Monday, November 28, 2011
The Story of Abraham
GENESIS 11 and 12, Part 1
The story of Abraham starts with a journey. Abraham lived in a very interactive society. Wandering clans, or tribes, of extended families were never far from settled urban areas. These traveling clans consisted of many different levels of family: servants, slaves, livestock, animals, and all other possessions. Some of these clans were very wealthy and powerful, and contained large populations.
They bought and sold goods with local merchants and peoples, then picked up and moved on to the next location. These wandering clans tended to travel along routes with ample water. These routes ran North and South near rivers, brooks, streams, lakes, etc.
However, caravan routes also ran East to West, leading directly through the heart of the Arabian desert. These routes connected Mesopotamia directly to Canaan. Though much shorter in distance, these caravan routes were much more dangerous and less traveled than the routes leading northward, along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The book of Genesis describes the story of Abraham and his father, Terah , as traveling along one of the northward routes along the Euphrates.
Abraham was not a settled man, nor was he a wanderer. Rather, he was a combination of both. This fact is alluded to in the terms that are associated with Abraham. He is called an Aramean, Hebrew , Aramu and Habiru. These terms are commonly used to describe seminomads; people that live outside the typical structure of settled civilization. Over time, these terms merged together to form the catch all word, Arab. The book of Joshua tells how the Israelites ancestors - Terah, Nahor, Abraham - lived "beyond the Euphrates", and served other gods.
Note that Terah was a known idolater. The narrative in Genesis suggests that perhaps Terah was the initial receiver of God's call to leave Mesopotamia. Yet, Terah failed to obey God, and stopped in Haran. Terah could not break from his idolatrous beliefs, and clung to the polytheistic system of religion in Babylon. His settlement in Haran is seen by God as a sign that Terah will not step out in faith and obey (Gen 11:31-32). Thus, the next chapter of the story of Abraham (Gen 12) begins with God's call for Abram to leave his "father's household", and head for the land of Canaan.
Indeed, the story of Abraham starts in Mesopotamia. It is quite possible that many of the traditions and stories in Sumerian mythology, are parallel accounts of the Bible stories with which they share so much in common. There is a clear and obvious similarity between ancient Mesopotamian stories of the flood, and the Genesis flood. The ancient Mesopotamian city of Eridu, near Ur, has been tied with the Biblical Eden. Some scholars claim the Enkidu of Mesopotamian myth stories, is the same as Enoch of Genesis. It becomes clear the story of Abraham is heavily influenced by his Mesopotamian background. Abraham, as the link between the two, is not unreasonable at all.
Through the lists obtained from s0me scholars and with archaeological finds, such as the ancient tablets from Ebla and Mari , the following dates have been prescribed to Mesopotamian kings; Sargon, and the Old Akkadian Period from 2360-2180 B.C.; Ur-Nammu, and the Third Dynasty of Ur, from to the end of the second millennium, or start of the first; Hammurabi, dated to the exact period from 1728-1686 B.C.
Scholars have dated the story of Abraham in Genesis as occurring in the period between Ur-Nammu and Hammurabi. This period falls in the Middle Bronze Age, from between 2100-1550 B.C.E. The story of Abraham and the other Patriarchs are widely agreed upon to have happened in this time frame. After years of study and wavering, some scholars finally concluded that Abraham existed between the 20th and 19th centuries B.C.
The Ussher chronology places the story of Abraham around 2000 B.C. Traditionally, his birth was placed at 2056 B.C. However, this was not widely agreed upon, and many other dates have surfaced over the course of debate.
Edward R. Thiele published a modified chronology which placed Abraham's birth in 2167 B.C. Though the date is not agreed upon unanimously, his existence is rarely denied.
The names mentioned in the Abrahamic narrative correspond with many names located throughout northwestern Mesopotamia, particularly Haran and the surrounding neighbors. It is reasonable to make an assumption that the patriarchal narratives and traditions were born in this region.
