Genesis is hard enough as it is; here are three things NOT to do when reading the first book of the Bible (and to keep in mind as we read the rest of the Bible). [This post first appeared on my blog, www.andrewforrest.org, 1/19/15. I thought it might be helpful as we wrap up reading Genesis. –AF]
If you’ve ever read the stories of Abraham and/or Noah, you’ve read about a covenant. You may have read over that part quickly or moved right on to singing “Father Abraham” or looking outside for rainbows, but God’s covenants with humanity are central to our faith and our eternity. Take a few minutes to learn a little more about God’s covenants.
Genesis 8:1-10:32 There are no heroes
I don’t think the way we teach the Bible to children is all that helpful. Many people were taught that the people in the Bible were heroes of the faith. But, when you actually read about these heroes, you realize that they were usually pretty bad people. This throws modern people for a loop–if the people in the Bible are supposed to be heroes, then why are they such bad people?
Here’s another way to look at it, however: what if the point is not that the people in the Bible are all that great–what if the point is that God uses flawed people for his good purposes? “God writes straight with crooked lines.”
And, don’t worry if the Flood story seems strange–it is strange. Focus on what the story is telling us….
8:2 – In Genesis 1, God is pictured as shutting up the waters of chaos and giving order to a disordered universe. In the Flood story, God is unmaking what he’s made, and the waters of chaos are allowed to rush back in. But then, God pushes the waters back again, and dry land appears again. One of the things the Noah story is about is the promise that God will never destroy the world out of anger, no matter how much we might deserve it.
9:3-5 – Originally, God’s intention was that humans be vegetarians, but here, God gives them animals to eat.
9:6 – Killing a human is forbidden because humanity bears the image of God. Human life’s sacred.
9:20-9:27 – Several things are going on here. First, though Noah is a good man, he’s not perfect, as this bizarre episode shows. Whatever happens in the tent, it’s not a good thing. Also, note that sin can’t be washed away by a flood, because sin is in every human heart, even the so-called good people, like Noah.
- 6-12 – Noah and his family must have been so eager to get off the boat.
- 21-22 – Note that God does not say he won’t curse the ground because humans had learned their lesson. He recognizes that humans are incapable of living righteously but vows not to destroy them anyway.
- 8-17 – This covenant is the only one established where nothing is required of humans. God simply makes a covenant not to flood the earth again and destroy everyone and humans just receive the blessing of that. The rainbow is our reminder of this covenant.
- Imagine how scary it would have been the first time it started raining again after Noah and his family got off the ark. They would really have to lean into their belief in God’s faithfulness and the covenant he made with them.
- 20-27 – Ham sins by not respecting his father and looking at him exposed while Shem and Japheth respect Noah even in his own sin of drunkenness. The Canaanites remain enemies of Israel throughout Scripture.
- 15-20 – All tribes listed here were enemies of Israel at one time or another.
- 12-16 – Matthew mentions many of the prophecies Jesus fulfills. People in darkness seeing a great light refers to people meeting Jesus, the light of the world.
- 17 – John the Baptist’s message was about repentance. Though he was now in jail, he truly had “prepared the way” for Jesus to preach his own message of repentance.
- 18-22 – Matthew makes no indication of why these men choose to leave everything and follow Jesus. The phrase “fishers of men” simply means that they will now set their sights on bringing people into Jesus’ message.
- 5-8 – These verses hit hard the idea that we are tempted to trust in many other things but our true rest and comfort come only from God.
- These verses describe wisdom as something easily attainable and ready for the taking. It presents itself to us and we only need to choose to accept it.
- 24: The book of Hebrews also mentions Enoch and how, because he pleased God, he did not experience death but was simply taken.
- 25-27 – Methuselah is the oldest recorded person in the Bible.
- 6 – A powerful verse suggesting the extreme extent of man’s wickedness and the degree to which it pains God.
- 8-9 – Noah seems to be the only person on earth who is purposefully walking with God.
- 22 & 7:5 – It is noted throughout the Bible when people follow God’s instructions exactly. This should be our goal too.
- 7-10 – John recognized that the Pharisees and Saducees were not getting baptized to put their faith in the Lord, but simply to check the box like they tended to do. Their lives did not bear the fruit of a life of repentance.
- 14 – John understandably felt unworthy to baptize Jesus.
- 17 – A powerful image for any witnesses that day as Jesus is filled with the Holy Spirit and publicly professed by God.
- Note that the devil twists the meaning of Scripture to try to tempt Jesus. If we don’t know Scripture, how much more could the devil do this to us?
- Though David continually faced formidable foes, he is just as frequently confessing his faith in God’s ability to protect him.
Temptation is so enticing and it knows our weak spots. Ultimately, sin destroys us.