The Redeeming Rainbow: Genesis 9

[8] Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, [9] “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, [10] and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. Genesis 9:8-10

The waters had flooded the earth and all of creation, except for Noah, his family and the animals safe in the ark, had been killed. This is not a cute children’s tale: it is a story of God’s divine judgment.

Discussion: Do you think God was fair in judging the world so harshly? What made this fair or just?

Talking points: Noah built the ark and (according to Peter in the New Testament) preached for 120 years. People had the opportunity to repent and they didn’t. When people don’t respond to God’s invitation for salvation, it isn’t unfair on God’s part–they are being ungrateful.

[11] I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”  Genesis 9:12

Discussion: God established a covenant with Noah and all of creation. What is the difference between a covenant and a contract?

Talking Points:  With a contract, if one agreeing party does something in violation of the contract then it is considered broken. The whole contract becomes null and void. Basically the signers of a contract agree to hold up their ends as long as the other signatories hold up theirs too.  With a covenant, both parties agree to hold up their ends regardless of whether the other party keeps their part of the agreement. A violation of a covenant by one party doesn’t matter as far as the other party’s responsibility to continue to do what they agreed to do.

[13] I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. [14] When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, [15] I 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. [16] When 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.” [17] God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:13-17 ESV)

Discussion: When we think of rainbows, what comes to mind?

Talking points: Notice that it is called a “bow.” Think of it as a “bow” for a moment without it being a rainbow. What is a bow used for? Hunting. Killing. Death. Now think of a rainbow you’ve seen. Which way is it pointed? Toward God! God put a bow in the sky, pointed toward him, to say that he would die before he would break this covenant with all of creation. And he made good on that promise. On the cross, Jesus died for the sins of mankind.

Have you ever received Jesus as your Savior? If not, talk to a family member about how to trust Jesus as your Savior. The next time you see a rainbow, remember God’s faithful promise to His people–and to you!

Turning Messes Into Messages

By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. (Hebrews 11:31 ESV)

I love the honesty of the Bible. If I were making a list of the Who’s Who of the Old Testament I would be tempted to leave some people out. Rahab is surely one of them. She was a prostitute. She made her living by selling her body. She lived on the city wall and watched for lonely passersby who might want her company. She had no discretion, no self-respect. The writer of Proverbs has a stern warning about women like Rahab:

My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. For a prostitute is a deep pit; an adulteress is a narrow well. She lies in wait like a robber and increases the traitors among mankind. (Proverbs 23:26-28 ESV)

Rahab was a deep pit. She waited like a robber and made traitors out of otherwise honest men. Then one day Hebrew men showed up. They didn’t come looking for Rahab, they came needing cover. Sent by Joshua to scout out the great city of Jericho they hid on Rahab’s roof. The king of Jericho caught wind that the feared Israelite spies were inside the city walls. He sent his soldiers to find them. Rahab covered for them and sent the soldiers on their way. She found the Hebrew spies on her roof and spilled her guts:

Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. (Joshua 2:8-11 ESV)

For we have heard how the Lord…Some in Jericho heard about what God had done and tried to resist Him. Rahab heard and embraced Him. Notice how she finishes her confession to these men: For the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens and on the earth beneath. Rahab believed! Rahab, the prostitute became Rahab the protector. Rahab who was accustomed to wrecking men’s lives, saved their lives. Rahab who usually sold her body for sex, offered her house for safety. She believed. And she made it into Faith’s Hall of Fame!

Only Christianity would celebrate a prostitute turned protector and tout her as a defender of the faith.

And you think Jesus can’t turn your mess into a message to the world!

The Erosion of Evolution

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Hebrews 11:1-3 ESV)

In verse 1 the writer of Hebrews defines faith. It is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

In verse 2 the people exercise faith. As a matter of fact, Hebrews 11:4-38 describes them in vivid detail. Abel is applauded for offering a faithful sacrifice. Abraham is commended for traveling into the unknown. Moses is lauded for choosing the life of a Hebrew over the lure of the palace. These people exercised faith.

In verse 3 the writer describes the origin of faith. Faith begins by believing that God created. Theologians call this God creating ex nihilio–out of nothing. Moses, the writer of Genesis, said it this way:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5 ESV)

The earth was formless and void. Empty. God spoke. He didn’t start with raw material–He created with the spoken word. He didn’t need chlorophyll to make leaves–He spoke leaves into existence. Hebrews 11:3 states that believing God created is the cornerstone of faith, the beginning point of a relationship with God.

Why? If God didn’t create the universe, if He didn’t fling the stars into space, why in the world would He send His only Son to die for it? If God didn’t breathe the breath of life into Adam’s lungs, if God didn’t put Adam to sleep to create his wife, Eve, then why would He send His Son to die for Adam and Eve? The cross is foolish apart from creation. On the cross Jesus redeemed what He created.

That’s why evolution erodes faith. If scientists can convince us that we evolved then we are on a fast descent into doubt and self-degradation. C. S. Lewis, in his book Screwtape Letters, said it this way:

“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

Belief in evolution isn’t an earthquake. It is a light rain that gradually erodes faith until all that is left is the red clay of a hard heart. Only the crucified Creator can soften red clay.

Ignorance is Deadly

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.  Hosea 4:6

Israel traded the glory and grace of God for the shame and disgrace of the world.  They didn’t know God.  Their lack of knowing God resulted in their destruction.  They should have known better.  Hosea’s own life was an object lesson in the deep love of God for His people.

In Hosea 1:2, God gave Hosea a strange command: Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.  Hosea, God’s prophet, married a prostitute.  They had three children together.  Then she left him for another man.

Then Hosea did the unthinkable.  He showed up in the red light district and found his wife, Gomer, selling her body.  He stepped into the fray of lust-filled men and bid on his own wife.  In his words: “So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley.”  I wonder how she felt.  The embarrassment.  The shame.  What was the look on her face when she looked over the men who wanted her and saw her own husband?  And he wasn’t any husband…he was the prophet to the king of Israel!

Then he said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days.  You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” (3:3)  In other words, Gomer, you’re coming home!  I want you to be mine.  There’s no mention that he asked her who she had been with, what she had one, or where she had gone.  He bought her back.

Then, in chapter 4, God calls Israel out for her ignorance.  Israel was ignorant of a God who would stand among the lust-filled suitors of the day and bid the highest price on his bride.  Israel was ignorant of a God who would embarrass himself by condescending to her and bringing her home.

And today most of the world is dying from ignorance:  ignorance of a God who became a human being, was tempted in every way like we are–yet without sin–and was ultimately made sin for us that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Ignorance is killing people.

They can’t imagine a God who would mingle among the mess of their lives and take them home to live with Him.

He did and He does.  That’s the message of Christmas.  God became a human being, the Creator walked among the created.

Do you know Him?