Hints on Genesis 6-9

We are coming to the world we have been reading about destroyed by the flood. Hitherto it has been the old world with a wonderful series of principles in it, which is the character of Genesis, especially at the beginning Man is seen in his original responsibility (but with a number of figures in it) before God began to deal with him. It is a distinct principle of condition that there were no specific dealings, no government, no law, no nations, no promises, no covenant. There was the revelation or prediction of the Seed of the woman; there was Enoch with a prophecy; but no dealings of God. No miracles were stated.
Afterward we find government put into the hands of man; then the law; and last Christ Himself.
God's prolonging man's life at that time acted instead of writing the word; we see God's wisdom in it so. At the flood we get life shortened by half; and by half again, when the earth was divided and portioned out to the people. It would not do, in the way the world is now, for men to live 900 years.
(1) “the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.” Then comes (2) “when they knew God, they glorified him not as God.” These are two distinct things. They did not heed creation; and they gave God up when known. But Enoch walked with God, or “pleased God,” as in the New Testament it is said. It never so says of Adam, because he walked away from God and did not please Him.
In Gen. 6:33And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. (Genesis 6:3) the Spirit is said to strive with man in the testimony God had given by Noah; He preached by Noah to the spirits, now in prison, of men drowned at the flood.
God gave man 120 years to repent. It was no question of age. Man never got 120 years as a fixed portion, though life was thus long in Moses' time.
Enoch's prophecy was preserved but we know not how. It exists in tradition; but only in scripture have we it given us as it really was. It is preserved in books, and was well known in the second century; indeed they talk about Job borrowing from it. Bruce brought three copies of a book of Enoch from Abyssinia; of course this was an apocryphal book. There is a regular system in it by which the Lord judges, and so on. I have no doubt the book was written just after the destruction of Jerusalem, and against Christians. The writer sees the “tower of the flock,” as he calls it, destroyed; and he could see no farther. He was a Jew writing in favor of the Jews, and talks about perverse men, who were Christians. It has reference to the history of times before the flood; and it has a kind of vision which Noah relates to his posterity, or an angel tells him things. He makes the flood come to the earth because it got a tilt. Enoch's prophecy was preserved traditionally find incorrectly. It is a testimony to show how really the coming judgment was looked for. Bruising the serpent's head is given in a way as coming to destroy the power of Satan.
In chapter 6:11 are the two general characters seen in man; the earth was corrupt before God, and filled with violence. So it will be at the end: Babylon is corruption, and the beast is violence. So with ourselves, we find plenty of the corruption, and of the violence too.
But “Noah found grace in the eyes of Jehovah,” that is, divine favor rested on him; personally righteous doubtless, but all through grace of course. Moses says, “If I have found grace in thy sight;” it is a common expression. In the next chapter God says of Noah, “Thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.” But the earth was completely filled with violence. Every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil continually; if sin comes in, it is sure to ripen up.
God changes His mind, but only as to creation (ver. 6) or the like—never when there is a purpose. It is, if the thing totally changes, that God judges differently about it. So it was now, and therefore God would destroy man. It is not as if some change took place in God, but the aspect of His mind is changed towards an object that has itself changed.
“All in whose nostrils is the breath of life” included man and beast; all go together in that kind of language. Then at the right time God takes Noah with his family, and all enter the ark, “and Jehovah shut him in.”
As to the number “forty,” it seems to me to have the sense of endurance in it. Forty stripes save one is thirty nine; for they need a three-thonged rod, so that they could Only give thirty nine by the law, not to exceed forty. It is a length of duration and trial in that way, testing and patience and endurance. So Moses in his three periods of life. Again, Ezekiel lay forty days on his right side for Judah as a sign, a day for a year according to the years of Judah's iniquity. (Ezek. 4) Jonah's proclamation was. yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown; for, though they did come under the penalty, they were tried. Elijah had been forty days apart, as Israel of old in the wilderness forty years. Here it was till the ark floated.
As to the “two of every sort” in chapter 7 and “seven clean” in verses 2, 3, the first were male and female to keep them alive; when they were clean beasts, he took fourteen. I have no doubt the “clean” were what were customarily given for sacrifices. Who would offer a ravenous wild beast in sacrifice to God, but sheep or oxen? This difference of a provision for the race and for sacrifice is bound up with the different use respectively of God (Elohim) and of the Lord (Jehovah).