The story of Abraham and his arrival in Canaan have been associated with northwestern-speaking Semitic peoples. These people came after the Amorites, but perhaps were Amorite in lineage. Abraham, Isaac , and Jacob are Israelite, as well as Amorite names.
Gracious Father, Loving God, When a baby is born, family members argue over the babies physical features; and yet, were we not all created in Your spiritual image? Jesus came so we could know our God. His mission was to show us the Father. This He did through the life He lived to all who will believe in Him, listen and obey His word. Help us Father to seek You each day; enable us to change into the likeness of our Savior, the life for which You created us. Help us to focus on our true purpose in life as we seek to follow Your commands and instructions in accordance with Your Word in Christ Jesus. Guide us in every way and allow Your Word to be our light, our path, and our labor of love. This we pray in the wonderful name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen!
Sunday, November 27, 2011
NIMROD AND THE TOWER OF BABEL, Part 3
The Confusion of Tongues: Gen 11
As far as the great proliferation of different languages among men is concerned, the Biblical account is the only satisfactory explanation. If all men came from one ancestral population, as most evolutionary anthropologists believe today, they originally all spoke the same language. As long as they lived together, or continued to communicate with one another, it would have been impossible for the wide differences in human languages to have evolved.
Therefore, if anthropologists insist on an evolutionary explanation for the different languages, then they must likewise postulate extremely long periods of isolation and inbreeding for the different tribes, practically as long as the history of man himself. This in turn means that each of the major language groups must be identical with a major racial group. Therefore, each "race" must have had a long evolutionary history, and it is natural to assume that some races have evolved more than others. This natural association of racism with evolutionary philosophy is quite significant and has been the pseudoscientific basis of a wide range of racist political and religious philosophies that have wrought untold harm and misery over the years.
On the other hand, it does seem obvious that all the different nations, tribes, and languages among men do have a common origin in the not-too-distant past. People of all nations are all freely inter-fertile and of essentially equal intelligence and potential educability. Even the "aborigines" of Australia are quite capable of acquiring Ph.D. degrees, and some have done so. Even though their languages are widely different from each other, all can be analyzed in terms of the science of linguistics, and all can be learned by men of other languages, thus demonstrating an original common nature and origin. There is really only one kind of man----namely mankind! In actuality there is only one race among men--the human race.
The source of the different languages cannot be explained in terms of evolution, though the various dialects and similar languages within the basic groups are no doubt attributable to gradual diversification from a common source tongue. But the major groups are so fundamentally different from each other as to defy explanation in any naturalistic framework.
Only the Bible provides an adequate explanation. Originally, after the great Flood, "the whole earth was of one language and one speech" (Gen. 11:1). Because of man's united rebellion against God, however, refusing to scatter throughout the world as God had commanded, and concentrating instead in the vicinity of the original Babylon, "the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth" (Gen. 11:9).
Presumably about seventy families were involved in this dispersion, as suggested by the enumeration of seventy original national groups and tongues in the so-called Table of Nations in Genesis 10. These were represented originally by perhaps a thousand or so individuals, divided into three main ancestral family bodies, the Japhethetic, the Hamitic, and the Semitic. "These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood" (Gen. 10:32).
The rebellion at Babel was not some impossible undertaking, such as attempting to reach heaven with a man-made tower, as one might infer from the King James translation of Genesis 11:4. The words "may reach" are not in the original; the correct sense of the passage apparently connotes the erection of a great temple-tower dedicated to the worship of the "host of heaven," uniting all mankind in worshiping and serving the creature, rather than the Creator (Rom. 1:25). The most effective way of halting this blasphemy and of enforcing God's command to fill the earth was that of confounding their languages.
If people could not communicate with each other, they could hardly cooperate with each other. This primeval confusion of tongues emphasizes what modern man often fails to realize: the real divisions among men are not racial or physical or geographic, but linguistic. When men could no longer understand each other, there was finally no alternative for them but to separate from each other.
