GENESIS 7-9 & MATTHEW 3
The time of the flood is at hand and the Lord calls Noah to bring his family and assembled animals into the Ark. The Lord places emphasis on the righteousness of Noah which qualifies him for being preserved. We then see the miracle of the assembling of animals 2 by 2, both clean and unclean being led to the Ark. We can assume that this was a work of the Holy Spirit because Noah would have had no capacity in being able to round up all these animals. The Holy Spirit accomplished and accommodates the purposes of the Father. He can divide the seas, cause the sun to stop and to bring 300 foxes to Samson at a time of judgement against the Philistines. This is reiterated in verse 15 where the animals followed Noah into the Ark. We must have an ability to see the workings of the Holy Spirit in these contexts.
The fact that there were clean and unclean animals is for the purpose of teaching spiritual lessons. We learn truths concerning right and wrong that help to illustrate the difference between the holy and profane. It also helps to distinguish between the two manner of priests and believers that are seen in the kingdom (Eze 44:23).
Noah and his family entered the Ark and resided there for 7 days before the flood came (7:4). This is a picture of the 7 days given to man (one day as a thousand years=7000 years) before the Lord would once again destroy the earth. This would be at the end of the millennial reign of Christ. There will be a new heaven and a new earth after the 7000 years of man. (Rev 21:1) The rains began to fall after 7 days. It speaks of the fountains of the earth being broken up and the windows of heaven pouring forth rain. What must have this been like? What must have the people thought when they began to see the rains pouring forth? How many people tried to gain access to the Ark? It resembles the parable of the 10 virgins where the cry went out to go forth and meet the bridegroom (Math 25). The door was shut to those who did not have oil. The door of the entrance to the Ark was shut to those who did not heed the warnings of Noah. As in the days of Noah so shall it be in the last days. Are we walking with God? Do we have the capacity for agape love and the capacity to restore? Do we have the ability to be a teacher of righteousness in the midst of rebellion and Christian indifference?
In verse 4 there is mention of the rain lasting for 40 days and 40 nights. This is the first mention of the number 40. It has the connotation of purifying and judgement. The Lord was tempted by Satan over a period of 40 days (Math 4:1-5). Moses was purified and tested for 40 years in the land of Midian. The children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before entering Canaan.
A further description of the flood is given in verses 17-24. The rains, coupled with the fountains of the deep that opened up and burst forth destroyed all life upon the earth with the exception of those who were in the Ark of safety and protection. Let’s compare this example with a scene that will take place in the book of Revelation.
Rev 12:13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
Rev 12:14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
Rev 12:15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
Rev 12:16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
This takes place soon after Satan is cast from his heavenly perch to the earth. He knows that his time is short so he goes after the church that gave birth to the man-child (Rev 12:5). The church can be likened to Noah who is preserved in the midst of the enemy’s flood. The remnant would be those who were not prepared, who did not take their walk with God seriously even though they are still saved. Many who are in this remnant will have their garments made white through martyrdom and persecution. This remnant can be likened to those whom Jesus preached to during the time he preached in the lower parts of the earth after His death (1 Pet 3:20). Once again we need to appreciate the roadmap and blueprint that the Book of Genesis provides in giving understanding and perspective to the very days in which we live.
The Lord remembered Noah and those who were in the Ark which included the animals. The Lord allowed for a wind to blow over the earth which caused the water to abate. God did move in thorough judgement due to man’s sin and rebellion but He now remembers man. This is a quality that is seen in God in several other places. In fact one of the prophets of the Old Testament is named Zechariah which means “The Lord Remembers”. The water took 150 days to fully withdraw before Noah attempted to check outside the Ark. The 150 days represents a period of 5 months; it is a time frame that is mentioned in Rev 9:5 where there is a loosing of Apollyon and his hordes of demons for a period of 5 months. The number has the connotation of divine judgement or separation which results from the commandments of God not being kept. It is interesting to note that in this period of 5 months in Revelation that man will seek death but it will prove elusive. (Rev 9:6) It seems that God is giving man the opportunity to be given a taste of what eternal torment would be like. Is this not the mercy of God? Is it not the mercy of God that the Lord was able to go into the lower portion of the earth to preach to many of the souls in prison who perished in the flood of Noah’s day? There seems to be a connection to these examples of 150 days or 5 months.
