Updated: Oct 21, 2019
“Every member of a family was puzzled over the mystery of a fern that would not grow. Sulking, seemingly, the plant refused to put out new stems. That there might be no injury from transplanting, it had been taken up carefully, and sheltered until it should have been well rooted. Everything in the way of plant food had been provided, but there it stood, no larger than when brought to the house, an awkward, ugly thing, in a mockingly large flowerpot. Then there arrived a guest who was a horticulturist. He forced a wire down into the earth about the fern's roots, and diagnosed the trouble at once. The plant had been set in stiff clay, and this had become packed hard. Reset in loose soil, the fern grew luxuriously. Even the flower of God's own planting cannot find root in a heart chocked by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life.”—Methodist Times.
As we continue into the book of Genesis, chapter 6, many of us are familiar with the story of Noah’s Ark. Really this is not a story about Noah’s Ark, but the complete and utter destruction of the world that chose sin over their Creator. Noah simply found grace in the eyes of the Lord in the midst of this wicked world. We are only going to summarize the story and highlight some key points here. There are several details about this story that are overlooked, especially in view of our study on being rooted.
Earlier in our lesson we made mention of a seed bank in Svalbard where in frigid temperatures they are housing thousands upon thousands of our worlds crops in seed form so that in the event of a catastrophe, the world could continue to grow the crops needed to provide food for its people. This seed bank ironically has taken on the name, “Noah’s Ark”. Even the world understood the purpose of saving Noah and his family along with every kind of animal on the Ark. You have to have seeds for life to continue in the midst of a catastrophe. And the world was about to experience total annihilation.
In Genesis 6, the people have done as God commanded and multiplied. The issue was that they were not rooted in the Lord and the world had now reached a place where the thoughts of men’s hearts were evil continually. The Lord was very sorry that he had made man (Gen. 6:5-6). God began to unfold his plan to wipe out all living things that had been corrupted upon the earth (Gen. 6:7). But the Bible reveals that Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord because he was a righteous man that walked with God (Gen. 6:8-9).
When we read about Noah’s Ark, what we really have before us is a seed bank that God prepared prior to the catastrophe of the flood. God made certain to give Noah time to build a large vessel that could house not only him and his wife, but also his sons and their wives along with all of the various kinds of animals, both male and female. This was critical if life was going to continue after the flood. God gave specific instructions to Noah about the Ark and the last verse of the chapter reads, “Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.” (Gen. 6:22). God tells Noah in Genesis 7 to get in the Ark and to bring into it all that was commanded and again the text says, “Noah did according to all that the Lord had commanded him.” (Gen. 7:5). After the flood came, the text confirms, “of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died.” (Gen. 7:22)
The rain fell for forty days and forty nights and the waters of the deep also contributed to the water levels climbing above the highest mountain, covering its tallest peaks by 15 cubits. Everything was under water. Then for 150 days every living thing died off in the depths of the water except for those preserved in the Ark. Eventually we learn that the Ark came to rest on Mt. Ararat. (Gen. 8:4) The Lord sent a wind and the waters steadily decrease from the land and Noah decides to send out a few birds to see if they could find a resting place. While the raven did not return, one of the doves returned to the ark finding no place to rest its foot. After seven more days another dove was sent out and this time the dove returned with a freshly picked olive leaf in its mouth, which tells us that plant and tree life had sprung up again. The conditions for their growth were right (light, soil and water). Noah brought the dove back into the Ark. After seven more days, the dove was sent out again, but this time it never returned, meaning that it had a sufficient environment in which to survive outside of the Ark (Gen. 8:12).
Allow me to remind us that this class is about being rooted and that we do have a valid reason to be working our way through this portion of Genesis. If you recall, God said that there would be enmity between the seed of woman and the seed of the serpent of old. Here we see where the influences of evil had become so rampant that the early world was due for a cleansing in a rather short period of time. God now releases the seed into the earth again giving a command, “Go out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and your sons wives with you, Bring out every living thing of all flesh that is with you, birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly on the earth and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” (Gen. 8:16-19)
What do you think happened next? Noah did as God commanded and began to worship the Lord with burnt offerings of clean animals and birds. So the Lord smelled the aroma and promised, “I will never again curse the ground (as he did with Adam and Cai) on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.” This context brings us back to where we began where the text reads, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter and day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:20-22).
