Yahweh Lesson 5, Biblical Commentary

Obeying God When It Doesn’t Make Sense (Noah)
Biblical Passages: Genesis 6:1–22; Hebrews 11:7 Supporting Passages: Genesis 7:1–9:17, Proverbs 1:7 Memory Verse: Hebrews 11:7 Biblical Truth: Like Noah, we must trust the Word of God and be obedient because of our faith in Him. Context: Noah’s story is one of the most tragic examples of God’s wrath against sin in the entire Bible. Humanity’s wickedness had escalated exponentially since Adam and Eve’s initial sin in the garden to Cain’s sin of murdering his brother. Because humankind had become exceedingly sinful, God in His holy judgment would not tolerate their wickedness. Sometime after 5000 B.C., God flooded the entire earth. But God reached out to one righteous man and his family as a way to continue life on earth. God saw this man’s character and called him to an incredible act of faith. This man, Noah, built an ark, and God used that ark to provide salvation from the waters. In the 48 moments of this Bible study series, this lesson continues to show that God had not given up His purpose in creation. Though God’s judgment on sin was real and horrific, it was not His final word. The moments to follow Noah’s story would increasingly reveal that the perfect remedy for sin was on His way.

different lifestyle that stood out from everyone around him. He showed loving obedience to God. So God saved this one family. Noah trusted and obeyed God because he had faith in Him (Heb. 11:7). The ancient Babylonians wrote a story called Gilgamesh that also tells of a great flood. In their account the noisy humans angered the gods because they disturbed their sleep. This prompted the gods to try to destroy the humans by flood. Through Noah’s story we see a remarkable encounter with God. Scripture does not include drowning by chance or irritable gods perturbed with bothersome people. God destroyed an immoral world filled with decadence. He preserved only Noah and his family. The Flood happened for a moral reason. The earth and everyone in it was completely corrupt. Widespread violence was evident. During this time “the sons of God” married and bore children by the “daughters of men” (Gen. 6:4). With the population explosion came the explosion of immorality. Noah, however, lived as a righteous man. He was blameless and walked with God despite all the struggles of his daily toils. God warned Noah of His plan to destroy the corrupt earth. He gave Noah detailed instructions to build a floating vessel. Noah had never experienced a flood. But he followed God’s plan. After completing God’s blueprint, the rain began, but not before he, his family, and a variety of animals stood safely aboard the ark. Noah lived in complete obedience to God. He lived by faith in the midst of wicked times. God’s covenant promise never to destroy the earth with a flood again is evident every time we see a rainbow.

Genesis 6 gives a dark picture. The earth was similar to a disaster area. Humans acted proud and ruthless. In fact the primary sin in Genesis 3–9 was violence (Gen. 4:8, 23–24; 6:11, 13). God “was grieved,” and His “heart was filled with pain” (v. 6). God still loved the world, and He was (and is) always holy. But because of His justice, He had to bring judgment of sin. God chose to utterly destroy humankind. However, there was one ray of light: Noah. Noah found favor with God. One just and upright man had a
Copyright © Clarity Publishers, 2007. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for reproduction only for the study of Life Bible Study curriculum by a licensed church during the licensed year. No online or other duplication is permitted.

This passage of Scripture is important for believers to study because it provides early insight into God’s nature and character. This passage vividly shows that God Is a holy and just God who loves the people He created. Many passages in the Bible make it clear that God is both holy (1 Sam. 2:2; Jos. 24:19; 1 Pet. 1:15) and loving (Ps. 145:13; Joel 2:13). Because God is holy and just, He did not tolerate humankind’s wickedness in Noah’s day. Yet even in His destruction, God showed He valued people. He
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flooded the earth but still preserved humanity through Noah and his family. Knowing Him as this holy and gracious God is essential to having faith in Him through Jesus. By studying the way God dealt with Noah, believers will realize God’s holiness and grace and the importance of living by faith. This passage also touches on other key truths: People are God’s Treasure and The Future is in God’s Hands.

