Beresheet (Genesis) 6:9 – 11:32
In my most recent blog entry, Parashat Beresheet: In the Beginning, I wrote about one of the most tragic events that happened in all of history – the fall of man –where we were separated from God because of sin, and the consequences of which we still experience today. But God graciously provided a way for us to return to Him by first accepting the atonement that He provided through Messiah Yeshua, and then continuing our sanctification in Him through obedience that comes out of love (John 14:15)
I closed last week’s blog with an exhortation that God is calling us to return to Him; the only way we can fight the growing amount of evil permeating the world is to return to Him and His ways. His way is the path of peace for us all!
As we can learn from this week’s parasha, His ways are not only the path for peace but also the only path for redemption and everlasting life with God Himself. In this week’s parasha, we can glean some very interesting things, which are important reminders and ought to be an encouragement to us all.
The first point is that our God is a Holy God and He will not tolerate sin and disobedience. Parashat Beresheet ends with a very sad description of the condition of the world during a time when evil and man’s rebellion were at their peak. In this week’s parasha, we see that God could not tolerate it:
“Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.” Genesis 6:11-13
As we can see from these verses, when God’s judgment comes, it is final and total; everything will be destroyed.
The second point I want to illustrate is that our God is just and full of grace; He sees us, He knows our ways, and He rewards obedience. In other words, He always has a remnant of those who love Him and honor Him not just with their words, but their actions. In the midst of all the darkness during that time, we learn about a man, Noah, who was righteous, blameless, and who walked with God. (Genesis 6:9b)
Noah lived out his faith at all costs. He was ridiculed and mocked for his faith, but he never waivered from it. He put his faith in God to action and did not allow the world to influence his righteousness. As a result of Noah’s faithfulness and obedience, God chose to spare him and his family from His coming judgment.
My third point is the amazing privilege that we Jewish and Gentile followers of the Messiah have to partake in God’s wonderful plan of redemption for the world. I see a parallel between Noah and us as followers of God, and offering His message of salvation to those who are lost in darkness. Noah did this through his obedience to construct the ark, which was a vessel of salvation:
“Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch. “And this is how you shall make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. “You shall make a window for the ark, and finish it to a cubit from the top; and set the door of the ark in the side of it; you shall make it with lower, second, and third decks. “And behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. “But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark — you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. “And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. “Of the birds after their kind, and of the animals after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every kind shall come to you to keep them alive. “And as for you, take for yourself some of all food which is edible, and gather it to yourself; and it shall be for food for you and for them.” Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.” Genesis 6:14-22
Due to Noah’s faithfulness to God, God did not just spare His life, but also gave Noah the amazing honor of building an ark for the Lord, through which God would save his entire family, and all the creatures of the earth.
Just like Noah in his time, we also have a calling to build an “ark of redemption” for those whom God will choose to spare from His imminent judgment. And just as it was for Noah, our task may not make much sense to us, but if we are obedient to the Lord, not only our souls will be saved, but also the souls of those around us. Yeshua Himself spoke about “the days of Noah” when He spoke of the coming judgment:
“And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it shall be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. ” Luke 17:26-27
These are some sobering words! Let us join together in our dedication to the Lord’s work so that we will not only have a place in His eternal kingdom, but also to do our part to build His kingdom! Noah’s faith alone did not spare him…it was his faith coupled with his obedience that sealed his spot (so to speak) on that ark.
I would like to close with a final thought. In this parasha, there is also the well-known story of the tower of Babel, and in the Book of Beginnings (Genesis), we find a clear warning that we would be wise to heed:
“And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:3-4
Unlike Noah, whose heart was to obey God and build an ark for God, here we see just the opposite. The people’s heart was not for God, but for themselves; they wanted to build themselves a name and were not interested in bringing Him glory. In short, they were interested in building their own kingdom…not God’s.
As we are called to build an ark for the heavenly kingdom, let us be careful to make sure that we are building it for the kingdom’s sake and not for our own sake.
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