Daily Distinctives, February 19, 2018 – The Cause, Conduct, and Character of Noah

In my last devotional, we read, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Demonic angels had apparently polluted the human bloodline and the world was on a date with death, judged and found wanting, the LORD would destroy that which He created. Mankind made its choice and chose to follow after darkness rather than light, but one man and his family were spared. From this one man, the world would once again thrive. Recently I watched a movie about a guy named Noah, who built an ark, but after watching the movie I realized it was not the Noah in the Bible, although Hollywood no doubt tried to pass it off as a biblical account. Now, I am an avid movie watcher and even if I weren’t a believer I would not recommend the movie. It was kind of lame, although to its credit there were some neat effects. To put it to you bluntly, it came out on Netflix or something like that I think, and I didn’t re-watch it. That says a lot coming from me as I really, really, like watching movies. I will still watch Top Gun (talk to me Goose) and G.I. Jane every time they come on our cable channels. But what I find interesting about the story of Noah and the Ark is that there have been several eye-witnesses that have claimed to have seen it on Mt. Ararat (more on that later). What I love the most about the account of Noah and the Ark, is here you have a man who has found favor in the eyes of the LORD. A godly man, no doubt, who is told in essence that the fate of the world now rests in his hands to create something the world had never seen for an impending flood. Not only had it never rained before since the dawn of time, but he would be tasked with preaching about something no one had ever heard of and his preaching ministry would be an utter failure. Sign me up, right?

So, let’s dig in and see what we can discover from the balance of Genesis 6.

[Gen 6:9 NKJV] This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.

The first thing that we encounter in this part of chapter 6 is yet another genealogy. Now, before you tune out on me it is a very short genealogy as the rest of the world will ultimately and utterly be destroyed in a cataclysmic storm of global and biblical proportions. Like many pop artists of our time who are known by one name such as Prince, Cher, Madonna, etc… This was the mother of all deluge and is known simply as, “The Flood.” But before we go through that account let’s examine this first verse in greater detail.

The genealogy begins with Noah and it says that Noah was a just man. Now, this is interesting because we read in the New Testament that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and in Ecclesiastes 7:20 we see that there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin. This verse is not suggesting that Noah was not a sinner in need of a savior, but that he was found worthy of being a sinner who would be used by God to be a savior. Noah, like any other man who has ever breathed the breath of life, save Jesus Himself, needs Christ. But what we find in Noah is a type or a foreshadowing of the Christ to come. It was not by anything Noah could do to earn his salvation, it was by grace through faith that he too would be saved. Still, God saw in Noah something unique that was lacking in the rest of the world. Noah was just in his cause, his conduct, and his character, but we see here that he was also perfect in his generations. Now some commentary states that this means that Noah was exemplary compared to his contemporaries, to which I would agree, still others make the argument that this deals with the state of genetic purity, that is, his bloodline had not been contaminated by the devious works of the sons of Men, which we discovered in my previous devotional. There is a danger with this line of reasoning as it has been the fodder of extremist groups such as Aryanism, white supremacy and several identity cults who use this as support to teach racial purity and a warrant for isolation, segregation, end even persecution as a part of their nonsensical diatribe. We know, of course, that God condemns marginalization, and respect of persons which threaten the unity of the church from within and without (Colossians 3:11). And while it may be true that from a genetic perspective, Noah’s bloodline was free of contamination of the demonic variety, this by no implies that there was a bloodline after the flood that was of any lesser worth.

Next, we understand how it is that Noah was found to be just in the eyes of God, and it is from this that we can know and understand how we too might be found righteous in the sight of our Creator. In the last part of verse 9, we read that “Noah walked with God.” The fact is that Noah found favor in God’s eyes because he had a close relationship with God. To walk with God means to enter into a loving, and heartfelt relationship with God through faith in His son Jesus Christ. While Noah did not know of Jesus by name, he knew that God would send a deliverer. To Noah, God was everything. Because of his relationship with God, he found himself set apart from the wickedness of the world. His life was in stark contrast to the way that others who lived with no regard to God or His mandates. Noah lived in a perpetual state of fellowship with the LORD and was continually in worship. His relationship with God made the man. It drove his conduct in matters concerning the way that he ought to behave in a culture that runs counter to godliness. It forged in him a character that can only result from daily bathing in the presence of the LORD, and finally, it became the center of his cause or purpose in life as he would live in obedience to the calling to which he was called by God.

