What’s the Old Testament about? part 3

31 Dec

If we are going to understand the Old Testament, there are a couple of key words we have to understand first.

One is kingdom.

Another is covenant.

The Old Testament tells the story of how God is going to establish His kingdom, and it tells that story, through a series of covenants God makes with men.

The very first time, we find the word covenant being used to describe something God’s doing with man is in Genesis chapter 6.  And I am talking about the actual word itself.  Right there on the page. Genesis 6, when God’s speaking to Noah. 

We call this the Noahic Covenant. 

And to understand the Noahic Covenant, you have to understand, that even though we are only a few pages into our Bibles by the time we get to Genesis 6, it’s, been many years since God created the world, and at this point, man is, basically, out of control.

Or at least looks like it. 

You remember, Adam says, I want to define what’s good, not you God, and what that results in, is Cain murdering his brother, that’s first, and then, there’s polygamy by the end of Genesis chapter 4 and people boasting in violence. 

It just like this spiral down in all of our relationships. 

Until it gets so bad that, if you look at Genesis chapter 6, you’ll see, what, is one of the strangest stories we find in the Bible. And it’s a hard one to understand, honestly. But I think it gives you a little of the context, for God’s covenant with Noah because you see it talks about the sons of God seeing that daughters of man were attractive. 

This is Genesis 6:2.

And, you remember this story, and you have to try to figure out who are the sons of God and what are the daughters of men, and, there a number of different ideas of what that means, and, I am not going to get into all of them now, and it’s ok if you think differently than I do. But I think, basically, what it means is that humanity was somehow partnering with demons, sons of God meaning angels, in this case, anti-God angels, demons, and they were, finding a way somehow to marry, women, perhaps, because, they were, thinking they could use the women, to have children, who would, enable them to rebel against God’s plan.

And I am reading a little into the text. 

Obviously. 

So this is not authoritative, in any way, but since the beginning, Satan’s been making plans against God’s kingdom, and it seems like this might be, his plan, God said be fruitful and multiply, and he’s like, let’s mess with that and yet it doesn’t work of course.

And the writer makes that clear in a funny way in verse 4. 

He says, “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days.”

And Nephilim basically means, tall.

They just leave the word there like that. They don’t translate it in our Bibles. But that’s what it means. So you are like, wow, the Nephilim, but really, no, that’s that’s the best they could come up with, as a result of this strategic union with women, the best they could do is, have some really tall children, and you know the writer stresses, that wasn’t even very unusual, either because it says, there were Nephilim on the earth in these days and, yet they were also on the earth afterward. 

So, it’s like, sure there were tall people back then. 

But you know there were tall people afterwards as well. 

And whether, that’s exactly what’s happening here the point is that man’s rebelling against God in huge ways. 

And we know THAT for sure, because the text goes on and says, ‘the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,’ which seems as bad as it can get and yet, God’s not going to let man’s rebellion win, and so he appoints a time of judgment.

It’s funny, actually. 

Because if you go back to Genesis 5, in the middle of all the wickedness, there was one man who was really godly, his name was Enoch, and it says he walked with God. And as he was looking at all the sin around him, it must have grieved him, and he had a son, and he named him, Methuselah.

And you know what that name means, it means, his death shall bring judgment and I think that may have been a kind of prophecy. 

Judgment’s coming when this boy dies. 

And God shows mercy by letting Methuselah live for a really long time, and yet he did die eventually, and when he died, judgment came and yet, again, in the middle of that judgment, God shows mercy and rescues one family.

And you know the story, I am sure. 

God floods the earth. Waters cover the earth.

That’s what a flood does, and does that phrase sound familiar, it should it takes us back to the way things were before God started bringing this world into order. 

Because, it’s almost like in this judgment, God uncreated the earth.

And then recreates it again.

Or at least that’s the picture. 

I guess, maybe a different way to say it, is that He gives the world a bath, after which, the text tells us, the ark comes to rest on a mountain and God takes Noah out, into this new world.

And makes him a promise. 

Specifically, He makes a covenant. 

Genesis 9:8, 

“Then God said, to Noah and his sons with him, ‘Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you.”

And I am saying, that word, covenant, is really important.

That’s why I am telling this story. 

And yet.

I know. 

It’s also kind of unfamiliar.  

I mean, what is a covenant. 

A covenant is basically a promise. 

But, not a promise, like I will come to your house tomorrow. 

It’s a more formal promise. 

It’s something like a contract, actually, a covenant, but a contract, doesn’t necessarily involve a relationship, and yet a covenant, always does. 

Which is why wou don’t talk about marriage, as a marriage contract, so much, as you talk about the covenant of marriage. It’s a legally binding obligation, a covenant, like a contract, BUT, it’s more personal, in that, it involves a certain, unique kind of relationship. 

And so obviously in the Old Testament, there were different kinds of covenants.

If we are looking at covenants in general. 

Like. 

You might have a covenant.

Between equals.

Which is, an agreement between people that are on the same level basically.

And then you would also, have a covenant, in the Old Testament, between a superior and an inferior. 

So.

Say like a powerful nation.

Might enter into a covenant relationship with a less powerful nation, and that covenant was a formal agreement, between the two. 

And. 

Most of the time, in the world of men, that would mean, the superior nation, expected, demanded, certain things from the inferior one.

Like we will make a covenant to protect you.

If, you, the inferior, do these things, that we want.

If you keep the covenant, you would be blessed, and if you didn’t, you would be cursed. 

But there’s another kind of covenant, which is different, that could be made between a superior and an inferior.Where the more powerful one, would actually, make commitments to the less powerful one.

So. 

The first kind of covenant, we might call a treaty.

