God Remembered and Noah Waited

She first met Jim in college, but after graduation she moved to Ecuador. A year after moving to Ecuador, she again met Jim. In 1953, the two would marry and continue missionary work to the Indians of Ecuador. Her husband had always hoped to have an opportunity to serve in a territory of an unreached tribe. The Aucas were an unreached tribe – a fierce group whom no one had succeeded meeting without being killed. After discovering the tribe’s whereabouts, Jim and four other missionaries entered Auca territory. It was first a friendly encounter with three of the tribe before Jim and his four co-workers were speared to death. It was January 1956.

Jim’s wife and 10-month-old daughter would, upon Jim’s death, stay in Ecuador serving and reaching people. In what can only be described as God’s remarkable providence, Jim’s wife would meet two Auca women. These two women would live with her and her daughter for one year. In this one year, the two Auca women would teach her their tribe’s language. This encounter and this one year would be the key to reaching the Auca tribe as Jim had hoped and prayed. Now listen to this; after this one year, Jim’s wife and now three-year-old daughter would set out to meet the Auca tribe; the same tribe that had killed this father and husband. Jim’s wife and daughter would successfully meet the tribe and live with them for two years as God’s servants.

Jim’s wife was Elisabeth Elliot. In 1988, she began hosting a twelve-minute radio program called Gateway to Joy. It would air for thirteen years. Listen to Elisabeth Elliot. “I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His [God] letting us have our way in the end, but by making us wait.”[1] Did you hear what she said? The deepest spiritual lessons are learned by God making us wait. Do not miss her testimony. Deep spiritual lessons are not learned through the waiting, but rather deep spiritual lessons are learned when God makes us wait.

The Active Wait of God

What does that mean? What does it mean that God makes us wait? It could mean that it is like going to Chipotle when it is buy one burrito and get the second burrito for free. The line on this evening will encompass all four walls of the restaurant’s interior. And you will wait. Or it could mean it is like going to Chipotle on any other random night, when there is no special incentive to go to Chipotle, and the line is not encompassing all four walls of the restaurant’s interior, but you still have to wait…as if the line is encompassing the entire building. When God makes us wait it is not because the waiting is unavoidable like it is special burrito night. When God makes us wait it is because the waiting is intentional. It is intentional in what God is seeking to accomplish. I want to call this the active wait of God.

This kind of waiting is in Genesis, in the historical account of the global flood. This kind of waiting is at the beginning of this account and it is at the conclusion of this account. In Genesis 7:1, God commands Noah to “Go into the ark, you and all your household.” Now notice Genesis 7:4. “For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights.” Notice what is reiterated then in Genesis 7:6-10. Listen to verse seven. “And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood.” Now listen to verse ten. “And after seven days the waters of the flood came upon the earth.” This family entered the ark seven days before the waters of the flood came upon the earth. What did this family do for seven days? They waited; God made them wait.

Now look at Genesis 8:13-14, but before you do, note when the waters of the flood came upon the earth. It is Genesis 7:11. “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of heaven opened. And rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.” The waters of the flood came in the second month and on the seventeenth day of the month of the six hundredth year of Noah’s life.

Now listen to Genesis 8:13. “In the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry.” Since Genesis 7:11, notice how much time has passed. It has been ten months and about fourteen days since Genesis 7:11. Noah and his family have spent about 319 days in the ark. And doing what? Waiting. But then there is verse fourteen. “In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out.” Since Genesis 8:13, notice how much time has passed. It has been one month and twenty-six days, or approximately fifty-six days, since verse thirteen. That is a lot of time between two verses! Notice that this is part of the point of these two consecutive verses. The ground is dry and fifty-six days pass until verse fifteen.

Keep looking at Genesis 8:14. One year and ten days have passed since Genesis 7:11. One year and ten days have passed since the flood waters came upon the earth and Noah and his family spent all of it in the ark. And doing what? Waiting. But also consider this, in this time there is no record of God speaking to Noah. There is no record of Noah hearing God speak since Genesis 7:4. Noah does not hear God speak until Genesis 8:15. According to the text, Noah does not hear from God for three hundred and seventy-five days. Noah has been through quite an experience and God has been silent!

But notice Genesis 8:13. In Genesis 8:13, Noah removes the covering of the ark and with his own eyes sees that the face of the ground is dry. Fifty-six days pass between Genesis 8:13 and 8:14 and notice what verse fourteen is all about. The ground, the earth is most definitely dry. And what does Noah do? Nothing. He does nothing in verse thirteen and he does nothing in verse fourteen, but wait. Why the long time even between Genesis 8:13 and 8:14? God was making Noah wait. It is then in verse fifteen that God finally speaks and commands Noah to leave the ark.

Why does God make Noah wait? Listen to this relatable testimony. Waiting can be agonizing. It’s hardest to wait when I am uncertain about the outcome. When I’m trusting God for the best, while at the same time preparing for the worst. It would be much easier if I had a guaranteed good outcome. Or at least a promise from God to hold on to. Or some reassurance to anchor my prayers. But God often seems silent when I’m waiting. I have no idea whether he’ll ever answer my prayer, so it feels like I’m waiting in the dark. I have read and reread Psalm 13:1–2, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?” O Lord, how long? I have asked that question many times. If I knew God would eventually answer my prayer with “Yes,” it would be different. But with no such assurance, even a “No” would often be easier than “Wait.”[2]

But God Remembered Noah

Even though between Genesis 7:4 and Genesis 8:15 there is no record of God speaking to Noah, God had not forgotten Noah. Listen to Genesis 8:1. “But God remembered Noah.” The word remembered is not meant to suggest that God forgot about Noah and the ark and all the animals. Instead, it means to think about. In all the time that passed, in all the waiting done by Noah, God had not forgotten him. God thought about Noah.

It is when God remembers or thinks about Noah when the flood waters no longer triumph over the earth. The waters triumph on the earth for only 150 days. But when God thinks about Noah is then when the waters begin to retreat. When God thinks about Noah is then when the ark then comes to rest upon the mountains of Ararat (8:4).

When that ark comes to rest upon the mountains, what is Noah thinking about? He opens a window and sends forth a raven. What is Noah thinking about? He then sends out a dove, “to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground” (Genesis 8:8). What is Noah thinking about? The dove returns and Noah, notice it, waits another seven days and sends the dove out again (8:9-10). What is Noah thinking about? This time the dove returns with an olive leaf in her mouth. It is a freshly picked olive leaf (8:11). What is Noah thinking about? Notice verse twelve. “Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove, and she did not return to him anymore.” What now is Noah thinking about? God is thinking about Noah and Noah is thinking about dry land. And, again, Genesis 8:14, Noah pokes his head out of the ark and sees that the land is dry. God is thinking about Noah and Noah is thinking about getting out of that boat. God is thinking about Noah and God makes Noah wait. After Noah sees that dry land, God makes him wait fifty-six days until he tells Noah, “Go.”

Why Did God Make Noah Wait?

Why was God making Noah wait? Better yet, why does God make you wait? Throughout the Bible are testimonies of men and women waiting and exclaiming, “How long, O Lord?!”

