Daily Distinctives, February 20, 2018 – Rain?

I really love going through the Bible and asking probing questions as I go along. Many times I find the answers to my questions in subsequent pages. Some of the questions that I ask, I already know the answers to but pose them for the sake of my reading audience to generate thought. But as I go through the passages of Scripture I find new nuggets of wisdom sprinkled throughout that are new revelations to me. To be clear, there are no new revelations as it pertains to the Scripture, and so if anyone ever says that they have a new revelation be wary of them and what follows. If they mean, by saying new revelation or discovery, that it is new to them, that is a different story. I say all of this because there are so many times that the LORD uses my studies to provide me with deeper insights and personal application. The more I read, the more I learn. More often than not, I am presented with flaws in my previous theology. That is, I find ideas or passages that I had interpreted one way, only to discover, based on the whole of Scripture that my thinking was in error. That has not happened in recent days, but I share this to encourage you to seek out for yourselves the truth of the subject matter I am discussing. I would recommend that you take a page from the Berean belivers who in Acts 17:11 we learn:

[Act 17:11 NKJV] These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily [to find out] whether these things were so.

While I will do my very best to stay true to the WORD of God, I am a fallible man and I do make mistakes. Even so, I try to offer up the best of my discoveries. When it comes to Scriptures like those we find in Genesis, there is plenty of room for speculation. In these instances, I will try to preface the content of my devotionals by pointing out things that are my opinion, compared to widely accepted, or allude to commentary as I write. Hopefully, these will prove me to be trustworthy in my efforts to teach His WORD faithfully. Above all, keep in mind that this devotional is more for me than it is for you. I have opened this up publically so that others might benefit from the work I do here. but at the end of the day, this devotional is for my personal growth and understanding. Still, I welcome you to join me as I dig deeper into His WORD daily.

That said, I want to begin my devotional today by looking at the first part of Genesis 7. In my last study, I talked about the imminent judgment God placed on mankind which condemned the world to death. Prior to that, we looked at what I like to refer to as the “Countdown to Extinction” (which I borrowed from the title track of an album by Megadeth) as the hourglass is turned and mankind had only 120 left on the planet before the flood. And so coming to chapter 7 the LORD again speaks to Noah.

[Gen 7:1 NKJV] Then the LORD said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen [that] you [are] righteous before Me in this generation.

Instantly, I find an answer here to one of my previous questions from yesterday’s devotional as to whether or not it was a matter of necessity for God to allow Noah’s wife, son’s and daughter-in-laws to enter the ark. What we see in this verse is that the LORD invites the new first family into the ark, that is, Noah and all of his household. Notice here that the verse continues by saying again that Noah was righteous in his generation. Now, I like to think that the time Noah spent building the Ark that there was some degree of family involvement. I doubt very seriously that Noah was alone in this epic project. I can imagine that during these days Noah was a faithful minister to his family, teaching them about God and sharing his relationship with the LORD. While we are not told specifically whether or not Noah’s family were believers and righteous as Noah was righteous in God’s sight, it is very possible that they too had a relationship with the LORD. I need only look to my own family dynamic to see that as go the shepherd, the sheep will follow. Now, I know too that there may be some, as is the case in my family, who have a leader who loves the LORD, yet do not have an individual faith in God themselves. Still, I make every effort to teach my children the ways of the LORD and have no doubt that Noah did the same.

[Gen 7:2 NKJV] “You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that [are] unclean, a male and his female;

Now, I find this passage of Scripture interesting for several reasons. First, the number of animals that Noah is commanded to bring into the ark is seven. Throughout the Scriptures we seven representing a number of perfection. We get this from the very book we are studying today. God completed His work of creation in seven days. But notice that God commands him to bring in clean animals. It would appear that by this point there were some dietary laws already established, otherwise, how would Noah know which animals were clean and which were not. The third point amazes me because I personally find it difficult to identify the gender of some animals. We found a stray cat last year and brought it home. For the longest time, I thought it was a female cat because I did not see the tale-tale sign identifying it as a male. It was only after the first veterinarian appointment did we realize she was a he. Which leads me to my final observation, that the animals were to be in pairs; male and female. Now, I won’t belabor this point simply because I already addressed it in my previous devotions.