As believers today we are to follow in Noah’s footsteps if we are to be found righteous in the sight of the LORD. This means that we first accept the perfect and atoning work of Christ who died for us, in repentance when our sin is revealed to us and that we walk with the LORD, just as Noah did. We read in Hebrews 10:22

[Heb 10:22 NKJV] let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Noah had a true heart in full assurance of faith, and as we continue in this study we will get the privilege of seeing how Noah’s faith earned him an eternal place in the Hall of faith (Hebrews 11:7), numbered amongst those who by all rights are worthy of commendation as their faith brought honor and glory to the LORD our God.

Next, we see the line of Noah, the descendants of Noah through whom one would carry on the bloodline that would ultimately lead to Mary who gave birth to Jesus our LORD and Savior.

[Gen 6:10 NKJV] And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Now, this is where genealogies can get interesting. We see here that Noah had three sons prior to God sending the flood. What I have discovered is that while Shem is mentioned first in the list, he was not the firstborn of Noah. Generally speaking, when the Bible lists names it does so in order of significance rather than age. It was actually Japheth who was first born, and Ham the youngest of the three. As an interesting aside, we discover that Shem was the father of all of the sons of Eber, where get the name Hebrew from. We also get the word Semite or Semitic which means: relating to or denoting a family of languages and people groups that includes Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic peoples.

As we will discover, LORD willing, Noah blessed Shem above his siblings and it would ultimately be through Shem that the Messiah would come. Interestingly, I also discovered in my studies that Shem’s son Elam, who would become the father of the Elamites would later settle East of Mesopotamia, while Ashur, another of Shem’s sons is the most likely candidate for the Assyrian people. And as I learned more it seems that most of the major kingdom of the known world in Old Testament times were largely defined and named after the sons of Shem. But even Noah’s other sons had a piece of the action as Japheth is as the father whose descendants lived to the north and west of Israel after the fall of Babel. And Ham, the youngest of the brothers would bring the offspring that would bring us the land of Egypt, and Hams children would father the Arabians, Africans, and Canaanites. And so, as one would expect, the progeny of Noah’s children would be destined for great things, since, after all, they were the only humans on the earth after the flood.

And there is so much more  I could talk about with regard to this that I could spend several days, but instead of spending the bulk of my time today on the genealogy of Noah, I ‘d like to move on and focus on what God does next.

[Gen 6:11 NKJV] The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.

With the curse after the fall of mankind in the garden, we see that not only the people but the whole of creation had become corrupted by sin. When I read this I am reminded of times in the Bible where God decimated the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. But we do not see a global disaster of this magnitude again until we come to the account in Revelation. But in each account, we see that the world becomes more and more corrupt to the point that violence is mainstream. Does that sound a bit familiar in our day in age?

[Gen 6:12 NKJV] So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.

God surveys his creation and takes the spiritual pulse of the inhabitants of the world and witnessed the corruption. The word here used for corrupt is the picture of bad fruit, rotten and full of stench. This once beautiful creation had been marred by sin and to God it was rotten. All the flesh on the earth with its sinfulness wafted up to heaven and God was repulsed by the stench of the world and of humanity who bathed themselves in sin rather than righteousness. With the exception of Noah, God did not find one thing on the earth that pleased Him any longer.

[Gen 6:13 NKJV] And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

By God’s grace mankind was allowed to live extended lives even after the pronouncement of the curse. God promised that the consequences of sin are death, and the method by which He brings about the execution of His promise is, by all rights, His to determine. In our last study, I mentioned in Genesis 6:3 God had set a countdown to extinction, and the time had nearly come for God to put an end to the evil and violence that had manifested itself because of sin on the earth. And as I discussed in the previous devotional, God, always faithful to His WORD spares a remnant by which He would bring the Savior of the world. It is to the one found righteous, Noah, that God would extend yet again His hand of grace. And so God commands His faithful servant to undertake a great project and commands Noah saying:

[Gen 6:14 NKJV] “Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.

