Unlocking the Secrets of Genesis I: Beginnings
[SIZE=4]-Gregory Rogers-[/SIZE]



What people are saying about Unlocking the Secrets of Genesis I: Beginnings...

“For those needing some fresh inspiration, Unlocking the Secrets of Genesis does exactly that! It's an invitation to walk with God through the seedbed of His word and to discover, as Greg so beautifully writes, "A God who is deeply obscured, deeply mysterious, and yet desires to know us personally on an intimate level."
Let this book begin a fresh journey in you!”

 George Gourlay, Lead Elder, Harvest Church, Umhlanga, South Africa


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gregory Rogers is an internationally published writer and theologian, and holds a Master of Theology degree (MTh) from the South African Theological Seminary (SATS). He has been published in the Christian Research Journal (California), Joy Magazine and Christian Living Today magazine, for which he also penned the film review column for some nine years. He has also written drama and comedy scripts for radio. Further to this, he has been interviewed on radio in the USA and South Africa in connection with his work.


ALSO BY GREGORY ROGERS:

Homosexuality: An Issue for our Time
Reincarnation in Perspective





Chapter 22
Exactly What Was it Like
“In the Days of Noah”?



Now Noah was undoubtedly a great prophet. That the prophetically-named child would go on to do great things before the Lord is confirmed in that such a great commission is entrusted to him: it takes someone of great spiritual stature to be entrusted with a prophetic word about the end of life as he knew it, not to mention to build something as 'idiosyncratic' as an ark.

Furthermore, of all the people of the earth, he and his family alone had the spiritual stamina to survive the onslaught of deception and persecution. Clearly, there was something different about this man of God.

Why did the wicked generation of the day allow him the freedom to build a structure as fantastic as an ark in the face of such persecution? Perhaps the answer lies in the realm of the providence of God.

Many centuries later, after the people of God returned home after the Exile in the sixth century BC, we see clearly the heartfelt attempts of the enemy to stop Jerusalem from being rebuilt at any cost.

Yet rebuilt it was, for nothing can stop the will of God. No doubt the building of the ark was beset by all manner of attempts at sabotage by the hostile Lamech generation.

Yet the entire undertaking must have seemed like utter foolishness in the eyes of the world. The evil Cainite line was vehemently opposed to anything to do with God.

Noah must have seemed the fool, yet it is Paul who would much later say, ‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:18).

It is they who were the fools for not heeding the word of the Lord. Perhaps one reason they did little to stop the building of the ark is because they felt it was an exercise in futility.


And the Waters Covered the Earth…Twice

Yet the question remains: what is the rationale behind the Flood? Why should God choose this method of judgment in particular?

Here we must turn to a deep-seated theological truth of the book of Genesis, one that is not necessarily clear from a first reading.

The Bible was not yet written down (this would only start in the time of Moses), yet the old stories had been passed down from father to son, stories of the old Creation, where God had made the first man and woman, called Adam and Eve, and had created all men from them.

Now all this was passed down through the true line of Seth, from Adam to his third, faithful, son, and to his son and his son after him, down to the generation of Noah. That is, the old story of Adam and Eve in the garden, the first sin, the first murder by Cain, and Cain's evil line were transmitted faithfully through the generations.

Who knows whether the evil line of Cain believed the same thing? They no doubt adhered to some pagan system, and there is no evidence of what 'early history' they would have followed. Perhaps they believed Cain, their ancestor, to be the hero in the Cain-and-Abel story. Again, we just don't know.

However, the truth of Creation was passed down through the true line, and Noah and his family probably had an accurate record of the history that lay behind what we now know as Genesis chapters 1 to 5.
Now what had that true story of Creation said? That, in the beginning, the waters covered the surface of the earth (Genesis 1:2).

Then God began His process of creation. What does He do? He first parts the waters from the waters, creating a canopy of water over the earth, separating these from the waters on the earth (1:6-8).
In those early days, there was an enormous reservoir of water pent up high above the earth, having been set there as part of this initial ‘separating’ of waters.

God then parts the waters, revealing the land beneath (1:9-10). It is only then, with the dry land exposed, that He can begin His work of creating life: land animals, and then man.

So God has now ‘separated waters’ in two ways: He has separated the waters vertically, placing some of those sea waters as a canopy over the earth; and He has also separated the waters horizontally, parting them to reveal large land masses that would duly become dry continents.