The Ark came to rest in the mountains of Ararat which is located in eastern Armenia which is now a part of Turkey. The timeframe of the seventeenth day of the seventh month is given. This would later be a day that would be designated during the Feast of Tabernacles. It has the message of being a time of rest and blessing. In verses 7-12 Noah opens the window and sends out two birds, one being a raven and the other a dove. One bird is unclean and the other clean. The raven was sent forth and rested upon the dead carcasses never to return to the Ark. The dove, which is a clean animal made several journeys outside the Ark only to return. It did not find a place of rest due to there being no place that was clean and dry. There were three sending forth periods for the dove. The 2nd time it returned it had an olive branch which was a symbol of peace and new life. The anger of the Lord has been pacified and there was about to be a new beginning. Here again is the thought of 3 (7’s) which speaks of wholeness of body, soul and spirit. (Gen 5:31)
Noah is now being told of the Lord to now exit the Ark. When you tally up the number of days that Noah and family were in the Ark it would amount to a little over 1 year. In verses 20-22 Noah builds an altar unto the Lord and offers to God all of the clean beasts that were brought into the Ark. The Lord smelled a sweet savour and was pleased with Noah and the offering he provided. God was so moved by Noah’s offering that He made three promises to him.
1) That he would not again curse the earth for man’s sake
2) That He would not again smite every living thing
3) That the seasons would be predictable.
It is here where we begin to catch a glimpse of the cycle and rhythm of God’s creation. God is a God of order and structure. It is seen in how one is to respond to authority and it is seen in the sun, moon and stars. This circuit helps to provide insight into His creation as it involves man. Solomon wrote of this when he mentioned that there is a time to every season under heaven. (Eccl 3:1-10) Some of these seasons are predictable others not so much. We will see God’s order tested in the interaction between Noah and his sons in the next chapter.
The blessing of God now comes upon Noah and His sons. This was a new creation with the human race starting all over again. There are significant differences this time around. The primary one being that man was already carrying the sin nature unlike Adam when he was created. There is also the command to be fruitful and multiply. The fruitfulness that God is looking for is that which is seen in Galatians 5:22-23. It is there where we have the 9 fruits of the Spirit. They are commanded to multiply which speaks of bringing many to Christ (Mk 16:15). Finally they are commanded to replenish the earth. This is reflected in the exhortation for the church to become both kings and priests unto the most-high God (Rev 5:10). In looking towards the millennium we see the call of reigning as priest before God which is implied in Gen 9:1 (Rev 20:6). God re-established man’s authority over all of God’s creation. This was the dominion that God gave to Adam at the beginning (Gen 1:28).
God established the dietary laws for man by stating that every living thing could be eaten along with the herbs. It was forbidden however to take in the blood of flesh. This is stated again in the New Testament in Acts 15:20. There are laws given concerning the crime of murder. If a man’s life was taken it was then to be accounted of before God. The case for the death penalty seems to be upheld in verse 6. If a man sheds blood then his life should be required. After this brief discourse there is another exhortation to be fruitful and multiply (vs 5-7).
The Lord establishes a covenant with Noah in verses 8-17. The Lord gives the token of a rainbow as a reminder that he would never again destroy the earth by a flood. The rainbow has 7 different colours which denote the 7 spirits of the Lord that are referred to in Isa 11:2-3. These 7 spirits can be seen surrounding the throne of God with the brightness of their colors in Ezek 1:28 and Rev 4:3. Though the Lord will not destroy the earth again by a flood there will be the dissolving of the earth after its 7000 year existence by fire (2 Pet 3:5-7).
