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Archive for October, 2012

My last post focused on the word “perfect” in Genesis 6:9, and the necessity of grace. I don’t want to leave anyone with the idea that Noah wasn’t an exemplary man, yet Genesis 6:8 shows that even the most outstanding human being is still in need of God’s grace.

Verse nine also says that Noah was a just man. He treated people fairly. He didn’t judge others by superficial standards. In this world, if you don’t measure up to a certain level of success, or maintain that image, then you will often be misjudged.

There is truth to the saying that you reap what you sow; that is a biblical principle, yet in this world, you do not reap “only” what you sow. That is only part of the story. If we think that everyone gets what they deserve in this lifetime, then we are doing most people a serious injustice; we are not being “just.” Weeds grow in our fields that we have not sown. In the New Testament parable of the wheat and the tares, Jesus said that an enemy has sown tares among the wheat.

The prophecies in Isaiah 52:13 through 53:12 that foretold the suffering of Jesus, speak of him as one who should be held in high esteem (52:13), but is instead looked down upon (53:3). It’s kind of strange; most of those looking up at him on the cross were at the same time, looking down on him. Verse 53:4 tells that people will assume that God is against him.

The same principle was at work when things went wrong for Job. Job’s friends, who had once respected him, began thinking that he was being punished by God for some wrong that he had done (see “the Miserable Comforters”, parts 1-5, in my October 2010, and November 2010 archives).

Noah didn’t judge people in that manner, or if he did, he repented of it. He knew there is something wrong with all of us; that we’re all in the same boat, which is why he began building the ark. God instructed him to build it. Without it, he and his family would have been swept away in the flood along with everyone else, and we wouldn’t be here.

In 2nd. Peter 2:5, Simon Peter calls Noah a “preacher of righteousness.” Noah believed there’s a difference between right and wrong, and that our choices affect our lives and the lives of others. Noah cared for people and feared for them, but he wasn’t a successful preacher by the worlds standards. He was only able to persuade seven people, his wife, sons, and their wives, to board the ark with him.

We know he would have tried to persuade others because of the way 1st. Peter 3:20 speaks of the “longsuffering” of God as the ark was being built. I intend to study the strange verses, 1st. Peter 3:18-20, a bit later. Up until the time that the door of the ark was sealed, anyone could have come to help with the work, or even to have boarded it when the work was finished.

I think it’s reasonable to assume that many people mocked Noah as he began hammering on the ark. At times, the voices of the mockers may have been louder than the hammering. It was probably that way in a much later time as Roman soldiers nailed the son of God to a cross.

In the Bible, there is a parallel drawn between the ark of Noah, and Jesus. The ark carried Noah and his family safely through the flood, and in his heart, Jesus carries all who will go, through this life and the shadow of death, to a new world where the rainbow is never hidden from our sight (Revelation 4:1-3).

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Life teaches many lessons that we don’t really want to learn, and tests us at many turns. This is not the way that God wanted things to be (Genesis 2:16-17). James 1:13-14 tells us that God tempts no one, but that we are all drawn by our desires into temptation. One of the lessons to be learned from this is that all humans have shortcomings (Romans 3:23).

That doesn’t excuse us, but is true nevertheless. God allows us to be tested because he must; we live in a world where there’s no escaping it. In all of this, we begin to learn something about our own hearts. God already knows our potential for evil, but it is critically important for us to recognize it. Realizing our faults can be a step toward dealing with them, but more importantly, it can move us to search for the grace of God.

While God is only working to show us what we really need to know, evil is busy presenting everything in a different light. We often miss the point. We wouldn’t need to learn all this if we had not chosen the path that we’re on. We are on the Daath Path by man’s own choice (Daath is a Hebrew word for knowledge, ref. “Man Ets Daath” in my December 2011 archives).

We are caught in the most ironic of all vicious circles. Learning by trial and error causes problem after problem that we must then, by trial and error, try to learn how to fix. It is possible to be forever learning yet never able to arrive at the knowledge of the truth (2nd. Timothy 3:7). The path is continually shifting. It isn’t where it was yesterday.

Practically every word along the path we’re on has come to have multiple meanings and can take us the wrong direction in our thinking. Even legitimate meanings of words can be misleading. Genesis 6:9 says that Noah was “perfect in his generations.” Virtually all Bible theologians will tell you that this doesn’t mean that Noah was sinless, or “perfect” as we would normally think of it, and they are right. Man really doesn’t know what “perfect” is.

The verse before that (Gen. 6:8) tells us, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” You don’t find grace unless in some form or fashion you are searching for it, or at least open to it. If you are open to it, God’s grace will find you. You aren’t open to grace unless you realize that you’re not, “good enough.” We can only walk with God through the grace of God. Grace makes a better person of you, yet in this world we never reach the place where it’s no longer needed.

The trials and tests keep telling us this all our lives. The Hebrew word that is translated as perfect has something to do with reaching the end of something, a work being finished or completed. As far as this world is concerned, grace is the Everest. Human relationships only become their best when we exercise grace, “forbearing one another, and forgiving one another,” as Colossians 3:13 says we should do. We need to do our best to go the extra mile (Matthew 5:41-48), for God extends this kind of grace to us.

Our relationship with God is born of grace, and can only grow by grace (Ephesians 2:8, and 2nd. Peter 3:18). Grace means that someone else makes the sacrifice because we have not. One of the few things that Jesus uttered from the cross is (John 19:30), “It is finished.” A more literal translation might be, “It has been finished.” This could be translated as “fulfilled,” or even “perfected.” Saying that Noah was “perfect,” means that he was covered by the grace of God.

The Bible says that love covers a multitude of sins (1st. Peter 4:8, Proverbs 10:12). It’s like the artist adding the last pixel of paint, stepping back and saying, “Perfect.” One meaning of the word “grace,” is “beauty.” We say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it is. “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Mankind can only be finished by the grace of God.

Noah had weaknesses, as Genesis 9:20-23 reveals. I pray to write more about these verses later. God sees past all this to a time when those found by grace will walk with him in a perfect world.

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