Sketching HIStory #15

Gen 9 – God took a hand

After releasing the animals back into the wild, Noah and his family (all 8 of them) evacuated the ark on the mount of Ararat believed to be in the ranges of modern day Turkey. The Lord God said to them…

“Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.” [Gen 9:1]

God also told them that, “The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea.” I was asked once, how did Noah manage such vast variety of wild animals especially the predators? Well, by what was implied in verse 2 above, the animals while in the ark was divinely controlled.

The blessing of God is the cause of our doing well. On him we depend, to him we should be thankful. Let us not forget the advantage and pleasure we have from the labour of beasts, and which their flesh affords. Nor ought we to be less thankful for the security we enjoy from the savage and hurtful beasts, through the fear of man which God has fixed deep in them. We see the fulfillment of this promise every day, and on every side. This grant of the animals for food fully warrants the use of them, but not the abuse of them by gluttony, still less by cruelty. We ought not to pain them needlessly whilst they live, nor when we take away their lives. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

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Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you…

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.” [Gen 9:8-17]

Even as a child, when ever I see a rainbow especially after a rainfall, the Lord’s promise always brought me comfort. Today, people are afraid that as the world’s climate gets hotter, the Arctic ice packs and glaciers will melt and cover the entire earth, like that Kevin Costner movie, Waterworld. My counsel is to look at a rainbow and believe.

After the blessing, the Lord then had set a precedent for them to remember and pass down to generations after.

“But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.

“Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.

As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.” [Gen 9:4-7]

The main reason of forbidding the eating of blood, doubtless was because the shedding of blood in sacrifices was to keep the worshipers in mind of the great atonement; yet it seems intended also to check cruelty, lest men, being used to shed and feed upon the blood of animals, should grow unfeeling to them, and be less shocked at the idea of shedding human blood. Man must not take away his own life. Our lives are God’s, and we must only give them up when he pleases. If we in any way hasten our own death, we are accountable to God for it. When God requires the life of a man from him that took it away unjustly, the murderer cannot render that, and therefore must render his own instead. One time or other, in this world or in the next, God will discover murders, and punish those murders which are beyond man’s power to punish. But there are those who are ministers of God to protect the innocent, by being a terror to evil-doers, and they must not bear the sword in vain, Ro 13:4. Willful murder ought always to be punished with death. To this law there is a reason added. Such remains of God’s image are still upon fallen man, that he who unjustly kills a man, defaces the image of God, and does dishonour to him. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

So, Noah and his family moved east (more or less) and they steadily multiplied. Since, they were the only human beings in the world, they stayed close to each other. Two generations later, humanity’s heart became cold and distant. Enter Nimrod, the grandson of Ham (one of the 3 sons of Noah).

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Nimrod… became a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.” The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Uruk, Akkad and Kalneh, in Shinar. [Gen 10:8-10]

Nimrod was a great man in his day; he began to be mighty in the earth, Those before him were content to be upon the same level with their neighbors, and though every man bare rule in his own house, yet no man pretended any further. Nimrod was resolved to lord it over his neighbors. The spirit of the giants before the flood, who became mighty men, and men of renown, Ge 6:4, revived in him. Nimrod was a great hunter. Hunting then was the method of preventing the hurtful increase of wild beasts. This required great courage and address, and thus gave an opportunity for Nimrod to command others, and gradually attached a number of men to one leader. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

It sounds like the makings of another ‘heroes of old’ or those ‘men of renown’ just like in Genesis 6.

From such a beginning, it is likely, that Nimrod began to rule, and to force others to submit. He invaded his neighbours’ rights and properties, and persecuted innocent men; endeavouring to make all his own by force and violence. He carried on his oppressions and violence in defiance of God himself. Nimrod was a great ruler. Some way or other, by arts or arms, he got into power, and so founded a monarchy, which was the terror of the mighty, and bid fair to rule all the world.

