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Meza ya Bwana na Krismasi

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Nilipokuwa nasoma chuoni, nilikuwa na kazi mbili ambazo nilikuwa nazifanya ili kujipatia kipato. Moja ilikuwa ni kufanya kazi katika karakana ya magari, na nyingine ilikuwa ni kuuza barafu kutoka kampuni ya Maziwa, mkabala tu na pale kwenye kazi ya kwanza. Kwa kweli niliuza barafu zilizoganda za maziwa, zenye vijiti na zilizo na chokoleti. Niliendesha kigari kilichofungiwa jokofu kwa nyuma. Nilikuwa nimekaa mbele na milango miwili imefunguliwa, watoto walinifuata kwa hamu na wakati mwingine mbwa wa jirani ambao hawakuwa rafiki sana.

Tatizo lililojitokeza ni kwamba ratiba yangu kule kwenye karakana iligongana na ile kule kwenye kampuni ya maziwa. Kwa kuwa baba yangu hakuwa na ufundi katika magari, alinisaidia kwenda kuuza barafu. Sasa uelewe kwamba baba yangu alikuwa ni Mkurugenzi wa shule ya msingi na pia ni mwalimu. Kwa kweli huu ni unyenyekevu wa pekee kuendesha kile kigari cha barafu na kuzunguka nacho huko mjini, akiwauzia watoto barafu huku akiwafukuza mbwa waliokuwa wakimfuata.

Siku moja naona baba alinyenyekea sana. Mwanamke mmoja alikuja kununua barafu na alipokaribia kile kigari, alimtambua baba yangu. Alishangaa sana na baba naye alimtambua vizuri – alikuwa ni mke wa mjumbe wa bodi ya ile shule. Kwa bahati, baba alimwelewa na haraka alimwambia, “Hivi unaweza ukamsaidia mtoto akiwa chuoni?”

Unaweza ukashangaa kwamba simulizi hii inahusianaje na meza ya Bwana, au kurudi kwa Bwana wetu, ambako huwa tunakusherehekea wakati wa Krismasi. Nadhani nitakuelezea jinsi yanavyohusiana katika mafundisho haya.

Kuna baadhi ya watu wanaoamini kwamba vifaa – yaani mkate na mvinyo (au divai) – tunavyovitumia wakati wa meza ya Bwana, ni zaidi ya vitu tu. Wanaamini kwamba kwa njia fulani ya kimiujiza kwamba mkate na mvinyo hubadilika na kuwa mwili na damu ya Bwana wetu. Najaribu kuwaza kwamba kama sivyo, hivi ni vitu tu vya kawaida vya kutumia. Kwa upande mwingine tunaamini kuwa mkate na mvinyo ni alama tu. Naomba niseme tu kwamba hizi alama ni za muhimu sana na zina maana kubwa, kama tu tukizielewa.

Kimsingi nitajikita kwenye mkate, ambao tunautumia kwenye meza ya Bwana, kwa sababu ninaamini kwamba unawakilisha Bwana wetu kufanyika mwili. Ningependa kukufahamisha namna mbili ambazo ule mkate wa meza ya Bwana ni alama ya kurudi kwa Bwana wetu Yesu Kristo. Kwanza, ni alama ya kwamba Bwana wetu alizaliwa bila dhambi. Hakuna mtu mwingine katika historia mwenye hiyo sifa, hakuna, hata mtu mkubwa kama mfalme Daudi. Ni Daudi ndiye aliyeandika,

Tazama, mimi naliumbwa katika hali ya uovu, mama yangu alinichukua mimba hatiani (Zaburi 51:5).1

Na bado Bwana wetu angeweza kusema.

“Ni nani miongoni mwenu anishuhudiaye ya kuwa nina dhambi? Nami nikisema kweli mbona ninyi hamnisadiki?” (Yohana 8:46, msisitizo ni wa kwangu)

Kuna sababu ya muhimu sana  kwamba kwa nini Bwana awe hana dhambi. Mtakumbuka kwamba katika Agano la Kale Wayahudi waliagizwa watoe dhabihu za wanyama wale tu ambao walikuwa “hawana ila wala waa”.

17Bwana akanena na Musa, na kumwambia, 18Nena na Haruni na wanawe, na wana wa Israeli wote, uwaambie, ‘Mtu yeyote wa nyumba ya Israeli, au wageni walio katika Israeli, atakayetoa matoleo yake, kama ni nadhiri zao mmojawapo, au kama ni sadaka yoyote ya hiari, watakayomtolea Bwana kuwa sadaka ya kuteketezwa; 19ili mpate kukubaliwa, mtaleta mume mkamilifu, katika ng’ombe, au katika kondoo, au katika mbuzi. 20Lakini mnyama yeyote aliye na kilema msimtoe; kwa kuwa hatakubaliwa kwa ajili yenu. 21Na mtu awaye yote atakayemtolea Bwana dhabihu katika zaka za amani, ili kuondoa nadhiri, au sadaka ya moyo wa kupenda, katika ng’ombe, au katika kondoo, atakuwa mkamilifu, apate kukubaliwa; pasiwe na kilema ndani yake chochote. 22Kipofu au aliyevunjika mahali, au kiwete, au aliye na vidonda, au aliye na upele, au aliye na kikoko, hamtamtolea Bwana wanyama hao, wala msiwasongeze kwa Bwana kwa njia ya moto juu ya madhabahu.” (Walawi 22:17-22, msisitizo ni wa kwangu)2

Mwana kondoo wa Pasaka alipaswa kuwa hana ila (Kutoka 12:5), na hii ilikuwa ni taswira halisi ya Masihi (Yesu) ambaye alikuwa anakuja baadaye.

18Nanyi mfahamu kwamba mlikombolewa si kwa vitu viharibikavyo, kwa fedha au dhahabu; 19bali kwa damu ya thamani, kama ya mwana-kondoo asiye na ila, asiye na waa, yaani ya Kristo. (1 Petro 1:18-19, msisitizo ni wangu)  

Yesu hakuzaliwa akiwa na asili ya dhambi, kama jinsi tulivyokuwa sisi. Alizaliwa akiwa hana dhambi ya aina yoyote. Shetani alijaribu kwa kila njia kumtia Bwana wetu majaribuni ili atende dhambi, lakini alishindwa, na Bwana wetu alimshinda (Mathayo 4:1-11; Luka 4:1-12). Yesu hakuwa na dhambi na ndio maana aliweza kuchukua dhambi yetu mwilini mwake, akabeba adhabu iliyotustahili sisi, na akawa ni wokovu kwa wote watakaomwamini:

4Hakika ameyachukua masikitiko yetu, amejivika huzuni zetu
Lakini tulimdhania ya kuwa amepigwa, amepigwa na Mungu, na kuteswa,
5Bali alijeruhiwa kwa makosa yetu, alichubuliwa kwa maovu yetu;
Adhabu ya amani yetu ilikuwa juu yake, na kwa kupigwa kwake sisi tumepona.
6Sisi sote kama kondoo tumepotea;
Kila mmoja wetu amegeukia njia yake mwenyewe;
Na Bwana ameweka juu yake maovu yetu sisi sote.
7Alionewa lakini alinyenyekea, wala hakufunua kinywa chake;
Kama mwana-kondoo apelekwaye machinjoni, na kama vile kondoo anyamazavyo
Mbele yao wakatao manyoya yake; naam hakufunua kinywa chake.
8Kwa kuonewa na kuhukumiwa aliondolewa;
Na maisha yake ni nani atakayesimulia?
Maana amekatiliwa mbali na nchi ya walio hai;
Alipigwa kwa sababu ya makosa ya watu wangu.
9Wakamfanyia kaburi pamoja na wabaya;
Na pamoja na matajiri katika kufa kwake;
Ingawa hakutenda jeuri, wala hapakuwa na ila kinywa kinywani mwake.
10Lakini Bwana aliridhika kumchubua; amemhuzunisha;
Utakapofanya nafsi yake kuwa dhabihu kwa dhambi,
Ataona uzao wake ataishi siku nyingi,
Na mapenzi ya Bwana yatafanikiwa mkononi mwake;
11Ataona mazao ya taabu ya nafsi yake, na kuridhika.
Kwa maarifa yake mtumishi wangu mwenye haki,
Atawafanya wengi kuwa wenye haki; naye atayachukua maovu yao.
12Kwa hiyo nitamgawia sehemu pamoja na wakuu,
Naye atagawanya nyara pamoja nao walio hodari;
Kwa sababu alimwaga nafsi yake hata kufa,
Akahesabiwa pamoja na wakosao.
Walakini Alichukua dhambi za watu wengi,
Na kuwaombea wakosaji.” (Isaya 53:4-12)

Mtume Paulo analiweka hivi:

17Hata imekuwa, mtu akiwa ndani ya Kristo, amekuwa kiumbe kipya; ya kale yamepita – tazama, yote yamekuwa mapya! 18Lakini vyote pia vyatokana na Mungu, aliyetupatanisha sisi na nafsi yake kwa Kristo, naye alitupa huduma ya upatanisho; 19yaani Mungu alikuwa ndani ya Kristo, akiupatanisha ulimwengu na nafsi yake, asiwahesabie makosa yao; naye ameweka ndani yetu huduma ya upatanisho. 20Basi tu wajumbe kwa ajili ya Kristo, kama kwamba Mungu anasihi kwa vinywa vyetu; twawaomba ninyi kwa ajili ya Kristo mpatanishwe na Mungu. 21Yeye asiyejua dhambi alimfanya kuwa dhambi kwa ajili yetu, ili sisi tupate kuwa haki ya Mungu katika Yeye (2 Wakorintho 5:17-21, msisitizo ni wangu).

Mwandishi wa kitabu cha Waebrania aliandika:

11Lakini Kristo akiisha kuja, aliye Kuhani mkuu wa mambo mema yatakayokuwapo, kwa hema iliyo kubwa na kamilifu zaidi, isiyofanyika kwa mikono, maana yake, isiyo ya ulimwengu huu,  12wala si kwa damu ya mbuzi na ndama, bali kwa damu yake mwenyewe aliingia mara moja tu katika Patakatifu, akiisha kufanya ukombozi wa milele. 13Kwa maana, ikiwa damu ya mbuzi na mafahali na majivu ya ndama ya ng’ombe waliyonyunyiziwa wenye uchafu hutakasa na kuusafisha mwili; 14basi si zaidi damu yake Kristo, ambaye kwamba kwa Roho wa milele alijitoa nafsi yake kwa Mungu kuwa sadaka isiyo na mawaa, itawasafisha dhamiri zenu na matendo mafu, mpate kumwabudu Mungu aliye hai? (Waebrania 9:11-14, msisitizo ni wangu)

Yakobo anatukumbusha kwamba Mungu hawezi kujaribiwa na dhambi. Kwa kuwa Bwana wetu Yesu ni Mungu, hawezi kujaribiwa na dhambi:

Mtu ajaribiwapo asiseme, “Ninajaribiwa ma Mungu,” maana Mungu hawezi kujaribiwa na maovu, wala yeye mwenyewe hamjaribu mtu (Yakobo 1:13, msisitizo ni wa kwangu).

Mtume Petro anasisitiza kuwa Bwana wetu Yesu Kristo hana dhambi, hali iliyomfanya aweze kutufia, akachukua adhabu ya dhambi zetu:

21 Kwa sababu ndio mlioitiwa, maana Kristo naye aliteswa kwa ajili yenu, akawaachia kielelezo, mfuate nyayo zake. 22 Yeye hakutenda dhambi wala hila haikuonekana kinywani mwake. 23 Yeye alipotukana hakurudisha matukano; alipoteswa hakuogofya; bali alijikabidhi kwake yeye ahukumuye kwa haki. 24 Yeye mwenyewe alizichukua dhambi zetu katika mwili wake juu ya mti; ili tukiwa wafu kwa mambo ya dhambi, tuwe hai kwa mambo ya haki; na kwa kupigwa kwake mliponywa. 25 Kwa maana mlikuwa mnapotea kama kondoo; lakini mmemrudia Mchungaji na Mwangalizi wa roho zenu (1 Petro 2:21-25).

Tunaposhiriki Meza ya Bwana, mkate tunaoutumia ni mkate usiotiwa chachu. Hauna hamira kabisa maana hamira ni alama ya dhambi. Katika hili Mtume Paulo aliandika:

6Kujisifu kwenu si kuzuri. Hamjui kwamba chachu kidogo hulichachua donge zima? 7Basi, jisafisheni, mkatoe ile chachu ya kale, mpate kuwa donge jipya, kama vile mlivyo hamkutiwa chachu. Kwa maana Pasaka wetu amekwisha kutolewa kuwa sadaka, yaani, Kristo; 8basi na tuifanye karamu, si kwa chachu ya kale, wala kwa chachu ya uovu na ubaya, bali kwa yasiyochachika, ndio weupe wa moyo na kweli (1 Wakorintho 5:6-8).

Baada ya kusherehekea Pasaka (wakati kondoo wa Pasaka alipochinjwa na kuliwa), Karamu ya Mikate isiyochachwa ilianza na ilidumu kwa wiki moja. Familia za kiyahudi hutafuta katika nyumba yote ili kuona kama kuna hamira au chachu yoyote na kisha kuitoa nje. Dhabihu ya mwana-kondoo wa Pasaka ilikusudiwa kuondoa chachu. Paulo anatumia alama hii anapoelezea uchafu katika maisha ambao ulikuwa ukifanywa—katika kanisa la Korintho. Paulo anawakumbusha wao na sisi kwamba Yesu alikuwa ni Mwana-kondoo wa Pasaka, na kwa kuwa alikwishatolewa, tusiendelee kukumbatia dhambi. Kristo hakuwa na dhambi, na alikufa kwa ajili ya dhambi zetu. Kwa hiyo inatupasa kuondokana na dhambi kwa sababu ya Yesu.

Kutokana na hili tunapaswa kumtambua Masihi (Yesu) anatakiwa awe hana dhambi, ili aweze kufa kwa ajili ya wengine, na sio kufa kwa ajili ya dhambi zake mwenyewe. Kwa njia, hii Mungu anaweza kutusamehe dhambi zetu kwa msingi wa kile Yesu alichofanya kwa ajili yetu. Lakini ni kwa vipi Yesu anaweza kuja ulimwenguni huku bila dhambi, ilhali kila mtu aliyezaliwa alizaliwa na dhambi? Hii ndio maana alizaliwa na bikira. Kusherehekea kwetu Krismasi kunatukumbusha jinsi Yesu alivyoweza kuja humu duniani akiwa Mungu na pia akiwa ni mwanadamu lakini akiwa hana dhambi. Mariamu alikuwa ni mama yake Yesu lakini Yusufu alikuwa sio baba yake. Roho Mtakatifu ndiye aliyemfanya Mariamu kuwa mjamzito. Kuzaliwa na bikira kulimaanisha kuwa Yesu alizaliwa akiwa hana dhambi. Hii ilimaanisha kuwa ni Yeye tu, na ni Yeye pekee ambaye angeweza kuwa Masihi. Aliweza kufa kwa ajili ya dhambi zetu kwa sababu hakuwa na dhambi za kwake.

Tunapoushiriki mkate katika Meza ya Bwana, tunapaswa kukumbuka uzao wa bikira aliozaliwa nao Bwana wetu na kwamba Yesu hakuwa na dhambi. Yeye alikuwa ni “Mwana-kondoo wa Mungu asiye na waa,” na kwa sababu hii, aliweza kufa msalabani, akaimwaga damu yake ya thamani kwa ajili ya dhambi zetu. Bila hali ya kutokuwa na dhambi ya Yesu, ambayo alama yake ni mkate, kifo chake kungekuwa hakina thamani kwetu. Kwa hiyo habari ya Krismas ni muhimu kwa ajili ya wokovu wetu, na kwa Meza ya Bwana, ambayo inasherehekea wokovu ambao Mungu aliutoa kwa ajili yetu ndani ya Yesu.

Mkate ni alama ya kitu kingine, ninavyoamini. Ni alama ya unyenyekevu wa Yesu kuja duniani kama mwanadamu. Sehemu nyingi duniani, mkate ni chakula cha msingi sana. Waisraeli walipokuwa jangwani kwa miaka arobaini, Mungu aliwalisha kwa mana (mkate) na maji. Ndio maana Waisraeli walilalamika kwamba Mungu aliwapa mana ambayo ilikosa ladha na wakatamani kama wangepata kitu kingine ambacho kilikuwa na kadha nzuri zaidi:

4 Kisha mkutano wa wafuasi waliokuwa kati yao, wakashikwa na tamaa; wana wa Israeli nao wakalia tena wakasema, “Ni nani atakayetupa nyama tule? 5 Tunakumbuka samaki tuliokula huko Misri bure; na yale matango, na matikiti, na mboga, na vitumguu, na vitunguu saumu; 6lakini sasa roho zetu zimekauka; hapana kitu chochote; hakuna kitu cha kutumaini isipokuwa hii mana tu! (Hesabu 11:4-6)

Kulipokuwa na njaa kali katika nchi ya Israeli, Mungu alimtuma Eliya kuishi na mjane wa watu wa mataifa akiwa na mwanaye. Eliya aliwaendea wakiwa wanajiandaa kula mlo wao wa mwisho—ambao ni mkate mdogo na maji:

8 Neno la Bwana likanijia kusema, 9 “Ondoka uende Sarepta, ulio mji wa Sidoni, ukae huko. Tazama, nimemwagiza mwanamke mjane wa huko akulishe.” 10 Basi akaondoka, akienda Sarepta; hata alipofika langoni pa mji kumbe! Mwanamke mjane alikuwako akiokota kuni; akamwita akamwambia, “Niletee nakuomba, maji kidogo chomboni nipate kunywa.” 11Alipokuwa akienda kuleta, akamwita akasema, “Niletee, nakuomba, kipande cha mkate mkononi mwako,” 12 Naye akasema, “Kama Bwana, Mungu wako, aishivyo, sina mkate, ila konzi ya unga katika pipa, na mafuta kidogo katika chombo. Nami ninaokota kuni mbili niingie nijipikie nafsi yangu na mwanangu; tuule tukafe.” 13 Eliya akamwambia, “Usiogope; enenda ukafanye kama ulivyosema; lakini unifanyie kwanza mkate mdogo ukaniletee; kisha ujifanyie nafsi yako na mwanao. 14 Kwa kuwa Bwana, Mungu wa Israeli asema hivi, ‘Lile pipa la unga halitapunguka, wala ile chupa ya mafuta haitaisha, hata siku ile Bwana atakapoleta mvua juu ya nchi.’” 15 Basi akienda, akafanya kama alivyosema Eliya; na yeye mwenyewe, na Eliya, na nyumba yake, wakala siku nyingi. 16Lile pipa la unga halikupunguka, wala ile chupa ya mafuta haikuisha, sawasawa na neno la Bwana alilolinena kwa kinywa cha Eliya (1 Wafalme 17:8-16).

