The Awful Tower (Genesis 11:1-26)

In the year 2155, the Universal Translator will be invented. At least, that’s what Star Trek predicts. First used as a spying device, the ultimate goal is to bring differing peoples together in peace. In reality, we’re way ahead of schedule. Have you opened Google Translate recently? With it, you can point your phone’s camera at any text and have it immediately translate to over 100 languages. In 2015 the BBC wrote an article saying Google Translate is “bringing us closer to ‘a world where language is no longer a barrier’…It offers a glimpse of a future in which there are no linguistic misunderstandings – especially ones that change the course of history.” By the way, when that article was written, Google offered interpretation in just six languages.

Linguistic barriers can be funny or frustrating. Every now and then, they’re downright dangerous. Just ask President Jimmy Carter, who had to endure multiple serious linguistic misunderstandings during a 1977 visit to Poland. At one point, his interpreter changed “I left the United States this morning” into “I left the United States, never to return.”

It’s been estimated that there have been “something like 31,000 languages” in human history. But, for the first 2,000 years of human history, there was only one. We saw in our last study that the descendants of Noah spread out in different directions, according to their clans and languages. How did that change from one language to many happen? It happened in Babylon.

But this is more than a story about words, it’s a story about hearts – man’s heart and God’s heart. Sadly, despite God’s revelation, despite the judgment of the flood, we find our forefathers once again setting their sails away from God, rebelling against Him, refusing to acknowledge Him. And, as we’ve seen so many times already, God will respond to man’s sin decisively and mercifully.

Genesis 11:1 – The whole earth had the same language and vocabulary.

The text gives us the impression that a vast number of people are involved in what follows. The opening phrase “the whole earth” wants us to think big. In the end, the judgment of Babel impacts everyone, or very nearly everyone. Some believe that those who were righteous were not judged and so, the suggestion is that the original human language is one we might identify as Hebrew and that it was retained through the Babel incident. We’re not explicitly told. But Moses wants us to know that this was not an isolated situation involving only a few people.

Genesis 11:2 – 2 As people migrated from the east, they found a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there.

In Genesis, movements to the east coincide with separation from God. Adam and Eve went out of the Garden to the east. Cain moved to the east after he murdered his brother. At the end of his life, Abraham will send Isaac’s half-brothers far to the east. And so we already have a clue as to the spiritual mentality of this group. On top of that, in chapter 10 we were told that this region and this city was founded and dominated by that notorious character, Nimrod.

The people settled in the valley of Shinar. This covers parts of Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Kuwait today.

This group decided they were not going to go and fill the earth, as God had commanded. Instead, they stop and settle, relatively close to the land of Ararat where the Ark had landed.

Genesis 11:3 – 3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make oven-fired bricks.” (They used brick for stone and asphalt for mortar.)

We see here a unified, cooperative effort. They spoke to each other. They join together in the work. And we learn some things about what they were doing. First of all, they had a certain level of technological sophistication. They weren’t just making sun-dried bricks, but kiln-dried bricks. Charles Ellicott points out that, being covered and joined with this slimy bitumen tar, these buildings would be “virtually indestructible.” In that area, there were no stones suitable for building cities and temples in that region. The people demonstrate significant ingenuity and effort in this project. One commentator writes: “[These people] were content to face great and arduous difficulties.” This style of Babylonian construction has been verified by archaeology, by the way.

Think for a moment about the incredible unity of these people. They were united in heart, united in focus, united in effort. Of course, most of us know what’s coming, and it’s not a good thing. So we have an opportunity to learn something here about unity.

Derek Kidner writes: “[The tower of Babel] makes it clear that unity and peace are not ultimate goods: better division than collective apostasy.”

This is important because it always sounds good to call everyone to unity as a goal unto itself. All the people of the world. All the churches of a city. The idea is if we were simply unified all would be well. But that isn’t true. Who are we unifying with? And what are we unifying about? Sometimes unity is a terrible mistake. In 1 Samuel 8, all the elders of Israel come together to demand a king. That was a mistake that, ultimately, led to exile. In the future, all mankind is going to rally together in powerful unity one day…the Day of the Lord. When Jesus returns all the nations of the world will unite to fight against them and will be destroyed by the King of kings.

Today, when we hear calls for church unity, it can seem prickly or hard-hearted to not immediately agree and sign on. But the particulars matter. The goals matter. The members matter. If you have three churches wanting to “unify” together at some event and one church says all roads lead to heaven, another says you can only be saved if you speak in tongues and the third says you’re saved by grace through faith plus nothing, it’s a problem. How can two walk together unless they agree?

In verse 4 we see what exactly they were trying to make and why.

Genesis 11:4 – 4 And they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let’s make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered throughout the earth.”

Their plan had 3 parts: First, a city. Second, a tower, which we would call a ziggurat today, which was kind of like a pyramid, but multiple levels stacked up, each being smaller than the one below it, with a pagan temple on top. Third, the city would be fortified, probably by a strong wall, to keep them safe. Safe from what? From scattering. From the very thing God had asked them to willingly do. This is open rebellion against God.

Your translation may say the tower’s top would be “in the heavens.” These builders weren’t trying to get to the moon, though undoubtedly the structure was quite high. No, they wanted to make a heavenly dwelling place for themselves. Lucifer had said, “I will ascend to the heavens, I will set up my throne above the stars of God.”

Their motivation for building this tower and city had two parts: First, they wanted to make an immortal name for themselves and, second, we see that they wanted to keep themselves secure.

In this rebellion we see the foolish naivety of the human heart and how sick it is with selfishness. First of all, they convince themselves that they will achieve some sort of immortality, making a name for themselves by piling up a bunch of mud bricks. “If we do this, our legacy will live forever!” There’s an incredible amount of pride here. They are given over to what the Bible calls selfish-ambition. A desire to put self first, to elevate self over others. Ultimately, it’s a worship of self.

The question is: Does any of this mentality live in us? Our culture is infected with the idea that fame is a virtue and that it should be the pursuit of your life. In 2017, one poll showed that 75% of children ages 6 to 17 want to be YouTubers when they grow up. Why? I don’t mean to generalize and say that every content creator is absorbed with pride. But the Bible consistently warns us that pride, selfish-ambition, is a deadly sin that separates us from God and leads to ruin.

That doesn’t mean that Christians can never build anything. Sometimes God asks His people to build great things! Think of the hospitals and universities built by Christians. Gutenberg’s printing press. The Wright Brothers were committed Christians. Think of Solomon’s temple.

The question is one of motivation. We can see the contrast clearly right here in Genesis. Narratively speaking, we’ve had two major building projects presented to us. This tower and Noah’s ark. The tower is being made in challenge to God, in an effort to bring fame to humans who want nothing to do with righteousness. The ark was something God asked His servant to do. It was a huge undertaking – Noah would be inventing a new technology, but one that would change the world.

So, the Bible does not tell you that you can not be well known or create something that has far-reaching, long-lasting impact. But what is the goal of your pursuit? Is it self? Then you are going the way of Lucifer. The other way is to be led by God – to be directed by Him into your endeavors.

Before we move on, notice this: They feel the need to build a fortified city so that they “won’t be scattered.” By who? By God? Maybe. What’s more likely is that we’re seeing their supposed unity is just a facade. They’re working together now, but they can foresee a time when they will crumble into warring factions. That’s what always happens when people live selfishly. It’s true of nations, it’s true of churches, it’s true of marriages.

So, what did they want? They wanted lasting unity and they wanted a measure of immortality. The tragic irony is this: They would’ve gotten those things if they would’ve gone God’s way. You see, they settled for a surface level unity, as long as their selfish pursuits were aligned. But, even they knew it wasn’t going to last. And they settled for a cheap substitute for real immortality. “Well, our name will live forever.” All the while, God wanted to give them true unity and true immortality based on Him. That’s still His offer to mankind today.

Genesis 11:5 – 5 Then the Lord came down to look over the city and the tower that the humans were building.

Obviously God already knew everything that was going on. But God loves to come and be among us. It’s always an interesting political gamble when our leaders come and tour a disaster area. George W. Bush was savaged for merely flying over New Orleans. Many felt he hadn’t come soon enough and he didn’t come near enough. Here we have God Almighty coming down to tour the disastrous enterprise at Babylon. Some suggest that the Lord didn’t actually come down in a Pre-Incarnate form, but that He just “looked” from heaven, but that’s not what it says. We’re given the image of Yahweh, the great Builder, the Master Craftsman, visiting the construction site. Did they know He was there? I think it’s very possible. He had face-to-face talks with Adam and Eve and Cain. He had shut Noah into the ark. He will share meals with Abraham. Imagine the Lord walking the grounds, seeing the progress of their blasphemous sedition. Looking not only at the columns and beams, but into their hearts. Here is His assessment:

Genesis 11:6 – 6 The Lord said, “If they have begun to do this as one people all having the same language, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.

From the beginning we’ve seen that human beings are a special creation. We have been equipped to accomplish what no other creature can. At the time of Genesis, top speed was maybe 30mph on a horse for a short distance. Today, humans routinely travel faster than the speed of sound. The Apollo 10 crew traveled at a speed of over 24,000mph. At Babylon, the weapons were spears and arrows. Today man can split atoms and engineer biochemical armaments which can wipe out whole populations. Consider the leaps humanity has made inventing things like the photograph, batteries that hold energy, the International Space Station. Now, mankind is working on things like time distortion and teleportation. It seems impossible, but scientists have successfully teleported photons from one point to another 869 miles away.

Of course, there are things that are impossible for mankind. The Bible says as much. But Genesis is a testament to just how unique we are in God’s creation. Sadly, our potential is not only found in technological discovery, but in our capacity to run from God. That is the context surrounding the Lord’s assessment here. And, having seen it, God reacts.

Genesis 11:7 – 7 Come, let’s go down there and confuse their language so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”

Why did God do this? Was it because He felt threatened in some way? Was it because He was jealous that they were building a tower for themselves instead of for Him? No. His action here is, in fact, one of mercy. In response to their unbridled rebellion He did not kill them as He did in the flood. He did not blind them, as He will at Sodom. No, instead He simply gave them a new language to speak. But He also gave them other people with whom they could communicate. He left them with other people. This was a significant judgment, but a merciful one.

Genesis 11:8 – 8 So from there the Lord scattered them throughout the earth, and they stopped building the city.

We see that God had a will (that people scatter throughout the earth), man tried to stop that will, but that God’s will was still done. They had wanted so badly to not be scattered, but God accomplished it anyway. Why? To spite the people of earth? No! God has done this for our good!

Acts 17:26-27 – 26 From one man he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. 27 He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

God does not command us because He needs an ego boost. All His ways are good and are for our own good. When we resist, the result is ruin and waste and destruction and confusion.

Genesis 11:9 – 9 Therefore it is called Babylon,,, for there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth, and from there the Lord scattered them throughout the earth.

You may be thinking: “Wait, I thought God is not the Author of confusion…” That phrase comes from 1 Corinthians 14 where God is talking about the way Christians conduct themselves in church services. The phrase there might also be translated “God is not a God of disorder but of peace.”

God does employ confusion at times in order that people might turn to Him in faith and seek His wisdom. Jesus spoke in parables in order that the clear understanding would only be discovered by those who came to Him in humility and sought His wisdom. God says that He purposely works to “confound the wise” of this world in order to reveal salvation through the cross.

There’s a sad contrast here. In Hebrew the word Babylon means “confusion.” That’s what pride led to. But in Babylonian literature, the word means, “The gate of God.” What a wide gulf there is between God’s truth and man’s opinion. Between how we see ourselves and how things really are.

We can see something else significant in this story: Is God determining every event on earth or is He only reacting to what humans do? Some theologians see God as being meticulously deterministic. That He, essentially, forces, every single thing to happen that has happened. After all, there are “no rogue molecules” in the universe (they say). Others in the camp called “open theism” suggest that though God is all-powerful, “His knowledge of, and plans for, the future conditional upon our actions.” That, “though [He is] omniscient, God does not know what we will freely do in the future.”

What do we see in this text? We see, clearly, that God responds to human behavior, changing the course of their trajectory so that they won’t end up in a particular place, but that, simultaneously, that which He has willed from the beginning is still done despite the freewill rebellion of humanity. Neither determinism nor open theism adequately listens to what the Bible actually says. The Bible distinctly demonstrates that human beings have been given a genuine free will and that God is not only all-powerful and all-knowing, but that He will have His way.

That idea is driven home to us in the next set of verses, we’ll just read them quickly, which come as a sort of post-credits scene after the drama of Babel.

Genesis 11:10-26 – 10 These are the family records of Shem. Shem lived 100 years and fathered Arpachshad two years after the flood. 11 After he fathered Arpachshad, Shem lived 500 years and fathered other sons and daughters. 12 Arpachshad lived 35 years and fathered Shelah. 13 After he fathered Shelah, Arpachshad lived 403 years and fathered other sons and daughters. 14 Shelah lived 30 years and fathered Eber. 15 After he fathered Eber, Shelah lived 403 years and fathered other sons and daughters. 16 Eber lived 34 years and fathered Peleg. 17 After he fathered Peleg, Eber lived 430 years and fathered other sons and daughters. 18 Peleg lived 30 years and fathered Reu. 19 After he fathered Reu, Peleg lived 209 years and fathered other sons and daughters. 20 Reu lived 32 years and fathered Serug. 21 After he fathered Serug, Reu lived 207 years and fathered other sons and daughters. 22 Serug lived 30 years and fathered Nahor. 23 After he fathered Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and fathered other sons and daughters. 24 Nahor lived 29 years and fathered Terah. 25 After he fathered Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and fathered other sons and daughters. 26 Terah lived 70 years and fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

This is more than just names and ages. We saw Man’s Rebellion, then God’s Reaction, and here we have The Perpetuation of God’s Plan to save all those rebels. Once again, we see that He does not primarily do so through fortifications, but through families. His primary work is not in high towers, but in humble hearts. And that will be the continuing theme for the rest of the book as we look at the family of Abraham.

So, we close, having seen this scandalous rebellion and God’s necessary but merciful judgment. Summing up this example we’re reminded of our Christian calling to unity in Christ, toward His goals and that God leads us on a path of humility, not selfish-ambition. Paul lays it out in Philippians 2:

Philippians 2:2-5 – 2 make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others. 5 Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus

Footnotes & references available at

70 Kids And Counting (Genesis 10:1-32)

The Porteau-Boileve family can trace their lineage back to the 1,600s. In 2012, 4,514 Porteau-Boileves got together and set the Guinness World Record for largest family reunion.

Tonight we’ll read about the growing families of Shem, Ham, and Japheth. God asked them to fill the earth and spread out over it. We’ll see that they did that very thing. They didn’t come together in a reunion, they scattered far and wide. This text is referred to as the “Table of Nations,” and it’s a remarkable document. Scholars point out that this record of descendants, clans, and nations, is historically unparalleled. One non-Christian scholar writes:

“The Table of Nations is…unprecedented in the ancient Near East…sketch[ing] a panorama of all known human cultures – from Greece and Crete in the west through Asia Minor and Iran and down through Mesopotamia and the Arabian peninsula to northwestern Africa. This chapter has been a happy hunting ground for scholars armed with the tools of archaeology.”

But this is more than a list. Woven through these names is a story about God accomplishing His plan in the midst of generations and migrations. There are so many ways He could do what He wants to do, but time and again He demonstrates that His choice is to use persons like you and me to make good on His plans and promises.

Genesis 10:1 – These are the family records of Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. They also had sons after the flood.

In these genealogies, we will see 70 names listed. 14 from Japheth, 30 from Ham, and 26 from Shem. These don’t include every child that was born to each person – no daughters are listed, for example. More likely what is given here is a list of the “principle nations” during the time of Moses. The Bible Knowledge Commentary describes this table as an explanation of political, geographical, and ethnic affiliations. This is significant when we remember that God’s plan for salvation was predicated upon calling out a specific people from the nations of the world, from their culture, from their religions, from their norms, and doing a new thing with them. It will happen through the line of Shem, from which we get the term semitic people. But first we start with Shem’s brother Japheth.

