9th October 2023
Read - Genesis 8:20-9:19
Message Alan Burke
The leaves are falling and my wee wooly hat collection is soon to get an outing once again, the autumn is definitely upon us even though September was the warmest on record and October so far has been quite clement although there is an old saying that I have heard warning that if the weather is fine in October then we are in for a harsh winter although that remains to be see. It is at this time of year that we give thanks to God for the provision that he as made for us in the harvest as the ground has produced. In the not too distant past the harvest festival was a significant event in the life of the people for we would have been connected to the land not only for our livelihood and our very lives, by the time we entered the twenty-first century agriculture made up 2.4% in 2000 of the economy and less than 5% of the population were dependant on the land. Today milk comes from the carton, potatoes come in a bag, meat in some kind of plastic and there are plenty of meat alternatives which your guess is as good as mine as how they are made. This coming Lord’s day we thank God for his provision to us as we do week in week out and this week we are mindful of the harvest and we look to a passage that comes after God’s judgement on the earth and for all of us it should be an incredible comfort in the midst of an age that is promoting a narrative to the contrary, God in his word promises us that “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (Gen 8:23). Today in the main I will set the scene to help us understand the significance of this covenant that God made with Noah.
Let’s start with the context, what led up to this. While of course most of us are familiar with the context of this chapter, we know what has come before, we know that this covenant made with Noah comers immediately after the Lord judged the earth because of the wickedness that he saw upon the earth. If we take a step back we know what happened, how the earth became such a state, it was because of the fall. In the beginning (Gen 2) God had entered into a covenant of works with Adam and while that may be unfamiliar to some of you it is an important one to understand. It is called the covenant of works, well because it was a covenant, an agreement that God made with Adam that was dependant on his works, what Adam did, hence the name covenant of works. If Adam ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil he would die, but the reverse is also true, that if Adam did not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil then he would live. God willingly entered into this covenant of works, promising Adam the blessings of eternal life if he remained obedient to his word. Adam didn’t keep the covenant of works and we never will because sin entered into the world as a result of his first sin. Yet in the midst of the fall God entered into a covenant of Grace, one that wasn’t dependant on our ability to obey but dependant on his grace as he promised the seed of the woman who would come and defeat the serpent (Gen 3:15). The solution to sin was going to come about by God’s grace not by mans works.
Things went from bad to worse after the fall, turning from God following our sin sees a spiral in the wickedness of the earth. It is because of mans wickedness that God brought the flood because how every inclination of the human heart was only evil all the time (Gen 6:5-6). We might be tempted to say surely the human race wasn’t that bad, surly in the earth in the days of Noah that there were people who were caring for their granny and the wains, surly God had got it wrong. But God wasn’t wrong, sin had corrupted everything, God took action, in his wrath we have a reversal of creation, un-creation if you will. The rains fall and the flood comes but because Noah was found righteous before the Lord he and his family were spared. Noah wasn’t spared because of his goodness but on the grace of God, Noah could not save himself only the Lord could keep him from judgement in the flood because of the Lord’s grace Noah was saved. Likewise if you are a Christian it is only because of the Lord’s grace that you are saved, not though your goodness but by the grace of God in his son Jesus Christ who died for your salvation, it should lead us to rejoice in what God has done for us. We’ll stop there for today and pick it up again on Wednesday.
Q65 What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?
The fifth commandment forbiddeth the neglecting of, or doing any thing against, the honor and duty which belongeth to every one in their several places and relations. (Matt. 15:4–6, Ezek. 34:2–4, Rom. 13:8)