Nimrod was a great builder. Observe in Nimrod the nature of ambition. It is boundless; much would have more, and still cries, Give, give. It is restless; Nimrod, when he had four cities under his command, could not be content till he had four more. It is expensive; Nimrod will rather be at the charge of rearing cities, than not have the honour of ruling them. It is daring, and will stick at nothing. Nimrod’s name signifies rebellion; tyrants to men are rebels to God. The days are coming, when conquerors will no longer be spoken of with praise, as in man’s partial histories, but be branded with infamy, as in the impartial records of the Bible. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

It was Nimrod whom scholars believed was the one to build an ambitious construction of a ‘tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth’ (Gen 11:4).

How soon men forget the most tremendous judgments, and go back to their former crimes! Though the desolations of the deluge were before their eyes, though they sprang from the stock of righteous Noah, yet even during his life-time, wickedness increases exceedingly.

God’s purpose was, that mankind should form many nations, and people all lands. In contempt of the Divine will, and against the counsel of Noah, the bulk of mankind united to build a city and a tower to prevent their separating. Idolatry was thus begun, and Babel became one of its chief seats. They made one another more daring and resolute; as sinners stir up and encourage one another to wicked works. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel —because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. [Gen 11:5-9]

The tendency of men, as the result of a growing diversity of language, was to separate, each tribe holding intercourse only with those who spake their own dialect; and so the Divine purpose of occupying the world was carried into effect, while the project of this ambitious knot of men to hold mankind together was frustrated, and the building of their tower ceased. [Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers]

With mankind scattered through out the earth, we have to wonder ‘Why’? I believe it was part of God’s overall plan for mankind’s salvation. Of course, if I tried to impart what His plan entailed here now, this article would end up into at least a 20 chapter book. So, let me say in a nutshell, that by the scattering of humanity into different tribes and cultures actually was to benefit the spreading of God’s good news (gospel) by those of us who believe. I will reveal this more in much later blog posts.

Meanwhile, let us look at Genesis 11:10-26. To be honest, when reading Scripture and I come upon a long genealogy, my eyes tend to glaze over a little. As a sketch artist, though, it does help when I chart it out, which I did.

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In this next drawing, I laid it out on a timeline spanning about 470 years. Notice the ‘Crimson Thread’ wounding its way through Shem’s family line; he being the youngest son of Noah. This specific family line can be traced to the future descendent, Jesus Christ himself (Luke 3:34-36).

Timeline Events

Right about the second generation of Shem’s line, Noah’s family settled in the plains of Shinar. Archaeologists and scholars believed Shinar was a level plain with immensely rich soil of ancient Chaldea (Assyria). Today, this plain is not so green and can be found in modern day Iraq.

By the time of Shelah, Shem’s third generation, Nimrod built the great tower of Babel. Some believe it was the tower of Borsippa. This tower was the observatory of the Chaldean astronomers, and its name means “the tower of languages.”

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As humanity spread through out the earth a great catastrophy changed the surface of the earth. At around Shem’s fifth generation, Peleg was born. He was so named because in his time the earth was divided (Gen 10:25). After God cracked the earth causing the floodwaters to overflow and cover the land, those same tectonic fissures eventually pushed the continents to what the earth look like today.

Then 470 years later, God spoke to Shem’s tenth generation descendant, Abram and gave him an incredible promise which we will take up in our next post.

Sketching HIStory #14

Gen 7, 8 – God Protected the Ark; God’s Promise

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For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits.

Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.

The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days. [Gen 7:17-24]

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After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him. [Gen 8:6-12]

 

Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”

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So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another.

Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though a every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” [Gen 8:13-22]

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You probably noticed that I did not include any commentaries. I do this from time to time and leave you with an opportunity to seek the Lord’s wisdom by just asking Him (in prayer). My only advice for you is to ask Him hard questions and please share them in the comments.

See you in my next post.