The fountains of the great deep were all broken up and the windows of heaven opened, that is, above and below, all together broken up: in what way we cannot tell, but they were. Then we hear of a raven, an unclean thing, which could fly about in this world without difficulty, whilst the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot.
Tisri was the first month, that is, part of September and October. The fourteenth day of Abib was the end of March, as Abib began in the middle of our March and went on to the middle of our April. It was five months that the waters prevailed; and after the end of the 150 days the waters abated, and the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat, the waters being two months and a half in running off.
I believe the flood was all over the earth, wherever man was. There is no mistake. People have called the universality in question, using general terms, as if it only covered the inhabited earth. But scripture says, “the mountains were covered,” “and the tops of the mountains were seen,” and so on; this looks like universality. You must let in a miracle in any case: and so it is all one after all. Suppose Mount Ararat, fifteen or sixteen thousand feet high in northern Armenia, was covered, well, if the waters were not all round, and away too, they would have run off and covered somewhere else; there must have been a miracle anyhow. The universality of the flood, absolute universality, seems to me to be positively meant and intended, because of destroying the world that then was. God puts an end to the whole system of the world. It was as complete a judgment of the earth and all that was on it on the part of God as it will be presently by fire. Everything in the whole order and system of the world that had life perished, “the earth standing out of the water and in the water, whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:” so Peter tells us, and anything that enfeebled it, I should not admit for a moment: all mere physical things are consequent upon it.
Either reject the word of God or else Mount Ararat was covered. As to universal destruction, everything in the world was put an end to. The world that then was is distinct from the world that now is; and this is of immense moral import to us. God says He will never do it again, but the next time it will be by fire. We see from chapter 8:20, that offerings were usual, as they had been from Abel; and it was an act of faith. These were sweet savor offerings; the burnt-offering involves sin, but not so exactly sins. It is not a guilty conscience which brings a burnt-offering as such. Christ comes and offers Himself a sacrifice for sin, gives Himself up to absolute obedience to glorify God; and, the blood being shed, atonement is made; but the burnt-offering is the perfectness of His obedience in suffering everything for God's glory. Sin-offerings were not a sweet savor. The burnt-offering was the glorifying God in that place, taking up the righteousness of God against sin. In the sacrifice of sin-offering, I see positive sins laid upon it.
It is not exactly thanksgiving here, which would be more the character of a peace-offering. It was offering to God a full acknowledgment of Himself, as the basis of renewal after judgment. This is how Noah offered. Through the eternal Spirit Christ offered Himself without spot to God, to be a sacrifice. Many want to make out that He bore our sins up to the cross; but when He offered Himself He was a spotless One, and the Lord laid our sins upon Him. In the two goats on the day of atonement of Jehovah's lot, the bringing up was in order to the slaying; but the slaying followed; and when once it was slain, the blood could be taken in. So I find, after the gift of Himself, He is made sin, or the sins are laid upon Him. Besides the meeting of our responsibility, God was dishonored about sin, and Christ stands in that place of dishonor for God's glory, not merely to put away my sins.
Now it is this that gives the great character to Noah's act. He did not come with a sin-offering as that would have been going to God for his sins, but with a burnt-offering, and Jehovah smelled a sweet savor. Of course there was no possible ground for any blessing except upon the footing of the sacrifice of Christ. Now we have, what we find in the case of Moses, the general coming in of sacrifice in its result as a ground of blessing. In chapter 6 “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of His heart was only evil continually, and it repented Jehovah that he had made man on the earth and it grieved him at his heart.” Now in chapter 8 when Noah offers, Jehovah smelled a sweet savor, and Jehovah said in The Bible treasury.
His heart “I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake, for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth, neither will I again smite any more every living thing as I have done.” The moment the sacrifice has come in, God says, as it were, “If I am to smite the people and to curse them, I must always be cursing them!” Now therefore He goes on to the ground of sacrifice, because (this is the point) man is so bad. Before, the evil was before God bringing His judgment. Now it is before Him, and through sacrifice, a reason for not cursing the ground any more.