Now when man sinned grievously, what did God do? How did God go about affecting judgment? By reversing this process of creation.

Creation came about when waters were separated from the land, revealing the distinction between sea and land we now know.

How, then, is this reversed at the Flood? By those waters closing in again, no longer maintaining the distinction they once had from each other, and from the land.

For we read that, at the Flood, 'the floodgates of the heavens were opened'. This was more than a polite rainfall. This was a deluge of all those waters that had been pent-up above the sky since the start of creation. This was a calamity of unprecedented proportions.

What, after all, is the end result of the Flood? When waters cover the face of the earth once again (Genesis 7:19-20). Thus, by the end of the Flood all is exactly as it had been at the start of the Bible, at Genesis 1:1 and 2!


A New Creation


It does not stop there. Events after the Flood soon begin to take on the characteristics of a ‘new creation’, echoing the first creation of Genesis 1-3.

For we read in Genesis 8:1 that God ‘sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.’ How were the waters ‘parted’ in the first creation? We read that the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters’ (Genesis 1:2).

Although in Genesis 8:1 we usually find the translation ‘wind’, the word in the Hebrew is the same as that used for ‘Spirit’ in Genesis 1:2, ruach, which can mean either ‘wind’ or ‘Spirit’.

Clearly there is a subtle point being made here: as the Spirit was responsible for the first Creation, parting the waters, so a 'wind' here parts the waters with this second Noahic ‘creation’.

Furthermore, what happened after the waters receded from the land in the first creation? Land animals and man populated the earth. So too do we read that man and animal came out of the ark 'so that they can multiply on the earth' (Genesis 8:17) just as in the beginning.

There are at least two other parallels between the two creations, with Noah acting as a sort of 'second Adam'. Firstly, note that the animals 'came to' Noah – he did not have to go out and hunt them down (Genesis 7:8-9).

This is parallel to God 'bringing the animals to Adam' to see what he would name them (Genesis 2:19). It hints that animals had the same sort of trust in Noah as they had in Adam, recognizing both as rulers of planet earth and with a legal God-given right to oversee their welfare.

Secondly, just as Adam was placed in a garden and had to till it, so Noah, we read, later 'built a vineyard' (9:20). He too was a 'tiller of the soil'. A sad third point is that they both sinned by eating the fruit of their domains: Adam ate 'the fruit' of the tree of knowledge and Noah got drunk on 'the fruit of the vineyard', wine (9:21).

What is clear by now is that Genesis chapters 1-9 form part of a complete pattern. Creation and the Flood, while two separate incidents, are closely connected by aspects of sin, redemption and judgment (see also 2 Peter 3:5-7 for this inter-relation). In fact, they form one complete cycle of Genesis. As it had been in the beginning, so was it with the Flood.


Just What Was the Ark?

Ok, so what was the 'ark'? This is the first time the word appears in the Bible – but not the only time in the Old Testament.

The same word is used in Exodus 2:3 and 5 of the 'basket' in which the baby Moses was placed to preserve him, not only from Pharaoh's murderous designs, but also perhaps from the 'waters' of the Nile.
An 'ark' therefore speaks of protection and provision in a time of persecution. In this case, the ark was the one place God’s people would be safe in the time of the coming deluge.

Interestingly enough, scholars have also identified similarities between the ark and the later tabernacle, which Moses subsequently built as a 'makeshift temple' for the people of Israel while they were travelling around the wilderness.

Here too we have the situation of a man of God given complex, supernatural instructions as to how to build a divine construct. Interestingly enough, parts of the ark are found to be identical in size to parts of the tabernacle.

The ark must have seemed huge to the people of that day, who had never seen anything like it. Instructions are divided into three parts, according to verses 14, 15 and 16 respectively:

1. Genesis 6:14 gives general instructions, that Noah is to make it with 'cypress wood' (‘gopher’ in the King James), make rooms inside it, and 'coat it with pitch'.
Instead of 'rooms', some scholars understand the Hebrew to mean 'reeds' – that is, it is to have reeds in it as part of the construction material, apart from the wood and pitch. There are several ancient sources that give details of ships being made, in part, from reeds.