Genesis 10:2-5 – 2 Japheth’s sons: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. 3 Gomer’s sons: Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. 4 And Javan’s sons: Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. 5 From these descendants, the peoples of the coasts and islands spread out into their lands according to their clans in their nations, each with its own language.

Genesis wraps up Japheth’s portion quickly because his line has the least to do with the main characters we’re getting to: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and his 12 sons. 76% of this book focuses on that family, and the Japhethites simply won’t figure into the story very much.

Generally speaking, these sons of Japheth became the Indo-European people. They were the forerunners of the Greeks, Persians, Russians, and others around the Black Sea, also the Romans and perhaps Spaniards.

A few names may have jumped out at you from the list: Magog is one of them. Magog and his brothers Meshech and Tubal, feature prominently in the end times prophecy of Ezekiel 38 and 39. Not those guys specifically, but their descendants, along with Gomer and some of Ham’s line (Cush and Put) will come down from the uttermost parts of the north to destroy God’s people, Israel, and they will be miraculously destroyed so that many nations will know the Lord.

You 23andMe fans might also have recognized the name Ashkenaz in verse 3. Maybe you’ve heard the term “Ashkenazi Jew.” How does that work if the descendants of Ashkenaz are Gentiles? There’s some dispute, but current consensus is that the sons of Ashkenaz ended up in the Rhineland region of France and Germany. In the Middle Ages, some Jews moved to that area where the descendants of Ashkenaz had settled. This is where Yiddish originated and was used until the 20th century. In this region, the Jewish people developed not only their own language, but their own customs and interpretations of Judaism. By the 11th century, it’s believed that only 3% of the global Jewish population belonged to these “Ashkenazi” Jews. In fact, DNA research has found that all Ashkenazi Jews alive today can trace their genetic heritage back to a group of just 330 people who lived about 700 years ago. Naturally, given their location in Europe, the Ashkenazi population was decimated by the Holocaust. But, today, about 80% of the global Jewish population are Ashkenazi – more than 10,000,000.

Genesis 10:6-7 – 6 Ham’s sons: Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. 7 Cush’s sons: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. And Raamah’s sons: Sheba and Dedan.

If you’re familiar with the Old Testament, more of these names stand out to you. The Old Testament centers around a certain family – the family of Israel – and these folks were their neighbors. And, by neighbors, I mean “archenemies.” Mizraim is an old term for Egypt. Canaan we recognize. From the line of Ham come nations who settled in southern Arabia and Africa, but more importantly: Egyptians, Babylonians, Philistines, Assyrians, and all the Canaanites. These are the rivals, the adversaries, the antagonists, and seducers who drew Israel away from the Lord.

They are exemplified by their first emperor, who we meet in verse 8.

Genesis 10:8-12 – 8 Cush fathered Nimrod, who began to be powerful in the land. 9 He was a powerful hunter in the sight of the Lord. That is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a powerful hunter in the sight of the Lord.” 10 His kingdom started with Babylon, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar., 11 From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-ir, Calah, 12 and Resen, between Nineveh and the great city Calah.

He wasn’t just a great elk hunter. The name ‘Nimrod’ means, “We will rebel!” From birth, it seems, he was seen as the man who would deliver the sons of Ham from God’s rule over their lives. From the beginning, the kingdom of Babylon built itself in opposition to God and His Word. That aim continues through the time of the Bible and into the last days. Nimrod founded this wicked city and then went on to found other wicked cities, like Nineveh.

When it says that he was a powerful hunter, commentators point out that the term used there is sometimes used for hunting men. He can form for us a prototype of the man we know as the Antichrist. A ruler with great might who establishes a kingdom in rebellious opposition to God and who destroys many lives. Bruce Waltke points out that Nimrod was a hunter, not a shepherd as God’s Deliverer would be. You see, when we don’t go God’s way, when we go man’s way (which is Satan’s way), it is the opposite of what is good and leads to life. We can see it in human endeavors, in human relationships, in human expressions. It may have the appearance of greatness from man’s perspective, but God’s perspective is the important one. What does Nineveh, Babylon, the human heart look like in His sight?

Now, some of you may have heard something else about Nimrod. His name comes up at Christmas time. Perhaps you’ve heard something like this:

Nimrod was another name for the first king of Babylon called Sargon I. He married a woman named Semiramis. Now Nimrod was cut down in the prime of life and then the pagan myth said he became a god. Semiramis then had a virgin birth and named her son Tammuz, who was god reborn. Tammuz was born on December 25th. And the religious tradition developed that Babylonians would put a yule log in the fire on December 24th, the next day it would have turned into an evergreen tree and then to celebrate Tammuz and Nimrod, you would put gifts beneath the tree for him.

Oh, and by the way, Semiramis is the same as Ishtar and everything you celebrate at Easter is pagan, too because the modern church has been “submerged under pagan superstition.”

Maybe you’ve heard that. I’ve heard that preached from really solid pastors. We’ve had people who used to come to the church move away and then get drawn into this and tried to ‘save us’ from celebrating Christmas and Easter with things like Christmas trees and Easter eggs.

Here’s the problem: It’s not true! These ideas come from a book called The Two Babylons written in 1853 by a guy named Alexander Hislop who believed that all this paganism had infiltrated the church. It’s been proven that his book is full of assumptions, misunderstandings, and outright fictions. This has been demonstrated by Christian author Ralph Woodrow who many years ago agreed so heartily with The Two Babylons that he wrote an updated book based on that work. But then Ralph started taking a second look at Hislop’s work. And he discovered that The Two Babylons wasn’t historical at all. For example: We have no idea if Nimrod was Sargon I. There’s no consensus or proof of that. Even if he was, Sargon and Semiramis weren’t married. They lived 1,000 years apart! In ancient myths and writings, Semiramis is never linked with Ishtar. All of it is fabricated.

After examining Alexander Hislop’s work, one source concluded: “It is not historical, it is not Biblical, it is not accurate and it is not correct.”

Does that mean that there’s no instance of a practice (like putting an evergreen tree in your house) having some sort of pagan connection? No. So, should we avoid those things? This is an area of Christian liberty.

Colossians 2:16 – 16 Therefore, don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day.

Romans 14:5-6 – 5 One person judges one day to be more important than another day. Someone else judges every day to be the same. Let each one be fully convinced in his own mind.

As Christians, we take the cross, a symbol of Roman brutality, and take it for ourselves to symbolize the greatest act of love and mercy ever known. We give gifts because God gave us the greatest gift, His own Son. We gift gifts like the Magi did to celebrate the birth of the King. Now, if the Holy Spirit directs you to avoid some of these things, then obey. But don’t get drawn off into this strange, unbiblical perspective. To help you out a little more, in that same book, Hislop says that Semiramis also invented soprano singing and that round communion wafers are pagan.

Back to Genesis!

Genesis 10:13-20 – 13 Mizraim, fathered the people of Lud, Anam, Lehab, Naphtuh, 14 Pathrus, Casluh (the Philistines came from them), and Caphtor. 15 Canaan fathered Sidon his firstborn and Heth, 16 as well as the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, 17 the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, 18 the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward the Canaanite clans scattered. 19 The Canaanite border went from Sidon going toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and going toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim as far as Lasha. 20 These are Ham’s sons by their clans, according to their languages, in their lands and their nations.

These verses “pace off” the borders of the Promised Land, which would later have significance to the children of Israel who were sent to receive this land and drive out the Canaanites.

We’ve seen multiple times in this chapter a reference to “languages.” But, didn’t everyone speak the same language? They did until chapter 11. And after the events of Genesis 11, the people of the world spread out in the ways we’re reading about here in chapter 10.

Genesis 10:21-25 – 21 And Shem, Japheth’s older brother, also had sons. Shem was the father of all the sons of Eber. 22 Shem’s sons were Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. 23 Aram’s sons: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. 24 Arpachshad fathered Shelah, and Shelah fathered Eber. 25 Eber had two sons. One was named Peleg, for during his days the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan.

Some Bible versions translate Shem as the middle brother, some place his as the elder. It’s a linguistic thing. Take your pick. The 5 names we really care about in Shem’s line are: Shem, Arapachshad, Shelah, Eber (from whom we get the word Hebrew) and Peleg. This is the line from which comes Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David, and, ultimately, Christ Jesus our Lord.

We’re told that in the days of Peleg the earth was divided. It makes most sense to interpret this as the division and scattering of people at the Tower of Babel in chapter 11. It’s also possible that this is referring to something else, like a devastating earthquake, which might have led to the breaking up of the continents. Or, some suggest it was referring to some large Mesopotamian canal project. Or it could be referring to political division. The context seems to favor the division of people by language, since that’s been referenced multiple times in these verses.

Genesis 10:26-31 – And Joktan fathered Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were Joktan’s sons. 30 Their settlements extended from Mesha to Sephar, the eastern hill country. 31 These are Shem’s sons by their clans, according to their languages, in their lands and their nations.

You might have heard that the Jobab listed here might have been Job from the Bible. The reason is because, in the Septuagint there is an extra verse at the end of Job saying that his name was Jobab. The problem is, even if that verse is accurate, the two Jobabs have different fathers. But you might come across that if you listen to Bible studies on this passage.

Genesis 10:32 – 32 These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their family records, in their nations. The nations on earth spread out from these after the flood.

What we’re seeing here is just five generations from Noah but lots of activity in a relatively short time. We see scattering and empires built and nations formed. The seeds of unrest, opposition, and confusion had been planted and would yield millennia of war and struggle. Yet, all the while, God accomplishes His work through lives. That’s an interesting thought for us as we move through a book like Genesis. While man builds empires, God builds people. He does His work through your life, not through towers or cities. Through the regular course of life, as His people walk with Him and have families, listen to His leading, obey His word, He’s able to do what is impossible for man.

This passage can encourage us that, even if it seems like the world is closing in, God is still able to do all that He has promised. And even if your family goes off into some strange direction, you can continue to go God’s way and do what’s right. You can keep following Him. And even if you make a mistake, which we all will, like Noah or Abraham or any of the other heroes of the faith, we can get back up and back in step with our loving Lord.

At a macro level, most of us are probably Japhethites, by and large. Praise God that we Gentiles have been grafted in to God’s special people. He has always allowed that, by the way. Canaanites like Rahab and Ruth were always ready to be welcomed by God. As a Japhethite nation, one concern we should have is our relationship to that special group of Shem’s descendants: the nation of Israel. The book of Joel says that God will hold nations accountable for how they treat Israel. And so we should entreat our leaders to honor and support that special nation.

Finally, this text reminds us that, despite our cultural differences, we are all brothers and sisters. There is only one race: The human race. Yes, there is difference in language and historical ethnicity, but those things should not divide us. Especially in the Church we are reminded that there is no longer Jew or Greek, barbarian or Scythian. We are all one in Jesus Christ.

In 2015, a fellow by the name of A.J. Jacobs put on the Global Family Reunion in hopes of breaking the Guinness Word Record set by the Porteau-Boileves. The idea was that, since the entire human race is one big family, anyone could show up. The event attracted a lot of attention. Celebrities and statesmen got involved, along with companies like 23andMe and the Federation of Genealogical Societies. They didn’t end up getting enough people and I’m not sure Guinness would’ve recognized their theory anyway. But you and I are part of a continuing, global family, not just of humans (made in the image of God), but part of the family of God – sons and daughters brought into His household to be loved and used for His glory and scattered out to invite others to join in till one day we’re all reunited with our Maker forever in that city whose Builder and Maker is God.

(Footnotes & references are available at

It Was The Worst Of Vines (Genesis 9:18-29)

Whether it’s the tabloids or TMZ, the human heart loves to see the scandals of prominent people. What a sad commentary on our culture it is to be able to open a newspaper and see sections on Politics, Business, Sports, Gossip. We want to see people at their worst.

In our text tonight we’ll see Noah at his worst. But first, let’s remember who he was: A blameless man, a preacher of righteousness, a faithful follower of God Almighty. But, none of those descriptors mean that he was sinless. Tonight we read the report of a terrible incident in his life. Why does God record and broadcast this for us? Is this some sort of cosmic gossip? “Did you hear what NOAH did the other day?!?” Of course not. This text serves multiple purposes. First, it is a pit stop in God’s unfolding work of redemption. After Adam and Eve sinned, God came to them and said, “I have a plan to make right what you have ruined.” Genesis records for us the opening moves of the plan, to carve out and preserve a particular lineage from which the Messiah would ultimately come. He would come through a particular group of people and this is their story.

In addition, we know that the things written in the Old Testament are preserved for our instruction and encouragement – that we would be built up in our ability to follow God and endure with hope, and that we can learn to be careful, lest we ourselves fall into sin. This story is strange and sordid and scandalous and sad. But it’s also profitable for us and prophetic.

When we left off, God brought Noah and his sons out of the ark, blessed them, and established new directives for them as they went out to fill the world. Between verses 17 and 18, at least a couple of decades have passed. Noah’s settled into a new career and has grown grandchildren.

Genesis 9:18 – 18 Noah’s sons who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan.

There is going to be a conspicuous focus on Canaan in these verses, even though he doesn’t actually appear in the story. It leads to a lot of head scratching from commentators. In fact, this whole passage has elicited a whole lot of conjecture, speculation, and misapplications. And there will be some questions we have that we simply don’t have a clear answer for.

But remember the first audience: The Children of Israel – a group who would be commanded by God to destroy completely whole nations of Canaanites. God’s judgment on them was not unwarranted. He had an overwhelming case against them. And, as agents of judgment, the Children of Israel would not only be eye-witness to their evil, God would reveal to them the history of their immoral atrocities. God did not flip a coin and choose the Canaanites for destruction.

Genesis 9:19 – These three were Noah’s sons, and from them the whole earth was populated.

Back in 2009, the Washington Post reported this in their Science News section:

“All of Earth’s people, according to a new analysis…fall into just three genetic groups.”

The Bible is not designed to be a science textbook, but that doesn’t mean our faith is unscientific. We don’t need to fear research or the academic study of our world, our history, and our biology. These things verify what God has already told us in His word.

Genesis 9:20-21 – 20 Noah, as a man of the soil, began by planting a vineyard. 21 He drank some of the wine, became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent.

John Gill points out that Noah became a “man of the soil.” He did not set himself up as “lord of the earth.” Very interesting. If anyone had the right to claim leadership or establish authority, it was Noah, the deliverer. The ark builder. The one who speaks with God. And yet, that’s not what he did. He grabbed a hoe and a shovel and went to work cultivating a little plot of ground.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. In our social media obsessed culture, humility is a worthless virtue. But, in God’s economy, it is a necessity. It is a fundamental requirement to faithfully live out the Christian life. Be a humble person.

Something went very wrong with Noah’s farming. We see him developing this vineyard and then, when the time came, producing a vintage and getting what we can only describe as hammered drunk one day in his tent and stripping off all his clothes. This is weird. It’s shameful.

A number of commentators try to excuse Noah and suggest that he had no idea wine could ferment and make a person drunk. Even if we try to give Noah the benefit of the doubt, this is a stretch. He wasn’t a stupid man. He had lived hundreds of years, watching a wicked world in all their excess, in all their sinfulness, in all their depraved immorality, and he had preached to them about righteousness and judgment and how to honor God.

Drunkenness is always disapproved of in the Bible. You are commanded to not be drunk. Not on wine, not on whiskey, not on pills, not on anything. Rather, you and I are supposed to be filled with the Holy Spirit – making Him the refreshment we drink in to warm our hearts and bring us joy.

There’s a devotional warning here: You and I are capable of shocking levels of sin. Remember who Noah was. Remember how he is described. Remember his incredible devotion to God. If he is able to fall into sin, so are you and I. And so, here at the start, this passage urges us to not let our spiritual guard down, but to continue in uprightness. Keep yourself upright in your walk.