If anyone is inclined to question this explanation of the origin of the major differences among languages, then let him offer a naturalistic explanation that better accounts for all the facts. No one has done so yet. Obviously a miracle was involved, but the gravity of the rebellion warranted God's special intervention.
Although the major language groups are so different from each other as to make it inconceivable that they could have evolved from a common ancestral language group (except, as noted above, by such a long period of racial segregation as to cause the corresponding races to evolve to different levels themselves), the very fact that all the languages can be evaluated by common principles of linguistics, and that people can manage to learn other languages than their own, implies an original common cause for all of them. Noam Chomsky, who is one of the world's foremost linguists, is convinced that languages, though completely different on the surface, reflect an underlying commonality related to the fundamental uniqueness of man himself.
Dr. Gunther Stent, professor of molecular biology at the University of California (Berkeley), has summarized Chomsky's concepts as follows:
“Chomsky holds that the grammar of a language is a system of transformational rules that determines a certain pairing of sound and meaning. It consists of a syntactic component, a semantic component, and a phonological component. The surface structure contains the information relevant to the phonological component, whereas the deep structure contains the information relevant to the semantic component, and the syntactic component pairs surface and deep structures. Hence, it is merely the phonological component that has become greatly differentiated during the course of human history, or at least since the construction Tower of Babel.”
No doubt the Tower of Babel is merely a figure of speech to Stent as well as to Chomsky, but the figure is appropriate precisely because the miraculous confusion of tongues at Babel does provide the only meaningful explanation for the phenomena of human languages. Thus the "phonological component" of speech (or its surface form) is the corpus of sounds associated with various meanings, through which people of a particular tribe actually communicate with each other. Each phonology is different from the phonology of another tribe so that one group cannot understand the other group. Nevertheless at the "semantic" level, the deep structure, the "universal grammar" (the inner man!), both groups have fundamentally the same thoughts that need to be expressed in words.
It was the phonologies or surface forms of languages, that were supernaturally confused at Babel, so that even though all still had the same basic logic and understanding of experience, they could no longer work together and, thus, finally they could no longer stay together, simply because they could no longer talk together.
It is significant that traditions similar to the Babel story exist in various other ancient nations and even in primitive tribes. Although not as frequently encountered as traditions of the great Flood, many tribes do have a tradition of a former age when all people spoke the same language until the languages were confused as a judgment of the God.
Thus there is good reason to accept the Biblical record of the confusion of tongues at Babel as the true account of the origin of the different major language groups of the world. Evolutionists certainly have no better answer, and the only reason why modern scientists tend to reject it is because it was miraculous. To say that it would have been impossible, however, is not only to deny God's omnipotence but also to assert that scientists know much more about the nature of language than they do.
No one yet adequately understands the brain and its control of human speech. Therefore, no one understands what manner of physiologic changes in the brain and central nervous system would be necessary to cause different groups of people to associate different sounds with any given concept. Perhaps future research will throw light on this phenomenon but, in the meantime, there is no better explanation than that it was God who did "there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech" (Gen. 11:7).
May God bless us , not with bigger barns to store our treasures, but with BIGGER HEARTS to share His measure. Let true believers say, AMEN!
Saturday, November 26, 2011
NIMROD AND THE TOWER OF BABEL: Part 2
Gen 10 - 11, Continued From Yesterday:
THE SECOND "COME"
The time when the Lord Jesus Christ was to crush Satan's head was still far off, but in the meantime God was going to crush this first attempt at Satanism. He was not going to do it with flood or fire or some other fierce manifestation of His invincible wrath. He was going to do it in an entirely unexpected manner. Instead of destruction, God performed a miracle in the minds and vocal cords of the builders. He confused their language so that now, instead of speaking together and working together, their words brought confusion and an inevitable scattering of these people over the earth because it was His divine appointment.
