Inter-Community Church of God
June 27, 2021 Service
      • Psalm 130GS-NETBIBLE

  • Unusual Characters

    Today I will finish Noah’s story, then next week I will use Abraham as our focus. Bobbi and I had a wonderful time in Portland last week, celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary on Father’s Day. So good to see both Micah and Sarah, and our Best Man and my best friend for 63 years, Dale Gallien. It is good that all are well.
    Dale showed me his latest motorcycle project, a Harley-Davidson Panhead based on a 1967 Electraglide. It reminded me of my 1962 Panhead Duo-Glide, the first Harley that had rear shocks, that was stolen from me while I was a student at the University of Oregon.
    On a night of freezing rain that left the road covered with ice, someone took the bike before I woke in my nearby converted bread delivery truck—which I called the Cookie Wagon. It was stolen on November 20, 1970, and I still check every HD crankcase I see for the serial number of my bike, 62FLH8363. Never found a trace.
    Visiting Dale is a great way to revisit memories. He lives on his family homestead, after moving home to care for his Mom, my second mom, Gloria. She passed a few years ago now. That is where I spent a lot of my growing-up days, involved in all kinds of projects and adventures.
    I happened to look on top of a stack of stuff covering one of his many car projects, and was a little surprised at what I saw. I asked, “Is that...” and I pointed at it, and Dale said, “Yes, it is.” I picked up and held in my hands Dale’s first ever skateboard, a 16” X 5” flat piece of 3/4” hardwood shaped a little like a surfboard with 2 clay-wheeled skate trucks screwed to the bottom. It was painted black with a couple white racing stripes. He rode that down the roads and sidewalks of Rainier, Oregon while I rode a red board a little narrower and plainer next to him about 60 years ago.
    So all you boarders out there, you should know that we were riding the first skateboards you could buy at the local hardware store in about 1960.
    For us, it was never about tricks or jumps or railings or half-pipes. We just got on those boards and went as fast as we could downhill. No helmets, no gloves or pads, just some torn Levi’s, skinned elbows and broken teeth. Just some “Back to the Future” memories that God allowed on that visit lat week.
    Now, Bobbi and I didn’t take much time to drive around, but we passed the house her family had moved to when I met her more than 52 years ago, and past the second rented house and the house I lived in from age 7 to 16 in Rainier, Oregon. And we drove over the Longview-Rainier bridge that connects Washington and Oregon halfway between Portland and Astoria. We saw so much that was new and so much that hadn’t changed one bit.
    OK, that was about Bobbi and me more than it was about Noah, but it sets the stage for what I’m sharing today about Noah. Because thinking about that short trip made me wonder what it was like for Noah and his sons Ham, Shem and Japheth and their wives when they stepped out of the Ark after a whole year floating on the waves of the flood, and there was nothing, I mean nothing, left of the world in which they grew up.
    For them, it was a longer period than it was for me to revisit the past. I am not quite 69 years old. Bobbi and I last lived in Rainier in 1983, about 38 years ago. But for Noah it was a lot longer that he experienced the world before the flood. Noah was 600 and his sons were 100 years old when they got on the Ark. Believe me, they left behind a lot of memories.
    What was it like for them to walk onto a renewed earth, as the only people that had survived. It would have seemed a pretty vast and lonely place. God had taken care of the vegetation for them, but all air-breathing life got off the boat with Noah. Animals, reptiles, birds and probably bugs were saved because of the Ark that took them through the waters that cleansed the earth of the evil of humankind that had distressed God enough to hit the reset button.
    So what is God going to do with Noah and his family now? It’s not being a boat-builder now. It’s about being world-populaters, farmers, home-builders, ranchers, city makers, and on and on.
    My premise for this series on the unusual characters that form the people of God is this: God’s choice of people sometimes matches our ideas of a leader, and sometimes doesn’t.
    >>>But we do find that God makes those unusual characters he uses into the peculiar people they need to be for His purposes.

    Noah: The Man Used to Reset Humanity

    The whole Story of Noah is found in four chapters of Genesis, 6-9. I began Noah’s story with his place in the generations of Adam, up to the building, lading, and floating of the Ark. Such an interesting story, as we reflect on the unusual character of Noah that God used to do a “reset” or “restart” of the populations of the earth. In the line of Seth, Adam’s 3rd son, we are at the beginning point of a people of God that starts by passing through the flood.
    Noah, the grandson of Methuselah, and great-grandson of Enoch, was unique in his day. This Unusual Character was the one seen as “righteous” among all the men of earth, which meant that there were just a scant few that even remembered the God who made them.
    Our God has never forced his human creation to follow him, worship him, or even remember him, even though we are surrounded by so many reminders of God’s handiwork. God wants a relationship with us. And so, so many still reject God.
    >>>But rejecting God means living without holiness or righteousness. That mess is why God sent the flood in the first place.