It was so in the case of Moses and the people. “Jehovah said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold it is a stiff-necked people, now therefore let me alone that my wrath may wax hot against them and that I may consume them.” (Ex. 32:9, 109And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: 10Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. (Exodus 32:9‑10).) And then in Ex. 34:99And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance. (Exodus 34:9), Moses pleads, “If now I have found grace in thy sight, Ο Jehovah, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us, for it is a stiff-necked people.” And we know, I know, that sin in me is the ground of my being lost; and yet sin in me is the very ground of my going to God to keep me now that sacrifice has come in. It shows a wonderful character of grace, its overflowing fullness, to give, as the ground of God's being with us, what was the ground of judgment: that is, when once sacrifice has come in.
What is often said of Noah's carpentry is man's imagination. Yet if he had plenty to do, he had plenty of time. But let us bear in mind that, as to preparing the ark, it is not necessary to suppose that he and his sons did it all by themselves. Such things are not much if no doctrine be founded upon them.
In chapter 9 it is said to Noah, “and the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea.” This was not said to Adam.
In Noah it was more power than what is called natural authority, as in Adam. After the ruin of Israel; in Nebuchadnezzar it is another kind of thing, rule wheresoever the children of men dwell; another sort of authority (nothing about animals and fishes and birds there); he had dominion where his empire reached, though he never made it all good, any more than Solomon did.
Then it is found that, God having saved the sons with Noah, men of the second race were brought into blessing. But the life of man slain by a beast, “at the hand of every beast will I require it.” We thus see that God maintains His title to life, even a beast's life. They must come and offer the blood to God. Man had no flesh to eat before He gives it to man. We all know that many are seeking to do away with capital punishment; but what do they care about God? The whole order of God is broken up now. Even a beast killing should die. Verse 6 gives the reason, “in the image of God made he man;” so that it is always true up to the end. Men only think of what fits men; but we have nothing to do with that.
Even Christians who take a very prominent part in the advocacy of the abolition of slavery go along with the world.
Man's life was going to be shortened and the whole system was changed. I am very glad that the appointment is there, so that it is not Jewish.
“In the image of God made he man.” It was despising God's image to kill man. Again, a man was free if he caught a fox to eat it then, not a Jew after the law was given.
It does not necessarily follow that clean and unclean were known, though there is some distinction by Noah in taking in the animals into the ark. There were those or some that were reckoned clean and some reckoned unclean. Cattle and beasts of the field are distinguished to Adam, and you find Abel a keeper of sheep. When Leviticus comes, it limits the offerings to sheep, goats, bullocks, and so on. It may have been instinct in man in a way at first, and that God put His positive sanction on it when He gave the law.
And now He establishes His covenant, and His bow is set in the cloud, the token of the covenant. That, I take it, is the reason that the rainbow is round about the throne in Rev. 4. It is the covenant with creation seen there as of old in Genesis. Only it is “like unto an emerald.” The presence of the bow in Revelation means God's covenant with creation is remembered that there should not be a flood again. The bow is given to be for a token of the covenant, rather than that it was created then. God might, of course, have put plenty of clouds above the earth without a rainbow. He says, “I do set my bow.”
The moral point at the end of chapter 9 is that the blessing given him is abused to destroy all his competency to govern. Noah gets drunk: this is not exercising authority. Afterward, comes in the wickedness of Ham; “and then blessed be the Lord God of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant.”
He cursed Ham in Canaan, that is, in his family: everything went by families now. Shem was the root of God's family, with the name of Jehovah even then attached to it, whose lot it would be to judge the races of Canaan and to take their place.
In verse 27, the “he” is Japheth, who “shall dwell in the tents of Shem,” and Canaan shall be Japheth's servant as well as Shem's.
The family of Japheth pushed out far and wide, and did dwell in the tents of Shem.
As to the color, especially black, I do not pretend to account for it in mankind. The Egyptians were not black; they are always painted in the hieroglyphics red. Their pictures in Nubia are seen with prisoners all black. What Livingstone found in Africa was that, if there was a wet country along with heat, there the people got black. The Portuguese are black in certain hollow islands. As to what people have stated about races, I have no hesitation in saying that there is nothing solid about it whatever.