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Gen 1:1–11:32
There is, here, a real sense of the majesty of God.
He is "beyond description."
We cannot comprehend Him.
We can hardly put into words this sense of God's greatness.
We are transported into an eternal dimension, which is so different from our earthly existence.
We read, "In the beginning, God ... " (1:1).
Many live as if God was absent, as if humanity was the only reality.
Here, it is we who are absent from view.
Here, we see God only.
Humanity only comes into view when God chooses (1:26-27).
Everything about this is God-centred rather than man-centred.
The light comes when God says, "Let there be light" (1:3).
Prior to God's Word of command, in 1:3, we see "the Spirit of God hovering" (1:2).
The Spirit is on the alert, ready to move into action, ready for the Word of God to be spoken, ready to empower the Word so that it becomes mightily effective.
All that follows - described as "very good" - comes from God, from His Word and His Spirit.
Only good can come from God.
The reality of evil has not yet come into view.
When it does, everything changes except one thing - the love of God for His creation.
Here, we see the privilege and responsibility of being human.
As well as the privilege - created in the image of God (1:26-27), there is also the responsibility - in relation to (a) the creation: "farm the land and ... take care of it " (15); (b) the Creator: "you must never eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (17).
Human life is lived within two horizons - (i) the temporal or earthly horizon: we have relationships with one another: "It is not good for the man to be alone" (18); (ii) the eternal or heavenly horizon: we are related to God.
Human relationships do not fully satisfy us.
There is a longing for God our Creator: "He has put a sense of eternity in people's minds" (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
He has given us good things to be enjoyed (1 Timothy 4:4).
He has also created us to be "inwardly ... renewed" by feeding on the "things" that "last forever" (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
From the majestic perfection of God nad the privileged responsibilty of humanity, we now move to the evil subtlety of Satan.
An intruder has sneaked into the privileged place between God the Creator and mankind.
His creation.
Chapter 2 ends with the absence of shame.
Chapter 3 begins with the presence of Satan.
The work of Satan, successfully executed, ensures that chapter 3 ends rather differently from chapter 2 - "the Lord God sent the man out of the Garden of Eden" (23).
This was "Paradise Lost."
Was there a way to "Paradise Regained"?
There are two answers to this question: 'No' and 'Yes.' Taking ourselves as the starting-point, the answer is 'No' - God will not permit us to take salvation into our own hands (24).
Starting with God, we answer, 'Yes' - this is the answer of verse 15: Christ (the woman's descendant) will be crucified (the bruising of His heel), but the outcome of this will be the defeat of Satan (the crushing of his head).
This chapter tells the story of the progression of humanity, the increase of sin and, in it final sentence, the development of worship.
There are interesting snippets of cultural information (20-22).
There may be progress in the horizontal dimension - agriculture, music, industry, but history reveals, again and again, that all is not well in our relationship with God.
Sin was on the increase (1-16).
Things were getting out of control.
Could they be turned around again?
A strongly positive answer to this question is not spelled out in detail in this chapter.
There is, however, a hint of God at the end of the chapter.
He is still at work, calling sinners to worship Him, and people are beginning to respond.
This is the note on which the chapter ends - "At that time people began to worship the Lord" (26).
At the end of a chapter which is, at best, informative - the progression of culture, and, at worst, depressing - the increase of sin, this is the ray of hope, the word of encouragement.
"Enoch walked with God" (22-23).
Following this striking statement about Enoch's remarkable walk with God, we are introduced to Noah (28-32).
Like Enoch, "Noah walked with God" (6:9).
"Noah" means "Relief" - "Out of the ground which the Lord has cursed this child shall bring us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands" (29).
This seems to be a rather mundane statement.
The deeper signicance of this "relief" becomes clearer as we look more closely, chapters 6-9, at the place of Noah within the purpose of God.
By building the ark, Noah brought relief from the storm of God's judgment.
What an awesome judgment of God the flood was.
In the midst of this judgment, there was relief (salvation).
The ark is a picture of Christ.
Those who are in Him are saved.
Those who are outside of Him are lost.
Christ is the "child" of our salvation.
He takes salvation into His hands, taking it out of "the painful labour of our hands."
Now, looking to Christ and what He has done for us, we can say, with confidence, that we are "safe in the arms of Jesus."
As we read the story of Noah, we learn of the place of Noah within the divine revelation of the Gospel of grace.
"Noah found grace" (8) might be turned around to read, "Grace found Noah." "Amazing grace ... I once was lost but now am found."
The significance of Noah, highlighted in 5:29, is expressed in the words, "Not the labour of my hands can fulfil Thy law's demands ... All for sin could not atone, Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling."
To think of the flood exclusively in terms of judgment is to see only one side of what God was doing.
As well as judging, He was also saving - "In this ship a few people - eight in all - were saved by water" (1 Peter 3:20).
The ark points forward to Christ, "who came back from death to life", Christ who "saves" us (1 Peter 3:21).
What was going on outside of the ark is contrasted with the haven of salvation inside the ark.
We read that, once all were in the ark, "the Lord closed the door behind them" (16).
What was it that made the ark a place of salvation?
- The Lord.
What is it that makes Jesus Christ the Source of our salvation?
- God has given Him the Name that is above every name, the Name of our salvation (Philippians 2:9-11; Acts 4:12).
"Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9): This is the spiritual significance of what we read in Genesis concerning the flood.
Christ is the Door.
Those who enter through Him will be saved (John 10:9).
We must listen to what God says concerning salvation.
If we listen to what the world says, we will conclude that all will be saved.
If we listen to the Lord, we will come to Christ and find salvation in Him alone.
At the end of the flood, God said to Noah, "Come out of the ship" (15).
We are "in Christ".
He is the Source of our salvation.
God has brought us into Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30).
He does not bring us into Christ only for our own benefit.
He sends us out into the world to bring others to Christ.
Noah and the remnant of faith had been preserved so that they might be fruitful (17).
This is still God's way.
In love, He lays claim to our lives so that we can be fruitful for Him (John 15:16).
This fruit comes to us as we abide in Christ (John 15:4-5).
We are not sent out alone into the world.
We are sent out as those who are in Christ.
From a position of strength, we go forth, resting on our Shield and our Defender, to bring strength to others.
Strengthened in "the ship", we step out with Christ and for Him.
'When you see a rainbow, remember God is love.'
The love of God is revealed in the rainbow.
It is more fully revealed in the Cross: 'We sing the praise of Him who died ... Upon the cross we see, in shining letters, "God is love."
He bears our sins upon the tree.
He brings us mercy from above."
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