Then in a Garden of Eden type of language, God tells man what he can and cannot eat and sets up the new boundaries for the covenant that he is going to make with Noah. We are to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 9:1). We will have dominion and cause fear in all animals (Gen. 9:2). We are free to eat all of the animals along with the green plants, as long as we don’t eat any animals with the blood in it (Gen. 9:3-4). Then God established the covenant with Noah and his sons and all of the living things by putting a rainbow in the sky and every time that He saw it, He would be reminded that the earth will never again be flooded with water (Gen. 9:11-13). So between the three sons of Noah the entire earth was populated again with human kind (Gen. 9:19).
Without going into great detail, and this will not come as a surprise to most of you, but we do sin again. The righteous man Noah began farming and planted a vineyard and when it had produced grapes, he made wine and got drunk (Gen. 9:20-21). He was then seen naked by his son Ham (if you remember the scene this is how Adam and Eve were found by God after sinning). Shem and Japheth walk backwards with a covering so that they don’t see their father naked. So Noah’s sin was covered by the two sons (which reminds us of how God clothed Adam and Eve in the garden with skins). While God doesn’t issue a curse here, Noah does once he recovered from his drunkenness (Gen. 9:24-29).
Genesis Chapter 10 is another genealogy, which we discussed earlier was a family tree where every time you saw a name you could think of what word? The word was “seed”. As most of you know chapter 11 tells the story of the tower of Babel, and time does not allow us to say much about the story, other than when the people migrated and moved further east, they decided to build a tower and make a name for themselves. They were going to reach heaven and with them all speaking the same language, nothing would be impossible to them. The Lord came down and visited their tower city and caused them to speak different languages and sent them away. This is where we get the idea of Babel talk where we might say to someone, “Stop babbling”. So the people quit building and were scattered to other places with those that spoke their languages and from there we have the various nations that exist to this day. This explains the current language barriers that we find throughout the world. This is where the multiplicity of people come from in every nation across the globe. The Lord wanted the people to fill the earth, not just one place. Chapter 11 finishes with another genealogy and we are introduced to a man named Abram, the son of Terah. This is where our journey in Genesis will end as we examine Abram.
This has been our aim all along in our walk through Genesis, to get to the promises made to Abram. He was to move away from his country and God would show him a land to which he should go. God was going to use the seed of Abram, soon to be Abraham (the father of many nations) to bless all of the nations of the earth (Gen 12:3). So Abraham went as God commanded, not knowing where he was going, and trusted God to fulfill the promises. Without going into all of the details, due to time restraints, and the fact that we have illustrated the pattern over and over again, Abram worshiped God calling on the name of the Lord (Gen 12:8; 13:4). Once they arrived, Abram eventually allowed Lot, who was traveling with him to choose in the Jordan Valley where he wanted to settle and Abram would settle for the other half of the land. They could not dwell together because of the abundance of their possessions. Abram received Caanan and Lot took the valley where there were cities in Sodom. The key text is in Genesis 13:14-16, “The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered.” This was not a pronouncement of death in making them like dust as in the curse of the Garden of Eden, but an announcement of blessing in multiplying the children of Abram (Abraham) greatly. So Abram settled by the oaks of Mamre and built an altar to the Lord. (Gen. 13:18).
Next, in Genesis 17, we read, “Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly.’ Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, ‘As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you will be the father of a multitude of nations. ‘ No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojourning, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." The sign of this covenant was not a rainbow, but was circumcision. In order to be under the blessings of God through Abraham you had to remove the foreskin from every male child on the eight day after birth. Then God promises that Sarai, whose name was changed to Sarah, would give them a son in her old age and he would be the seed that would start a lineage ultimately leading to a blessing for all of the nations. Eventually, Isaac would be born to Sarah and Abraham, and he was the child of promise. Abraham’s faith was tested in both the birth of Ishmael that was born through Hagar but also in the command to take his son by Sarah and make the child of promise, Isaac, a sacrifice. Abraham’s faith was stellar in God’s eyes and He did not allow him to take the life of Isaac but an angel stopped him and provided a ram caught in the bush near the makeshift altar at Mt. Moriah (Gen. 22:1-3). This is symbolic of how God would eventually provide the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world and allow us to live in His promises. Abraham’s faith was counted as righteousness and the seed was protected through which all families of the earth would be blessed (Hebrews 11:8-19)
So, why have we spent so much time building this huge foundation for the class on being rooted in Christ? Why have we covered the first 22 chapters of Genesis to study what the New Testament teaches about being grounded in the Lord? How does this help us in the process of growing in Him? We will discuss this in our next lesson.