Hakuna chakula kilichokuwa rahisi na ambacho kinaweza kuitwa mlo kuliko mkate na maji. Kumbuka kwamba huu ulikuwa ni mkate usiochachwa. Hatuongelei maandazi au kalimati; tunaongelea kitu kama chapati za kusukuma. Ni kwa nini Mungu alichagua mkate – ambacho ni mlo rahisi kuwakilisha kuja kwa Mungu katika mwili wa kibinadamu, katika kutuokoa kutoka katika dhambi zetu? Naamini kwamba mkate ni alama ya unyenyekevu wa Bwana wetu. Isaya aliposema juu ya Masihi anayekuja, alimzungumzia Mtu ambaye hataangaliwa kama binadamu asiye wa kawaida, bali kama Mtu ambaye angepuuzwa kama ambaye sio wa muhimu:

1 Ni nani aliyesadiki habari tuliyoileta? Na mkono wa Bwana amefunuliwa nani? 2 Maana alikuwa mbele zake kama mche mwororo, na kama mzizi katika nchi kavu; yeye hana umbo wala uzuri; na tumwonapo hana uzuri hata tumtamani,  3Alidharauliwa na kukataliwa na watu; mtu wa huzuni nyingi, ajuaye sikitiko; na kama mtu ambaye watu humficha nyuso zao, alidharauliwa wala hatukumhesabu kuwa kitu (Isaya 53:1-3 msisitizo ni wangu).

Mika, aliyehudumu wakati wa Isaya, alisema juu ya mahali pa kuzaliwa Masihi kama sio muhimu:

2 Bali wewe Bethlehemu Efrata, uliye mdogo kuwa miongoni mwa elfu za Yuda; kutoka kwako wewe atanitokea mmoja atakayekuwa mtawala katika Israeli; ambaye matokeo yake yamekuwa tangu zamani za kale, tangu milele. 3 Kwa sababu hiyo atawatoa, hata wakati wa kuzaa kwake aliye na utungu; ndipo hayo mabaki ya nduguze watawarudia wana wa Israeli. 4 Naye atasimama, na kulisha kundi lake kwa nguvu za Bwana, kwa enzi ya jina la Bwana, Mungu wake; nao watakaa; maana sasa atakuwa mkuu hata miisho ya dunia (Mika 5:2-4, mkazo ni wangu).

Yesu alizaliwa katika mji usio maarufu kama Bethlehemu, na sio Yerusalemu. Alipokuwa akikua, Yesu aliishi Nazareth, mji ambao hawatokei watu maarufu:

19 Hata alipofariki Herode, tazama, malaika wa Bwana alimtokea Yusufu katika ndoto huko Misri, 20 akasema, “Ondoka, umchukue mtoto na mamaye, ushike njia kwenda nchi ya Israeli; kwa maana wamekufa walioitafuta roho ya mtoto.” 21 Akaondoka akamchukua mtoto na mamaye, akafika nchi ya Israeli. 22 Lakini aliposikia ya kwamba Arkelao anamiliki huko Uyahudi mahali pa Herode babaye, aliogopa kwenda huko; naye akiisha kuonywa katika ndoto, akasafiri pande za Galilaya, 23 akaenda akakaa katika mji ulioitwa Nazareti; ili litimie neno lililonenwa na manabii, Ataitwa Mnazorayo. (Mathayo 2:19-23, msisitizo ni wangu)

Yesu alipoanza huduma yake hadharani, Filipo alimwona Nathanaeli na kumwambia kuwa wamemwona Masihi. Tatizo lilikuwa kwamba Yesu alikuwa Mnazorayo, na Nathanaeli haikuweza kuamini kwamba Masihi anaweza kutokea sehemu ya kawaida kama hiyo:

44 (Naye Filipo alitokea Bethsaida, ambao ni mji wa Andrea na Petro.) 45 Filipo akamwona Nathanaeli, akamwambia, “Tumemwona yeye aliyeandikiwa na Musa katika torati, na manabii, -- Yesu mwana wa Yusufu, mtu wa Nazareth.” 46 Nathanaeli akamwambia, “Laweza neno jema kutoka Nazareti?” Filipo akamwambia, “Njoo uone” (Yohana 1:44-46, mkazo ni wangu).

Katika maandiko hapa chini kwa Wafilipi, Mtume Paulo anakaza juu ya unyenyekevu wa Bwana wetu kuja duniani:

4 Kila mtu asiangalie mambo yake mwenyewe, bali kila mtu aangalie mambo ya wengine. 5 Iweni na nia iyo hiyo ndani yenu ambayo ilikuwamo pia ndani ya Kristo Yesu; 6 ambaye yeye mwanzo alikuwa yuna namna ya Mungu, naye hakuona kule kuwa sawa na Mungu kuwa ni kitu cha kushikamana nacho; 7 bali alijifanya kuwa hana utukufu, akatwaa namna ya mtumwa, akawa ana mfano wa wanadamu; 8 tena alipoonekana ana umbo kama mwanadamu, alijinyenyekeza akawa mtii hata mauti, naam mauti ya msalaba! (Wafilipi 2:4-8)

Katika maombi yake kama Kuhani mkuu kwenye Yohana 17, Mwana wetu alizungumzia utukufu aliokuwa nao na Baba kule mbinguni kabla ya kuja duniani (hata kabla dunia haijakuwepo).

4Mimi nimekutukuza duniani, hali nimeimaliza ile kazi uliyonipa nifanye. 5 Na sasa, Baba, unitukuze mimi pamoja nawe, kwa utukufu ule niliokuwa nao pamoja nawe kabla ya ulimwengu kuwako. 6 Jina lako nimewadhihirishia watu wale ulionipa katika ulimwengu; walikuwa wako, ukanipa mimi, na neno lako wamelishika. (Yohana 17:4-6 mkazo ni wangu)

Hebu fikiria, Mwana wa Mungu anauacha utukufu wa mbinguni na anakuja kuishi katika hii dunia iliyojazwa na dhambi, anadharauliwa na watu, na hatimaye anasulubiwa kama mhalifu! Krismasi inahusu Mungu Mwana kujinyenyekeza na kuja duniani kama mwanadamu. Alikuja, sio kama tajiri mwenye nguvu, bali kama mtoto katika hali ya umaskini. Unyenyekevu wa mwisho ulikuwa ni mateso na aibu katika mikono ya watu wenye dhambi walipomsulubisha kama mhalifu, mhalifu mbaya kuliko Baraba, mwizi, mchochezi na mwuaji.

Nilianza ujumbe huu kwa kisa cha baba yangu aliyejinyenyekeza hadi kufikia kuendesha kigari cha kuuzia barafu. Alilofanya hili kwa ajili yangu, kwa kuwa mimi ni mtoto wake. Yesu naye alijinyenyekeza kiasi cha kuiacha mbingu na kuja duniani kama mwanadamu – mwanadamu asiye na faida – akafa msalabani Kalvari kama mhalifu, badala yangu. Alilofanya hili kwa ajili yangu mimi na wewe ili tuweze kufanyika watoto Wake. Kwa wakati ule tulikuwa ni maadui zake, lakini akajinyenyekeza, akabeba dhambi zetu, na kufa badala yetu, ili tuweze kupokea msamaha wa dhambi na karama ya uzima wa milele.

Hatuwezi kushiriki meza ya Bwana bila kusherehekea habari ya Krismasi. Kwa hiyo hatusherehekei Krismasi mara moja kwa mwaka, ila ni kila wakati tunaposhiriki Meza ya Bwana.

Tunaposhiriki meza ya Bwana, vifaa vinapitishwa ambavyo ni mkate na kikombe mbele yetu. Ni lazima tuamue kuchukua mkate na kunywe mvinyo. Hizi ni alama tu kwa hiyo inatupasa kuamua kuwa tunaipokea kazi ya Yesu Kristo pale msalabani kwa niaba yetu. Je, tunamwamini Yeye kama mwana wa Mungu aliyekuja duniani katika mwili wa mwanadamu? Je, tunaamini kwamba alizaliwa na bikira kwa kazi ya Roho Mtakatifu, na kwa hiyo hakuchanganyikana na dhambi? Je, tunaamini kwamba, damu aliyoimwaga ilitokana na Mwana wa Mungu asiye na waa wala ila? Je, unakubali kwamba sisi ni wenye dhambi, ambao tumaini letu pekee ni kazi ya Yesu kwenye msalaba wa Kalvari? Ni lazima tumpokee Yeye kabla hatujazipata faida za kile alichokifanya. Natumaini kwamba utakuwa umelifanya hili. Kama bado hujafanya, nakuombea kwamba utalifanya leo na ukigundua furaha ambayo Krismas ilikusudiwa kuileta.

18 Kuzaliwa kwake Yesu Kristo kulikuwa hivi. Mariamu mama yake alipokuwa ameposwa na Yusufu, kabla hawajakaribiana alionekana ana mimba kwa uweza wa Roho Mtakatifu. 19 Naye Yusufu, mumewe, kwa vile alivyokuwa mtu wa haki, asitake kumwaibisha, aliazimu kumwachia kwa siri. 20 Basi alipokuwa akifikiri hayo, tazama, malaika wa Bwana alimtokea katika ndoto, akisema, “Yusufu, mwana wa Daudi, usihofu kumchukua Mariamu mkeo, maana mimba yake ni kwa uwezo wa Roho Mtakatifu. 21 Naye atazaa mwana, nawe utamwita jina lake Yesu, maana, yeye ndiye atakayewaokoa watu wake na dhambi zao.” 22Hayo yote yamekuwa, ili litimie neno lililonenwa na Bwana kwa ujumbe wa nabii akisema, 23 “Tazama bikira atachukua mimba, naye atazaa mwana, nao watamwita jina lake Imanueli;” yaani, “Mungu pamoja nasi.” (Mathayo 1:18-23, msisitizo ni wa kwangu)

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1 Nukuu za Maandiko zimetoka Biblia Takatifu (Union Version, 1952)

2 Kwa kulinganisha, Soma Malaki 1:6-8 ambapo watu wa Mungu wanaadhibiwa kwa kuleta wanyama wasiofaa kwa ajili ya sadaka

Related Topics: Communion

Genesis

The book of Genesis is the most important book ever written and has had a greater influence on history than any other book ever produced. As a result, no other book of the Bible is quoted more often or referred to so frequently as the book of Genesis. There are at least 165 passages in Genesis that are either directly quoted or clearly referred to in the NT. Over 100 of these quotations are taken from the first 11 chapters of Genesis.

The book of Genesis answers the most basic and yet profound questions of life:

1. Who am I?
2. Where did I come from?
3. Is there a God?
4. And if there is a God: a. How can I know him? b. What is His purpose for my life?

If a person believes he originated from cosmic goo or is a descendant of apes, that will have a profound effect on his worldview – essentially reducing mankind to little more than a cosmic accident. On the other had, if a person believes that we were divinely created in the image of an all-powerful, holy, and loving God, that will have a dramatic impact in elevating mankind to a place of great significance in the vast arena of God’s creation.

These 52 messages were originally preached 2002-2004 at Crossroads Christian Fellowship in Kau'i Hawaii.

Each of the messages preached in Genesis have the PDF Message (in thorough outline style), as well as PDF Outlines for the listeners (one with blanks and one filled in). [excepting the missing "blank" outline for Genesis 1, Genesis 10, and the final summary message]

0. Introduction to Genesis (Genesis 1:1)

1. The Revelation Of Creation (Genesis 1:1-2:3)

2. The Perfect Life (Genesis 2:4-25)

3. Paradise Lost (Genesis 3:1-24)

4. The Fruit Of Sin (Genesis 4:1-26)

5. A Father’s Legacy (Genesis 5:1-32)

6. God’s Impending Judgment (Genesis 6:1-22)

7. Lessons From The Flood (Genesis 7:1-24)

8. But God Remembered … (Genesis 8:1-22)

9. God’s Covenant With Noah (Genesis 9:1-29)

10. The Genealogy of the Nations (Genesis 10:1-32)

11. The Tower Of Rebellion (Genesis 11:1-32)

12. Venture Of Faith (Genesis 12:1-20)

13. The Faith To Yield (Genesis 13:1-18)

14. Operation Lot (Genesis 14:1-24)

15. God’s Covenant With Abram (Genesis 15:1-21)

16. Making It Happen! (Genesis 16:1-16)

17. Let’s Make A Deal! (Genesis 17:1-27)

18. The Visitation (Genesis 18:1-33)

19. What A Difference A Day Can Make! (Genesis 19:1-38)

20. Deja Vu (Genesis 20:1-18)

21. The Illusion Of Legalism (Genesis 21:1-34)

22. The Test Of Faith (Genesis 22:1-24)

23. The Death Of Sarah (Genesis 23:1-20)

24. The Search For A Bride (Genesis 24:1-67)

25. The Offspring Of Abraham (Genesis 25:1-34)

26. Like Father, Like Son (Genesis 26:1-35)

27. Introduction to Genesis (Genesis 27:1-46)

28. Nowhere to Look But Up (Genesis 28:1-22)

29. The Anatomy Of A Divine Appointment (Genesis 29:1-35)

30. Waging Worldly Warfare (Genesis 30:1-43)

31. Choose This Day … (Genesis 31:1-55)

32. Wrestling With God (Genesis 32:1-32)

33. Reconciled At Last! (Genesis 33:1-20)

34. Violated In Shechem (Genesis 34:1-31)

35. The Return Of Jacob (Genesis 35:1-29)

36. Esau’s Family Tree (Genesis 36:1-43)

37. When Dreams Turn Into Nightmares (Genesis 37:1-36)

38. How To Goof Up Your Life (Genesis 38:1-30)

39. From Bad To Worse (Genesis 39:1-23)

40. Dream On! (Genesis 40:1-23)

41. Rags To Riches (Genesis 41:1-57)

42. The Testing Of Hearts (Genesis 42:1-38)

43. The Testing Of Hearts - II (Genesis 43:1-34)

44. The Cup Of Testing (Genesis 44:1-34)

45. God’s Advance Man (Genesis 45:1-28)

46. The Best Is Yet To Come (Genesis 46:1-34)

47. …In Exchange For Your Soul? (Genesis 47:1-31)

48. Passing The Torch (Genesis 48:1-22)

49. Prophetic Parenting (Genesis 49:1-28)

50. God Intended It For Good (Genesis 49:29-50:26)

51. A Summary Of Genesis (Genesis 1-50)

Related Topics: Christian Life

1. The Legacy of Cain: Departure from God (Genesis 4:3-24)

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Introduction

The period from the Fall to the Flood was approx. 1500 years. The days of Noah are of special interest and importance to us because Jesus said, Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be also in the days of the Son of Man (Lk. 17:26).

By Genesis 4:8, Cain has already murdered his brother, Abel, out of jealousy because Abel’s offering was accepted by God but Cain’s was rejected (Gen. 4:3-5). Subsequently, Adam and Eve had another son, Seth, as a “replacement” for Abel. The genealogy of Adam is traced through these two sons. Cain is the ungodly line and Seth the godly line. Lamech, from the line of Cain, shows the downward spiritual and moral trajectory that can  happen when a family line turns away from God to worldliness and lawlessness. Enoch, from the line of Seth, shows the upward spiritual trajectory that can happen when a family line remains true to God through godliness and faithfulness.

The ungodly descendants of Adam are traced, then, through the line of Cain. That’s our subject in this article: “The downward trajectory of human degeneracy” (Gen. 4:16-24).

The lesson from this passage can be summed up as follows: When you nurture anger it can lead to rebellion against God, and when you rebel against God, theres no telling where you may end up. Here we see a history of steady degradation and deterioration in the family, the society, and ultimately the entire age. Notice firstly that…

1. Degradation In The Family Leads To Deviant Behavior (Gen. 4:3-11)

3In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground,4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell” (Gen. 4:3-5).

Anger marks the first step in Cain’s walk away from God. It’s often asked why God accepted Abel and his offering but not Cain and his offering. In response, some scholars propose that the difference was in the type of offering – Abel offered a blood sacrifice, whereas Cain offered a sacrifice of the fruit of the ground. While it is true that a blood sacrifice had special significance, there is no specific verse that states that God rejected Cain’s offering because it was the wrong type or quality. The distinction here seems to go  beyond the nature of the offering itself. In fact, Scripture attests to the fact that Abel was righteous, the evidence for which was his offering (Heb. 11:4), whereas Cain was of the evil one and his deeds were evil (1 Jn. 3:11-12). So, it appears that God saw right into each man’s heart and recognized in Abel a righteous, worshipping heart, but in Cain, a deviant, degenerate heart.

Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him (4:8). Moses, in the book of Exodus, also rose up in a field and killed a man, the Egyptian task master. It seems that both Moses and Cain chose a place where they thought no one was looking and, therefore, that no one would discover the truth. Out of jealousy and anger, Cain murdered his brother and that led to him turning away from God altogether.

How easily one sin can lead to another! If you don’t judge the first sin, you are open and susceptible to the next temptation. Anger needs to be nipped in the bud. Don’t let it fester; judge it right away, because when you nurture anger it can lead to rebellion against God, and when you rebel against God, theres no telling where you may end up. Unjudged and uncontrolled anger can lead to murder. “Oh,” you say, “I would never murder anyone.” Really? What about in your heart? That’s where it begins and often that’s where it takes place. Jesus said that out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matt. 15:19). We need to keep short accounts with God by confessing our sins (especially those of the heart that cannot be seen by other people) before they take root and draw us away from him.

Cain appears to have been a man with a hot, trigger temper, a man with a competitive nature, a self-willed and spiritually proud man. He had brought an offering of the fruit of the ground and God had rejected him along with his offering.

When something we do is unacceptable to God we have two choices. We can repent of what we did, change, and do it God’s way. Or, we can become angry with God, turn away, and continue on in our own self-will and rebellion. Cain chose the latter course of action. If God would not accept Cain’s worship, then Cain would cut God out of his life.

Degradation in the family leads to deviant behavior. And…

2. Deviant Behavior In The Family Leads To Disconnection In Society (Gen. 4:12-15)

12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth” (Gen. 4:12).

This is a punishment that manifests God’s grace. God could have put Cain to death for murdering his brother; instead, he consigns Cain to a life of wandering and disconnection from society.

Not only is Cain disconnected from society, he is also thoroughly disconnected from God. He shows absolutely no remorse whatsoever. All he did was complain about his lot:

13Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me’” (4:13-14). And yet again, God extends his grace by providing for Cain’s protection: “15 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him” (4:15).