There are several interesting features of this part of the story. The first is a second use of the word "come." Earlier the builders had used this word for the calling of their council: "Come, let's make bricks.... Come, let us build ourselves a city" (vv. 3, 4). But now God uses the word as He assembles His heavenly council and moves to confuse their language: "Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other" (v. 7). It is a way of saying that God always has the last word. Like Jonah, we can say "but" to God (Jonah 1:3), although God always has the last "but" (Jonah 1:4, KJV). We can assemble our councils; but God will assemble His council, and the decree of God's council will always prevail.
It follows that those who choose to go their own way will always end up frustrated. The prize so earnestly sought after becomes a bubble that bursts at the first touch. The fruit of desire becomes like ashes in the mouth. We may chafe against this, but it will always be this way because we live in God's world, not our own, and because God has determined to make BITTER anything that is prized above Himself.
The second interesting feature of this part of the story is that God came down to see the tower the men of Babylon were building. This is God being described as if He were a man. We are not to think that God actually had to get off the throne of the universe and come down to earth to determine what the builders were doing. All things are known to God always. And it is not a crude description as some have chosen to call it. It is used with effect. Here were men attempting to build a great tower. The top was to reach to the heavens. It was to be so great that it and the religion and defiance of God it represented would make a reputation for these citizens of Shinar. There it stood, lofty in its unequaled grandeur. But when God wants to look at it, He comes down and has to stoop low to see this puny extravagance.
It is always thus. When you stand on the ground and look up at the great pyramids of Egypt they seem immense. But when you fly over them in an airplane, even at a low altitude, they seem like pimples on the surface of the earth. The once twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City look great. But from the air they look like miniature dominoes. The Eiffel Tower is a mere protuberance. So also with our intellectual or spiritual achievements. The greatest is nothing compared to the immensity of the universe, not to mention the universe's Creator. The only truly significant accomplishments are God's ,sometimes in and through us, for only these accomplishments partake of the nature of God and endure forever, as God does.
ANOTHER IMPORTANT “COME”: INVITATIONS TO "COME"
We have seen two different uses of the word "come" in this story. The first was spoken by man to man against God. The second was spoken by God to God against man (another early imitation of the Trinity (Gen 1:1,26). It would not be right to end without noting that the Bible also knows a third use of the word "come" in which an invitation is extended by God to man for man's benefit. God says, "Come now, let us reason together--Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isa. 1:18).
Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life" (Rev. 22:17).
What is the result when we who hear God's invitation come to Him? It is just as He says! Our sins are washed away. Our burdens are lifted. Our spiritual thirst is quenched. Moreover, the effects of the curse are overturned and the proper desires of the human heart are provided for, not by man in rebellion against God, to be sure, but by the gracious and forgiving God Himself from whom all truly good gifts come (James 1:17).
The curse was the confusion of languages, but God brings blessing from the curse. He gives understanding in spite of the language barrier and even promises (Pentecost is an earnest of the fulfillment, Acts 2:1-13) that the nations will worship together, presumably in one voice and with full understanding of each other. The Babylonians wanted a city. Their city could not stand. But God provides His people with a city with foundations that will endure forever. Nimrod's people wanted a name. But to those who stand with God and who overcome, God promises: "Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev. 3:12,13).
TODAY’S HYMN: “Heaven Came Down”, Words and Music by John W. Peterson (1961). Inspired by Titus 3:4. Three verses with a refrain.
1. Oh, what a wonderful, wonderful day - Day I will never forget!
After I wandered in darkness away, Jesus my Savior I met.
Oh, what a tender, compassionate Friend! He met the needs of my heart,
Shadows dispelling, With joy I am telling, He made all the darkness depart!
2. Born of the Spirit with life from above, Into God’s family divine,
Justified fully thru Cavalry’s love, Oh what a standing is mine!
And the transaction so quickly was made, When as a sinner I came,
Took of the offer Of grace He did proffer, He saved me! Oh, praise His dear name!
