2018 Devotions in Genesis (continued): 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.

Tues/Weds: read Genesis 7:17-8:1 and Hebrews 4:15-16. 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, God remembers His promise to Noah and comes down with exactly what is needed for that hour. God ‘remembers’ His covenant and puts in motion Noah’s family’s deliverance.

Meditate and Pray: How we ought to trace with gratitude the theme of God’s perfect timing and planning for our lives. Nowhere is such timing more perfectly expressed than in one of our key bulletin texts for this year: Hebrews 4:15-16. It reads:

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Notice that phrase, “help in time of need.” It literally promises that we will find grace at just the seasonable time. It is a phrase that calls to mind Psalm 46:1: “God is an ever-present help in times of trouble.”

What a privilege to sing about this “ever present help in times of trouble,” using the Psalter version of Psalm 46, found in # 40 of our Trinity hymnal. (Hint: This can be sung by you to the tune ‘Materna,’ the tune for ‘America the Beautiful.’):

God is our Refuge and our Strength,
Our ever present Aid,
And, therefore, though the earth remove,
We will not be afraid;
Though hills amidst the sea be cast,
Though foaming waters roar,
Yes, though the mighty billows shake
The mountains on the shore.

A river flows whose streams make glad
The city of our God,
The holy place wherein the Lord
Most High has His abode;
Since God is in the midst of her,
Unmoved her walls shall stand,
For God will be her early help,
When trouble is at hand.

The nations raged, the kingdoms moved,
But when His voice was heard
The troubled earth was stilled to peace
Before His mighty Word.
The Lord of Hosts is on our side,
Our safety is secure;
The God of Jacob is for us
A refuge strong and sure.

O come, behold what wondrous works
Jehovah’s hand has wrought;
Come, see what desolation great
He on the earth has brought.
To utmost ends of all the earth
He causes war to cease;
The weapons of the strong destroyed,
He makes abiding peace.

Be still and know that I am God,
O’er all exalted high;
The subject nations of the earth
My Name shall magnify.
The Lord of Hosts is on our side,
Our safety is secure;
The God of Jacob is for us
A refuge strong and sure.

Thursday: 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: As you think of the next time you will partake in the Lord’s Table, consider Matthew 26:28. Have you ever noticed the words of Jesus at that meal? “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.

Friday: 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.”

Sat/Sun: 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.