Deviant behavior in the family leads to disconnection in society. And…

3. Disconnection In Society Leads To Departure From God (Gen. 4:16-18)

“Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden” (4:16).

Departure from God starts with distance from God. To go out from the presence of the Lord may seem like a benign act, perhaps the result of a fit of temper or self-will. But it begins a course that will degenerate into even more ungodliness - no interest in any connection with Eden; not wanting perhaps to be connected with the place where God had once walked with his father in the cool of the day; not wanting to be reminded of God’s judgement every time he saw the cherubim with the flaming sword guarding its gates; but instead wanting to be rid of God altogether, to be farther removed from Eden than even Adam and Eve were.

Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod,  east of Eden. Cain became an outsider – outside of the family unit, outside of the society of his parents and upbringing, and outside of the presence of God.

The land of Nod means the land of wanderings. This is exactly what God had said about Cain, that he would be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth (4:12). Someone has said that: “Essentially, Cain’s punishment in becoming a wanderer and a fugitive was to lose all sense of belonging and identification with a community. Living in the ‘land of Nod,’ Cain lived without roots in isolation” (http://www.gotquestions.org/land-of-Nod.html).

There is no record that Cain ever came back. He turned his back on his family roots and he turned his back on his family’s God. He undoubtedly knew all about his family’s history. He probably heard from Adam, his father, about the beauty and perfection of Eden, about the single restriction that had been placed on them – that they could eat of every tree of the garden but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die(2:17). He had undoubtedly heard from his father how his father and mother had been deceived by the serpent and about how they had been thrust out of the garden by God as punishment for their sin.

Cain knew that it was right and proper to worship God. He had undoubtedly learned that from his father too. But he wanted to worship God on his own terms, not God’s. It seems that Cain held deep-seated resentment against God - perhaps because of what God had done to his parents; perhaps because of his own willful character. Whatever the reason was, he turned his back on God.

Cain became an apostate. He knew the God of his father and he knew the truth of God. He had been among God’s people. He had participated in the worship of God. He looked like a believer, enjoyed the benefits of a believer, but chose to turn away.

It’s one thing for a person not brought up in a Christian home to never give God a thought – that’s tragic, but understandable. It’s one thing for someone who has never read or heard God’s word, never been to a Bible-believing church, never had anyone share the gospel with them, to be thoroughly indifferent toward God – that’s tragic but understandable. Though they are fully responsible before God because of the testimony of creation and the testimony of their own conscience, nonetheless, we can understand them living a life without God. But for someone who has known the truth, been brought up in a privileged, believing household and enjoyed intimacy with God, for such a person to turn away from God altogether is apostasy - willfully turning away from known truth. This is why Jude presents Cain as an apostate.

Cain’s indifference toward God when he went away from the presence of the Lord didn’t stop there. It wasn’t just a temporary indifference, or forgetfulness of God, or busyness with other pursuits, or spiritual backsliding. Cain’s departure from God started with distance from God and led to complete disconnection from God. Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch (4:17).

Cain completely removes and replaces every trace of his past and every reminder of God in his life. Eden is replaced by the city of “Enoch.” He is moving on from a garden to a city – the very first city in the Bible. He doesn’t want to stay where he was with his family; he wants to live his life in independence from them and from God. The paradise God had created and which his parents had once enjoyed is replaced by a city created and built by Cain’s own hands. The paradise that they had lost at the Fall is replaced by a “paradise” of Cain’s own making. All God’s bountiful provision for his father, Adam, and his mother, Eve, are all a thing of the past for Cain now.

Cain wants nothing more to do with the past. As far as he is concerned, God’s promises are untrue, God is too demanding, and Cain will strike out on his own. After all, he is creative, clever, and ambitious. He can make a life for himself without God. He isn’t interested in God’s paradise of the past or the future. He just wants to  live his life now - to eat, drink and be merry. So, he builds a city where he and his family can have all the luxuries, entertainment, and conveniences they desire, where they can satisfy their every whim. They weren’t going to be held back by a God who demands obedience – despite the fact that, in return for obedience, God had promised them eternal life and a paradise to live in.

Cain would make the land of “wandering” into a place of permanence. Neither he nor his descendants would be rudely evicted from anywhere again for this was his city, the city of Enoch. And there his family expanded: “To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech (4:18).

Do you see what’s happening? Departure from God starts out with indifference toward God which leads to independence from God. This is the downward trajectory on which sin takes us if you don’t judge it and get right with God. Perhaps you find yourself in that situation right now. As you reflect back on your life, you realize that where you are now in your relationship with God started with a small step of departure from God. Then over time you became indifferent towards God and, later, independent of God altogether. That’s the downward progression in which sin leads you. So, stop that downward slide right now! Get right with God – right now!

Notice then the downward trajectory so far. It starts with deviant behavior in the family (4-11), which leads to disconnection from society (12-15), then to departure from God (16-18). Finally…

4. Departure From God Leads To A Degenerate Age (4:19-24).

This is the end result of an ungodly downward trajectory of deviant behavior in the family, disconnection within society, and a general disregard for God. The sin of Adam led to the deviant behavior and spiritual disregard of Cain and, ultimately, to the degeneracy of Lamech: Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah (4:19). This new world order gives rise to a new moral order. Lamech stoops to a new moral low. Polygamy is now introduced to the new age in the new city. Deviance and disregard (indifference and independence) have bloomed into lust and lawlessness manifested in polygamy. Now, there is no moral sensitivity whatsoever toward God, nor any religious sensitivity or activity at all! Life now has become completely secular – no thought of God, no fear of God before their eyes. They are thoroughly worldly in their thinking, pursuits, ambitions, and lusts.

The family unit that God had created and which had been given to Adam is now a thing of the distant past. God’s principal for marriage that a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Gen. 2:24) didn’t enter their thinking. This is a sophisticated society now - not people who work the land with their hands, not people who are accountable to God, but a society with new ways, new occupations, and new morality, where individuality trumps community, where you can do whatever you choose, where no one is shocked by the most outrageous acts. Does any of this sound familiar?

The names of Lamech’s wives are instructive. Adah means “ornamental” – perhaps he was attracted to her beauty. Zillah means “seductress” – perhaps he was lured by her sexuality. Lamech is trapped and controlled by what his eyes saw and what his flesh lusted after.

The new world order also gives rise to new vocations and lifestyles as demonstrated by Lamech’s sons. This was a new age of agricultural development.Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock (4:20). Moving out of the city, Jabal developed a new way of living. He became a nomadic farmer – just like they still have today in many parts of the world (e.g. the Fulani in west Africa). Perhaps he saw an opportunity to fill a need. After all, cities need farmers to provide their food. Perhaps he recognized this new market that emerged out of the new urban society. He was “the first” (the pioneer, the father) of a new development in corporate agriculture, in raising livestock. He was an entrepreneur - he saw a need and filled it. He started a new career, a new way of life, a new livelihood. He was the pioneer of ranching. He designed and developed the know-how for producing food for the city dwellers. Anybody who wanted to know how to do it went to Jabal – he was the “father” of this type of livelihood. This was truly a new age of agricultural development.

And this is a new age of recreational development – an age of distraction. The next brother, Jubal, was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe (4:21). People who live in a city want entertainment, something to fill their leisure time. So, Jubal jumped on the bandwagon and started an orchestra. He was appealing to the new demand for pleasure, for when you live in the city you have to have something to fill in your spare time. It’s not like living off the land as his fore-bearers had done by the sweat of their brow. Possibly this demand for pleasure was also generated by the drift away from God. They didn’t want to remember God or allow their consciences to be active, so they needed to be entertained during their leisure time. What better way to do that than through music? Music drowns out everything around you. Music fills your mind, ears, and heart.

This was also a new age of industrial development. “Zillah also bore Tubal-Cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron (4:22). Make no doubt about it, these sons of Lamech were clever, inventive, and ambitious. Tubal-Cain initiated the first industrial revolution. He had discovered, designed and developed metal processing and manufacturing. He was known for his knowledge and creativity in the area of metal working. Not everyone could do this – this was a technological, scientific and manufacturing break through. This would have put him at the cutting edge of technology in that day. He was the Benjamin Franklin of the day, the Alexander Graham Bell, the Henry Ford, the Bill Gates, the Steve Jobs. This was as much a breakthrough in that day as the printing press would be later and, still later, industrial production.

Along with all this advancement undoubtedly came material prosperity, social pleasure, and economic power. They were on the cusp of a new world order, a new age that abandoned their religious upbringing and morality in favor of the thrill of independence and prosperity and the throwing away of restraint.

Lastly, this was also an age of societal development. Here, sadly we reach the all-time low in the downward trajectory of societal degeneracy, because personal degeneracy leads to societal degeneracy, which is usually marked by anger, revenge, retaliation, and outright defiance. 23 Lamech said to his wives: Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. 24 If Cains revenge is sevenfold, then Lamechs is seventy-sevenfold’” (4:23-24). Lamech’s departure from God through lust and pride led him to this – to murder! Perhaps his son’s invention of metal working had led to the development and production of weapons – the text doesn’t tell us. Perhaps the family had become so powerful and so rich that their lives were threatened – the text doesn’t tell us. But evidently Lamech’s reaction to someone who had injured him went far beyond what was reasonable so that, in defending himself, he killed someone. Now he claims a far greater measure of protection than God had promised Cain – not sevenfold but seventy-sevenfold. This is an exclamation of egregious vengeance: “Anyone who tries to harm me will receive back seventy-seven times what he gives me!”

This is truly an age of utter defiance - defiance of opponents and defiance of God. That’s what happens in advancing societies. People become rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing. Their lives are self-sustaining, self-propagating, self-enriching, and self-advancing. They have economic prosperity, social pleasures, and military protection. But none of this leads them closer to God. On the contrary, it leads them further away from God and further down the path of degeneracy.

Concluding Remarks

There you have the downward course of this antediluvian family. Does any of this sound familiar to you? It all started with anger that went unjudged and led to murder. And from there it all went downhill from deviant behavior in the family, to disconnection from society, to departure from God, and ultimately to a thoroughly degenerate age. Remember my proposition: When you nurture anger it can lead to rebellion against God, and when you rebel against God, theres no telling where you may end up.

Today, we too live in a new world order with a new morality. Today, we too live in a degenerate age, which openly practices deviant behavior, disconnection from society, and departure from God. Marriage has been redefined. Your gender is self-determined. Life has been devalued so that doctors kill preborn babies and, now, euthanize the aged, diseased, and disabled.

So, how should we then live in such a society? Firstly, we must be on our guard and be aware of what is going on around us. Secondly, we must live according to God’s standards. Thankfully, as we will see in the next article in this series, even in the midst of spiritual and moral darkness God always has a testimony. While the ungodly line of Cain departed from God, the godly line of Seth began to call upon the name of the Lord.

Related Topics: Character Study, Christian Life

2. The Legacy of Seth: The Worship of God (Gen. 4:25-5:32)

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Introduction

We move on in our study of “The Life and Times of Noah” from the ungodly line of Cain to the godly line of Seth. Just as the ungodly line of Cain develops from the start so also the godly line of Seth.

Our subject in this article is: Faithfulness in the midst of worldliness. This entire article could be summarized in the following statement: In the midst of spiritual and moral darkness, godly people remain faithful to God.

Nothing in the line of Seth is said about industrial developments or technological discoveries or entertaining distractions. This is a line of godly people whose lives have a totally different character to those of the Cainites. You’ll notice that of the Cainites it is not recorded when they were born, or how long they lived or even that they died. But of the Sethites in our passage all is recorded – their births, their length of life, and their deaths.

Why the difference? Could it be because the Cainites did not live for God but the Sethites did? The Cainites lived for self, not God. They experienced prosperity, power, and progress but their lives were amoral, unspiritual, and unfruitful for God. As a result the Scripture writes no headstone, no epitaph, over their deaths. But the Sethites lived for God. They were the godly line of Adam. In each case, their births, lives, and deaths are recorded. They lived, they fathered children, and they died.

So, why the refrain, and he died? Could it be because the Spirit of God is refuting the devil’s lie: You will not surely die (Gen. 3:4) by repeating over and over, and he died… and he died?

Why then is this recorded of the Sethites and not the Cainites? Could it be because God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 18:23)? But the deaths of the Sethites were precious to God, for precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints(Ps. 116:15), who then entered their heavenly reward, so that the number of years that they lived was but a fleeting moment compared to eternity ahead of them.

Well, after noticing in the previous article (“The Life and Times of Noah: The Legacy of Cain”) the similarities between the ungodly society of Cain and our society today, we can now take courage that God still has a testimony of godly people. Notice the characteristics and activities of godly people in the midst of ungodliness…

1. Godly People Call On The Lord (4:25-5:5)

The birth of Seth is recorded as a replacement for Abel, for God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him (4:25), Eve said. Notice the air of hope that goes beyond sin and death. Eve seems to be taking courage from God’s promise that her offspring would bruise Satan’s head according to Gen. 3:15. Seth is the appointed offspring, the seed of promise, which ultimately would lead to the Messiah. This is a new beginning, a new birth that starts a new, godly line from Adam. This is a line of descendants from Adam marked by faith. These people are characterized by a new spirituality: At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord (4:26). The Bible says that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Rom. 10:13). These are regenerate people, who are not drawn into the vortex of worldliness that surrounded them. They aren’t pursuing prosperity and power. They aren’t self-sustaining, self-propagating, self-enriching, self-advancing, self-centered  people like the Cainites. These are people who call on the name of the Lord.

What exactly does that mean? The phrase to call on the name of the Lord encompasses the entire spectrum of worship, which at that time would have included prayer and sacrifice. Genesis is a book of beginnings. This records the beginning of godly people, who came into the presence of the Lord to worship Him. While the previous verses record the beginning of a degenerate people, who went away from the presence of the Lord(4:16). This marks the beginning of the public, regular worship of God by the people of God. Within the degenerate society of Cain are godly, faithful people, whose lives are characterized by the worship of the Lord.

This should be a model for us. We live in an ungodly, degenerate society when things are spiritually and morally bleak. So, our first and most important function and resource is to come into the presence of God, to call on the name of the Lord. We are concerned about the ungodly society around us, and we should be. But should we not be even more concerned about those who follow after us? Do we not want our churches and our families to be men and women who call on the name of the Lord, as did the patriarchs? (cf. Gen. 12:8; 13:4; 21:33; 26:25). So let’s take note of this early paradigm in Scripture. The degenerate society around us demands that we, God’s people, be a devoted, worshipping society, people who are known for calling on the name of the Lord.

This genealogy of Adam through Seth marks a new beginning in Genesis (one of 12 genealogies in Genesis). Given the disasters of the fall and the murder of Abel it is refreshing that this genealogy begins with this reminder, 1This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2 Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created (Gen. 5:1-2). What a great reminder after such a disaster! The Spirit of God takes us back to the beginning, reminding us of God’s glorious, sinless, perfect creation. Adam was created in the likeness of God and from Adam Eve was formed and God blessed them! God gave them everything possible for their happiness. He gave them a paradise to live in with everything provided. But the greatest blessing of all was that they walked with God in the cool of the day. What a blessing that was! But sin entered and marred the image of God in mankind, so now it is recorded that Adam fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth (Gen. 5:3). Note that it does not say that Adam’s son was born in God’s image, but that he was born in Adam’s likeness.

As a direct result of Adam’s sin, we bear Adam’s likeness. The image of God in us has been marred, blurred, and the fallen likeness of Adam has been transmitted to us. It’s not that the image of God has been erased in us, but it has been marred and Adam’s fallen image has been stamped on our identity; his fallen nature is embedded in us from birth. Thus, through the transmission of original sin, we are sinners by nature and by practice. That’s why we need new life in Christ. This is why Jesus said, “You must be born again (Jn. 3:7).

Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died (5:5). He lived 830 years after Seth was born. God in his grace granted him this extension of life before carrying out the death sentence handed down in the Garden of Eden. Adam left Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahaleel, Jared, and Enoch, predeceased by Abel. Though Adam had lived to experience such disasters as the fall and the murder of his son, Abel (by his other son, Cain), yet God also graciously permitted him to see a godly line of descendants through the new beginning under Seth.

And he died (5:5b). Death is the inevitable and inescapable end of human life because of sin. God had told Adam that of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (Gen. 2:17). And he did. From that very day he experienced separation from God, which is spiritual death, and now in our passage he experiences physical death. And because of Adam’s sin death spread to all men because all sinned (Rom. 5:12). Because of sin, death is our final enemy. But thanks be to God that Christ became flesh so that 14through death he  might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery (Heb. 2:14-15).

So this is the characteristic and primary activity of godly people in the midst of ungodliness: godly people call on the Lord. Secondly…

2. Godly People Walk With The Lord (5:6-32)

The rest of the chapter traces the continuation of the first family. Here we have the list of descendants from Seth to Noah, from the Fall to the flood. Because of how long they lived, their lives are intertwined with one another. Each person’s life carried on the testimony of the one before and passed it on to the one after. Isn’t this what we would all love to experience in our biological and spiritual families - unbreakable links in the spiritual chain, each one learning from the previous generation, living it out, and passing on the baton to the next? I just want to look at Enoch leading up to Methuselah and Noah.

A) Enoch

23 Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him (Gen. 5:23-24). Enoch walked with God. Notice the contrast in lifestyles: Adam hid himself from God; Cain went out from the presence of God; Enoch walked with God. This statement overshadows anything else he did or was. This was the sum and substance of Enoch’s life, the overriding characteristic of his 365 years. He exuded the presence of God, reflected the image of God the best that any fallen human being could. He walked with God.

Did you know that the average pair of feet take 7000 to 8000 steps a day; about 2.5 million steps a year? It makes you tired just thinking about it, doesn’t it? That means that in a lifetime, you will walk approximately 115,000 miles. The first man to walk around the world was a man by the name of David Kunst of Waseca, Minnesota. He completed his historic walk on October 5, 1974, after walking 15,000 miles. The trip took 41/2 years, during which time David went through 22 pairs of shoes and wore out 2 mules. At the completion of his historic journey, an auction was held, with eager bidders paying $150 for his right shoe, $170 for his left shoe, and $140 for his remaining mule (“Walking With God,” by Curtis Kittrell, Sermoncentral.com). Most of us couldn’t be persuaded to undertake a walk like that of David Kunst. But the reminder from the life of Enoch is that the entirety of the Christian life is a marathon walk with God.

