Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Were They All Righteous? Genesis Chapter 7

Today, I want to examine the moment when God shut Noah and his family into the ark, preserving them from the wrath of God in the future.  i think this moment speaks to us today, because thew Bible tells us that, "As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be."  When jesus comes to prepare the world for the wrath of God he will preserve those who are found to be righteous.   So I think there is a warning here for us.
Genesis 7:7-16 (NKJV) 7:7 So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons' wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood. 8 Of clean animals, of animals that are unclean, of birds, and of everything that creeps on the earth, 9 two by two they went into the ark to Noah, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth. 11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. 12 And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights. 13 On the very same day Noah and Noah's sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark-- 14 they and every beast after its kind, all cattle after their kind, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, every bird of every sort. 15 And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life. 16 So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.

Noah was found to be a perfect man.  He was judged by God to be righteous, so God preserved him from His judgment.  But we read nothing about the character of Noah’s sons or their wives or even Noah’s wife for that matter.  Can we assume they are also righteous in God’s eyes?  This is an interesting question, because you would think the Bible would tell us that, “Noah and his sons were righteous,” wouldn’t you?  Why did God leave out the condition of Noah’s son’s souls? 

In Sodom and Gomorrah, God tried to lead Lot, his wife, their daughters and their daughters’ fiancés out of Sodom before it was destroyed.  But it becomes obvious that not all of them were righteous, only Lot.

The fiancés:  It was actually Lot who tried to convince them to go out with him and his family.  Probably out of concern for his daughters.  But they were not righteous; in fact the Bible says they mocked Lot.

Genesis 19:14 (NKJV) 19:14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, "Get up, get out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city!" But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.

They thought the whole thing was a joke and they laughed.  I think that’s an odd reaction.  Did Lot often joke about the judgment of Sodom? I think they probably thought he was joking because they didn’t think God would judge Sodom or they didn’t see anything wrong with what was happening in Sodom.

His Daughters:  God allowed them to be led out of the city prior to its destruction.  But upon reaching Zoar look what happened.

Genesis 19:31-36 (NKJV) 19:31 Now the firstborn said to the younger, "Our father is old, and there is no man on the earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth. 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father." 33 So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. 34 It happened on the next day that the firstborn said to the younger, "Indeed I lay with my father last night; let us make him drink wine tonight also, and you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father." 35 Then they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. 36 Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father.

So the daughters thought to have incest with their father.  Maybe this is a result of the influence of life in Sodom?  Maybe their own sin caused them to do this thing.  After all, the father’s lineage would have been preserved through their genes, unless this took place many years after leaving Sodom. If it didn’t why were they so eager to give up?

The other interesting thought in this is that their children Ammon and Moab, were the founders of those countries that bore their names and those countries became the enemies of the people of God.

Lot’s wife:  The Bible tells us that as God destroyed Sodom, and all of its inhabitants, with fire and brimstone Lot’s wife turned back to look. 

Genesis 19:23-26 (NKJV) 19:23 The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. 24 Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
She had been warned not to look back.  The angels told them, “Don’t look back.”  But she did and became a pillar of salt.  Why would she look back?  I think the answer lies in her emotional make up.  Women are the nurturers, the ones to whom relationships are more important.  I believe Lot’s wife, in hearing the destruction looked back, almost wistfully, thinking about her home, her friends and household that were left back there.  Her heart was in Sodom.  She turned back and was judged immediately.

So I think it is interesting that all of these were spared by God, in Sodom, only to be judged at a later time.  Were they righteous when the judgment came and then slipped into sin after?  Difficult question.

But we see the same thing take place in the Ark.  Noah’s entire household went into the ark.  Were they all righteous or did God allow that because they were in the household of Noah.  Did Noah’s righteousness include them?

It is an interesting question because we see that at least one of them sinned after they left the Ark.

Genesis 9:20-23 (NKJV) 9:20 And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. 21 Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father's nakedness.

This is a moral failure on the part of Ham.  Even though the world was completely changed, sin, the legacy of Adam was not removed from the world.  Was Ham righteous at the time of the flood, perhaps, but sin eventually overwhelmed him.  As is always the case, when a father has a moral failure, Ham’s child Canaan and his descendants paid the price for the sin. 

Exodus 34:7 (NKJV) 34:7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation."

What does this speak to me?  One thing is that we are not safe because we have been spared the wrath of God.  These were called into the ark, or out of Sodom, because of the mercy of God.  But even though they were spared, they still were judged at another time.  Lot’s wife and children were judged because of the sin.  Canaan paid the price of his father’s failure.  We are saved by the mercy of God.  We cry out to Jesus for salvation and He answers but:

Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV) 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'

This along with the Flood story tells me that we can be saved and later judged, if we turn back to sin.

There is one other thing that interests me in this account and that is this:
Genesis 7:16
16 So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.
God shut them in, Himself.  God protected them by sealing them into the Ark of His safety.  God took a personal interest in their safety and lives.  He does the same in ours.

Stream of Thought:
  1. God preserved Noah because of his righteousness.
  2. God also preserved his family, were they righteous, too?
  3. God preserved Lot’s family, later they came under judgment.
  4. Ham came under judgment after salvation through the flood.
  5. We are not safe because we have received salvation.
  6. We must remain in God’s will to remain safe from judgment.
  7. God is personally interested in preserving us from judgment.

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