Saturday, February 13, 2010
Noah: Genesis 6:1-11:32
Angelic Intercourse, Arks, and A Construction Foreman’s Nightmare!.....This is Entertainment Tonight...I mean...This is the story of the great flood and the city of Babel....
It appears as though all of my Bible blogs are going to be more lengthy than the passages in the Bible from which the came, so from now on, if you see a Bible blog, plan on skimming it or setting aside an adequate amount of time to read it. I will format them all as follows (in list form to make it more reader friendly):
Things I loved,
Things I did not love,
Questions to ask God when I get to Heaven,
Questions that got answered by doing this Bible study,
Final thoughts, and
*Chapter 6 begins with some very shocking details. I had to keep flipping to the cover of my Bible to make sure I wasn’t accidentally reading a tabloid. Verses 1-4 are all about fallen angels having sex with mortals and creating giants….but there is a large debate about this (refer to the, “Questions to ask when I get to Heaven” section). God gets fed up with how wicked everyone has gotten on earth so he gives them 120 years to change there ways…I think (this is also up for debate, and is further discussed under the “Questions to ask when I get to heaven” section). As God looks down upon how horrible things have gotten since the fall, he becomes very sad and decides to wipe out the entire human race except for a man named Noah, and his family. God tells Noah about his plan for humanity to start over again by destroying everyone and everything in a massive flood. He tells Noah to build a boat and even gives him the blueprint to build it so that he, his family, and some animals are safe from the flood waters.
*Chapter 7 God tells Noah that he has one more week until the 40 days and 40 nights of rain begin, and then he gives him some more specific directions on how many animals to bring on the ark. So, the day comes and all the animals hop on board, so to speak, and the rain begins. But not only is it rain falling from the sky, it is coming from underneath the ground as well. This chapter mentions twice that Noah is 600 years old when this happens. The chapter closes by going into details as to the immensity of the flood, at one point describing the flood waters to be 22 feet (approximated from the Hebrew measurement of 15 cubits) above the highest mountain peak.
*Chapter 8 Once all living things outside of the boat have been adequately destroyed, God sends the wind to begin drying up all of the water. After 150 days the boat comes to rest on top of a mountain. Then 2 months later the flood waters receded enough to show other mountain peaks. Forty days after that, Noah opens a window and releases a raven, and then a dove to see if they can find dry land. But the dove comes back, so 7 days later Noah sends the dove out again and it returns with an olive branch in it’s beak. Noah knew that the water was almost gone. He waits another week and sends the dove out and this time it does not come back. What a time of celebration that must have been!!! God told Noah to leave the boat, and release the animals (what a time of celebration that must have been for the animals!). Then Noah builds an altar and makes an animal sacrifice. It is then that God makes his promise to Noah to never destroy all living things even though he knows that humans will continue to sin.
*Chapter 9 God blesses Noah and his family and tells them to re-populate the earth. Then he gives them power over the animals and tells them they are only to eat animals that are dead (Were they eating animals that were alive before?), and that murder is forbidden, and then he restates that they need to go and repopulate the earth. Then he repeats his promise to Noah and his sons about never flooding the earth again and tells them that a rainbow in the sky is a reminder of this promise. God sure does have to repeat himself a lot! Maybe it was to make a point to the readers that these facts hold some sort of importance, or maybe it was because Noah was so dang old he couldn’t hear. Then there is a funny little story about Noah getting drunk and naked and one of his sons, Ham (yes that was his real name), telling his brothers about his fathers nakedness instead of immediately covering him. Noah’s two other sons cover up their lush-of-a father and when Noah wakes up, he is furious with Ham so he curses all of Ham’s descendants (the Canaanites). Then he blesses the descendants of his other sons, Shem and Japheth. Lastly, this chapter states that Noah lived another 350 years, making him 950 years old when he died.
*Chapter 10 This is a chapter of genealogy lists for each of Noah’s sons. No disappearing Enoch’s here (like Chapter 5), just a good old long boring list. Japheth list is the shortest, and it closes by saying that his descendants became “seafaring peoples in various lands.” Next is Ham’s list which is longer than the list of Japheth’s descendants mainly because in the middle of the list, there is a lengthy description of a man named Nimrod. Apparently, Nimrod was a “heroic warrior in God’s sight,” and was famous even after he died. Chapter 10 ends with the descendants of Shem and it is pointed out that Shem was the older brother of Japheth.