translation problem of the Hebrew, there is a more important difficulty. How should one relate the presence of the Nephilim to the marriages of “the sons of God” and “the daughters of men”? One early view believes they were the offspring of the marriages. But the phrase “and also afterward” implies the Nephilim existed before and after the marriages. The verse labels their children as “the heroes of old, men of renown.” “Heroes of old” were known for their fierce violence. They were feared tyrants. Whoever these people were, they acted so wickedly it grieved the heart of God that He had made them. Humanity grew in population and also in moral perversion. In God’s view society had decayed beyond recovery. God saw and grieved. He declared His own voice would destroy what His own hands had formed. God saw the inclinations of the human heart were entirely wicked (Gen. 6:5; 8:21). The heart forms the center of human thinking (Mark 7:21–23). This passage draws a parallel between humanity’s hearts filled with evil and God’s heart filled with pain. God’s pain, however, was not sorrow over a mistaken creation. It was sorrow over what sin had done to humanity. Making humans was no error on God’s part; the error lie in what humans made of themselves. God proclaimed He would destroy every living thing—humans, bird, and beast (v. 7). God declared wrath against the birds and animals, too. Sin polluted all creation humanity had charge over (Gen. 1:26–28). Yet hope remained. In the midst of this disastrous predicament, Noah stood apart from his sinful generation (v. 8). The phrase “found favor in the eyes of the LORD” means that God approved of Noah (also used of Joseph in Gen. 39:4). The idea of God’s sight of Noah (“eyes”) echoes the sinful times God “saw” (v. 5). Noah stood apart as favored. God showed His favor when He provided an escape for Noah and his family (1 Pet. 3:20). Genesis 6:9–10 Noah was “blameless” (v. 9). This word means a morally complete or sound lifestyle (Deut. 18:13). The same word described Abraham (Gen. 17:1) and Job (Job 1:1). This does not mean Noah lived sinless, but he lived his daily life ethical and devout (1 John 1:8–9). The passage does not tell about a particularly righteous act. The author gave a general
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Genesis 6:1–8 In the entire Bible, this is one of the most challenging passages to understand. It provides the background for the Flood story. It consists of two parts. Verses 1–4 describe marriage between “the sons of God” and “the daughters of men.” Verses 5–8 show God’s anger and sorrow over the wickedness of humanity. Although it is not clear exactly how these marriages related to the wickedness of Noah’s day, it appears they illustrated the sinfulness God condemned (vv. 5–8). Who were “the sons of God”? What was the nature of their marriage to “the daughters of men”? Historically, Jewish and Christian interpreters proposed these views. First, they could have been sinful angels who molested human women and had children by them (known as the “Nephilim”). Another option is that they were the descendents of Seth (godly men) who married ungodly women, namely, the descendants of Cain who bore the infamous “heroes of old” (v. 4). The two viewpoints hold something in common: the idea of breaking divinely ordained boundaries. In the first view the angels left heaven and married humanity (Jude 6). In the second view the righteous lineage of the Sethites (Gen. 5) married outside their family (Cainites—Gen. 4:17–24). The passage therefore can be safely said to show one thing: Sinful results come when a society neglects God’s ideal for marriage (Gen. 2:24). The consequences of their actions resulted God’s limit of the human lifespan to about 120 years (v. 3). The mention of “the Nephilim” also presents interpretation problems. In addition to the
Copyright © Clarity Publishers, 2007. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for reproduction only for the study of Life Bible Study curriculum by a licensed church during the licensed year. No online or other duplication is permitted.

description of Noah as a man who “walked with God” (v. 9). The Bible says the later patriarchs walked “before” God (Gen. 17:1; 24:40; 48:15), but only records that Noah and Enoch (Gen. 5:22, 24) walked “with” God. Verse 10 repeats the genealogy in Genesis 5:32. This calls attention to the development of Noah’s chosen line of blessing. Genesis 10 will look to Noah’s three descendants as the foundation of all nations. Genesis 6:11–12 Three times the passage declares the earth was “corrupt.” This word underscores God’s reason for judgment. “Violence” (v. 11) referred to physical abuse and even murder (Judg. 9:24). Noah’s times were characterized by spilling innocent blood. This is similar to Cain’s murder of Abel (Gen. 4:8–10). Murder had reached epidemic proportions. God had blessed the earth with Adam and Eve; they were to fill the earth with children (Gen. 1:28). But their family also filled the earth with immorality. Genesis 6:13–22 God’s first speech to Noah gave detailed instructions: Noah would build a sea vessel and recruit its occupants. God made two announcements followed by two instructions. Noah followed the instructions completely (v. 22). God told Noah doom on humanity was just around the corner. He then explained how He would rescue Noah and his family. Noah would build an ark. Noah was not a sailor. He was not familiar with floating vessels. Yet God gave instructions for a perfectly seaworthy craft complete with rooms and a pitch sealant. With exact proportions, Noah built the ark to God’s specifications (v. 22). Verse 17 restates God’s determination to destroy everything with breath. The language “all life” and “everything” indicated the flood would cause a worldwide catastrophe. Out of this calamity, God saved a remnant and made a covenant with Noah. The covenant represented God’s gracious decision to spare Noah and his family. Noah rested on God’s promise as he and his family faced the disaster to unfold before them. Verses 19–21 describe the people in the ark. God instructed Noah to gather a representative group of animals, “two of all living creatures.” These creatures would replenish the earth. Verse 22 parallels the completeness of the impending destruction with the completeness of how Noah finished his task. Noah did “everything
Copyright © Clarity Publishers, 2007. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for reproduction only for the study of Life Bible Study curriculum by a licensed church during the licensed year. No online or other duplication is permitted.

just as God commanded him.” Noah built the ark on dry land while waiting for the floodwaters. This act was exemplary of a person trusting in what was not seen or proven—faith. Hebrews 11:7 “By faith” Noah completed an assignment he did not fully understand. The purpose of his task was “not yet seen” until it started raining and the floodwaters lifted the ark from its resting place. His faith was justified, and by it the world’s faithlessness was judged. Noah was counted among God’s righteous ones who live by faith. He “became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” Noah’s actions model the obedience and effectiveness of faith placed in the truth of God’s Word.

This passage is especially important for new believers who are learning what it means to live by convictions. Our society can seem very double minded. Movies, music, magazines, and art reflect a decadent trend toward violence and sex. Yet religious life thrives, proven by the weekly church and synagogue attendance, the growing industries of religious music and films, and the Christian witness of celebrities and athletes. Simply turn on the TV or radio, and the competing voices ring clear. We must wrestle with these competing voices every day. In the midst of all of this, remember that God is holy and just, as well as loving and gracious. Noah did not surrender to the allure of a sinful generation. He maintained his faithfulness and purity when all others followed immorality. The New Testament identifies Noah as a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5), but he had few converts! What do you think kept him standing firm when he faced the evil of his day? Noah understood the truth that God Is, and he acted accordingly. People who understand this truth as Noah did place unwavering faith in God even when His commands seem unusual or foolish from a human perspective. Understanding His all-powerful ways and holiness calls for a submission to do what He says regardless of the consequences. People who do not understand this truth have a faltering faith dependent on who they are or what their circumstances are—rather than who God is.

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