God was thinking about Noah and Noah was thinking about life after the boat. Why did God make him wait? Why does God make anyone wait for anything? What is there to be had or to learn in the waiting? Just give me a “yes” or a “no!” Listen to this: In retrospect, I can see that “wait” is the most precious answer God can give us. It makes us cling to him rather than cling to an outcome. God knows what I need. I do not. He sees the future. I cannot. His perspective is eternal. Mine is not. He will give me what is best for me. When it is best for me.”[3]

Why does God make anyone wait? It is to make us cling to him rather than to the outcome. Listen to Isaiah 26:8. “…in the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul.” We wait for You. It is true! God makes us wait so that we cling to him, not the outcome. Notice what Noah does after leaving the ark. He does not cling to the ground instead he clings to God. He worships. He builds an altar (8:20). Genesis 8:21 is the significant part of the whole flood account. “And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma…” God was pleased with Noah’s worship. What was God seeking to accomplish by making Noah wait? He wanted Noah to cling to him! God was pleased. Noah was clinging to God.

What Sort of People Ought We to Be?

The New Testament has a lot to say about waiting. “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waitingwe are waiting…Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation” (2 Peter 3:14-15).

[1] Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ’s Control

[2] http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-unwelcome-gift-of-waiting

[3] http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-unwelcome-gift-of-waiting

Noah Did All That God Commanded Him

The largest waterpark in the United States is 70 acres of fun and excitement in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. This waterpark has a movie theater and twelve restaurants and mini golf and four children’s water play areas and two giant wave pools and two endless rivers and fifty-one water slides. One of these water slides is called The Scorpion’s Tale. It is a ten-story high slide with a near vertical drop sending a person sliding down at more than fifty feet per second. What would be the name of the nation’s largest waterpark? Noah’s Ark Waterpark, of course.

Make Yourself an Ark

The word ark is an interesting word. This word appears twenty-eight times in the Old Testament, but in only two books of the Old Testament. It is used twice in the book of Exodus (Exodus 2:3 and 2:5). The remaining twenty-six times are all in the book of Genesis, chapters six through nine. In Exodus, it is used of an ark that is actually very small. Some English translations use the word basket instead of ark. It was so small that it could only hold one person and that the size of a baby. It was an ark meant to save the life of one baby named Moses. This ark, this basket, was placed in water to escape death. Imagine, if there would be a waterpark named Moses’ Ark Waterpark. It would have to be then the smallest waterpark in the United States!

In Hebrew, the word ark means “chest” or “coffin.” However, this is a word that is not original to Hebrew. In fact, the origin of this word is Egyptian. Moses was the baby rescued from death through an ark. He was born and raised and educated in Egypt. He is the man God used to write the book called Genesis. In Egyptian, the word for ark does not mean “chest” or “coffin.” Instead, it means “palace.”

Genesis 6:14 is the first time this word is used. “Make yourself an ark.” Now listen to the dimensions of the ark. “This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks.” A cubit is best understood as measuring somewhere between eighteen to twenty-one inches. So, at the very least this ark with three interior decks measures out to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Keep in mind that the ark is made of wood. This is a lot of wood which also means that this would demand a lot of trees, which also means that this would demand a lot of tree cutting…by hand. This ark is very large!

Do not lose sight of how big the ark was, it was very big. But do not marvel at it. There have been full scale replicas of the ark made throughout the world – Netherlands, Hong Kong and Kentucky. The Ark Encounter in Kentucky which opened last year gives some insight into the immensity of the ark. To just begin construction on this modern-day ark, $5 million dollars was needed. Again, that was just to begin construction. Over 1,000 craftsmen were employed in the construction. In 2016, the ark was big, but so was the task. In Noah’s day the ark was big, but the task even bigger.

Do not lose sight of how big the ark was. And do not lose sight how big the task was, it was very big. But do not marvel at it. I want us to listen again to Genesis 6:14. “Make yourself an ark.” Genesis 6:14 is a command. Now listen to the end of chapter six. It concerns how big the ark was and how big the task was. “Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him” (6:22). The author’s purpose in drawing out the list of specifications for the ark…is not so much that the reader might be able to see what the ark look liked, but rather that we might appreciate the meticulous care with which this godly and exemplary man went about the task of obedience to God’s will. He obeyed God with “all his heart.”[1]

And throughout Genesis 6 and 7 there is one big emphasis: And Noah did all that Lord had commanded him (7:5; 7:9: 7:16). Why did Noah obey?

How the Text Begins

There is much here in Genesis 6:11-Genesis 7:24. There is much in just how the text begins. Listen to Genesis 6:11-12. “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”

The way the text begins demands our attention if only because of how often the word corrupt occurs. It is there three times. The Hebrew word for corrupt may also be translated as wasted. Just notice the emphasis that the earth, globally, was wasted. This is having nothing to do with climate change, global warming or pollution. Instead, there is but one reason that the earth was wasted. It is the end of verse twelve. “For all flesh had wasted their way on the earth.”

The earth was wasted because all flesh had wasted their way on the earth. Now listen to verse thirteen. “And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end to all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them.” The end of verse twelve seems pretty important for both verses eleven and thirteen pivot on just this phrase: all flesh had wasted their way on the earth. There is much in just how the text begins just because of that phrase. For the sake of time, in all that all flesh includes it most definitely includes men and women. So, for this moment just think of verse twelve like this: Men and women had wasted their way on the earth. Men and women had wasted their lives. And I just want to stress in how the text begins how serious it is to not waste your life. What does it mean to waste your way?

In Genesis 6:6-7, God repeats that he was sorry that he had made mankind. Let that sink in. God was grieved that he made mankind. We have already studied this portion, but now also think of this grief in view of Genesis 6:12. Men and women who God had made had wasted their way on the earth. This word made (same as Genesis 6:6-7) gets repeated five times in the instructions to build the ark. More importantly, it is used (again same Hebrew word) in Genesis 5:1 which seems relevant here. “When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.” Why would God be so grieved in having made mankind and why is it so serious to hear that men and women had wasted their way on the earth? Men and women are made in the likeness of God – that is the answer. Wasting your way means to be wasting this likeness. And this likeness has everything to do with God. What it means to be made in this likeness has been defined for us throughout Genesis so far. Made in his likeness means available to us is the opportunity to walk with God (Genesis 6:9). Made in his likeness means available to us is the opportunity to worship the one who made us. Worship is about expressing the infinite worth of the one who made us (Genesis 2:15). This expression is intricately linked to obedience. In obedience, I get to show that God is of more value than the fleeting pleasure of disobedience. This was the garden experience (Genesis 2:15, Genesis 3)!

How the Text Concludes

There is much here in how the text concludes. This is Genesis 7:17-24. Due to this wasting, God determines to make an end of all flesh by bringing a flood of waters upon the earth. The text concludes concerning this flood of waters. Just listen. “The waters increased…The waters prevailed and increased greatly…And the waters prevailed so mightily…The waters prevailed above the mountains…And the waters prevailed.”

So, the text begins with men and women wasting their lives by living with no regard for God. The text concludes with the promised judgment flood of waters prevailing and prevailing and prevailing some more. But both at the beginning of the text and the conclusion of the text is the reminder of Noah. “Only Noah was left, and those who were with him” (Genesis 7:23).

God was devastated, grieved to the heart, that men and women were wasting their lives. He was sorry he made them. He set out to put an end to the wasting of life with a flood of waters. But in it he also provided salvation. Salvation for whom? It was salvation for all flesh. It was an ark, a really large ark with one door. God was providing an ark with one door. It was a kind of palace. It was salvation for all who believed God and would enter in through that one door. He would save all who would enter by that one door. He warned about the coming judgment but also preached salvation from the coming judgment. As Noah built the ark, he also was a preacher of righteousness. God warned of the judgment; provided salvation from the coming judgment; provided a preacher about the salvation from the coming judgment and then did not send the judgment for a long time. Why? “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9).

God was grieved at wasted lives, but was patient. God is patient toward wasted lives, not wishing that any should perish, but repent before it is too late.

