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Hope Chapel Sunday Service Notes
HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, January 17, 2021
Teaching Series - “Our Family Tree–Through the Bible in 2021"
Weekly Topic - “Starting Over”
Text - Genesis 6:5-10:32
Over the past ten months, if I was a betting person, I would wager that each and everyone of us has prayed for God to intervene in some area of life: the pandemic, the US elections and continuing conflict or maybe a personal issue that is just too big to deal with on our own.
We have all known times when God has miraculously healed someone of an illness, temporarily putting a stopper in death; and, times when individuals we have prayed for have died. We have witnessed the unexplainable turning of a storm; and, the destruction as unchecked storms have ravaged whole countries. In this past year we have watched a virus wreak havoc on some communities, while others have gone minimally impacted. Why does God intervene at times and not at others?
We may be tempted to accuse God of playing favourites, of being deaf to our pleas or just being fickle. We live in a world that is not fair…but should the same be said of God? In our frustration, we search for someone to blame and the Sovereign God over the whole universe seems like a likely target…isn’t He the one in charge of this mess? But that’s human pride speaking, bound by a lack of understanding, and limited by time and space.
Why does God sometimes intervene and at others times appears to do nothing? I don’t know. And that’s okay. Even if God told me everything He is doing, it is doubtful…given my limitations as a created being…that I could begin to grasp its complexity. Though we will never fully understand God’s ways this side of the grave, maybe this morning’s examination of our spiritual family tree will provide us with some clues.
For those of you who were a part of our Zoom call last week, you may recall that unchecked pride in the human race had led them down a path from which they were incapable of returning from. Genesis six tells us that the sinfulness of humanity had become nearly unbreachable. Left to their own devices they appear only capable of destroying themselves and the whole of creation. As God now looked at His Creation “He saw that everything people thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil” (Genesis 6:5).
Last week I asked the question: If you were God, what would you have done? I want to pick up there.
God decided to start over. The story of Noah, the Ark and the great flood is probably the best known story of the Bible, possibly surpassing the story of the Nativity among people who know very little about the Bible. There are many civilizations that hold to a ‘flood myth’ which some scholars point to as proof of the Bible’s simply having copied one of these; I would contend that flood myths exist in so many of the civilizations and religions of the world because they share a common source—the true story of the great flood as contained in the Bible.
However, as well known as it is, I would guess that the facts are not that well known at all. And you know what that means…it’s quiz day!
CONDITION OF HUMANITY – Genesis 6:5-13
“The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. 6 So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. 7 And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.” 8 But Noah found favor with the Lord.
9 This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. 10 Noah was the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
11 Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. 12 God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt. 13 So God said to Noah, “I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth!”
With the exception of one man, the whole of humankind had earned God’s disfavour. God had provided them with a ‘very good’ creation, but by the time of Noah, it appeared beyond repair… without a direct intervention on God’s part.
The condition of humanity left to their own devices, apart from God, is truly scary! “When[ever] humanity defines good and evil for themselves, it results in a world of death and tragedy” (The Bible Project). We have far different priorities than God and different means of achieving our goals. We make it a ‘dog eat dog’ world.
We might be tempted to speculate concerning just how sinful humanity had become. What line had they crossed? We find hints. It is obvious that God steps in, not only because they have disobeyed Him, but to rescue humanity from themselves.
God chooses to ‘reboot’ humanity—“out of His passion to preserve the goodness of this world He washes it clean with the flood” (The Bible Project). Like going back to the manufacturer’s settings.
GOD INTERVENES – Genesis 6:6-8; 7:1-5
“So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. 7 And the Lord said, ‘I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.;’ 8 But Noah found favor with the Lord…
When everything was ready, the Lord said to Noah, ‘Go into the boat with all your family, for among all the people of the earth, I can see that you alone are righteous. 2 Take with you seven pairs—male and female—of each animal I have approved for eating and for sacrifice, and take one pair of each of the others. 3 Also take seven pairs of every kind of bird. There must be a male and a female in each pair to ensure that all life will survive on the earth after the flood. 4 Seven days from now I will make the rains pour down on the earth. And it will rain for forty days and forty nights, until I have wiped from the earth all the living things I have created.’
5 So Noah did everything as the Lord commanded him.”
Because of God’s great love, He couldn’t just sit back and watch the destruction of His ‘very good’ creation. He isn’t cold and removed from the dealings of this world as some suggest. The primary emotion of God as He sees what has become of His Creation is not anger, but rather we find a father who is utterly heartbroken and filled with regret.
But even at this dark moment—God’s regret over having created humankind—He doesn’t decide to wipe all life from off the face of the planet. He makes His intent known to Noah. Pairs of all animals are needed to ‘ensure that all life will survive on the earth after the flood.’ After the flood, life will continue anew.
