Series on Genesis, II God's family, B The Purification of the Family, Text: 6:9-8:22, Title: The First Baptism


In our last study we looked at conditions in the pre-flood world. Our text tonight covers the last hundred years before the flood and the flood itself.  I  have called this the first baptism because baptism is a sign of death to the old and the emergence of the new, and Peter refers to the flood as a symbol of baptism in I Peter 3:18-21 where he says concerning Jesus,  He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This would be the time during which Noah was building the ark. The Hebrew word translated ark is not the same word that was used to describe the ark of the covenant in the tabernacle in Moses’ time, but it is the same word that was used for the tiny ark of bulrushes that Moses’ mother used to save him from Pharoah. It means a floating box-like boat. It should not strike us as strange that Noah spent 100 years in preparing this boat. It was nearly the length of two football fields or 600 feet. Now we have built bigger passenger ships in the modern era. The Titanic was almost three football fields in length and the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth were both over a thousand feet in length. To give you a better idea, the ark was high enough to have 3 or four decks and each one would have been approximately an acre and a half. Noah didn't have much help. The crucial thing about this hundred years, however, is not the mammoth project but the conditions which prevailed during this time. The thing that has always amazed me about Noah is his perseverance! Consider with me the preparations the preservation and the purification.

I The Preparation

There are four observations we can make about the period of preparation for the flood on the basis of Scriptural commentary. it was a period of:

A Confrontation

Noah was an upright man because he walked with God, and God did not just make him a builder. II Peter 2:5 calls him a preacher of righteousness. I think there was another carpenter who was a preacher of righteousness, and he also spoke of the judgment to come. in Matthew 10 he says to his disciples that any town that rejects them will suffer worse consequences than Sodom and Gomorrah. To most people the idea that God would destroy the whole world is so appalling that they tend not to believe it. The reason for this is that they simply do not see the awfulness of sin, consequently this was also a period of condemnation.

B Condemnation

Hebrews 11 says that Noah when warned about things not seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family and so by his faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness which is by faith. Curiously Jesus righteousness also, condemned the world. Romans 8:3 states that God sent his son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering and so he condemned sin in sinful man. Do you know what a backfire is? It’s when you burn an area and put it between you and a rapidly advancing forest fire. The flames cannot reach you because you are standing where the fire has been!” What a picture of the believer, who is safe in Christ! “On him almighty vengeance fell, which would have sunk a world to hell.  He bore it for a chosen race, and thus becomes our hiding place.” The fires of God’s judgment burned themselves out on him, and all who are in Christ are safe forever, for they are now standing where the fire has been. It must be apparent already that the age in which we live is also an age of confrontation and condemnation. But it was also a time of compassion.

C Compassion

Yes, the days of Noah like this age were also days of compassion. In his first letter Peter talks about the spirits of the men who lived in Noah’s day disobeying even during the period while the ark was being built, and God, Peter says, in I Peter 3:20, was waiting patiently. Paul speaks of God as a God of patience or patient endurance in Romans 15:5. Genesis 6:3 tells us that God’s spirit was striving with man 120 years before the flood and the ark was being built as a witness.

D Continuation

In spite of the first three characteristics of Noah’s time men continued to rebel. People lived as if the situation was normal and there would be no end to their kind of lifestyle. Genesis 6:5 says, Every inclination of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually. in Matthew 24:37-39 Jesus reminds us that the day of final judgment, His return, will come upon men just like the flood. They are eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, business as usual.

II Preservation

Let us move then from the period of preparation to the preservation of life as described in 6:17 and 18, I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. It is appropriate to ask two questions at this juncture. What covenant was it that God established with the survivors? And why did he do it? The covenant was the covenant of grace, the same covenant God made with Adam and Eve and later promised to Abraham. Later in chapter 9 we will read about the sign of that covenant, the rainbow in the sky, but it is vital that we recognize that God had made a promise of a redeemer in Genesis 3:15. The covenant with Noah is what continues that same promise. Without this covenant the promise perishes. The fact that Noah stood in this relationship with God is illustrated at the end of chapter 8 in verses 20-22, Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.  21 The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. “As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” The offering evokes from God a promise. Now the offering itself is a whole burnt offering. That is, it is entirely consumed, and Moses tells us that the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma. This is the characteristic of the whole burnt offering according to Leviticus 1:9,13,17. The New Testament fulfillment is in Ephesians 5:1 and 2 and the offering speaks of God's justice being satisfied, Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. With respect to the world we might say God's justice is satisfied in its destruction, but with respect to Noah God must provide a righteousness that is not Noah’s own. This must be the righteousness of Christ, the seed of the woman. This leads to the second question, why Noah? The point is that Noah didn't deserve this. If you look at Noah after the flood it’s pretty discouraging.  In the words of R.C. Sproul, “the old man's drunk as a skunk and one of his sons Ham is having a knee slapping laugh over it.”  In other words the same sin that destroyed the race was in Noah's heart. The progression is clear. Noah found grace. God's grace produced a righteousness that believed God's word and made a difference in Noah's life but he was far from perfect and far from deserving. Within a few generations his descendants were building the Tower of Babel. The key is in the offering. It symbolizes God's gracious provision for Noah in spite of his sin.

III Purification

And so we come to the judgement itself. Shakespeare said, “Heaven is above all yet; there sits a judge that no king can corrupt. God’s mill grinds slow but sure.” Men today are no different than men before the flood. This scripture should teach us that the final judgment is inevitable. In spite of that II Peter 3 reminds us of those who scoff at the promises and threats and follow their evil ways. Concerning them Peter says in verses 5-7, They forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluges and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. Sometimes kids don’t want to take baths. did you know that in 1842 the first bathtub was denounced as a "luxurious and democratic vanity".  Boston made it unlawful to bathe, except on doctor's prescription. In 1843 Philadelphia made bathing illegal between November 1 and March 15. Many Christians have adopted a similar schedule of spiritual cleansing.  We would rather put up with the stench of our unconfessed sins than come clean before God! In the case of Noah’s world God had a solution. They refused to take a bath, so God gave them one. But the main reason for that first judgment by water was that it delayed, or forestalled man's wickedness. It did not eliminate it. The waters from above and below the earth erupted in forty days of rain, covering the whole earth as we read at the conclusion of the flood in 8:2, Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. For 150 days the earth was covered and every living thing on the face of the earth died except what was in the ark and the sea. It was a year before Noah could emerge. It was catastrophic. all evidence of the pre-flood world was removed as if it had never been. in chapter 7:4 God says he will destroy, Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made. This word means to wipe out as in wiping a dish clean, to erase, to blot out all remembrance. In Chapter 6:11 we are told the earth was corrupt, Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. The Hebrew word translated “wipe” is most often translated destroy and means that human life was fit only for destruction. The word translated violence is broader than our use of the term. We speak of violence on T.V, or on the streets, but this word means any violation of God's law. It is used in Ezekial 22:26 speaking of the faithless priests of Israel. God says they do violence to my law. The net effect is to say there wasn't anything good, nothing worth saving. This means that God's purpose in this judgment was to purify. That is, it was necessary in order for the human race to continue and the saving purposes of God to be unfolded and fulfilled. It reminds me of a passage in Isaiah, without which, I do not believe you can begin to grasp the awesome grace of God, Isaiah 43:2-4, When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.