And Then There is Noah

And then there is Noah. Do not forget about Noah. He obeyed! And the big question should be, why did Noah obey? Did you notice that although God told Noah that he would send a flood of waters, he did not though tell Noah when the flood of waters would come? God never said when. He did not say when until after the ark was finished.

It was not a month or a year or two years until the waters came. It was a long time and Noah obeyed. What then must that have been like to build a big ark, give yourself to a big task and year after year after year, no flood? How foolish must he have looked to the world around him, a world he is preaching to, and the longer he goes the longer it seems for God to fulfill his promise. But Noah obeyed. I read that we need to consider the obstacles Noah must have faced obeying God. Consider the bigness of the ark, and the bigness of the task, and the bigness of the number of animals to fill the ark, the bigness of gathering the supplies; but also, the violent culture around him; the ridicule; the shame he endured. And year after year, no flood. Year after year, it must have been harder to obey. I keep thinking of his wife and sons and daughters-in-law watching him. Why did Noah obey?

Oswald Chambers shared that “the best measure of a spiritual life is not its ecstasies but its obedience.” Why did Noah obey? The New Testament does not commend Noah for his obedience. “By faith Noah, warned by God concerning events as yet unseen.” Pause there for a moment. The events as yet unseen would not be seen for a really long time. “By faith Noah, 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 righteousness that comes by faith” (Hebrews 11:7). Why did Noah obey? Why did he construct an ark? It was because he believed God. It is the difference between Adam and Eve’s disobedience and Noah’s obedience. Noah simply believed God. For a century, “the only thing that Noah had to sustain him was the bare Word of God, God’s promise.”[2]

In the promise of judgment was also the promise of God to and for Noah. “But I shall establish my covenant with you” (Genesis 6:18). Why did Noah obey and obey for so long? Why did Noah obey in the midst of such a large task and a violent culture and ridicule and shame? Noah simply believed God and was sustained by the bare Word of God. It was not a wasted life and his family was watching the whole time.

This is Mother’s Day and I am thinking of my Mom. She has not been called to build an ark, but she has been called to not waste her life. My Mom sustains herself with the bare Word of God…every day. She lives quietly and seeks to mind her own business and simply be faithful. She obeys God because she believes God. And her family is watching.

[1] John Sailhamer, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, page 83.

[2] R. Kent Hughes, Genesis: Beginning and Blessing, page 136.

What Does God Require of You?

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin was a librarian? Yes, the same Benjamin Franklin on the one-hundred-dollar bill. The public library was first founded in Philadelphia by a group of men including Benjamin Franklin. It was open on Saturdays from 4 pm to 8 pm. Until the public library, most Americans had limited access to books. Books were too expensive! The library provided access to books which Benjamin Franklin felt “improved the general conversation of Americans.”

Benjamin Franklin had a high regard for books and is considered the most accomplished American in his generation.

These Are the Generations of Noah

Pay careful attention to Genesis 6:9. “These are the generations of Noah.” I guarantee that at the hearing of the name Noah, most of us are thinking ark or animals or flood. But pay careful attention to how we are introduced to Noah. The phrase “these are the generations of” is used some ten times in the book of Genesis. So far it was used in Genesis 2:4 and in Genesis 5:1. It is used to tell the reader that we are transitioning in the progression of the book. The last time that this transition was made was regarding Adam. “This is the book of the generations of Adam.” Then what followed was basically the family tree of Adam, a listing of the generations of Adam through Noah.

Here though it is a different. When the transition is made here, we are not given a family tree of Noah. “These are the generations of Noah” does not follow the pattern of Genesis 5. In verse ten we are told quickly of his three sons – Shem, Ham and Japheth. There is something different here – the concern is not the family tree. In verse nine alone, Noah’s name appears three times. “These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” Why do we not get the family tree? Why is Noah mentioned by name three times?

At this point we are just five and a third chapters through the book of Genesis. And it seems as we come to Genesis 6:9 we are being told to stop. Stop and consider Genesis 1 through Genesis 6:8. Stop and consider all that you have read and learned and studied and preached and pay attention to Noah.

Listen to the first two things we are told about Noah. Noah was a righteous or good man. This is the first time in the Bible that a man is called righteous or good. And Noah was a blameless man. The word blameless means complete or sound. Noah was a wholesome man. Noah had integrity. Noah was an innocent man. Noah lived life unimpaired. Unimpaired? What does that mean?

I want us to notice that Noah is described not as the most accomplished in his generation, but as righteous and blameless…in his generation. In his time, Noah was good and unimpaired. In Genesis 6:5 and 6:11, Noah’s time or generation is described. “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.”  We saw a few weeks ago, that this is what God saw as mankind had a low regard for marriage, a high regard for self and virtually no regard for God (6:1-4).

This is Noah’s generation; this is his time! Why did Noah’s generation have a low regard for marriage, a high regard for self and virtually no regard for God? The answer: books. And why was Noah righteous and blameless in his time? Why was he unimpaired in his time? The answer: books.

Noah Walked with God

After we are told that Noah stood out in his generation, read what comes next. Notice the last four words of Genesis 6:9. “Noah walked with God.” This is peculiar. I am calling it peculiar because it does not occur that often in the Old Testament. In fact, it does not occur often at all. The phrase “walked with God” only occurs in four passages in the entire Old Testament.

The first occurrence of this phrase is in Genesis 5:22. Just listen to it. “Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah.” Pause there. This first occurrence is with a man named Enoch and notice when it is that he began to walk with God. It is at the start of fatherhood. There was something about being a dad that stirred this man’s heart to walk with God. And it is reiterated to us in verse twenty-four that this man walked with God. Now, let’s be reminded of the remainder of verse twenty-two. “Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years.” Becoming a dad was a significant moment in this man’s life. And walking with God did not describe the high point of his life, instead this man’s entire life is described with just four words: he walked with God.

Enoch happens to be the great-grandfather of Noah. And Noah happens to be the last man in the Old Testament described by the words “walked with God.” In Hosea 11:12, a nation is described as walking with God, but Noah is the last specific man who is described by these words. So, it is a peculiar phrase.

I am kind of hoping that at this point in the sermon you might be wondering, does this describe me? Am I described as walking with God? Would I be described as having “walked with God?” In answering those questions, we need to ask, “What does it mean to walk with God?” And the question like it is, “How do I walk with God?” The answer of one question, I think, answers the other.

What Does God Require of You?

There are four passages in the Old Testament in which the words “walk with God” occur. We so far have only mentioned three. The fourth passage is the most helpful. It answers for us both what it means to walk with God and how to walk with God. The passage is Micah 6:8. In this passage, a man is wondering what it takes to please God. He is thinking about worship and the answer comes in Micah 6:8. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

God is requiring something of you. God is seeking something of you. Do justice. Love kindness. And notice the last part of verse eight. What is it that God requires of you? Walk humbly with your God.

The basis of this requiring or seeking is what is so fascinating. Why is it that God is requiring or seeking this of me? The basis of this seeking is found in the first part of Micah 6:8. “He has told you, O man, what is good.” God has told us what is good. Therefore, since he has told us what is good, he then seeks something from us. This something is that we walk with God.

How did Enoch know to walk with God? How did Noah know to walk with God? It is because God had shown them what is good. God told them what was good. Notice the word good in Micah 6:8. It is a very familiar word in the Old Testament, especially in Genesis. In Genesis 1, seven times is the phrase “And God saw that it was good.” God sees what is good because he knows what is good. And since God knows what is good, he tells us. This happens in Genesis 1 and again in Genesis 2:15.

