Posts Tagged With: Noah

God’s Purpose in Scripture

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14–17; all Scripture quotations from the English Standard Version unless otherwise indicated).

In recent posts, we looked at the authority of Scripture and its relationship with tradition. Now, let us look at God’s purpose in providing the Bible. What was His aim? What does He intend for us to learn from it?

St. Paul. Painting by Valentin de Boulogne (1591-1632; public domain, via Wikimedia Commons).

Keep in mind that God’s Word leaves out many details. We may be curious and want extra facts. But, God is silent about some things. The late Roman Catholic broadcaster Mother Angelica once said that 91% of Jesus’ life is “hidden.” Think about it: Jesus is God’s ultimate self-revelation. Yet, the book that preserves His revelation presents only a small fraction of His life. We read a little about the first couple years of His life. Then, we read about one family trip to Jerusalem when He was 12 years old (Luke 2:41–52). After that, God says nothing about Jesus’ life until He is about 30 years old. We read nothing about His carpentry career. We do not know what happened to His stepfather, Joseph; most Christians believe he died before Jesus’ ministry began, but we do not know when. God tells us what we need to know for salvation, not what we want to know to satisfy our curiosity.

Likewise, I recently had an online discussion with a seminary friend and his wife about Noah and Methuselah. Methuselah was the oldest man in the Old Testament, dying at the age of 969 years, and Noah was his grandson (Genesis 4:25–27). Genesis 4:25–32 and 7:11 show that he died in the same year as the flood. That raises a few questions: Did Methuselah die several months before the flood or just before the rains came? Did he drown in the flood? If so, why? Did Noah invite Methuselah on the ark, but he refused to come? Or, did God prohibit Noah from inviting Methuselah on the ark? We do not have the answers to these questions. God did not think Methuselah’s fate was important for us to know.

Many Bible stories, including the account of Noah’s ark, leave numerous details out. God focused on what we need to know. “Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat” by Simon de Myle (public domain, via Wikipedia Commons).

The story of Noah raises other questions, as my friend pointed out: How did only four men, with possibly some help from their wives, build such a huge ship long before the development of advanced shipbuilding technology? Did their neighbors help them? If so, how did they tell them, “No, you cannot come on our boat.” Once again, the Bible is silent.

We read with many questions that will never be answered this side of heaven. While the Holy Spirit did not provide all the details, He did reveal what we need to know for salvation. In 2 Timothy 3:15, Paul wrote that the Scriptures make us “wise to salvation.” They show us what we need to know about everlasting life. The Word of God shows us that it is only through faith in Jesus that we are saved:

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6).

“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’” (Acts 4:11–12).

“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” (Ephesians 2:8–9).

Human wisdom has limitations. We need special revelation from God. He gives it in His Word. It shows us why we need to believe in Jesus and what God wants us to know and believe about Him.

Paul concluded 2 Timothy 3 with the following statement about the inspiration of Scripture:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

As we saw in a previous post, these verses—particularly the phrase “breathed out”—provide the term “inspiration” of Scripture. They also list four functions of Scripture: teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. Interested readers can study these four terms in this blog’s most-frequently read article, published in 2012. To summarize the distinctions between them, we can observe that they are complementary. They address both belief and practice. Teaching instructs the reader about what he needs to know; correction addresses errors and false beliefs. Reproof points out when one is doing something wrong; training in righteousness shows someone how to do the will of God. The mature Christian must have the right beliefs and act based on those beliefs. When learning what is right, we have to unlearn the things we have thought or done that are wrong.

Let us keep God’s purposes in mind when we study the Bible. We do not read His Word only because it is a good story. We read it grow in our knowledge of Him. He will tell us what we need to know for salvation if we read with the proper mindset.

Copyright © 2019 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Revelation and Scripture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Noah, Obedience, and Hearing the Call

English: Scene from the story aboat Noah, illu...

Image via Wikipedia

Over the last few days, the Book of Common Prayer’s Old Testament readings have focused on the story of Noah. While meditating on this passage, I was challenged to think about its lessons regarding the call of God and obedience.

It is a lengthy, but familiar story. It would not be a wise use of space to copy the entire account here, but readers may want to look up the passage (Genesis, chapters 6 through 9) here. There are many lessons in this passage, but I will list just a few of them here:

God calls us to obedience, even when it does not make sense. Some Bible scholars claim that it had never rained until Noah’s flood. I am not sure about that; this is mainly an “argument from silence” which assumes that all water was coming up as a mist from the ground (i.e., that conditions described in Genesis 2:5-6 lasted until the time of Noah).

To a certain degree, it does not matter whether it had never rained anywhere on Earth, or Noah lived in the desert. God’s call to build the ark seems ridiculous. The idea that God would send such an overwhelming flood that all life would be destroyed seems incomprehensible. To this day, many people (even some who believe the rest of the Bible) do not believe this story. We have a hard time figuring out where all that water went after the flood ended. Noah’s story can sound unbelievable to us. God’s instructions must have sounded even more unbelievable to him!

There will be times when God calls us to do something, and it does not seem to make any sense. We walk by faith, but we cannot see how God will make any sense out of the situation He is calling us into. When you find that God is calling you to do something, do it! You cannot see where He is leading you, but He sees the end from the beginning.

When God calls us to obedience, it is usually not an easy task. Again, Genesis 6 is not totally clear about how long it took Noah to build the ark. Some people think it took 100 to 120 years. It must have taken a long time: Noah and his three sons probably built it with little or no help, and possibly some resistance by their neighbors. And it was a huge boat, the size of some of our modern ocean liners. By the way, they had to cut down the trees themselves too.

I will not even go into the details about how difficult it had to be maintaining one’s sanity, spending almost a year on a boat surrounded by all those animals. The crowding, the smell, and so on must have tempted Noah to go for a swim!

If you can do it on your own, it may not be the call of God. However, we can be encouraged that He does not leave us to our own devices.

  1. He usually calls people to work together. Although Noah was called to build the ark, he did not work alone. Together with his three sons, he preserved a remnant on the Earth. Likewise, when Jesus was planning to ensure the future of His ministry, He called 12 men to be His apostles (Mark 3:13-18).
  2. When God calls you, He invites you first to fellowship. The first task of the disciples was to “be with Him.” Before we serve God or fulfill His calling in our lives, we need to spend time with Him. He wants us to pray, to study His Word, and to learn from Him. This is part of the reason why He calls us to work with others. We need to hear God together and to hold one another accountable. Many of the strangest cult leaders and heretics in church history were men who tried to serve God on their own.
  3. Finally, God equips us for His service. Noah must have obtained supernatural strength, energy, and perseverance to complete the ark. I bet he needed supernatural patience to stay on the ark and keep his family and all those animals with him! Likewise, when Jesus called His disciples, part of His goal was so that they may preach and cast out demons. Obviously, we do not cast out demons in our own strength. Many of us cannot preach relying on our own abilities. We need to receive ability from God (spiritual gifts) to carry out his purposes.

I look forward to a spiritual adventure in 2012. I am not certain what it will entail, but I believe God is going to call me to do greater works than I have in the past. It will not be something I can do on my own. I need to wait until He speaks (through His Word, during seasons of prayer, and through other men and women of God) and then follow Him in obedience.

This is probably true for you as well. Wait in God’s presence, praying and studying His Word. Seek His plan for your life. Listen to Godly men and women of wisdom who may speak His truth into your life. Seek to find the spiritual gifts God has already given you (see Ephesians 4:11-13, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, and Romans 12:6-8 for a few suggestions).

Categories: Bible meditations | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

%d bloggers like this: