sermon: Leadership and the Covenants (Part Twelve)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 23-Jul-16; Sermon #1333; 71 minutes
John Ritenbaugh, warning that, as culture deteriorates, the church will be 'exposed' as the enemy, encourages us to make sure that the foundations of what we believe are secure. Consequently, we need to take notice of the law of first mention in Genesis to pick up the pattern of God's dealing with His creation. The great worldwide Flood has to be looked at through God's perspective, a merciful intervention preventing humankind from becoming hopelessly conditioned by Satanic orientation, to the point of no return. At the time of the Flood, all of mankind's thoughts were continuously evil. We are reaching that point again. Sin in exponentially compounding and every intent of the heart is evil continually, contaminating the outer behavior, fashioning millions and millions of beings in Satan's image. With the Flood, God rescued these hapless beings from becoming irretrievably depraved. There will be no more floods to wipe out the entire population of the earth, but the future cleansing and purging will be by unquenchable fire, when all evil will be dissolved to make way for new heavens and a new earth. The first use of the word grace in Scripture is in context with the rescuing of Noah, a preacher of righteousness from the line of Seth, including Lamech and Methuselah (whose name means "when he is gone, then he will come"). None of the line of preachers of righteousness (all converted people) perished in the flood. After Methuselah had died, Noah, the tenth in the line of the preachers of righteousness, whose name means comfort, provided physical deliverance for mankind, enabling it to survive the flood. When we realize that everything God has done from the creation of the earth (with its habitable environment and its resources) to the present time is a demonstration of His grace, we realize that salvation is His ultimate gift. As Noah's family was saved from th
Acts 26:24 Billy Budd Bullinger biblical numerology Defilement from within Defilement from the heart , Enoch, Every breath is a gift from God Methusala Ephesians 2:4-10 I Samuel 16:7 Flood as a merciful intervention Genesis 6:2, 5,8, 28-29 God's sorrowful regret about the creation of mankind God's pre-flood judgment God will not strive with man forever Grace Hebrews 1:1-3 Jude 1:14 Lord tests the righteous Matthew 15:17-20 Noah , a preacher of righteousness Noah not obscure individual Psalm 11:1 Reading the preface Salvation the final gift in the cycle of grace Satan's rebellious mindset II Peter 2:4-9 Significance of number 10 Wickedness of mankind II Peter 2:4-9 3:9 Ten as the perfection of divine order
I am having a hard time getting away from Noah, so we are going to continue with him and the surroundings that he was born into and raised up in. Please turn to Psalm 11. This has much to do with the sermon today, and much to do with our lives, especially as we continue to move into the fulfillment of the prophecies that Jesus made regarding the times of the end.
Psalm 11:1-7 In the Lord I put my trust; how can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain”? For look! The wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow on the string, that they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The Lord tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright.
Psalm 11 is a prayer. It is an affirmation by David to God that his faith was holding fast as serious trouble for him to face was building against him—as it is for us in this culture we live in. The psalm has a message for us too, because as our culture continues to deteriorate, the church will be exposed as the real enemy to life in this confused world. As it does our faith is going to become more sternly tested, and we must do as David strongly inferred in this psalm. That is, to make sure the foundations of what we believe are solidly, firmly in place.
The Lord is on His throne! Do we really believe that? The two most important realities for us, as we move forward in time is: that God is, and that God's Word is eternally true—it is always a reality.
I am going to continue proceeding slowly through these early chapters of Genesis. This is because, first of all, the overall subject of leadership is very important. History makes this reality very clear. What reality? That leaders have followers and they influence others to do as they do. There is power in leadership, and if used properly it is a wonderful power to have. History shows that when Israel had good godly leadership, like Moses or Joshua, the entire nation did well, but when led by Ahab or Manasseh the entire nation went down the tubes.
Why is this in particular so important? It is because the carnal nature in those who follow find it easier to follow poor quality leadership right into the gutter, rather than to do right. A second reason, far more important than the historical records, is that leadership in doing things right is what God Himself desires.
Despite our thinking that we have no impact on events, we must never forget that God Himself is pleased by our doing things right, because it ultimately glorifies Him, and at the same time, prepares us for eternity in His Family Kingdom.