In Genesis 3:14-19, God speaks again. And when God speaks again, he again tells us what is good. All that Enoch and Noah had was Genesis 1, 2 and 3. In all that they had, God had told them what was good. And in all that they had it was enough for God to seek something from them – walk humbly with your God.

Why did Noah’s generation have a low regard for marriage, a high regard for self and virtually no regard for God? The ultimate answer is books. God had told, had shown this generation what was good. It was in Genesis 1, 2, and 3. And why was Noah righteous and blameless in his time? Why was he unimpaired in his time? Why did Noah stand out in his generation? The ultimate answer is books. God had told, had shown Noah what was good. So, what did Noah do that his generation, his time did not do? Walk with God!

What is good in Genesis 1, 2, and 3? The good is God! He is what is good. Every time God speaks, he is showing us what is good. It is him.

The Bible consists of much more than three chapters. It consists of what is often called books. There are sixty-six books of the Bible; 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. These books are God-breathed books. He is the source, the author of all 66 books. Each book and each word is from the mind, mouth and heart of God. Since each book and each word is from the mind, mouth, and heart of God, each is without error and incapable of giving error. This book, the Bible is God’s revealed truth to us. It contains his will for our lives. And it is sufficient. This book is all we need to know God, to know salvation, and to live our lives pleasing to him. Why is this so important? It is because from Genesis through Revelation God is showing us what is good. It is him and therefore he seeks something from each one of us. Walk humbly with your God.

The Bible speaks often of walking before God or walking in his ways. Those instances have to do with moral behavior and obedience, which is needed if one walks with God. But walking with God is different because of the word “with.” The word with indicates that this walking includes “rubbing shoulders with” (cf. 1 Samuel 25:15). This walking with God has been described as a step above mere living. It indicates relationship of the deepest intimacy. It must have with it that not only do I know God, but God knows me. And we are walking in step together, through life, in the same direction.

The New Testament parallels this Old Testament phrase “walk with God.” It is not though with the word walk. When the New Testament uses the word walk, it refers to how you live your life. “Walk worthy of the Lord” (Colossians 1:10). In the New Testament, the equivalent to “walk with God” is “follow me.” It is most clearly seen when Jesus says, “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” To follow someone, you must be in step with them and going in the same direction. May I suggest that even this, follow me, is about relationship of the deepest intimacy.

How Do We Do It?

How do we do it? How did Noah know to walk with God? The answer: books. Read the Bible. It is my invitation to you. It is an invitation to me. Read the Bible. There was a pastor who was described as having walked with God. He said this, “The design of the whole of Scripture, and all the parts of it, hath an impress on it of divine wisdom and authority: and hereof there are two parts: first, to reveal God unto men; and, secondly, to direct men to come unto the enjoyment of God.”

Read the Bible because God has told you what is good. It is him. He therefore requires this of you: walk humbly with your God. “I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.”[1]

[1] Quotes from John Owen and George Müller in Reading the Bible Supernaturally, John Piper, pages 98 and 100.

The Grace of God is with Me

I remember as a little boy hearing the story of Philip, a pleasant and happy third grader. He was in a Sunday School class at his church with nine other pleasant and happy third graders. It was probably a typical Sunday School class of pleasant and happy third graders. But there was Philip. Philip was different. He did not choose to be different. He just was. Philip was born with Downs Syndrome.

We need to thank God for diligent and creative Bible teachers. This Bible teacher of this class had an idea for the Sunday after Resurrection Day. Remember the large egg like containers that pantyhose use to come in? Well, this teacher spent the week collecting ten of those egg like containers. And on Sunday, it was a sunny and beautiful Sunday, the teacher handed an egg to each child including Philip. The assignment was to go outside and find a symbol for new life, place it in the egg and bring it back to the classroom. Each child came back to the classroom, placing their eggs on the table. Then the teacher began to open each one. The first egg was opened and there was a flower. The kids oohed and aahed. Another egg was opened and there was a butterfly. Again, the kids oohed and aahed. Another egg was opened and there was a rock. The kids laughed and called it crazy. The child who put a rock in the egg spoke up and said he chose a rock because he wanted to be different. The next egg, though, was different. The teacher opened it and it was empty. There was nothing there. The children began to speak up. “That’s not fair – That’s stupid – Somebody didn’t do it right.” There was a tug on the teacher’s shirt. It was Philip. He quietly said. “It’s mine. It’s mine.” A child said, “You don’t ever do things right, Philip, there’s nothing there!” “I did so do it,” Philip said. “I did do it. It’s empty. The tomb is empty!”

Perhaps for the first time, there was silence in this classroom. And from this time forth, Philip was no longer different. Instead the class was different. Each child was different. And it is because the tomb is empty.

Philip died later that summer. His family knew since his birth that he would not live a long life. There were many things that plagued his tiny body. In July, he caught an infection that other children would have had no problem fighting off. At his funeral, nine eight-year-old children marched up to the front of the room where Philip’s casket laid. And together they placed there an empty egg – an empty, pantyhose egg.[1] And it is because the tomb is empty.

He is Not Here

The day the tomb was emptied began with these words. “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said” (Matthew 28:5-6).

A man I admire has shared a question that I am sure is being posed and answered all over the world on this day. What is the greatest proof of the resurrection? Is it the empty tomb? Is it the grave clothes? Is it the folded face cloth set apart in the tomb? Is it the witnesses? Listen to his answer. “You see, the essence of Christianity and the greatest proof of the resurrection for me is found in this one mind-boggling sentence: “JESUS CHRIST IS GOD!” If this statement is true then the resurrection is no problem at all. When you trace the earthly journey of the Lord Jesus through the Gospels, he says and does things that only God in the flesh can do.  You cannot explain His life in any other way. Even his claims to be God ring true. Long before you get to the event of the resurrection you have either settled in your minds that Jesus is a liar or He spoke the truth. Either He was a master magician or He actually performed all those miraculous events. Either the Bible is a truth text or a master weaving of legends and unreliable stories. Jesus said he would rise again. The same Scripture that recorded those words, recorded as fact his resurrection.”[2]

Proof of the resurrection rests upon words. This proof is found at the empty tomb! “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.” Even on the day that the tomb is first found empty is this exhortation to consider the words! It is as he said. As he said refers to words spoken prior to the resurrection itself. Is it not something that prior to even considering if the resurrection is true or not, every event and word prior must also be considered? Consider the Gospel of John. Before considering the validity of John 20, the resurrection, I must first consider the validity of John 1:1-19:42. In other words, in order for John 20 to be true, John 1:1-19:42 must also be true. But it is deeper than that. “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.” So, listen to what Jesus said. Listen to Luke 18:31. “And taking the twelve, he said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.’” What did Jesus just say?

Who are the prophets that Jesus speaks of? These prophets wrote things down about the Son of Man, of whom Jesus said, ‘will be accomplished.’ These prophets are Old Testament prophets, the men who penned Genesis through Malachi. So, proof of the resurrection lies in the words heard and found at the empty tomb – it is all as he said. And when we look at what Jesus said, notice where he takes us concerning himself and the empty tomb. He takes us to the Old Testament. Proof of the resurrection lies in and with the entire Bible. If at any point, Genesis through Revelation, the Bible is not true then there is no reason to trust what is said about the resurrection.

The Classic Chapter on the Resurrection

1 Corinthians 15 is considered the classic chapter on the resurrection. The classic chapter on the resurrection begins with verse one. “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 is concerned with proof of the resurrection. And proof of the resurrection that Paul points to is the gospel. The Bible defines the gospel as good news of great joy for all people or good news that causes great joy for all people (Luke 2:10). I want to put it this way: the gospel is good news of great joy which causes great joy for all people. And in this classic chapter on the resurrection, it is Paul’s desire, his aim to remind believers of this good news of great joy which causes great joy for them.

