) there that the people chose to disobey God and not enter, which of course resulted in their wandering in the desert for another 40 years.

The word itself doesn’t mean ‘giants’, though. It actually means ‘fallen ones’, which has led to some interesting interpretations. Some theologians have taken it to mean that these are fallen angels who have come to earth, been attracted to the human women they saw, married as many as they wanted, had many children by them and in so doing, spread much more evil into the world. There are a lot of problems with this theory, not the least of which is that angels are asexual beings – they are gender neutral. Which is fixed in theory #2.

Theory #2 says that these fallen angels, not having bodies of their own, inhabited or possessed human bodies to do all the things stated above. Because of their great powers, the people they possessed often became the great rulers, kings and warriors of the world. There are still problems with this theory also, as some of these people would have had to survive the Flood, or the demonic angel would have had to invade a second time afterward.

Myself, I like theory #3. That’s the one in which God saw these people as ‘fallen ones’, they were a race of rather large people whose genes were carried on down to some of the Philistines (as in Goliath), but people saw them as great and powerful heroes and rulers.

Whatever they were, they obviously cared nothing for God or His laws. For this reason, they obviously played a major role in bringing society to a point where only 8 people were ‘rescuable’, and even they were far from perfect, as we’ll find out later on. Yet God still saved them.

He could have wiped the slate clean and started over. But He didn’t. He could have just saved some babies – pure and innocent. But He didn’t. So many choices. Yet, He chose us. Now it’s our turn to choose Him, today and every day. And that, my friends, is your prayer for today.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 540 – Noah & the Great Flood

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

08/02/16 – 540 – Noah and the Flood

Well, today I guess we’ll say goodbye to Cain and his clan, as the text moves on to the next story which is ???? You, over there in the back. That’s right, the story of Noah. Now this is what I’m thinking. Let’s keep going in Genesis and work through that story, which will bring us back to the story of Abram. I’m sure you all remember that we already studied Abram and Sarai just about 1 year ago. You can download or review it here if you like, or go to dear-kids.com and click on ‘Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups’, then click on ‘Abraham & Sarah’.

Since they have us convinced we live in a democracy, we’ll take a vote. All in favor say aye? All opposed say nay. The imaginary ‘ayes’ have it! How about that – just as reliable as a real election process!

Joking aside, if the Spirit has been putting something on your heart that you would like us to work on, please let me know. If not, please make it a matter of prayer. At this moment I’m thinking maybe something from the New Testament, but I’m really not sure yet. The only stories we’ve done from the NT are the Christmas story and Paul’s story. But there are plenty more in the Old yet as well. Please give me some feedback in the next week or so on this. Thank you.

Back to Genesis. In Gen 5:27 we learn that Methuselah lived 969 years, longer than anyone else we know of. He and his wife had Lamech (remember Lamech?) when he was 187! By years you might think he was old when he became a father, but by percentages – he was just in his prime! Lamech, flowing in dad’s footsteps, had a son when he was 182. He named the boy Noah. (he did have other children after Noah, but their names are not given. Lamech only lived to be 777, but at least he was around long enough to see his grandchildren, Noah’s 3 sons. Noah had his 3 boys when he was 500 years old! Somehow, I don’t think people aged the same way we do back then – and we don’t have to wait long to find out why.

Gen 5:32-6:3

After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.

 6 When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.” NIV

When we think about the Great Flood, God wiping away all humanity from the face of the earth, we shudder that He would feel that such a radical move is necessary. But consider the drastic disciplinary and preventative measures He tried before He got to that point. It seems that men were using their long life spans to become more and more evil instead of more godly. It often seems to me as I look back on my life that there just wasn’t time to learn the lessons that I needed to learn, let alone to really act on them.

Now that I’m on the downhill side, I’m trying desperately to put some of the most important ones in this book (and website) so that they might get a head start. At the same time, I do this knowing in my heart that I may well be wasting my time, at least with some of them. They’ll never crack the cover.

I think that must be just a little bit how God felt. He gave us life, and that in abundance. The first thing we did was to disobey Him. The very next generation was so controlled by the same sin nature that murder was committed with no remorse. Within a few more, the evil within had taken over to the point that it controlled His entire creation. Can you imagine creating something beautiful only to have someone else take control of it and use it for his or her own evil purposes? I think of great scientists whose discoveries, the result of a life’s work meant to help mankind, were turned into horrifying weapons of mass destruction.

If we could take away one lesson from this short passage today, I think it would be this – there are limits to God’s patience. Just because He is all-loving does NOT mean He has to accept everything everyone does. In fact, it pretty much means the opposite. It means He loves us too much to allow the evil in this world to go on forever. He has set the limits. He has set the time. He has given us the choice.

The rest is up to us. And there’s your prayer for today. Will you be a part of God’s plan? Or will you be one that’s left back when the time comes either for evil to be purged from the earth, or simply one that’s not ready when He calls you home? It really doesn’t matter, you know. The preparation is the same. We all just need to be ready – every moment, every day.