To walk with God means you are in harmony with God, united with God in thought, purpose and action. You reflect God in thought, word, and deed. You live your life in the presence of God, in fellowship with God. To walk with God means you follow God’s direction, walking in the path that he marks out, working toward the same ends that God is working toward - not pulling away from God but moving towards Him; not trying to map out your own life’s journey but faithfully following God’s will for your life.

To walk with God necessitates agreement with God, for as Amos 3:3 says, Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?(NKJV). The rhetorical answer is: “No. They can’t.” For two persons to walk together, they must be agreed. For us to walk with God we must be in agreement with God, so that we think his thoughts, we pursue his purposes, we love what he loves, we hate what he hates.

To walk with God implies fellowship with God. Two people can’t live separate lives apart from one another and at the same time claim to be at one with each other, to be in fellowship with each other. To “walk together” implies physical, emotional, and spiritual unity - oneness, harmony, peace, contentedness, security, enjoying each other’s company, sharing thoughts, plans, and hopes with one another. This evidently was characteristic of Enoch’s walk with God and it should be characteristic of our own personal relationship with God, as well as our marital and family relationships, and our church relationships. 

For us to be together as a church, we must be at one with each other and with God, heading in the same direction, having the same spiritual goals, priorities and purposes. To be together implies spending time together, conversing together, sharing innermost thoughts and feelings together. This is Christian fellowship. Fellowship means that we walk alongside each other; we live our lives with each other; we share common thoughts, feelings, desires and purposes.

Notice what 1 Jn. 1:6-7 says, “6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. John is saying, to claim that you walk with God and yet to live in and practice those things associated with spiritual darkness is to live a lie. To truly have fellowship with God demands that you walk in the light as He is in the light. Spiritual light and darkness have no fellowship with one another and 1 Jn. 1:5 says, “God is light and in him is no darkness at all.” So, don’t think that you can walk with God if your life does not reflect his life. Don’t say that you are in fellowship with God if you are practicing sin.

To walk with God also implies identification. To be identified with God means that we live in such intimacy with God that when others see us, they see God in some way; when others hear us, they hear God in some way. That’s what it is to walk with God. It means that you are identified with him in speech, thought, purpose, and action.

To walk with God involves subjection to his scrutiny. You live your life in obedience to his Word and in the light of his all-seeing gaze.

To walk with God means you immerse your life in God. You commune with  God in daily and moment-by-moment fellowship. You pour out your innermost hurts to Him, you share your deepest joys with Him, so that when others witness your life they say, He or she is walking with God. Is that what you want written on your tombstone? He / she walked with God – plain and simple?

Not only did he walk with God, but also Enoch pleased God. Heb. 11:5 says, By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. What a testimony! He pleased God. Walking with God produces a life that is pleasing to God. You can’t please God if you don’t walk with God. What a legacy! He walked with God. He pleased God. When God looked down on Enoch, he smiled at his life because he “pleased God.” I wonder if God will say that about my life. What about yours?

Notice another thing about Enoch. Not only did he walk with God and please God but also Enoch prophesied for God according to Jude 14-15: 14 It was also about these (the apostates of vv. 12-13) that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

You cannot prophesy (speak) for God if you do not walk with God such that your life is pleasing to God. Don’t go around talking like you’re the most spiritual person on earth when underneath your life is out of step with God. Enoch prophesied – he spoke for God to the people, warning them of coming judgement.

You have to walk with God to know the mind of God. Here was a man whose life and times were surrounded by a generation marked by corruption, self-sufficiency, prosperity, pleasure, all of which was quickly deteriorating towards the judgement of God at the flood. Enoch was taken by God only 69 years before Noah was born. Wickedness was increasing and was the primary characteristic of that age. Yet he was a man set apart by God, a man who testified of God’s saving grace and faithfulness, a man whose ministry focused on the coming of the Lord and the coming judgement.

A notable difference in the record of Enoch’s life is that it doesn’t end with and he died. Rather, it says, he was not for God took him. The refrain, and he died, takes a break with Enoch. When the time came, he was simply taken up, translated into God’s presence. What a wonderful way to end his life – God took him!

Why did God take Enoch and Elijah without dying? We don’t know. But one thing we do know is that both these men walked with God. There was an extraordinary degree of faithfulness, albeit with Enoch we have no details about what that looked like. Surely their translation to heaven is a picture of what will take place at the end of our age,  after the gospel of the grace of God has sounded out for thousands of years, when God will take his people home to heaven, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. 15:52) - taken out of a world marked by violence and corruption; taken out of the world before the judgement of God falls.

Does this translation of Enoch not give us a window of hope through the enclosing gloom of their day and ours? Does this translation of Enoch not encourage us that one day we will also be translated to our heavenly home, the basis of which is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead? Because he is raised we also shall be raised. Because he lives forevermore, so shall we. Jesus assures us, 25Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die “(Jn. 11:25-26). Do you believe this?

Surely we can take courage from Enoch’s life. The increasing wickedness around us does not prevent us from walking with God nor does it hinder us from pleasing God and speaking for God from his word. We can and must be faithful in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation. If you walk with God you will have a life that is pleasing to God. You cannot have one without the other.

To walk with God means that we walk worthy of the gospel, boldly standing for the faith of the gospel, brightly shining for the hope of the gospel, sacrificially serving out of love for the gospel.

To walk with God means that we courageously prophesy for God the truth of God even as the onslaught of wickedness increases in intensity every single day. Someone has said, Enochs testimony was to the presence of God, to the possibility of living a quiet, godly life in a corrupt and careless age (John Phillips, Exploring Genesis, 77).

At the end of this list of Adam’s godly descendants come …

B) Methuselah And Noah

Methuselah means “when he dies, it shall come.” Throughout Methuselah’s long life, God had been withholding judgement for He is not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). But it seems that the death of Methuselah carried with it this solemn pronouncement: “When he dies, it shall come.” What shall come? Is this a hint of the flood judgement to come?

Then came Noah the son of Lamech (5:29). Lamech called his son Noah, saying This one shall bring us relief from our work and form the painful toil of our hands (5:29). The consequence of sin is already becoming toilsome, burdensome. The ground which the Lord had cursed is causing them to work by the sweat of their brow. Life was no longer a walk in the park. And along comes Noah, whose birth signals deliverance from their toil. But how? They did not know. They could not have anticipated in their wildest dreams the awful judgement that God was about to pour out, or that the way Noah would relieve them from their toil was through a universal flood.

Concluding Remarks

This then is the godly line of Adam, which starts with Seth and culminates with Noah. Genesis is the book of new beginnings. We have seen the beginning of an ungodly society in Cain and his descendants and of a godly people in Seth and his descendants. The godly line of Seth is truly a new beginning from a new birth, leading to a new line of people characterized by a new spirituality, which would be carried on through Noah and his three sons, who would be the heads of a new race of people after the flood.

Throughout this long line of history, God has always had a line of godly people, a testimony to the truth. God is never left without witness. So take courage in the day in which we live. Despite all the spiritual and moral darkness and opposition and persecution, God still has a faithful remnant who call on the name of the Lord.

Remember our thesis: In the midst of spiritual and moral darkness, godly people remain faithful to God. We need to be more than ever focused on walking worthy of the gospel. Let us be people who, like Enoch, walk with God, speak for God, and please God. Let us be like Noah - preachers of righteousness in an evil, unregenerate society.

Related Topics: Character Study, Christian Life

3. As It Was in the Days of Noah (Pt. 1): God’s Patience Runs Out (Gen. 6:1-8)

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Introduction

As we continue this series on “The Life and Times of Noah,” let’s review what we have learned in sermons 1 and 2. In those messages we looked at Genesis 4 and 5 in which we saw (1) The legacy of Cain in departing from God; and (2) The legacy of Seth in the worship of God.

In this article, we come to chapter 6:1-8, in which we see God’s response to uncontrolled and universal wickedness. The overarching lesson we learn from this passage is this: There is a limit to Gods patience.

At the outset we need to understand the terms used in verse 1. Obviously, man (1a) refers to mankind, the human race. Daughters (1b) are women born into the human race. But who exactly are the sons of God (2a)?

The interpretation of this phrase is still hotly debated. Clearly the author is making three distinctions between different beings: (1) the distinction between sons of God (not sons of men) and daughters of men; (2) the distinction between sons and daughters; and (3) the distinction between God and men. Without going into details, let me outline the three primary views.

First, the view that the term sons of God refers to the men of the godly line of Seth from ch. 4-5. But surely if this is what the author wanted to convey he would have said sons of Seth or Enos. Or, he would have said sons of Jehovah since 4:26 refers to them as men who began to call on the name of Jehovah. And, anyway, the sons of Seth could have married the daughters of men without such catastrophic results.

Second, the view that the term sons of God refers to royalty, kings who at times were referred to by this term. But this view doesn’t help either because they too were free to marry the daughters of men if they so chose.

Third, the view that the term sons of God refers to spirit beings (supernatural beings, fallen angels) who took on human form. This is the view that I favor. The expression sons of God indicates that these were men but not normal men - not descendants of Adam, but spirit beings (in this case, demonic) in human, male form. The primary reason that I adopt this view is because Scripture itself defines what the term sons of God means. It is a quite common expression in the O.T. and is only used in Scripture to describe angels / spirit beings (sometimes holy, sometimes wicked) or Jesus. Job 1:6 and 2:1 talk about the day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan also came among them. Job 38:7 describes the time in creation when the morning starts sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy. In Dan. 3:25, describing what he saw in the fiery furnace, King Nebuchadnezzar says, I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.

There are other texts that describe angels in human form. For example, in Gen 18, Abraham was sitting at the door of his tent and saw three men standing by him, one of whom is identified as the Lord (Gen. 18:3, 13).These angels were clearly indistinguishable from humans. In Gen. 19, two angels came to Sodom and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom (19:1) and in vv. 4-5 the men of the city surrounded (Lots) house, and they called to Lot and said to him, Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them (i.e. carnally). Again these angels were indistinguishable from humans. In Gen. 32, Jacob wrestled with an angel and in Heb. 13:2, the author exhorts us to not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some have unwittingly entertained angels.

So, from these texts we know that the term sons of God or sons of the gods was used to describe spirit beings and we know that both holy angels and demons (wicked, fallen angels) could take on human form, specifically male human form.

Further, this view is supported by Jude 6-7 and 2 Pet. 2:4-6. When Satan rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven (cf. Isa. 14:12-14 and Ezek. 28:12-18) a host of angels fell with him. According to Jude 6-7, evidently some of those fallen angels (evil spirits) took human form and married women. It says that, ignoring God’s created order, these fallen angels… left their proper dwelling… [and] indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire (Jude 6-7). Here their activity is likened to the sexual perversion of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19). 2 Pet. 2:4-5 connects these fallen angels directly to the flood: God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgement…he did not spare the ancient world but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.

So, Jude and 2 Peter 2 directly connect our passage to these fallen, wicked angels and their sexual immorality, the result of which was not only the flood judgement on human beings but also immediate judgement on the angels themselves, who were no longer active under Satan’s control, but are kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgement of the great day, Jude 6 says. That is, God has not simply cast them out of heaven but he has already locked them up awaiting their final judgement.

All of this leads us to these observations…

1. When Wickedness Is Unashamedly Practiced, God Patiently Warns (6:1-4)

Notice first that…

A) God’s Pattern For Marriage Was Corrupted.

The sons of God, these demonic beings in human form, took women as their wives. This was a deviant union. This was a corruption of God’s pattern for marriage, for God had said that a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife (Gen. 2:24). And in addition to this deviant union they practiced the deviant behavior of polygamy – they took as their wives any that they chose (6:2b). Evidently, the lust of the eyes - what the sons of God saw (6:2a) - led directly to the lust of the flesh expressed in rampant polygamy. Lamech took two wives in Gen. 4:19. Now they take whoever they want and as many as they want. Unbridled sexual desire coupled with unlawful union produced a divine warning in 6:3.

So, just to be clear, the cause of God’s judgement in the flood seems to have been due to the unashamed wickedness in society, which reaches its all-time low point in the unlawful union of demonic spirits with women and the unbridled practice of polygamy,  all of which started with the lust of the eyes – the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive (6:2) - which led to the lust of the flesh in the indiscriminate taking of multiple wives.

So, let’s apply this to ourselves before we go further. The eyes are the window to your soul according to Jesus (Matt. 6:22). What you see goes deep within you, more so than what you hear. This was the cause of the very first sin – Eve saw that the tree was good for food (Gen. 3:6). What she saw overshadowed what God had said! So, be careful what you look at because what you look at can easily overpower your self-control. What you see may become fantasy, and uncontrolled fantasies can become reality. Here’s the process according to James: inward desire coupled with outward enticement leads to sin, which ends in death (James 1:14-15). What goes into your eyes influences your heart, which affects your behavior. So don’t let it go into your heart in the first place! Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things (Ps. 119:37).

So, what’s our conclusion thus far? The characteristic of that age was unashamed wickedness, a profligate generation whose uncontrolled lust and unrestrained lifestyle actually perverted the entire human race, such that God’s anger precipitated the flood.

So God’s pattern for marriage was corrupted and then…

B) God’s Patience With Man Was Curtailed.

My Spirit shall not strive / contend with man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years (6:3). God’s Spirit will not put up with man’s deviance forever. The life-giving Spirit of God will not always seek to draw men and women to God regardless of their response. Remember our thesis: There is a limit to Gods patience. And there is a responsibility on human beings. You cannot continue to live a godless, immoral life without ultimately coming face-to-face with God’s judgement. The reason for God withdrawing his Spirit is man’s flesh (his sinful nature), which gives rise to his sinful behavior.

God’s patience here runs out - it’s exhausted. Yet in grace, he still gave 120 years before the flood for men and women to repent. He continued to graciously warn them. He gave them opportunity to be saved right up until he shut the door of the ark 120 years later.

Further evidence that this union between the sons of God and the daughters of man was not normal is that their union produced giants (or, Nephilim)… mighty men who were of old, the men of renown (6:4), which continued to exist after the flood (e.g. Num. 13:33). The mention of giants as the offspring of this union between spirit beings and women must surely be included here to add to the storyline of the degenerating apostasy that precipitated God’s judgement. Thus an abnormal sexual relationships produced abnormal progeny. Perhaps this was an all-out attack by Satan to try and destroy any righteous descendants of Adam from whom he knew would come the Seed (Gen. 3:15), the Messiah.

So first, when wickedness is unashamedly practiced, God patiently warns. And…

2. When Godlessness Is Universally Present, God Ultimately Judges (6:5-8)

First is mentioned…

A) The Universal Pandemonium God Saw (6:5).

The fact that the Lord saw (6:5a) means that God is fully engaged with his creation. God is aware of everything that is said, done and thought, both past, present, and future.

God saw man’s actions. He saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth (6:5a). From Adam to Cain to Lamech there was continuous moral and spiritual degradation. The first murder was committed by the first man’s son. It only took one generation for murder to occur and from there it spiraled swiftly downward.

Murder was followed by a generation of a new world order in ch. 4 – new vocations and lifestyles, new industrial and societal developments, a new location (from the land to the city) where they developed new means of entertainment. And, of course, there was a new definition of marriage with two wives. Finally, there was murder again, when Lamech killed a man in revenge. And now there is unlimited wives (6:2). Not a very good report card, is it?

The wickedness of man was great in the earth. In other words, it had progressed from bad to worse. Now it is described as being great. The earth was the very place that God had made for man to be indescribably happy and fulfilled. And yet this is the place where man’s wickedness is great. In other words, man was not only corrupt in his nature but also corrupt in his behavior, which had corrupted the perfect creation God had made for him.

Are we not living in similar days when the wickedness of man is great in the earth? Are we not living in the days leading up to the coming of the Son of Man? Jesus said, 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man (Matt. 24:37-39).

What a reminder to us today! Do you not see the parallel between the moral condition of Noah’s day and ours? They were eating and drinking and marrying. Life went on like nothing was changing, like nothing was wrong. They paid absolutely no attention to that strange man, building a big boat inland and who preached a strange message about judgement. I suspect that the longer they saw Noah building the ark – perhaps 50 or 60 years or so – the more they got used to it and ignored it. Isn’t that what people do? When something first breaks they talk about it, protest over it, write about it, complain about it. But after a while it just becomes the new normal.

But Noah’s warning did come true. God’s judgement did fall. And still today, the warnings of the gospel fall on deaf ears and everything appears outwardly to continue as it did from the beginning. But for how long? It’s going to come to an end one day. And it will come as much of a shock to the world then as it did back in Noah’s day. And just as Noah and his family sailed away in security and safety so will God’s people in that coming day.

I read recently again about William Carey. Stuart Briscoe writes: “William Carey was a pastor and a shoemaker… He had published a remarkable tract with the resounding title, “An enquiry into the obligations of Christians to use means for the conversion of the heathen,” and followed it with deeply felt sermons seeking to awaken the churches to the needs of the unreached people of the earth. He had been roundly criticized for his efforts by church leaders but undeterred he set sail for India on the premise that he should “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” He had very little formal education but this did not stop him from teaching himself Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Dutch, and French before setting out for India where he subsequently learned Bengali, translated the entire Bible into Bengali, and helped produce Scriptures and related materials in no less than 40 different languages and dialects. During his forty years’ ministry he buried his wife and all his children in India, but he persisted in his conviction that God had called him, that he should obey and trust him, that he should use his God-given skills for the blessing of God and man, and that one day he would land safely on the shores of Glory as surely as he had previously landed in India and Noah before him had landed safely on Mt. Ararat.” (Stuart Briscoe, Genesis, 90-91).

This is a challenge to us, isn’t it? Are we faithfully proclaiming the good news of the gospel and warning the people of coming judgement, despite criticism and set-backs?

So, God saw man’s action and God saw man’s motives. The Lord saw… that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (6:5b). Not only does God see our outward actions but he sees our innermost thoughts. God is all-seeing and all-knowing. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth (2 Chron. 16:9). The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good (Prov. 15:3). He sees into our heart  for all things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Heb. 4:13).

The heart in the Bible is the centre of our being. It’s where we make decisions, set values, make choices, harbor desires. God sees right into our innermost being, even to the intentions of our hearts (Heb. 4:12) – i.e. our motives, our desires! That’s why God’s Word is described as a discerner of the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb. 4:12). Only God can rightly and fully discern our thoughts, desires, and motives. Judges and juries can’t – that’s why they make mistakes. Your pastor can’t! Even your spouse can’t (although she may come close!). But God can and does see right into your heart.

God saw that the intention of the thoughts of (mans) heart was only evil continually. No let up, no change for the good, no improvement; in fact, quite the opposite – there was nothing good there, only putrid evil.

What the Lord saw contrasts with what the sons of God saw. They saw that the women were attractive / beautiful (2) and that led to unbridled lust. God saw the unbridled wickedness of man and that led to God’s unrelenting judgement.

