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Redemption Journey: The Flood

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The passage for this Sunday morning is Genesis 9:8-17, however, I encourage you now to read the whole of the Noah account in Genesis 6:1-9:17. If you are following the reading plan, it is coincidentally the reading for today.

Today, this passage is one of the many focal points for the attack against the historicity of Christianity. Non-Christians argue that there is no geological evidence for the flood so therefore it didn’t happen, so therefore Scripture isn’t reliable, so therefore it isn’t true. And I don’t want to get into that argument right now because I don’t have the space to get into that, but also I want to focus our attention where the writer of the account is asking us to focus our attention.

Consider this question: “What is being communicated about God and His relationship with His people?”

The account starts off with a sobering state of human depravity: “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. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 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.’” (Gen.6:5-7)

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord – the text tells us (Gen. 6:8-9) – because he was blameless and righteous. So God made plans to save Noah and destroy creation. It’s terrifying to consider that only a few generations removed from God pronouncing that creation was “very good” are things so bad that God is willing to wipe it all out. Don’t read this story as though you’ve read it a hundred times. It is so different from our “Sunday school” retelling of the story. Genesis 6:13 says, “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.’”

That’s scary stuff. Think of the noise, the screaming, the bleating animals, and the destruction. A couple months ago we read this story in a children’s Bible with Cheryl’s parents that has questions after every Bible story. One of the questions that we could have asked Phoebe was, “What happened to all of the other people?” We didn’t ask her that question, but it was eye opening for us to see how easily we have made the story into an idyllic story of Noah on the Ark with the animals (just look at the picture below). Hundreds of church nurseries and baby rooms are decorated in a Noah’s Ark theme … but really this is a terrifying story of destruction and “un-creation.”

b2ap3_thumbnail_ARK.jpg

For forty days and nights the rains came and the waters flooded the earth for 150 days. Everything on the land perished – birds, livestock, animals, and human beings. Only Noah, the one person who remained faithful to God, his family, and the animals in the ark remained. Outside of the ark there was complete and total destruction. God had exercised his wrath and his justice.

But then God makes a surprising pronouncement. After wiping out the unrighteous and those who do not love Him, God says, “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. As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (Gen. 8:21-22) Saving Noah, then, didn’t change anything. Noah was still sinful and his descendants were still sinful. The only “fix” is a change in God’s heart where he proclaims that he will never again destroy the world as He did in the flood. This pronouncement and God’s covenant with Noah in Genesis 9:8-17 promise that all of creation is protected from the threat of “un-creation” by the Creator.

God is no longer in pursuit of humanity as His enemy. He will take that punishment upon Himself in Jesus Christ.

On Sunday, the sermon will focus on God’s pronouncement of “never again” rooted in His remembering and also the sign of the rainbow and what it means for us and God. It’s important for us that God’s “never again” is rooted in His remembrance because redemption then does not come through God’s ignorance of sin but rather through God’s acknowledgment of it and his reaction to it. And, in that message of grace communicated through the “never again” and the rainbow we will also celebrate God’s love for us as communicated in the baptism of Vivian.

 

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Guest Monday, 16 December 2019

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