Sketching HIStory #13

Gen 6,7 – God’s Ark – Image of Christ

Noah had been walking the earth for 500 years. As a young man, he was taught about the Creator by his father and his paternal grandfather, Methuselah. They probably had faithfully related to him the story of creation, the legendary garden of Eden and the fall which was passed down from father to son. His family was very close. I can well imagine a young Noah being brought to the eldest of the clan, Seth himself, who would be around 900 years old. As the lad was presented, Seth’s aged hand would reach out and rest on Noah’s head to give him both a blessing and a warning. The blessing is that the eyes of God is watching the family. The warning is that any of them could easily take the path of Cain.

Noah had seen the descendants of Cain in their great city. He saw their great evil and turned away lest he be tempted. Five hundred years had past and he probably wondered what else he could do with his life. Again, I can well imagine him casting his eyes upon a starry night sky pleading like he had done many times but not expecting any response… until God spoke to him.

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So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.

I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. [Gen 6:13,17]

Some would wonder whether God was right to condemn that generation. Consider, if you 2nd-death-wwill, the Lord not doing anything. Remember, there are two great influences that are ruling the hearts of men in those days, SIN and the evil whispering of the devil (not forgetting the example of the Nephilim). If unchecked, the chances of more of mankind ultimately ending up in the image on the right would become a certainty. Fortunately, for us, the Lord God sees and knows all and always know what is right to do. And by the way, God so love the world, He so desires that none should perish. This is always forefront in the Lord’s plan.

And His plan is dependent on Noah’s building capability… (and Him helping out, of course.)

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“So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.” [Gen 6:14-16]

Most people thought the ark was the shape of a boat, but biblically, the ark was in actuality a very long and large rectangular barn with extremely thick walls and a barge-like base heavily coated in some kind of waterproofing resin. Why this basic shape? I believe the reason is that God gave Noah the simplest design for him to build. How could a barn-shaped vessel survive a tempestuous ocean? For myself, the answer is simple. God gave the design. However, for those with unsure faiths, a scientist built a scale model of the ark and in a large indoor pool designed to test ship designs, it was put into gen-6-cubit-w.jpgtrials under simulated waves of a stage 5 hurricane. It surpassed all expectations.

What is a cubit? The cubit is the length of the arm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. As, further, it was regarded as one-fourth of a man’s height, we may safely compute it at eighteen inches more or less. Thus the ark was 450 feet long, 75 feet broad, and 45 feet in depth.

Put yourself in Noah’s shoes. God just instructed him to construct a humongous structure. He was probably wondering why.

But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.” [Gen 6:18-21]

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Noah did everything just as God commanded him. [Gen 6:22]

Noah did not hesitate. He and probably members of the clan moved to an area which was heavily forested with the trees required. They cleared the land and prepared it for the build. Now, God gave no deadline but the build took about 100 years.

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The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.” [Gen 7:1-4]

On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in. [Gen 7:13-16]

‘It was God Himself that shut and sealed the door, to secure Noah and keep him safe in the ark; also to keep all others for ever out. In what manner this was done, God has not been pleased to make known’. [commented by a Bible commentary]

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CRIMSON THREAD

There are 2 images that are representative of Christ.gen-6-ark-door-w.jpg

The first one is the ark itself. The ark is like Christ because only those that are in it are saved (reflected in 1 John 5:11-12).

The second image is the ark’s only door. How? Here is Jesus’ own words.

“I am the gate (door); whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” [John 10:9]

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In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth… [Gen 7:11-12]

We leave you here until our next post. See you then.

Sketching HIStory #12

Gen 6 – Regret and the Troubled Heart of God

Almost sixteen hundred years had past since Adam was cast out of Eden. In that time, mankind’s population grew significantly.

When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” [Gen 6:1-3]

I just recently watched some news about some woman who celebrated her 122nd birthday and I thought about the verse above of God shortening our life expectancy to 120 years.

