The Downward Spiral Accelerates
Although the story of the flood is one of the most popular stories from the book of Genesis, it is a story which has been derided more than almost any other story in Gen. 1-11. Many claim that this story is nothing more than a myth. They scoff at the idea of a world-wide flood and at the idea of Noah getting all those animals into the ark.
Three things these people need to consider. First, the belief in a world-wide flood is not unique to the Jewish people. Whereas many religions have a belief in the Fall caused by the sin of a woman (the Greeks and Pandora's box), there is almost universal belief among the world's religions in a universal flood. The Jews were not the only ones who believed this happened; the following groups likewise held in the belief of a universal flood: the Greeks and Romans, the Babylonians, and even the American Indians. The fact that these various religions independent of each other believed in a universal flood provides evidence that a universal flood most likely did occur.
Second, people scoff at the idea of all those animals getting into the ark. They scoff at the idea of Noah rounding up these animals. Well, I'm not sure Noah had to round up any animals. God easily could have directed these animals to the ark. (Look at what the animals did in the countries hit hard by the tsunami. Very few died because they fled the coastal regions; they had built within them a 6th sense that something catastrophic was about to happen.) Moreover, according to Ryrie's Study Bible, if you study the dimensions of the ark, it was vast enough to contain representatives from each of the major animals species. Noah didn't have to house every kind of bird. Development and mutations within species do occur. He just needed enough representatives from each of the major animal species in order for that species to survive.
Third, there is the issue of fossil fuel located in some of the most frigid parts of the planet, such as, in the Artic Circle. In fact they are discovering that at least 25% of the world's fossil fuel is located beneath the ice of the Artic Circle. How can that be? Fossil fuel comes from the remains of dead organisms which were once alive. When I asked someone working with the oil companies how this could be, he replied: "There is a belief that at one time water with its various life forms covered the entire earth." We need to be careful before we dismiss the biblical accounts--of anything.
THE GENESIS ACCOUNT
God warned Adam and Eve that if they sinned, they would die. The moment they ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they died spiritually. They were no longer able to walk around naked. Instead for the first time they felt shame and had to cover themselves up. They were to die physically as well. As long as they lived in the garden of Eden, they could eat from the tree of life and never die. As a result God casts them from the Garden of Eden so that they will experience physical death as well.
In a real sense God casting them out of Eden was a blessing. If they had continued to live there, they would have forever lived in a state of rebellion against God. Physical death would eventually free them from this rebellious state. Physical death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person; eternal spiritual death is.
Sin from the Time of Adam Until the Flood (Gen. 4:1-6:3)
After Adam and Eve sinned, God drove them out of the Garden of Eden. You would think that by this time everybody would have wised up and straightened up. Eve, hoping that God would fulfill His promise to her, named her first-born son named "Cain" which means "man." She names him this probably hoping that he is the man who will crush the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). Yet things did not improve with the birth of Cain. In addition to Cain, Abel was born to Adam and Eve. What did Cain do to his brother Abel (Gen. 4:8)?
Things continue to deteriorate. One sin in particular thoroughly infuriated God. According to Gen. 6:1-3 what sin did angelic beings (sons of God) commit which infuriated God?
The Flood (Gen. 6:1-9:29)
The situation was definitely spiraling out of control. Most of us want to sin just a certain sin and that's all. We don't realize that when we sin, we are stepping into another world which is like a magnet, trying to draw us deeper and deeper into sin. I had a friend confess to me one day that he had committed adultery. He had a "good reason" for committing adultery--his spouse had cheated on him first. He found out though after he had committed adultery with just one person, he felt sexually drawn to all these other people. One person he felt OK about; he had not bargained with getting all these other seductive attractions. I've seen some people, some of them ministers, who would tell just one lie in order to get themselves off the hook. Before you knew it, lying was a normal part of their routine. Fortunately for the man who committed adultery, it scared him so much that he repented and got his life back together with the Lord. The only way not to be drawn deeper into sin is not to get into sin in the first place.
How upset was God with the way people were acting (Gen. 6:5-6)?
For all practical purposes God decides to wipe out mankind. Yet what or who prevented Him from totally obliterating the human race (Gen. 6:8)?
What does God instruct Noah to do in order to prevent all animal life from being wiped off from the face of the earth (Gen. 6:14 and 7:2)?