[Gen 7:3 NKJV] “also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth.

Here again, God gives the directive for Noah to bring in seven of each of the birds of the of the air, male and female. The obvious question is how did he catch all of these critters. Many speculate that God cause caused the animals to come to Noah. Up to this point, we don’t see anything that would lead us to believe this, but perhaps a later study might fill in this detail for us. It would make sense that during this time, even after the fall, that the animals were subject to Noah because he was righteous. Other studies I have read on the matter say that the reason most animals fear man is because of the fall and not like the Jungle Book would have us to believe saying that fire was the what caused animals to fear mankind. But what I also see here is that the purpose of Noah bringing in the birds was to keep the species alive on the face of the earth. You might be saying, well they can fly so it is likely that they would not drown. To which I would respond, fly they might, but not for 40 days and 40 nights. By bringing them on the ark they had a chance to live.

[Gen 7:4 NKJV] “For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made.”

And so the last 7 grains of the hourglass was upon mankind. God promised that He would cause it to rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights at the end of the seven days. Rain? Wait…what? What is rain? Well, we know what it is, especially if you live here in the Houston area. But you have to think about it from Noah’s perspective. We don’t have any reason to believe that up to this point that Noah or any other person on the face of the earth had ever experienced rain. We simply are not told. In fact, this is another first mentioned in the Scripture; rain. Now, we are not told specifically if Noah and his family went directly into the ark on day one and waited for all the animals to come, or if during that seven day period they finished packing, so to speak. But we do see that Noah again was faithful.

[Gen 7:5 NKJV] And Noah did according to all that the LORD commanded him.

Again, as believers our role is one of obedience. To have faith is one thing, but the evidence of our faith is action through obedience. I love how James puts it in James 2:14-20

[Jas 2:14 NKJV] What [does it] profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
[Jas 2:15 NKJV] If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
[Jas 2:16 NKJV] and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what [does it] profit?
[Jas 2:17 NKJV] Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
[Jas 2:18 NKJV] But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
[Jas 2:19 NKJV] You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble!
[Jas 2:20 NKJV] But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

Noah did as he was commanded, that is, he was obedient to the LORD’s commands and in doing so he showed his faith by works. It was not the works that saved him, although building the ark was the tool by which he was saved. Had he not had faith, he would have been numbered amongst the rest of the world who was to perish in the flood. And so, works are merely a reflection of one’s faith and not the faith itself; however, if there is no faith, then there is no reflection.

[Gen 7:6 NKJV] Noah [was] six hundred years old when the floodwaters were on the earth.

As I alluded to in previous studies, the lifespan of humans was still very long. Noah was 6oo years old at the time of the flood. This is neat because it gives us a way to measure some sort of timeline. As we saw in the genealogy of Noah, he lived for some time after the flood as well. These little nuggets of information help us to better understand the history and important events that occur in the Scriptures. They give us a reference point in many cases.

[Gen 7:7 NKJV] So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood.

Now, when I was a kid we did not have a whole lot of money. We often outgrew our pants before we grew a paycheck. And so I would run around in what we called, “high-waters,” that is, pants that were shorter than my legs were. Kids will be kids, right? So, you can imagine the taunts I would get from other kids, like, “Who do you think you are. Noah?” or “expecting a flood?” Had I been Noah, and the edge of my robe started to get wet, I would have gone looking for higher ground too. And that is what we see here.

[Gen 7:8 NKJV] Of clean animals, of animals that [are] unclean, of birds, and of everything that creeps on the earth,
[Gen 7:9 NKJV] two by two they went into the ark to Noah, male and female, as God had commanded Noah.

