Devotions in Genesis (week 10): This week we will study God’s overarching grace to the world of men, stronger even than the flood.
Monday: read Genesis 6:17-7:16. Sin brings back the chaos of Gen 1:2 as God justly destroys all animal life in the flood (Gen. 6:17). Only God’s covenant provides any hope for Noah and his family (Gen. 6:18). This word ‘covenant’ refers to God’s coming down to reassure and strengthen His people by giving them promises to hold onto as the waters rise. God takes such promises seriously, and personally ‘comes down’ to ensure that Noah and his family are safely inside the ark. God is the one who shuts the door of the ark in Genesis 7:16, personally ensuring Noah’s safety.
Meditate and Pray: As you see God personally come down to shut the door of the ark, thank Him for His well-earned reputation as one who personally rescues sinners. See how personal God the Father is towards His people even after their years of sin and exile in Isaiah 54:9-10: “To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
Tuesday: read Genesis 7:17-8:1. All creation succumbed to the waters of judgment. But God’s faithfulness rises above even the flood in Gen. 8:1: ‘He remembers Noah’ in the midst of the terrifying seas. Not that God forgets anything – but the language of ‘remembering’ conveys the ‘time-sensitive’ quality of God’s care. At just the right time, at the time of most urgent need, God remembers His promise to Noah and comes down with exactly what is needed for that hour. In Exodus 2:24 too, God comes down to His people in Egyptian slavery for 400 years, ‘remembering His covenant’, and at the exact promised time puts in motion their redemption.
Meditate and Pray: Trace with gratitude the theme of God’s perfect timing and planning for your life in these verses: Psalm 91:14-16; Psalm 121 and Psalm 131.
Wednesday: read Genesis 8:1-22 and 1 Peter 3:20-22. Noah’s deliverance becomes a picture of salvation throughout the rest of the Bible: “In the ark only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water… (1 Peter 3:20).” Just as Noah and his family were cleansed of all the pre-flood pollution of their sinful world when water washed it away, so we are cleansed in our consciences by the inward work of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:21). The agent of our cleansing, however, is not water, but blood. For His own blood is what Jesus carries into heaven for our redemption, something far more precious than ‘silver of gold (1 Peter 1:19).’ Noah also points to his need for cleansing by blood when he builds an altar for sacrifice and burnt offering in Genesis 8:20.
Meditate and Pray: We are preparing for the Lord’s Table this Sunday. Have you ever noticed the words of Jesus at that meal in Matthew 26:28? “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus uses this language because He knew that it was only through His own life-blood that our sins could be covered and God’s wrath appeased. No wonder God commands Noah to reverence life-blood in Genesis 9:4: the blood of all sacrifice for sin is precious.
Thursday: read Genesis 8:20-22. Noah shows us the importance of worship by quickly building an altar to show his gratitude to God for salvation from the flood – in this way showing us that judgment is meant to move us to worship. This also happened when men humbly ‘called upon the name of the LORD’ in Gen. 4:26 after the terrible judgments on Cain’s murderous ways. Despite the terrible condemnation of the whole world in the flood, God always has His own who please Him in their sacrifices (Gen. 4:4); call upon Him in dependence (Gen. 4:26) and who walk in His ways (Gen. 5:22). As Professor Don Carson puts it: “There is a race within a race, a smaller race, not intrinsically superior to the other, but so relating to the living God that it heads in quite a different direction.” May God give us grace to remember that by faith our citizenship is in heaven, not on earth.
Meditate and Pray: Judgments in the Bible are never easy. But when you see rebellious sinners punished severely, pray that Acts 5:11 would be true for you: “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.”
Friday: read Genesis 8:20-22. On the altar he builds Noah offers what are called ‘burnt offerings.’ But as Professor Iain Duguid points out, the term could be translated ‘ascending or smoke offerings,’ emphasizing the goal of all sacrifice, namely, the assuaging of His wrath due to us for sin. As the smoke of the innocent victim’s burning flesh and blood ascended to heaven in Genesis 8:21, God accepted the punishment of Noah’s sin as it was inflicted on this victim and promised never again to destroy the earth as He did through the flood.
Meditation and Prayer: Thank God for the grace which flows from the altar in Genesis 8:21. God’s words take our breath away in their sheer unconditional grace and willingness to bear with sinners: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.” Here God places no confidence in mankind’s ability to learn from their mistakes, (their inclinations are just as evil as they were before the flood), but determines to restrain further well-deserved ‘floods’ of judgment anyway. Such free grace is only possible in anticipation of the death which Jesus would die for the ‘ungodly.’ God is willing to ‘leave men’s sins unpunished (Romans 3:25)’ until Jesus pays for them.