There was the universal pandemonium God saw. And…

B) The Enormous Pain God Felt (6:6)

So enormous was the pain he felt that the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth and it grieved him in his heart (6:6). Because God is fully engaged with his creation he feels deeply the separation that man’s sin causes. God is engaged with us but humanity is disengaged from him.

God was sorry – he regretted having made mankind! To regret something is to wish undone something that you have done or said, to have a sense of loss. To be grieved expresses a deep sense of betrayal or loss. To lose someone or be rejected by someone whom you deeply love generates grief. 

Here God expresses deep sorrow and heartache over man’s unfaithfulness and  disloyalty, over man’s rebellion and disobedience, and over man’s wickedness and degeneracy. We only grieve for those we love and God loves us more than anyone else. God loves us beyond our comprehension so much so that he gave his one and only Son to be our substitute, paying on our behalf the debt we owed for our sin.

So soon after being marvelously created by God, man refused God’s provision and man rejected God’s grace. By refusing God’s provision, we lost the paradise God had created and the fellowship he provided. By rejecting God’s grace, we are responsible for our sins and we face God’s judgement.

This verse begs the question: “Did God change his mind about having created mankind?” The answer is, “No!” He had enormous pain about what had happened but he did not reverse what he had done or change his purposes. Though he could have, God did not wipe out the human race. After all, we are still here. Furthermore, the context here suggests that it was man’s wickedness that made God sorry – not man’s existence. All of this rebellion and rejection by those he loved tore God’s heart apart. Adam and Eve were destined to experience sorrow and pain as the result of their sin. And here we read that God also feels sorrow and pain over that very same sin that man had introduced into his creation.

Let’s be clear: God is unchanging in his nature and character and purposes. But when humans respond contrary to his character and purposes, then God has the sovereign right to deal with humans in such a way as to accomplish his original and good purposes. That’s what’s going on here. God will not be deterred from accomplishing his good purposes. In this case, it led to God judging the human race with a flood in order to restore the world to the condition he wanted and to pursue his original purposes for mankind.

So, there was the universal pandemonium God saw, the enormous pain God felt, and…

C) The Final Plan God Made (6:7-8)

I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping thing and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them (6:7). Since God created us, he has the right and power to blot us out. But this only after years of God’s unfailing pursuit of us, his unfailing grace and patience toward us. And only after man had demonstrated years of continual spiritual and moral deterioration.

God extended mercy over and over again. There was a new beginning with the godly line of Seth but this still met with man’s detachment from and disregard of God, until this moment when God’s patience had been pushed past its limit. Someone has said that the fatal line between Gods mercy and His wrath had been forever crossed (John Phillips, Exploring Genesis, 82). The whole human race and all living creatures – all of whom had been impacted by sin - would come under the inescapable judgement of God, except for one man, Noah, for Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord (6:8).

God does not leave himself without witness. There is always a remnant of faith even in the darkest days of human depravity. And God is not deterred from achieving his original purposes. In this simple sentence we find that despite the universal pandemonium God saw, and despite the enormous pain God felt, there was a final plan God made. And this final plan included the provision of redemption, a way of escape. In the midst of utter wickedness, there is one man through whom salvation was offered. Noah found favor with God because he was a righteous man (as we shall see in the next article in this series). Noah was a righteous man precisely because of God’s favor toward him.

This is the only reason any of us can be declared righteous by God - because of God’s grace. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them(Eph. 2:8). For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor so that you by his poverty might become rich(2 Cor. 8:9). That is God’s grace, blessing us with what we didn’t deserve!

Concluding Remarks

Despite the depths of human wickedness that tested God’s patience and provoked God’s judgement, there is a limit to Gods patience. Remember the primary theological points in this sermon: (1) When wickedness is unashamedly practiced, God patiently warns; but (2) When godlessness is universally present, God ultimately judges. Nonetheless, prior to his judgement, God initiated a plan that is marked by grace, a plan to wipe out everything that was contrary to his nature and purposes, a plan to begin again in accordance with his original purpose in creation, and a plan to extend God’s grace to every person. All they had to do was enter the ark. They didn’t have to pay money or buy indulgences. They didn’t have to do works of penance. All they had to do is believe Noah’s message and demonstrate their belief by entering the ark.

Such is the grace of God that is extended today to every human being through the gospel. Prior to the imminent advent of God’s worldwide judgement, God is still proclaiming to people everywhere that a full and free salvation is available to all by his grace on the basis of faith in the finished work of Christ. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).

So, why then do we live in such a wicked world today? Because the nature of man has not changed. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. After the flood, God provided man with a perfect place but it wasn’t long before sin reared its ugly head once more. The nature of man has not changed and the purposes of God have not changed.

And as in Noah’s day all people have to do today is believe the gospel, enter the ark of safety which is Jesus Christ, receive God’s message of full and free salvation in Jesus. How simple is that? How easy is that? And yet, people still reject God and his grace. They still say, Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation (2 Pet. 3:4). But remember As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. There is a limit to Gods patience. Suddenly and without warning the judgement of God will fall and there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Make sure you avail yourself of the grace of God today while there is still the opportunity.

Related Topics: Character Study, Christian Life

4. As It Was In The Days Of Noah” (Pt. 2): God’s Plan Is Disclosed (Genesis. 6:8-22)

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Introduction

This is the fourth expository sermon in Genesis on “The Life and Times of Noah.” The times of Noah were remarkably like our own - a time of spiritual degeneracy, moral permissiveness and perversion, departure from God, rampant liberalism, and a time of violence and corruption throughout the world.

But God is not left without resource or witness. God has always had his man or woman for every occasion. He had Joseph who remained faithful in the days of Pharaoh. He had Elijah who stood firm in the days of the Baal prophets. He had Moses who stood firm in the days of the exodus and wilderness wanderings. He had Esther in the days of Mordecai and King Ahasuerus. He had Deborah in the days of Sisera and King Jabin. He had Daniel in the days of King Nebuchadnezzar. And he had Noah in the early days when humanity began to multiply on the earth.

God has never been without witness, no matter how utterly wicked the days may be. And we are living in wicked days with homosexual marriages, abortion on demand, doctor-assisted suicide, euthanasia etc. We are living in days when the church, which has been so blessed by God, is turning her back on the truth. We’re living in days when people love themselves, money, and pleasure rather than God.

The subject of this passage is: God’s plan for the world. The primary theological lesson in this passage is that God protects the righteous and condemns the wicked. Notice firstly that…

1. God Observes Everyone’s Moral Condition (6:8-12)

A) God Looks With Favor On Those Who Are Righteous (6:8-10).

Noah was just such a righteous person. He was one man who stood for goodness and for God. Noah was the last pre-flood descendant from Seth, from the godly descendants of Adam. Even though the sin of mankind had reached such depths of depravity that the Lord regretted that he had made man (6:6), nonetheless, there was one man who stood out.

It says of Noah that (1) “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (6:8); (2) “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation” (6:9a); and (3) “Noah walked with God” (6:9b). These three statements describe Noah’s relationships with the society around him (“his generation”) and with God. This description of Noah jumps off the page because of its sharp contrast with the culture around him. The culture around Noah was marked by departure from God (4:16-24), moral degeneracy (6:1-5), God’s grief over his creation and God’s plan to destroy man (6:6-7). In the midst of this gloomy scene, however, Noah’s conduct and character shine in bright contrast to the world around him. The people of his day were generally depraved and degenerate…

“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (6:8). Thank God for the “buts” of Scripture – but Noah…. Noah blooms like a rose in the midst of rottenness. Noah is the bright ray of hope in the midst of darkness, death, and despair. Noah stands out from the surrounding society – he is faithful to God. In contrast to all that was going on in the world and in contrast to the deep grief that God was feeling, Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord (6:8). He was the recipient of God’s sovereign, unmerited grace, kindness, and mercy.

That Noah found favor with God indicates that he needed it. We all need God’s grace precisely because we are unworthy of it, for none of us deserves God’s grace and favor. We can’t earn it and we have done nothing to merit it. God does not owe it to us,  just as he didn’t owe it to Noah. God freely extends his sovereign grace toward those who are totally undeserving, sinful, and blameworthy. God’s favor is bestowed on human beings purely on the basis of his sovereign favor, which is extended to those who repent and put their faith in Christ. That’s the only way to receive God’s unmerited favor - by repenting of our sins and receiving God’s forgiveness through his love and mercy in Jesus Christ. That’s how we find grace in the eyes of the Lord. And those who find favor with the Lord escape God’s coming judgement on the world.

That Noah found favor with God implies that he was searching for it. “But”, you may object, “the Bible says ‘no one is righteous, no, not one… no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’” (Rom. 3:10-12). That’s true. That’s how far humanity by nature and practice has departed from God. But the Bible also says, You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart (Jer. 29:13). Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon (Isa 55:6-7). Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (Jas 4:8).

So, how do you reconcile those two thoughts? On the one hand, no one seeks after God -  we are completely separated from Him and want nothing to do with him, for all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way (Isa. 53:6). And yet on the other hand, you will find God when you seek him with all your heart. How can someone find God who doesn’t seek for God? Is this some kind of bizarre “hide-and-seek” game in which God dodges behind bushes so that we can’t find him? Or, is it that we turn the other way every time we see God?

The answer is this: we seek God only when he draws us to himself. Since we do not seek God by ourselves the only way we seek him is if he initiates it. And God initiates it by his Spirit, who sovereignly and unilaterally opens our spiritually blind eyes, enabling us to seek God in order to find meaning and purpose in life and to discover beauty and truth in Jesus. The Spirit of God draws us to God, brings us to repentance and faith, and regenerates us with new life in Christ. That’s how we find God. There is no other way. If we are incapable of finding God and unwilling to search for God, then the process must be all of God. And that’s how Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. That’s the only way anyone finds favor with God.

Notice that this favor is in the eyes of the Lord. No one else’s opinion or assessment of us has any validity. Our standing before others is of no account, be they paupers or princes, commoners or kings, judges or juries, family or friends, bosses or bureaucrats. Their opinion of us is of no value for eternity. We must find favor in the eyes of the Lord. And we only find that through faith in his beloved Son, our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. That’s the first and most important thing we know about Noah. But we also know that…

“Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation” (6:9a). He was righteous in his character and his actions. To be righteous means to be  upright, honest, impartial, fair, just in all his dealings and relationships with other people. He was decent, dependable, honest, lawful, ethical, trustworthy. He was basically a good and godly man.

According to 2 Pet. 2:5, Noah was a preacher of righteousness. Throughout the 120 years from the time God decided to flood the world, Noah preached righteousness. A preacher of righteousness tells people (1) how to be right with God; (2) that God himself is righteous (just); (3) that God demands that we be righteous also; (4) that if we don’t get right with God we will eventually come under God’s righteous judgement; and (5) that in order to get right with God we have to accept God’s offer of salvation. In the case of the people of Noah’s day that meant entering the ark. In our case, that means trusting Christ as Saviour and Lord. That’s the only way to be declared righteous by God.

Noah’s faith in building the ark was a message of righteousness: He constructed  an ark for the saving of his household (Heb. 11:7). His righteousness was transparent in his action. His action was an incarnational sermon that God’s judgement was coming and people needed to get right with God.

In their case, entering the ark would have taken faith - faith that Noah’s warning was true; faith that a flood was coming (they didn’t know when or how but it was coming); faith that only the ark could save them (not their own efforts); faith that they would be safe in the ark until the flood was over; faith that when the flood was over, they would go free.

In our case, to trust Christ takes faith. You can prove that the historical Christ actually existed and you may believe what he said was true, but to trust him for your eternal security from God’s judgement, that takes faith.

Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah was blameless precisely because he was righteous. Noah was blameless before society. He lived uprightly, with integrity, without reproach. Though not sinless, Noah was blameless in his relationship to the world around him. He didn’t philander with other women. He didn’t curse and swear. He paid his bills on time and didn’t owe any taxes. It isn’t that Noah was perfect – for there was only one perfect man, Jesus Christ - but that there was nothing that anyone could point to and find fault with him. That’s quite a commendation, isn’t it?

He was blameless before society and, more importantly, he was blameless before God. Noah didn’t succumb to the ways of the world around him. He didn’t adopt their immoral, degenerate, perverted and idolatrous lifestyle. Noah was a man of faith whom God justified and declared to be blameless.

All of this description of Noah is summed up in the third characteristic of  his life…

“Noah walked with God” (9). He is like his great-grandfather, Enoch, who also walked with God (Gen. 5:22). Noah had seen such piety displayed in his great-grandfather and he followed his example.

To walk with God means that you live in close company with God, that you treasure fellowship (communion) with God, that your life is characterized by godliness. The prophet Micah asks the question, What does the Lord require of you? And the answer is: To do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God (6:8). What are the three key components of that verse? (1) Act justly (righteously); (2) love kindness (mercy); (3) walk humbly with your God. That describes Noah. And that describes what the life of every Christian should be like.

Our lives should be characterized by righteousness -  integrity, fairness, impartiality. Our lives should be characterized by kindness - forgiveness, forbearance, mercy, sympathy, gentleness. Our lives should be characterized by humility - not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think but esteeming others better than ourselves. Our lives should be characterized by walking with God - a prayerful life, a desire for God and love for his word, closeness to God, a deep understanding of God.

When you walk with someone, you understand them and enjoy their company. You enter into common experiences. You laugh and cry together. You talk together, listen to each other. You share your innermost feelings. Your relationship is marked by harmony, oneness. That’s what it means to walk with God. You want to hear his voice, go where he is going, do what he is doing, love what he loves, hate what he hates.

This isn’t an activity restricted to a certain, esoteric few. This is normal Christianity. This is what God expects and wants of us. He wants us to be absorbed with him, just as he is with us. A. W. Tozer is reported to have said that the goal of every Christian should be to live in a state of unbroken worship. That’s what it means to walk with God.

There have always been Noahs in days of corruption. God has always had his men and women to stand for him no matter what the surrounding circumstances were. I have a book in my library called, They Found the Secret by Raymond Edman. In the book, he describes the lives of people who “found the secret” to walking with God - people like J. Hudson Taylor, John Bunyan, Amy Carmichael, Oswald Chambers, Adoniram Judson, D. L. Moody, Handley Moule, Andrew Murray and more. The thrust of Edman’s book is that “It is not enough to just know about Christ or to know about what he did for us, nor even to experience his work in us. What is needed is to experience him in us as he works out God’s inscrutable will” (Walter Elwell, Foreword, “They Found the Secret,” 11). This is what it means to walk with God.

Writing about John Wycliffe, Stuart Briscoe recounts: “At a particularly dark time in England’s history, God raised up a man called John Wycliffe. J. C. Ryle the Bishop of Liverpool, wrote in his book, Light from Old Times, ‘England seems to have been buried under a mass of ignorance, superstition, priestcraft and immorality.’ Yet, in this kind of environment John Wycliffe shone brightly. Known as the ‘Morning Star of the Reformation,’ even though he died about 100 years before Luther was born, he was acknowledged in academic, ecclesiastical and political circles as being ‘no common man’. For over twenty-five years the things that he said and the actions that he undertook spoke loud and long to his contemporaries. It is a fitting tribute that even though his body was exhumed and burned and the ashes thrown into a stream thirty-one years after his death, his name lives on in the ministry of hundreds of Wycliffe Bible translators who have reached out to the hidden tribes with the message of Christ. There has always been a Noah or a Wycliffe” (Briscoe, Genesis: The Preachers Commentary, 80).

Such, then, was Noah, a man who walked with God. He was a man who had placed his faith in God. He was faithful and true to God despite the world around him. This made Noah different from his society. The masses were ungodly – lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (2 Tim. 3:4), self-centered, self-sufficient, self-indulgent. The masses were only interested in pleasure and prosperity – to eat, drink and be merry(Lk.12:19). They had found the key to progress in urbanization, secularization, industrialization (as we noticed in Genesis 4), all of which took them further and further away from God.

But Noah didn’t get caught up in all of that. He remained faithful to God in the midst of moral and spiritual decline and darkness. You see, when someone is faithful to God their life is different. When you are converted to Christ your behavior changes, your thinking changes, your desires change, your goals and priorities all change. Because when God saves you he changes you. All of a sudden you understand the meaning of life,  and God gives you a new purpose in life. And that’s what he did for Noah. God called Noah to faith and gave him a new purpose, a new occupation, a new life’s work.

When God calls you, he not only calls you to salvation but he calls you to service as well. Every Christian is called to serve God. If you claim to be a Christian but your life hasn’t changed, then you’re not saved. It’s just that simple. If your behavior didn’t change, your thoughts didn’t change, your speech, your purposes and your desires didn’t change, then you’re not saved. It’s just that simple. Because the Bible says, If anyone is in Christ, he / she is a new creation. The old has gone; the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17).

Thus, God called Noah to serve him in a very unique way. Now, we may not all be called to build an ark for the saving of our household. But we are all called by God to serve him in some way. That doesn’t mean that you become somebody who is odd and can’t relate to the world around you. It means that within the context of your life and your abilities God provides you opportunities to serve Him.

So, Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. His standing before God was on the basis of God’s grace, not his own merit. And because of God’s grace, he was able to respond to God in complete obedience through faith. He submitted to God, he served God, he obeyed God – no questions, no rebellion, no excuses. Even though he had never seen an ocean, never felt rain, let alone a flood, and never seen a ship. And as a result of his faith and obedience, his entire family was saved by entering the ark.

First, then, God observes everyone’s moral condition. He looks with grace on those who are righteous, but…

B) God Looks With Grief On Those Who Are Wicked (6:11-12).

God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth (6:5) and God was grieved in his heart (6:6). God looks with grief on the earth: The earth was corrupt in Gods sight and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth (6:11-12).

Notice the distinction here between the earth and all flesh. The corrupt behavior of all flesh had a negative impact on the earth in which they lived. Human beings cannot live wicked lives with impunity. We cannot practice corruption and violence without negatively affecting the entire environment of the earth. So, by this point in Noah’s history, sin had affected the entire planet.

The earth was corrupt morally, spiritually, physically, environmentally, politically, socially, judicially etc. Man’s unethical conduct, dishonest dealings, immoral  relationships, and rejection of God had corrupted the planet. Human beings were depraved in their nature, degenerate in their behavior, disconnected in society, and detached from God, with the result that the earth was corrupt in Gods sight (6:11).

Furthermore, the earth was filled with violence. Violence accompanies corruption. When the nature of human beings is rotten their relationships become ruthless.

What is the conclusion of the matter? God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth (6:12). This was the universal human condition – corruption.