    The World Is Just Too Wicked

    And even today we see that wicked behavior at every turn. Many live without a good moral center, having rejected what is right or maybe never even learning the real difference between right and wrong. Our news stories are continually filled with shootings, abuse, lies, slander and misdeeds.
    When we look around at the rampant atheism, unconverted lives lived selfishly and sinfully even as they say they believe in God, and the agnostics who say we can’t know God if he exists, sometimes we wonder just how much is too much.
    Some have said that because of our modern wickedness, God may have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.
    The story of Noah reminds us that even God has a limit to how much he will take. And it reminds us that God always has some who will put their trust in Him. With all the wickedness of Noah’s day, he was the exception, and we read,
    Genesis 6:8–9 (CSB)
    8 Noah, however, found favor with the Lord.
    9 These are the family records of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among his contemporaries; Noah walked with God.
    How did Noah get on God’s good side? Well, that’s pretty straight-forward in the Bible. Noah, like Enoch, walked with God. In case you didn’t notice, that’s the difference between one that is in line for God’s wrath and God’s reward is if we walk with God in faith. That means to us, on this side of the Cross, that we believe in Jesus, the one God sent as our savior, and allow the Holy Spirit to be our inner righteousness. That is walking with God for us.
    Now last time, 2 weeks ago, we talked about the building and lading of the Ark, how Noah at 600 years old, and his sons at 100 years old, still did something significant for God in their lifetimes. It is a story of faithfully believing and obeying God, and how God made use of their obedience for the salvation of these 8 people we have on the ark during the flood.
    We left Noah with an ark full of every breathing animal, bird, reptile and bug that would not survive the flood. And the floods came, the waters rose, and the ark floated among the waves while the rest of creation was unprepared. But because of the wickedness of humanity, all the earth would suffer.
    >>>We pick up the story again and we’ll get the details of flood’s start and finish today, but more important than a boat full of air-breathers, is the covenant that God makes with his creation as we come to our conclusion.

    The Floods Come, The Ark Floats

    Of course, this is what Noah had been preparing for. For no-one-knows-how-long, the Ark had been under construction. I’m thinking 60-80 years, considering the ages of his sons to get the work done.
    >>>Then every beast and bird and bug and reptile that breathed came onto the ark, His family got aboard, and the door was sealed. Then,
    Genesis 7:11–12 (CSB)
    11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the sources of the vast watery depths burst open, the floodgates of the sky were opened, 12 and the rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.
    So we have a clear statement of Noah’s age when he was shut into the ark with all the beasts— and his wife too. Noah was 600 years old when the rains started.
    Genesis 7:19 (CSB)
    19 Then the water surged even higher on the earth, and all the high mountains under the whole sky were covered.
    >>>The Flood Snuffs Out

    All Breathing Life. Dead.

    This is what the Lord God said he would do. We see it in Genesis 6:7, as God is so fed up with the evil heart of mankind that he says to himself, and in the courts of heaven, that he is sorry he made them. Because of that, God says ALL will face mass extinction, “man, animals and creeping things and birds.” There was not going to be a trial. No one would get to present a case about why God shouldn’t do this.
    God who sees all, knows all, and has the best possible future planned for his creation is the only being in all the universe and beyond who can see the results of the selfish, evil actions of humankind. And those collective acts of evil have doomed the whole earth to the mass extinction of every creature, including humans.
    What is coming is in Noah’s day is echoed in what will come because of environmental destruction in our day—if you count the same kind of time period as Noah’s life. Yes, mankind is able to effect the future of life on this planet by selfish, sinful behaviors that ignore the consequences of their actions.
    This is what Exactly what he told Noah, in Genesis 6:17, when God says to Noah that he will use a great flood to “destroy every creature under heaven with the breath of life in it.” This is exactly the truth that Noah believed because God told him so. This is exactly why he built the ark.
    >>>And this is exactly what happened, as we read in Genesis 7:22-23:
    Genesis 7:22 (CSB)
    22 Everything with the breath of the spirit of life in its nostrils—everything on dry land died.
    Genesis 7:23 (CSB)
    23 He wiped out every living thing that was on the face of the earth, from mankind to livestock, to creatures that crawl, to the birds of the sky, and they were wiped off the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark.
    This was not just a disaster for the people of earth. This was a disaster for the whole mass of life on dry land. This was the singling out of only a boatload of people and beasts to restart all the populations of the earth.
    Sometimes I think about how those days might have been. This wasn’t a 1 or 2 hour cruise to Catalina, nor a couple weeks for a vacation cruise. They had thousands of animals to take care of, every day, precious little light, and nothing but absolutely pounding rain for 6 weeks. This much water, making the earth into a single ocean that covered the mountains, must have resulted in some pretty epic storm waves, and if nothing else, the whole boat was bobbing around, day after day, night after night.
    The Bible never says anything about sea-sickness, but if may have been a reality in those days and weeks and months. And people aren’t alone in being subject to being seasick. Just to add to all the wonderful smells on a single boat with every creature that would be saved, and no waste disposal system listed in the plans for the ark, and only small windows at the top. The one good thing is that there was no glass in Noah’s day, so the windows were always open.
    >>>It was all of 5 months before there was any hope of the waters finding their home again. Even though it felt like a disaster that would never end,

