Summary: Genesis 6-9. The story of Noah’s Ark is about more than a giant boat...
IN THE BEGINNING
GENESIS PART 1 – ANTEDILUVIAN HISTORY
THE LIFE OF NOAH: MORE THAN AN ARK
- There are only a few biblical accounts that enjoy widespread, almost universal familiarity. When asked to name a famous Bible story, an average person on the street might respond “Adam and Eve”, “David and Goliath”, “Moses and the Red Sea”, “Daniel and the lion’s den”, or of course “The birth and/or death of Jesus”. And the account we will be looking at today could most certainly be included in that list. Almost everyone knows the story of Noah and the ark he built to save himself from a great flood. In fact, just a few years ago Hollywood took a crack at a spoof of the Noah story in a movie entitled “Evan Almighty”. So I think it is safe to say that most people are familiar with the story of Noah, especially in our country.
- But I think it is also safe to say that while most people know of the story, they do not understand the meaning of the story. There is more to the flood account than an erroneously perceived over- crowded ark. The life of Noah reveals for us several attributes of God’s character. It gives us insight into who God is and how he works. Our purpose during our time together today is going to be to bring out some of those attributes as we survey this story. I’m going to assume that most of you know the details of the story (and if you don’t you can read the whole account later).
- Now a lot of time passed between where we last were in the text and where we are going to be today. In our look at the doctrine of redemption, we examined the declaration of victory by God given to the serpent in the garden. That occurred in the undateable past. We don’t know when that event occurred. However, no matter what your viewpoint is on the age of the earth, we know that humanity is a recent creation; so we are talking thousands to tens of thousands of years ago; but we cannot be exact.
- Several generations pass by the time we reach Genesis 6, but we are still off the knowable timeline. One of the most common dates given for the life of Abraham (who we will begin looking at next time) is around 2000 B.C. So we are looking at a point in history before then, and likely a long time before then. Some people attempt to count up the genealogies and give dates for the flood and even the creation event, but there are a lot of problems with that; and the arguments for and against those exact dates are outside the realm of our discussion today. So while we don’t know exactly when this event occurred, we know that it occurred historically, because it is recorded for us as history in Scripture.
- Let’s start by reading the introduction to this account in Genesis 6:1-8.
[READ GENESIS 6:1-8]
- For me to say that there are a lot of interpretive difficulties in these first few verses of the account would be an understatement. First of all, there is a lot of debate as to who the sons of God are, and what it means when it says they cohabited with the daughters of men. Since we are only spending one Sunday on Noah, I am going to leave that debate for another time. Whatever happened, it is clear that God is not pleased with what is going on on planet earth. I do, however, want to take the time to address another difficulty that arises in the text because I think it shows us something important about God.
- In v.3 the Bible says: Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” Let me give you this first truth, and then I will explain what I think that verse means:
THE ACCOUNT OF NOAH REVEALS GOD’S LONGSUFFERING WITH SINNERS
- There are a couple of ways to understand what Moses writes here as he is quoting God. And the difference between the two understandings involves a lot of detailed original language arguments; but we don’t need to go into those to get the gist of our options. Either this verse means that the spirit of life God breathed into mankind would not remain in him forever, and therefore his life span would only be 120 years as opposed to the long lives recorded in chapter 5; or it means that the Holy Spirit of God would not contend or strive with mankind forever, and announces that he has 120 years to live until the flood wipes him out.