Commenting on Noah’s sin, John Bunyan wrote [Paraphrased due to use of Olde English]:

“Though the days of affliction, of temptation and distress, are harsh…yet they are not half so dangerous as are the days of peace and liberty.
Noah…it was better with you when you were [an ark builder]. Yea, it was better with you, when a world of ungodly men set themselves against you! Yea, when every day your life was in danger to be destroyed by the giants, against whom you were a preacher [for] a hundred years! For then you walked with God; Then you were better than all the world; but now you are in the relapse!”

Genesis 9:22 – 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside.

Was Ham a believer? I find it impossible to say he wasn’t. After all, God had just judged the whole world because of their unbelief. Would it be just for Him to allow one heathen to skate through the flood? When the chapter opened, Ham was blessed along with Noah and his brothers. And yet, we see here an appalling sin. Ham, at very least, was ogling his father, mocking him, and spreading the word of his humiliation. There’s enjoyment both in the looking and the telling to Shem and Japheth. But was it more than that?

Now, this is going to get a little uncomfortable, but we’re already in the midst of an embarrassing scandal and I think it’s worth dealing with something that you will come across if you read commentaries on this passage. Based off of the teaching of some third century Jewish rabbis, a tradition grew that Ham maybe sodomized Noah or castrated him. Some accept the sexual assault idea because, in the Law of Moses, we read the phrase “uncover their nakedness” and it can be a euphemism for such an act. There are some problems, though. One is that this idea originates from the Babylonian Talmud, not the Bible. Second, scholars debate over whether the language justifies an interpretation of sexual assault. Also, we’re not told that Ham uncovered Noah’s nakedness (which in other parts of the Old Testament is a euphemism for sexual activity), Noah uncovered his own nakedness.

Is it possible that Ham raped or castrated Noah? Sadly, yes. But, let’s take this on face value. At least some scholars feel that there was perversion in the way he was looking at his father. He didn’t just accidentally walk in and walk out. Then he’s delighting in telling his two brothers. This is another sober warning to us of what even a redeemed heart is capable of when we don’t walk in the Spirit. Let’s see the response.

Genesis 9:23 – 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a cloak and placed it over both their shoulders, and walking backward, they covered their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father naked.

They were intent on not seeing their father naked. Nudity is so common place in our world, so emphasized, that we feel the need to inflate Ham’s sin. “It must’ve been more than just seeing his old man naked and laughing about it.” But look at how seriously Shem and Japheth took this task.

In the ancient world, being exposed this way was a big, big deal. Herodotus, the Greek historian from the 400’s BC, wrote about how the king of Lydia compelled one of his bodyguards to look on the nakedness of the queen and, as a result, one of them had to be put to death.

Shem and Japheth not only show great respect, but great compassion. Their father has made a fool of himself. And yet, they figure out a way to cover him up. I’m guessing the effort would’ve been funny if the situation weren’t so tragic. They demonstrate for us one of the functions of Godly love. Of course, God was the first to show this kind of love. What did He do when Adam and Eve were found naked and ashamed? He clothed them, personally and carefully. In Ezekiel 16, God is pouring out His heart to wayward Israel and He describes the kind of love He has:

Ezekiel 16:8 – 8 “ ‘Then I passed by you and saw you, and you were indeed at the age for love. So I spread the edge of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I pledged myself to you, entered into a covenant with you—this is the declaration of the Lord God—and you became mine.

God’s love has been poured into our hearts and now we get to be like Him, allowing that love to cover a multitude of sins. That doesn’t mean we participate in coverups or ignore sin. It means we lovingly work to restore repentant believers back into the family of faith. We live in a time when some mistakes get you cancelled no matter how long ago they happened. In the church:

Galatians 6:1-2 – if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit,, watching out for yourselves so that you also won’t be tempted. 2 Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Noah teaches us the importance of continuing in uprightness. Shem and Japheth teach us to cover over sin with love. There’s still one more thought for us was we see what came next.

Genesis 9:24-25 – 24 When Noah awoke from his drinking and learned what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said: Canaan is cursed. He will be the lowest of slaves to his brothers.

Why wasn’t Ham the target of Noah’s cursing? We have to endure some fog and vagaries in this story. I will say, thus far in Genesis, we can notice that, at the time, sins were not immediately judged. There was no Theocratic government like Israel would have under the Law. Adam and Eve sin and there were sudden relational and physical consequences, but God did not mete out what was due them right then and there. The same is true of Cain. And Lamech. And the wicked generations leading to the flood. And the same is usually true of your sin and mine in our time.

There would be a painful rift in this family from here on out. That was a consequence of Noah’s sin and Ham’s sin. But then, God uses Noah to proclaim a prophecy concerning the descendants of one of Ham’s sons, the nations we know as the Canaanites. We see a Spiritual principle proved through Ham and his descendants: You reap what you sow. Ham brought shame to his father because of his lascivious disrespect, leading to judgment. The Canaanites would do the same.

The prophecy continues:

Genesis 9:26-27 – 26 He also said: Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; Let Canaan be Shem’s slave. 27 Let God extend Japheth; let Japheth dwell in the tents of Shem; let Canaan be Shem’s slave.

From Shem came the Semitic people, specifically the Jews. The prophecy of enslavement was fulfilled in the time of the conquest under Joshua and the kings of Israel.

Historically, there have been some who call themselves ‘Christian’ who attempted to use this prophecy to justify the enslavement of the African people. This is a loathsome and satanic distortion of what the Bible says. It is a rejection of truth and the teachings of Scripture. There is no defense for the historic, worldwide phenomenon of human slavery.

What might we pull from these verses for ourselves? Well, this passage not only points us toward the conquest of the Promised Land, in a greater sense it continues the melody of salvation. That one day, despite all the sin and all our mistakes, and all our division, anyone would be able to come into the tent and find shelter there. Once God completed the plan, sent His Son to live, die, and rise again, human beings would be able to be united together, no matter their background or ethnicity, no matter their economic status, no matter what mistakes they had made, and be brought together in Christ, the Son of Shem. We’re to live as brothers and sisters, not enslaving one another, but choosing to serve one another out of love and affection and family loyalty.

Genesis 9:28-29 – 28 Now Noah lived 350 years after the flood. 29 So Noah’s life lasted 950 years; then he died.

Here’s an interesting thought: Depending on how you do the math, Noah may have lived to see Abraham turn 58 years old. There’s a debate, some scholars count differently and say he died 2 years prior. We can’t be sure. It does seem like Shem outlived Abraham or very nearly did.

So Noah’s part in the plan of God comes to a close. It’s a rough landing. But I’m so glad that this remarkable man isn’t defined by his mistake. When you think of Noah, do you think first of this shortcoming or do you think of the amazing work God did through his life?

The same is true for you. You do not have to be defined by your mistakes. If you’re a Christian, you are defined by God’s loving work in and through your life. And even though we’re all knuckleheads who stumble, God is still excited to use us when we’re willing to obey Him and turn from our sin.

As we close, I’d invite us to take the warnings of this passage seriously. The things that were so scandalous about this story are commonplace in our society. Gossip. Drunkenness. Lewd activity. Sexual deviance. Nakedness on display. Family division. Are any of those things unheard of in our world today? They are pillars of our culture and entertainment. They’re normal and prevalent. But look at the what terrible work they do.

These dangers lurk at our door. We are just as capable of sin as these heroes of the faith were and so we must decide to go God’s way. We want to be people who continue in uprightness, because we’re commanded to live that way. We’re to “practice righteousness.” And when someone in your sphere of influence falls into sin, be the one who helps to cover over sin with love. Finally, let’s take joy in the fact that we get to come together in this wonderful tent of faith. Jesus, by His grace and power, has made us a family. Let’s protect and cherish that spiritual unity and invite others to join in.

Rainbow: Cursed Blood (Genesis 9:1-17)

The closing scenes of disaster movies like Wall•E or 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow, are often brimming with optimism. Things have gone very badly, but as the runtime draws to an end, triumphant music begins to play beneath the visuals as the survivors emerge into the dawn of a new day. These lucky few have not only made it through the catastrophe, they’ve finally learned from all their mistakes. Though there will be a lot of work to do, the outlook is all positive.

After more than a year aboard, it was time for the survivors to leave their floating home. Coming off the ark they must have wondered what sort of world awaited them. What comes next? Were they going to be placed into a new Garden, like their ancestors Adam and Eve had been? What role would sin play in this new world? After all, hadn’t God washed all the wickedness away and weren’t Noah and his family called righteous by God? Noah had approached God as a sinner, bringing a blood sacrifice in his thanksgiving offering in the last passage, but only God knew what the new arrangement would be and He had indicated that He was going to make some changes.

In our text, God explains that, despite the cleansing effect of the flood, sin would continue to spread through the earth. Terrible violence would return and we humans would have the responsibility – among other things – of keeping that violence in check. And so, in Genesis 9, the foundations of government are established. At the same time, a world of opportunity is presented to the Faithful 8. Best of all, God reveals an unlimited and ongoing covenant of His powerful grace.

Genesis 9:1 – God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.

It would have been enough to survive the flood, but God goes further. He blesses Noah’s family. The Christian life it not just about last-minute survival – meaning it’s not just about escaping hell and getting into heaven. That is, of course, the most eternally significant, but walking with God is a blessed life. We see it in Genesis. We see it in the Law, in Psalms, in Proverbs, in the Beatitudes, in the Epistles, in the Revelation. God’s power and purposes and prescriptions are for every aspect of your life so that you might be full of His blessing (which isn’t the same thing as material abundance that is so often pursued in this world). Jesus explained what blessing means in His Sermon on the Mount. It means that we will receive the Kingdom and inherit the earth. We’ll receive comfort and we’ll see God. We’ll be filled and shown mercy. Compile the references in Scripture about the blessed believer and you find that God wants these blessings to permeate your heart, your relationships, your family, your endeavors, all that you do. Even when life is hard, resources are few, bodies are sick, or enemies surround, God’s blessing is available to those who follow Him.

The Lord repeats the directives He gave to Adam and Eve: Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. For these 4 couples, this was an awesome responsibility – a lot was riding on their shoulders. But, as usual, God’s commands reveal things about Himself. First: that He would be involved in continually protecting and sustaining humanity. Second: that He loves for His people to be fruitful and leave a Godly mark on the earth. That’s still His desire, by the way, that you be fruitful and fill the earth with spiritual children by being a part of this huge disciple project in the Church age.

Though the directive was very similar to what Adam and Eve had received, this time around there were a few caveats.

Genesis 9:2 – 2 The fear and terror of you will be in every living creature on the earth, every bird of the sky, every creature that crawls on the ground, and all the fish of the sea. They are placed under your authority.

Some commentators believe that, before the flood, humans had a much more direct ability to rule the animals. But now God is signaling that things have changed. Because of sin, this new world was going to be one that was full of fear, contention, conflict, and death. Animals would now fear men. Scientists point out that even apex predators, with all their immense strength and ferocity, fear man. And verse 3 gives one reason why:

Genesis 9:3 – 3 Every creature that lives and moves will be food for you; as I gave the green plants, I have given you everything.

For over 1,000 years, men had been vegetarians. Or, at least the Godly people had been. Now, there was nothing off the table and, in fact, meat would be a necessary part of the food pyramid.

Now, remember: The original audience of Genesis was the Children of Israel. Moses would give this book along with the rest of the Law, which would demand quite a few dietary restrictions. One might thing, “Wait a minute! If Noah could eat any animal, why can’t I?”

God dealt with people in different ways at different times. We call these periods “dispensations.” This is why you are not only allowed to eat shellfish today, but you also don’t have to bring a lamb to church for ritual sacrifice.

There’s a personal application here as well: Sometimes God may ask us to submit to certain restrictions for a period of time. Maybe it has to do with your personal liberties as a Christian. Maybe it has to do with dreams you have about what you want to happen in your life. Other times, God does not impose those restrictions. For example: In Matthew 10 Jesus sent out His disciples to preach with no traveling bag, no money in their pockets, without even a second shirt. But, in Matthew 28, Jesus sends them out again with no such restrictions. It is our duty as children of God and servants in His household to seek His will for us today. Tomorrow, things may be different, but what is the Master’s directive today?

Genesis 9:4 – 4 However, you must not eat meat with its lifeblood in it.

Blood in meat is a significant Biblical issue. It appears here and under the Law, in the time of the kings, and then again in the book of Acts. A careful reader of Scripture will have to, at some point, ask whether it’s ok for us to eat a piece of meat cooked rare!

First, that red liquid coming out of your steak isn’t blood, it’s myoglobin. The animal has already been drained. What about that perfect slice of sushi? I was surprised to learn that raw fish has long been considered kosher by the Rabbis of Israel as long as the fish itself was on the approved list.

More importantly, the New Testament clearly explains that nothing that goes into your mouth can defile you. Jesus said so. Paul reiterated that nothing is unclean to eat in and of itself.

But let’s look at this another way. Given the strong prohibitions on the eating of blood throughout the Old Testament, imagine how startling and controversial it would have been to hear Jesus say: “The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life.” Why this image?

You and I are called into a living communion with God our Creator, not some ritualistic arrangement, drained of all the life. No, we are to consume ourselves with the Person of Jesus Christ, making His life our life. His mind our mind. His heart our heart. With His blood washing over all of us, head to toe, bearing away our sin and then going on, day by day, feeding on Him for life.

Genesis 9:5-6 – 5 And I will require a penalty for your lifeblood; I will require it from any animal and from any human; if someone murders a fellow human, I will require that person’s life. 6 Whoever sheds human blood, by humans his blood will be shed, for God made humans in his image.

God keeps track of every single human life. In fact, the Bible tells us that God keeps track of every living thing, even the life and death of the sparrows. But, to Him, human life is so important that it must be preserved, protected, and paid back life-for-life in the case of murder.

Capital punishment is a sensitive and controversial issue. Most Americans now oppose the death penalty. Among Christians there seems to be a growing hostility toward it. In December of 2020, Relevant Magazine published an article titled, “All Christians Should Oppose The Death Penalty.”

The application of the death penalty is a complicated issue worthy of discussion. But at the level of principle, capital punishment is God-given and God-sanctioned. We see it here, we see it under the Law, and we even see Paul the apostle supporting it, not only in Romans 13 but also when it came to his own criminal case!

God hates murder and He’s very serious about it. He doesn’t condone vigilantism and it’s not that He never allows mercy for murderers (He did in many cases), but, on the principle level, at the societal level, He requires that we value human life so much that if a person purposefully takes a life, everything stops. Their life must be taken as the required payment. It doesn’t matter who the killer is – whether they’re rich or poor, powerful or unimportant, stranger or brother. All were to be held to this standard because every singly human life is of infinite value to God.

The same is not true for animals. God said to Noah, “You’re gonna start killing animals and eating them.” No death penalty for a bbq. Sadly, in today’s world, we’ve cheapened human life so much that our culture argues over whether animals and humans are of equal worth. Back in 2016, a little toddler fell into an exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo. Harambe, a silverback gorilla, picked the boy up and started dragging him around. As the situation escalated, zoo officials made the decision to shoot Harambe and the child was saved. Then came the outcry. Petitions were started to have the child’s parents charged. A Facebook page called Justice For Harambe quickly gathered 150,000 members. One of them wrote: “Shooting an endangered animal is worse than murder.”

Biblically speaking, human life is unlike any other life on the planet. It is so valuable that God Himself left heaven, put on flesh, and died for us so that we would have the chance to be saved. And when a society wantonly allows guilty, unrepentant killers to live, it is a wicked rebellion against God and an abhorrent insult to His justice. God is keeping track and requires payment.

Now, having heard God say these things, I suppose Noah might have said, “But, Lord, we’re not going to kill anyone!” Maybe not, but God was explaining that humans are natural born killers. Therefore, we need some level of government to keep our violent hatred in check.