There is a third reason why going slowly through these early chapters in Genesis is important to our growth. It is that in these chapters God is laying the foundations for His entire purpose. It is imperative that we learn the foundations well. When building a structure, if one does not get the foundation true and level, the rest of the entire structure is adversely affected. One of the best examples of this is the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. You can see there that a poor foundation is effecting the entire building.
Near the beginning of my days in the church (which began in July or August of 1959), but in 1960, a spokesman club formed in that Pittsburgh congregation. I heard a speech given by a man who was a principal of a high school in southeastern Ohio. He said in that speech that one should never read a book without first reading the preface. Why? Because in the preface the author explains briefly why he wrote the book, and that is important to getting the most from what follows in the remainder of the book. It is very helpful to know these things as one is reading because one will find the book much more helpful and understandable.
To John Ritenbaugh, Genesis is God's preface for the entire rest of the Bible. The foundations are laid there, and we want the foundations to be rightly understood if we are going to build upon them.
I said in my previous message that the Flood has to be looked at through the heart of God in order to achieve a correct grasp of His feelings, and ultimately His judgment regarding what He saw and was about to do.
Consider these six expressions of dismay that He used between verses 3 and 7 of Genesis 6.
1) I will not strive with man forever. 2) Man's wickedness was very great. 3) He said He was sorry that He made man. 4) I will destroy man whom I have made. 5) He was grieved in His heart. 6) Every thought of the intent of man's heart was only evil continually.
I do not know that He uses a string of terms, of that strength, anywhere else in the Bible. What He was looking at must truly have been a sorry sight to Him. The picture that we see in words conveys at least some of the emotional drama that coursed through His mind. He was seeing this beautiful creation butchered, as it were.
What we must grasp is that sin was the cause of this vast overwhelming, churning mess. Sin is not judged by God as a mere imperfection in character. To Him it is a life-and-death matter! What we must know is that He saw it as though it was a living hostile, infecting, poisonous, and killing entity within the very persons He observed, and it was driving their motivation. You can see that He was emotionally involved here.
God perceives something that men do not. What He saw when looking at these people was Satan—the smooth-talking, deceptive slave driver, and his seductive and powerful influence as the real author driving these peoples’ conduct.
Consider briefly this difference between God's reporting, and what we hear in current news reports. Today, when you hear a news report of things that happened in Orlando, Florida, or Dallas, Texas, or a where a sniper killed five people, or what happened in Germany when eight people were killed by one or more killers, do you hear the news commentator mention anything at all about this whole thing being satanically driven, as part of these killer’s thinking? You do not.
Why no mention of Satan? Because people are no longer educated to think spiritually about what they see and hear. To the commonly elected educated humanity in the Western World, in our time, the spirit realm is not a reality. God saw that Satan had such a firm grip on these peoples’ minds that if He did not intervene those people would be unable to ever tear themselves free from his enslaving grip on their attitudes and conduct, even after truth was revealed to them.
God saw that these people had to be torn away from Satan. Added to the Satanic reality is another reality that raised sin’s seriousness at least one more notch. To God, sin within those He was observing had become not merely murder, lying, coveting, and thievery. As bad as sin was in the thoughts of men's heart, even as He was watching, it was, in reality, incessantly compounding the evil. It was growing.
The statement that we see in Genesis 6:5 says that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. That is not an exaggeration. It was getting worse as He was looking at it! Thus it was in the hearts of those living before the Flood. They were on the cusp of being generators of evil in the image of Satan.
Consider this parallel. The key word that I used was ‘image.’ God's mind and character are being built by Him in those that He calls and sanctifies to be created in His image, thus ultimately having within them His righteous, loving character. However, Satan is following the same general pattern by creating himself in those that he enslaves.
Here is a critical truth. Has Satan ever changed? Even as he was misleading those before the Flood, he is attempting to do the same in our time. Thus, this period of Genesis is important to us, because Jesus connects the time before the Flood with our time and we are growing in the same general direction.
This is all the more interesting because Jesus later admonished us to not look on the outward appearance.
Matthew 15:17-20 [He said this to His disciples:] “Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
It is what is within that is of concern to God. He did not merely see what the people did on the outside, He could look right into the heart and see what was growing within that realm because that is where the problems were coming from and would continue to grow from.