    God Never Forgot Noah

    and All the Lives on the Ark.
    Never forgotten. A song we sing sometimes has the victorious chorus that rings out, “I am not forgotten, I am not forgotten, God knows my name.” That’s true for Noah, and if it were not, well, we wouldn’t be talking about it now, would we?
    So 40 days and 40 nights of rain. The very earth underfoot erupting in geysers of water. The floods coming from the unseen places as well as from the clouds. The pall of death upon the whole earth until the end was accomplished.
    >>>And then months of waiting and wondering, and the daily tasks of feeding and cleaning in this vast Ark manned by only 8 people, all of whom were older than any of us listening today.
    So,
    Genesis 8:1 (CSB)
    1 God remembered Noah, as well as all the wildlife and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water began to subside.
    After all this time in this floating zoo, finally it seemed that there was hope. Now, the wind that God sent would not have been good for seasickness, because wind on water causes waves that waver the largest of ships. Up, down, up, down, up, down, sideways, the wind and waves moved the Ark to the place where God would land it once again, when it was time.
    >>>And the time finally came.

    Finally the Rain Stopped

    and the Flood Began to Ebb.
    Now, remember it wasn’t just the rain. It was probably the melting of the ice caps, the rising of the seas, the breaking out of all the waters stored in the aquifers below our feat.
    >>>It all had to stop or none of it would stop. But we read,
    Genesis 8:2 (CSB)
    2 The sources of the watery depths and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky stopped.
    As God probably refroze the ice on the poles, and the earth received back the water it had given up for the flood, the Ark began to brush the tops of the tallest peaks, until finally,
    Genesis 8:3–4 (CSB)
    3 The water steadily receded from the earth, and by the end of 150 days the water had decreased significantly. 4 The ark came to rest in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat.
    That was good news, but it was far from over. After 5 months asea, it took another 5 months for the water to go down enough for even the mountaintops to be seen.
    It had been 10 months since the 600-year-old Noah was sealed in the Ark with his small cadre of people and the thousands of creatures God had sent.
    >>>But it was time for Noah’s 601st birthday. The bobbing of the Ark had ceased. The waters of the sea could no longer be heard crashing against the hull of the ship. The animals had begun to settle down, and so, . . .
    Genesis 8:13 (CSB)
    13 In the six hundred first year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, the water that had covered the earth was dried up. Then Noah removed the ark’s cover and saw that the surface of the ground was drying.
    Now that was good news. As the light began to flood in, all the smells of the water-borne menagerie became mixed with fresh air, and all the hopes of escape were coming nearer.
    >>>So that,
    Genesis 8:14 (CSB)
    14 By the twenty-seventh day of the second month, the earth was dry.
    Noah heard the voice of God again, as he said to Noah that it was time.
    Genesis 8:16–17 (CSB)
    16 “Come out of the ark, you, your wife, your sons, and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out all the living creatures that are with you—birds, livestock, those that crawl on the earth—and they will spread over the earth and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.”
    It doesn’t seem that all the animals just ran for it when the door was opened. This wasn’t a stampede, it was a release. And everything that had happened in good order by the command of God was resolving with good order as the Ark was emptied, and the home of all of them for the last year was simply not needed anymore.
    >>>Now there was time for something to happen besides just survival. It was . . .

    Time to Worship the Lord God.

    And Noah had probably been planning this a long time. How would he celebrate his salvation from the flood?
    We discover how Noah and those with him responded to their safety and their release. First, the altar, as stones were gathered and piled and fitted.
    >>>And we discover why there were 7 pairs of every clean animal on the Ark.
    Genesis 8:20 CSB
    20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord. He took some of every kind of clean animal and every kind of clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
    This would not be over in a day. When you have every kind of clean animal and every kind of bird, we are not talking about just roast turkey and roast beef. No, this was roast beasts and roast birds.
    >>>And as the burnt offerings and worship of the God who saved them went on for some days, the Lord God decided something that we experience even today. . .

