This week we’ll be looking at excerpts from the sermon preached on the weekend.
21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. 22 After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. 24 Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. [Genesis 5]
The chapter starts out with a summary of what has gone before, or at least the good parts. Then we get. Long litany of blessing and curse mixed together in the genealogy. Blessings are indicated in the incredible longevity of the people mentioned and the words “And he had other sons and daughters” that followed each name. God had said to Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and increase in number”. [1:28]. However, you can’t miss the constant presence of death – “and then he died. And then he died.” Humanity is now curt off from the tree of life. The we come to the one person who is different. Enoch is the seventh generation from Adam and Eve and he is different. He did not die because “he walked with God”. [Hebrews 11:5]. How different from the seventh generation in Cain’s line – Lamech, who was such an evil man. Enoch walked with God “by faith”, says Hebrews 11.
Maybe we followers of Jesus sometimes feel alienated from God because we aren’t walking with him, rather we expect God to walk with us. How often have we made our plans and set our goals and then asked God to bless them, instead of seeking God’s will first and then following that. I know of a young man who as an early teenager was a promising swimmer and when his coach pointed out that he could do really well as a swimmer if he was willing to commit himself to sacrifice for his sport, gave it away because it would mean curtailing his church involvement and the ministries he was involved with.
The key to life is to walk with God. I’ve yet to meet or even hear of the person who walked with God and regretted it.
Enoch is the shining light in the litany of darkness. His example gives real hope, especially when we meet Noah in the next little bit and he is saved because he walked with God [6:9] as well. Jesus takes this up in John’s Gospel and says, “Whoever obeys my word will never see death.” [John 8:51] We know that obeying Jesus’ words is not about warning our salvation but about committing ourselves to faith in his coming death and resurrection. We don’t have to be righteous because he will clothe us with his righteousness [Rom 1:17, 2 Cor 5:21]
Walking with God does not require perfection but rather a compass bearing or as Eugene Peterson puts it “A long obedience in the one direction”. Walking with God implies an intimacy, a directness of relationship.
Are you walking with God? How do you know? What are the indicators? Job walked with God but his life was a complete mess for a long while.
Father God, give me a heart that wants to be guided by your Holy Spirit and willingly submits to Jesus as Lord. Amen
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.
Does your view of God allow for him to be a God who judges and punishes? The writer of Genesis really wants to make his point because he repeats it in verses 11 & 12. This is not just an Old Testament view of God, either Jesus spoke of the punishment of Judgment Day on numerous occasions [John 5:24, 12:48, Matthew 5:22, 8:12,13:42, Luke 16:23, to name a few]. Furthermore, if God does not punish there was no need for Jesus to die.
There is no need for rescue if there is nothing to be rescued from. The great glory of the gospel is that God gave his one and only son in order that we could be free from judgment, for present day mankind is no different form the humanity of Noah’s day. People are not basically good. In Romans 8 Paul talks of two groups of people, those forgiven through Jesus who are now led by the Spirit and those controlled by the sinful nature. There is no middle ground in his mind. He says, “the sinful mind is hostile to God, it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” [Romans 8:7]. That group he further describes in Eph 2, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” [Eph 2:1 & 2]
It’s a harsh word but one we cannot dodge. It’s why we need Jesus. Thank God for Jesus who made it possible for us to be cleansed and purified by taking our pollution on himself. “20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” [Gal 2:20]
George Whitefield, of the 16th Century and one of the greatest evangelists of all time, preached to the coal miners in England in the open air as they were on their way home after work. He says he would preach about sin and judgment until he saw the tears of remorse leaving tracks down their coal-dusted faces and only then would he preach about the grace of the gospel. Only when we realise the depths we are in can we truly appreciate the wonder of the grace of God shown in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, give me a realistic view of sin and a full-blooded appreciation of you grace in the Lord Jesus. Amen
7 “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.” [Hebrews 11:7]
Noah’s example is that of faith. He took God at his word and he acted on that word. There is faith and there is saving faith. If you don’t act on your faith then chances are it’s what people call “head knowledge” – it’s a belief not a faith.
When I was about 7, I climbed a tree and got stuck out on a branch. I was just out of reach of my dad and he said, “Let go and I’ll catch you.” I couldn’t do it. I believed he would catch me but I wasn’t willing to put my faith in that belief. Faith is saying to yourself, “I will do what I know God wants even if it doesn’t seem like the way to life. I will seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and trust him to meet my needs [Matthew 6:33]. I will trust that Jesus’ death in my place was enough and that I am acceptable to God because of that.”