From the verses we just read there in Matthew 15, we find out that just a little bit after that it becomes even more interesting because Jesus admonished us to not look on the outward appearance. When we look at sin we see it actually happening. Here He is telling us to not look on the outward appearance. In other words, there is a way that is more discerning. We have not reached that yet.
We have to look at things from the outside because we do not yet have the godly powers to the degree that we need to judge as God judges. However, in I Samuel 16, we find this laid down for you and me.
I Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,”
I wanted to go to that verse specifically because there is a strong pull within all of us to look on the outside of things because we feel that is all that we can see, and so we make a judgment. This is the reason why Jesus warned us, right at the beginning of His ministry, to be very careful about judging. He went so far as to say, do not judge. We learn later that He indeed wants us to judge, but He does not want us to judge people to the place where we are condemning them in our judgment, because there is so much that we cannot yet see.
But we are to learn, and our judgment perception has to be increased and God-willed. We do not want to condemn people in our judgments. We can make judgments and say, “I don’t want to behave like that, and that person isn’t doing any good,” but we do not follow them in that. We are to move forward in our judgment into what God is.
It is from this whole pre-Flood incident that we are given a principle of judgment from the wisest of all—God Himself. Here is why God slew everybody. It is, in His judgment, that when the heart becomes so consistently evil that evil is its natural course of action, there is nothing that can be done about changing it. Even God cannot change it, because of the limits to His judgment that He has set for Himself. God is not going to have another Satan living under Him.
The kind of evil Satan has must be stopped so that it causes no more disruption in God's Kingdom. That fits into God's judgment regarding what He did at the Flood. Perhaps you can grasp this comparison that I am going to give you in order to help you understand a shade of difference that exists here. Looking from the outside, we can judge the actions of a person and say of that person, he is a liar, because he lied. In other words, we judge externally because we literally witnessed a person lie.
God can look into a person’s heart and with perfect judgment say this, he lied because he is a liar. God's judgment penetrates the very depth of the sin the person is practicing. We will put it another way. When it reaches that point, the person has become what he practiced.
God's discernment enabled Him to honestly and with dead-on accuracy, judge when one is absolutely enslaved to the practice of sin.
You can see where I am headed here. He brought the Flood to stop the progression of the enslavement to sin. It was actually an act of mercy that He put them to death, because shortly the image of Satan would be in these people and then nothing could be changed regarding them. Their character would be set. So, when humans reach that stage of evil, the course is set and they will go into the Lake of Fire because nothing will change the set of their hearts. They become another Satan.
Thus, God intervened in those peoples’ lives to stop the process so that they did not become totally subject to a heart permanently, satanically enslaved to his nature. So, the Flood’s victims were on the verge of becoming totally depraved, even though from their point of view on earth, the peoples’ conduct level appeared to be normal for them. They did not grasp how terrible their conduct was.
That is the way it is getting in this world, you can see it, read of it, hear of it. They are at the point where they are getting awfully close to the edge of the cliff. They cannot tell the difference between right and wrong anymore in areas of life.
Dyed-in-the-wool homosexuals cannot see what they are doing is wrong. This happens because many living today have lost virtually all sense of right and wrong. They needed, those people then, to be put to sleep and later resurrected within a world where there would be many with attitudes and character that would be helpful to their growth.
Here is counsel for us living in these times. What we see recorded in Genesis 6 is a preview of what is now growing in this age. It needs to be in our minds so that we are well prepared. However, we know that this time no flood will be sent to stop the satanic evil guiding their conduct.
II Peter 3:9-17 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. [We know a fair amount of what is coming on this earth. It is not going to be pretty. It is going to be frightening, there is going to be a great deal of death.] But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. [Why does Peter seem to be veering off in that direction? First of all because it is true, what he is writing there. It is also to remind us that no flood is coming. What is coming is fire.] Therefore, since all of these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
You get the sense—look no flood is coming, what is coming is fire! It is going to be a while before that fire comes but we have to live right now facing what is going on. In our case getting prepared for the worst of what is coming.
A question has to be: how many will God put to a merciful death in our time by other means? It is not known, He does not give us any idea. But if He does not do as He did by means of the Flood, then is it possible that the Lake of Fire will be the only agent of death for the sinner? Then it will be too late. Unless God chooses to put people to death through an accident, so that He can preserve their lives so that there is an opportunity later on, what we need to understand is that no massive putting to death is coming toward us. Our walking papers tell us, Peter says here, be ready, be diligent, go on.