*Chapter 11 The story of Babel. At this point in history people all spoke the same language, but because of their sinful ways God had to change that. You see, for some reason the people that settled in the land of Babylonia thought it would be a great idea to build a monument to their own greatness. When God saw that they were working together for bad, instead of good, he decided to strike them down and make them all speak different languages so they could no longer communicate and team up to build monuments to themselves. Last in chapter 11, is the prelude to the story of one of the most well known characters in the bible, Abraham. The prelude starts with another genealogy list linking Shem (Noah’s son) to a man named Terah. Terah had three sons mentioned in this passage: Nahor, Haran, and Abram (later to be named Abraham….)
-Haran has a son named Lot
-Abram married a woman named Sarai (who is later named Sarah) who was unable to have children.
-Nahor married Milcah Lot’s sister (It doesn’t say if Milcah was the daughter of Haran or nor, she could have been Lot’s half sister).
Are you still with me? These genealogies can be so confusing. So next, Haran dies leaving his son Lot, so Terah decides to take Abram, Abrams wife Sarai, and his grandson Lot to the city of Canaan, but they never make it and instead settle in the village of Haran.
Things I loved:
*6:20 Noah did not question or complain (unlike some other people we will read about in upcoming chapters and books). Even before Noah was told to build the ark he was faithful to God. So faithful in fact, that he and his family alone were chosen to survive the flood. When God told him to build the ark, he did it. He didn’t bother to ask God the details like, “how am I supposed to gather all these animals,” or, “how long is this gonna take?” He just said, “yes, sir” and let God handle the details….which of course God did.
*7:16 “The lord shut them in” I believe that this actually physically happened, I believe that God shut the door in a literal sense but I also believe that God shutting the door is a beautiful metaphor for the assurance that God was present and going to protect Noah’s family. It could have read, “Noah and his sons developed a lever/pulley system to close the boats door” but no, there was no need. God shut the door, God took care of it and took care of them.
*9:16 The creation of rainbows, and the promise that they represent. Enough said.
*We get to see more examples of Gods personality traits. He was powerful enough to flood the entire planet, he was fair in punishing wicked and rewarding good, he was faithful in keeping his promise to Noah.
Things I did not love:
*I could not find one thing I did not love. I’m a little bummed that we all have to speak different languages now because that means I have lot of work to do learning different languages before I can travel abroad, but mostly I just loved everything I read. It had all the makings of a great story: scandal, awe, love, anger, redemption and a 601 year old man getting drunk and naked. What‘s not to love?
Questions to ask God when I get to Heaven:
*6:3 How should I interpret God saying, “My spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, they will live no more than 120 years.” I used to think that this meant that humans were not allowed to live to be over 120 years old but in chapter 11 the genealogy list has people that lived to be over 400 years old. It has also been suggested that this was Gods warning before the flood that the people had 120 to change their evil ways, but why would he give them the time when he knew that they weren’t going to change? Was it to give Noah time to build the ark?
*6:1 Did fallen angels really impregnate mortals to create giants? Let me be clear. The beginning of chapter 6 does not use the word “angels,” but rather the term “Sons of God.” It is assumed that the, “Sons of God” mentioned in chapter 6 are angels because when the phrase, “Sons of God” is used else where in the Old Testament, it is in reference to angels. There is also a theory that the “Sons of God” were the product of Seth’s descendants breeding with Cain‘s descendants. Because Cain was a murderer, his descendants would have been a bad influence on Seth’s descendants creating evil to take over.
*Have all of Cain’s descendants been wiped off the face of the earth? Noah was a descendant of Seth, but what about Noah’s wife and Noah’s daughter -in-laws? Were they a descendant of Cain or Seth?
*7:9 How did all of those animals get on the ark? According to my 7 year old who is reading this over my shoulder as I type, her bible says that God “sent” them. So I guess that answers that question. I guess that I will have to ask God to elaborate. Did he send them all at once when the ark was ready, or did he send them little by little over the years?
*7:6 and 7:11 Why does the Bible constantly remind us that everyone lived for many centuries? Was God bragging or does he need us to know these peoples ages for a specific reason?
*10:6 Why were Ham’s descendants successful even after Noah cursed them? Nimrod, who God refers to as a great warrior was one of Hams descendants.
*11:7 and 1:26 God referrers to himself in plural form. I ignored this when I read it in 1:26 but when I read it again it made me wonder…was he talking about himself, Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Or maybe himself and a team of angels?
*11:27-32 Was is just a coincidence that Terah had a son named Haran and then settled in a town called Haran?
Questions that got answered while doing this bible study:
*6:6 Did God regret creating humans? As God is looking down upon the earth at all the sin, my bible says that he was, “sorry he had ever made them” I used to think this was God filled with regret and admitting to making a mistake. But the more of the Bible I read, the more I understand that it would be impossible for God to make a mistake, or to change his mind. God knows the outcome of every creature he creates yet he continues to create them and watch them screw up. My bible translation says at the end of verse 6, “It broke his heart.” I think his earlier rant about how he was sorry he ever made them was an expression of his sorrow and him feeling sorry for the decisions they were making, and for the fact that he was going to have to destroy them.
