PROMISES TO NOAH
“The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain” (Gen. 6 6). Grief and pain were caused by the blatant violations of God’s Mandates. Genesis 6 hints at a number of deliberate distortions by man. The creature that bore the image of his Creator and of whom God said, “It is good” had grieved and brought pain to his Maker. In fact, the Creator had given up on man and wanted him destroyed. We read, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever” (Gen. 6:3).
It was God’s Spirit that had moved on the face of the earth in those days. In Noah’s days, God began to withdraw His Spirit. It left the world without any divine intervention. A similar thing is to happen at the end of time. Then too, the Spirit of God will be removed (II Thess. 2:7). Without the Spirit, evil will become unchecked and the world will go through the worst crisis in its existence. Persecution and tribulation will be so severe that man will wish that he had never been born. In Jesus’ words, “those will be the days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now – and never to be equaled again” (Mk. 13:19). Without the Restrainer, man in Noah’s days, turned to corruption, violence and wickedness. Godly men married sensual women and their children were the new heroes representing a new age. All their thoughts and intentions were evil. Genesis 6:11-12 tells us that the world was full of violence and that it was corrupt. In other words, the entire creation had been filled with man’s sins. There was not an ounce of decency left in the creature that bore the image of God.
In the original Promises and Mandates, God demanded that man manage and maintain the earth and not pollute it. In case of violation, the earth would be cursed. By the time of Noah, the earth was totally cursed and it had to be purged. God decided to give it a thorough washing. The Lord declared: “I will wipe away mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air – for I am grieved that I have made them” (Gen. 6 7). To Noah, He said, “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…. I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish; but I will establish my covenant with you” (Gen. 6:13,17-18). Forty days of rain and one hundred fifty days of flooding washed the earth clean of all the violations man had committed. Only this time, the second attempt by God, the Almighty was not going to start recreating from scratch. A man by the name of Noah had found favor in His eyes and he was to have a hand in the rebuilding of the earth (Gen. 6:8). In Noah, the Mandates would be met for a time and the Promises would survive. With Noah God would strike a new deal.
Who was Noah? He was a son of Lamech, a descendant of Seth and not of Cain that killed a man for his wife (Gen. 4:17-24). Times were difficult, the curse was heavy and there was no relief in sight. People were hoping and looking for a deliverer from their bondage. When Noah was born, Lamech detected redemptive qualities in his son and had this to say, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed” (Gen. 5:29). The key here is the word “comfort.” Technically it means rest or relief. It is not clear what Lamech had in mind except that he was placing his hope in this child. In the larger context of the conditions at the time, the entire world cried out to be freed from violence and wickedness.. And Noah, even at an early age, began to take a stand against the evils of his fellow men. Tradition has it that he was a preacher of righteousness (II Pe. 2:5). This suggests that he was seeking to live up to his father’s expectations. And his efforts were rewarded. We read, “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8).
In different words, Noah lived to please God. Three things are said regarding his lifestyle. First, he was a righteous man. He was not only preaching righteousness; but he was living it. This is backed by the second description of Noah, namely he was “… blameless among the people of his time.” No one could point a finger at him and accuse him of anything bad. And third, “he walked with God.” This indicates that he had a “holy fear” of God (Heb. 11:7). He believed in the Promises of the Lord and obeyed his words. Noah’s godliness was above all backed by his family. His sons respected him. It was not easy to be sons of a preacher of doom and help him built a huge boat in the middle of nowhere. We cannot begin to imagine the ridicule this man’s children must have endured; yet, they followed in the footprints of their father. We are not saying that Noah was perfect. He certainly was not. As we shall see later, he too had a problem with drinking; but, we are impressed with his almost blind obedience to God’s orders. We are told repeatedly that he obeyed the Lord, followed His instructions and built a boat out of gopher wood, then waited for a flood. The project took something like a hundred years, enough time for sinners to wake up and build their boats. But who in his right mind would build a boat on dry land with no water in sight? And when God began the purge the earth with a flood, it was too late for any one to be saved. In the end, only one family was left because they had built a boat.
Noah offered a sacrifice of thanks to Jehovah and he was pleased. There was after all something good in man. Noah’ behavior brought forth in God the most tender of all feelings. Elohim reasserted his Promises on that day: “The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart, ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease'” (Gen. 8:21-22). From then on only man would be held accountable. Also, his association with the animals would no longer be as congenial as they were under Adam. The chance for another serpent had been eliminated. Otherwise, man received the same blessings and exercised the same authority. Genesis 9:1-3 has the following,
“Then the Lord blessed Noah and his sons, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.'”
What was new, however, was fear. Prior to the fall, Adam and Eve had little if any fear. Noah was surrounded by it and spread fear himself. He represented order and that spelled fear. This was where the fear of God becomes the beginning of wisdom. Had man feared God, he may not have lost paradise and most certainly avoided being destroyed in the flood. And it will be fear of being judged that will drive man to Christ who will take him past the final judgment. With regard to the personal commandment, the same “You must not eat,” was retained. With Noah, the Lord was more specific and shed additional light on what the original tree of the knowledge of good and evil might have been. The fact that it ended with the statement, “for when you eat of it you will surely die,” suggests that the tree represented life. And since life was in the blood, the first couple may have eaten something bloody. This view is reinforced with the stipulations that Noah received. He was to abstain from blood; that is, man has never been authorized to terminate any form of life or at any stage of his existence. We read: “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man” (Gen. 9:4-5).
Noah was made to understand that the Creator had placed a very high price on life. Even the animals would be held accountable on the Day of Judgment for having shed blood unnecessarily. Under the Levitical ordinances, such animals had to be destroyed. This preventative law had already been introduced to Noah. To avoid bloodshed, God demanded that man himself curtailed those who kill. This was how the Lord put it to Noah: “Whoever sheds the blood of a man, by a man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man” (Gen. 9:6). It reinforced cause and effect.