2. Verse 15 gives the ark's dimensions. Altogether it is to be:

-300 cubits long,
-50 cubits wide, and
-30 cubits high,

-which translates to:

-140 meters long
-23 meters wide
-13,5 meters high (according to the NIV translation)

3. Verse 16 gives details for the interior. The ark was also to have three decks and a door at the side, which the Lord Himself would later shut. Understandably, Noah is to take ‘every kind of food that is to be eaten’ into the ark to be food for the long sojourn (verse 21).

Then things get tricky. Noah is commanded to take two of every kind of animal, for the survival of the different species (verses 19-20). If Noah had nightmares of running after all manner of animals to capture them, he needn't have worried. The text reads that, 'they will come to you' (7:9). What does this signify?

As we saw earlier, it shows that Noah is the second Adam, to oversee and produce the second Creation, just as Adam was over the first.

Just as Adam had authority over the first Creation to 'till the ground' and look after its creatures, so Noah has authority over the earth and will be responsible for its upkeep in this time of great trial. Thus the animals 'come to him', in acknowledgement of his authority as an Adam-like figure.

Typically, in a post-Curse, post-Fall world, wild animals flee from human strangers. In the Garden, however, where there was perfect harmony and trust, this was not the case. This glorious aspect of Edenic perfection was replicated briefly in the case of Noah, where animals displayed little fear of the man of God, coming obediently to him at God’s prompting.

Not all animals, of course. We read that it is to be one pair of each, male and female, to ensure the continuation of each species.

A little further on we read, ‘Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate’ (Genesis 7:2). This additional instruction is given for the purpose of sacrifice, so that Noah will have animals to offer to God in thanksgiving on emerging from the ark.

This we see in 8:20, ‘Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.’

The closer the fateful Day gets, the worse the world seems to become. Remember that the Flood generation were, whether they realized it or not, on a divine schedule steadily heading toward an Apocalypse. Judgment would come, and nothing would change that. The question was whether any of them would show any signs of repentance.

In the end, none of them did.

Exactly a week before the flood breaks, God tells Noah, “Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for 40 days and 40 nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made” (Genesis 7:4). At that point Noah knows the final days are upon them, that disintegration of the system is imminent.

The question has sometimes been raised as to what you would do if you knew the earth had only twenty-four more hours to the Second Coming of Jesus.

The world's response would probably be to enjoy themselves as much as they could. Responses by Christians, however, inevitably involve making sure they were right before God or else witnessing to every person they can find.

What was Noah's response to the rapidly approaching deluge? We know he would be very preoccupied ensuring that the ark was perfectly ready for its great trial, or that the animals were on board or that they had sufficient food supplies.

However, one can imagine he did his level best to convince the hapless wicked of his age that the judgment was nearly upon them. Noah is called a 'preacher of righteousness' (2 Peter 2:5). You can bet he preached his message to the very end.

Tragically, they probably thought of him as many today would of a street preacher hoisting a sign that reads, 'Repent - the Day of the Lord is At Hand', or something to that effect. He simply had no hearers.

One of the recurring signs of a people on the point of judgment is that they grow harder and harder to the preaching of the gospel. For Pharaoh in the time of Moses we are repeatedly told, 'God hardened Pharaoh's heart' (e.g., Exodus 9:12). For the people in the time of Isaiah, ‘Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes’ (Isaiah 6:10).

Now there is a reason that God makes deaf the ears: not because He is cruel, but because the wicked have hardened their hearts in the first place. The punishment left to them is that God hardens their hearts even further, and they are judged.

We can imagine something like this in the case of Noah's hearers: they had sinned and hardened themselves so much that their punishment is in turn to be hardened further to a point of judgment.

Writing much later, Peter compares his own day of the first century to the days of Noah, that ‘in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires’ (2 Peter 3:3).

Ever wondered why God doesn't strike down evildoers, especially the ones who dare and test Him? Peter gives us the answer. He says, ‘He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance’ (2 Peter 3:9).

In other words, ironically, it is out of love for those evildoers that God does not judge them then and there. God lets them go on for years and years because He is giving them a chance to repent!

Out of His great love, God holds out until that final day, just to give the wicked that final chance.
In this case, sadly, they didn't come. We don't read that it was Noah, his family, plus some of the Cainite line who were saved: no, it was Noah and his family alone: just those eight.


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