And the second kind, we might call a grant.  

Or, like a gift. 

And that’s the kind of covenant that God makes with Noah in Genesis 9. 

It’s not a treaty. It’s a grant. It’s a gift. 

Because, God’s more important than Noah, and so, Noah doesn’t have the right to demand anything of God, and yet God, graciously stoops down, to make a promise to Noah and to all of Noah’s descendants, and even to the animals, actually, and in a sense.

To the earth itself. 

In the Noahic covenant. 

It’s like God’s making a commitment to the world itself. 

“Behold,” God says.

“I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 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.”

And God says in Genesis 8:21. 

“I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.”

And again in chapter 9, verse 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.”

And what’s happening is God’s making a commitment. 

He’s making a promise. 

After He’s hit reboot on the world. 

And this promise is so important. 

Because after, Adam sinned, and the world got really bad, and God judged it, you are kind of like yeah, I mean, that’s good, I mean, those people were so evil, and yet, as you think about, you are also kind of like whoa, wait.

Because what if the world becomes that bad again?

It makes you wonder, is God, maybe, just going to be be done, with the whole kingdom plan?  

So He promises toward the beginning of the Bible that, no. 

He’s not going to be doing this over and over and over, the next couple thousand years, where, man sins, and he wipes the world out, and man sins, he wipes the world out, the way he did here. 

Which is huge. 

That’s a big commitment. 

Because as we look at that original picture.

Though we’ve got hope, because, God’s promised He’s going to defeat Satan, with how evil the world gets, and this first, massive, outpouring of his judgment, you might wonder, if that means, He’s just going to decide to wipe just absolutely everything out.

And, so, He gives us hope, here, that He’s still, committed to creation.

Not just to cursing. But to to blessing.

And that He’s going to patiently allow this world to remain.

Until He provides the solution He promised for what man’s done. 

And you know. 

It’s cool if you are reading the story. This is like let’s start over. 

In Genesis 9, He basically, reaffirms the whole plan, He shared in Genesis 1, and gives Noah, very, similar commands, to the ones, he gave Adam. 

You see He’s putting Noah in the world, the way he put Adam.

I mean. 

Adam and Eve were the only people on the planet. 

And. 

Noah and his family are the only people on the planet. 

And. 

Adam and Eve, were in the Garden, on the mountain.

And.

Noah and his family come out of the ark, on the mountain. 

And. 

Adam and Eve, were perfect, and experienced fellowship with God, and while, Noah wasn’t perfect, he was righteous man, blameless in His generation.

And Noah walked with God. 

And. 

God commands Adam, to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, and you know what, he makes the same exact command to Noah. 

Only now.

It’s. 

In a world that’s under the curse.

And so there have to be some modifications, and God has to talk to Noah, about some things he never had, to talk to Adam about, and yet, you still can’t help but wonder.

As you are reading and you look at Noah, on this mountain if Noah will be able to do what Adam couldn’t. 

And again.

It’s funny. 

Because the word Noah sounds like the Hebrew word for rest.

And you remember that was life in the kingdom, at the end of Genesis 1, REST, enjoyment, blessing, and so you are looking at Noah, in this new world, wondering if, he’s the promised seed, who is going to bring that promised REST, after all, that’s his name, and. 

Yet it doesn’t take you long to discover, he’s not going to be able to establish the kingdom. 

Because. 

Like. 

How, Adam, in the Garden, ate of the fruit of the tree and ended up naked and ashamed, not too long after, he comes out of the Ark, Noah ate of the fruit of the vine, and ended up naked and ashamed.

And once again.

From that point, the world just keeps getting worse and worse. 

It’s basically. After the reboot. The same old story. 

It’s Genesis 3 to 6 all over again. 

Until basically, everyone joins together, in rebellion against God, refusing to submit to God’s authority over them, by, trying to establish a kingdom for themselves. 

And this Genesis 11. 

The Tower of Babel. 

And. 

Babel is a city. 

And you know, actually every other time in the Old Testament you read the word Babel, how it is translated.

It’s translated Babylon. 

And the reason they translate it Babel here is because the word Babel sounds a lot like the Hebrew word, for the judgment God brought on the people, kind of like how the English noun Babel sounds like the verb to babble.

So it’s a word play. 

But. 

You really could. 

Call this the Tower of Babylon. 

And what’s happening in the Tower of Babylon is basically the same thing that was happening in the Garden of Eden, only now, on a grand scale, if you think about it. 

Because in the Garden, Adam and Eve, sinned, trying to be like God, and at the Tower of Babel, you have the whole earth coming together, to exalt themselves over God. 

We will make a name for ourselves. 

And Adam and Eve wanted to be god, meaning to have, the ability to define good and evil for themselves.

And at the Tower of Babylon everyone is gathering together and basically, saying, that they are defining good and evil now, only, in the exact opposite way than God had said. 

You remember God had said I want you to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, and at the Tower of Babel, people said, no, that’s not good for us, which, of course, is why God, stoops down, once again, and judges man.

And yet, even, as he judges man, in Genesis 11, we find him taking, another step forward, in his great restoration plan.  

It’s like again. 

Every time man does his worst, every time it looks like, man’s done the single most evil thing he could possibly do, God, steps in and, uses that moment, to take another step forward, in His plan for fixing, what man has broken. 

When Adam and Eve sin. 

He makes a promise to defeat Satan. 

When the whole world is going crazy, doing evil things, He rescues Noah and then reaffirms His commitment to creation. 

And when oeople join together to shake their fist at God. 

God.

Chooses.

A very old man.

And makes another covenant, which, we’ll look at next time, because it lays out God’s basic plan, for rescuing the world.

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