Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Noah and the Sabbath

In Genesis 5:29 the Bible states that Lamech named his son Noah –Rest or comfort. Lamech states that he named Noah – Rest because he – Noah would bring rest, or comfort, to his family because of the work and toil that his family was subjected to because of the curse that God had put upon the earth due of the sin of Adam, and of the sins of Cain. This toil God had never wanted His people to experience. In fact God gave the Sabbath rest in Genesis 2;1-3; Exodus 31:12-17; and Hebrews 4:1-11. God gave the rest to inform everyone that His works had been completed from the time of Creation and that all who entered into this rest would be blessed as well. God then blessed, sanctified, and eventually made the Sabbath holy. Genesis 2;1-3 and Exodus 20:8,11

It is clear that God wants us to rest in Him to take care of our issues regarding works. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus states the following: “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” This call is from the Creator Himself and He calls all to come to Him and He will provide the rest from our labors. Our job is to come to Him and trust in His ability to care for us temporally and spiritually.

This thought is amplified again in Isaiah 30:15 “For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; in returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength; and ye would not.” The whole issue of salvation is to rest in the care of God and to allow Him to deliver us. This rest is symbolized in the Sabbath day. Hebrews 4:1-11 When we strive to care for ourselves by working constantly we are telling Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath rest, that we do not need His help, we can care for ourselves. Conversely, when we accept Jesus’ Sabbath we can rest from our labors and trust that He has ways of saving us of which we know nothing. Thus Sabbath is the sign of His sanctifying power. Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:12

This story is told again in the story of Moses and Pharaoh. God had informed Moses that for Him to save Israel, Israel would need to begin to cooperate with God by keeping His Sabbath day, to labor to enter into His rest. Hebrews 4:11. When Israel began to obey the Lord of the Sabbath the king of Egypt protested by telling Moses that “ye make them rest from their burdens.” Exodus 5:5. This rest was visible to the king of Egypt and he did not like it for it testified to trusting in a God that Pharaoh could not control and would not submit to. Thus the testimony of the children of Israel brought Pharaoh under sufficient conviction that he became cruel in his refusal to allow Israel to rest and worship God. This Sabbath conflict grew into a settled conflict, which required the signs and wonders of God in order to deliver Israel from their assailants.

This Sabbath conflict in Egypt is typological of the issues that will happen near the end of time. Satan will again try to force the hand of God’s people by threatening to cause them not to be able to buy or sell as a result of their labors. If the people do not trust in God they will be tempted to disobey God by working seven days a week rather than resting on God’s seventh day – Saturday. They would then be following in the footsteps of rebellious Israel in the time of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 17. God warned them then not to work on His Sabbath day or He would have to burn down Jerusalem to get their attention back on Him so that they could rest in His care.

Nehemiah also ran into this same problem. In Nehemiah 13:15-22 Nehemiah found that the people of God, just having returned from Babylon, had started to disobey God’s laws, including the Sabbath law, by working on the Sabbath day. They were laboring to make money, not laboring to enter into His rest and to trust that He would be able to care for them. So they bought and sold on the Sabbath day. Nehemiah, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, warned them of their rebellion and compared it to the Sabbath rebellion that led to their captivity to Babylon in the first place, by turning their back to the temple of the Lord of the Sabbath and thus worshipping the sun, on the day of the sun. Ezekiel 8:16 In the end Nehemiah had to “threaten” the merchants from Tyre not to camp around the walls of Jerusalem in order to sell their wares and tempt Israel to buy and sell on the Sabbath day. Nehemiah was able to lead into a successful Sabbath reform.

Jesus has warned that in the last days it will be like in the times of Noah. Matthew 24:37 We know that the minds of the people before the flood were continually interested in rebelling against any thing that God wanted to have us participate in. We would have to believe that the Sabbath was a special issue of the time and that most likely sun worship was one of the dominant thought processes of the time, just as it was in the time of the prophets. But as God raised up Noah – Rest or comfort, to keep the focus on the Creator God, so He will raise up a people to keep the Sabbath rest and comfort ever before the people so that they to can enter into returning (cessation from backsliding) and rest – (surrender to the laws of God including the Sabbath day.)