Genesis 9:7 – 7 But you, be fruitful and multiply; spread out over the earth and multiply on it.”

The context is that the world would soon be full of death, bloodshed, murder, savagery. But God’s people did not need to cower or hide away or be frightened of what lay ahead. They were set apart by God to live a life full of His grace and power and blessing.

Sometimes people ask whether Christians should bring children into such a terrible world. The world has always been terrible. God keeps us here – for now – to be salt and light. Christian author and musician Andrew Peterson has a great book title: Adorning The Dark. We’re the light of this dark world. We’re the ones with real life. We’re the ones with real hope. Does God want you, specifically, to have kids? That’s between you and Him. Does God want His people generally to continue to be fruitful and raise families? And make this world salty? Absolutely!

Genesis 9:8-10 – 8 Then God said to Noah and his sons with him, 9 “Understand that I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you—birds, livestock, and all wildlife of the earth that are with you—all the animals of the earth that came out of the ark.

Where I read “understand” in verse 9, your version may have “Behold.” God wants to be known and He was His Word to be understood. He’s going to use the word ‘covenant’ 7 times in these 10 verses. He calls it “My covenant.” It was His idea. It wasn’t developed as a response to some complaint from mankind. It was born out of His grace and compassion and love for us. Apparently right now the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees is preparing to go on strike and shut down Hollywood productions because of long hours and low pay. They’re hoping to force the powers that be at companies like Disney and Netflix and Amazon to comply with their wishes. There will have to be talks and negotiations and compromises leading to a new contract. That’s not what God’s covenants are like. It’s His idea. What was the covenant?

Genesis 9:11 – 11 I establish my covenant with you that never again will every creature be wiped out by floodwaters; there will never again be a flood to destroy the earth.”

God looked through history and said, “Things are going to get really bad. Even though sin will spread and violence will saturate the earth, even the Nephilim will return. Even still I will not again destroy the world with a flood.” This is, by the way, another nail in the coffin of the theory that the flood was local rather than global. If the flood was local, God is a liar. There have been many deadly floods throughout history. In 2004, The Boxing Day tsunami killed over 200,000 people across thousands of miles and a dozen countries in just a few hours. The flood was global.

Genesis 9:12-17 – 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all future generations: 13 I have placed my bow in the clouds, and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I form clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all the living creatures: water will never again become a flood to destroy every creature. 16 The bow will be in the clouds, and I will look at it and remember the permanent covenant between God and all the living creatures on earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and every creature on earth.”

The symbol of the rainbow has, of course, been hijacked in our culture. But, what an incredible, tender thing God did in giving us this sign of His promise. Think of it: any in raincloud on any day in any place any person can look up and see a visual representation of God’s mercy. A proof that He exists and that He is full of grace. That mercy is available to anyone who will drop to their knees and ask Him for it. God wants so badly for this message to get out that He hard-coded it into creation. You can go into your front yard tomorrow, turn on your hose and make your own rainbow at will. God has filled the earth with the proclamation of His mercy. And here He reminds us that He is not only a promise maker, He is a promise keeper. That’s the important thing. And He has the power to keep His promises.

Notice, too, where He says: “Whenever I form clouds over the earth.” Do we realize just how involved God is in our lives? A sparrow doesn’t fall to earth without His consent. He forms clouds in the Hanford sky. He measures the shores and gives boundaries to the oceans. He knit you together in your mother’s womb. He numbers your hairs. He has written your days in His book. He bottles your tears. He whispers to your heart, “Follow Me. Receive My mercy. Discover new life in Christ so that you can be full of fruit and so you can thrive in this world.” He values you so much! Your life is precious beyond compare to Him.

This God wants to walk with you through life. He’s invited you to follow Him. He wants you to know His word and know His heart and He wants to bless you with every spiritual blessing, lavished on those who put their hope in Him, sent into the world to be salt and light until we’re brought to our forever home in Heaven.

Wait Till Your Father Gets You Home (Genesis 8:1-22)

Tom Petty said, “The waiting is the hardest part.” Tom’s not alone. Since the fall of man all of creation has been groaning, waiting for deliverance. The Psalms and prophets cry out, “How long, oh Lord?” We feel the strain of waiting for ultimate deliverance and, often, for immediate deliverance from our trials and sufferings or simply delays in life.

But, life is full of waiting. And so the Lord tells us, “Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart.” A great example of that is given in our text tonight. Genesis 8 is full of waiting. It shows day after day, week after week, month after month, of staying put and waiting to leave the ark. I get antsy when my Amazon package doesn’t come same-day!

As we go through these verses, try to imagine Noah going to the log book each morning and scratching down another line on the tally. There would be about 377 of them before the end. Though Noah’s family knew God would bring them out, they had no exit date. Only their Heavenly Father knew the day and the hour when they would be delivered out of the ark into their new land.

We’ll see that some of their waiting took place while they looked out on dry land. Imagine how difficult that would’ve been. But, these faithful 8 had begun this adventure in submission to God and they were going to finish it out the same way.

Genesis 8:1-3 – God remembered Noah, as well as all the wildlife and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water began to subside. 2 The sources of the watery depths and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky stopped. 3 The water steadily receded from the earth, and by the end of 150 days the water had decreased significantly.

When God “remembers” in the Bible, it means He initiates a miraculous, saving act on behalf of His people. It’s not that He was so occupied with other things that they slipped His mind. One of the most astonishing revelations about God is that He, in His all-powerful omniscience, is thinking of you continually. We cannot fathom a mind that can accomplish such a feat, and yet it’s true.

Psalm 139:17-18a – 17 God, how precious your thoughts are to me; how vast their sum is! 18 If I counted them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.

God is thinking about you right now! His thoughts and actions are specially concerned with human beings. Yes, God has compassion for the animals on the ark, but it was the people thought of most.

I’m sure as the days rolled by there were times when Noah thought, “Has God forgotten us? Are we ever coming out?” But then one day something new happened: A wind started to blow.

Why didn’t God just snap His fingers and make the water disappear? It always seems like it would be more efficient for God to act more like a Genie. Yet, He used a slow process to dry out the earth.

It is a Biblical principle that waiting, in faith, produces strength in our lives. Isaiah 40 says, “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.” The prophet goes on to say that God “acts on behalf of the one who waits for Him.” And so, Noah waited.

Genesis 8:4 – 4 The ark came to rest in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat.

We don’t know exactly where Noah’s ark landed. Some say Turkey, some say Armenia. There have been many expeditions and supposed sightings. There’s a lot of tradition involved. I learned this week that since 1992 the Armenian Coat of Arms bears an image of the ark on top of a mountain. There is something that’s known as the “Ararat Anomaly,” which was first photographed in 1949. It appears to be something, encased in the snowcap of the mountain, that is roughly boat shaped.

It’s possible that the Ark will be discovered in the last days. But we shouldn’t count on it for a few reasons. First, the boat was made of wood. Yes, it was pitched inside and out, which would’ve helped to preserve it, but aside from the wear and tear of water, wind, and ice, Ararat is a volcano. It last erupted in 1840. Lava beats wood every time. Secondly, we’re going to see that the ark was somewhat disassembleable. Perhaps Noah took the ark apart to build a home for his family.

Don’t be so distracted by the where that you miss the when of its landing: The seventeenth day of the seventh month. The late Ray Stedman points out this remarkable fact: Under Moses, God told Israel that He was changing the calendar. The seventh month became the first month. The Passover would be held on the 14th day of that month. That was the day Christ was crucified. 3 days later He rose again. Which, on Noah’s calendar, would’ve been the 17th day of the 7th month.

For thousands of years God has been promising and proving His plan of salvation cannot fail. He’s been showing again and again that He will keep up His end – that if we take refuge in Christ, He will deliver us safely to the eternal shore. The resurrection is the mountain we can rest our lives upon.

Genesis 8:5 – 5 The water continued to recede until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were visible.

After 150 days of bobbing around, the ark was now stuck in a fixed place. They haven’t heard any messages from the Lord, so they wait two and a half months, watching peaks slowly rise into view.

Genesis 8:6 – 6 After forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made,

What might they see out this window? A lot of water and (probably) a lot of death. The floating carcasses of men and animals would be a grim proof of what sin does to a life and to our world.

Genesis 8:7-9 – 7 and he sent out a raven. It went back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out a dove to see whether the water on the earth’s surface had gone down, 9 but the dove found no resting place for its foot. It returned to him in the ark because water covered the surface of the whole earth. He reached out and brought it into the ark to himself.

Throughout the flood narrative, the Lord makes a distinction between clean and unclean animals. Now we are witness to this interesting experiment where Noah sends out one clean bird – a dove – and one unclean bird – a raven – hoping to glean some information about the state of the world beyond what his eyes can see.

Bible teachers like Spurgeon and Stedman highlight the devotional treasures in Noah’s birdwatching. You’re a Christian, safe in Christ, knowing God will see you through. Meanwhile, you’ve got to interact with the world. The Bible explains that, as you do so, you’ve got two mutually exclusive natures: The sanctified, spiritual nature (represented by the dove) and the old, sinful nature (represented by the raven). You can put either of these natures into operation.

The raven shows us that the flesh is content to be apart from Christ. It will fly about and rest on anything it can, no matter how unstable or rotten it is. A raven will eat carrion (dead flesh), even when proper, nutritious food is available in the ark. So, too, our old, sinful nature, is content to fill itself with the death and garbage floating by.

But then we have the spiritual nature – the Spirit of life in Christ by which we have been set free. This nature is clean and righteous, represented by the dove. It goes out and interacts with the world but always returns to find sustenance and shelter in the ark, which (in this parable) represents Christ. It does not rest on any floating carcass, but keeps to its proper abode in the Lord until He finally brings it out into the New Creation.

Genesis 8:10-12 – 10 So Noah waited seven more days and sent out the dove from the ark again. 11 When the dove came to him at evening, there was a plucked olive leaf in its beak. So Noah knew that the water on the earth’s surface had gone down. 12 After he had waited another seven days, he sent out the dove, but it did not return to him again.

Notice again the waiting, week after week. It would’ve demanded immense patience and peace.

Some have scoffed at the idea of the dove finding an olive leaf after a global flood. How could a tree have survived and grown in such a way in such a short time? In actuality, Theophrastus (who is considered the father of botany) records in his Enquiry Into Plants that olive trees can leaf while submerged in water. Pliny the Elder reported the same.

The results of Noah’s experiment would’ve suggested that it’s time to leave the ark. After all, the dove was gone. The trees were above water. So, it must be time to go, right? Apparently Noah didn’t think so.

Genesis 8:13-14 – 13 In the six hundred first year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, the water that had covered the earth was dried up. Then Noah removed the ark’s cover and saw that the surface of the ground was drying. 14 By the twenty-seventh day of the second month, the earth was dry.

We see that Noah could, at least partially, dismantle the ark. He removes the cover. And what does he see? It’s over! The earth is dry. So, what happens? He still waits from new year till February 27th! What is he waiting for? The land is dry! If we were at the family meeting, we’d say it’s time to go.

Our earthly circumstances cannot be the compass of our life’s journey. Noah stayed put. Why? Because he loved the ark? No. Because he was afraid to go out? No. It was because he hadn’t been told to go out. It was by God’s word he had gone into the ark and he was going to stay until directed otherwise. But the bird! The leaf! The dry ground! Ok, but what does the Lord say? Of course, they would’ve wanted to leave the ark. But this is what it means to wait on the Lord.

Genesis 8:15-19 – 15 Then God spoke to Noah, 16 “Come out of the ark, you, your wife, your sons, and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out all the living creatures that are with you—birds, livestock, those that crawl on the earth—and they will spread over the earth and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18 So Noah, along with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, came out. 19 All the animals, all the creatures that crawl, and all the flying creatures—everything that moves on the earth—came out of the ark by their families.

My question is: Lord, why did you drop us on a mountain? Imagine the difficulty in relocating everyone down thousands of feet of elevation. I remember years ago moving our piano out of our house which was a raised foundation, about 3 steps, and we all almost died.

The life of a servant of God can be very demanding. There can be a lot of uphill effort and downward drag. But when we serve in the power of the Spirit we discover that God’s yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Genesis 8:20 – 20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord. He took some of every kind of clean animal and every kind of clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

If you had survived the end of the world and spent more than a year on the ark, what’s the first think you would do when you got out?

Paul McCartney sang,

If I ever get out of here
Thought of giving it all away
To a registered charity
All I need is a pint a day

Ironically, Noah’s going to head that way in chapter 9. But on this day, the first thing he did was build an altar and hold a worship service.

I usually think of it as a lamb or two, but notice what it says: Some of every kind of clean animal and bird. This was a large, costly offering. Having looked out the window all those weeks, Noah would’ve reflected on the fact that his sin deserved judgment just like everyone else’s. He wasn’t sinless, just a recipient of the grace of God. As James Montgomery Boice points out, Noah still comes to God as a sinner and he renews his love and commitment to God in this act of worship.

Genesis 8:21 – 21 When the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, he said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of human beings, even though the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth onward. And I will never again strike down every living thing as I have done.

The sad reality is that the flood might have wiped the earth’s surface clean, but it didn’t change the human heart. Sin would continue to spread and bear its fruit, even in the lives of God’s people. Despite the persistence of sin, God would still be gracious. More gracious than we deserve. Here He makes a promise, not dependent on us, thankfully, but dependent on Him.

The other lovely thing about this verse is how God is pictured enjoying the aroma of the sacrifice. So often I think of God hearing us or seeing us. Those are things we can do from far away. But smelling requires nearness. God the Father, of course, is Spirit, but here He paints Himself as being close enough to breathe in the perfume of Noah’s offering. And it wasn’t the meat God loved to smell, but the hearts of His children, offering true and valuable praise to Him.

God is constantly describing Himself as near to us and drawing us ever closer. He shows Himself inhabiting our praises and living in our hearts and speaking softly to us and holding us in His hands. That should be our mindset as we worship. That we consider God’s love for us and consider what He has done to save us from the wretchedness of our sin and how great He is. If we do that, how could our worship be lifeless or mechanical? How could we be satisfied with giving Him the bare minimum? No, realizing these truths about God will invigorate our worship and offerings to the Lord to be full of sweet-smelling savor.

Genesis 8:22 – 22 As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.”

So the adventure closes with a poem promising God’s faithful perpetuation of creation. The flood was over, but now Noah would begin a new phase of waiting. He still had 300 years of life to live. He’d have to wait for trees to grow, crops to come in, herds to calve and grandchildren to be born. There would be a lot of waiting as he continued his walk with God.

The same is true for us. As we wait, we can choose to wait on the Lord and be of good courage. We can remember that, in the waiting, God is with us and wants to show us things and speak His Word to us and use us to further His plans. He wants to build us up, often through waiting and, as He does so, we can work with Him, worship Him, walk with Him until the Lord brings us out of this life and into the New Creation He’s saved us for. Those who wait for the Lord will inherit the land.

Working For The Week’s End (Genesis 7:1-24)

‘What would you do if you only had one week left to live’ has been the premise of daydreams, movies, and plenty of second-rate jokes. But here is a different question: What would you do if everyone else had only one week to live? That was the reality that Noah found himself in in Genesis 7. After perhaps 100 years of building, the time had come when God would do what he had said so many years before. The moment of destruction and deliverance was upon the world.

Genesis 7:1 – 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.

Noah was not just a religious man, he had a relationship with God. He “walked with God.” We don’t know how much direct communication he had with the Lord during this ark-building project. God had spoken, but it’s altogether possible that Noah had not heard from God for many years. Even so, Noah had acted on the Word that he had received.