After Noah and his family enter the ark and after it rains for 40 days and 40 nights (Gen. 7:12), how long does the water cover the face of the earth before Noah can leave the ark again (compare Gen. 7:11 with Gen. 8:13; the Hebrew calendar had 12 months with 30 days just like our calendar has 12 months with varying number of days).
Although God at one time destroyed the earth with water, He promised never to do it again. What did God give to us as a sign of this promise (Gen. 9:11-13)?
It is at this point that we see the introduction of one of the most important words in the entire Bible, the word "covenant." Today we would use the word "contract" or "agreement." A covenant is a contract God makes with His people. In a contract God normally promises His people to bless them. We will see God making a major covenant (contract) with Abraham and Jesus, and later another covenant with Moses and then again a later one with David. These covenants show us that God is not only a God who makes promises to His people but is also a God who keeps His promises to His people. We shall see in the story of Abraham that God has made some promises to you and me that He is deadly intent on keeping.
You would think that after God had wiped out nearly all the human race with the flood, man would have wised up and started obeying God. Yet, what happens after the flood which shows that man did not change (Gen. 9:20-27)?
The Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9)
What had God commanded the people to do (Gen. 1:28)? In other words according to Gen. 1:28 what did God want the people to fill?
According to Gen. 11:4 did the people want to fill the earth? If not, what did they want to do instead?
The people most likely had good reasons for not wishing to disperse themselves throughout the world. They probably believed that there was both security and power in numbers. If the people started dispersing, they would dilute their power.
To be sure these are good reasons not to disperse. They were living in a hostile environment. The only problem is that God had commanded them to disperse and fill the world. Many times the worst enemy of God is not doing something evil; it is doing something good when He wants you to do something better. The person you want to marry may be a good person, but that person is not the one God has chosen for you. Spending your money on this charity or that charity may be a good thing; however, God may be wanting you to spend your money on something else. Giving my money to a good cause when God wants me to give it to another cause is rebellion against God, no matter how good the cause. Good is not simply the enemy of the best; it is rebellion.
The people of Babel feel so good about themselves that they believe that they can erect a tower which reaches up to the heavens. Today we see evidence of this kind of structure in the ziggurats in Iraq, and the Aztec and Mayan pyramids in Mexico.
God mocks the people for being so arrogant. How high did the people say their tower was going to be (11:4), and yet what did God do in order to see what the people were doing (Gen. 11:5)?
Because of their rebellion, disaster strikes. Up until this time all people spoke the same language. At this time God confuses their language. According to Moses various languages emerge. thereby creating a serious disconnect between people.
When it is all said and done, things now looked as bleak as they ever looked. Being cast out of the Garden of Eden did not solve the sin issue. Man definitely has a problem. All of life falls under the curse. Unless God steps in and does something, the situation will not get better. In chapter 12 though God does step in. There we see the greatest man of the OT, Abraham.
THROUGH THE EYES OF THE APOSTLES
Up until this time how many laws had God given people to obey?
Did the people break this law once they had been driven from the Garden of Eden?
If they did not break this law, then why did they continue to die (Rom. 5:12-14)?
Noah not only saved the human race, according to Heb. 11:7 what else did Noah do?
How did Noah condemn the human race? By living righteously. If everybody on the earth at that time was a sinner, then God would have been the one at fault for all the sin. Why? Because total depravity would have shown that the creator had made a flawed creation. Yet Noah's righteous life proved that the Designer had not made a mistake. The fault lay not with God but with man. Noah's righteous life showed that God was just in punishing the world and not punishing Himself.
From this we see that one person can make a difference. Too often we think that there is strength in numbers. Look though at some of the most important events in biblical history and you will see that one person made the difference: Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, Paul, and especially Jesus. The army of Israel did not kill Goliath; David did. Noah saved the human race. Abraham alone believes God and brings about a new day. A committee did not die on the cross to defeat Satan and save the world; the One Man Jesus did. I need to quit worrying about what others do. I need to focus only on what Christ would have me do. (When you read Hebrews 11:1-40, you will see that the writer focuses on the accomplishments of the one, not the many.)