I pray that we might receive the lesson of Noah – whose very name was to elevate the Sabbath as a sign of rest and surrender to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Introduction to Noah


One of the most interesting things about Bible study is to find out what God is saying, how He is saying it, and what is He saying things for. In this set of studies it will be this writers purpose to examine the story of Noah, and all of the different connections that God has used to tie our minds to His purposes through His servant Noah. In this study the goal will be to briefly introduce Noah and some of the Scripture assigned to his story. As we go through the life of Noah there will be many additional insights for us to gather for “…they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” I Corinthians 10:11

Noah is one of those Bible characters who is used in a significant manner by Jesus but about whom most of us know very little. God does, however, give us enough pictures of Noah that we can fill out a picture of a man of God who was used to accomplish great things for God.

Our first introduction to Noah is in Genesis 5:28-32. Noah is the 10th generation grandson of Adam through the lineage of Seth. Noah’s father was Lamech. Lamech had Noah when he was 182 years old. Lamech named his son Noah, which means to rest or to be of comfort. Lamech apparently named Noah testifying “…This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.” Genesis 5:29. Lamech seemed to have been saddened by the efforts needed to gain a harvest from the ground after God had cursed it for man’s sake in Genesis 3:17-19. God knew that the safest activity for mankind was to be focused on work lest their minds wander and they get into more difficulty.

Lamech was a descendent of Adam through the lineage of Shem and was one of those who “called on the name of the Lord.” Genesis 4:26. Those who called on the name of the Lord were the followers of God of that time, in contrast to the Cainites who did not call on the name of the Lord and would not be followers of God. Thus Lamech, having a spiritual experience apparently wanted to name His son in a way to communicate a spiritual principle. Lamech’s use of the name of Noah could either be a simple literal expression of the desire to no longer have to work and hoped that his son would take care of him when he grew old; or Lamech could have been speaking spiritually, and was communicating a prophecy to state that Noah, was going to be used by God to accomplish some kind of spiritual task that would be rest, or comfort, for those who were working in response to the curse that sin brought to the ground. Thus Noah could have been a type of the fulfillment of the promise of Christ that all could come unto Him that labor and area heavy laden and He would give them rest. Matthew 11:28

In either case history shows that God had a special calling for Noah and did special things with Him and through Him. God even goes so far as to claim that Noah, and his times, were a type for the end times. Jesus states that “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark. And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” Matthew 24:37-39

It would appear that God wanted to paint a special picture of Noah as someone whom we could study to know the signs of his time and to know the signs of our time. God wanted to share with us special things about Noah to give us hope and encouragement. We see many special spiritual qualities about Noah; for example “…Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:8 We know that Noah was given a prophecy that the earth would be destroyed in 120 years if they did not repent. Genesis 6:3 We know that as a result of this message that Noah became a preacher of righteousness. II Peter 2:5 We know that God was using Noah to preach righteousness while the ark was being built. In I Peter 3:20 we know that God wanted to paint a picture of salvation in that through the efforts of Noah, and his preaching, 7 other souls were won to God, while the multitudes who lived at the time died for not responding to the messages delivered by the preacher of righteousness.

Other messages conveyed by Noah were that God wanted to present Noah as a just man, and perfect in his generation of people while he walked with God. Genesis 6:9 God declares that Noah was an obedient man and who obeyed all of the commandments of God. Genesis 7:5 Noah walked with God and entered into covenant relationship with God. Genesis 6:28 tells us that Noah did all that God commanded him to do. As a result of Noah’s cooperation with God that his family was saved and entered into the ark with Noah and were the people that God used to start up the human family after the flood. God called Noah into the ark, God shut him into the ark, and God called Noah forth into the New World. All of these things are types of how God’s last day people will be and how God will use them to repopulate the New Earth after He recreates it.

Finally, God uses Noah as a type of last day righteous men. In Ezekiel 14:14,20 God compares Noah to Daniel and Job. God says that even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were present, that they could not save anyone but themselves for their connection to God. Yet God used Noah to witness to his family and all of his family entered the ark with him and were used to re-populate the earth after the flood. Noah is used as an example of a righteous man, called of God, and willing to spend and be spent for the service of God. Noah was rewarded with his family, and being an integral part of God’s plans in the New World after the flood rewarded him. This promise is also offered to us this day for we are going to go into a new experience in this same earth but this time after the flood of fire cleanses the earth. God will use His people to start the new earth as He did with Noah.

I pray that as we study this man of God, that we will learn the lessons that Jesus longs to share with us. As is the case with Bible study we will see many connections made by the mind of God and by beholding we will become changed into the likeness of God.