So first, God observes everyone’s moral condition. And…

2. God Determines Everyone’s Eternal Destination (6:13-22)

Such is the putrid stench of corruption and violence that 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 (6:13). Notice here the three parts to what God determined for every human being’s eternal destination.

A) God Provides Escape From Judgement (6:14-16).

God said to Noah, Make yourself an ark of gopher wood (6:14). God’s decision to destroy all flesh was accompanied with God’s provision for escaping coming judgement. God’s judgement can never be taken in isolation from his redemption. This is the redeeming grace of God toward us who believe. God does not cast away his people,  those who are declared righteous by God. The means of salvation for Noah, and all those who heeded his message of coming judgement, was an ark.

By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith (Heb. 11:7). By God’s grace and on the basis of faith, Noah and his household were saved from the flood  by entering the ark.

We can only be saved by the means of escape that God has provided. By God’s grace through faith we can avail ourselves of the  means of escape through the death of Christ. We cannot work for it and we don’t deserve it. Salvation is all of God’s grace in Christ.

The first step in God’s determination of every human being’s eternal destination is that God provides escape from coming judgement. The second is…

B) God Ultimately Destroys The Wicked (6:17)

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 (6:17). Notice that God does not say “everyone shall die,” but everything that is on the earth shall die – i.e. everyone and everything that is not in the ark. The ark was the place of safety and refuge from God’s judgement. Everyone who did not heed God’s warning through Noah’s preaching and who did not enter the ark by faith would be destroyed in the flood.

Remember, As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man (Matt. 24:37). Today, Jesus Christ is our “ark” of safety from the judgement of God that is about to fall on the world. If you are in Christ (Rom. 8:1; 2 Cor. 5:17), then you are saved from coming judgement. If you are not in Christ – if you ignore God’s offers of mercy and do not take refuge in the saving work of Christ - you will be punished, not by a flood but by fire (2 Pet. 3:7, 10).

Firstly, God provides escape from judgement. Secondly, God ultimately destroys the wicked. And thirdly…

C) God Securely Preserves The Righteous (6:18-22)

God promises Noah, 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 (6:18). Despite the worldwide judgement that was coming, Noah was secure in God’s unilateral covenant with him. He could count on God’s word that he would preserve Noah and all those with him in the ark.

Such is God’s promise to us through the New Covenant in Christ. By faith, all who trust Christ are eternally secure in God’s promise that we are forgiven and sealed for eternity. God has covenanted with us, as he did with Noah, that judgement is coming but that we can be safe and secure if we take shelter in Christ.

The evidence of righteousness and faith is obedience. Noah carried out God’s plan, incredible as it seemed, in all its details, for the preservation of all who would believe (6:19-22).

Concluding Remarks

But as in Noah’s day, the majority of people don’t believe it. That’s why, after 120 years of preaching that (1) full and free salvation from certain judgement in the coming flood was available for those who believed and who demonstrated that belief by entering the ark, and that (2) certain death and eternal doom awaited those who rejected his message and were left behind, despite those warnings only eight souls were saved!

No one outside Noah’s family believed him. They didn’t take him seriously. They wrote him off as a nutcase. For 120 years, they heard Noah’s message but concluded that nothing had changed. Apart from the building of the ark, everything was going on as it had before. And the longer time went by, probably the more intransigent and opposed to Noah and his message they became.

Remember our outline of this passage:

1. God Observes Everyone’s Moral Condition.

a) He looks with grace on those who are righteous.

b) He looks with grief on those who are wicked.

2. God Determines Everyone’s Eternal Destination.

a) He provides escape from judgement.

b) He ultimately destroys the wicked.

c) He securely preserves the righteous.

And remember the thesis of this sermon: God protects the righteous and condemns the wicked.

So where do you stand today before God? Are you safe and secure for eternity in Christ? Or, are you still rejecting the truth of God’s word, that judgement is coming,  that full and free salvation is available through Jesus Christ? May we all embrace the salvation and eternal security which are found in Christ alone.

Related Topics: Character Study, Christian Life

5. As It Was In The Days Of Noah (Pt. 3): The Finality Of God’s Plan (Genesis 7:1-24)

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Introduction

After God finished giving Noah the instructions about the ark, the animals, and the food, it says: Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him (6:22).

Then, Methuselah died! Now it doesn’t say that here but that’s what happened. Do the math – it works! Methuselah was 969 years old when he died. He was 187 years old when Lamech was born (5:25). Lamech was 182 years old when Noah was born (5:28). Noah was 500 years old by the time Shem, Ham, and Japheth were born (5:32). And 100 years after that, when Noah was 600 years old (7:6), came the flood. Thus, 187+182+500 +100 = 969 years. Methuselah was 969 years old – the oldest man who had ever lived.

Perhaps the people thought Methuselah would never die and neither would they. Perhaps they thought that if he lived that long so would they. Perhaps they were putting their trust in the latest breakthroughs in medical science. Perhaps they counted on their inventions, their technical abilities, their scientific breakthroughs - I don’t know. But I do know that just when Noah did all that God commanded him, Methuselah died!

“What’s so significant about that?” you ask. Well, Methuselah’s name means, “When he dies, it shall come.” His name spelled it all out. For 969 years, his name and his life had witnessed to some sort of impending catastrophic event. “When he dies, it shall come” – and he died. “Now what?” they must have surely wondered. “What will come?” Or, perhaps they just passed off Methuselah’s death as old age; “After all, no one lives forever. It happens to the best of us.

Methuselah’s funeral must have been quite something. Perhaps Noah preached Methuselah’s funeral message. You can imagine what he might have said: “Ladies and gentlemen, Methuselah is dead! Methuselah’s name means, ‘When he dies, it shall come.’ So, the time has come, just as I have been telling you now for 120 years. The time has come; the flood is coming and the ark is ready. Enter the ark now so that you are safe.”

But nobody responded. No one believed him except his family. I can hear the response from the crowd as they jeered and hooted and ridiculed him. “What do you mean, judgement is coming? Anyway, just exactly what is ‘rain’? You’ve never seen it: we’ve never seen it. There has never been any rain ever! So, who are you to tell us that a flood is coming?” So nobody responded to Noah’s invitation that day.

The subject of this sermon is: God’s plan of salvation. And its thesis is that there is a finality to Gods plan of salvation. God has always had a plan of salvation, a way of escape from his coming judgement. He did so in Noah’s day of violence and corruption and he does so in our day. Just as it was universally available then, so it is universally available now. Just as God had a plan of salvation then, so he does today. God’s plan of salvation for Noah was the ark. God’s plan of salvation for us today is the sacrifice of Christ. And just as God’s plan of salvation had a finality to it then, so his plan of salvation has a finality to it today.

1. God’s Plan Includes A Final Invitation (7:1).

Finally the time had come. Everything was ready - the ark, the birds and animals, the food. Noah’s faithful preaching was complete. He had warned of coming judgement and he had offered full and free salvation.

And now God issues his final invitation: Then the Lord said to Noah, Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation’” (7:1). This is the same invitation God offers today - escape for your life; flee to Christ for security and safety; in him you have shelter from coming judgement. It takes a step of faith for the salvation God offers to be yours. You must respond in faith to the invitation to come into safety. One day the final invitation will be sounded for the last time, just as it did in Noah’s day: Come for all things are now ready(Lk. 14:17).

God’s plan includes a final invitation. And…

2. God’s Plan Includes A Final Instruction (7:2-4).

1Then the Lord said to Noah 2 Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate, 3 and seven pairs of the birds of the heavens also, male and female, to keep their offspring alive on the face of all the earth. 4 For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground’” (7:2-4).

This seems to be a supplemental instruction to 6:19. There Noah was instructed to bring pairs of every living thing. Now, in addition to the pairs, he was to bring in clean animals in sevens. We’re not going to have time to cover chapters 8 and 9, but in 9:20 Noah built an altar and offered a burnt offering there. That’s what these clean animals must have been for.

This scene is somewhat reflective of Gen. 2:19, where the animals were brought by God before Adam, the first head of the human race, for him to name them. Now they come before Noah, the second head of a redeemed race, not to be named but to be preserved.

God’s plan includes a final invitation, a final instruction, and…

3. God’s Plan Includes A Final Response (7:5-9).

Noah responded in faith and obedience. Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him (7:5). He not only trusted God, he also obeyed. His obedience was evidence of his faith – evidence to his household and to his society. And there was no doubt in his mind about it – Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him (7:5).

So, for the next 7 days, according to 7:4, Noah and his family and all the animals and birds and cargo were loaded onto the ark (7:7-9). Can you imagine what those 7 days were like? For Noah those 7 days were the fulfillment of a life’s work. This was it! What he had been predicting for many years was about to happen. But for the people, who had listened to Noah’s message all those years, what were those 7 days like when they saw the animals filing into the ark, when they saw Noah’s family enter the ark, when they saw Noah practicing what he had been preaching?

Did they suddenly reconsider? No! Did they say, “Noah actually believes what he said. He must not be a false prophet or a con man?” No! Did they join Noah and his family, just in case it was true that a flood was coming? No! Undoubtedly the mockers of that society worked overtime despite the fact that God was giving them one last chance, seven more days to respond. The cynics probably said, “Don’t be deceived. It’s all a hoax. All things will continue as they have from the beginning.” The jokers probably laughed and jeered, like so many today. People laugh and jeer at spiritual matters. They give no thought to tomorrow. They don’t care about the future. They just live for today. They give no thought of God or coming judgement. They don’t think there will ever be an end to the world. And they laugh and jeer at those who tell them the truth.

Years ago I used to do some street preaching at the four corners of Parry Sound (a small town in northern Ontario) and also in Toronto at Queen’s Park. People used to laugh and jeer. Passing cars used to honk their horns and squeal their tires. I’m sure it was the same in Noah’s day (well, perhaps not the squealing tires!). Noah responded in faith and obedience but what about the people?

This was their final opportunity to also respond in faith and obedience. But would they? Would they believe? Would they believe that Noah was telling them the truth? After all, history is littered with false doomsday prophets. Would they believe that it was going to rain? After all, they had never experience rain before - they didn’t know what it looked like or felt like. Would they believe that the rain would cause a flood and that every air breathing creature that was not in the ark would drown? After all, what’s a little rain? Can it really be that bad? Anyway, is it possible to literally flood the entire earth? Would they believe that the ark was able and sufficient to hold them all and to protect them throughout the flood? After all, that’s a lot of animals! Would they believe that God’s covenant with Noah would be fulfilled and that God would and could keep his word? After all, they had probably heard many promises before from false prophets.

Noah had built the ark and preached to his doomed generation that they could escape God’s coming judgement by simply entering the ark. And God still warns the world through his people today. He still issues a word of prophecy. He still extends an invitation. He still gives signs that his word is true. Signs of the times are all around and yet people still do not heed the warning, despite the fact that so many people today are saying, “I don’t know how long this world can go on like this.” Well, just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man (Lk. 17:26). The message had been published perhaps for the full 120 years. And for the last 7 days the final action had been taken – the animals and cargo were loaded and ready to go. And at a precise date in history, the 600th year of Noah’s life, the 2nd month, the 17th day of the month, Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood (7:7).

Whether others believed Noah or not, Noah believed God. He had built the ark according to God’s instructions (6:15-16). He had gathered all the birds and animals according to God’s instructions (6:19-20 and 7:2-3, 8-9). He had collected all the food they would need according to God’s instructions (6:21). Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him (7:5).

Do you see that there were two key ingredients to this plan of salvation? First, God’s infallible word. Second, Noah’s intrinsic obedience to God in faith. All those who believed God’s word and obeyed it by entering the ark would be saved. It has always been this way with God’s plan of salvation. It is this way for us today in God’s marvelous plan of salvation. First, you need to believe God’s word. Second, you need to obey it by repenting of your sin and trusting Christ as your Saviour. Christ is the ark of safety from the storm of God’s wrath that is coming upon the whole world. He is the ark of provision for the needs of all inside. He alone can meet our every need for time and eternity. He alone can keep us safe throughout the storm.

In addition to the physical reality of the ark it speaks of a spiritual reality. The spiritual reality for those inside the ark was that they were safe and secure. They had no fear of perishing. They had full assurance of ultimate salvation. No flood could penetrate the walls which were lined with pitch. The word for pitch (6:14) literally means “covering” (specifically, bitumen) and figuratively it means to expiate, placate, appease, ransom. Is this not a picture, then, of the covering of the mercy seat and, later, the covering that we have in Christ, our propitiation?

So for those inside the ark, they were literally and spiritually safe and secure. The literal and spiritual reality for those left outside the ark was that they thought they were free but in fact they were prisoners doomed for destruction. They thought that this was one big joke as they watched the ark being loaded up to set sail. You can hear their shrieks of laughter, their shouts of scorn as they frittered away their last moments of opportunity to be saved.

God’s plan of salvation includes a final invitation, a final instruction, a final response, and…

4. God’s Plan Includes A Final Judgement (7:10-24)

All the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened (7:11). Rain came from the sky and water came up from the ground. You have to wonder how that day began. Did it begin like a normal day, perhaps with sunshine that gradually turned to clouds? We don’t know. What must the people have thought when the door of the ark was shut and the rain began to fall? We don’t know. Did they bang on the ark’s door begging Noah to let them in? We don’t know. What we do know is that rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights (7:12).

It began to rain: 13On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noahs wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark, 14they and every beast, according to its kind, and all the livestock according to their kinds, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, according to its kind, and every bird, according its kind, every winged creature. 15They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. 16And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the Lord shut him in (7:13-16).

Noah followed God’s instruction to the letter. He did all that the Lord had commanded him (7:5). He gathered in all the animals as God commanded him (7:9). Noah and his family entered the ark as God had commanded him (7:16). Noah followed God’s instruction to the letter. Never a moment’s hesitation in his obedience. Never a doubt in his mind. Just pure and perfect obedience.

There was so much Noah could have questioned. Would God literally flood the earth or was that just a metaphor? Was God able to do such a thing? Why would a loving God wipe out every breathing creature left on the earth? Was it really that bad? Was God such a malevolent being? What kind of God would initiate such suffering and death?

But Noah chose to act in obedient faith. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith (Heb. 11:7). Here you see the seven key components of Noah’s obedient faith:

1) He heeded the divine warning. He took God seriously; believed what God said;  understood the seriousness of it; recognized the implications of it.

2) He believed without seeing things yet unseen. Jesus said to Thomas, Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (Jn. 20:29). That describes Noah who had never seen rain, never seen water rise from the foundations of the earth, never seen an ocean, never seen a ship much less an ark,  never seen any blueprints of an ark.

3) He was motivated by godly fear. He knew that God demanded obedience. He knew the consequences of disobeying God. He knew God in such a way that he lived in reverence and awe, the lesser worshipping the greater, the creature before the Creator.

4) He did exactly what God said constructed an ark. He didn’t decide that he knew better than God. He didn’t change what God said and instead of building an ark built a tree house. He didn’t tell people to flee to the tops of the mountains to escape coming judgement. He did what God said.

5) He valued the safety of his family -­ constructed an ark for the saving of his household. They were precious to him. He wanted them to escape the judgement of God.

6) He condemned the unbelieving world. By not heeding Noah’s warning the unbelieving world was self-condemned.

7) He became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. He entered into all the blessings of the imputed righteousness of Christ.

Such was the faith of Noah. And when they were all inside, the Lord shut them in. Perfect safety for those inside – certain doom for those outside. Absolute finality for everyone and everything. And then followed the flood. Notice the increasing intensity and scope of the flood:

1) The waters increased and bore up the ark and it rose high above the earth (7:17).

2) The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth and the ark floated on the face of the waters (7:17-18).

3) The waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered (7:19).

4) The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep (7:20).

Thus the flood progressed from a general statement in 7:17-18 to the high hills being covered in 7:19, and the mountains in 7:20. Obviously this is following the sequence of events as they occurred over the 40 days. It went from water raising the ark above the earth, to covering the high hills, to covering the mountains. But amidst all this, the ark floated on the face of the waters (7:18). While everyone else was perishing, even those who probably tried to escape to the tops of the mountains, those in the ark were safe: they rose above it all.

Christians are divided about whether the flood was universal in scope or limited to the habitable part of the world at that time. The language used here indicates a world-wide catastrophic flood. The whole world was covered with water, even the tops of the mountains. Some scientists don’t want us to believe that because it flies in the face of their atheistic, evolutionary theories and their interpretation of fossils (which tries to explain away the flood and support their theory that death occurred before Adam and Eve), all of which is patently untrue. Scientific evidence of a world-wide flood is abundant.

Why, then, did it have to be universal and catastrophic? So that God’s word would come true, that every breathing creature would die (7:21-27). 23He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, both man and animals, and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. 24And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days (7:23-24).

It rained 40 days and the waters remained on the earth a further 150 days, and it took a whole year for the waters to recede completely so that they could come out of the ark.

Concluding Remarks

I know that there are many people who think the story of the flood is a fairy tale. Sadly, there are professing Christians who believe that it is a fable or an allegory. They say that such accounts exist in other ancient civilizations; that these are merely mythical attempts to explain some sort of catastrophic event. Some of you today may be among those who smile condescendingly and cynically about the biblical flood. Well, I want you to know that there were some who lived during the flood, who also smirked and scoffed at the notion that a flood was coming. Just as there are those today who smirk and scoff that judgement is coming again. They say, Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation. Well, remember, just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man (Lk. 17:26).

And remember my thesis in this sermon: There is a finality to Gods plan of salvation - a final invitation; a final instruction; a final response; a final judgement. It’s my prayer that everyone reading this has responded appropriately to God’s invitation to salvation and escape God’s final judgement.

Related Topics: Character Study, Christian Life

6. Noah’s Deliverance: God Keeps His Word (Genesis 8:1-9:28)

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Introduction

When the floods came, Noah and his family probably felt relief and safety. One wonders how they felt as time passed by. While there is no explicit verse that tells us exactly the total length of the time that they were all in the ark, you can put together all the details in two different ways:

1) Using the number of days: 150 (Gen. 8:3) +74 (8:5) +40 (8:6) +7 (8:10) +7 (8:12) +28 (8:13) +56 (8:14) = 362 days

2) Using the dates of Noah’s life: from 17th day of 2nd month of Noah’s 600th year to 27th day of 2nd month of Noah’s 601st year = 370 days. It seems to me that this  second calculation is probably the accurate one as there is one period of time (8:13) when the number of days is not mentioned and you have to calculate it from Noah’s age anyway.

