Let us never repeat Babel:
- Let us never make a name for ourselves (11.1-4)- The people who gathered in Shinar did not want to spread out, thus disobeying God’s design for the image of God to spread, and clearly wanted to make a name for themselves. Noah built an altar to the Lord (8.20), but these people built a city and tower for themselves. After Enosh was born, people began to call upon the name of the LORD (4.26), but here people wanted to call upon their own name!
- Let us never think we can do anything we please (11.6-9)- God did not think human unity and technological advancement was necessarily a good thing. And if mankind as a whole is determined to disobey God, then unity and technological advancement is a scary thing. So God judged the world for it. Even though he did not flood the earth like before, the confusion of language is still worldwide judgment. But praise God it keeps the world from uniting in wickedness!
And praise God for the undoing of Babel at Pentecost (Acts 2). Regardless of your view of miraculous gifts, the gifts of tongues and later interpretation are a big part of redemptive history.
Three ways to understand God’s common grace better:
We are no better than those before the flood (8.21, 9.8-17)- the reason God does not flood the earth anymore is not because mankind got “better” but because of God’s gracious promise never to do so again.
Those who are cursed get grace (18-25)- Noah cursed Canaan for what Ham did, but Canaan is still under God’s promise to never flood the earth again.
Those who are blessed still can suffer (26-27)- Shem and Japheth get blessed for their noble actions, but their descendants still experience war and famine and slavery and death throughout history up to the present day.
Why did Noah curse Canaan, the son of Ham? Many commentators have pointed out that this simply follows the pattern of the seed of woman vs. seed of serpent that started in Gen 3.15. Noah is cursing the seed of the serpent!
Be fruitful human beings:
- Enjoy the gift of food (9.2-3)- eating food has to do with our dominion over the animals.
- Value the gift of life (9.4-6)- but verse 4 prohibits animal cruelty and calls us to still respect animal life; capital punishment values human life and is grounded in the image of God; human beings have no value apart from their Creator.
Capital punishment is a bit different from the way God dealt with Cain, where God protected Cain from human vengeance. But it’s not completely different. In Gen 2.17 God said “in the day you eat of [the fruit] you shall surely die.” God has always had death as the penalty for sin. God is the God of capital punishment. Genesis 9 is simply God’s blessing upon societies to discourage violence.
The flood reveals at least four things about God:
- He is completely just- not only in the sense that he had a right to flood the earth, but also in the sense that he was morally obligated to do something, “for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (6.12).
- He is completely sovereign- “I will bring a flood of waters…to destroy all flesh” (6.17). Simple logic: if he had complete control over the greatest natural disaster in history, he has control over everything today.
- He works through covenants- “I will establish my covenant with you” (6.18), and “God remembered Noah…and God made a wind blow…and the waters subsided” (8.1).
- He works through obedience- Noah built the ark as commanded (6.22), waited for God’s word to go into the ark (7.1), and even waited for God’s word to come off the ark (8.15).
Unfortunately, the flood did not cure mankind, “for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (8.21). But praise God that His justice and sovereignty came together in the New Covenant through the obedience of one man on the cross!
There is a little bit of a change from the last life update. Last time I said I was going to be “intern pastor.” Kailua Baptist Church (KBC) is still technically calling me that, but that position required the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention Executive Board to approve it since they would provide a portion of the salary. Well, for a number of reasons, it was not approved by the Executive Board. But the man I intended to meet with for supervision still wants to meet with me, and KBC simply voted to pay the portion that the convention was supposed to. There are at least three encouraging outcomes from all of this:
- The church is not shaken. They were discouraged but their view of me has not changed at all and they still have me as their top candidate for the permanent position.
- This has caused several people in the church to resolve to keep striving for holiness, and to even think through past conflicts with individuals in the convention. They want to be sure that they have done everything they can to make things right with people.
- No one at KBC knows exactly why the convention voted against the internship. And this certainly has not helped KBC’s view of the convention. But it reveals that somewhere along the line someone or some people– who have a lot of influence among the churches on this island– have thought unbiblically about our situation. And this is the reason we came back to Hawaii in the first place– to help people think more biblically. Praise God!