We wrapped up our tour of the Gospel According to Matthew last week. With the Advent season coming up quickly, I’m reluctant to dive straight into the Gospel According to Mark just yet. So, for the next several weeks, we are going to be looking at the Gospel displayed throughout the Bible. I think a great place to start this week’s lesson is with Noah. We discussed the wickedness in the earth in the time of Noah in our CTT post this past Monday, so let’s do some review and round out some of the Gospel edges here today.
For starters, let us address the common error of treating the Old Testament as a history book and the New Testament as the Christian book. The Early Church was established on the Gospel of Jesus Christ but the text that was preached was the Old Testament. We see this in the Acts of the Apostles.
Acts 17:1-3 (ESV) | Paul and Silas in Thessalonica
17 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”
Therefore, we must rightly consider the whole of the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) the Christian Scriptures. The hermeneutic we employ, is to seek to identify Law (which identifies our sin) and Gospel (Jesus Christ) in the Scriptures. As a layman, I rely heavily on my pastor’s teaching and on the New Testament’s revelation of what is found in the Old Testament. We are going to look into the Noah account, but first let us begin in the New Testament for some insight.
Noah, a herald of righteousness
We’ll begin our study in 2 Peter 2.
2 Peter 2:1-11 (ESV) | False Prophets and Teachers
2 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones,11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord.
Here, we begin with the Law. We see in this passage a strong rebuke against false prophets and teachers who blaspheme the Way of Truth. Their condemnation and destruction is imminent. The wages of sin is death. The follow up to declaring the judgement due the false teachers is pointing the readers to the fall of creation, first the angels, and then the rest of the earth, save Noah. Noah is highlighted here as a herald of righteousness. The Greek word being translated herald here is κῆρυξ (Strong’s Number G2783). This same word is also translated “preacher” in the following text:
2 Timothy 1:8-12 (ESV) 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a [κῆρυξ] preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.
A preacher is a herald of Law and Gospel… if he’s doing his job. I love that the counter to false teachers/preachers is Noah, a preacher who by modern-day standards was ineffective since only his family “got saved”. A solid reason to reject our modern-day standards for “effective ministry”, don’t you think?
So, let us turn now to Genesis 6 for our main text.
Genesis 6 (ESV)
Genesis 6:1-8 (ESV) | Increasing Corruption on Earth
6 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “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.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
The language of verse 2 is very similar to that of Genesis 3:6, when Eve saw the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that it was good for food and a delight to her eye. The temptation was external, but the sin is internal… the desire for that which looks good but is indeed forbidden.
There are those who teach that the Nephilim were half-human and half-angel beings. There are some major problems with that understanding, first is that angels and humans are completely different kinds of created beings (thus they cannot produce offspring) and Jesus made it clear that angels are not married nor are they given in marriage (Matthew 22:29-31). Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God, and nowhere in the Bible do we see angels granted sonship. When we consider the Bible to be first and foremost a revelation of Jesus Christ, we can look for a better understanding of what is being explained in this passage regarding the Nephilim, the sons of God and the daughters of man. As Christians, we understand that by Faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, we are adopted as sons and daughters of the Most High God. As I pointed out earlier, too often we treat the Old Testament as mere history, almost as if what takes place before Christ was pre-faith. That’s an error. When God created man and placed him in the Garden, God also gave a command that required faith to obey:
Genesis 2:15-17 (ESV) The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Adam had no concept of evil or death; therefore, faith was required to obey this command. After being tempted, they doubted and lacked faith, and fell into sin, thus death entered creation through man’s sin. Now, as soon as man sinned God then pronounced His judgement against the serpent and mankind, He also included in that judgement a Promise of redemption by the seed of woman, that salvation would indeed come, the Messiah, the Christ, that is Jesus, the Only Begotten Son of God. They had no idea when, but those who were of faith in the Promise of God were credited with righteousness (Hebrews 11). When we see mankind bearing children, we first see Cain and Abel. Cain was older than Abel, but Abel had faith while Cain did not, and Cain killed Abel. Cain is exiled, a son of man, but not of God for he lacked faith. The descendants of Cain were the sons of men, for they lacked faith. God grants Adam and Eve another son, Seth, a son of the Promise. The descendants of Seth were of faith and thus were the sons of God by faith. This is what we see played out in the Genealogies found in Genesis 5, leading up to Noah, a son of God by faith, for we know that he was a preacher of righteousness.
However, at this time we see that many of the sons of God had taken as wives the daughters of men… Sethites were marrying unbelieving Cainites… and their children were described as Nephilim. The Hebrew word here is a plural word that is sometimes translated as “giants”. They could have been giants (these men had centuries-long lifespans), but that’s not the only possible understanding of the word. Another possibility is looking at the verb naphal used by God to describe Cain’s fallen countenance (Gen 4:6) upon seeing that Abel’s offering was accepted where his was not. Nephilim could also be “fallen ones”, a worthy description of the fruit of believers being unequally yoked with unbelievers. Still conjecture on my part, but I think it holds better to the picture of unbelief versus faith, sin versus grace, Law versus Gospel. Let us continue in our text.
Genesis 6:9-22 (ESV) | Noah and the Flood
9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.
And so God destroyed the earth and all that was on it. God saved Noah and 7 with him, along with enough of the clean and unclean animals for repopulating what remained of the corrupted earth. Judgement came to the earth, but Grace prevailed for He had promised a Son. The ark points to our Savior, Jesus Christ, as we saw in 1 Peter 3.
1 Peter 3:18-22 (ESV) 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah,while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
The ark bore the brunt of the destructive waters, keeping and preserving those inside safely through to their Salvation. We who are in Christ Jesus by faith are also being kept and preserved through the waters of baptism, death to sin, and will be with Him in the Resurrection.
God made His covenant to Noah, whom He saved by His Grace. God Promised not to destroy the whole earth again by water, and placed His bow in the clouds as a reminder of His promise to us… the descendants of Noah. Noah is now the keeper of the Promise of the Messiah who was to come. In all of its awesomeness, this is but a foreshadowing of the coming Messiah, who came, lived, was crucified and died for our sins, and was Resurrected as the first fruits of the Kingdom, Creation that is to come. We still walk in the corrupted flesh of the cursed Earth… but by faith, we’ve been sealed with the Promise of Eternal Life in the Kingdom of Heaven, the New Heaven and the New Earth, in New Bodies borne of the Spirit by the Grace of God in Christ Jesus.
Next week is a very busy week for our household, so I may be sharing a F4F episode of Rosebrough’s Ramblings through Genesis rather than put together a full write-up of my own. We’ll see, but I think we will be skipping ahead for a look at the life of Joseph and how he points us ahead to Jesus Christ. Until then, be blessed and spend time in God’s Word with your family and friends.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-24 (ESV) | Final Instructions and Benediction
12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies,21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
In Christ Jesus,