Lesson 2 -- fourth quarter 2004
September 12, 2004
© Copyright 2004, Christian Light Publications
Probing Your Own Heart
Does God see you wicked (Genesis 6:5) or righteous (Genesis 7:1)?
Does the sin and degeneracy about you cause you to cry out for justice or grace?
Building on Some Foundational Concepts
God sees and knows all hearts.
Our ways are always before the eyes of the Lord. He does not study our hearts by turn -- He knows us all the time. And as we well know, He knows us far better than we know ourselves. That should disquiet us to a certain degree. Knowing that He knows our known sin should lead us to repentance. God's intimate knowledge of us should also comfort and encourage us. Knowing that He knows those failings and sins which are unknown to us should move us to pray with David, "Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults" (Psalm 19:12).
God's justice requires His grace.
Noah and his family saw it and accepted it. Their contemporaries saw it and rejected it. The "it" here is the grace of God. The Judge of all always extends grace before exacting justice. His grace is part of what makes His justice so pure.
Wherever sin abounds, grace abounds more.
As sin becomes more blatant and gross, our tendency will be to become more comfortable with the "milder" sins. Without a question, holy living in our day is a tough proposition, but no more difficult than it has ever been. God has clearly stated that sin will never "out populate" His grace: "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). When we live by His grace, we enjoy life in a new dimension: the Spirit. We can look at all the opportunities we have to sin, and then look beyond them at our much more abounding resources for success. The reality of the grace and power of the Spirit in our hearts will fill us with optimism.
Holy living is possible because it is God who does the work in us, moving us "to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
Questions and Responses
Why did God wait so long to rain down judgment?
God waited (and in our day still waits) to execute judgment because He is "merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth" (Exodus 34:6). He is "a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth" (Psalm 86:15). People then, as people now, despised "the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering," not knowing that His goodness waits to lead them to repentance (Romans 2:4). Thank God for that dimension of His character! His longsuffering "waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing" (1 Peter 3:20). God's delays are no delays at all -- they are exquisite, on-time manifestations of divine dependability. "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
Is Genesis 6:6 an acknowledgment of failure of God's part?
"And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart." The word repented translates a word that can also be used to express regret. So we cannot assume that Scriptures such as Genesis 6:6 signal a change of course for the Changeless One. Even though we cannot grasp the full meaning of this expression, we can rest assured that God never has and never will fail. He Who is perfect has no need to amend His ways or plans.
Consider the question from another mind-bending angle. Change is possible only over time, right? If I change my mind about something, I require at least one second of time to entertain one opinion and then at least another second to switch to an opposing opinion. Thus, any kind of change, whether mental or physical or spiritual, requires time. So how shall the Eternal One change when He inhabits the eternal present? The Timeless One is also the Changeless One!
Why did Noah find grace in the Lord's eyes?
Noah's heart was right before God, even though as a man he surely had not attained to sinless perfection. Noah's standing before God was that of a righteous man -- "thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation" (Genesis 7:1). Noah was a man whose heart was to do "according unto all that the LORD commanded him" (Genesis 7:5).
Why accept that this was a global flood and not a local or regional one?
Why not? Is there genuine evidence contrary to Genesis 6:17 and 2 Peter 2:5?
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