3. Now I’ve a hope that will surely endure, After the passing of time;
I have a future in heaven for sure, There in those mansions sublime,
And it’s because of that wonderful day, When at the Cross I believed;
Riches eternal And blessings supernal, From His precious hand I received.
Heaven came down and glory filled my soul,
When at the Cross the Savior made me whole,
My sins were washed away,
And my night was turned to day,
Heaven came down and glory filled my soul.
May God gives us a grateful and thankful heart everyday!
Praise God and give Him all the glory!
TO BE CONTINUED!
Friday, November 25, 2011
NIMROD AND THE TOWER OF BABEL
Gen 10 - 11
Chapters 10 and 11 of Genesis are composed of genealogies of nations and peoples designed to link the story of Noah and the Flood, which fills chapters 6 through 9, with the story of Abraham and his descendants, which fills the remainder of the book of Genesis. The genealogies begin with Noah's three sons-Shem, Ham, and Japheth-and move eventually to Terah from whom Abraham is born. There are two scriptures dealing with the founding of the first world empire under Nimrod. The first is Gen 10:8-12. The second is Gen 11:1-9.
These two chapters go together. The first tells of Nimrod's exploits. The second does not mention Nimrod but speaks rather of an attempt to build the city of Babylon, a central feature of which was to be a great tower. On the surface these seem to be accounts of two quite separate incidents. But this is not the case. In the first we have an emphasis on Nimrod--what he was like, what he did, what his goals were. In the second we have a treatment of the same theme but from the perspective of the people who worked with him. In each case there is a desire to build a civilization without God.
THE FIRST "COME"
The account of the building of Babylon begins by saying that the world had one common language (as would be expected due to the people's common descent from Noah) and since part of the world's people moved eastward, some settled on the plain of Shinar ( Babylonia). God had told the descendants of Noah to "increase in number and fill the earth" (Gen. 9:1), a reiteration of the command originally given to Adam and Eve in Paradise (Gen. 1:28). The settlement of Shinar could be construed as a partial fulfillment of that command. Yet as we read we find that the goal of this particular settlement was not to fulfill God's command but to defy it.
From the beginning, Babylon's goal was to resist any further scattering of the peoples over the earth and instead to create a city where the achievements of a united and integrated people would be centralized. The Bible reports this desire as an invitation to "come" together to work on this great project. It is the first important "come" of the story. "They said to each other, 'Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly.' They used brick instead of stone, and tar instead of mortar. Then they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth"' (Gen. 11:3,4).
Three things are involved in this invitation, “Come“: 1) a vision for the city, 2) a desire for a name or reputation, and 3) a plan for a new religion. The plan for a city does not need to be examined at length. The important point is that it was not God's city, as Jerusalem was. It was man's city, the secular city. As such it was constructed by man for man's glory. The last of these desires--to construct a place for man's glory--is involved in the word "name": Come, let us...make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth." It was the desire for reputation but, more than that, also a desire for independence from God. This reputation was to be earned by man apart from God. It was to be man’s alone.
We cannot forget that one characteristic of the God of the Bible is that He names people. He gives them names symbolic of what He is going to do with them or make of them. God named Adam (Gen. 5:2), Abraham (Gen. 17:5), Israel (Gen. 32:28), even Jesus (Matt. 1:21). In each case, the names point to what God has done or will yet do. The people of Babylon wanted none of this. They wanted to establish their own reputation and eliminate God entirely.
REACHING FOR THE STARS
In our study of Babylon the one element that has been missing is religion. But that is where the famed tower of Babel comes in. I must add that most commentators sense this truth, even though they interpret the tower in different ways. Luther says that the words "reaches to the heavens" should not be applied to the height alone but rather should be seen as denoting "that this was to be a place of worship. Candlish says, "The building of the tower 'unto heaven' had undoubtedly a religions meaning. Morris writes that in his desire to build a great empire, Nimrod realized that the people needed a religious motivation strong enough to overcome their knowledge that God had commanded them to scatter abroad on the earth. The tower satisfied that need and was therefore "dedicated to heaven and its angelic host.