Again, we see here that the animals were obedient to Noah and came aboard the Ark. I could imagine at this point it would not have taken too much prompting to get the animals on board. With this crazy water stuff falling from the sky and the waters beginning to rise, I think it would have been somewhat instinctual for the animals to find higher ground. It is suggested by some commentators that the firmament was what was breaking apart to form the rain and it came down hard. I have been through a few hurricanes in my life where it seems to rain non-stop for seven days or more, but this had to have been much worse than a hurricane as far as the number of inches of rainfall. It was probably more like feet of rainfall and this was only the first 7 days.

[Gen 7:10 NKJV] And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth.

It would seem that things were just getting started here. This initial flooding would not be over for another 43 days if I did my math correctly. I can imagine the world in a state of chaos as the waters began to rise. Surely there were some who knew Noah and mocked him, as my childhood protagonist did to me when I wore pants with hems three inches above my shoes. I mean here is a guy that was likely the fodder of many a joke. But when the rain began to fall and the water began to rise, I wonder if Noah said, “I told you so.” I don’t get the sense that he did. It would seem that if he had the attention of God and was a righteous man, that his heart probably broke for the lost just as God’s did. I am sure that Noah reached out to as many as he could to warn them of the impending demise of humanity. But, let’s put ourselves in their shoes for a moment. Isn’t it likely that they thought the guy was nuts? How many of us have seen the guy on the street corner wearing the sandwich board sign that reads “The End is Near.” I mean this is the kind of thing that had lead to no end of ridicule for the prophets. Here in the face of judgment, they had to have known then that Noah was telling the truth.

[Gen 7:11 NKJV] In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

Again, we have a little chronological reference given here. Being the curious type that I am I did some research which lead me to a bunch of math that I have neither the time or attention span to put into my own words. If you like you can check out the answer I found here on Hermeneutic Stacks. Now,  I probably did not come to the conclusion that these guys did, but what I got out of it is that this verse proves that life begins at conception. But I digress. I am sure one day this verse will supply me with one of those “Aha” moments that always seem to amaze me when I read the Scriptures.

[Gen 7:12 NKJV] And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights.

And so, as I alluded to earlier, the rains had only just begun, and when we come to verse 12 we discover that it rained for another forty days and nights. Now some of my commentaries suggest that the number 40 has some numerological significance in the Bible representing completion. If that’s the case then when I turned 40, I was done! LOL. But seriously, one of the commentaries that I look at for summary says:

The number 40 becomes associated with testing and purification, especially before coming into something new and significant. This is seen in Moses’ time on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:18, Deuteronomy 9:25), the spies’ trip to Canaan (Numbers 13:25), Israel’s time in the wilderness (Numbers 14:33, 32:13), Elijah’s miraculous journey to Sinai (1 Kings 19:8), and Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness (Mark 1:13).

I can see why the commentator would tie these together and so, I have no argument to the contrary. I am sure there is a lot more I will discover about biblical numerolgy as I journey through the Bible this time.

[Gen 7:13 NKJV] On the very same day Noah and Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark–
[Gen 7:14 NKJV] they and every beast after its kind, all cattle after their kind, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, every bird of every sort.
[Gen 7:15 NKJV] And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which [is] the breath of life.

I know that this repetition of events is a common instrument used in many of the Old Testament writings. Often times the author will use this method to reinforce an idea. I had a pastor tell me once that if God took care to say something twice, it would do us well to pay twice as much attention to it. For God to allow this statement to made twice must be significant. I may be wrong, but I think perhaps it could have to do with keeping naysayers from saying the first time was an error in copying, arguing that it would be impossible for two of every animal to get onto this big boat. I can’t be certain on this point, but it seems a logical conclusion for me.

Recently in our men’s group at church we have been watching a series by Andy Stanley, son of the famous preacher Charles Stanley. Now, I noticed that Andy tends to be very repititious in his teaching style, saying the same things over and over in different ways, putting in different lights, explaining concepts to drive home a point, (ahhh…see what I did there?), in order that he might reach people who recieve what he is saying in a manner that is relevant to them and the way they think. I get hung up on this sometimes when I am reading the Bible. I am like, “Okay already I get it…fear not…how many times are you going to say that in one book…the only thing I am afraid of is that you are going to say fear not again.” Of course, I am only joking around here. I really do see the value in it.