When does God speak to us? Some of these Bible characters went decades between interactions with the Lord. We are not subject to that kind of drought. We have the completed, inspired, reliable Word of God available to us any time, day or night. Christians have the Holy Spirit living in our hearts. We have a spiritual family that we’re to be connected to – the local church – by whom we’re encouraged, supported and sharpened as we walk with the Lord. If we haven’t heard from the Lord in awhile, it isn’t because the supply is depleted, it is because we have not visited the storehouses of God’s provision. After all, the Bible says that He gives to all “generously and ungrudgingly.”

God said, “It’s time for your family to be delivered from the coming wrath against sin.” We’ve seen it before but it’s worth repeating: Noah wasn’t saved because he earned a place on the ark. He didn’t win a contest. No, Hebrews states emphatically that he was made righteous by God because he had faith. That’s the same work that God does in a life today when a person believes in Him.

Noah was the only righteous person in the entire world. Maybe you are the only Christian in your school or at your job or in your family. Take courage! God is still true. God is still working and He delights in using you to make an eternal difference right where you are.

Now, all this time, Noah had not been given a date for when the flood would come. It must’ve been a strange thing, knowing that the ark must be completed, but, at the same time, we know a huge project like that always has more you could do. Another coat of pitch on the hull. Another calculation for the water and grain. Noah’s efforts would have to be urgent but continual. The same is true for us. There is a judgment coming. We’ve been enlisted to be a part of the rescue work. Our efforts should be urgent and continual, all the more as we see the day approaching.

Genesis 7:2-3 – 2 You are to take with you seven pairs, a male and its female, of all the clean animals, and two of the animals that are not clean, a male and its female, 3 and seven pairs, male and female, of the birds of the sky—in order to keep offspring alive throughout the earth.

Bible scholars disagree over whether it was seven of certain animals or seven pairs. It seems that pairs is more fitting, as it says “male and female,” which would require an even number.

It’s taken for granted that Noah knew the difference between clean and unclean animals. These early believers had more information, given by God, than the text records for us.

This clean/unclean thing gives us a good reminder: God is the One Who establishes truth. He decided this list for Noah. That doesn’t mean we can’t eat pork, the New Testament deals with that. But we find ourselves in a time when everyone wants to debate every truth, every definition, every category and meaning. But absolute truth is found in the Word of God and it does not change.

Let’s take a moment to realize the awesome responsibility God was giving Noah. “Take these animals…in order to keep offspring alive throughout the earth.” If the Lord had given me that task, I might answer back with, “Sure thing…but maybe could we have like 20 pairs instead of one? I don’t like these odds! I need some wiggle room!”

This restriction reminds us that God is able to do a very lot with a very little. Whether it’s two little piglets or a widow’s two mites or mustard seed faith. But here’s the question: Do we trust the Lord when it seems like His way isn’t enough? For example: Do we trust God enough to give Him some of our finances like He asks us to or do we answer back, “Lord, I need more before I do that?” Do we trust God enough to stand against the pressure of the culture, even when everyone around us is going along? Do we trust God enough to be the Director of where we live, who we marry, how we live, and what we do? He has plans and methods and commands and they can be trusted.

Genesis 7:4 – 4 Seven days from now I will make it rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing I have made I will wipe off the face of the earth.”

Noah was, literally, in the last days of his world. It must have been a very full week. Most of you, when going on a long trip, go through a lot of details while packing and preparing. I’m sure Noah was very busy. In fact, we know he was.

Genesis 7:5 – 5 And Noah did everything that the Lord commanded him.

Noah is a walking illustration of saving faith. Saving faith is obedient.

John 14:15 – [Jesus said] 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commands.

Hebrews 5:9 – [Jesus is] …the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him

We see these polls about how many people “believe in God.” Gallup has put the number as high as 87% of Americans. But it’s obvious that 87% of Americans are not obeying God’s Word.

You’ve probably heard someone called a RINO. It stands for “Republican in name only.” It’s been an especially popular slur in the last few years, but it dates back to the 1920’s. It’s meant to describe someone who takes a label but doesn’t adhere to certain positions. We should be more worried about being disciples in name only. Do we obey? Obedience has real world consequences.

Genesis 7:6 – 6 Noah was six hundred years old when the flood came and water covered the earth.

Noah was two thirds of the way through life. God uses people of all ages, in all places for His glory.

Genesis 7:7-10 – 7 So Noah, his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives entered the ark because of the floodwaters. 8 From the animals that are clean, and from the animals that are not clean, and from the birds and every creature that crawls on the ground, 9 two of each, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, just as God had commanded him. 10 Seven days later the floodwaters came on the earth.

In total, they would be on the ark for 377 days. In verse 13 it will seem like they entered the ark on the day the waters came. Why? There would be a lot of in and out that final week – loading animals, supplies, and personal effects. But also, Noah was a real person like you and me. You have unsaved family and friends, right? If you knew they were going to die next Tuesday, wouldn’t you find a moment to visit them just one more time and try to convince them that they could be saved?

Some commentators make much of the idea that the ark was proportioned like a huge coffin. I think that is taking a little too much license, but it does give us an analogy to think about. We know Noah was a preacher. I’m sure that he was preaching right up to the moment he was closed into this big wooden box. As believers, we want our lives to be preaching to the very end. I don’t only mean the end of our mortal lives. There are times when you’re going to make an exit – when you move to a different place or leave your job. Find ways to proclaim the Gospel in those last days.

A few weeks ago we hosted the retirement ceremony for a lady who comes to the church who had served for twenty years in the Navy. It was a great event. It was particularly great because this faithful sister used the chance to proclaim the Gospel to a group of people she may not see again.

This seven day countdown also proves to us God’s compassion. He gave the people of earth 120 years to repent. And now, He provides a final grace period before the end. He’ll do so again before the whole world is once more judged. Only in the future it won’t be 7 short days, it will be 7 years.

Genesis 7:11-12 – 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 sources of the vast watery depths burst open, the floodgates of the sky were opened, 12 and the rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

There are a variety explanations for the mechanics of the flood. In the end, we can’t be sure. There’s the vapor canopy model, the hydroplate model, the catastrophic plate tectonics model. It might have been a mixture of various occurrences. The hydroplate model has compelling evidence, though it doesn’t solve every question. No theory does. I’d encourage you to visit sites like Answers In Genesis and the Institute For Creation Research and take a look at their fascinating articles.

But, if the hydroplate theory is correct, the bursting of water and pressure would’ve been the equivalent of 30 trillion hydrogen bombs exploding on the earth. This wasn’t just a bunch of rain. This was a disaster the likes of which we’ve never seen. Along with torrents of water, magma and rock would’ve been falling from the sky. Commentators point out that the proportions of the ark are nautically ideal – that because of the way it was laid out, it could be brought almost to a 90 degree angle and still not capsize. But it wasn’t just a really good design. God would’ve had to protect the ark from falling dangers, like He would later in the book of Exodus during the plague of hail which fell on the Egyptians but not in the land of Goshen. God will, once again, provide miraculous protection for His 144,000 witnesses during the Great Tribulation.

Genesis 7:13-16 – 13 On that same day Noah along with his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, entered the ark, along with Noah’s wife and his three sons’ wives. 14 They entered it with all the wildlife according to their kinds, all livestock according to their kinds, all the creatures that crawl on the earth according to their kinds, every flying creature—all the birds and every winged creature—according to their kinds. 15 Two of every creature that has the breath of life in it came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 Those that entered, male and female of every creature, entered just as God had commanded him. Then the Lord shut him in.

Why is this account so repetitive? God obviously wants us to understand this was a true and literal event. It is also the end of one era and the beginning of a new era – a new era with a whole new world, whose geology demands understanding. But, on a devotional level, this text is solemn. We should read it and realize how serious God is about sin. It’s not a joke to Him. It’s not a small thing. At the same time, He is also serious about saving. He will not fail to save. He always makes a way.

We’re told that “The Lord shut [Noah] in.” Adrian Rogers points out that God did not tell Noah to make a little peg on the side of the ark and then say, “Ok, Noah – as long as you hold onto that peg, you’ll be safe.” No, God shut them in securely. You don’t work to get your salvation and you don’t work to maintain it. God is the Author and Finisher of your faith. He holds you in His hand.

In that moment, when the Lord closed the door, I imagine Noah might’ve said, “Lord, can’t you come in here with us?” I’d rather have the Angel of the Lord in the boat with me, wouldn’t you? But it’s clear that God was with Noah. He watched Noah and looked deep into his heart. He spoke to Noah and helped him obey. God knew Noah’s family and cared for them. God is with you in every storm, in every hurt, in every struggle, in every valley. He will never leave you or forsake you.

Genesis 7:17-20 – 17 The flood continued for forty days on the earth; the water increased and lifted up the ark so that it rose above the earth. 18 The water surged and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 Then the water surged even higher on the earth, and all the high mountains under the whole sky were covered. 20 The mountains were covered as the water surged above them more than twenty feet.

Everything about earth’s geography changed after the flood. Some scientists suggest the highest mountains were five or six thousand feet. But even the volume of water shows God’s tender care for his people. The ark was 45 feet high, meaning that, as it floated, half of it would be submerged in water, which means if water wasn’t at least 20 feet or so higher than the highest peak, the ark might run aground. In wrath God remembers mercy. He is thoughtful of His people at all times.

Genesis 7:21-24 – 21 Every creature perished—those that crawl on the earth, birds, livestock, wildlife, and those that swarm on the earth, as well as all mankind. 22 Everything with the breath of the spirit of life in its nostrils—everything on dry land died. 23 He wiped out every living thing that was on the face of the earth, from mankind to livestock, to creatures that crawl, to the birds of the sky, and they were wiped off the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark. 24 And the water surged on the earth 150 days.

Only those 8 believers were saved. There was no second boat. Tubal-Cain didn’t secretly sneak onto the ark like in that ridiculous Russell Crowe movie. In the coming wrath, only those who believe on Jesus Christ will be saved. There is no other way out.

The dramatic action of God in Noah’s day and in the yet future Tribulation prove that you are not an accident. You were created by God for a purpose. That purpose is to be loved by Him. To be cleansed of your sin so that you might walk with Him and be in communion with Him. The way out of death and into this incredible life has always been the same in every age: Believe God, believe His word, turn from the ruin of sin and instead embrace Him. Walk with Him now so that, one day, you will arrive at your eternal home, where righteousness dwells.

How many weeks do we have left to live before we are delivered through the storm of death onto the shores of eternity? We don’t know. But we can wait with urgency and continual faithfulness, based on God’s reliable promise, knowing He’s ready to use us, even till the last minute.

Very Important Persons (Genesis 6:13-22)

Is your job important? As human beings we have an innate desire for significance and we can find it many places.You’ve probably heard of TED talks. “TED began in 1984 as a Technology, Entertainment and Design conference. Today you can watch more than 3,700 talks their website, many of which discuss the “importance” of particular topics like, “the importance of listening,” “the importance of preserving cultural artifacts.” Of “emotional tone in a digital age.” Of “good conversation” and “self-care.” Of “visual literacy” and “diversity in the comic book universe.” Of educating girls” and of “space lawyers.” Those are all real topics or playlists on

Noah had the most important human job ever. There was only one job that was more significant: That was the Messiah’s job to come and bridge the gap between heaven and earth – a job no mere human could do. But Noah was humanity’s only hope for survival. One man, from whom all of us descend. The one man who carried the torch which would ultimately bring the Deliverer to us.

There was a time there when, in my dad’s family, I was the last Pensiero male who could carry on our family’s name. Of course, there are other Pensieros out there somewhere. Hopefully that won’t keep you up at night. But if Noah dies – if his family dies – that’s the end of humanity.

But his life and its work aren’t only important because of what he preserved. It also gives to us two very important illustrations. It gives a picture and a precedent. On the one hand, it is a picture of God’s unrelenting work of saving the lost. On the other hand, it is a precedent for how we can also respond to the call of God and invest our lives in His important work ourselves. It all begins with God’s spoken word.

Genesis 6:13 – 13 Then God said to Noah, “I have decided to put an end to every creature, for the earth is filled with wickedness because of them; therefore I am going to destroy them along with the earth.

We don’t know how God revealed Himself, but however He did, He did so directly. God speaks directly. He speaks of Who He is and what He’s done and what He’s going to do. Sometimes we wish we had a face-to-face chat with the Lord like Abraham did or Paul or Solomon, but the truth is we have a much greater volume of information than they did. We have the completed, inerrant, conspicuous Word of God. In that Word, God loves to reveal His heart and His plans to us. We don’t know every detail of every act of providence, but God likes to let us in on what He’s doing. In Genesis 18 the Lord will say, “Shall I hide what I’m about to do from Abraham?” And the same characteristic is seen here. God wanted Noah to understand what He was going to be doing. He explained the what and the why. His Word is given to you so that you can know Him. Psalms and Jeremiah show us that God wants us to know Him. God wants us to know His voice and know His works and know His will.

We’ve seen that His will for mankind was to fill the world with goodness – His goodness. Instead, the world was filled with wickedness and rebellion. In response, a global flood was coming.

There are those who would rather think of the flood as a local flood. Their reasons usually come down to ideas about the volume of water on the earth today and the prevailing assumptions about the age of the earth based off of the theory of evolution. However, both the Old and New Testaments plainly indicate a global flood. If it was local, there would be no need for Noah to build a boat. He’d simply need to take a road trip. Additionally, the fossil record serves as an expert witness to the historicity of a sudden, global flood. Like how we’ve found marine fossils on top of Mount Everest, and air-breathing dinosaur fossils found in ocean deposits. Other fossils are found vertically preserved across multiple strata layers, and we see the existence of fossilized, soft-tissue organisms like octopi. Not to mention the fact that flood narratives can be found in the traditions of various cultures on every continent – not just in the mid-east, but extending around the globe. For example, the Powhatan tribe of Virginia “have a tradition of the [flood], that all the world was once drowned, except a few that were saved…about seven or eight in a great [canoe].” The flood was global, sudden, and verifiable.

Interestingly, when God revealed this coming judgment, Noah did not try to intercede on humanity’s behalf. Abraham will, famously, try to save the city of Sodom from its judgment. Moses interceded on behalf of the children of Israel, that God would not wipe them off the earth. Not so with Noah. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t going to be a part of God’s merciful salvation. In fact, after revealing the coming wrath, God gives Noah an urgent commission.

Genesis 6:14 – 14 “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it with pitch inside and outside.

We don’t know what gopher wood was, some believe it was cypress, but here’s what’s more precious to know: When God told Noah to cover it with “pitch” the word used there is the same word the Old Testament uses for “atonement.” The covering of sin. One Bible dictionary defines it as: “the price of a life…the ransom.” In order to save us, our sin must be covered. We must be atoned for, that our lives might be ransomed.

1 John 2:2 – [Jesus Christ]… is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.

The ark becomes a picture for us of several things but, first and foremost, it is an illustration of salvation in Jesus Christ. He is the lifeboat, Who saves us from the unsurvivable judgment. He made the way secure by sealing our salvation with His own blood.

Noah was to make ‘rooms in the ark.’ There’s a tender image here – the word God uses for rooms is actually ‘nests.’ If you’ve seen WALL•E you might recall that all of humanity has been saved off of planet earth in a giant, ark-like space ship. At the end, as they return to earth, there’s a scene where they’re all standing on this wide deck and the ship jumps to light speed and all the people just sorta fall over and crash around. That wouldn’t be the experience of the animals on the ark. There was an appropriate and cozy place prepared for each of them.

This is what God has done for you and me. Of course, we think of that promise Jesus made that He was going to heaven to prepare a place for us, but we also consider how He prepares a nest for us on this side of eternity as well. God has scattered us where we are so that we might be knit together with other members of the local flock we find ourselves near. The Lord’s work is to give us a home that is safe and firm, built on the Rock, and able to withstand the storms of this world.

Genesis 6:15 – 15 This is how you are to make it: The ark will be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.

