Genesis 1 set the foundation for us to think about the character and nature of God. Genesis 2 zoomed in on the relationship between God and humanity and sharpened our understand of what it is to be human. In Genesis 3, the first humans sinned – breaking their relationship with God, the earth and each other. God judges, but his judgement is also merciful (he clothes, he still speaks with people, death is not immediate) and there is the promise of the serpent crusher, who will defeat Satan to one of Eve’s offspring.
In Chapter 4 we meet Cain and Abel and we should be asking ‘will one of these be the Serpent crusher’… but instead we see evil increases – and the generation of Cain continues and evil increases all the more. It is a dead line… ending with multi-murderer Lamech. But the promise continues in Seth.
In Chapter 5 we are introduced to a different line… the line of the promise. There is death, but there is the continuation of generations finishing open-endedly for the story of Noah. In Chapter 6, we get a mini-insight into the perspective of God. We sin is rampant in the lives of human (every person, all the time). We see God’s sorrow at the evil which is unfolding inhis declaration that he will judge evil. The question we should be asking is: what about the serpent crusher? Will God preserve his plan and promise, or will he destroy all of humanity once and for all.
And we are left with just a glimmer of hope. Vs 8: “But Noah found favour in the eyes of the LORD.”
Verses 9-10 function a bit like a title summarising what will follow. It has a summary heading of the account; Adescription of Noah; and highlights the continuance of the promise by highlighting the continuation of the lineage after Noah.
The zoomed in description should stand out to us in verse 9, showing 3 attributes: he is righteous and blameless (legally upright before God) and he walked faithfully with God – which is the same description which is used to describe Enoch (5:24). What we don’t see here, like with Enoch, is a description of ‘sinlessness’ which has slipped into some explanations of why these extraordinary events happen to them. Noah is human and so is caught up in the sinful nature which has infected every facet of being human. But as a sinner, Noah is one, like Enoch, who called on the name of the LORD (4:25) and so desired to walk faithfully with God (5:24, 6:9).
Verse 11-13 remind us of what we had already heard in 6:1-8. God speak to Noah, declaring that the earth is full of violence and evil and that God will judge. Note: there is judgement against both humanity and the earth. The sin of humanity is not just to uproot the way that people relate to other things, but it brings with it a radical reshaping of the way that creation works as a whole and so the whole of creation is subject to judgement.
Verse 14 – 21 introduce the covenant between God and Noah. Verse 18 is worth focusing on and especially the introduction of the word covenant. The word itself is the word of a treaty agreement. On Noah’s side of the bargain, he has to build an ark with the specifications that God has given. On God’s side, his promise is to keep Noah and his family safe from his judgement on the earth. This language of covenant is incredibly significant, as it shapes the relationship between God and humanity for the future – beginning with Abraham in Genesis 12, 15.
The repetition in 6:22 and 7:5 that Noah did all that the Lord commanded him is significant. Noah fulfilled his end of the covenant promises. It contributes to how we read the descriptions of Noah in verse 9 – he was righteous and blameless and walked faithfully with God in his obedience to God’s covenantal promises.
Genesis 7:5 signals a shift in the story – moving away from the conversation between Noah and God and Noah’s responses and instead focussing on the action of God’s judgement. Verse 5-16 focusses on the gathering of Noah, his family and the animals into the ark. Verse 16 significantly shows God ‘shutting them in’ affirming his promise to uphold his end of the covenant and to protect them.
Verse 17-24 move away from Noah’s protection to focus on the judgement of God. The repetition in verse 21-23 should highlight the magnitude of the judgement of God and the ‘undoing’ of creation that is happening here. Every living creature and all “mankind” (same word as used in 5:1) are wiped out. Everything that had “God breathing his spirit into their nostrils” (remember chapter 2:7). Everything that moved along the ground and birds that flew in the air (allusions back to chapter 1 and 2). We need to be slow and sober about the impact of this judgement – God is wiping out all of the good creation that he has made, because it has become corrupted by evil.
The chapter finishes with the reality that the floodwaters went for 150 days. Nothing could withstand the judgement of God. The only way to survive, is (in 7:23) to be like Noah and the ark – under the protection and promises of God.
I normally give options, but I would focus in on this one today:1. The judgement of God and the response of the righteous. Read Matthew 24:36-44.
How does the account of Noah help us to understand what a faithful response to God is, in light of his judgement? How does a Christian ‘be prepared’ for the judgement of God?