In verses three through eight Paul gives what is the content of this good news of great joy which causes great joy. It is given in four “that” statements. The good news of great joy which causes great joy for all people is that Jesus Christ died for our sins. The good news of great joy which causes great joy for all people is that Jesus Christ was buried. The good news of great joy which causes great joy for all people is that Jesus Christ was raised on the third day. The good news of great joy which causes great joy for all people is that Jesus Christ appeared. He physically appeared to all kinds of people.

But notice what is done in these verses as the content of the gospel is given. Twice we are reminded that this content is “in accordance with the Scriptures.” What are the Scriptures? As Paul writes this classic chapter on the resurrection, Scriptures could include the New Testament as it is being written, but it most certainly is in reference to the Old Testament. This means that the content of the gospel, good news of great joy which causes great joy for us, is in accordance with the whole message of the Old Testament. It was a message that Jesus said would be accomplished in him with his death and resurrection. Do you want proof of the resurrection? Looking for proof of the resurrection? Proof of the resurrection is the Bible itself. Every word of the Bible must be truth in order for the resurrection to be true.

How Important Are These Words?

How important then is the Bible? How important is this proof of the resurrection…for believers? 1 Corinthians 15 is a reminder for believers. Listen to 1 Corinthians 15:1-2. These words, this gospel is that which you have received. I love the word received. It means “to aggressively take hold of.” It is the good news of great joy which causes great joy and you have aggressively taken hold of it. These words, this gospel is that in which you stand. To stand means to not hesitate, to not waver. It describes one who vanquishes his adversaries and holds the ground; one who in the midst of the fight holds his position. It is the same word used in Ephesians 6, the armor of God. As the believer puts on the armor of God, he or she does so to stand against the schemes of the devil (who seeks to devour you); to be able to withstand the evil of the day; and having done all, to stand firm (6:11-14).

These words, this gospel is that by which you are being saved. These are words of eternal life! That which is proof of the resurrection are life-giving words, life-sustaining words, abundant life words! If you hold fast to these words. What does that mean? It is one thing to know these words, it is another thing to be gripped by these words and grab hold of these words (cf. Deuteronomy 13:4).

Unless You Believed in Vain

But then Paul concludes this one big sentence (v.1-2) with a startling statement – unless you believed in vain. He is not suggesting that there is a possibility that these believers have believed in vain. Vain here means the idea of failure; without effect; for nothing; empty. The words “in vain” are kind of critical to this classic chapter on the resurrection. In vain is used to describe what life would be like if the resurrection is not true. What would life be like if the resurrection of the dead is not true or even impossible? Not even Christ has been raised. And if not even Christ has been raised then being a pastor is the greatest waste of a job for “our preaching is in vain.” And if pastoring and preaching is the greatest waste of a job then your faith is the greatest waste of your life (your faith is in vain, cf. 15:14). And if your faith is the greatest waste of your life, then every bit of work, service, ministry you have done for God and the sake of others has been absolutely meaningless (15:58).

However, here in verse two your believing is in vain not if the resurrection is not true, but if the proof of the resurrection is unreliable and completely false. Either the Bible is a truth text or a master weaving of legends and unreliable stories.

The Grace of God that is with Me

The proof of the resurrection is the Bible itself. This is the good news of great joy which causes great joy for all people. And do you know what is found in this good news, in this great joy which causes great joy? Do you know what is found in the proof of the resurrection? 1 Corinthians 15:10. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me is not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” Three times in one verse is the word grace, the grace of God. What is the grace of God? It is the disposition of God to treat me better than I deserve.

And Paul says, “Take a look at me! I was the worst of the worst. My past is filled with terrible things. I even persecuted the church of God. I killed believers. But by God’s grace (his disposition toward me which I do not deserve) I am what I am.” The past cannot be ignored even in light of the present. But what does Paul see now? The disposition of God to treat him better than he deserves now and even when he was the worst of the worst. And what is that? “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

What is found in the proof of the resurrection, in the good news which causes great joy? The grace of God. His disposition toward you to treat you better than you deserve is not for nothing! In fact, having been made alive together with Christ because of the resurrection, God’s disposition toward you to treat you better than you deserve is with you for the rest of your days. “And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16).

[1] Charles Swindoll, Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations and Quotes, pages 491-492.

[2] https://thinkingitthrublog.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/what-is-the-greatest-proof-of-the-resurrection/

Grieved to the Heart

The month of March is known for madness. It is called the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. In all the madness each year, there is one thing that never changes; there are winners and there are losers. And this year with every loser, there was one consistent story line: tears. Nearly every team that lost had players that either cried or did not cry. Some players did not cry because their lives, their location and most importantly, their bank accounts would soon be drastically different. It is called the NBA. Other players though cried not so much because their team lost, but because they felt the sorrow of the situation. These young men felt what the loss meant to their team, their coach, their school and their community. And it was just a basketball game.

I am praying that God would give me tears. My aim from Genesis 6:1-8 is that God would give us tears.

Reading Slowly and Carefully

The book of Genesis is easy…if you do not ask questions. Genesis 6:1-8, particularly the first four verses, out of all the verses in Genesis cause the most questions. And any question asked about these verses just gives rise to more questions. It is really good to ask questions, just do not miss the one thing that matters. The questions of this text all revolve around the designations of “sons of God,” “daughters of men” and “Nephilim.” So, we want to ask a question. How are we to handle or understand these first four verses? The answer: slowly and carefully.

A most repeated word throughout all eight verses is the word man. It occurs eight times; four times in Genesis 6:1-4 and four times in Genesis 6:5-8. Each time it is the same Hebrew word – adam. It is used to refer to a man or to mankind in general. Here it is used to refer to mankind in general. Central then to the entire text is mankind or humanity.

The Multiplying

Notice verse one. “When man began to multiply on the face of the land.” A phrase that many translations include here are “and it came to pass.” This is indicating that something of importance happened when man began to multiply on the earth. As Moses gets ready to tell what happened as the population grew, he first tells us that daughters were being born. Now, this is interesting for previous to Genesis 6:1 the birth of sons was emphasized (cf. Genesis 4 and Genesis 5). Here though the emphasis is squarely on the birth of daughters. When we put Genesis 4 and Genesis 5 and Genesis 6:1 together, as man began to multiply on the earth, there were sons and there were daughters. And the daughters were attractive.

Here is when the questions begin. Notice verse two. “The sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive.” But first pay attention to the word saw. The last time this word was used the outcome was not good. The question that comes up is, who are these sons of God? The better question is, how are we to understand what is meant by “sons of God”?

I take sons of God to be an expression for men in general. There are two reasons. First, as the New Testament traces the genealogy of Jesus Christ, it does so all the way back to Adam, the first man. In doing so, Adam is called a “son of God” (Luke 3:38). And in Genesis 4 and in Genesis 5 there are two genealogies, both of which begin with Adam. Secondly, the genealogy in Genesis 5 begins with this reminder: “When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God…When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image” (5:2-3). Men and women are made in the image of God. Therefore, each man and woman is an image bearer. And being in God’s likeness at the very least means that we are made to have spiritual relationship with God. And the repeat of this in Genesis 5:2-3, after the Fall, tells us that this is still a real possibility not just for Adam but for every generation. So, contextually it seems that sons of God can be connecting back to the reminder of Genesis 5:2.

