Sermon Delivered 30 Aug 2009 at Hope of Christ Church, Stafford, VA.
Prologue: A Cute Bedtime Story?
Gustave Doré – Deluge
Intentional creation – decreation language
Reversal of creation – waters of heavens and waters of deep meet again
In Gen. 1 – “earth” 35 times. In flood – 35x
Repetition of animals “according to their kind…” 6.20
The spirit of breath of God blows over the deep 8.1
All activity is God’s
God said/the LORD said (7x)
I have determined
I will destroy
I will bring a flood
I will establish my covenant
The LORD said
I will send rain
I will blot out
The LORD shut them in
He blotted them out
God made a wind
The LORD Smelled
The LORD Said
Repetition of blessing
Repetition of seed 9.9
No End to Humankind’s Corruption
So if it’s not a cute children’s Sunday School lesson, then what is it? First of all, as the prelude we looked at last week indicated, so the account of the flood restates forcefully, there is no end to the sinfulness and corruption of humankind. Recall God’s own assessment of humanity from 6.5. And now add to that God’s observation of humanity in 6.11,12. Three times God’s creation is described as corrupt or spoiled or ruined. Twice the earth is spoiled or corrupt. But what has corrupted God’s good creation? Man’s own corruption.
Perhaps you think, well, the flood washed all that away didn’t it. I mean, that’s the pre-diluvian or pre-flood description of those really wicked men and women back then right? Well, consider the end of the flood. God has saved a remnant of his creation. God has saved a remnant of the seed of Adam and more specifically the seed of Seth. Noah and his family come off the ark onto dry land and the first thing Noah does is offer a burnt offering, a sacrifice to God for God’s deliverance. What do we expect God’s reaction or response to be. “See, look at Noah. I knew he was a good guy. He is so righteous. He is so blameless. He walks with me, He talks with me.” And why not? After all this is how Noah is described in the beginning of the section. But how does God respond? 8.21,22. The intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.
If there is any doubt, recall that little Paul Harvey like, the rest of the story of Genesis 9. Noah plants a vineyard makes some wine, passes out drunk and naked in his tent and one of his sons seeks to make a mockery of his father’s folly. No, if God’s intention with the flood was to eradicate sin, He missed by eight.
An End to God’s Patience
Well, if the point of the flood was not to eliminate sin, what was the point of the flood. One point we will get to in the epilogue, but one is to let all of God’s people and all of those who are not God’s people know a very frightening truth. Though there is no limit to our sinfulness, there is a limit to God’s patience. Recall again the passage from last week, 6.6,7. Then the opening of today’s passage; 6.12,13; and again verse 17; and chapter 7.4.
John Piper in preaching on the flood points out that perhaps this is a children’s story after all. The message couldn’t be more simple. God hates sin. God punishes unrepentant sinners. Again, this is not merely some pre-diluvian attitude God has toward sin and unrepentant sinners. The Old Testament is full of stories and warnings about unrepentance. But not only the Old Testament. Matthew 18.7,8; Matthew 12.41,42; Matthew 23.37,38; John 3.16-21. Dear loved ones, I plead with you. Repent why will you die. Hear the message preached by Noah. There is an end of God’s patience. Repent and believe and live.
God’s Purposes Will Not Be Thwarted By Man’s Corruption
For this brings us to the third point. Although all of humanity is corrupt and every intention of our heart is evil from youth, and though God’s patience will reach it’s end one day, and we individually may never know when that patience has stopped, God’s purposes will never be thwarted by our corruption. God, grieved as He was by humanity’s wickedness, was not surprised. God had promised in Genesis 3 that through the seed of the woman, the seed of the serpent would be defeated. God would save for Himself a redeemed people. God’s grace shines through the flood account like a rainbow shining out of a cloud. God did not save Noah and his family because Noah was not a sinner or even because Noah was less of a sinner than anyone else. Recall with me the last statement in Genesis 6.8. Then and only then can we understand Genesis 6.9. If you get that order wrong, you miss the point of the entire Bible. Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD, life-saving grace and life-changing grace. It was God’s grace alone that had drawn God to Noah. It was that same grace that drew Noah to God. God did not look down the line of history and see that Noah was going to turn out to be a good guy and so chose him for His team. Noah was a good guy because God showed favor to him.
The overwhelming favor and grace God shows to Noah and his family is all throughout this text. Did you notice that Noah never says anything throughout the entire account of the flood? Did you notice that the most action Noah has is to obey all that he is commanded. As we saw already, God once again is the main doer and therefore focus of the flood. God tells Noah how to build the ark. God gives Noah the instructions on how to provide for his family and the other animals. God himself closes the door of the ark before the flood. The central point, the turning point of the whole account in fact is 8.1, “God remembered Noah.”
But even before that we catch a glimpse of God’s eternal promise and unthwartable plan to save for Himself a people. 6.18. God will establish His covenant. My covenant, God says. A covenant formally binds two parties together in a relationship, on the basis of mutual personal commitment, with consequences for keeping or breaking the commitment. In Scripture the covenant between God and His people is always initiated by God.
God tells Noah that Hs plan is to establish His covenant with Noah. In chapter 9 God declares that His covenant with Noah is to affect all of creation 9.9. Seven times in the section of chapter 9 covenant is mentioned. All covenants have a sign, a reminder of that covenant. Here that sign is the rainbow. Notice that this is a sign that mankind cannot manipulate or control or even participate in. The sign comes from God and the sign is for God. When God sees the rainbow, God will remember His covenant. This is as clear a picture of God’s grace as any. The covenant is not based on man’s obedience for God begins by saying that he knows that man is wicked. The covenant sign is not even for man to participate in, but God is saying, the keeping of this covenant is all me. All covenant’s were accompanied by or bound by blood. Here the blood of the burnt offering. With Abraham, the sign itself included the blood although there was also a sacrifice then as well, but circumcision became the sign and the reminder of the necessity blood or sacrifice for the covenant. The sign today of God’s eternal covenant is baptism and the sacrifice is Christ Jesus Himself. This brings us then to the epilogue. If the flood isn’t just a cute bedtime story for children then what is it? Why is it recorded here for us.
Epilogue: If Not a Cute Bedtime Story, Then What?
Remember that all of Scripture points to Jesus Christ according to Luke 24. At the heart of every expression of God’s eternal covenant is the promise that God will have a people for Himself and be their God forever and dwell with them. 1 Corinthians 1.20 tell us that all the promises of God find their yes in Jesus Christ. So if at the heart of the covenant is a promise from God and Christ is the fulfillment of all of God’s promises, then the account of the flood and God’s judgement against unrepentant sinners and God’s mercy for those to whom He has shown favor both points to and finds its ultimate fulfillment in Christ Jesus.
As we saw in the end of Genesis 9, God did not deal with the problem of sin at the flood. Eight sinners were saved and would continue to sin and there children would be sinners, and there grandchildren would be sinners.