    God Makes a Covenant with Creation

    Because of the faithful worship of the righteous Noah, and the sacrifice of the clean animals to the Lord, it was time for the Lord God to promise the rest of creation that
    >>>He wouldn’t just wipe them out because of humanity’s misdeeds.
    Genesis 8:21 (CSB)
    21 When the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, he said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of human beings, even though the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth onward. And I will never again strike down every living thing as I have done.
    This is the first part of the covenant God was making with his creation. This part of the covenant was a contract God made with himself. Because Noah and his family came through all this with a heart of worship, God promised (to himself, it says in verse 21) that he would not extinguish life on earth because of the rotten hearts of mankind.
    God’s human creation has not been recreated, just rescued. The inclination of the human heart toward evil was not wiped out, and God knew it. But the collective grief of the loss of all breathing life on earth except for what was in the Ark was something God did not want to hit his heart again anytime soon.
    >>>Yet, we would not know anything about what God said to himself until after he told Noah what was going on, first beginning with. . .

    God’s Blessing

    in verse 9:1, with the instruction to get to the task at hand:
    Genesis 9:1 (CSB)
    1 God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.
    This wouldn’t all be fun and games, though. After co-existing with all the animals on the ark, feeding the cows and the lions and the alligators the same stuff they were eating,
    >>>things were about to get a lot more interesting:
    Genesis 9:2 (CSB)
    2 The fear and terror of you will be in every living creature on the earth, every bird of the sky, every creature that crawls on the ground, and all the fish of the sea. They are placed under your authority.
    OK, so this would no longer be the kind of natural world that Bobbi imagines, where it would be wonderful to have every creature eating out of her hand (by the way, she knows well how to be safe with wild animals in general).
    God told Noah all the animals would run from him, every one of them ready to buck, kick and bite in order to escape the authority God now gives to Noah and his offspring.
    We have to remember that authority, or dominion, is a management, or a stewardship role. We can’t overrule God, and we must serve God as we manage His creation for God’s glory, not our own.
    >>>Oh, and there is one more thing about this blessing. People would no longer be vegetarians:
    Genesis 9:3 (CSB)
    3 Every creature that lives and moves will be food for you; as I gave the green plants, I have given you everything.
    No wonder all the animals and birds want to run from us until we tame and train some to just take their place in our food chain. They are now a big part of our food chain. And so it is still today.
    God went on to tell Noah that the lifeblood of the animals is his. As humans, we don’t eat un-slaughtered animals. Although we are given the right to eat meat, every life still belongs to God.
    >>>And God says again that it’s not going to be OK to just sit in one spot because life is easy. There is a whole world out there. And right now it’s pretty empty, so. . .
    Genesis 9:7 (CSB)
    7 But you, be fruitful and multiply; spread out over the earth and multiply on it.”
    They had a little trouble with this and by the time they had multiplied in a single area of the newly fertile earth, there was that whole Tower of Babel thing where God blew out their party fires and scattered them with new languages.
    >>>Now, after those instructions about how to manage their new opportunities,

    God Establishes a New Covenant

    with Noah and all of humanity to follow.
    This is a promise God decides to make with Noah and his sons. It is not a contract that Noah presented to God, for mutual consideration. This is a covenant that comes from God’s heart and Noah has nothing to say about it.
    This is a contract that is filled with God’s care and God’s grace, even though he knew the evil hearts of humankind.
    >>>It is a unilateral covenant from God to all of creation.
    Genesis 9:8–10 (CSB)
    8 Then God said to Noah and his sons with him, 9 “Understand that I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you—birds, livestock, and all wildlife of the earth that are with you—all the animals of the earth that came out of the ark.
    God’s covenant is not just for Noah. It is clear that it is a convenant God is making to all his created beings.
    >>>And here is the covenant:
    Genesis 9:11 (CSB)
    11 I establish my covenant with you that never again will every creature be wiped out by floodwaters; there will never again be a flood to destroy the earth.”
    Never again. Never again will waters cover the whole earth. Never again will a flood be the end of life on the surface of the earth. Never again will water be the means of enacting a final judgement. (However, the New Testament tells us that God will use fire to take care of things).
    It’s one thing to state the covenant, but what will we use to remember it? As humanity, we tend to have pretty short memories about the goodness of God. So we need signs, we need reminders. That is a reason that we celebrate the Lord’s Supper regularly. To remember.
    >>>Well, since this is God’s covenant, it’s up to God to take care of the means of our memories, and so he does what only God can do and does what endures as long as the earth endures, whenever rain comes upon the earth:

    The Sign of the Rainbow

    God and his creation will know that this is not the end because God has established his new covenant of grace with us, as far as the floods are concerned.
    The promise to keep the covenant is a sign in the heavens that will let us know that God is a covenant-keeping God.
    >>>And this sign is a talking point for us with our children and grandchildren from now until always.
    Genesis 9:12–13 (CSB)
    12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all future generations: 13 I have placed my bow in the clouds, and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
    The end of the story of Noah is just the beginning of the story of God’s grace to all mankind.
    Genesis 9:28 (CSB)
    28 Now Noah lived 350 years after the flood.
    Noah’s ark saved the human race and animal life.
    God’s Son is what saves us...
      • Genesis 8:20HCSB

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