Since sons of God can be an expression for men in general, we must then treat daughters of man in the same manner. Daughters of man can be an expression for women in general. As it is used in Genesis, there is not really a negative connotation to it (cf. Genesis 24:13). But notice that the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive.

The Marriages

When these men saw that these women were attractive, they took as their wives any that they chose. In verse two, highlight the words saw, attractive and took. Notice the progression. Men saw what was attractive and took it. The same progression was last used in Genesis 3:6 and the result was disastrous. “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6-7a). The same words for saw, attractive and took are all used here and not used again until Genesis 6:2. Genesis 6:2 seems to be hinting that this seeing what was attractive and taking it, was not good. This hint is further enforced in verse three.

“Then the Lord said.” Pause there. The word then (or and) is connecting what will come next to what was previously said. In other words, Genesis 6:2 is the cause of Genesis 6:3. “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh; his days shall be 120 years.” This causes more questions. His days shall be 120 years is an expression used some ten times over in the previous chapter. Each time it was in reference to a man’s length of life (cf. 5:27). The question is when? When will the length of man’s life be just 120 years? We really do not see man in general living less than 120 years until the book of Joshua. This therefore seems to be applying to Genesis 6 alone.

However, this is in response to verse two. Why is God responding this way to verse two? It may be because of three little words. Verse two is talking about marriage. Men saw women that were beautiful and took these women as their wives…any they chose. There is something being said about marriage here. In Genesis 4 we got a glimpse of marriage in a culture that had no sense of God. Marriage was being redefined. A man named Lamech took wives, any he chose. It seems here that perhaps as culture progressed there was a lack of regard – any, meaning without regard – for marriage. In Malachi 2:15, God has something to say to men who treat marriage, their marriage without any regard. “…the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring” (Malachi 2:14-15).

The Mighty Men

Keep in mind what has happening with these marriages, even if the marriages are held without any regard, without any sense of God. There were offspring. This leads to verse four. We meet a people called Nephilim. Another word for Nephilim are giants. These “giants” are on the earth as man began to multiply on the earth. These same “giants” are also on the earth later, post Genesis (Numbers 13:33). Nephilim is a very particular word, a particular word to describe a certain kind of person. These are men held in high regard. The end of verse four describes them as mighty men, men of renown. Pay attention to the word mighty. It literally means “one who magnifies himself, behaves proudly, a tyrant.”

These four verses are describing the world culture. The last time in Genesis that marriage is mentioned it was mentioned briefly. And the last time it was mentioned Moses then turned immediately to tell us about the Fall. There is a similar pattern here. Here we are told briefly about marriage and then Moses will immediately turn to tell us about the Flood. And in this same world culture where marriage is being held in low regard, Nephilim are held in high regard. Marriage is held in low regard, without any sense of God. Man is held in high regard, magnifying himself without any sense of God. Contrasted with these mighty men is Noah, a man who holds God in high regard. He is a man who walks with God.

All That Matters is What God See

The multiplying, the marriages, the mighty men are all taking place on the earth. Do not miss what really matters. What really matters is what God thinks. This is Genesis 6:5. “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually [all the time].” All that matters is what God sees. Part of what really matters, do not miss it, is how sin corrupts the heart of a man, the heart of a woman. Verse five is God’s assessment of verses 1-4. And what he sees is the heart of man completely and totally corrupted by sin.

Notice what is said next. Yes, God will send judgment. It is called the global flood. And yes, in that judgment God is also providing salvation from the flood in the way of an ark. But do not miss verse six. “And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” Here God is feeling the sorrow of the situation. And notice that in two consecutive verses we get a glimpse of two hearts – the heart of man and the heart of God. And it is God who is grieved to the heart. Why? I read it put this way: the human heart is “the only temple he delights to fill.”[1] This has been true since the Fall. Your heart is the only temple God delights to fill (see John 14:23).

Grieved to the Heart

You may be wondering what this has to do with Palm Sunday. I hope that this is what you are wondering. As Jesus was making his way to Jerusalem, he rode on a young donkey. He was making his way to Jerusalem to be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon, flogged, killed and on the third day rise from the grave. But as he made his way to do that, several days prior, he rode on this donkey and crowds came to greet him with palm branches. They were yelling and rejoicing, “Hosanna!” They were so happy. And Jesus just kept riding. As he drew near the city on Palm Sunday, he looked over it and wept (Luke 19:41). He wept not because he would suffer and die. No, this would be accomplished, everything written about him in the Old Testament would be accomplished. No, Jesus wept because he saw their heart. The word wept in Luke 19:41 means to grieve loudly with tears. He wept because their heart did not know what really made for peace. He wept because their heart was the only temple he delighted to fill. He felt the sorrow of the situation and went to accomplish victory so that all would know this delight in them.

And so, I pray that God would give me tears. Tears for those who do not know what really makes for peace – Him. Tears for those who do not know what really makes for delight – Him. Tears for the moments that I neglect to see that it is Him who makes for delight in me. And may we shed not only tears but do something for those who are blind to this joy. “For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

[1] R. Kent Hughes, Genesis: Beginning and Blessing, page 123.

But He Was No More

I started living as a dad on a Saturday and have continued to live as a dad now for 14 years. Actually, I have lived as a dad for 14 years and 165 days, plus four leap days. More importantly, I have lived as a dad for 5279 days…and counting.

Genesis 5 is a genealogy. It immediately follows Genesis 4. Why is this so important? It is because the last half of Genesis 4 is also a genealogy. It is the line of Adam through his son Cain. This line, the descendants of Cain, contributed massive cultural advancements that enriched all of life. But then there is the genealogy of Genesis 5. The genealogy of Genesis 5 is the line of Adam through his son Seth. This genealogy mentions no contribution of cultural advancements of any kind; no mention of human accomplishments. However, this genealogy, the line of Adam through Seth is, just simply, so much more.

We must pay attention to how Genesis 4 transitions into this genealogy. It is Genesis 4:26. “To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.” This transition is a distinctive critical moment in history when people began to proclaim the excellencies of God. This distinctive critical moment in history happened in the line of Adam through Seth. And it happened when Seth became a dad.

And He Called Him Enosh

When Seth became a dad, he called his son Enosh (4:26; 5:6). Notice the name Enosh and notice the importance of his name. His name simply means “man.” Enosh is just a man, a mortal man. His name may have some importance to all of Genesis 5. In reading through this genealogy there is a pattern and this pattern is not found in the genealogy in Genesis 4. Let’s think of this pattern for now as a father and his son. And throughout this pattern, we read about how old a father was when his son was born. The youngest of these fathers was 65 when his son was born (5:15; 21)! The oldest of these fathers was 500 when his son was born (5:32)! Included, too, is the age of a father when he died. The father who lived the longest, lived to be 969 (5:27)! His name was Methuselah.

Throughout, there are three inescapable words: and he died. Adam died. Seth died. Enosh died. Even the oldest of these fathers, Methuselah, died. The length of life is fascinating, yet the reminder is “at death, life is short for all.”[1]

Notice the name Enosh and notice the importance of his name. His name does not only mean man or mortal. It also means ordinary. I love that. Enosh was ordinary. There are ten men in this genealogy. Each man would say, “life is short.” And each man was wonderfully ordinary. I want us to get that; these were ordinary men! And I would guess that their wives were as ordinary. But here, what is important, really important, is to notice what ordinary men did because life was short.