I love how God personalizes this project for Noah. He says, “Make for yourself an ark…” It was as if God “somehow knew” (lol-of course God knew) that it would be Noah’s Ark. That is, belonging to Noah and for Noah. Now, whether or not there had been boats or smaller versions of the ark prior to this command is debatable. But I like to think that when God said to make yourself an ark, that Noah went for his tools without even knowing what an Ark was. At this point Noah only knows that the world is going to be destroyed, it still had not been revealed to him the method by which God would destroy it. Can you imagine Noah thinking, “Okay God, whatever you say, although if I were going to destroy the world, doing it with a giant boat would not be my first thought.” But God gives Noah the blueprint anyways. The use of pitch or tar, as Noah will discover later is to keep it afloat.

[Gen 6:15 NKJV] “And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark [shall be] three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.
[Gen 6:16 NKJV] “You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it [with] lower, second, and third [decks].

As I read this I thought about other times in the Bible where God lays out blueprints. For example, the Temple was by God’s design and He provided a set of blueprints for its construction. An ark that would come later, the Ark of the Covenant, God also provided blueprints. But the last and most important blueprint God provided was shaped like a cross. And so God gives Noah instructions for a cross of sorts that would deliver mankind from what was to come.

I read a lot about the Ark in my studies and I won’t go into all of the details here, but the ark itself was likened unto a giant shoe box. If you were to lay a three-story building on its side you would begin to get an idea of the magnitude of this great undertaking which will be Noah’s pinnacle project of a lifetime. I thought I might share what one of my commentaries on the subject noted about the ark and its discovery in modern times. Apparently, the remains of the Ark have been petrified through time and can be found on Mt. Ararat. This is surprising to me because surely a discovery this great would be front page news, or so you might like to think. But according to the commentary perhaps God is waiting to reveal the Ark again as the end of days draws nearer to its conclusion. Here are some interesting reports that I wanted to share with you which can be found in their original context here.

i. In 275 b.c. Berosus, a Babylonian historian, wrote: “But of this ship that grounded in Armenia some part still remains in the mountains … and some get pitch from the ship by scraping it off.”

ii. Around a.d. 75 Josephus said the locals collected relics from the ark and showed them off to his very day. He also said all the ancient historians he knew of wrote about the ark.

iii. In a.d. 180 Theophilus of Antioch wrote: “the remains [of the ark] are to this day to be seen … in the mountains.”

iv. An elderly Armenian man in America said that as a boy, he visited the ark with his father and three atheistic scientists in 1856. Their goal was to disprove the ark’s existence, but they found it and became so enraged they tried to destroy it, but could not because it was too big and had petrified. In 1918 one of the atheistic scientists (an Englishman) admitted on his deathbed the whole story was true.

iv. In 1876 a distinguished British statesman and author, Viscount James Bryce, climbed Ararat and reported finding a four-foot long piece of hand-tooled timber at an altitude of more than 13,000 feet (4,300 meters).

vi. Six Turkish soldiers claimed to see the ark in 1916.

vii. In the early part of this century, a Russian aviator named Vladimire Rokovitsky claimed the discovery of Noah’s ark. He was stationed in southern Russia near the Turkish border and Mount Ararat. As he tested a plane he and his co-pilot flew over Ararat and discovered on the edge of a glacier what he described as a boat the size of a battleship. He said it was partially submerged in a lake, and he could see there was an opening for a door nearly 20 feet (7 meters) square, but the door was missing. Rokovitsky told his commanding officer and an expedition was dispatched to find the ark and photograph it. The report was forwarded to the Czar, who was soon overthrown and the photos and the report perished.

viii. In 1936 a young British archaeologist named Hardwicke Knight hiked across Ararat and discovered interlocking hand-tooled timbers at a height of 14,000 feet (4,600 meters).

ix. During World War II two pilots saw and photographed something they believed was the ark on Mount Ararat.

x. There have been many more recent attempts to find and document the ark, but they have been hindered by politics and surrounded in controversy.