We now come to a most important portion of scripture which will have eternal ramifications. It concerns the sons of Noah in an incident that involves Noah. Earlier we saw the lines of distinction between Cain and Seth. We even went back further to note the difference of attitude between Abel and Cain when it came to presenting an offering. Here we will see another attitude or motive of heart that will play out in the three sons of Noah. The response or attitude seen in the three sons will put an eternal stream into motion. It is amazing to see the potential of a simple little attitude. We saw it with Cain and Abel and we are about to see it in the three sons of Noah. So what is this matter all about?
The account is covered in verses 18-27. There is a particular day where Noah was found to be drunk through the wine of his vineyard. It was a shameful position for Noah to be in but the Bible never indicts him over this issue. The focus of God is squarely upon the three sons to take note of how they would respond to their father’s nakedness. This is a very interesting truth and it needs to be solidly noted. Noah was vulnerable; he was drunk and naked but the Lord seems to only take note of the actions of Shem, Ham and Japheth. How did they handle their father? It says of Ham that he uncovered his father’s nakedness. What does this mean?
Ham took advantage of his father’s weakness and saw an opportunity to exploit it for his benefit. The other two sons would not look upon their father’s vulnerability. They covered him and upheld his honor. The attitude that Japheth and Shem exhibited was most pleasing to the Lord and it resulted on a blessing being pronounced upon them which affected their progeny. What are the primary lessons that we can glean from this example? The primary message to me is that of honouring authority. God is a God of order and structure. These two sons were loyal to their father even when he was vulnerable. How do we respond when we see vulnerability in the leadership we serve under? This could be in a church or work related situation. There will be times when I feel God will allow for a vulnerability to exist in leaders over us to test to see what is in our heart. There may be times when the leader might be wrong or perhaps not being able to see a bigger picture. This is a true test because it would be an easy situation to exploit to one’s advantage. It is times like these that reveal what is in the heart. It is not a trivial matter as we shall later see in examining how God responded to the actions of the three sons.
Let’s consider Ham for a moment. His response and attitude is something that is on full display in today’s culture. We made the comment earlier as to how everything we see in life today can be traced back to the Book of Genesis. This is another classic example. It was around the year 1970 when a new magazine hit the newsstand. This magazine became known as The National Enquirer”. The tagline for the magazine was the following phrase, “because enquiring minds have to know”. This magazine still exists today alongside countless thousands of other slime periodicals that do nothing but exploit the private lives and vulnerabilities of famous people. The terms sleaze and slander can be applied to these magazines as well. There is such an appetite today to expose and slander people. Where does this obsession originate? It first originates with Satan who is known as the accuser of the brethren but it can be traced back to Ham (Gen 9:22). Why is this event significant?
It is this attitude of heart that allowed Satan to gain an entrance into the lineage of man. It was only a few generations further where we see Nimrod, the grandson of Ham and great grandson of Noah coming to the point of defying God at Babel. How did Satan gain such access in being able to do this? It started with an attitude of heart. This helps us to understand the power of the New Covenant. In dealing with sin we often look at the fruit and extension of sin. What is needed is an ability to get to the root (Math 3:10). It is the power of the New Covenant that can get to the root of where all sin originates. This event involving Noah was significant for many reasons. It helped to bring a dividing line between right and wrong as well as light from darkness. This distinction came about by way of the response of the sons to their father’s nakedness. The question we need to ask is which of the two group’s best describes us? Are we among those who are always trying to find fault in others? Perhaps we are guilty of gossip and the slandering of people for the purpose of exploiting others for our gain. Once again we need to be reminded of an oft quoted verse and seek to live by it.