Looking back on God's pre-Flood judgment, He acted when there was nothing to stop the intensification of sin except the intervention of Jesus Christ. That is what we are looking forward to now—the intervention of Jesus Christ. Recall the illustration that I gave to you from the Billy Bud movie. The British naval officer felt forced by British military law to carry out a dreadfully depressing responsibility. Look at the comparison here. God was not forced to do what He did by a mere unbending rule of law. What God did was His choice, it was one of loving wisdom and the reality of their enslavement to sin.
I mention this again because there is no massive amount of that coming, except what happens in the actions that take place between now and then. There will be no massive flood. His judgment was accurate and made within the time that the hope of salvation and eternal life in God's Kingdom could still exist for them. He could clearly see what sin was producing and the means by which it could be conquered, and the people suffering from its effects so that they could live lives of joy and profitable development later on. That is a summary of why God did what He did by means of the Flood. It was an act of mercy.
The warning to us is, there is no flood coming this time. So if God is going to save anybody who might be in this condition, spiritually, then He is going to do it individually. I am certain that He is going to do that on occasion but we can trust that He will use the same determination. It will be an act of love on His part to save these people for later on, but it will take place in a different way.
This sermon takes a turn here. I want you to turn your attention to something a great deal more positive and that is, the law of first mention. The law of first mention is not a law in the ordinary sense that it is unvarying and never changing. Rather it is in reality a general rule of thumb applied to biblical study that alerts the student to some helpful wide-ranging possibilities that produces a much clearer understanding to build upon.
The law is a strong suggestion to open your mind to pay clear closer attention when a significant term appears for the first time in the Bible. This is because the experiences of many researchers have revealed that careful thought often reveals much rich detail one would otherwise miss.
Genesis 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
The term grace appears here for the first time in the Bible. Others besides Noah, who is the human focus in this context, without question received grace before him. This is noted by us because God is the real author of this Book, not Moses. It was God who directed that the word grace appears for the first time right here. The question is, “why here?” since others had already received it. Why did He wait until, what is now Genesis 6:8, to put it into this context that included Noah? It is God who put the term here first in His Book.
Therefore, it is highly likely there are very helpful reasons why this exceedingly significant term is used in this particular context. Maybe that adds something to its significance. What might be some of those reasons, since Noah is obviously not the first person to receive grace. Adam and Eve were, right off the bat. After them came Cain and Abel, they too received grace, but God did not mention it in relation to them as He did here. Has anybody else received grace besides them? Obviously they have.
What I am getting at here is this. Grasping the application of this term has very much to do with what our understanding of grace must be, so that we have a good foundation for our relationship with God.
Ephesians 2:4-10 But God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
The statement “you have been saved by grace,” dominates most people’s thinking regarding grace. In so doing it tends to limit its impact to salvation itself, and we must not do that. Unwittingly, grace's importance becomes limited in the minds of these people in terms of its very significant and overall importance to the entire process of what God is working out. Salvation itself is only the final gift, however, the Bible does not limit grace one iota. The Bible clearly shows God's grace is operating in every aspect of His purpose beginning with the creation of the earth, and the very fact that we exist not merely with life, but life with an awesome purpose to us.
In the writings of men, one of the works they consider that has the greatest opening line is, A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Here is what I think is the greatest opening of any book ever had written.
Hebrews 1:1-3 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
I have never found anything that can top that. Everything positive and good, right up to this very moment, and I mean everything pertaining to us, and God's purpose of creating us in His image, is a gift of our Creator. Everything! Beginning with the creation of the earth itself. The earth is a gift to us. Without earth we would not be here. Everything God does has a positive, good, upbuilding, uplifting, life giving purpose behind it and it began with the earth itself, so that we could live here. If He had not done that we would not be here, we would not even be. He prepared, first of all, the environment that we live in, even before He created life to live within it.
Life was a gift, Adam was gift, Eve was a gift to Adam, we could go on and on. Everything from God has to be looked at as a gift of love from Him so that we might be like Him. Salvation itself is only the final gift in this life, beyond this, life in the Kingdom of God. The gifts will never stop coming from Him, He loves to give, so that people can live like Him. He wants to share everything He has and give it to others so that they can enjoy life as a creator—like He is.
