Thursday, January 09, 2014

Read the Bible in a Year (Day 3)

Today's Readings:
Genesis 7-9 TNIV ESV TEV

1. Genesis 7: According to the editors of the Life Application Bible, up to 45,000 animals could have fit into the ark, given its dimensions.

2. Of course, Noah didn't gather the animals. They came at the behest of God. The main actor in Scripture is God. The creation is the object of His actions, including His action of taking on human flesh and dying and rising so that all who believe in Christ may be saved by His grace. We can't confuse ourselves for God.

3. 7:2-4: Here we're told that seven pairs of clean animals were brought to the ark. This is a foreign concept to most of us. But for centuries, people in the Near East regarded some animals as being "clean" for sacrifice and others not. The Hebrew list of clean animals was, though, unique in that region.

The clean animals were probably not for use as sacrifices during the time in the ark. Seven pairs (seven implying perfection or completion, as in the seven days it took God to create the universe) would be a good start for breeding animals for use in sacrifices after the flood.

4. 8:7: Ravens historically have been used by sailors to determine where land may be. Once ravens find a spot to land, they won't return to the place from which they're released.

5. 8:9: The above point and this one come from The IVP Bible Background Commentary (Old Testament):
The dove and the pigeon have a limited ability for sustained flight. Thus navigators use them to determine the location of landing sites. As long as they return, no landing is in close range. The dove lives at lower elevations and requires plants for food.
6. 9:1-7: God makes clear that the murder of human beings, a consequence of the fall into sin, strikes at the very core of His intentions for His creation and for human beings, made to live in relationships of love for God and love for neighbor. Human beings are not to murder other human beings. Instead, human life is to be cherished and is to be allowed to flourish.

7. 9:8-17: God makes a covenant with the human race, promising never again to destroy it or its habitation in a flood. He makes the rainbow the sign and seal of this promise. The rainbow should remind us of this promise from God and of His desire that all people should know Him, believe in Him, and have life from Him.

8. 9:18-29. Scholars have disagreed as to what it means for Ham to have seen the nakedness of his father. At the least, it means that he saw his father in the same naked vulnerability that made Adam and Eve so self-conscious in the presence of God. The body was regarded with modesty.

9. The incident underscores a stubborn fact about humanity which brackets the narrative of the great flood. Genesis 6:5 tells us:
The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
This was God's verdict on the human race and the sinful inclination with which we are born before the flood.

But even after the flood, God renders the same verdict on the remains of the human race, those saved by His grace from the flood waters, Noah and his family. Genesis 8:21:
...[the Lord] said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of human beings, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood...
Nothing had changed about the human race. Real change comes to us only as we turn to the God we know in Jesus Christ. Even then, we are, until we die, saints and sinners, forgiven sinners, who struggle to endure in following Christ despite ourselves.  

Points to Ponder:
1. How might we protect others from having their vulnerabilities exposed or exploited? Why might this be a Christian thing to do?

2. If God could communicate to the animals to go to the ark, not to mention Noah, how might He communicate with us? Are we responsive? Why or why not? (Book recommendation: The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond by Bill Hybels.)

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