First, it should be regarded as having a religious end because the Bible traces all false religions to Babylon and this is the only element in the description of early Babylon that can have this meaning. We would expect something like this from the nature of Babylon and its culture, and from what is told us of all cultures that turn away from God. Romans says that when people reject the knowledge of God they inevitably turn to false gods, making them like "mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles" (Rom. 1:23). The citizens of Babylon had rejected the knowledge of the true God.
Therefore, we should expect the creation of a false religion as part of their dubious cultural achievements. Again, the Bible speaks of "mystery Babylon," that is, of the reality symbolized by the earthly city, saying that it is "the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth" (Rev. 17:5). This refers, as do the ideas of prostitution and abomination throughout the Bible, to false religion.
There is evidence that this was the case historically. Morris notes, "The essential identity of the various gods and goddesses of Rome, Greece, India, Egypt, and other nations with the original pantheon of the Babylonians is well established. Nimrod himself was apparently later deified as the chief god ('Merodach' or 'Marduk') of Babylon.
Second, there is the description of the tower. Most of our translations speak of a tower that should "reach" to the heavens, but it is hard to think that even these people could have been foolish enough to suppose that they could do this literally. Or even if they did, it is hard to think of them as being foolish enough to build their tower on the plain of Shinar, that is, almost at sea level, when they could equally well have built it on the top of a nearby mountain and thus have begun with a few thousand feet head start. Actually, in the Hebrew text the words "to reach" do not occur. The text speaks of the top of the tower as "in," "on," "with," or "by" the heavens ,all four being possible translations of the one Hebrew preposition. This could mean that the top was dedicated to the heavens as a place of worship or even that it had a representation of the heavens (a zodiac) upon it.
“Representation of the heavens” is the real meaning, for the reason that astrology, which focuses on a study of the zodiac, originated in Babylon. Turn to any book on astrology and you will find that it was the Chaldeans (another name for the inhabitants of Babylon) who first developed the zodiac by dividing the sky into sections and giving meanings to each on the basis of the stars that are found there. A person's destiny is said to be determined by whatever section or "sign" he is born under.
From Babylon, astrology passed to the empire of ancient Egypt where it mingled with the native animism and polytheism of the Nile. The pyramids were constructed with certain mathematical relationships to the stars. The Sphinx has astrological significance. It has the head of a woman, symbolizing Virgo, the virgin, and the body of a lion, symbolizing Leo. Virgo is the first sign of the zodiac, Leo the last. So the Sphinx (which incidentally means "joining" in Greek) is the meeting point of the zodiac, indicating that the Egyptian priests believed the starting point of the earth in relation to the zodiac lay in Egypt, on the banks of the Nile.
By the time the Jews left Egypt for Canaan, astrology had infected the population there. Hence, some of the strictest warnings in the Bible against astrology date from this period (Lev. 19:31; Deut. 18). Still later, astrology entered the religious life of Rome.
The interesting thing about these biblical denunciations of astrology is that astrology is identified with demonism or Satanism in the sense that Satan and his hosts were actually being worshiped in the guise of the signs or planets. This is the reason for the Bible's denunciation of these practices. Are we to think, then, that Satan was entirely absent from the original attempt to build a civilization without God? I don't think so. Was then the religion of the tower actually a satanic attempt to direct worship of the human race to himself and those former angels who, having rebelled against God, were now already demons?
The tower in its lofty grandeur did symbolize the might and majesty of the true God of heaven, while its great temple would provide a center and an altar where men could offer their sacrifices and worship to Satan. The signs of zodiac would be emblazoned on the ornate ceiling and walls of the temple, signifying the great story of creation and redemption, as told by the antediluvian patriarchs. But God was not in this worship. Satan was. Thus, the forms of religion became increasingly debased, the worship of the devil and his became more noticeable. "From such beginning soon emerged the complex of human 'religion'--an evolutionary pantheism, promulgated system of astrology and idolatrous polytheism, empowered by occultism and demonism.
