Sunday, July 31, 2011

Genesis Chapter 8 ~ 377 Days Flood and the Noahic Covenant

Genesis Chapter 8

God remembered Noah and everyone and everything on the ark. The rain stopped, and after 150 days the waters began to recede and the tops of the mountains were seen. At the end of the 40 days Noah sent out a raven. Then he sent a dove, and she returned. Then he waited 7 days and sent her out again and she came back with a freshly plucked olive leaf. Then after 7 more days he sent her out and she didn’t return. The land became dry and God spoke to Noah to go out from the ark and they did.

Noah then built an altar and made burnt offerings to the LORD and the LORD was pleased and said in His heart He would never again curse the ground because of man, and God established the natural cycle of the seasons to be set up.

We usually hear about the flood lasting 40 days and 40 nights. That's true, as far as how long the rain came down. The flood actually lasted much longer. Here's a helpful chart of the timing of everything that John Walton put together on page 14 of his book Chronological and Background Charts of the Old Testament (Zondervan, 1994). Just click on the picture to make it bigger:

So the flood wasn't just for 40 days and 40 nights. If you count the days from the time Noah's family entered the ark to the time that they left it, it was all over after 377 days!

Normally we think about Noah's ark as children are playing with toys (e.g. Fisher Price's toy "Noah's Ark"). The context that most people think about Noah's ark is when their kids are playing with these toys in the bath tub. I'm not advocating that we shouldn't buy the toys, they actually could be helpful in teaching kids about the story. Too often though, we miss the point of the story. We think about the dove, and the animals, the big boat, torrential rain, the massive waters, landing on the mountains of Ararat. We think about rainbows, and seasons. Now, that's not all terrible, but we often miss the point of all of this. God's wrath! God is pouring out His unmitigated wrath on humanity, and also the animals that live on the land. Don't miss this. However, don't miss God's grace in this either. The text says that God remembered Noah, his family, and the animals in the ark. In the midst of God's wrath there is safety and shelter if we take refuge in God's provision of a rescuer. He remembers His people! Here the rescue plan is Noah, but His ultimate rescue plan is Jesus Christ. Don't lose the forest for the trees. Don't lose God's wrath and His grace in this as you consider the details.

Another quick thing to comment on is the covenant God made with Noah in Genesis 8:20-22. As mentioned a few days ago, this is the third covenant God made in Scripture: (1) the Covenant of Creation (Gen. 2:15-17), (2) the Covenant of Redemption (Gen. 3:15), and now (3) the Noahic Covenant (Gen. 6:18-22; 8:20-22). In the Bible when it says, "made a covenant" the literal Hebrew reads, "cut a covenant". Disobedience of the first covenant's commands resulted in the shedding of blood, namely Adam and Eve's death (and all humanity's death), and after the fall all of God's covenants have been accompanied with the shedding of blood. In the covenant of redemption we see that animals were sacrificed by God to clothe Adam and Eve, but it is ultimately fulfilled in the shedding of Jesus Christ's blood on the cross for the sins of those who will repent and believe. So here, God's covenant with Noah is accompanied by the shedding of blood. We see here that Noah made an offering, and in another sense, the blood of every creature on the land was shed in making this covenant with Noah (we'll see a bit more about this covenant in chapter 9 tomorrow). Covenants were accompanied with promises as well, and we see here that in this covenant God's promise to Noah is that He will never again curse the ground because of man, or strike down every living creature, and that He will set up the seasons. Further, He put a bow or rainbow in the sky as a reminder that He would fulfill this covenant. This covenant is accompanied with a sign to both remind God and Noah and all who would come after Noah about it. Lastly, this covenant is not only with God's chosen people, but for all people who would come after Noah while the earth is in existence in its current fallen state. This is known as a covenant of common grace, because in God's common grace it applies to all people. This is an amazing act of God. In essence in this covenant He is saying, that He will hold back His wrath. In essence He is delaying His wrath in order to work out His greater covenant of redemption by providing salvation through a messiah from Eve's seed (Gen. 3:15), namely Jesus Christ.


Ted said...

Praise God for His grace. I love the promise at the end of the chapter - "While the earth remains, seedime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease." Though some predict some new calamity that will destroy us every other day - the earth will continue....UNTIL He comes!

Noah Braymen said...

Brother, I love that part too. The wisdom of God displayed in the natural cycle of the seasons, and the safety and protection in the guarantee of the seasons until the end. Indeed what a provision of His grace! Thanks for the comment!