[Gen 7:16 NKJV] So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the LORD shut him in.

I have always been fascinated by this verse because I have made a few rafts in my lifetime and getting those suckers to float is a challenge. But here we have a three story building on its side with a gaping hole in it. How is this thing going to float? And who is going to close the door and seal it shut? And then we have verse 16 which settles the question forever in my mind. It says that the LORD shut him in. The LORD is the one who seals the deal. Once the door is shut it is is not coming open until the LORD says so.

We see this in many ways throughout Scripture. The LORD always settles matters in His way, according to His schedule. One only need look to the book of Revelation to see a number of seals that could only be opened by the One who was worthy to break the seals and open the scrolls. But as we look at life in general we see a God who sends his prophets, then sends the rains, always giving us chance after chance to repent and be saved. But there is coming a time when the LORD will seal the door of the ark, so to speak, on all humanity. Will we be inside or left to drown?  We read in the book of Revelation 6:10 how the martyred saints cry out to the LORD from beneath His throne for vengeance. But God is so patient with us isn’t He? Let me close with this, and I know I quote this often, but I think it answers the question quite succinctly:

[2Pe 3:1 NKJV] Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in [both of] which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder),
[2Pe 3:2 NKJV] that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior,
[2Pe 3:3 NKJV] knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,
[2Pe 3:4 NKJV] and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of creation.”
[2Pe 3:5 NKJV] For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,
[2Pe 3:6 NKJV] by which the world [that] then existed perished, being flooded with water.
[2Pe 3:7 NKJV] But the heavens and the earth [which] are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
[2Pe 3:8 NKJV] But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day [is] as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
[2Pe 3:9 NKJV] The Lord is not slack concerning [His] promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Alas, when God says enough is enough, you can be sure that it will have been enough. My heart breaks for those who refuse the call of the LORD. The thought of unsaved souls perishing should burn in our hearts so intently that we might actually try to do something about it. We know it is the Holy Spirit that saves, but if God can use Noah to build a boat, surely He can use us in some way to save some. Like the Apostle Paul we should serve others in such a way that our manner of living might cause them to question the issues of salvation. We should be diligent and purposeful about it. Our motives should be pure as was Paul’s when he said in 1 Corinthians 9:23

[1Co 9:23 NKJV] Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with [you].

Prayer: LORD God, praise be to Your name for all that You do. Thank You for using Your children to accomplish many great things on this earth. From scientific discovery to innovation, believers have always been at the forefront of every known discipline. To be used by You to fulfill Your will on this earth is all that we could ever ask for. LORD, I find it a privilege and a pleasure to be used by You even if sometimes it seems simple and mundane. I know that You are working in and through me for Your glory and my edification, that I might be strengthened in my faith as I draw ever near to You. I praise You first because of who You are. In light of this I see how small I really am. And then I am completely blown away to know that I am created in Your image. As we talk about pride in our Bible study over the course of the next few weeks, I pray that You would enlighten me and allow me to see areas in my own life where pride is an issue. It troubles me to know that pride is such that often the wearer of it does not realize he has it. Still, I praise You because Your WORD is a mirror that helps us to see things that we cannot see otherwise. Father, I pray that You would use this season to rescue me from any area of life where pride is an issue. LORD, Your servant Noah could have boasted in the boat he made, but I know he did not. Let my boast be in You alone. I love You LORD, and I committ myself to You. Use me as You see fit. Finally, LORD, I pray for my pastor. I know that when tomorrow comes, should You tarry in Your return, that he will be sending his family out of state. Be with them LORD in their travels and may they serve as Your mouthpiece while they are away, bringing glory and honor to You through those in the medical community that might be influenced by lives lived for You. Help my pastor to put any worry that he might have aside, trusting in You that You have already mapped out the most wonderful way to recieve honor and glory through his life. I pray that even during the difficult times You would gently remind him that You are soveriegn even in the most tumultous times. May You recieve glory through his testimony. It is in Your name that I pray. –Amen

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