So, from the time they entered the ark until the time they came out was just over one year. I wonder how they coped during that time. How did they wash themselves and prepare food? How did they tend to all those animals? As I write this in March 2020, we are confined to our homes in Canada as the public health officials struggle to bring the international corona virus crisis under control. Already, after only a couple of weeks, many people are beginning to get cabin fever. What must it have felt like for Noah and his family to have been confined to the ark for over a year? And particularly, what must it have felt like during the extended period of time after the rain stopped? Would they ever be free to disembark and walk outside again? That year inside the ark must have seemed like forever.

During that time, every air breathing creature outside the ark died. Those who may have tried to escape to the tops of the mountains died. Everyone who refused to heed Noah’s warning and to accept God’s offer of safe refuge in the ark died. By the time Noah stepped out of the ark, the world was devoid of humans and animals, and it had been excised of everything that God hated, like “the wickedness of man” (6:5) and “violence and corruption” (6:12-13).

The subject of the passage we are studying in this sermon is: God’s faithfulness in keeping his word. The overall lesson in the passage is that God will preserve his redeemed people from final judgement. Notice, firstly, that…

1. Redeemed People Wait Patiently For God’s Deliverance (8:1-14)

Dealing with such an extended period of confinement in the ark must have required enormous patience – patience with inter-personal relationships in the family, patience with physical confinement, patience with the animals etc. Had God forgotten them? No! God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark (8:1a). That God “remembered” Noah does not infer that God had previously “forgotten” him. Rather it is an expression indicating that after their confinement comes liberty; that after the judgement comes deliverance; that God’s ways with and through Noah are about to resume. Now his wrath was exhausted and “God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided (8:1b-3).

On the 17th day of the 7th month in Noah’s 600th year, the ark must have jerked with quite a bump as it “came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (8:4-5). But Noah still waited another 40 days before he opened the window to find out how things were going on earth. Then he let out a raven and a dove to see if conditions were suitable for them all to disembark from the ark. Though the earth was still wet, the raven was able to keep flying until it was dry (8:7). But the dove “found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth” (8:9).

When I was a teenager I used to have a large walk-in aviary, which was divided down the middle so that my brother could keep his tumbler pigeons on one side and I could keep my mourning doves on the other. It’s interesting that doves feed on the ground. In our back yard today, most birds feed on our birdfeeder, but the doves always feed on the ground. Perhaps that was why the dove returned to Noah in the ark while there was still water on the ground.

Seven days later, Noah let the dove out again and it brought back an olive leaf (8:10-11). Then, after a further seven days Noah let it out again and “she did not return to him anymore” (8:12). That must have been a thrilling day for Noah and his family. At last they could enjoy freedom, fresh air, fresh food, and peace and quiet. Can you imagine what it must have been like with elephants trumpeting and baboons screaming all that time (or, perhaps in the providence of God they didn’t)?

And so, on the 1st day of the 1st month in Noah’s 601st year (New Year’s Day!), Noah removed the covering of the ark (I guess the ark was the first convertible!).

Amongst many other things, the record of the flood and the period of time that Noah and his family spent in the ark should teach us that redeemed people wait patiently for God’s deliverance. Notice the second lesson, that…

2. Redeemed People Worship Gratefully for God’s Deliverance (8:15-9:17)

Noah waited another 56 days until the 27th day of the 2nd month of his 601st year,  until the earth was finally dry. When they entered the ark, God shut them in (7:16). When they exited the ark, God let them out. “Then God said to Noah, ‘Go out from the ark…’” (8:15-19). There is nothing to indicate that Noah ever got frustrated, claustrophobic, or antsy during the entire time of his incarceration in the ark. He was with God inside the ark and he was with God outside the ark.

God spoke and Noah worshipped. Once outside the ark, Noah built an altar to the Lord and he took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar”(8:20). There is no indication that God commanded Noah to build the altar or what sacrifices he should offer on it. This was Noah’s spontaneous response of worship to God as an expression of who God is and the gratefulness of Noah’s heart for his deliverance. This is an indication of Noah’s spirituality, his walk with God. He didn’t say: “Phew! Glad that’s over. Now let’s get on with our lives.” Rather, he worshipped the Lord by offering clean animals and birds, which were symbolic of a holy offering, of pure worship. Undoubtedly that’s why God had told Noah to take seven of each clean animal in order to have enough to offer them up before the Lord. Noah evidently knew this and responded willingly.

Humanly speaking, this was risky and wasteful. After all, Noah could have argued that he needed every animal he could get to replenish the earth and to provide food. But this was a godly, holy act. What was due to God takes precedence over practical or logical matters. Noah’s offering was a sacrifice of a sweet aroma to God. This is how Noah offered it and this is how God received it: The Lord smelled a soothing aroma (8:21). Noah’s sacrifice was a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Eph. 5:2); a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God (Phil. 4:18).

So, first, redeemed people wait patiently for God’s deliverance. Second, redeemed people worship gratefully for God’s deliverance. Third…

3. Redeemed People Welcome a New Beginning from God’s Deliverance (8:21- 9:29)

“And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of man’” (8:21a). God’s response to Noah’s sacrifice was to establish the Noahic covenant to never again judge the earth with a flood or interrupt the natural daily and seasonal cycles of life on earth with a flood, despite the fact that man’s sinful nature had not changed for “the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (8:21b-22). Note that God made this covenant initially “in his heart” (8:21a) and did not disclose it to Noah and his sons until 9:8-17.

Following this great deliverance, God renewed his plan for the procreation of a new humanity. Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (9:1). Noah is now viewed as a second Adam, the new head of a new race, to whom God repeats and reaffirms his original instruction to Adam (1:28) for the proliferation of mankind.

Then, God establishes a new relationship between humanity and the animal kingdom: 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 in 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” (9:2). The pre-flood relationship between humans and animals was that humans ruled and subdued the earth (1:28) in order for them to peacefully co-exist in a pre-fall, perfect environment. But after the flood, conditions on earth have evidently changed substantially, presumably because of the violence and corruption that precipitated the flood. Not only had humans rebelled against divine rule, but, it seems, animals had rebelled against human rule. Now every moving creature would live in “fear and dread” of humans because man’s authority over them was elevated in order to deal effectively with the post-flood conditions, including the wild animals. God once more affirms human rule over animals, but it would no longer be a relationship of peaceful co-existence. Now, humans would exercise the authority of life and death over the wild animals.

Moreover, a new diet is permitted (9:3-4). The death of animals at human hands seems to coincide with the addition of meat to the human diet. Perhaps this is an indication of man’s absolute control. Also, no longer is there a distinction between clean and unclean animals, or between animals and vegetation. “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything(9:3).

In the pre-flood world, humans and animals, it seems, were both vegetarian. This would make sense for a peaceful co-existence. But after the flood, humans were given freedom to eat meat. This is an entirely new relationship and a new diet. Why was this permitted at this time and not before? I’m not sure, but it’s interesting that one of the marks of end times apostasy is the command to abstain from meats (1 Tim. 4:1-3).

Further, a new law is imposed (9:5-7). No longer will man be permitted to live without restraint of law or accountability. A murderer shall be put to death (9:6). This still governs the state’s right to do so (e.g. Rom. 13:3-4), such is the sanctity of human life in God’s eyes. And yet murders of thousands of preborn babies occur every day with the state’s approval and now medically assisted murder of dying people is legal! How have the mighty fallen! (2 Sam. 1:25, 27).

The new covenant (the Noahic covenant) that God made within himself in 8:21-22 is now disclosed and confirmed to Noah and his sons (9:8-17). This covenant is valid for Noah, his descendants, and all living creatures that came out of the ark (9:9-10). The scope of the new covenant is that God would never again destroy all flesh by a flood judgement (9:11). As a concrete seal and constant reminder of his new covenant, God establishes a new sign – the sign of the rainbow (9:12-17). Remarkably, it is spoken of as a reminder to God of his promise: “‘15I 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. 16When 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.’ 17God said to Noah, This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth (9:15-17).

The beauty of the rainbow’s colors speak of the beauty of God’s creation. The arc in the sky speaks of God’s protection of his creation. Ironic, isn’t it, that the homosexual community has taken the rainbow as their symbol? I wonder why? Is it to mock God?

I am sure you will notice in these new initiatives the grace of God that is displayed for the benefit of his redeemed people after the flood. God makes every provision for his people and his creatures for them to live in a new world with new conditions. This was a new beginning.

I wonder if the judgement of the flood and the life of God’s redeemed people after the flood is a preview of the final judgement of God on this world (Matt. 25:31-46; Acts 17:31; Rev. 20:11-15) and what will follow, when God will say, “Behold I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5)? Maybe not explicitly, but it certainly gives us a glimpse of that final scene – judgement for some; deliverance for others.

The focus now shifts from Noah to his three sons (9:18) and all future generations and descendants. After God’s judgement, Noah emerges as the new head of the human race along with his three sons - “from these the people the whole earth was dispersed (populated)” (9:19).

This new head of the new human race begins a new occupation. “Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent” (9:20-21). Now Noah continues Adam’s post-fall legacy, working the cursed ground by the sweat of his brow. But Noah adds a new venture. He is the first person to plant a vineyard and begin to produce wine. Unfortunately, wine, which was intended to cause joy of heart (Ps. 104:15), when abused, can lead to drunkenness and nakedness. It certainly did so in Noah’s case.

Drunkenness leads to all sorts of lewd, vulgar, and immoral behavior. Drunkenness is often associated with sexual impropriety as with David and Uriah (2 Sam. 11:9-13) and Lot’s daughters (Gen. 19:30-38). David made Uriah drunk in order to induce Uriah to abandon his righteous convictions and to sleep with his wife, Bathsheba, in order to cover up David’s adultery with her (2 Sam. 11:9-13). But his plan didn’t work. Lot’s daughters made their father drunk in order to commit incest with him during his drunken oblivion and thus “preserve offspring” (Gen. 19:32, 34) by their father. “Thus, both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father” (Gen. 19:36).

Sad, isn’t it, that after all these years of faithfulness and obedience to God, Noah came to this at the end of his life. No details are given as to why he planted a vineyard and then got drunk. But what we learn here is (1) that godly people can make bad choices which can lead to embarrassing ends – in this case, drunkenness and nakedness; and (2) that old age and experience don’t protect you from the utter wickedness of the human heart.

Let this be a warning to you. “Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink—you pour out your wrath and make them drunk, in order to gaze at their nakedness! (Hab. 2:15). Beware of the dangers of serving and imbibing alcohol. It is a highly addictive, mind-altering drug. The mind-altering effects of alcohol can cause you to speak and act in completely out-of-character ways. When you come under the influence of alcohol you can so easily and quickly come under its control. The Addiction Center calls alcohol the deadliest drug (https://www.addictioncenter.com/community/why-alcohol-is-the-deadliest-drug/). According to the American Addiction Centers, alcohol is the third most addictive drug after cocaine and heroin (https://americanaddictioncenters.org/adult-addiction-treatment-programs/most-addictive).

Scripture is replete with warnings about the dangers of alcohol (e.g. Prov. 20:1; 23:31-32; 23:29-30; 31:4; Isa. 5:11; 24:9; 28:7; Mic. 2:11; Lev. 10:9; Num. 5:2-3; Jdgs. 13:7; Deut. 29:6). I believe, especially in our day when alcohol content is artificially intensified in its inebriating effects through industrial production, that total abstinence is the wisest and best course for all believers. By abstaining from alcohol, you preserve yourself from the potential of dishonoring the Lord and of bringing shame to yourself and your family, as Noah did.

We don’t know what led Noah to this point but what is clear is that he ended up making a bad choice and his bad choice led to his son’s lewd behavior. One sin leads to another. Noah’s drunkenness led to nakedness which, in turn, led to Ham’s invasion of his father’s privacy, violating his dignity, and exposing his shame (9:22). This was not the case of a man catching a glimpse of a naked woman and succumbing to sexual temptation, as David did of Bathsheba. That was bad enough. But here a son purposefully viewed his naked father and then held him up to public ridicule. Rather than spare his father from further embarrassment, Ham broadcasted what he had seen to his other two brothers. Thankfully, they had higher moral sensitivity and maturity than Ham and expressed their rejection of Ham’s ridicule and their respect for their father by covering him up, even walking backwards to spare his feelings and not look at his shame (9:23).

The power of alcohol brought Noah down from the lofty heights of walking with God to the depths of a drunken stupor and nakedness, completely incapable of self-control and completely unaware of self-consciousness. What could be more embarrassing to a man whose portrait has been painted with such spirituality, such godly obedience, such patience, such faith, such grace, to be reduced to such shame and indignity and to be the subject of such ridicule by his son?

Concluding Remarks

It’s sad, isn’t it, that the story of some people’s lives starts out so well but ends so badly. When Noah recovered from his drunken stupor and found out what his youngest son, Ham, had done to him (9:24), he cursed Ham’s youngest son, Canaan saying, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers’” (9:25) and blessed his other two sons, Shem and Japheth saying, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant’” (9:26-27).

Because Ham made the drunkenness and nakedness of his father public, causing Noah shame, rather than keeping it private and preserving his dignity Noah pronounces a curse on Canaan, his grandson (Ham’s son). It’s important to understand that Scripture mentions different kinds of curses. This is not a curse that we might associate with, for example, witchcraft. Rather, Noah’s curse here seems to have the character of prophetic insight into what awaits the descendants of Canaan. You see another example of this in Deut. 27:12-26, that serves as a warning of what would happen to the Israelites if they disobeyed.

Somehow Noah saw in the distance the warning signs of what Ham’s immaturity would lead to in subsequent generations – his shamelessness, lack of wisdom, immaturity, and ridicule. Here we see what can so easily happen when sin is publicized and trivialized. It becomes so commonplace that those who do such things are shameless – no conscience, no embarrassment. It becomes the subject of jokes and ridicule. Such would be the characteristics of the Canaanites in the future.

In our church, when we are faced with sin issues that need attention by the pastors and elders, we try to keep sin as private as possible. We do not shy away from exercising pastoral and, if necessary, congregational discipline. But wherever possible, we try to keep private most sins that we become aware of. Sometimes that isn’t possible because it has already become public or because the sinning brother or sister refuses to repent, even after multiple attempts to bring about repentance. But as much as possible we try to keep sin private so that it doesn’t defile or influence others, so that it facilitates restoration, and so that God is not dishonored publicly.

Ham’s character flaw would plague his descendants after him and for that they will be cursed to become “the lowest of slaves” (lit. “a slave of slaves”) to the descendants of Ham’s brothers, Shem and Japheth (9:25). This prophecy was fulfilled years later when the Shemites invaded the land of Canaan and conquered its inhabitants (1 Kgs 9:20-21), in accordance with God’s promise that the land of Canaan would be given to them.

As we consider what has happened in history, we can see how Noah’s curse of Canaan and his blessing of Shem and Japheth have come true. The descendants of Shem (from which we get our term “Semite”) are the Jewish people (cf. Gen. 10:21-31). Noah’s prayer for the Shemites is directly connected to their relationship to “the God of Shem” (9:26). Noah foresaw that they would be worshippers of Yahweh, the Elohim of Shem. We know that this came true. God chose the Jews to be his special people, through whom came the oracles of God and the Messiah.

Ham is considered to be the father of African people (cf. Gen. 10:6-20) and we all know from history the awful suffering and oppression and exploitation that African people have suffered under white people for many generations, much of that suffering being from slavery. It is important to note that Noah’s curse was on his grandson, Canaan, and Canaan’s descendants, not on his son, Ham, directly. Scripture does not explain why this is so, but it is an important point because some people claim that black skinned people are cursed to slavery. This is not so. In fact, some of Ham’s descendants were definitely not slaves (e.g. the Egyptians).

The descendants of Japheth are the Caucasians, Gentiles (cf. Gen. 10:2-5). Noah’s prayer for Japheth is that his geographical and national borders would be expanded and that the blessing on the Shemites would be his also (9:27). This too has come to pass as the Gentiles have been blessed with the enlargement of their territories and influence and have come into the spiritual blessings of the Shemites.

Thus ends the colorful and, in many ways, sad story of Noah, his life and times. He begins as the righteous “savior” of all living creatures but ends as a naked drunk, which two aspects of Noah are represented in his sons. Shem and Japheth represent and continue his righteous life, his obedience to God. Ham represents Noah’s sinfulness and shame. And from these three sons all peoples of the world have descended. Thus, we see (1) that the human heart has not changed, despite the mighty deliverance of God from the flood judgement; and (2) that the human race today still reflects the two aspects of Noah’s character (as he did the two aspects of Adam’s character) – namely, righteousness and unrighteousness.

It’s amazing, isn’t it, that nothing changes? God continues to extend his grace, despite which man continues to demonstrate the utter sinfulness of his heart.

Related Topics: Character Study, Christian Life

The Life and Times of Noah (Expository Sermons On O.T. Characters)

This series of sermons will cover some of the main O.T. characters, beginning in Genesis with Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph. These sermons will not cover every account or incident in the lives of each person, but are selected (1) to give an overview of how God worked in their lives to accomplish his purposes; and (2) to learn important lessons about character and conduct as it relates to the people of God.

Amongst many other lessons in this series, one thing becomes abundantly clear, that the human heart does not change: it remains deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). Nonetheless, God in his grace continues to reveal himself, often in remarkable ways, to finite, frail, and failing human beings whom he uses to represent him, to communicate his instructions and plans, to provide leadership to others, and, generally, to carry out his purposes as the drama of redemption unfolds through the progress of salvation history.

We will study characters like Joseph, who was ridiculed, sold as a slave, falsely accused and imprisoned, yet, ultimately, he was vindicated and exalted. We admire him and aspire to emulate his faith, patience, and steadfast endurance despite the circumstances, and, more importantly, we grow in our understanding of God and his ways with us. Conversely, we will study characters whose behavior and responses may surprise us, but in whom God still displays his grace and through whom God still sovereignly acts.

I hope that this series will bless you as much as it has me. It was a pleasure to preach these sermons and it is now a pleasure to share them with you in written form. May the Lord use them to encourage and inspire you as you serve him and faithfully “preach the word.”

Related Topics: Character Study, Christian Life

Somo la 7: Kanisa

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Kanisa ni nini? Lilianza lini? Ni kwa nini kuna madhehebu mengi? Kundi hili linaabuduje katika kanisa la Biblia?

Neno kanisa kwa Kiyunani ni ekklesia. Neno hili lina maana ya, “kilichotengwa kwa kusudi maalum; kusanyiko.”

Jambo la kwanza la kujifunza ni kwamba Biblia inalizungumzia kanisa kwa namna mbili tofauti: Kanisa la ulimwengu wote kama mwili mmoja, na kanisa la mahali fulani kama taasisi.

