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A Flood and a Rainbow July 26, 2015

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Genesis 9:8-17

Proper 12

July 26, 2015

 

Focus:  God promised us salvation.

Function:  That the hearers lay their sins at the foot of the cross.

Structure:  This is the historical situation in the text…these are the meanings for us now.

 

A Flood and a Rainbow

 

Two-by-two they came to the ark.  Two-by-two, they gathered together on a big boat that would protect them from the flood.  And when the waters finally receded, they’d all get off the ark and go their own way.

Somehow the account of Noah’s ark has become an adored children’s story.  It’s almost like going to a zoo and seeing all the animals.  Pictures of the ark abound in children’s bedrooms and nurseries around the world.  But I think I’m going to have to agree with Ken Ham, founder of the Creation Museum, in saying that we’re doing more harm than good with how we’re teaching our children.

It really is one of these things that has faded from historical fact to Bible story.  And we’re going to take a deeper look at it during the children’s message today.  But does it matter?  Does any of this matter?  Is this an actual event in our history, that really happened, or is just a story for children?

Here’s why it matters:  God made a covenant with us.  He made us a covenant that He would not destroy the world with a flood again.  That’s important for two reasons, one He had done it before, and two, He won’t do it again.  And that matters.

To get the bigger picture, let’s go back further to the time that led up to the flood.  We read in Genesis 6:

5Yahweh saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And Yahweh regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

 

It was just two weeks ago we talked about exactly this.  God had created everything, and Satan attacked.  Satan polluted God’s creation with sin, and it corrupted everything.  God then had the choice of how to respond.  He could’ve wiped it all out and started over, but He chose not to.

And we see it again now.  Over 1500 years passed between Adam and Noah.  1500 years filled with the corruption of our hearts.  Sin filling every corner of this earth.  “Yahweh saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”  That’s what we brought to the table.  Evil, and only evil.

And so God decided to purge the earth.  I’m not sure how often we actually tell our kids about that part.  This is the very same God we worship today.  This is the very same God whose mere presence cannot tolerate sin.  Anything that is not holy dies instantly in His midst.  Sin matters.  And we’re sinners, through and through.

The Bible doesn’t give us a thorough description of why God chose Noah and his family.  It says he found favor in the eyes of Yahweh.  But if that means he actually was holy and righteous, or if it simply meant he was best of the worst of mankind, we don’t know.  But for whatever the reason, God selected Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives to be spared.  Eight people from a land that was surely millions.

The flood came, ravaging the world, purging the earth, snuffing out life.  This isn’t a swim party or a cruise, it’s death and destruction.  We like to think of the Grand Canyon as one of God’s masterpieces.  And that it is, but we should remember that most likely, the flood created it.  It’s a memorial, a reminder to us of our evil hearts.

And after the waters receded from the earth, God spoke to Noah and made a covenant with him.  They actually had more than two of the sacrificial animals on the ark, so this would have been okay.  But God spoke to Noah and gave him His word that never again would He use water to flood the earth and wipe out all of life.

And He gave him a sign, that of the rainbow.  “I have set My bow in the cloud.”  Archers understand that, the rainbow, is in the shape of a bow.  Scientifically, we know it would create a circle, but we can’t see it all.  What we see is indeed a bow.  And the Hebrew reflects that, as their word for bow is also used for rainbow.  They’re one in the same.

Admittedly, I had been upset the past few years that the rainbow had been hijacked by many Americans who sought to use it for a different purpose, to laud it not for God’s covenant, but on account of the many colors as a sign of diversity.  In fact, after the Supreme Court ruling, the White House itself looked like a bag of Skittles.

But then I was talking with a few friends of mine and realized that it’s not a bad thing.  It’s not actually possible to hijack the rainbow.  In fact, God gave it to us as a sign of His pledge, His promise, His covenant.  That whenever we see a rainbow, we would be reminded of our past, of our sin, of our absolute corruption, and that God has spared us.  And that God has promised never again to destroy us in the waters of the flood.

That’s an incredible thing.  It’s an incredibly ironic thing.  That a group seeking to use the symbol to represent their pride, their rejection of God’s Word, is actually pointing us to God’s Word and His deliverance.  And that’s a great thing!