The Days Lived as a Dad

Do not forget the pattern. The pattern throughout this chapter is a father and his son or a father and his children (other sons and daughters are mentioned as well). In this pattern is something extraordinary. Let’s refer to it as part of the big idea. And what we are about to see is true of every single dad mentioned in these verses. It is the years lived as a dad. It begins with Adam. “The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years” (5:4). It is true of Seth. “Seth lived after he fathered Enosh 807 years.” It continued through Lamech. “Lamech lived after he fathered Noah 595 years.” With each father, Moses details for us the number of years each man lived as a dad. Instead of thinking of years, think of days. Enosh lived 294,555 days as a dad. Moses is counting the days each of these men lived as a dad (cf. Genesis 5:5). Why is that? I have counted the number of days I have lived as a dad; 5279 days and counting. Why is that? It is because the days lived as a dad count. The days lived as a dad matter. This is true of every single one of us whether you are a dad or not, a mom or not. The days you live matter. The days you live count. Each day matters. So, how? How do these days that I live matter?

Listen to Psalm 71:17-18. “O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.” Remember how this line of Adam through Seth is described. It all started with ordinary Enosh. “At that time people began to proclaim the name of the Lord.” This is a genealogy of ordinary men proclaiming the excellencies of God. How do your days matter? It is about proclaiming the excellencies of God to the next generation, for the next generation.

Two Ordinary Men

This is especially seen in just two ordinary men. The first is a dad named Lamech. With Lamech there is a break in the pattern. He has a son named Noah. And when Noah is born this dad says, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and the painful toil of our hands.” Remember that Lamech is an ordinary man who is part of a genealogy known for having proclaimed the excellencies of God. So, what is Lamech doing here? He is proclaiming the excellencies of God at the birth of his son. Lamech knows Genesis 3:15-19. Lamech knows what God said to the serpent, to Eve and to Adam. Lamech knows that God has a plan. Lamech knows that God is the God of promises. Lamech knows that God is mighty to save. And Lamech knows that God is in charge. Lamech is looking to God to fulfill his promises. And he sees that his son will be a relief to his generation.

Notice how Genesis 5:1 begins. “This is the book of the generations of Adam.” There is another genealogy that begins the same way. It is the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1; one other genealogy is found in Nehemiah 7:5). Interestingly, in Matthew 11:28 are these words of Jesus. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…you will find rest for your souls.” Jesus Christ is a descendant of an ordinary man named Noah. However, Noah will give relief or rest to his generation, but how? I want us to see how Noah responded to not just the words of his dad, but how Noah responded to his dad not wasting being a dad. Listen to how Noah responded in Genesis 6:9. “Noah walked with God.” Walking with God gives rest to your generation. This is how your days matter.

And He Walked With God

There is only one other man in Genesis, who it is said, too, that he walked with God. It is actually said twice of him. It is Noah’s great-grandfather. Noah’s great-grandfather walked with God. His name was Enoch. And it is not just that Enoch walked with God, but Moses tells us when Enoch walked with God. Look at Genesis 5:22. “Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years.” It was after he became a dad that Enoch walked with God. And he walked with God for 300 years, that is 109,500 days. And understand this, walking with God “described not the high point of his life, but his entire life for three hundred years.”[2]

What then does it mean to walk with God? I remember a missionary who once said that the Bible has more to say about walking than it does about running. “Walking is a graphic word picture of the spiritual life.”[3] The Bible uses phrases such as walk before God or walk after God that have to do with right living, being blameless (cf. Genesis 17:1; Deuteronomy 13:4). But this is walking with God; this is more intimate. To walk with someone does mean that you both have to be going the same direction. Your lives must be going in the same direction. This walking is speaking of a close relationship with God. Enoch knew God. God knew Enoch. This walking is about sharing in the life of God (cf. Ephesians 4:20-21).

Turn to Hebrews 11:5-6. “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now he was commended as having pleased God.” Pause there. There was a day that Enoch was no more, but before that day he was commended as having pleased God. When was that? It must be in this statement in Genesis 5:22. He walked with God. What is that? Read the rest of Hebrews 11:6. “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”  Walking with God has something to do with living to please him; it has something to do with believing that God is and is who he says he is; it has something to do with believing God, his Word; it has something to do with seeking him. “His walk with God was rooted in the deepest intimacy with God; he knew God. His walk rested on great faith; he believed in God with all his heart. And he believed that God would judge and reward all who live. So, he preaches the righteousness of God.”[4] This gives relief to your generation and the next! Does it not seem reasonable that there is a connection to Enoch walking with God and Noah, three generations later walking with God?

But He Was No More

Enoch never saw death. God took him. If walking with God gives relief, rest to your generation, then why would God take a man who is walking with him? The best I can understand it is this: it gave encouragement to his generation and the generations to come. Encourage means to give courage. This taking of Enoch put courage in his generation and the generation to come, to not give up (see 1 Thessalonians 4:18). How do your days matter, walking with God, for the next generation? Realize, these ten ordinary men lived among a culture that had no sense of God. Noah, a man too who walked with God, lived at a time that God called a time of great wickedness (6:5). And part of the encouragement is that even in a time of increased wickedness, you keep walking with God. This gives relief to generations!

Job’s perspective is helpful here. “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin is thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:25-27). This is Enoch. This is walking with God.

At the beginning of chapter 5, we are reminded that “God created man (male and female), he made him in the likeness of God” (5:1). Men and women are image bearers and being in his likeness at the very least means that we are made to have spiritual relationship with God. And the repeat of this here, after the Fall, tells us that this is still a real possibility. Here are ten generations who knew the reality of the close, personal relationship with God. They knew sharing in the life of God. They walked with him. (See John 17:3; John 3:16; John 8:12; 1 John 1:7).

I know I have wasted days. I know I have wasted days as a man and as a dad for the next generation. I have the next generation in my home. The best I can do for the next generation is walk with God. As I read this chapter, I stand face to face with Enoch of whom it is said walked with God. This was not the highlight of his life, but of his entire life.

My prayer then is that I would be one whose heart is so passionately in love with the promised glory of heaven that I feel like an exile and a sojourner on the earth. That I would be a person who has so tasted the beauty of the age to come that the diamonds of the world look like marbles.[5]

This is found in Christ alone. Listen to him. Be taught by him. Walk with him, not for ten minutes a day or a mile a day, but all throughout the day.

 

[1] R. Kent Hughes, Genesis: Beginning and Blessing, page 119.

[2] R. Kent Hughes, Genesis: Beginning and Blessing, page 121.

[3] http://www.fcfonline.org/content/1/sermons/022596M.pdf

[4] R. Kent Hughes, Genesis: Beginning and Blessing, page 121.

[5] http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-binds-the-hands-of-love

The Tale of Two Cultures

The year that my parents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary they spent a week in Paris. It was during that week that Lisa and I received the news that we were to be first-time parents. And so, I did what perhaps a lot of soon to be dads do. I prayed…for a son. In preparing for a son, I bought an Indiana University onesie and Superman underoos. When we were expecting our second child, I did what perhaps a lot of soon to be dads do. I prayed…for a son. And with both children neither the onesie or the underoos were ever used. And with both children God did not give me sons. He gave me something so much better. He gave me two daughters. At each of their births as I held them for the very first time, the same thought and feeling rushed over me. I am so blessed to be this little girl’s dad.

Genesis 4:17-26 is not about daughters, although one daughter is mentioned by name (cf. 4:22). These ten verses are about sons, two sons in particular. It starts with a son named Cain and a son named Seth. These are the sons of Adam and Eve. Cain is their firstborn. Seth is their thirdborn. However, Genesis 4:17-26 is not about Cain and Seth, two sons of Adam and Eve. It is though about two sons.