Some of you have been to the Ark Encounter in Kentucky, so you’ve got a great mental picture of the proportions of this great barge. For those of us who haven’t, it might be hard to imagine the size we’re talking about. Particularly if your translation uses cubits instead of feet. The cubit was the length from your elbow to the tip of your middle finger. Naturally, that varies from person to person. In the ancient world, there were all sorts of cubits – some as short as 17 inches, some as long as 25. We use the 18 inch cubit in our thinking because it’s a good, conservative estimate and aligns with what we know about how the Jews, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Egyptians measured the cubit.

The ark had over 100,000 square feet of deck space and 1.4 million cubic feet of storage space. That’s the same square footage that engineers use as a rule of thumb for a city block, by the way. The ceiling of each deck would be at about 15 feet. Noah would’ve been able to bring 125,000 sheep-sized animals onto the ark. Of course, many were larger, but many were smaller. Plus, some scholars speculate that the animals would’ve been juveniles, which would’ve helped both in size and reproductive longevity after the flood.

This stage is about 12 feet by 16 feet. Noah could build a storage box the length and width of this stage, built up just 4 and a half feet, and that would be large enough to store 2 years worth of water for him and his family. Of course, the animals would need water too, but we can start to get the picture of just how much space this ark would provide.

So, how many animals did Noah bring on the ark? There’s no way for us to know. But, keep in mind that he wouldn’t have to bring each species of dog, dinosaur, bird, but only representative kinds from which other species would once again spring. Even still, if we look at the world today, it’s estimated that there are fewer than 34,000 different species of land-dependent animals. Creation scientists suggest they could’ve taken fewer than 7,000 animals, but even if they took 80,000, you would still have a ton of deck space left over.

Genesis 6:16 – 16 You are to make a roof, finishing the sides of the ark to within eighteen inches of the roof. You are to put a door in the side of the ark. Make it with lower, middle, and upper decks.

One door. Remember, the ark was a working object lesson of salvation. Jesus made it very clear that there is one way and only one way to be saved, and that is through Him. He said “I am the Door.” We are the sheep, His beloved lambs, that are called to enter through this Door and if anyone enters by Him, they will be saved but if not, there is no hope.

Genesis 6:17 – 17 “Understand that I am bringing a flood—floodwaters on the earth to destroy every creature under heaven with the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.

God was asking Noah to do something very unusual. Remember: It had never rained on the earth. It had certainly never flooded. God had interacted with humans from time to time, but there had never been this sort of involvement. And now, the Lord asked Noah to spend his life on this project. It must’ve seemed so absurd to the people around him. But notice that God did not ask for blind faith. He didn’t ask Noah to do something silly just for the sake of standing out. He said, “Understand what I’m doing.” It would still have to be done by faith, trusting that what had never been seen was really going to happen, but what may have seemed foolish to the unbelieving world wasn’t rooted in foolhardiness. It was rooted in God’s truth. This is the same situation you and I find ourselves in. Peter says in his second epistle:

2 Peter 3:3-7 – 3 Scoffers will come in the last days scoffing and following their own evil desires, 4 saying, “Where is his ‘coming’ that he promised? Ever since our ancestors fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.” 5 They deliberately overlook this: By the word of God the heavens came into being long ago and the earth was brought about from water and through water. 6 Through these the world of that time perished when it was flooded. 7 By the same word, the present heavens and earth are stored up for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Our belief and activity are based on the Word of God. The Scripture is the bedrock, the blueprint, and the compass of our faith. It has been prepared, preserved, and passed on to you so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.

Now, sometimes obedience does come before understanding. Abraham had to obey God concerning Isaac before he understood. But God is very up front with us about His plans, His overall will, His commands, and His desires.

Genesis 6:18 – 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark with your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives.

This is the first use of the term ‘covenant’ in the Bible. Biblically speaking, a covenant is a treaty – an alliance of friendship. There is “no firmer guarantee of legal security, peace, or personal loyalty.” But a covenant is no good unless the other party is trustworthy. Moses was delivering this book originally to the people of Israel, with whom God wanted to make a covenant, full of terms and promises. Could He be trusted? Well, here Moses brings out the record of God’s covenant with Noah. He will do so again with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yes, this God could absolutely be trusted. He was true and His predictions were true and His power was true. He was proven!

What are the terms set by God for salvation from judgment? Come in! That’s it. Jesus said, “Come unto Me and I will give you rest.” Anyone who hears, anyone who’s thirsty, anyone who desires the water of life must simply come and receive it without price because the bill has already been paid.

Genesis 6:19-21 – 19 You are also to bring into the ark two of all the living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of everything—from the birds according to their kinds, from the livestock according to their kinds, and from the animals that crawl on the ground according to their kinds—will come to you so that you can keep them alive. 21 Take with you every kind of food that is eaten; gather it as food for you and for them.”

Some scholars suggest that the Lord would’ve put all the animals into hibernation. Maybe. There’s not really any indication of that. But here we see that Noah had an awesome responsibility to protect life. The life of his family. The lives of these creatures. They mattered to God. To do what God was asking him would require a lot of effort, expense, thoughtfulness, and application.

But did you notice the key thing there? In verse 19 we read, “You are…to bring” but in verse 20 we read, “[the animals] will come to you.” You see, God’s work is a partnership – one where He does the heavy lifting. He provides all we need to accomplish what seems impossible. He empowers and supplies and accomplishes and we cooperate with His work, not the other way around. We call it “Noah’s ark,” but as we see here, it’s all God’s show. As His people, we are simply stage hands serving Him, to bring Him honor, to further His purpose, to join in the impossible. Noah did.

Genesis 6:22 – 22 And Noah did this. He did everything that God had commanded him.

Thank God that He did, because our lives depended on it. We talked last time about how Noah was a preacher. Peter says that about him. It was important that he preached, but let’s not miss the fact that he practiced what he preached. He lived his life in belief that what God said was going to happen was actually going to happen. And so, when the rain came down, the ark floated up.

This ark tells us so much about how God works. Remember, it is an illustration to us of His effort to intervene and save the doomed sinners of earth. Through this story we see that God’s work is long-suffering and patient. He waited so long before judgment finally fell. We see that God’s work is always rooted in His grace. We see that what He does is sufficient for anyone who will believe Him. There’s plenty of room. And we see that He is generous. Generous to involve us in His good work, generous to supply what we need, generous to give us the strength and the understanding to do what He asks us to do. But we also see that God’s work is exclusive. No other way. No other boat.

But what about how this story speaks to us about our own lives? Some scholars estimate that Noah was building the ark for 120 years, maybe 100. The folks at Answers In Genesis put it somewhere between 55-75 years. From where we sit, that’s a lifetime of work. If you’ve never read Robinson Crusoe, I highly recommend it. It’s surprisingly Christ-centric. But in one section the book talks about just how difficult it was for Robinson to fell a single tree and start breaking it down to fashion tools and boards from it. The time and the effort. Now imagine Noah and this undertaking.

We imagine the incredible scope and can’t help but think, “Well, yeah. That’s Noah. He’s a special servant of God.” So are you! Hebrews declares that we are links in the same chain of cooperation that Noah was a part of. What’s even more amazing is that the Bible shows that it’s not the scale of what you do that matters. You can make an eternal difference by handing someone a cup of water, by writing a letter, by praying for someone, even the countenance of your face.

So, remove the scale for a moment and see Noah’s faithful cooperation with God as a precedent set for you and I, who continue in his footsteps. What do we see? We see a man being obedient to the Word of God and carrying out his personal calling. We see that our work for God is especially concerned with the family, not at the expense of everyone else, but it is a primary responsibility. We see that though God does the heavy lifting and pours out His grace, it’s going to cost us something to participate in the important work of God and it is meant to be a lifelong cooperation with Him. And we see that, when all is said and done, we are meant to be purveyors of salvation. The goal of Christian work is people getting saved. That was the point of building the ark. Not so Noah could say he was the first to do something or that he built the biggest whatever. The point wasn’t for him to make a name for himself, but to save people.

Each aspect of the project was very important. In this work of God, you might be the person keeping the pitch warm or passing the boards along or you may be herding some cats into their nest. You may be answering questions about what God has said to some unbeliever passing by. You might be instructing your kids in the ways of the Lord. What’s important, what makes your work important, is how you follow Noah’s example and carry out your calling according to God’s Word and His purpose, being ready to receive whatever He brings to you, remembering that a judgment is coming, but salvation is available to anyone who will believe. Find your importance by drawing near to God, and continuing in your trust in Him, continuing in His revealed truth, and continuing in the tradition of Noah.

The Big Unfriendly Giants (Genesis 6:1-12)

If I were to ask you to think of times in history you would like to travel back to for a visit I’m guessing we’d bump into each other at certain points – maybe at Lazarus’ tomb or the parting of the Red Sea or the Gettysburg Address. I can’t imagine many of us would choose to send ourselves back to the days of Noah – a time of violence, corruption, depravity, and danger. Maybe we’d enjoy seeing part of the building of the ark, but we’d run the risk of being killed while we watched! But consider this: We may not want to travel back to that evil time, but Jesus has assured us that the days of Noah are coming again just before His return.

Are we in those days now? What made them different than the run-of-the-mill sinfulness that has defined humanity since the fall of man? Is there any hope for Christian ministry if we know that things are going to go from bad to worse as the end of all things approaches?

Here at Calvary Hanford, we have spent focused time on the days of Noah. We have a whole series on the website. We think it is important, given the Lord’s discussion of it in His Olivet Discourse. But this topic, particularly in the first part of chapter 6, is controversial in the Christian community and some of it is hard for us to wrap our minds around. But, in difficult passages, we remind ourselves that God’s word is trustworthy and it is meant to be understood – it’s presented clearly and plainly for our benefit, so we might be made complete and equipped for the Christian life.

When we left off, the genealogy of Seth came to a sudden halt with this man Noah. Now, the story is going to zoom in on the world of Noah, showing what had become of God’s once-perfect creation.

Genesis 6:1-2 – When mankind began to multiply on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of mankind were beautiful, and they took any they chose as wives for themselves.

The immediate question is: Who are the ‘sons of God’ and the ‘daughters of men?’ There are three major perspectives you will encounter. The first is that the ‘sons of God’ were the males born to the line of Seth. The ‘daughters of men,’ then, are the females born to the line of Cain. This argument says that the good boys from Seth eventually started marrying the bad girls from Cain and their Godliness was corrupted. This perspective came about sometime around the 3rd century AD. The problems with this view are: It does not harmonize with what Peter and Jude say in reference to this period of time. It also doesn’t work linguistically. It doesn’t explain why the offspring of these unions are described the way they are in verse 4. And it doesn’t account for the fact that verse 12 says that everyone on earth was corrupt in God’s eyes – everyone except one man and his family.

The second view is that the ‘sons of God’ are meant to be understood as nobles who started marrying peasants, adding to their harems. But this still doesn’t explain the offspring issue. And, it almost gives us the impression that God was upset that humans weren’t keeping to a caste system, and that, in response, He was going to judge the innocent along with the wicked.

The third view is the strangest, but is the one that has been accepted since antiquity. More importantly, it harmonizes with what we read in both Testaments. And this view states that the ‘sons of God’ were fallen, supernatural beings who came to earth and procreated with human women, defiling the population of earth and proliferating great evil by their offspring.

Why do we think this? First, it’s the plainest reading. Second, in their letters, Jude and Peter refer to angels during Noah’s time who left their proper domain and fell into perverse, sexual sin. Also, it’s important to note that, in the Old Testament, the term ‘sons of God’ only refers to angelic beings. There’s never a time when it refers to a human being until the New Testament, when we’re told that believers are made into sons of God through a divine act of creation, which we call the new birth.

But critics recoil at the suggestion that angels could mate with humans. They argue, “Jesus said the angels don’t marry.” That’s true, they don’t marry in heaven. But nowhere does it say that angels could never perform these activities. We do see angels doing “human” things in the Old Testament. Angels eat with Abraham later in this very book.

Some scholars synthesize the Noble view with the angelic view, that fallen angels possessed human men who took all these women as wives. However it happened, what we’re seeing is fallen angels procreating with human women and producing a very specific, very evil offspring.

Genesis 6:3 – 3 And the Lord said, “My Spirit will not remain with mankind forever, because they are corrupt., Their days will be 120 years.”

God doesn’t mean that He’s going to start limiting man’s lifespan to 120. Noah would live to be 950. But then, by the time you get to Psalm 90, the lifespan was 70 or 80 at best. No, God was saying that judgment must come, but, in His grace, He would still wait 120 years before sending the flood.

God assesses mankind and says, “They are corrupt” (your version may say they are ‘flesh’). They had fully turned away from any sort of spiritual communion with God and had embraced the sinful fleshiness of humanity. Thanks to Adam and Eve’s sin, this was now the natural inclination of the human heart. And it still is today. All are sinners. All have gone astray. As unbelievers, our minds are set on the things of the flesh. Our desires, our drives, our selves. The problem is, that mentality only leads to slavery and death. Paul explains in Romans that the mindset of the flesh is hostile to God and it causes us to be enslaved to sin, and it only ever ends in one place: The grave.

During the days of Noah, the people would not believe, but God still waited 120 years, sending them preachers like Noah and Enoch, offering them a way of escape because He has always been a God of compassion and mercy.

Genesis 6:4 – 4 The Nephilim were on the earth both in those days and afterward, when the sons of God came to the daughters of mankind, who bore children to them. They were the powerful men of old, the famous men.

We can get confused in this topic because the Old Testament talks about Nephilim, or the Rephaim or the Anakim or the Zamzummim. Nephilim is the term God uses to describe these hybrid offspring – part supernatural, part human. The term means “fallen ones.” The other names (listed above) are either names used by other people or they are proper names given to specific descendants of the Nephilim. For example, the descendants of a particular Nephilim named Anak came to be known as the “Anakim.” We run into them in Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua and, perhaps, 1 and 2 Samuel. The Nephilim are shown in the Bible to be giants of great strength and ferocity.

I think for most of us, it’s easy to believe Goliath existed. We’ve seen tall people before. It’s harder to accept the idea of what we would elsewhere call ‘demigods.’ That is, after all, what we’re talking about, right? A part-man, part-supernatural being? Isn’t that mythology? The Bible is history, isn’t it? How could this kind of mythological idea be supported?

Before writing it off, let’s ask ourselves a few questions. First, it’s true, human mythology contains the idea of demigods. But where did that idea come from? This concept of divine beings cohabiting with humans to create titan offspring can be found, most famously, in Greek culture, but they’re hardly the only ones. This idea is also found in places and cultures like Egypt, Sumer, Persia, India, Mesopotamia, the Incas, the Mayans, the Assyrians, the islands of the South Seas, among the American Indians, in South America, the Zulus, Sudan, Senegal, the Philippines, the Romans, and in Norse mythology. As Bruce Waltke writes, “Instead of the Bible representing myth as history, as is commonly alleged, perhaps the ancients turned history into myth.”

Another question we might ask is: Doesn’t this make sense as a satanic strategy? What had God promised thus far in human history? That a Seed of the woman would destroy the Serpent. Then what happened? Cain was influenced by the Devil to kill his Godly brother, Abel. Of course, that didn’t stop God from providing Eve with other sons. Satan couldn’t kill them all. So, why not switch tactics? Why not completely pollute the population of the earth, thereby making it impossible for the Seed to arrive? We know he loves to plant tares among the wheat. The Devil has gone to great lengths, again and again, to stop God’s plan. He always fails, but he always tries.

Chuck Missler brings up an interesting thought. As most of you know, there are quite a few monuments around the world that cause archaeologists to scratch their heads. How did ancient societies, without machinery, set up things like Stonehenge or Easter Island? Is it possible that incredibly powerful giants had a hand in it? Sites like the Gilgal Rephaim, an ancient megalithic monument found on the Golan heights. Today, it’s called the “Wheel of Giants” and it’s a series of huge circles of tens of thousands of rocks, weighing in at more than 40,000 tons. Some of the stones weigh 5 tons on their own! The plot thickens when you discover that what we call the Golan Heights today was once known as Bashan, the place where Og, King of Bashan ruled. Og, the last of the Rephaim, a particular line of the Nephilim.

