Noah Was a Righteous Man

Noah releases dove

by Mary Okkema

He named him Noah and said, ‘He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the LORD has cursed.'” “These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God. – Genesis 5:29, 6:9

Noah releases doveWould that each of us could have an epitaph as the words spoken of Noah. Recently our daughter performed a vocal solo of epitaphs by Slonimsky. They ranged from stirring and amusing to thought provoking. It helped us think of what would be said of us after we die. But listen to the these words spoken of Noah: “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.”

The hope of Noah was that through him God would comfort the race and alleviate the effects of the curse that was brought about by the fall of man. One could believe that Noah was the new Adam, the answer to what had happened in the previous chapters of Genesis and the wickedness that surrounded Noah. He was quite a contrast with those who lived around him as the phrase “blameless in his time” infers.

Noah’s father, Lamech named him with the foresight of the comfort to be brought through him. His name has the root meaning of “comfort.” It is said that “when a righteous person comes in to the world, goodness comes in to the world.” (Talmud: Sanh. 113b) Can this be said of each one of us? The following scripture verses describe righteous people during life and not just as an epitaph. Pray that they can be said of us:

The righteous is a guide to his neighbor, But the way of the wicked leads them astray. – Proverbs 12:26

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. – Deuteronomy 6:5

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. – Mark 12:31

Laying Down the Bow

Bow and Arrow

by Lois Tverberg

And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.’
– Genesis 9:12-13,15

One of the most popular scenes available for decorating baby nurseries is that of Noah’s ark with the a big boat, cute animals and a pretty rainbow. This image is fine to use as a beautiful image of God’s faithfulness, and represents a happy end to the story. But let’s not forget that the flood is very much the opposite from being a happy children’s story – it is the most terrible scene of judgment in all of the Bible. Every human being died in one great cataclysm because mankind had sank to such depravity that God was sorry that he even made them.

I had a hard time imagining what human beings could do that would merit such anger on God’s part until I heard about the horrors the Nazis committed in WW2 concentration camps, or of the deaths of thousands in torture chambers and by nerve agents in Iraq in even just the past few years. Humans really are capable of wickedness to the limits of the imagination. On Sept. 11, I remember wondering why God didn’t swoop down and put an end to pockets of evil that are responsible for such misery on earth. Of course, the infection is universal – if judgment started, where would it end?

Bow and ArrowIn the light of this, the first covenant that God made has a profound message to us. The word for “rainbow” is used for “bow” through the rest of scriptures, the weapon of battle. The sign of the rainbow is to say that God has laid down his “bow,” his weapon, and has promised not to repeat the judgment of the flood, even if humans do not change. It is because humans are so precious in the eyes of God that he constrains himself to finding another answer to the dilemma of sin than the obvious one of universal judgment.

Even in this early story we see forward to God’s ultimate desire for mercy rather than punishment for sin. He will finally bring it to maturity in Christ, who would extend mercy to sinners and a permanent covenant of peace with God through His atoning blood. That covenant is the ultimate answer to sin, the final solution to the terrible human problem.

Photo cred: Travis

The Slippery Slope

Temptation and Expulsion from the Garden

by Lois Tverberg

The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. – Genesis 6:5-6

We think of the point at which sin enters the world as when Eve takes the first bite of the apple. Some of us quickly leap next to the Gospels to read God’s answer to the problem. But it is interesting that if we keep reading we can get a lesson about sin and its consequences.

Temptation and Expulsion from the GardenWe see sin’s effects even after Adam and Eve are sent out from the garden. Within a few years, one of their own sons commits the first murder – a drastic worsening from Adam and Eve’s small act of rebellion of eating forbidden fruit. Cain is a man who doesn’t care about his brother and is prone to jealousy. His anger entices him to murder, just as the serpent led Eve to sin. A few generations later, in Cain’s line, we see a man even more vengeful than Cain – his descendant Lamech. Lamech said the following:

I have killed a man for wounding me, and a boy for striking me;
If Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold. Genesis 4:24

Not only was Lamech more violent than Cain, he was even proud of it! Finally, evil reached its peak a few generations later in the generation of the flood. The scriptures say that this was a people whose only thought was of evil all the time, and God was sorry he made them. He wiped them all out with a flood, but the first thing man did after the flood was to build the tower of Babel — it was clear that the flood hadn’t washed the sin out of their hearts.

At this point, God began a much more long-term answer for sin in the heart of man. In the very next chapter, God chose one faithful man, Abram, and promised that through him he would make a people that would bless the whole world. Through him would come a nation that could be taught God’s way to live, and even if they struggled, could be a light to the nations around them. And God could use this nation to bring his final answer to sin – Jesus.

Through this we can see the amazing power of sin that starts out small and quickly grows powerful and ugly. But we can hope in the fact that while God’s answer also starts out small, it ultimately will triumph with redemption.