From our limited viewpoint, we might have been tempted to simply wipe the whole thing clear…these ingrates are more trouble than they’re worth. But God’s got a bigger plan at play—a plan that began before the first of His creation came into being. He will not simply decide to cancel all of human life, but He will begin again with a faithful remnant, Noah. As humans, we can only know what we have experienced; but God has a much bigger viewpoint of the whole of human existence—past, present and future. And even though He chose to begin again, He wasn’t prepared to wash His Hands of us.
AFTER THE FLOOD – Genesis 8:1, 15-22; 9:12-17
“But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat. He sent a wind to blow across the earth, and the floodwaters began to recede.
Then God said to Noah, 16 “Leave the boat, all of you—you and your wife, and your sons and their wives. 17 Release all the animals—the birds, the livestock, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—so they can be fruitful and multiply throughout the earth.”
18 So Noah, his wife, and his sons and their wives left the boat. 19 And all of the large and small animals and birds came out of the boat, pair by pair.
20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose. 21 And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. 22 As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night’…
12 Then God said, ‘I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. 13 I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. 14 When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, 15 and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. 16 When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.’ 17 Then God said to Noah, ‘Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.’”
What goes through Noah’s mind as he floats on the flood waters, then becomes lodged on a mountain, knowing that the occupants on the ark are all that are left? Days turn into weeks…into months…and finally they mark a full year of having lived on the ark. Has God forgotten them? The biblical account provides no evidence that God spoke with Noah during their yearlong ‘cruise’…He had told them to enter the ark and had Himself closed the door; the Bible doesn’t record God’s providing any further instruction to Noah until it is time to leave the safety of the boat. But each time God spoke, no matter how much time had transpired since the last time, the Bible records Noah’s unhesitating obedience.
God sent the flood and rescued Noah, his family, and all the animals and then instructed them to pick up where they had left off, with a couple of variants:
I don’t know about you, but I am left asking, “What did the flood accomplish?” We might be tempted to turn skeptic…all that loss of life for nothing. But maybe the better question is, “What would have happened if God had not sent the flood?” His intent was to ‘preserve’ life even as all living creatures outside the ark perished. Could it be that humanity, without the flood, would have done a more thorough job of exterminating all life? Could it be the flood actually worked as humanity’s salvation?
From a purely human perspective, we may simply never know the answers to those questions. In fact, as the story continues we are left with even more questions and confusion as to why God bothered to preserve a remnant…
INCOMPLETE STORY – Genesis 9:20-29
“After the flood, Noah began to cultivate the ground, and he planted a vineyard. 21 One day he drank some wine he had made, and he became drunk and lay naked inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw that his father was naked and went outside and told his brothers. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a robe, held it over their shoulders, and backed into the tent to cover their father. As they did this, they looked the other way so they would not see him naked.
24 When Noah woke up from his stupor, he learned what Ham, his youngest son, had done. 25 Then he cursed Canaan, the son of Ham: ‘May Canaan be cursed! May he be the lowest of servants to his relatives.’
26 Then Noah said, ‘May the Lord, the God of Shem, be blessed, and may Canaan be his servant! 27 May God expand the territory of Japheth! May Japheth share the prosperity of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant.’
28 Noah lived another 350 years after the great flood. 29 He lived 950 years, and then he died.”
There is this brief narrative contained at the end of Genesis chapter nine which has left scholars scratching their heads for millennium. What exactly happened in the tent when Ham found his father drunk? Why was it that Canaan was cursed? Like the story of Genesis six and the account of ‘sons of God,’ ‘daughters of man’ and ‘giant Nephilite,’ there is no definite conclusion to be drawn.
There have been innumerable theories that range from a literal reading of the text—Ham saw his father naked—to those that have been drawn from the euphemistic use of ‘uncovered nakedness.’ It appears that Ham may very well have done something quite nasty to his own father which the writer chose not to expound on. Suffice it to say that something that Noah deemed unforgiveable happened and he cursed his grandson as a result.
God had saved one family and they, too, proved incapable of living in a manner that God approved…even after having escaped death in the flood and spending a year on the ark!
Noah lived 350 more years after the flood; his sons and their wives began to repopulate the planet—Genesis chapter ten ends with, “All the nations of the earth descended from these clans [from Noah’s sons] after the great flood” (v.32). Yet sin remained and a greater intervention on the part of God, on humanity’s behalf, would still be required for God to reclaim the ‘very good’ of His Creation.
How does this apply to me and you? What can we learn?
For further study:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQI72THyO5I (The Bible Project – Genesis 1-11)
Sunday, January 24, 2021- “Our Family Tree - Through the Bible in 2021"- Week #4 “What did you Say?” (Genesis 11) - ONLINE Only
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!