Satan is a great corrupter. It is possible that this system of religion was a version of an earlier, a true revelation of God's plan of redemption, being suggested seriously with considerable evidence that the formations of stars were originally named by God as a reminder of godly things, perhaps to the point of forecasting the coming of the great Deliverer who would crush the head of Satan.
How many Nimrods are there in the world today?
May The Lord bless us and show us how we can thank Him by helping our neighbors for the things He has done and is doing.
Give God all thanks and praise!
Thursday, November 24, 2011
THE STORY OF NOAH AND THE ARK
In those bad times God saw another good man. His name was Noah. Noah tried to do right in the sight of God. As Enoch had walked with God, so Noah walked with God, and talked with him. And Noah had three sons; their names were Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
God said to Noah, "The time has come when all the men and women on the earth are to be destroyed. Every one must die, because they are all wicked. But you and your family shall be saved, because you alone are trying to do right."
Then God told Noah how he might save his life and the lives of his sons. He was to build a very large boat, as large as the largest ships that are made in our time; very long, and very wide and very deep; with a roof over it; and made like a long, wide house, three stories; but built it so it would float on the water. Such a ship as this was called "an ark." God told Noah to build this ark, and to have it ready for the time when he would need it.
"For," said God to Noah, "I am going to bring a great flood of water on the earth to cover all the land and to drown all the people on the earth. And as the animals on the earth will be drowned with the people, you must make the ark large enough to hold a pair of each kind of unclean animals and seven pairs of clean animals that are needed by men; so that there will be animals as well as men to live upon the earth after the flood has passed away. And you must take in the ark food for yourself and your family, and for all the animals with you; enough food to last for a year, while the flood shall stay on the earth."
And Noah did what God told him to do, although it must have seemed very strange to all the people around, to build this great ark where there was no water for it to sail upon. And it was a long time, because this ship was so big, that Noah and his sons were at work building the ark, which God had told them to build, while the wicked people around wondered, and no doubt laughed at Noah for building a great ship where there was no sea.
At last the ark was finished, and stood like a great house on the land. There was a door on one side, and a window on the roof, to let in the light. Then God said to Noah: "Come into the ark, you and your wife, and your three sons, and their wives with them; for the flood of waters will come very soon. And take with you animals of all kinds, and birds, and things that will be needed by men so that all kinds of animals may be kept alive upon the earth."
So Noah and his wife, and his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, with their wives, went into the ark. And God brought to the door of the ark the animals, and the birds, and the creeping things of all kinds; and they went into the ark. And Noah and his sons put them in their places, and brought in food enough to feed them all for many days. And then the door of the ark was shut and no more people and no more animals could come in.
In a few days the rain began to fall, as it had never rained before. It seemed as though the heavens were opened to pour great floods upon the earth. The streams filled, and the rivers rose higher and higher, and the ark began to float on the water. The people left their houses and ran up to the hills; but soon the hills were covered, and all the people on them were drowned.
Some had climbed up to the tops of higher mountains, but the water rose higher and higher, until even the mountains were covered and all the people, wicked as they had been, were drowned in the great sea that now rolled over all the earth where man had lived. And all the animals, the tame animals, cattle, and sheep, and oxen, were drowned; and the wild animals, lions, and tigers, and all the rest were drowned also, except for those animals in the ark. Even the birds were drowned, for their nests in the trees were swept away, and there was no place where they could fly from the terrible storm. For forty days and nights the rain kept on, until there was no breath of life remaining outside of the ark.
The water rose higher and higher. After forty days the rain stopped, but the water stayed upon the earth for more than six months, and the ark with all that were in it floated over the great sea that covered the land. Then God sent a wind to blow over the waters, and to dry them up; so by degrees the waters grew less and less. First mountains rose above the waters, then the hills rose up, and finally the ark ceased to float and lay aground on a mountain which is called Mount Ararat.