Listen to Genesis 4:17. “Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.” And now pay attention to verse twenty-six. “To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.” The word also in verse twenty-six is there to tell us that something is being emphasized. Emphasized here is that Seth too had a son. Cain had a son and Seth too had a son. Genesis 4:17-26 is about two sons; the son of Cain and the son of Seth.

These are the two verses to pay attention to – Cain had a son, but so did Seth. This does matter, but why does it matter so much? Both with the birth of Cain’s son and with the birth of Seth’s son there followed a critical distinctive moment. Did you notice the similarity of the names of these two sons? Cain named his son Enoch. Seth named his son Enosh. These two sons are cousins. These two cousins are of the same generation. They are the third generation of the Adam and Eve family tree. Their names further emphasize that there is a parallel between verse seventeen and verse twenty-six.

The Critical Distinctive Moment

But what of this critical distinctive moment? Look at Genesis 4:17. The first thing we are told is that Cain had a son and named him Enoch. Here is the critical distinctive moment. “When he [Cain] built a city.” Pause there and just make this small note. The Hebrew word for city here means “excitement.” “When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.” Why is this a critical distinctive moment?

Look at Genesis 4:26. Seth becomes a dad and when he becomes a dad he names his son Enosh. And here comes the distinctive moment. “At that time.” Pause there. At what time? It is at that time of the birth of this boy Enosh. “At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.” And now put it all together. After the birth of Cain’s son, Cain builds a city and names it after his son. After the birth of Seth’s son, people began to call upon the name of the Lord. Two sons who introduce at this point in history two critical distinctive moments.

What is Wrong with this City?

Pick up again with verse seventeen. What is wrong with this city? What is wrong with naming a city after your first-born son? Perhaps nothing. However, verse seventeen is the start of something, something really big. This is the first record and name of a city in Scripture. Where is this city located? It is located in the land of Nod. This is when verse sixteen becomes really important to verse seventeen.

Look at Genesis 4:16. Cain settled in the land of Nod, and where is Nod, “east of Eden.” I thought it was interesting that Moses in verse sixteen reminds us of Eden. What is the reminder of Eden? The garden that is in Eden. The word Eden means “delight,” so the garden in Eden was a garden of delight. It was not a garden of delight because it was well watered. It was not a garden of delight because it was surrounded by gold. It was not a garden of delight because it was filled with every kind of fruit bearing tree. It was a garden of delight because God was there. And God placed man in this garden. So, when we read of Cain settling in the land of Nod, east of Eden, the location of Nod is not so much what is important. It is the first part of verse sixteen that brings everything into view. Cain sinned and God showed immeasurable grace to Cain that he might repent and enjoy God. Instead, Cain chose to go “away from the presence of the Lord.” Cain then marries. He starts a family. He builds a city. And he names it after his son. Genesis 4:16-17 at least demonstrate a movement away from Eden and all that it represented.

But this is an exciting city! It flourishes. It firsts flourishes with people (4:18). It then made advances in agriculture. The founder of ranching is in this city (4:20). This city made advances in music. The father of entertainment is in this city (4:21)! This city made advances in industry (4:22). This city was a place of excitement because here was the birth of massive cultural advances that enriched all of life.[1] And think how far we have come since Genesis 4! The internet; the smartphone; the smart tv; the Amazon Echo; Chipotle; we are still enjoying massive cultural advances that indeed enrich all of life. So, what is the problem here in this first flourishing city?

The Song of Lamech

In a sense, it is with Lamech, the great-great-great-great grandson of Cain. We are told about marriage in this flourishing culture. Lamech has two wives, from A to Z (Adah which means pretty and Zillah which means sweet voice). From the beginning marriage is to be between one man and woman. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife (singular and feminine), and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; cf. Jesus’ words regarding marriage in Matthew 19:5-6). And very near the beginning we see a redefining of “traditional” marriage. Notice that it did not take too long to do so. But still this is not the problem.

Lamech loved violence and he loved to sing about it (4:23-24). He killed a man, a young man for merely bruising him. And he bragged about it to his two wives. This is a frightening man! He even dared anyone to do anything about it (see 4:24). But still this is not the problem. The cultural advances were not the problem. Each enriched life! The disintegration of marriage was not the problem. The love of violence was not the problem. Did you notice that from verse seventeen through verse twenty-four that there was not a single mention of God? There is the problem. The root problem of this culture was that there was no sense of God. There was a lost sense of God and it really began when one man decided to turn away from enjoying God’s presence. The naming of the city after Enoch was the first sign that this city and this culture will have no sense of God in it. There is the critical distinctive moment.

What does “no sense of God” mean? It means no knowledge of God. It means no acknowledgement of God. It means ignorance. And when there is ignorance there is ungodliness (see Lamech). “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). This lack of knowledge is due to a rejection of knowledge.

The Tale of Two Cultures

But then there is Seth and his son Enosh. Beginning with verse twenty-six through chapter five is a culture that stands in stark contrast to the culture of chapter four. There is no mention of any cultural advancements. There is no mention of any human accomplishments. This is not to say that there were not any accomplishments or that this culture did not benefit from the cultural advances of Cain’s posterity. It is just to say that the culture of chapter four is distinguished by a lack of any sense of God. Whereas with the birth of Enosh comes a culture that calls upon the name of the Lord. Before we get too high on the culture from Seth and Enosh, keep in mind that by the flood this culture would only boast 8 people who could be called righteous, those that know and fear and treasure God.

Notice verse twenty-six. This is when people began to call upon the name of the Lord. What does that mean? First, notice the words “call upon.” This can be used to mean “to pray to; to praise or to proclaim.” The word proclaim made me think of 1 Peter 2:9. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” So, what does “call upon” mean? It means worship and worship is to proclaim the excellencies of God. And just notice what follows “call upon.” “To call upon the name of the Lord.” The name of the Lord simply means who he is; his name is who he is; his name is the sum of who he is. Who did this culture know God to be? God was known to them as Creator. God was known to them as the God who forgives. God was known to them as the God who redeems, restores, reclaims. God was known to them as the God of grace, mercy, justice, and patience. God was known to them as the God with a plan and the God of promises. God was known to them as the God who is in charge. God was known to them as the God who is mighty to save. This is proclaiming his excellencies.

So, the exhortation to us is to be a people who live with a sense of God. This is to be the culture in our homes and in our churches. The warning is, in part, that we also live in a secular culture with a lot of noise and distractions; no sense of God. This is not about picking on the American culture. This is a warning to us to not get caught up in the noise and distractions. The noise and distractions lead to living without a sense of God. And the result is no living at all.

What then do we do? Listen to 2 Peter 1:3. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” The divine power that leads to godliness is given through the knowledge of God.[2] This is intimate, close, personal knowledge.

1. Read. Read. Read! Read, eat, soak up the revelation of who God is. This is the Scriptures. Read really good, rich books that proclaim the excellencies of God. “But beware of wasting your time on theological foam and suds.”

2. Ponder! Ponder! Slow down. Have some intentional quiet time. Shut off and shut out the noise and distractions. Take time to think about the Bible. Ask questions. Keep a journal. Study the Bible and think through it with humility and wonder and joy.

3. Discuss. Discuss. Be a part of a group, a small group, with your family that cares passionately about the truth. Not a group that likes to talk and raise problems. But a group that believes there are biblical answers to life problems, cultural issues, etc.

4. Worship is daily and Sunday matters.[3]

[1] R. Kent Hughes, Genesis: Beginning and Blessing, page 113.

[2] http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/ignorance-guarantees-ungodliness

[3] Ibid. Applications 1-3 come from desiringgod.org. Application 4 is mine.