This has something to do with Noah. That is the first time that grace is ever mentioned, and I think part of the reason for that is that He started us off with all of these gifts, and look at the way it is now. “What are you doing with all of the gifts that I have given you?” That is what He is saying. He says, “Don’t worry. I’m going to send Noah.” That is basically what He is saying. Noah means comfort. I am going to give you comfort, rest.
Everything positive and good, right up to this moment, everything pertaining to us and God's purpose is in the image of what He is like.
It says that Jesus Christ is upholding all things by the word of His power. That upholding can be translated bearing, or carrying. Think of the picture here. Jesus Christ is bearing the load of the work of keeping the creation going. I do not know how much maintenance that it requires to keep things going but that is what is being displayed here. Jesus Christ is not up there twiddling His thumbs. He is keeping everything moving in the right direction that He and the Father decided it should go.
This is written so that we will understand that what Jesus Christ is doing is a moment-by-moment thing. He works, and His works are being explained here as the maintenance of God's creation and God's purpose.
He is bearing it, He is carrying it. Christ not only created the universe, He also maintains it and keeps all things headed on its God-ordained course. Do you understand that in light of what this verse says, everything right up to this moment, every breath of air we breathe is a gift from Him?
We will begin some helpful background on Noah. We will see as this information builds that Noah was not an obscure nobody. God was working something out in him, very likely from the moment he was born. We will not have a great deal of detail here but we will have enough to be able to piece some things together.
Genesis 5:28-29 Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and had a son. And he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed.”
Here are a couple of factoids. Noah is the last name of the line that began with Seth. Following Seth, Noah’s immediate ancestors were Enosh, Cainan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, and Lamech. This is not the same Lamech who appeared earlier as a son of Cain. What we are seeing listed here is what the researchers call the ‘holy line,’ which leads eventually to Christ.
It is generally believed that all of these ancestors are directly named. There is a reason why they were named. It appears to be, since it is the holy line, that all of these people were as we would call them, converted men. Eventually this culminates in Genesis 6:2.
Genesis 6:2 [T]hat the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.
I think that the sons of God was this listing of men. They were largely converted people. The sons of God were not angels. Angels and mankind, females, cannot reproduce, they are a different kind. Each kind reproduces after his own kind. The sons of God has to be human beings and the only ones who are human beings and called sons of God in the Bible are converted people. It culminates in Jesus Christ who was the literal Son of God, but you and I having the Spirit of God becomes sons of God too. You transfer that information back here into the book of Genesis and it gives pretty strong indication that the sons of God of Genesis 6:2, were converted human beings.
They were beginning to go astray, they were marrying women that they should not have married. Thus, those names of the ancestors of Noah were all sanctified men, they had the Holy Spirit of God. An additional fact is that except for Noah, all of them were dead before God created the Flood. Therefore, as far as we know, not a single converted person was killed by the Flood. God protects His own.
It begins to become apparent that God had Noah marked for big things early in life, it might interest you to know that Noah is the tenth person named in that holy line. The number ten has very positive association in the Bible, it is a good number. According to E.W. Bullinger, in his book, Number in Scripture, ten signifies perfection of a divine order. What is he doing there in Genesis? He is giving you an order of the converted people leading up to Noah, Noah is number ten.
The decimal system is based on ten, it signifies in the Bible the end of one order of events or things, and the beginning of another order. For instance, there are ten commandments, in this case no more are needed. The Lord’s prayer contains ten clauses, the tithe is ten percent, ten plagues fell on Egypt, ten kingdoms will comprise the Beast power, Israel had ten rebellions in the wilderness. Fire came down from heaven in the Old Testament ten times, Abraham was severely tested in faith ten times, there were ten virgins, God cursed things or people ten times. Ten words signifying law (in Psalms 119, there are ten). There are at least thirty of these series of tens throughout the Bible.
Noah fits in here. The association of Noah with ten is nothing to be passed over lightly because it is ripe with possibilities. Noah was the tenth from Adam, but he was also the first named after Adam died—a new order is starting. It is ten men from Noah to Abraham. It seems to indicate a new beginning with Noah who indeed became the father, like Adam, of all mankind following the Flood, thus Noah became the second, or a new Adam.