But Noah could not see what had happened on the earth, because the door was shut, and the only window was up in the roof. But he felt that the ark was no longer moving, and he knew that the water must have gone down. So, after waiting for a time, Noah opened a window, and let loose a bird called a raven. Now the raven has strong wings; and this raven flew round and round until the waters had gone down, and it could find a place to rest, and it did not come back to the ark.
After Noah had waited for it awhile, he sent out a dove; but the dove could not find any place to rest, so it flew back to the ark, and Noah took it into the ark again. Then Noah waited a week longer, and afterward he sent out the dove again. And at the evening, the dove came back to the ark, which was its home; and in its bill was a fresh leaf which it had picked off from an olive tree.
So Noah knew that the water had gone down enough to let the trees grow again. He waited another week, and sent out the dove again; but this time the dove flew away and never came back. And Noah knew that the earth was becoming dry again. So he took off a part of the roof, and looked out, and saw that there was dry land all around the ark, and the waters were no longer everywhere.
Noah had now lived in the ark a little more than a year, and he was glad to see the green land and the trees once more. And God said to Noah: "Come out of the ark, with your wife, and your sons, and their wives, and all the living things that are with you in the ark."
So Noah opened the door of the ark, and with his family came out, and stood once more on the ground. And the animals, and birds, and creeping things in the ark, came out also, and began again to bring life to the earth.
The first thing that Noah did when he came out of the ark, was to give thanks to God for saving all his family when the rest of the people on the earth were destroyed. He built an altar, and laid upon it an offering to the Lord, and gave himself and his family to God and promised to do God's will.
And God was pleased with Noah's offering, and God said:
"I will not again destroy the earth by water on account of men, no matter how bad they may be. From this time no flood shall again cover the earth; but the seasons of spring and summer and fall and winter, shall remain without change. I give to you the earth; you shall be the rulers of the ground and of every living thing upon it."
Then God caused a rainbow to appear in the sky, and he told Noah and his sons that whenever they or the people after them should see the rainbow, they should remember that God had placed it in the sky and over the clouds as a sign of his promise, that he would always remember the earth, and the people upon it, and would never again send a flood to destroy man from the earth. So as often as we see the beautiful rainbow, we are to remember that it is the sign of God's promise to the world.
From both believers in God and non-believers, there have been many objections to the credibility of the story above. Also, there have been many attempts to concoct different versions of what might have really happened. In other words, many people don't believe God really meant what He tells us through the writings of Moses in the first 11 chapters of Genesis.
I believe that God said what He meant to say and that He revealed to us things that we can understand. I do not believe God gave us incorrect information in the Bible, especially in passages that seem very easy to understand what He said. The writings of Moses about Noah and the Flood are too simple to misunderstand.
I am convinced of the truthfulness of the story of Noah, because my Savior Jesus Christ believed it to be true. He said:
"But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." (Matthew 24:37-39).
The writer of Hebrews believed it--
"By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith." (Hebrews 11:7).
The Apostle Peter believed it--
"Who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water." (I Peter 3:20).
"And did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly." (II Peter 2:5).
Heavenly Father, so often times, as any other day when we sit down to our meal and pray. We hurry along and make fast the blessing, “Thanks, amen. Now please pass the dressing”. We’re slaves to the olfactory overload; we must rush our prayer before the food gets cold. But Lord, we’d like to take a few minute more to really give thanks to what we’re thankful for: For our family, our health, a nice soft bed, our friends, our freedom, a roof over our head. We’re thankful right now to be surrounded by those whose lives touch us more than they’ll ever possibly know. We’re Thankful Lord, that You’ve blessed us beyond measure; Thankful that in our heart lives life’s greatest treasure; that You, dear Jesus, reside in that place, and we’re ever so grateful for Your unending grace. So please, heavenly Father, bless this food You’ve provided today and bless each and every person invited. This we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen!
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