It does not come as a surprise to me that this discovery has not been officially made when you consider its location and the hostility towards the Judeo-Christian faiths. Such a discovery would lend credence and merit to the biblical account of the flood and would run counter to the world which argues there is no scientific evidence of a flood like that mentioned in Genesis. The fact that its location is a hindrance, and the climate, perpetually covered in snow is one reason why there are not more searches for the Ark. Combine these natural and political barriers you need also consider the current archeological mindset that views any search for a “mythical” artifact would be pseudo-archeology and those who pursued such a futile discover should be shunned by the archeological community as a whole. Still, before we go looking for the ark it first has to be built, so let’s get back to that. God speaking to Noah says:

[Gen 6:17 NKJV] “And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which [is] the breath of life; everything that [is] on the earth shall die.

Noah, at this point, is probably thinking to himself, “ohhh, so that is what the boat is for.” Notice here that God says that He would bring the floodwaters on the earth Himself. God is taking ownership of the problem. It is, after all, His creation to do with as He pleases. I like what Matthew Henry says on the topic:

God has many arrows in his quiver, and he may use which he please: as he chooses the rod with which he will correct his children, so he chooses the sword with which he will cut off his enemies.

That God could have used any method of destruction but chose a flood could speak to a number of things, and while we do not know the mind of God on this matter morbid curiosity comes into play. Such is my mind so I did a little research on the topic here in Popular Science and from what I gathered this would have been a more merciful death than other options that God could have exercised. Be advised that this next paragraph, though from a scientific resource, is still somewhat difficult to read because of its graphic nature.

A swimmer, or a person whose presence of mind enables him to keep his head above water for some time before drowning, passes through a different experience. But, although data are wanting on this point, it is probable that his final agony is short and painless. His physical exertions, kept up for a long time in the hope of relief, together with his exposure to cold and wet, and the lack of nourishment, combine to reduce his strength very rapidly, and it is not altogether a conjecture to suppose that a single draught of water into the lungs, when he finally gives up, is enough to bring on unconsciousness. His suffering, too, is chiefly mental, but he experiences the additional discomforts of exhaustion, cold, and hunger, if his struggle for life is a prolonged one.

But we have to keep in mind that while any death is horrific, this death came by those who chose to sin against God who was not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). We need also be mindful that God is a God of Justice. Justice requires that a wrong is paid for according to the degree to which it was committed. The world had turned sour and was full of violence that was worthy of a sour and violent demise. Even so, God extended His mercy by making it the lesser of punitive measures from which He could have dealt this fatal blow. Beyond that, He extended His grace to the remnant as we read in the next verse.

[Gen 6:18 NKJV] “But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark–you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.

I often wonder if this ark that God commanded Noah to make for himself included those additional occupants out of necessity, or if they too were as faithful to the LORD as Noah was. I am sure that Noah must have been faithful to share the love of God with his own family and it likely rubbed off on them too. But there is nothing in this passage to indicate that they were as pure in the sight of the LORD as Noah was. I suppose that we will find out more on this as we move on in later studies. I don’t think it was out of necessity because God could have started over just like He did with Adam. But that is not what we will find moving forward.

The important thing to capture in this text is that God says He will establish His covenant with Noah and that their lives would be preserved by the ark. And as we dig deeper into this study of Noah and the Ark we will see some really neat things as the LORD allows. One of the first things that we see here is that Noah is not only to be a master shipbuilder, but he is also an ordained zookeeper!

[Gen 6:19 NKJV] “And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every [sort] into the ark, to keep [them] alive with you; they shall be male and female.
[Gen 6:20 NKJV] “Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every [kind] will come to you to keep [them] alive.