Wouldn’t it also be just like the Devil to influence human cultures to take these horrible monstrosities and turn them into heroes? To call good, evil and evil, good? Instead of acknowledging just how wrong this was, human societies started to venerate Hercules and Maui and Wonder Woman.

One very significant phrase there in verse 4: “The Nephilim were on the earth both in those days and afterward.” It seems that, after the flood, God permitted the fallen angels to once again introduce the Nephilim into our world, but they were much more limited in their scope and they were ultimately overcome by God’s servants like Caleb, Joshua and David with his mighty men.

Genesis 6:5-7 – 5 When the Lord saw that human wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time, 6 the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and he was deeply grieved. 7 Then the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I created, off the face of the earth, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them.”

The Bible is clear that God does not change. So what are we to make of a passage like this? God is describing the pain He felt because of the sin of man. God has emotion. God can feel emotional pain. The term ‘grieved’ there is likened to the deep breathing in in response to pain. When we regret things, it’s usually because we’ve made a mistake. We regret that haircut or that thing we said. God’s regret was not because He had made some sort of mistake, but because of His love for humanity which had rejected Him. In the Garden, Adam and Eve had disobeyed, but (as we saw) they then remained in communion with God. Not so in the days of Noah. All but 8 had rejected the Lord. And now, God must respond to their sin. As one writer put it, they had “spent all the capital of God’s mercy.” It was time to pay the bill.

You and I can cause God pain. That is a shocking thing to hear. We see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem and He is the exact expression of God the Father’s nature. Ephesians 4 commands us to not grieve the Holy Spirit. Your words, your actions, the attitude of your heart, these things matter to God. And because He is love, He is able to be hurt by our rebellion and disobedience. God was personally sorrowful over the ruination of sin all over the earth and He was right to respond to it with wrath. But then verse 8 gives us this amazing sentence:

Genesis 6:8 – 8 Noah, however, found favor with the Lord.

The word favor is also translated as ‘grace’ and this is the very first use of it in the Bible. This all-important blessing from God – His unmerited favor. It’s important that we realize that Noah did not earn favor with God. Grace is always a free gift. It’s not that Noah was the one guy on the planet to keep the rules. We’re told why he laid hold of grace in the book of Hebrews:

Hebrews 11:7 – 7 By faith Noah, after he was warned about what was not yet seen and motivated by godly fear, built an ark to deliver his family. By faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

We’re told the secret three times: By faith, by faith, by faith! Noah believed, and therefore he was justified by God and made righteous by God. And here, we learn the unchanged principle that, no matter how wicked the days are, no matter how evil those around us are, if we trust God in faith, He will pour out His grace in our lives and in our families and deliver us from evil.

Verses 9 through 12 summarize what the first 8 verses said.

Genesis 6:9-12 – 9 These are the family records of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among his contemporaries; Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah fathered three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with wickedness. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth was, for every creature had corrupted its way on the earth.

We’re told Noah was…blameless among his contemporaries. On the one hand, we’re seeing Noah described as a man in whom God was accomplishing sanctification. Noah was a sinner, of course. He made mistakes just like we do. But God was conforming his life into the image of His Son. He was giving Noah his righteousness and as Noah walked with God, that process developed.

But that phrase can also be translated as “perfect in his generations.” Not only was he living in such a way that he did not violate God’s commands, his own genetic makeup had not been violated by the fallen ones. This is so important because the Messiah would come from Noah. Therefore, no one can come along and claim the Promised Seed had been polluted.

As we close, we have to come back to the question from the beginning. We know the days of Noah are going to make a comeback before Jesus’ return, so, are we in those days now?

Dr. Henry Morris gives a good list that summarizes the days of Noah based off of what we read in the Scripture. In that time there was a “preoccupation with physical appetites, rapid advances in technology, grossly materialistic attitudes, inordinate devotion to pleasure and comfort, no concern for God in belief or conduct, disregard for the sacredness of marriage, rejection of the inspired word of God, a population explosion, widespread violence, corruption throughout society, preoccupation with illicit sexual activity, widespread blasphemy.” Sounds an awful lot like today, doesn’t it?

Noah wasn’t the one who decided what his “days” would be like. I’m guessing he would’ve much preferred the era of David or Solomon or Christ Himself. But there he was at an apex of earth’s evil. The difference between him and us is that we have each other. Noah’s family was the only believing family at the time of the flood. What could be done when the dark is that dark?

Besieged by monstrous, inhuman adversaries at Helm’s Deep, King Theodin nearly gives in to despair and says, “So much death. What can man do against such reckless hate?” The answer was to join the king and ride out in courage. It would not be accomplished without danger or without sacrifice. But as they launched into the fray there on the hill came the White Rider with the dawn and with victory in his hand, a host of the faithful following after him.

If we are in the days of Noah, we can still fulfill the commands of our King. He tells us to “be alert.” Watch and recognize the hour in which you live. At the same time, we can conduct ourselves like Noah did. He preached, prepared, and performed. He preached the Gospel, because God would have shown mercy to anyone who believed, whether they were related to Noah or not. He prepared, not just the ark, but he prepared his family. He prepared himself to do the right thing, the Godly thing, even when it was incredibly difficult. And he performed his calling. God asked him to do a very specific task. Noah performed it faithfully and excellently, with God’s help, direction and provision. Jesus said, “Blessed is that servant whom the master finds doing his job when he comes.”

Maybe we’re not quite to the days of Noah, though it seems like we are. Even still, we don’t know when the Master will come for us. So, let’s watch, let’s preach, let’s prepare and perform our callings, knowing the King is with us and the dawn is coming.

Take A Walk (Genesis 5)

One of the longest walks ever taken was by Jean Béliveau, who spent 11 years walking 46,600 miles across 64 countries. The Canada native did so in an effort to “raise awareness for children who suffer from violence.” He called it a walk for peace.

I can’t imagine walking for a decade. But imagine walking for several hundred years! That’s the image we’re given of two of Adam’s Godly descendants, who (we’re told) “walked with God.” Of course, as we’ll see, their lives were full of a lot more than just walking around.

We’re in a section of Genesis where God is contrasting two lineages. Last time we saw the line of Cain, full of rebellion and murder. But also full of great worldly feats. Tonight the Lord puts Seth’s line on display – the line from which the Deliverer would finally come. In this list there are two standouts: Enoch and Noah. Enoch walked with God for 365 years. Noah would for 950. They didn’t do so perfectly, but we find that their walks were potent and consequential, producing a great testimony that has lasted for thousands of years. They remind us that we are called to walk with God.

This analogy of walking with the Lord seems to be a favorite of His. He uses it here in the beginning. In one of His most significant post-resurrection appearances He goes on a walk with two believers on the road to Emmaus. During the time of the kings of Israel and Judah, they were always appraised by whether they “walked in the ways of David” or in the wicked ways of Jeroboam.

What does it mean to “walk with God?” Bruce Waltke writes, “[to walk with God] denotes to enjoy supernatural, intimate fellowship with God, not merely to live a pious life.” It makes sense if we think about the analogy. Walking with someone isn’t the same as busting out your cardio on a treadmill.

To walk with someone requires that you have a common goal. As the prophet Amos said, “Can two walk together without agreeing on the direction?” Of course, in this life, we can’t see beyond the here and now, so we have to trust God who does know the way. And therefore, to walk with Him means that we agree with His route.

To walk with someone requires closeness. If you go on a walk with a friend or your spouse, you walk in close proximity. If you’re 100 yards apart, you’re not walking together.

To walk with someone means that you’ll keep a similar pace. Though, on the spiritual level we often follow slowly and hike with a limp, the Lord does not leave us in the dust. He knows our weaknesses and is a High Priest who sympathizes with us.

When you walk with someone, you’re going to find yourself in personal conversation with them. As one source pointed out, it wouldn’t do for you to bring a kazoo along and blow it the whole time.

The Bible explains walking with God as being an ongoing, personal progression of faith and growth in our understanding of the Lord and our obedience to His will. Colossians chapter 3 is a very practical passage for how we are to walk with God, giving both positive instructions of what to do, like setting our minds on heavenly things and putting on compassion and putting to death what belongs to our earthly nature. And it also gives us negative instructions – things not to do. Like, don’t lie to one another, put away anger, filthy language and these other things that you used to walk in.

All told, walking with God is about an active and personal relationship with God Who desires to lead us, guide us, be known by us and shape our lives according to His glorious standard. It’s not just about conduct, but also communion with Him. That was the failure of the Pharisees. All conduct, no communion. They honored God with their lips but their hearts were far from Him.

So, with these ideas in our minds, let’s take a look at a couple of these faithful long walkers.

Genesis 5:1-2 – This is the document containing the family records of Adam. On the day that God created man, he made him in the likeness of God; 2 he created them male and female. When they were created, he blessed them and called them mankind.

Your version may something like, “This is the book of the genealogy of Adam.” The book of Genesis is actually broken up into 11 sections, each marked out by this term. We’ve already seen it once, back in chapter 2 where we saw the “history of the heavens and the earth.” Like this book of Adam, the rest will surround individuals. And they alternate between genealogy and narrative each time.

Notice here in verse 1 where it says, “On the day that God created man.” The book makes itself clear that we are to accept it as literal and historical. In fact, the genealogy we’re reading this evening is repeated in both 1 Chronicles and the Gospel of Luke. And so, if Adam isn’t literal, we have no reason to think David is literal or Jesus for that matter.

We’re reminded not only that these were real people, but as people, they were specially blessed by God. Mankind is a unique creation in God’s universe. We have a capacity to know and love Him that no other creature has. Even after the fall, when so much has been ruined, God allowed human beings to still have a capacity to love Him. And that is a great blessing.

Genesis 5:3-5 – 3 Adam was 130 years old when he fathered a son in his likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. 4 Adam lived 800 years after he fathered Seth, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 5 So Adam’s life lasted 930 years; then he died.

Using this verse as a basis, I’ve heard it said that human beings aren’t really created in the image of God anymore. “Look, it says right there that Seth was in the image of Adam!” I’m not sure what the point is, but Seth was in the image of Adam, who was made in the image of God, so I see no reason to downgrade humanity’s worth.

This does remind us that, after Adam, there was a serious alteration stamped into humanity: And that’s sin. Sin was now spreading throughout creation. It was passed down from father to child. And it had a very significant, very real consequence: Death.

Adam’s death was not the first on the earth, but it would’ve been a profound moment when he breathed his last and returned to the ground from which he was made.

I imagine Adam and Eve must’ve struggled with incredible guilt as they walked the earth, watching humans die, animals die, and sorrow multiply. And yet, we see Eve’s enduring hope in the coming deliverer. We see Adam training up his descendants in the ways of God. Yes, they were responsible for what had happened, but they were not crushed. God’s mercy overflowed and they were able to continue walking in faith and in the hope that God Himself would make all things right again.

If you are feeling guilt this evening, if you feel the weight of your sin, on one hand that’s a good thing. Sin is serious. But don’t carry that weight any longer. Lay it down at the cross where all the wrongs we have done and the wrongs done to us were nailed there with the Deliverer.

Adam lived 930 years. That means he lived long enough to see Noah’s dad turn 56. He didn’t get to meet Noah, but it’s remarkable to think about what sort of access and influence Adam and Eve would’ve had with these generations of people.

Through those long centuries, he must’ve wondered at some point, “What’s God waiting for?” We may wonder that today. In answer to Adam’s wondering, we could say God was waiting for you and me! And His long-suffering still waits today, because God’s desire is to populate eternity with people.

Long section now:

Genesis 5:6-20 – 6 Seth was 105 years old when he fathered Enosh. 7 Seth lived 807 years after he fathered Enosh, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 8 So Seth’s life lasted 912 years; then he died. 9 Enosh was 90 years old when he fathered Kenan. 10 Enosh lived 815 years after he fathered Kenan, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 11 So Enosh’s life lasted 905 years; then he died. 12 Kenan was 70 years old when he fathered Mahalalel. 13 Kenan lived 840 years after he fathered Mahalalel, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 14 So Kenan’s life lasted 910 years; then he died. 15 Mahalalel was 65 years old when he fathered Jared. 16 Mahalalel lived 830 years after he fathered Jared, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 17 So Mahalalel’s life lasted 895 years; then he died. 18 Jared was 162 years old when he fathered Enoch. 19 Jared lived 800 years after he fathered Enoch, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 20 So Jared’s life lasted 962 years; then he died.

I do find it interesting that we still have Seths and Jareds today but no Mahalelels or Enoshes.

This section is feels repetitive, like a record of routine things, but we can see that what is routine – living a life, having a family – is actually a significant part of the miraculous, providential work of God. Remember: This is the road that leads to Jesus. In your life and mine, God is still accomplishing His providence, even in our routine experiences. Your family life is not insignificant to Him or to history. In two of his letters, Paul celebrates what he calls a “quiet” life. A regular life, full of grace and the Holy Spirit, pleases God and is used by God to bring others to deliverance in Jesus.

Genesis 5:21-22 – 21 Enoch was 65 years old when he fathered Methuselah. 22 And after he fathered Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and fathered other sons and daughters.

There is a sudden change in the format. We’re told that this man walked with God. That doesn’t mean the others didn’t. We know almost nothing about them, but remember that the context is a comparison between the God-rejecting line of Cain and the God-believing line of Seth. We’ll also be told in Genesis 6 that Noah, too, “walked with God.” Along the way they had regular lives. But they were also preachers to the world around them. In fact, the book of Jude tells us that Enoch prophesied about the second coming of Christ and the final judgment. How did he know about these things? We don’t know. But they were, on some level, in some way, revealed to him.

His message could be summarized this way: “If you live according to your own desires, you will be judged.” That message is as true today as it was four thousand years ago. Solomon said that if we “walk in the ways of your heart and in the desire of your eyes…know that for all of these things God will bring you to judgment.” Because all of us have gone astray from the Lord. To be saved we must turn to Him, believe on Him, walk with Him who leads to life instead of death.

By the way, there are three apocryphal books said to have been written by Enoch. One of them is quoted by Jude. That doesn’t mean that the rest of what we have was actually written by Enoch or that they should be treated as Scripture, but that particular quote found in Jude 14 and 15 is genuine and was included by God the Holy Spirit in the Canon.

Genesis 5:23-24 – 23 So Enoch’s life lasted 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God; then he was not there because God took him.

We would say that Enoch was “raptured” – taken up bodily to be with the Lord without experiencing physical death. The same happened to Elijah and the same will happen to believers who are alive at the end of the Church age. The word there means that God snatched him. And it is the same term used in Psalm 73 where we read:

Psalm 73:24 – 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me up in glory.

The question is: If you have this Godly man, this prophet-preacher, why cut his life on the earth short? God knew judgment was coming. But He took Enoch home 669 years before the flood. Wouldn’t it have been better to leave him to preach?

First, there were other preachers – Noah would become one. But second, God really likes to set up what we call types in history and in the Scripture. Meaning, He accomplishes things that can be looked back upon to teach us truth about what is yet to come. For example, Abraham offering Isaac on Mount Moriah. That was a type of God the Father sacrificing His own Son on our behalf. Or the bronze snake that Moses made and set up in the wilderness. That anyone who was bitten by a serpent could look to that pole in faith and be healed. That was, of course, a type of Jesus lifted up on the cross, who anyone can simply look to, in faith, and be saved.

Enoch is part of a type. Judgment was coming. Enoch was warning people. There would only be one way of escape – God’s way. Then what happened? One of God’s people (Enoch) was suddenly snatched away. Another of God’s people (Noah) would be saved through the judgment on the ark.

We have now a powerful type of God’s plan for the end times. The Church, represented by Enoch, will be caught away suddenly. Then there will be an interval of time and God’s people, the Jews, will be saved through the Tribulation and coming judgment.