*6:7 Why a flood? Why not a disease? We know that God is capable of selective extermination because he kept all the Israelites from the plagues during the story of Moses. So why didn’t he use that same method here? I did not find the answer to this question in any text. The more I thought of it the more the flood made sense to me. If God would have struck everyone down with an illness, archeologist today could have just attributed it to an epidemic. But because God did a massive flood, he left earthly evidence for modern day man to find, therefore proving that what is written in the bible is true, which would make skeptics wonder if the rest of the Bible stories are true as well.
*6:9 Was Noah sinless? I knew that Jesus was the only one ever to be sinless but all we ever hear about Noah was how favored he was by God for his obedience and faithfulness. My bible uses the word “blameless” to describe him. But he was by no means sinless. Maybe Noah and his family were the only ones who made animal sacrifices after their sins, so they were forgiven. I guess that is why God still saved them from the flood even though God knew that after the flood (a story that showcases Noah’s attributes), the whole drunken-tent-flashing incident happens. Which partially answers my next question:
*9:21 Why was the drunken-tent-flashing incident included in the Bible? From what I can see, it was included so that we see that Noah was not sinless. And also to show the character of Noah’s sons. Ham did not cover his fathers nakedness, but the other boys did. This gives us insight into the type of people Noah‘s sons were. Which in turn gives us insight into the personality of Abraham, one of Shem’s descendants.
*7:2 Why did God need animal sacrifices in the Old Testament , but he doesn’t now? Animal sacrifices were necessary to repent for sin. Why animals? They were sinless. We don’t need them anymore because Jesus, who was sinless, was our sacrifice which is why he is sometimes referred to as “the lamb” (and all this time I thought he was “the lamb” because he was so gentle, I should have paid more attention in Sunday School instead of checking out all the boys in my class).
*7:4 Was the flood was the first time the earth had seen rain? Most likely yes. Rain is mentioned in the Bible for the first time in 7:4. During creation, and the Adam and Eve story (Genesis 2:6), vegetation was kept watered by H2O coming up out of the ground.
God is the perfect parent. On first read, it seems harsh of God to kill almost everyone of his children because they were making bad choices. But it wasn’t just bad choices they were making, Noah was not sinless, he made bad choices, and God saved him. The people God killed were not just being disobedient- they were evil. God wiping out all of the evil people on earth was done to protect not only Noah, but to protect all future generations. Yes, there is still evil in the world today, but imagine if God had not wiped out the evil people of Noah’s day. They would have kept breeding and bring more and more evil into the world and Noah’s family could not have birthed enough good children to kept up with their pace.
The closest hypothetical earthly comparison I can think of, would be this: I have two children, Jane and Joe. Jane decides to do drugs and eventually becomes an addict causing her to be violent and untrustworthy. Joe grows up and makes good choices, he is not sinless, but he tries hard and is obedient to me. After repeated attempts to get Jane into rehab, she just gets worse and she is becoming a major threat to Joe. As a parent, my two choices would be to keep Jane in the house and endanger the rest of the family, or I could implement tough love and kick her our of the house. If I chose to keep her in the house, her bad influence could eventually wear off on Joe or she could harm him physically. If I kicked her out, I would be devastated, but I would be putting an end to the evil influence that she had brought into my household (Hey, I think I just created my very own parable).
****Prayer break: Dear Jesus, Please protect my children from evil. Please do not ever allow me and John to be in a position where we would have to make the same hypothetical decision I mentioned above. Bless the parents of children that do have to make these kinds of decisions, give them comfort, wisdom and peace. Amen.***
God must have been so hurt having to watch his children drown. Evil or not, they were still his children, his creations. He did not love Noah’s family more than he loved the ones who perished in the flood. The decision that he made was not a happy one, but a necessary one.
The fact that God is a perfect parent is one of the major things I got out of reading this. There are so many other obvious lessons to be learned from the flood and the city of Babel. Fear and reverence of God, obedience to his wishes, and of course, the main theme of the Bible that is echoed in every chapter I read: Love. The consistent, unwavering love of God for his children.
*When converted to modern day measurements, Noah’s ark was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high, with three decks inside.
*Scholars estimate that almost 45,000 animals could have fit on the ark
*Noah and his family were on the ark for approximately 370 days
*All of my research as been through prayer, the Life Application Study Bible: The New Living Translation, Wikipedia.com, and gotquestions.org.