This all seems so "quaint" because it is biblical. Well, human history confirms just this very principle. Thousands of people did not win our freedom from the British in 1776-1783. One man is basically responsible for our freedom, George Washington. According to Winston Churchill his commitment to the American cause and his resolute determination to keep his troops together in spite of the harshest circumstances won the day for the Americans. According to Churchill, Abraham Lincoln was being pressured from every quarter to make peace with the South. Yet his determination kept the war going--in spite of terrible defeats early in the war; he brought about a new age for the American nation. God used John Wesley almost singlehandedly in 18th-century England to bring about one of the greatest spiritual revivals in world history. Many church historians credit John Wesley with keeping England from following the path of the revolutionary, anarchist France of the 18th century. The prayers of the one man John Knox brought the Catholic queen Mary Queen of Scots to her knees. She said: "I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the armies of England." One person can make the difference, and usually it is the one person who does make the difference. The question is whether or not you want to be that one person.
What does it take for one person to make a difference? Milton says that 2 things are needed: the person (1) must love God and (2) must hate sin. I would also add that he needs to love people and not to give up. Hating sin and loving people must occur if you are truly going to love God. Too many of us allow things to creep into our homes through the T.V. or radio which are not God-honoring. When we tolerate such things, we are slowly dumping water upon our relationship with God.
Even if we love God and people though, and hate sin with a passion, we've still got to persevere. Too many of us give up at the exact wrong time. If we had held on just a little bit longer, we would have seen God do something truly marvelous in our midst. Jesus bore the FULL brunt of God's wrath. He didn't short-circuit it like most of us would have done. He took all of God's wrath upon Himself. As a result, there is absolutely no wrath left for me. Jesus made the difference because He never quit. The only time to pull the plug on something is the time God tells us to. Any other time results in short-circuiting what God is doing.
Although God promised the world that He would never destroy the world again by water, He did not say that He would never destroy the world again. In fact the judgment of the whole world during Noah's day serves as a warning to us that a univeral judgment once more is going to descend upon the world. According to 2 Peter 3:10 how is God going to destroy the world the second time?
Because God is going to wipe out the world one more time, what is true about this world (1 John 2:17)?
Everything is temporary, transitory, except for our relationship with Jesus, the Word, and the kingdom of God. As a result, we need to invest our lives in things that are eternal, not in temporal things.
I had a wonderful Dad; however, he tended to put way too much stock in his work. I have no idea how many hours he poured into his job. Sometimes he even took great risks for the sake of his job. During strikes led by the Teamsters he would get threats that they were going to blow up his home--with us in it! Finally, because of health reasons he retired and moved to Corsicana. When he left the Dallas Division of Safeway in 1985, that division was raking in a profit of $25m. annually. Within a year after he left, it was in the red by over $100,000. Before he died, he saw Safeway broken up into smaller pieces and its real estate sold, yielding massive profits. At his deathbed there were no Safeway customers; only his family were with him praying and reciting Psalm 23. I can be foolish and invest my life primarily in the things that are temporal, or I can be wise and invest my life in the things of God. What are you investing your life in?
Peter says the fact that God is going to judge the whole world a second time should motivate us to live a certain way. How should we live in light of the fact that God is going to judge the entire world a second time (2 Pet. 3:11-12)?
Why should the coming judgment motivate me to live a righteous life? Because on Judgment Day God is going to punish sin and reward righteousness.
According to 2 Cor. 5:10 Jesus is going to judge us on the basis of what?
This does not mean that a person's works save that person. My salvation has already been taken care of; however, the Bible does teach that we are going to be rewarded on the basis of the kind of life we lived here on earth. ( Judgment may get a little rough for some Christians; see 1 Cor. 3:10-15, esp. v. 15. Yet even these will be saved, yet so as through fire.)
Some well-meaning Christians have misinterpreted verses like John 3:17 and John 5:24 to say that Christians will not undergo judgment. Too many other verses inform us though that judgment awaits the Christian just as much as it awaits the non-Christian (2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Pet. 1:17; Rom. 14:10-12). The difference though is that whereas the non-Christian will stand before an angry God, the Christian will stand before his heavenly ______________________ (1 Pet. 1:17). Sometimes a Father is the last person a person wants to see whenever he has done wrong; however, after the time of judgment that Father still remains your Father. When it is all said and done, it will be worth it.