That is walking with God. When the whole word is screaming at you that you are a fool for trusting Jesus; when everyone else is getting on about making money, chasing their dreams, fulfilling their passions, Noah is walking faithfully with his God. That is our calling. Jesus is our ark, and so much more. The Apostle Peter says in his first letter that the ark in which Noah and his family were saved was an example of Jesus [1 Peter 3:20]: the only way to avoid God’s righteous judgment on our sin is to put your trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection for us, pictured in the act of baptism.
It’s no longer an ark we have to be in. It’s Jesus. Have you given your life over to him in trust that his death and resurrection are sufficient to save you? Are you walking with him? The beauty of the gospel is that, even if go off the rails as believers, we can start all over because there is forgiveness. When God casts our failures into the sea of forgetfulness, he puts up a sign, “no fishing!”. There is always a temptation, when we sin, to think to ourselves, “Oh well, what the heck. I might as well give up.” There is always a fresh start. Remember Jesus’ words to the Apostle Peter before he denied even knowing Jesus – they were words of hope and renewal “When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” [Luke 22:32] We should never treat our sins lightly, but neither should we wallow in guilt and self -loathing. As the old hymn says, “Jesus knows our every weakness, take it to the Lord in prayer.”
Lord God, I pray today for those of my brothers and sisters who are struggling. Strengthen them to hold fast to you. Amen
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. [8:1]
It’s not as though God had forgotten all about Noah and the folk in the ark. To remember someone was to have them on your mind.
20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though[a] every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
22 ‘As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease. [8:20-22]
God’s reaction to the pleasing aroma was not like us at a barbecue smelling the meat and having our mouths watering. We’ve already seen in the incident with Cain and Abel that there is acceptable sacrifice and unacceptable sacrifice, depending on the state of the heart. It’s the same here. It is Noah’s heart shown in his desire to honour God that is pleasing to God. Sacrifice was given as a means of worshipping God in preparation for the sacrifice of Christ, so that we’d understand it a little better. It was a serious object lesson, that blood had to be spilt for people to be acceptable to God. The taking of a life, even an animal, is no small thing. I was talking to a clinical psychologist recently who said that vets suffer from a form of PTSD in having to euthanise animals – something that ought to be considered in the whole euthanasia debate. The death of an animal, especially as a sin offering, was to help people understand the huge cost of sin.
God then makes an oath never again to destroy the earth by flood, even though he knows that humanity will not change, and that “every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.” (You never have to teach a child to do wrong).
It’s an amazing promise and it seems obvious that God can make this promise because he has in mind that Jesus will die taking our punishment.
What a wonderful promise. Despite our failure to obey as we should, despite our failure to trust as we should and to treat others with the honour and love due to them, God remains faithful to us. What a glorious Saviour!
Loving and faithful God, how glorious is your life-giving grace. Help me never to forget it or take it for granted. Amen
9 “Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. 4 ‘But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. 5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
6 ‘Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind.”
Do these words sound familiar? They are a repeat of God’s blessing and charter to Adam and Eve in chapter 1:28, with the change to now being able to eat meat. God is making sure that Noah and his family know that humanity has a chance for a fresh start. It needed a man who walked with God. The decision to be a vegetarian is a personal choice but there is no prohibition on God’s part to eating meat. Why God made that change we’re not told because it appears that prior to the flood humanity was vegetarian, but he did make a change.
There is a proviso, however, and that is that meat is not to be eaten with the blood still in it. Blood is precious because it represents lie. As sign of respect, even though mankind can now eat meat, blood is out. Human life, however, is even more precious because even animals will be held accountable for taking human life [v 5]. Life is God’s to give and his to take away. That right belongs to no one else. It is so precious because we are made in God’s image [v 6], and we must honour God by honouring the beings he has designated his representatives. For believers that should be the baseline in the whole debate about euthanasia, and not just euthanasia but also the abortion debate. The exception in the Bible is the taking of life judicially.
God keeps giving chances the fallen humanity. He’s the God of the second chance. The history of the Bible is the history of failure, punishment followed by grace and another chance. Have you felt like you blown it with God? That’s the evil one speaking. That’s why Jesus died and rose again – because we can’t deliver. I keep saying it but Oh what a Saviour! What a privilege to be called his child!
Lord God, you made me in your image and although that image is marred in Jesus you are restoring that image in me. I cannot thank you enough; help me to live to praise you. Amen