Kanisa La Ulimwengu Wote – Mwili

Maana: Kanisa la Ulimwengu Wote ni jumla ya waamini wote wanaounda mwili wa Kristo kwa njia ya ubatizo kwa Roho Mtakatifu, na liliundwa siku ya kwanza ya Pentekoste, ni tofauti kabisa na taifa la Israeli na haliishii mahali fulani au dhehebu fulani tu.

Kila mtu, akiwa hai au amekufa, ambaye aliwahi kumpokea Yesu Kristo na kumwamini kama Bwana na Mwokozi wake, tangu siku ile ya Pentekoste hadi sasa, ni mmoja wa Kanisa la Ulimwengu, yaani mwili wa Kristo ambapo yeye, Kristo ndiye kichwa (Waefeso 1:22)

Yesu Alisema Nini Kuhusu Kanisa?

Soma Mathayo 16:18-19

Kristo alilizungumzia kama la wakati ujao

Kristo alipozungumza maneno haya, kanisa lilikuwa ni kitu cha wakati ujao kwa hiyo halikuwepo wakati akiwa hapa duniani. Je, ni nani msingi ambako kanisa limejengwa? Ni nani au ni nini ambacho ni mwamba, Kristo alichokuwa anaelezea?

Petro mwenyewe anasema kwamba Kristo ndiye Mwamba (1 Petro 2:4-8; 1 Wakorintho 3:11, hakuna msingi mwingine; Waefeso 2:20).

Au inaweza ikawa kwamba ukiri wa Petro, “Wewe ndiwe Kristo, Mwana wa Mungu aliye hai”, ndio mwamba, kwa sababu kila mtu anayejiunga na kanisa la ulimwenguni lazima aamini kwamba huu ndio ukweli kuhusu Yesu.

Kanisa Lilizaliwa Lini?

Soma: Matendo 1:5 na 2:1-4

Kanisa lilizaliwa siku ya Pentekoste, kama siku kumi hivi baada ya Yesu kupaa kwenda mbinguni. Roho Mtakatifu alishuka ili kumwingiza kila mwamini katika mwili wa Kristo na kumkalia kila mwamini kibinafsi kabisa. Pentekoste kwa Roho Mtakatifu ilikuwa ni kama Krismasi kwa Yesu. Alikuja kuhusianisha waamini wote kwa namna mbalimbali.

Paulo analizungumzia kanisa kama siri:

Soma Waefeso 3:6

Siri hii ni kwamba Wayahudi na watu wa Mataifa wanaungana na kuunda kitu kimoja kwa njia ya ubatizo wa Roho Mtakatifu. Sifa pekee kwa ajili ya kujiunga ni imani katika yule Mwokozi aliyefufuka. Kanisa ni kitu kipya kabisa ambacho huundwa na Wayahudi na Watu wa Mataifa.

Kwa hiyo ni wazi pia kwamba, kila mwamini tangu siku ya Pentekoste, akiwa hai au amekufa, ni kiungo katika mwili wa Kristo, ambao ni kanisa la ulimwengu wote. Waamini waliokwishafariki dunia wako pamoja na Bwana wakisubiri siku ambayo tutakuwa pamoja.

Kanisa La Mahali – Asasi

Maana. Kanisa la mahali ni kusanyiko la waamini waliojipambanua wanaofuata mapokeo fulani na mfumo fulani wa uongozi, na ambao wanaigusa jamii kwa ajili ya Kristo kwa njia ya kumwabudu Mungu hadharani, wakiwajenga waamini, na kuhubiri injili kwa waliopotea.

Kuna tofauti kati ya kanisa la ulimwengu wote na kanisa la mahali. Kanisa la ulimwengu wote lina waamini tu, lakini kanisa la mahali lina watu ambao wanadai kuwa ni waamini wakati kwa kweli hawaamini kabisa. Inawezekana ukawa muumini wa kanisa la mahali lakini ukawa sio mwamini katika mwili wa Kristo. Hii inafanyika kwa njia ya ujinga au udanganyifu. Baadhi ya makanisa wana masharti ambayo inabidi uyafuate lakini hawakuambii kwamba imani katika Kristo ndiyo ambayo kwa kweli inaokoa, wala hawaangalii kwamba mtu amefanya uamuzi huo wa kuamini. Watu wengine wanaweza kudai kuwa wanaamini lakini ukweli ni kwamba ni waigizaji tu, ni wanafiki. Katika kanisa letu, huwa tunawataka watu wanaotaka kujiunga na kanisa letu watoe ushuhuda wao kuwa ni lini walifanya uamuzi wa kumpokea Kristo kama Mwokozi wao. Lakini hata kwa hilo bado tunaweza kudanganywa. Ni Mungu tu ndiye anayeijua mioyo!

Ni Kwa Nini Kuna Madhehebu Mengi Ya Kikristo?

Madhehebu mengi yalianza kwa kukubaliana kuhusu mapokeo ya mafundisho fulani na kutokukubaliana katika mengine kama vile namna ya ubatizo, kama mtu anaweza kupoteza wokovu wake, namna za uponyaji wa kimwili, karama za kiroho na namna za kuabudu kanisani. Ninaamini kwamba aina nyingi za madhehebu tulizo nazo zinakidhi mahitaji ya watu wa aina mbalimbali. Kuna wanaopenda liturgia ya namna fulani, kuna wanaopenda mafundisho ya ndani sana ya Biblia, kuna wanaopenda burudani, wengine wanapenda nyimbo za kuchangamka na kuamsha hisia na wengine ni kwa kiasi tu.

Uongozi Wa Kanisa

Kuna aina tatu kuu za uongozi wa kanisa.

Uongozi wa ki-episkopo (Episcopos): Katika uongozi huu mamlaka ya kanisa hukaa katika Askofu. (Kwa Wamethodisti ni ule rahisi; ila kwa Waanglikana ni mgumu kidogo; na kwa Wakatoliki wa Rumi utawala upo kwa Papa)

Uongozi wa ki-presibiti (Presbuteros): Mamlaka ya kanisa ipo katika kundi la wawakilishi ambao wamepewa mamlaka na kusanyiko lote pamoja na wazee. (Hii ipo kwa kanisa la Presibiterian na makanisa mengine ya kiBiblia.)

Uongozi wa Kusanyiko: Huu ni uongozi unaosisitiza juu ya nafasi ya kila Mkristo mmoja-mmoja, jambo linalofanya kusanyiko liwe na uamuzi wa mwisho katika maamuzi. Kila mwamini ana kura ya maamuzi. (Hii ipo kwa makanisa ya ki-Baptisti na makanisa mengine ya Kiinjili, pia makanisa huru na ya kiBiblia.) Kanisa letu ni muunganiko wa hayo mawili ya mwisho. Tunaongozwa na wazee na kusimamiwa na mtu mmoja aliyeajiriwa, na kusanyiko huwa linapiga kura juu ya Mchungaji wanayemtaka. Mchungaji Msaidizi, Wazee, na bajeti.

Wazee Wa Kanisa

Uongozi wa Kiroho ni wajibu wa wazee. Sifa za wazee tunazipata katika 1 Timotheo 3:1-7 na Tito 1:6-9, ambapo kazi hii wamepewa wanaume. Wanao wajibu wa kulilinda kanisa dhidi ya mafundisho potofu na kulihudumia kanisa kama wachungaji wanaochunga kundi la Mungu. (Matendo 20:17, 28)

Mashemasi

Mashemasi wanafanya kazi ya uongozi katika mamlaka waliyo nayo wazee. Hawa huwa wanatunza washirika walio na mahitaji katika kanisa. Wanawake wanaweza kuwa mashemasi. (Warumi 16; 1 Timotheo 3:8-11.)

Taratibu Za Kanisa La Mahali

Taratibu:Ni mambo ya nje yaliyoelezewa na Kristo yanayofanywa na kanisa.”

Makanisa mengi huziita sakramenti.

Sakramenti: “Sakramenti ni kitu kinacholetwa kwenye milango ya fahamu kikiwa na nguvu, kwa uwezo wa kiungu, sio kwa ajili ya kuweka alama tu, lakini pia kikiwa na uwezo wa kuleta neema.” (Kwa mujibu wa Baraza la Katoliki).

Hatuamini kwamba ama Chakula cha Bwana au ubatizo ni namna ya kupeleka neema. Tunaamini kwamba vitu hivi hufanywa kwa kuyatii maagizo ya Kristo na kutoa taswira ya kile ambacho tayari kimeshafanyika ndani ya mioyo yetu. Matendo haya yote hukumbusha juu ya kufa, kuzikwa na kufufuka kwa Kristo.

Ubatizo

Soma: Mathayo 28:19

Namna: Kuzamisha ndiyo maana ya msingi ya neno ubatizo (baptize)

Kuzamisha hutoa picha ya umuhimu wa ubatizo, ambapo ni kifo cha mtu wa kale na kufufuliwa kwa mtu mpya. Kanisa hili linabatiza kwa kuzamisha, lakini linabishana na kugawanyika juu namna za kubatiza jambo ambalo halina tija. Kila mwamini anapaswa kubatizwa mara baada ya kujua kuwa Kristo aliagiza hivyo. Ni ushuhuda wa hadharani kwamba umeungana na Kristo. Kama ulibatizwa kabla ya kuamini, usisite kubatizwa tena kama mwamini. Ubatizo ni utii kwa Bwana wako.

Chakula Cha Bwana, Ushirika Au Ekaristi

Soma: 1 Wakorintho 11:23-32.

Kuna makusudi kadhaa ya kushiriki Chakula cha Bwana au Meza ya Bwana.

  1. Ni ukumbusho wa maisha na kifo cha Bwana wetu. Mkate usiotiwa chachu unawakilisha maisha makamilifu ya Bwana wetu ambayo yalimpa sifa ya kuwa sadaka inayokubalika kwa ajili ya dhambi zetu. Inawakilisha mwili wake ambao ulibeba dhambi zetu pale msalabani. Mvinyo unawakilisha damu yake aliyoimwaga kwa ajili ya ondoleo la dhambi zetu.
  2. 1 Wakorintho 11:26 inasema kwamba chakula hiki hutangaza mambo ya msingi ya injili. Hutangaza mauti ya Bwana.
  3. Ni kutukumbusha kwamba Yesu Kristo anarudi tena na tunapaswa kuendelea kushiriki hadi ajapo.
  4. Inapaswa itukumbushe kuhusu Umoja wetu sisi kwa sisi katika mwili wa Kristo na ushirika tunaoushiriki kama viungo katika mwili huo (1 Wakorintho 10:17).

Ni nani anayeweza kushiriki?

Mtu asiyeamini hapaswi kushiriki kwa sababu karamu hii ni utambulisho kwa hao ambao wamekiri imani katika kufa na kufufuka kwa Yesu Kristo kwa ajili ya upatanisho wa dhambi zao.

Je, mwamini yeyote anaweza kushiriki bila kujali kuwa ni wa dhehebu gani? Jibu ni ndio. Hii ni Meza ya Bwana na waamini wote wa kanisa la ulimwengu wanaalikwa. Sio meza ya kanisa la kiBaptisti, kikatoliki au kipentekoste. Migawanyiko hii ni kinyume na wito wa watu wote kuwa wamoja katika kanisa la ulimwengu wote. (Uliofanyika Lausanne)

Onyo! 1 Wakorintho 11:27-32: Tunapaswa kuipeleleza mioyo yetu Na kuungama dhambi zetu kabla ya kushiriki Meza ya Bwana. Vinginevyo tunaweza kubadilishwa—Kama vile kugusa au hata kufa.

Kusudi La Kanisa La Mahali

  1. Kuabudu na kuonyesha upendo wake kwa Bwana (Ufunuo 2:4).
  2. Kuwahudumia waamini wake ili waweze kutiana moyo katika kupendana na kufanya matendo mema (Waebrania 10:24).
  3. Kushiriki katika kulitii Agizo Kuu. Yaani kwamba Injili ihubiriwe katika huduma za kanisa ili wasioamini waipokee na kuokoka.
  4. Kuwajali waamini wake ambao wana mahitaji, kama wajane, yatima na maskini (Yakobo 1:27; 1 Timotheo 5:1-16)
  5. Kufanya matendo mema katika ulimwengu (Wagalatia 6:10).
  6. Kuzalisha Wakristo waliokomaa, wenye msimamo na watakatifu (Wakolosai 1:28; Waebrania 6:1; Waefeso 4:14-16). Hii inaweza kumaanisha kuwa na nidhamu katika eneo la maadili na usafi katika mafundisho (1 Wakorintho 5, 2 Timotheo 2:16-18).

VIelelezo Vya Kanisa La Ulimwengu

Kristo ni Mchungaji na sisi ni kondoo (Yohana 10) – utunzaji na usalama

Kristo ni mzabibu na sisi ni matawi (Yohana 15) – kuzaa na kupata nguvu

Kristo ni jiwe la Pembeni na sisi ni mawe katika jengo (Waefeso 2:19-21) –Jiwe la pembeni hutoa mwelekeo na huwekwa mara moja tu.

Kristo ndiye Kuhani Mkuu na sisi ni ufalme wa makuhani (1 Petro 2) –tunajitoa kwake, nafsi zetu na huduma zetu.

Kristo ni Kichwa na sisi ni viungo vya mwili Wake (1 Wakorintho 12)—akiwa kama Kichwa, huongeza; na sisi kama viungo tunahudumiana kwa kutumia karama za kiroho ambazo ametugawia.

Kristo ni Bwana-Arusi na sisi ni bibi-arusi wake (Waefeso 5:25-33, Ufunuo 19:7-8)—upendo wa milele na ukaribu.

Kristo ni Mrithi na sisi ni warithi-wenzake (Waebrania 1:2, Warumi 1:17)—tutaushiriki utukufu wake.

Kristo ni Malimbuko na sisi ni mavuno (1 Wakorintho 15:23)—ufufuko wake unatuhakikishia kuwa na sisi tutafufuka.

Kristo ni Bwana na sisi ni watumishi Wake (Wakolosai 4:1, 1 Wakorintho 7:22)—mtumishi hufanya mapenzi ya bwana wake. Bwana naye humtunza mtumishi wake.

Sasa Tunayatendeaje Kazi Mambo Haya?

Inatupasa kila mmoja wetu kuhakikisha kuwa tunajiunga na kanisa la ulimwengu wote, bila kujali kuwa tunaabudu kwenye dhehebu gani. Kuwa katika kanisa la ulimwengu wote kunafanyika wakati mtu anapompokea Bwana Yesu Kristo kama Mwokozi wako. Kuna uhakika mkubwa sana katika kujua kwamba wewe ni miongoni mwa walioko katika kanisa la ulimwengu wote, yaani Mwili wa Kristo. Uhakika huu unatakiwa ukutie moyo kujitambulisha katika kanisa la mahali ambapo utaweza kukua na kutumika. Kanisa kama la kwetu halihitaji uwe mwanachama ili upate huduma zetu. Lakini huoni kwamba ni vizuri kuunga mkono na kutoa ufadhili mahali ambapo unapokea baraka na ukuaji wa kiroho kwa kujiunga kikamilifu? Kujiunga kikamilifu ni kujitambulisha na watu waliopo hapo. Hiyo ndio familia yako. Ndiko unakotoa sadaka zako kifedha. Ndipo pia utakaposaidia wale walio na mahitaji. Unafanya ushirika wako hapo, yaani UNAJITOA KIKAMILIFU! Kama umekuwa ukija kusali katika hilo kanisa kila Jumapili, kwa nini usiamue kulifanya kanisa lako na ujiunge kabisa? Madarasa ya waamini wapya hufanyika mara nne kwa mwaka. Huwa yanafanyika kwa Jumapili mbili mfululizo zinazofuatana asubuhi. Ukipenda kujiunga utaonana na mzee wa kanisa, atakuuliza maswali na kukuongoza ili uweze kutoa ushuhuda wako. Kisha utatambulishwa rasmi katika kanisa.

Maswali unayoulizwa yanahusu uelewa wako juu ya msimamo wa kanisa hili na kuhakikisha kuwa una msingi na rasilimali muhimu kwa ajili ya mtu yeyote atakayekuuliza kwamba, “Kanisa lako linaamini nini”?

Maswali Ya Kujifunza

Soma: Mathayo 16:13-18; Matendo 2:1-4, 41-47

1. Je, Yesu alitumia wakati gani kulizungumzia kanisa wakati alipokuwa hapa duniani? Je, kanisa lilizaliwa lini? Je, kuna shughuli gani zinazowatambulisha waamini katika kanisa?

Soma: 1 Wakorintho 3:9-10; Waefeso 2:19-22

2. Ni nani ambaye ndiye pekee msingi wa kanisa?

Soma: 1 Timotheo 3:15; 1 Wakorintho 12:13, 27; Waefeso 2:19-22; Waefeso 5:30-32

3. Katika kila aya uliyosoma, kanisa linaitwaje? Ni nini umuhimu wa kila alama? Je, unafikiri hii inaelezea kanisa la mahali au kanisa la ulimwengu? Ni nani washirika wa kanisa la ulimwengu wote? Je, wanatofautianaje na washirika wa kanisa la mahali?

Soma: 1 Wakorintho 12

4. Sura hii inakuambia nini kuhusu jinsi washirika wa mwili wa Kristo wanavyopaswa kutumika?

Soma Mathayo 26:26-29; Luka 22:19-20; 1 Wakorintho 11:23-31

5. Ni utaratibu upi ambao Yesu aliamuru kanisa Lake liutunze hadi arudipo? Je, unatukumbusha nini? Ni nini kinampasa kila mmoja wetu kukifanya kabla ya kushiriki? Ni adhabu gani itakayompata mtu atakayeshiriki “isivyostahili”?

Soma Mathayo 28:18-20; Matendo 2:36-47; Warumi 6:1-5

6. Ni utaratibu gani mwingine ambao Yesu aliamuru kanisa liutunze? Huu ulitunzwa lini kwa kanisa la mwanzo? Je, utaratibu huu ni alama ya nini? Je, unakuwaje ushuhuda kwa wengine?

Soma Yohana 15:9-10

7. Je, ni sababu ipi inayowafanya waamini wabatizwe na kushiriki ushirika wa meza ya Bwana? Je, utii wetu unathibitisha nini? Je umeshabatizwa tangu ulipomwamini Kristo?

8. Ni kwa nini ni muhimu kwamba tujishirikishe na kanisa la mahali kwa ajili ya ukuaji na ukomavu wetu kiroho? Je, ni nini tutakikosa kama tutakuwa tu washirika wa kanisa la mahali? Utamjibu nini mwamini anayesema, “Sihitaji kwenda kanisani. Ninamwabudu Mungu peke yangu”?

Related Topics: Curriculum, Ecclesiology (The Church)

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