One other note about Enoch: One source points out that the phrasing of the Hebrew suggests that, “Enoch and God ‘got along.’” I think that’s a wonderful sentiment to consider. Do we get along with God? If not, it’s probably because we’re harboring some resentment toward Him or assuming that we know better than He does. We don’t. He is altogether right, altogether loving, altogether caring. If we’re having trouble ‘getting along’ with His leading, the defect is in us and we should invite Him to search us and see if there be any wicked way in us so that He might lead us in the way everlasting.

Genesis 5:25-27 – 25 Methuselah was 187 years old when he fathered Lamech. 26 Methuselah lived 782 years after he fathered Lamech, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 27 So Methuselah’s life lasted 969 years; then he died.

God had pronounced judgment through His servant Enoch. But before judgment came God waited and waited and waited, through the lifespan of the oldest man to ever live. God’s long-suffering is great. He really does want to save. He’s not willing that any should perish. This gives us context to why God waits today, why He allows so much wrong to continue, it’s so that a few more people might be brought into His family and be bought back from their sin, rescued from death.

Genesis 5:28-29 – 28 Lamech was 182 years old when he fathered a son. 29 And he named him Noah, saying, “This one will bring us relief from the agonizing labor of our hands, caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.”

Clearly, Lamech had hope in God and communion with Him. He knew that God was going to do something significant through Noah’s life. He was focused on that promised deliverance. We should be too. Now, the deliverance that God would work through Noah was almost assuredly not what Lamech had in mind. He was hoping things would be restored and rolled back. But, as we know, that’s not the plan for Noah’s life. Instead, God would bring deliverance through Noah, but it was in the form of a choice. Noah preached to the wicked world and gave them a choice. Peter compared it to baptism, which is – of course – a choice whether a person will surrender and believe God and walk with Him or whether they will go their own way.

The deliverance worked through Noah would also be a choice. Would they join him on the ark? I’m sure the wicked of the world were sick and tired of the agonizing labor of their hands, too, but would they turn from their wickedness? That was the question. That was the requirement for deliverance.

Genesis 5:30-32 – 30 Lamech lived 595 years after he fathered Noah, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 31 So Lamech’s life lasted 777 years; then he died. 32 Noah was 500 years old, and he fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Lamech died 5 years before the flood, Methuselah died the year it happened. This has led some to speculate that he was one of the wicked, but it’s only that – speculation. What we do know is that Methuselah’s father was a faithful follower of God and so was his son. Why trash his memory?

The genealogy leading to Jesus will take a pause here so we can focus on Noah and his family in the coming chapters. Here’s something to think about: The story we know of Noah’s walk with the Lord started halfway into his life. He’d live a total of 950 years. Of course, we can assume he was walking with God long before his fifth century. But it’s a good reminder that God’s work is not only for the young or only for the old. He works and moves in each of our lives, accomplishing His purposes as we walk with Him.

Jean Béliveau is celebrated by some people for his “walk for peace.” Dig a little deeper and you find some sad realities surrounding it: First of all, he admits he made the plan to take his walk because he was in a mid-life crisis. He hid his plan from his wife and children until a month before he left. When asked if he would periodically return home to be with them, he said “I’ll be back in 10 years.” He took his trip and relished meeting Nobel laureates like Nelson Mandela along the way, but meanwhile he missed the birth of his grandchildren, the passing of his father. What did he accomplish? Has he won peace for the world? Has he ended violence against children? He made a name for himself, but abandoned his own children in the process.

In a photo op on his walk, President Mandela said, “The world needs people like you.” No, the world needs people like Enoch and Noah. People who love the Lord and walk with Him. People who honor their families and seek the Lord in them. People who are faithful to the word of God and the callings of God. Let’s be those people. Let’s take a walk with our Lord. “So follow the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.”

The Not-So-Great Society (Genesis 4:17-25)

How do you make a “great” society? Of course, in the last few years the idea of making America great again has been discussed at length. Some may be surprised to learn that “Make America great again” was not a new idea. Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign slogan was, “Let’s make America great again.” He just didn’t think to put it on hats. We can go back before the Reagan era to Lyndon Johnson who had his ambitious plan for the “Great Society.” In his now famous commencement speech at the University Of Michigan in 1964, Johnson said, “…we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society…It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.”

Human beings want greatness for themselves and for their societies. There have been many approaches and yet so many fall short or create terrible unintended consequences in their pursuit of greatness. In that same speech President Johnson lamented: “It is harder and harder to live the good life in American cities today.”

Why is that? That’s been true of almost every place in every generation, including our own. Well, as we’ve seen in the opening chapters of Genesis, God had set up mankind for great things, but we stumbled out of the gate. The Lord got us back up on our feet, but now we were hobbled by sin. Fast forward a few years and we see Cain murdering his brother. As a society, we were not off to a great start. And yet, God was gracious and long-suffering. As always, He offered a way that people might have access to Him and find fulfillment. But, as is true today, He would not force anyone to go His way. Human beings had and still have a true free will to either believe God or reject Him.

As Genesis chapter 4 closes, we see the people of earth building cities, inventing things, designing systems. They’re spreading into different careers and writing and creating art. (This record is an affront, by the way, to the idea that early man was some sort of grunting cave dweller. Far from it – these first inhabitants of earth had marvelous intelligence, ingenuity and resourcefulness.)

As the population grows and busies itself, God not only keeps a record of it, but He also shows a very clear distinction to us. Once sin was in the picture we find that there are only two types of people in the world: Those who have faith in God and those who don’t. These two distinct groups were epitomized by Cain and Abel. Though there was a lot of different activity and opportunity and all sorts of new horizons humans were discovering, all of that could be stripped away and there was one thing left: Did a person believe God? That difference was profound, not only in how a person thought and behaved but the outcomes that arrived as a result.

Interestingly, God did not let those who had faith in Him back into the Garden of Eden. Instead, these two groups would all live alongside one another in the world. But, all along, from the time of Abel all the way through to our own day and age, there would exist what some have called “two humanities.” In some ways they appear very similar. After all, they mingle together and use many of the same tools, but look a bit closer and you find the foundations, the progress and the end results are very different. These two humanities are on exhibit in the second half of Genesis 4.

Genesis 4:17a – 17 Cain was intimate with his wife, and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch.

Perhaps you’ve heard the old question: Where did Cain get his wife? The answer is simple: She was his sister. Our modern ears cringe at that for a couple of reasons. First, we don’t do relative marriage anymore in our society. But, marrying a family member was a common occurrence up until the second half of the 20th century. Albert Einstein’s wife, Elsa, was his cousin on both sides of his family. Rudy Giuliani was married to his second cousin for 14 years. Then there’s Philip II of Spain. He was married 4 times – to three cousins and a niece.

Of course today we recognize the genetic danger of marrying someone you’re related to. So how could our ancient forefathers have done so without great damage to their offspring? Well, we see the long lifespans and recognize that the corruption of sin wasn’t as profound as it became after the flood and into later millennia. As one commentator put it, you wouldn’t want to drink water from the Hudson River in New York City, but if you travelled all the way back to the source in the Adirondacks to the shimmering Lake Tear Of The Clouds which feeds it, you’d find pristine water.

Genesis 4:17b – Then Cain became the builder of a city, and he named the city Enoch after his son.

How could there be enough people to build a city? It’s impossible to know what the population of the world was leading up to the flood, but the number was almost certainly more than we’d expect. We’re thinking of two people with their two boys. But Adam and Eve had more than Cain and Abel. They had other sons and daughters. And the people at this time lived for 700, 800, 900 years. The diseases and wars that cut down so many humans after the flood and into our own era weren’t an issue then. Women could have children not for 30 or 40 years, but more than ten times that length! Think about this: When Jacob’s family came to Egypt they were 70 persons. 400 years later, after enduring genocide, they left Egypt with a minimum of 600,000. It was probably more like 1 or 2 million.

Since the year 1800 we have added 6 billion people to the earth’s population. The BBC wrote about how NASA and others are discussing population growth since we’re talking about colonizing other planets like Mars. Their assessment after speaking with experts was that a planet’s population could grow from one couple to 7 billion in 557 years. That’s not even 60% of Adam’s lifespan! The folks at Answers In Genesis calculate that, if the population growth rate was the same as it was in the year 2,000, the earth would’ve been home to 750,000,000 at the time of the flood.

So, here we see Cain has a son named Enoch. No, it’s not the Enoch we know and love. He will be a descendant of Cain’s brother, Seth.

Now, last time we saw that God had pronounced that Cain would be a wanderer over the earth, finding no rest and no home. What do we see now? He’s wandered a bit, but he’s building a city. We don’t need to think in large scale – linguists indicate it might have just been a fortified encampment with multiple buildings – but in this action we see more of Cain’s hardheartedness toward God. He’s attempting to defy God again. “God said I’d wander, well I’m gonna plant myself right here.” In fact, in a way he’s putting himself in the place of God. He names his boy Enoch and makes this city, names it after him, effectively saying, “I’m God. I’m the decider. I’m making my own ‘garden’ for you, my creation, to dwell in.” This is the mindset and the culture that Cain is establishing for his society.

Genesis 4:18 – 18 Irad was born to Enoch, Irad fathered Mehujael, Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech.

These weren’t all the kids each of these families had. God is zooming in on a particular line so that it can compare to the particular line from Adam through Seth which will ultimately lead to the Messiah, the Promised Seed who will save us from the power of sin and restore creation once and for all.

Each of these fellows had the same responsibility toward God and the same opportunity to discover Him and believe in Him. Adam was still alive. In fact, Adam lived long enough to see nine generations down, all the way to Noah’s father! Any son of Cain could’ve gone to their great grandfather and heard him speak about the Lord. We’ll find that the origin of the mark of Cain was known at least to the seventh generation. And so, all of these guys were without excuse.

Genesis 4:19 – 19 Lamech took two wives for himself, one named Adah and the other named Zillah.

The first “poster child” of American marketing was Donald Eugene Anderson, whose picture was put on a March of Dimes campaign in their fight against Polio. “According to the original meaning of the term, a [poster] child [is one who is] afflicted by some disease or deformity,” put on display in an attempt to raise awareness or funds for the fight against the disease.

Here, the text zooms in on a particular poster child afflicted with sin, Lamech. Of course, he wasn’t a boy, he was a grown man. And he was a bad man who not only gave into sin, but reveled in it and allowed it to rule him.

Sin ruled his family. He’s the first recorded polygamist. Though many criticize the Bible and suggest it approves of polygamy, that isn’t true. The facts are stated but not endorsed. From the beginning God established marriage as one biological male and one biological female living in a dedicated, monogamous relationship as long as both lived. Polygamy is not presented in a positive light in the Scriptures, much to the contrary.

We’re told that Lamech “took” his wives. Based off of the meanings of his wives’ names, we infer that he did so because of superficial reasons, not substantive ones.

But think about this: Lamech took his wives, but God brought Eve to Adam. She was a gift, specially designed to pair with him in just the right way. You who are single people of God, don’t just take a spouse. God has one in mind for you. And, in the Bible, when God’s people try to do Him a favor and find a spouse of their own, the result is disaster.

Think about it this way: The Bible says that God establishes our steps, that He has allotted the number of our days, that He has marked out our time and boundaries, that He has custom made a path of life, full of good works for us to discover and walk in. Do you not think that He has a particular person in mind to give you in that most significant relationship of your life? He does. Wait on the Lord and allow Him to bring you together with your spouse.

Before learning more about Lamech we get to meet his kids.

Genesis 4:20-22 – 20 Adah bore Jabal; he was the first of the nomadic herdsmen. 21 His brother was named Jubal; he was the first of all who play the lyre and the flute. 22 Zillah bore Tubal-cain, who made all kinds of bronze and iron tools. Tubal-cain’s sister was Naamah.

None of these are recorded as believers, and yet they were significant contributors to earth’s culture and industry. We still follow in their footsteps today. On one level, their accomplishments are remarkable. But ultimately their individual lives lacked eternal weight.

That doesn’t mean all of earth’s culture or commodities are evil. I play guitar because Jubal invented a lyre. But when a life isn’t founded and fed by faith in God, by His directing Word, then that life is ultimately wasted. And, when a culture doesn’t find its source and motivation in the grace of God, it will inevitably allow selfishness and corruption to flood in and contaminate it. That spiritual principle is demonstrated for us by Lamech.

Genesis 4:23-24 – 23 Lamech said to his wives: Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; wives of Lamech, pay attention to my words. For I killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. 24 If Cain is to be avenged seven times over, then for Lamech it will be seventy-seven times!

One of my all-time favorite Bible study insights comes from right here from our own Pastor Jake. He once pointed out that Lamech was the first gangster rapper. It’s true! The boasting, the ladies, the violence, the using of your own name – it’s all there!

So it seems that lust had perverted his family life. Now we see that pride had driven him to bloodshed. His ancestor Cain had killed in secret, but Lamech did it in the open. He’s so full of himself that he boasts in what he did. “What a great man I am! What a big man I am! I butchered a lad because he offended me!” It’s worth noting that some scholars actually see two murders here, not just one. But this was no simple chest thumping. This was an intricate, carefully constructed poem. Compare it to the simple poem that had been offered by Adam when he first saw Eve, full of thanks and recognition of God’s goodness and excitement for the life that would result.

Lamech, here, has become his own moral compass. We see in his song that he’s saying, “I’m God now. I do what I want, when I want, to who I want. I take what I want. I’ll terrorize my wives and my neighborhood. I decide what is just.” The result was violence and death.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Genesis 4:25 – 25 Adam was intimate with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, for she said, “God has given me another offspring in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.”

In contrast to the individualism and selfishness of Cain’s line we see God’s people thinking very differently. They see the Lord as being involved with each part of their lives, a God mindful of their hurts, a God who will still carry out the promises He made, even when it seems like they had been derailed. Remember – Eve thought that Cain was going to be the deliverer and then that all came crashing down. And yet, her faith did not fail. It continued and even grew. She was sorrowful over the loss of her precious Abel, but she was not defeated. Neither should we be when trial or suffering or loss comes our way. God is still God, He is still faithful, He will still do what He has promised.

Genesis 4:26 – 26 A son was born to Seth also, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.

There’s no descriptor of their jobs. That will be the case all the way down to Noah. As God compares these two humanities, the difference was not in how great their production was, but who their hearts were devoted to. This was the difference: Some began to call on the name of the Lord. In future passages we will see the believers, “found grace in the eyes of the Lord,” or that they “walked with God.” That was the difference.

What does it mean that they began to call on the name of the Lord? Some scholars think that they claimed God’s name for themselves, like how we call ourselves Christians. This also indicates that they were proclaimers of God’s word. The Bible explains that Seth’s descendant Enoch was a preacher, as was Noah. It also indicates that they established a regular, corporate time of worship.

What does it mean to call on the name of the Lord today? To walk with God like these faithful forefathers did?

First and foremost, it means we believe. We put our faith in God and His revealed word. That we trust that His way is the way that leads to life and then orient our lives accordingly. It means that we devote ourselves to worship personally and corporately. Recognizing that when we come together we don’t do so just out of tradition or to give lip service to some religion, but so that we might come before the majesty of God with an offering of praise and surrender and obedience to Him. To walk with God means that we do obey Him in our hearts and our family lives and our pursuits. It means that we focus our minds on what He has said and being different from the world we find ourselves in. Different in some profound ways. Like, when the world wants 77x revenge, we’re to choose forgiveness seventy times seven.

Meanwhile, when I suffer, when I’m attacked, when I’m in a time of struggle or loss, I can follow the example of Eve and Seth and these others and choose to believe God and trust God, the living God, who will deliver me home to our enduring city. This mindset, this walking with God is what makes life worth it. It’s what makes a life great and will make a society great. Because it is righteousness that exalts a nation. The great society is the one full of faith.