Noah and the Ark is Not a Children’s Story

I’m teaching the Old Testament at Lander University and I am also teaching it at our church this Fall.  As I prepare, I am noticing many things about the Old Testament that are misunderstood.  One of them is that Noah and the Ark is not a children’s story.  It’s a story for all of us. It’s deeper than rain and animals.  It has to do with the fact that God takes sin seriously.

Adam and Eve sinned and were banished from the Garden.  Their son, Cain, killed their other son, Abel.  After this event, God blesses them with another son.  When Eve births another son, Seth (Gen. 4:25), solemnity is slowing taking over. Seth’s birth gives a subtle indication of deeper things transpiring with Mankind.

While the first people were made in the image of God, Seth is curiously described as a son in Adam’s “own likeness, after his image” (Gen. 5:3). On the external level, this reveals that Seth’s appearance is similar to that of his father’s. This phrase possibly also acknowledges the fact that these following generations are more and more marred by the curse of sin first seen in the father Adam.

This sinful nature and Adamic likeness grows. Sin continues to pervert, distort, and destroy what is good in God’s creation. Evil increases greatly, and God becomes evermore grieved over Mankind. God begins to impose an age limit of 120 years (Gen. 6:3) except for a few unique exceptions (Abraham lives to 175, Gen. 25:7).

Further, God declares that he is going to destroy his Creation which was good before sin corrupted it. “‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD'” (Gen. 6:7-8). The fact that God feels “sorry” does not indicate that he is now aware of something he didn’t see coming and he wish he would have never done it in the first place. God foreknew all that had transpired and all that would transpire. The actualization of enduring Mankind’s sinfulness produces a different type of grief within God than previously described.

Noah is the exception here. Chosen by God for a specific task, Noah “was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:9). God’s wrath was coming for earth ever so filled with violence and corruption (Gen. 6:11-12). To save himself, his family, and a remnant of animals, God instructed Noah to build an ark that could sustain the coming wrath of God (Gen. 6:14-22).

Noah and the Ark was never intended to be a mere children’s story.

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The Big Picture of the Old Testament

As I type, I am watching a group of Lander students complete their Old Testament final exam for the semester.  Some of them look like they got more sleep than others.  Some have a rough week ahead, others not so much.

I had never taught Old Testament at the university before.  I have taught different world religions courses, but this semester I got to teach Old Testament for the first time.  As I prepared for the class, I decided that I would teach it differently than traditional ways of teaching it.

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When God Got His Hands Dirty

While Genesis 1 summarizes Creation, Genesis 2 takes a behind-the-scenes look at a very pivotal part of the work created on day six.  The author presses rewind and looks at the significance of how God created the unceasingly, stubborn race known as Mankind.  While Genesis 1 describes Elohim the Creator, when his work with mankind is revisited, a subtle English shift takes place with major Hebrew implications.

Instead of God creating Adam, the LORD God creates Adam.  In many translations, you might read the word “Lord” with every letter capitalized.  This word is not the simple Adonai meaining “Lord,” this word is Yahweh.  This is the name that God designates to himself when Moses later asks him how he should describe him to Pharaoh.  “I am who I am.”  Only when the shift happens from universal creation to the creation of mankind is Yahweh mentioned.  This shows that there is a God over all, but there is a LORD in relationship with some. 

While God spoke everything else into existence, he “made” man (Gen. 1:26).  God formed man out of the dust from the ground like a potter skillfully shaping and molding a vessel to his liking.

His hands, matted with dusty earth, shapes this man to be a specific image-bearer.

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God is Good (And So is His Creation)

A simple threefold pattern describes the first six days of Creation.  In each day, something was stated, created, and affirmed.  God spoke something into existence.  He used words.  He said, “Let there be light.”  Using solely words, light burst forth at 670,616,629.2 miles per hour across nothing to illuminate the beginning of something.  God stated, and with those words, he created.  Each day, reflecting upon the day’s work, he would affirm it.  He saw that it was “good.”  It wasn’t evil.  It wasn’t imperfect.  It wasn’t lacking.  God’s creation was good.

God’s creation was the way it was intended to be before something so vile began to corrupt something so good.  In these first days, everything was new and vibrant and life-giving.  It was good.  It couldn’t help but be good — God created it.

He is good and it is only fitting that his creation would reflect his character.

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In the Beginning…

In the beginning, God.  The first words of the Old Testament leave no room for misunderstanding.  Before the details of the rest of the story are conveyed, the author wants to make sure the reader grasps a fundamental doctrine: in the beginning, God.  In the beginning, there was nothing other than God, and from the beginning, there was nothing that did not come from God.

God created everything we know and see out of nothing.  Usually, when someone tries to imagine “nothing,” they fall short.  Normally, that person is imagining space or a dark expanse, but even that is something.  That something fails to be nothing.  Aristotle stated, “Nothing is what rocks dream about.”  It’s impossible for our finite minds to even comprehend the concept of nothing, but that is exactly out of what God created.  He created the world ex nihilio (“out of nothing”).

He didn’t need any outside advice or help.  He wasn’t scrounging around for building supplies.  All he used to create everything we experience today was words uttered from his lips.

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Major in the Minors: Malachi

What a wonderful day of worship!  We finished Major in the Minors today with the study of Malachi.  So good!

The worshipers were ready today!  I was overwhelmed with the volume and the passion of our worshipers today.  We had a scaled down acoustic set, but it was way heavy on the worshiper side.

Today, we worshiped to:

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Major in the Minors: Nahum

We had a great morning at North Side!  Even on a holiday weekend, we experienced three great services as we focused on Nahum.

Jeff’s message on Nahum was powerful.  3 themes he pointed out:

Our God is a sovereign God.  Our God is a righteous God.  Our God is a good God.

Today, we worshiped to:

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Major in the Minors: Amos

Great time today of focusing on our 3rd prophet Amos in our series “Major in the Minors.”  With a full day ahead for our church body, I can’t think of a better focus than what God pointed us to this morning.

Today, we worshiped to:

I decided a while back to do an acoustic service this Sunday (the picture above is of the boys playing the cajon which was played today, well, they didn’t play it during the service, just after ;)).  I honestly didn’t have a reason to, I just felt like doing it.  I didn’t know at the time that God was going to lead Jeff to preach out of Amos concerning worship that God hates.

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