So Noah is instructed to take two of every sort of everything living of all the flesh into the ark. This explains why God commanded Noah to build the ark the way he built it. Can you imagine being in a vessel surround by animals of all kinds and no ventilation? I think drowning might be preferable. But God is a master of the details. And this should be a lesson for us too. Just as God gave Noah blueprints for the ark, taking all of the details into consideration, He has given us a blueprint for living that brings into account all the details as well. It is called the Bible. You have likely heard the acronym for the Bible which is Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. I like that because the Bible is truly the blueprint or template for righteous living.

And so Noah is ordained a zookeeper to keep the animals alive. Notice here too that God tells him to bring male and female of everything after its kind. In an age where gender lines have been so deceitfully blurred to accommodate political agendas and cultural preferences, God did not create it to be this way. He intended for man and woman to be together in His blueprints for human sexuality. I have loved ones who I genuinely care for that have chosen this alternative lifestyle as their preference and though I cannot be silent for the sake sensitivity it by no means diminishes the love I have for them. Truth be told, it would be hateful not to share what God has revealed as truth. As a Christian, I must stand up for what God says is right and shun what is evil in His sight. Now,  I will say their sinfulness is just as egregious in the eyes of God as mine is, and so to that end, we are all equally culpable. But what I have discovered, without going off on a tangent, is that sexual sins are more sinister to the LORD because when committed by a believer, they bring the Holy Spirit into the very act (1 Corinthians 6:18). It would appear that I am going off topic here, so let me reel myself back in. We are talking about animals here, but I find an object lesson in kinds here and wanted to put that on the table for thought as well.

[Gen 6:21 NKJV] “And you shall take for yourself of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather [it] to yourself; and it shall be food for you and for them.”

Now, not only is Noah and ordained shipbuilder and zookeeper but a farmer. Can you imagine how much food Noah would have to have in order to feed his family and the remnant of all the animals that were to be on the ark with him? I don’t remember the figures, but I recall teaching this at one point to a group of students and researching the tonnage of food that would be necessary to sustain them 40 days and 40 nights and then for some point beyond that as they waited for the water to recede and dry land to appear. I can’t readily find that sermon, but I know it was a whole lot. But if you know me, I had to at least look. What I did manage to find was pretty interesting and I will leave you a link to review if you want some added study. Check out Answers in Genesis to learn a little more about how Noah likely tended the animals during their voyage.

And so coming to the last verse in my devotional today we see the one thing that Noah did that was most commendable above all things. It is the one thing that separates believers from those who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyles (borrowed from D.C. Talk monologue intro to the song What If I Stumble). It is the essential requirement that all believers who desire to walk with the LORD must adhere to.

[Gen 6:22 NKJV] Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.

Prayer: LORD God, thank You for this day and for giving me the time and desire to study Your WORD. In it, I have found all that I need for life. I pray that You would forgive me for my sinfulness and that You would direct me to live according to Your will. LORD, if it were possible I would lay my will down before You and surrender it. That would certainly be the easier route, but You have asked me not to surrender my will but to conform it to Yours. So help me LORD to do that. I am a man and I have as much, if not more guilt to bear than any of my own contemporaries. But thanks to You I have been delivered from the weight of my sin. I will to praise You with my life. Help me to let my spirit reign over my mortal flesh that I might walk with You without compromise. Thank You, LORD. Father, I want to lift up my pastor and his family to you today as You prepare him to send them on their travels. I pray that You would align their path to Yours and that they would experience a divinely orchestrated plan over the course of the next few days with Your fingerprint unmistakably imprinted upon them. Let it be obvious to all who bear witness of what seems to be a circumstance to see, without a shadow of a doubt, that You are the sovereign Master of all things. You do all things well and this is no exception. LORD, I also pray that You would minister to my cousin Darrell who is still in the hospital. That You would heal his body. I thank You that You were able to get his dad and family to him to comfort him in his affliction. Lastly, LORD, as I prepare for my own surgery I ask that You would set Your hand upon me and my surgeon so that I can have relief from my own infirmity. I am thankful to You LORD for my brothers and sisters in Christ who are joining me in my prayer today. It is in Your name that I pray. –Amen

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