Pro 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
This chapter puts its focus on the person of John the Baptist. His beginning is referenced in verses 1-6. He is the forerunner to the Lord Jesus Christ who will later come on the scene. His primary message was one of repentance as he sought to prepare the way of the Lord. In verse 3 the reference is made of John as spoken by the prophet Isaiah (Isa 40:3). Jesus makes an interesting reference of John by saying that he came in the spirit of Elijah (Math 11:14). This is notable due to the fact that Elijah and Moses will return again just prior to the 2nd coming of Christ (Mal 4:4-6). To understand what the ministry of John was like we need to look at the life and times of Elijah. To understand what the ministry of Elijah will be like in the last days we need to examine John’s ministry just prior to the Lord’s first advent. John, in his ministry thrust of repentance, had an ability to get to the root of issues. There are no recorded miracles that John performed yet there was no denying the authority he had in displaying the message of repentance. True repentance gets to the root of issues. True repentance has the ability to cut through the veneer of spirituality so that needed “life change” can take place. John’s ministry was a no-nonsense kind of approach to Christianity that needs to be seen from our pulpits. Why is it that sin can no longer be labelled as sin? It also seems that sinners can no longer be labelled as sinners lest we be accused of being judgmental. This eventually leads to a whole new kind of theology. Thankfully, this is not seen in the ministry of John the Baptist. This is the kind of preaching that is sorely needed as we prepare for the 2nd coming of the Lord. This is why the truths concerning the New Covenant need to be understood. The New Covenant has the ability to get to the root of where all sin originates. Are we willing to have the Law of God probe this deeply into our own lives?
John makes a distinction between two different baptisms in verse 11. There is the Baptism of water unto repentance that denotes identifying with the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a 2nd baptism involving the Holy Spirit. John is making clear that there is another baptism to come; a baptism that Jesus himself participates in. This baptism will be initiated after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. The Lord Jesus placed a tremendous amount of emphasis on the person of the Holy Spirit in the latter stages of his earthly ministry. He spoke of the Spirit being the one who will teach, reprove and lead into all truth. The Holy Spirit will put people into the position of being able to do signs and wonders to validate the kingdom. The works of the saints will even be greater as the last day church prepares the way for the 2nd coming of the Lord. John also speaks of this baptism as one being of fire. This speaks of holiness as characterized by the burning bush experience that Moses came into contact with. He viewed a bush that was on fire yet not being consumed. The ground that Moses was on was holy; there was no presumption on his part. He heard the heartbeat and burden of the Lord which soon turned into a commissioning.(Exo 3:4-10) This is a picture of Moses baptism of fire and it helps for us to appreciate what the baptism in the Holy Ghost means for us as believers. To appropriate the blessings of this experience we have to first appreciate and understand the ministry of John the Baptist.
In verse 13 we see a transitional moment that affected the lives of both John the Baptist and Jesus. This event is best summed up in John 3:30.
“He must increase, but I must decrease”
John fully understood this transitional moment but we will later find that many of his disciples did not (Math 9:14-17). This is a problem that plagues many in the church, especially those who remain as old wineskins. There is a tendency to hold on to that which worked in the past while missing the flow of that which God is doing today. We are not to get caught up with every new whim of doctrine however we have to be sensitive to the voice of the Lord. There is a need for a new wineskin capacity in our lives. An embracing of the message and ministry of John the Baptist will go a long way in helping to ensure we are in God’s season. John knew who Jesus was and had initial hesitancy in having to baptize Jesus. How does mortal man baptize divinity? Jesus responded that it was needful for Him to be baptized as the Son of man seeing that he was fulfilling an act of righteousness.
Jesus, as He was being baptized had the heavens opened up to Him. At the same time the Spirit of God, likened unto a dove descended down upon Him. This was the anointing of the 7 spirits of the Lord. This was followed by a voice from heaven which said the following:
“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”
Can we see the functioning of the Trinity in this event? There is God the Son who is being empowered by the Holy Spirit while receiving the affirmation of the Father. The Son of God became the Son of Man some 30 years earlier by the miracle of the Incarnation. The past 30 years the Son of man developed and grew as a man, (Yet while being God) to help prepare Him for this moment. Jesus now is transitioning into the primary years of his earthly life as he goes forth in fulfilling the will of the Father. The pace has now picked up and we will begin to see a hastening of events. It is a picture of what will be seen in the last days.