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As you can see in the illustration of chapter 5, Adam/Seth’s family line lived an average of over 900 years. At first, I thought their long life was due to the earth’s pre-flood atmosphere because of the Genesis 1 water shell protecting the earth from the sun’s radiation. But by the words of God, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever…”, it was He that undeservedly sustained their extremely long life for almost 2 eons. Why? My educated guess is because it is part of His grand plan. Of course, from the perspective of those in that era, God’s plan for salvation was unfathomable.

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The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. [Gen 6:4]

The Nephilim is loosely translated as giants in some Bibles and left untranslated in others. How did these giants come about? According to traditional Jewish beliefs, the Nephilim are the produced offsprings of the ‘sons of God’ (fallen angels) and human females. The children were then endowed with some kind of supernatural power that the other population of that time would consider them as heroes of old. It is funny that Hollywood in the 80s actually put out several movies of that particular era. One of which is the legend of ‘Conan the Barbarian’ starring, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger. In that movie, though the character of Conan was the hero of the story by saving the damsel in distress, his personality depiction is still that of a crude uncaring uncivilized barbarian who would later gain the throne. Interestingly enough, sequel movies of this character, in my opinion, made him less a hero and more a liability to mankind. Of course, this was just a movie. In reality, however, will the heroes of old were not really men of renown but men who had gained such great corruptive power that influence the rest of the population.

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The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” [Gen 6:5-7]

Who ever said that God cannot be affected by our actions? God may be ‘all seeing’ and can never be caught unaware, but he can still regret. Keep this in mind. For God to regret, it would have to be that we have to display such great wickedness for him to act on. This is just my opinion but I believe, throughout our history, God had also intervened somewhat destructively to correct mankind’s evilness. The Bible gave us a number of examples which we will explore in later Bible studies. But I wanted to site a mystery of a great vast Mayan city that is now being discovered and explored by archaeologists today in the jungles of South America. What is the mystery? Why was this vast city which once had millions but had abandoned it? And what happened to the people? Again, this is my opinion. I think that because these people worshiped their Serpent god and showed similar wickedness depicted in Genesis 6, God… ahem… took a hand.

Going back to Genesis 6, a question has to be asked of how is it that mankind had so greatly follow the path of wickedness? To answer this, we have to go back to Genesis 4 and follow the history of Cain.

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Now, in my illustration, I laid out the timeline of both Seth and Cain.

Just before Seth was born, Cain had murdered his brother Abel. Because of his murderous deed, the Lord God put an unknown mark on him so that anyone who finds him will not kill him. So, he took with him his wife (who is obviously one of many daughters of Adam and Eve) and settled in the land called Nod supposedly East of Eden. If you look at my illustration, I have laid out the massive land mass with the suggestive outlines of our respective continents today. There are three areas where Cain may have settled (take note the three question marks in red). In one theory, archaeology suggest that mankind came into the picture in the African region. Some have suggested India while other scholars believe that the land of Nod may be in Asia or China to be more specific, which boasts the oldest known civilization. It was there that Cain built a city named after his first son, Enoch. As the population grew, so did the city.

From Genesis 4, Cain sired Enoch to Irad to Mehujael to Methushael to Lamech. From Lamech (took two wives), he sired 4 offsprings one of which became the father of a nomadic tribe that raised livestock. The other became the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes. One who is named, Tubal-Cain, advanced the society by becoming the father of the forge and probably brought in the age of bronze and iron. Interestingly enough, the Bible also mentions a sister of Tubal-Cain named Naamah. But her biblical significance is lost to me except that she was named.

What about the wickedness? It is quite apparent that the callous wickedness of Genesis 6 started with Cain murdering his brother but is multiplied in the life of his great great grandson, Lamech who boasted to both his wives and said, “Adah and Zillah, listen to me; hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.”

Mankind is doomed! Thank the Lord for His plan.

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But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. [Gen 6:8-14]

In my next post, we will cover more on what God required of Noah.