Posted by: lepages | October 14, 2009

God revealed!

Catch up time!

Monday was my second trip to Waverly Abbey for the ‘Genesis to Revelation – God’s Redemptive Story’ series.

Weather much improved – bright sun compared with the rain of the previous week – thought it would make the journey quicker – nope – 2:45 this time!! (But journey back was much improved and home in 2:15 – amazing how much difference half an hour makes to how you feel!) Anyway, enough of that. Discovered that in better weather Waverly Abbey is a great place to be – beautiful, peaceful, inspiring. Few pics from my mobile – more will perhaps follow after future visits.

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I guess that image of the path is a useful link into the revelation from the day. Last week we looked at how Jesus revealed himself to his disciples after his resurrection as they walked on the road to Emmaus. This week was a revelation of God in his nature – thrilling, challenging, awe inspiring. I’ve reproduced some of my notes from the day below, along with a few reflections here and there. I hope that they inspire you with the wonder of God as they have inspired me!

God is committed to preserving the world for redemption – God’s covenant with Noah & the earth.

Today’s session portrays the infinite patience of God. The ‘promise-plan’ of God also portrays his attitude as a God of dialogue who acts with and reacts to his people and the proposals he takes to them.

We read Genesis 5:28 – 6:22 to set the scene, and went on to read from the following chapters as we progressed through the day.

Setting the scene…..

The Lord saw….
The LORD 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. (Genesis 6:5 English Standard Version)

The Lord saw… the evil accumulated on the earth since the fall – not only evil actions, but evil thoughts – so much evil coes out of what is first stored up in the mind… Ideas always have consequences.

The Lord felt….
And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. (Gen 6:6 ESV)

The Lord felt…. the Lord was sorry, grieved to the heart – a mixture of rage and anguish – pain in the heart of God. God is profoundly affected by the human condition – this is seen repeatedly through scripture – God’s emotions portrayed in response to his people, however they respond to him.

Reflection
We kept coming back to the matter of God and his emotions through the day. I have to say I have often taken comfort from the fact that in some way God identifies with our emotions and therefore understands the mixture of emotions we have – joy, sorrow, excitement, frustration, heartache, delight and one could go on…. but I guess what I’ve been left wondering with is whether in fact our emotions are not just something we can be grateful that God is able to understand and enter into, but something that he has created in us, a mirror image of his own emotional nature – albeit ours at times damaged by sin. Is our emotional nature part of what it means to be made in the image of God? There’s a radical thought to reflect on! But think about it as you read through scripture – just about every human emotion you can think of is expressed of God at some point – is it not so much that God is able to understand our emotions, but that our emotions reflect his?

Back to my notes from the day….

The Lord decided….
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.” (Gen 6:7 ESV)

The Lord decided for justice – he decides to act in judgement and bring the world to a watery end….

BUT


Genesis 6:8 ESV
But Noah found favour (lit. ‘grace’) in the eyes of the LORD.

What makes the difference is not Noah, but God’s grace extended towards Noah.
Grace is strange – it goes against all expectations – this grace makes Noah (with his family) the sole survivor of a global catastrophe. It is God’s grace that enables Noah to live in the opposite way to the society of the time.

God’s ‘promise-plan’ has 2 strands at this point
1.
God preserves a family for the sake of the world
Genesis 6:13-21 ESV
And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.”
God showed his heart, his plan, his awful judgement and his awesome call to Noah – and…. remarkably…. Noah did all that God commanded him. (Gen 6:22 & 7:5)

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.
(Gen 7:11 ESV)

In Genesis 1 we have the portrayal of God’s creative order – of how order was brought as form was brought out of disorder and chaos – of how waters were separated – here we have a reversal of the creation order – an act of de-creation. God’s acts of judgement within history are often described in imagery of de-creation language eg Jeremiah 4:23

I looked on the earth, and behold, it was without form and void;
and to the heavens, and they had no light.

Which images the creation narrative.

Reading the account of the story of the flood and of Noah makes interesting reading – it tells us very little about Noah – he has no recorded speech throughout the account – he is a significant player – but the text is supremely about God and his interaction with his creation.

Judgement comes….. BUT
Gen 8:1 ‘God remembered Noah….’
and with it comes imagery of re-creation!
Just as Adam was encouraged to go forth and multiply in the creation account, so Noah is encouraged to do the same in the re-creation account. This is the start of a journey to a ‘new creation’ – but its not a reversion o Genesis 1 – it still lives in the reality of the now – the reality of life experiences
Genesis 9:1-6 ESV
And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.
“Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.”

In this re-created world the value of human life and all life is emphasised – and God reiterates a desire – again and again – for the population of the earth to be filled again….

Gen 9:7 ESV
And you, be fruitful and multiply, teem on the earth and multiply in it.”

How remarkable that God should desire this given what has gone before and given the reality of what he knew lay ahead. God will not abort his creation experiment – he loves making people! And to his creation, he gives everything! (Gen 9:3)

2. God preserves the world for redemption

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22 ESV)

In the narrative of the flood there is more imagery linking back between the imagery of creation – de-creation and re-creation.
In Genesis 8:1 we have a wind blowing over the waters, in Genesis 1:1 the Spirit hovering over the waters. In Genesis 1 the Spirit and the Word of God combined dynamically to bring about creation – they still do to bring about re-creation. As God brings about re-creation remarkably we see also that God chooses to change!

Genesis 8:21 ESV
…the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse[a] the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.”

“God resolves that he will stay with and sustain his world. God will not let the rebellion of humankind sway him from his grand dream of creation. The flood has affected no change in humankind but it has affected an irrevocable change in God who will now approach his creation with unlimited patience and endurance.” Walter Bruggermann.

God is intensifying his commitment to his creation – he will see this through, whatever the cost.

Climax of the account

Genesis 9:9-17 ESV
“Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.””

The never again covenant is made with every living creature, and with the earth itself (v13). God is committed to preserving the world. Why?

2 Peter 3:9 tells us “The Lord is …. patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

God preserves the earth until such time as he fulfils his redemptive purposes.

The rainbow is a sign of covenant, but it is a reminder not so much to us as human beings of God’s promise, but a reminder to God of his promise. v14,15 ‘whenever… the rainbow appears in the clouds…. I will remember my covenant….’

Reflection

What a revelation of our God! That he should reveal all his emotions to us – his anger – his love – his commitment – in the face of all we throw at him – his determination to keep on going inspite of it all. What a privilege to know this God personally. I for one look forward to exploring further God’s redemptive plan in future weeks.

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