You see, we’re no better than the men and women we read about earlier in Genesis 6.  The thoughts of our hearts and minds are nothing but evil.  We celebrate sin in our midst all the time.  We lift up our pride and look inward to our own self for deliverance.

Instead of teaching our children that their life’s goal is to know Christ and Him crucified, we teach them that it’s about being happy.  Instead of lifting up marriage to the standard God created, we listen to our culture, and have been for generations.

Instead of marking the words of our Lord that the world will hate us, persecute us, and kill us, we sell ourselves out to them, seeking their approval.  Instead of advancing the kingdom of God, we seek to create a safe haven for Christians on earth.

Pride, greed, lust, sloth, gluttony, wrath, and envy fill our hearts, our minds, our schedules, our lives.  We are totally corrupt, to the very core.  “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags,” –Isaiah 64:6.  “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me,” –Psalm 51:5.  “As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one;” –Romans 3:10.  “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot,” –Romans 8:7.  “Among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind,” –Ephesians 2:3.  “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned,” –Romans 5:12.

The rainbow is a reminder of that.  It is a reminder that we cannot possibly come near to God on our own accord.  We bring nothing but death to the table.  This is why I have preached, and will continue to preach, against pride.  It does nothing but celebrate our own sin.

But this then is why the rainbow is an even greater promise, an even greater reminder.  Because God didn’t stop there.  You know your Bibles as being divided into two Testaments, the old and the new.  That’s a poor translation.  When we hear testament, we think of a last will and testament.  We think of the testimony of a witness.  Those things are not the case.  When the word passed from Greek and Hebrew into Latin, then into Old English and now has carried forward into modern English, something got lost in the translation.  These are the Old and New Covenants.

God knew that His rainbow wasn’t enough.  God knew that the covenant with Abraham wasn’t enough.  He knew that no amount of teaching, no amount of laws, no amount of promises could overcome the corruption of our flesh.  Sin is that pervasive, that destructive.  And so He made another covenant. In the blood of His Son.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ bears that title because He willingly shed His blood for us on the cross.   That is the New Covenant.  That is the reason for the name that we give to the last 27 books in the Bible.  We read from Matthew 26:28, “for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

We do not bring any good to the table.  We only bring our sins.  And we lay them at the foot of the cross.  That is where our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west.  That is where our total depravity of heart, mind, body, and soul is overcome in the blood of the Lamb.  That is why we bother to come together at this table, at the foot of the cross, to receive the body and blood of Christ shed for us.

That’s why this matters.  That’s why Noah’s ark matters.  That’s the true beauty of our history.  That’s the true beauty of the rainbow.  For every time we see God’s bow, be it in the sky, on a flag, or plastered across a Facebook profile, we remember that it points us not to temporary deliverance, but to everlasting deliverance in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

 

Childrens’ Message

What can you guys tell me about Noah’s ark?

Is this what you think it looked like?

  • where would all the animals fit?
  • why are they all so happy?

That wouldn’t have worked at all!

Did you know there’s a man in the US trying to rebuild the ark to the Bible’s blueprint?

Here’s a picture of what it’s going to look like

  • 450 feet long, that’s nine of these churches!
  • 75 feet wide, that’s a little more than this church!
  • 45 feet high, that’s a little taller than this church!
  • It would have had multiple floors
  • Do you think we could fit a lot of animals on that ark?

We could talk so much more about the ark and how it all happened, but instead, I’ve put a great article on our Facebook page that can help your parents talk about that with you, so tell mom and dad to check it out, as it looks at dinosaurs, how many animals, where’d they keep all the food, what did they do when the animals need the bathroom, and more!

Why did Noah have to build the ark in the first place?  Evil, sin had corrupted us all.

God cleansed the earth, He wiped out evil through the flood.  It was not a good time

But He made us a promise, that He would never do it again.  What sign did He give us to remind us of His promise?  The rainbow.

Final slide: when we truly know God’s Word, it provides us comfort when we’re scared, when we’re picked on for our faith

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