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September 2, 2018, 12:00 AM

Hearing God and Covenant Keeping


Good Morning, Grace and Peace to you from God, our Creator, our Redeemer and our Sustainer. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God.

I am sorry we were not able to read the whole of the passage about Noah this morning and had to skip large sections but I am reminded that they have made full length movies out of the whole passage and so reading the parts we did will have to suffice. I must admit that while Bill Cosby has since been disgraced his skit on Noah and God talking about this still rings in my head. We had it on a record at home when I was a child. Noah saying to God; Who are you? Where are you? What is an ark? What is a cubit? It just all makes so much sense that we as humans would question God in this way. Questioning God's command makes a good bit of sense and so I want to explore look at why God chose Noah, and the covenant between God and humanity that we read of toward the end of the text.

There are two interesting side notes on this story. The first is that in the commentary they were looking at the word we translate as ark and musing about where it came from and the closest locally available word was in Egyptian and translates to box.  The second is what speaks to the likelihood that an event of this nature occurred in that area of the world. Almost every ancient culture from that part of the world has a flood story. So, something happened where to their way of thinking the whole world was flooded and someone managed to get out alive. Also, remember God saying go into the whole world and collect two of every animal would have for a person stuck on a camel probably meant go into a 500 mile radius and collect two of every animal, which would about get you to Tallahassee. So, Noah found favor with God and thus God instructed him to build an ark, so that he and the animals collected would be saved when the time came for the flood.

I want to be the first maybe to point out that Noah being sure that Noah heard God meant that Noah and God were in regular communication. And my experience is that when you are in regular communication with God it is much easier to know whether God is speaking to you or not. So, maybe the first lesson we can draw from this text is that we should be in regular communication with God, if only so that when God asks us to do something, we can be reasonably sure that it is God speaking in our lives. The text we read says, “Noah walked with God.” which I can only assume would also mean that Noah and God were in regular communication thus when God starts speaking with Noah it was not what we heard from Bill Cosby's skit but much more an immediate understanding that God was talking to Noah and it was time for Noah to listen.

So, when Noah was 600 years young, he had “done all that God had commanded” in other words he had finished the ark, collected animals, stored food and now it was time to embark on the next step in the journey. We did not read it today but the story tells us that the waters swelled for forty days and until they covered the mighty mountains. In fact the story says that the tops of the tallest mountains were more than 20 feet under water. Now in South Florida that might only take 25 feet of water but if Mt Ararat was involved, which is the historically believe area it may have occurred in that was more like 17,000 feet of water. Whatever it looked like there was a lot of water and everything not on the ark perished. And then God remembers Noah and so starts to dry up the water. Floods in my experience are both destructive and cleansing and so is the case with this flood. I provided an opportunity to restart but in so doing destroyed almost everything.

In one of those other odd little details we read that Noah sent out the Raven and the Raven went to a fro over the earth drying up the water. I find this whole section to be interesting. We have the traditional peace symbol of the Dove with an Olive Leaf and yes the text says one leaf. Can I simply point out the suspension of reality that we apply to this, the same as we would a movie or TV show. Three to four months after the tops of the mountains showed again we have an olive leaf and according to the oliveoilsource web site they do best with long, warm, dry summers.  But I digress.

And then we read, “God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”” Gen 9:8-11 Now what we did not read is the part where we are not to eat blood but that the flesh of any animal is ok. So there are two side to the covenant ours which is not to eat blood and God's which is not to destroy everything.

Then we get that part we all love to read where God puts a rainbow in the sky. And yes it is that reminder to us that God made a covenant and will never again destroy the whole earth. More importantly though it serves as a reminder to God to remember what happened and the covenant that was made with all humanity.

Noah continued to be in communication with God. Noah continued to worship God. Noah immediately after disembarking from the Ark, set up an altar and made a sacrifice to God. And Noak was confident that he had heard correctly when he heard God speaking. Many of us want to know what God's word for us is, what God is calling us to do, what God wants us to about. How often do you communicate with God. My experience is that those who communicate with God on a regular basis are pretty clear about it when God is speaking. Now they check the answer and make sure it is God and when the requst is big they often ask God to repeat the command so that they are sure they are getting it correct but they are clear that God is speaking and they need to listen. So, if you speak to God regularly, then I encourage you to continue. If you struggle to know when God is speaking either you need to spend more time talking with God through prayer and learning the nature and character of God or you may simply need to have God repeat the command.

The second part of the story is the covenant between God and humanity and God made covenant with Abraham and God made a covenant through Moses and God made a covenant through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. All of these share the truth that God made promises and that there are expectations on how we are going to lead our lives. Covenant is two parts one is the demand upon us, usually for some show of fidelity to God and then the promises of God made to us for that show of fidelity.

God is still speaking and Gods covenants are still true so the questions are whether we are listening and holding up our end of the bargain.


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