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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lessons in The Flood [Genesis 6, Part 4] + Grace

The eagle has landed. Actually, the ark has come to rest on Mount Ararat. Being the righteous man that he is, Noah, offers a sacrifice to God out of gratitude as soon as he steps on dry land. In response to the sacrifice of Noah, God makes a solemn promise.

"And the Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease" (Genesis 8:21-22).

God resolves that He will never again curse the ground or destroy every living thing as He has just done. Why would God make such a commitment? Surely He was not sorry for what He had done. Sin had to be judged, didn't it?

The problem with the flood was that its effect was only temporary. The problem was never with creation, but with sin. The problem was never the animals and the trees, it was with humankind. God has therefore decides that He must deal differently with sin in the future. God’s promise of ultimate and final salvation is renewed in response to Noah’s expression of faith through a sacrificial offering. Until the day when this salvation is accomplished, God assures man that measures like the flood will not occur again.

The the flood serves as a reminder to us of the matchless power and the matchless grace of God. While all the unbelievers found judgment, in the same situation, Noah found grace (Genesis 6:8).

To a certain extent, all of the people of Noah's day had already experienced the grace of God. It was not until 120 years after the initial revelation of a coming judgment, that it actually came. That 120 year period was an age of grace in which the gospel was proclaimed.

The difference between Noah and those who perished was their response to God’s grace. Those who perished had interpreted God’s grace as divine indifference. They concluded that God neither cared nor troubled Himself at the occasion of men’s sin. Noah, on the other hand, recognized grace for what it really is, an opportunity to enter into an intimate relationship with God, and at the same time, to avoid divine displeasure and judgment.

Isn't this how we should view our relationships with each other? When someone forgives us, or gives us a "pass", or offers us grace, then we should take those occasions as golden opportunities to enter into a better, new or renewed relationship. But that's not how we view grace and forgiveness, is it? All too often we take those traits as signs of weakness, but they are not.

The grace of God is clearly evidenced by this promise that he makes to Noah (and us): “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).

But Noah, the believer, sees life through a different lens. He sees life under the full and sovereign control of a gracious God:

For in Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16-17).

Here is another irony of our day. As in the days of Noah, the perishing unbelievers look at life and the world around them as it is and ask, “How could God be there at all and not do anything to right things, to set things in order?” The non-believer then wants to conclude that God is either dead, apathetic, or incapable of dealing with the world as it is. But they (we) never stop to question our own part in the way things are, and what we can do to correct them.


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