We know few details about these men but there is enough to paint a bit of a picture. Something interesting pops up with the naming of Methuselah by Enoch. This does not appear in the Bible but researchers insist that Methuselah has a very interesting source. It is interesting because Enoch named him. Methuselah means, ‘when he is gone then it will come.’ Methuselah lived longer than any other human being. When he is gone indicates death. In other words when you begin to put things together there is a strong possibility that Enoch, in naming him, was inferring the Flood.
I will give you an example of what Enoch might be thinking of because, again, it is a practice of God that He follows certain patterns in working out His work. One of which is that He almost invariably has His people looking forward to the significant fulfillment of something. He does that on purpose. That is to give us vision, encouragement to keep our mind on the ball, perhaps even to see the fulfillment of this.
Luke 2:25-32 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said; “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace. According to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
Luke 2:36-38 Now there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
That is just an example that people at that time were kept apprised by God enough so that they knew they were getting mighty close to the appearance of the Redeemer. In some cases God stirred up their spirit enough, He gave them the gifts to be able to perceive that He had been born and that He would be at the Temple while they were there.
Are we not looking forward to our Redeemer’s appearance once again? And we anticipate it because we know we are getting close. We do not have a date, but things are happening in this world that are signaling us that something significant is right over the horizon.
This is what I mean about the principle. It plays into this thing about Noah, because the people seem to be aware at that time that something monumental was going to happen and by the time they were beginning to get within Noah's life it seemed as though they knew pretty close what was it was going to be.
Genesis 5:28-29 Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and had a son. And he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed.”
It is interesting that Lamech mentioned what he did in relation to the naming of Noah, it had something to do with the curse, the curse that God put on the earth way back in Genesis 3, which was well over a thousand years before Noah came along. Lamech knew about it, he was fairly knowledgeable regarding God and what God was working out, and he knew that they were beginning to come to a significant event. Lamech recognized that living with the curse impacting on creating a life much more difficult than what God originally intended, so this is another indication that these were converted people and what we have is an element of prophecy in which Noah had some involvement in.
It is probable that Lamech already recognized that with Noah's birth, combined with the passage of time, it was signaling that through Noah relief of much of the pain of that curse would be lifted for a time, thus giving comfort and relief of much distress.
Genesis 5:21 Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah.
Everyone knows about Enoch because he simply, but fantastically, disappeared before some witnesses, but that is not all regarding Enoch. Enoch, great great grandfather of Noah, was clearly a preacher, so we see in the book of Jude.
Jude 14-15 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
We all know that Enoch was a preacher. He was also a prophet, and I want you to notice there what he prophesied of. He was talking about the Lord coming, that is way in our future yet. Enoch was prophesying way beyond Noah. He was prophesying of things that had not even happened yet, about the Lord coming with His saints, at a time far beyond the Flood.
What does this indicate to us? It indicates that God has a work already going and they knew about the time of the end, even in Enoch's day, and that things had to be working out. Noah fits right in to the mix of all of these people. Enoch was the great grandfather of Noah. Jude shows that he also a prophet as well.
II Peter 2:4-5 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of the eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly.
Like his great grandfather, Noah was also a preacher. He fit right into the family mold. Again, this gives us indication that Enoch was a preacher, Noah was a preacher, all of these wonderful names that they are giving to their children you can see that there has not been a time since the beginning of creation that God has not had a work going, preaching what He is doing.
Noah was not a random nobody, plucked out of a crowd. God was working, working in and through this man before he ever gave him the job of building the ark.
Acts 26:24-26 Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner.
What Noah did was not done in a corner. Slowly but surely here I am peeling back the layers, uncovering who this man was. We will add another possibility concerning Noah. Besides being a preacher, we are looking forward to a significant occasion, such as I mentioned in relation to the Redeemer’s birth. We are not looking forward toward the Flood, but we are looking forward to the rise of the Beast, the great Tribulation, the Day of the Lord, and Christ’s return. Right into this mix God is going to position two preachers. Those two preachers will become the best-known personalities on earth. They are going to be the Two Witnesses.
Here is what I believe that God did, since He tends to follow patterns so that we can see Him working, and that bolsters our faith. I believe that God through Noah followed the same pattern with him. In that pre-Flood period, especially after the one hundred and twenty years was nearing its end, God had Noah preaching of what was coming.
What Noah did was not done in a corner. He was, at that time, the best known personality on earth, just like the Two Witnesses right before the end.