Posts Tagged ‘ambassadors’

Things God Wants you to Know

Things God Wants You to Know—and Things He Doesn’t.

© Chet Bishop 2011

Introduction:

I rarely offer “current events” sermons… The most current thing in the world is God’s Word, and I can never offer anything more relevant than what He has to say. But over the last few weeks a frustrating, sad thing has been happening. A man (Harold Camping) has claimed to know something, and has presented this “special knowledge” to the world at large. He did so in the name of Jesus. He advertised worldwide…spent millions, in fact,  to tell everyone that Jesus was going to rapture the church on May 21st, 2011 at 5:59 PM. (In case you are wondering, nothing happened at all…guess we missed it.)

This is not the first time this charlatan has made this claim. He did the same thing in 1994, and it almost seems to me that he claimed the same day that time, but I can’t remember for sure. At any rate, he was shown to be a false prophet that time, and has done so again. But this time, the whole world is mocking the Christians, assuming that this is what Christians believe. They laugh, and write slanderous ditties, mocking those who believe in the Christ at all, let alone the relative few who accepted the message of the charlatan.

Serious Christians and, more specifically, serious Bible students were not at all disturbed by his message, except that we all fervently wish he would knock off the frivolous claims, and quit dragging the name of Jesus in the dirt of public mockery. We knew he was wrong.

How did we know?

There are things God definitely wants us to know. He says so, and commands Christians to share that knowledge with anyone who will listen. (He also says that we are not to waste it on those who are opposed to the message.) But there are things God does NOT want us to know, as well: more specifically, things He has plainly told us we will not know, that it is not ours to know.

Things God want us to Know:

Let’s look first at just a few of the things God says He wants us to know—there are many, of course, but let’s look at a few of the key issues:

Isaiah 6:1-3 says “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord, sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim…and one cried to another, and said, ‘HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is the LORD of Hosts’!”

(God is Holy! In fact, Holiness is His primary attribute…and He wants us to know it!)

Zechariah 8:17 says, “And let none of you imagine evil in your heart against your neighbor… for these are things that I hate, saith the LORD”

One thing God wants you to know (and He declares it to be so, over and over) is that He is a Holy God. That means he is separated from sin. It also means he hates sin, as any grieving parent would hate the drugs that were destroying his or her precious child…God hates sin because it is repugnant to him…offensive to him; and he hates it because of the destruction it is working in the world he has created…the people that he loves…the people for whom he died.

God is Holy, and He hates sin…he hates the evil that mankind thinks up, one against another—all of it—from the gossip and lies that are so common in the world, to the greed that consumes our nations, to the immorality that riddles all of our cultures.

We don’t like to think about God hating—but he does—He is Holy, and He hates sin.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Now, Love is something we DO like to associate with God—we like to remember his Love, and we sing, “Oh, the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus!” Let’s see what it says He loves: It says, “God so loved the WORLD…” the people. Not the World system of thinking, which despises His grace, and spits on his Law, but the people themselves, created in His image. He hates the sin, but loves the sinner.

So, another thing God wants you to know is that He loves you—you, personally, with all your pride and sin, and failings. (Yes, you are a sinner…most of you do not need me to tell you that…you already knew it.) God says that “ALL have sinned and come short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23) He also says “the wages of Sin is death” (Romans 6:23.) But God says He loves you in spite of your sin, and sent His Son to die in your place.

Now, one thing He told us briefly, in John 3:16, is that “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That begins to let us know what God wants us to do…He says he wants us to believe in His Son, who died for us.

Once Jesus was speaking to a large crowd of people, and one of them asked “Teacher, what shall we do that we might work the works of God?” Some of you know His answer—this question was in John 6:28—verse 29 gave His answer. He said “this is the work of God; that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” Jesus could have quoted the Ten Commandments to them—He was the author! But God has NEVER invited us to do good works to earn His favor. He has always invited us to place our trust in His perfect work, and receive un-earned favor—that’s what we call GRACE. (Grace means “unearned favor.” God says “By Grace are ye saved, through Faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.”He loveH

So, right along with the fact that He loves us, is the fact that he wants us to place our trust in Him—specifically, in his Son, the Lord Jesus.

In another situation, Jesus was talking with a group of people, and made a very special promise.

 John 5:24 says “Verily, Verily, I say unto you; whosoever heareth my Words, and believeth on Him who sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death into life”

God wants you to know HOW to receive eternal life, He wants you to receive it, and He wants you to know for sure that you have received it. Let me re-emphasize that: He wants you to know how to have eternal life, He wants you to HAVE eternal life, and He wants you to KNOW you have it—NOW, not waiting ‘til you die, and hoping you would get it.

Look at that promise! John 5:24 is ONE promise, with TWO conditions, and THREE clauses. (ONE, TWO, THREE!)

The whole verse is one promise—what are the conditions? He said whoever (that means you and me)…#1: whoever hears my words (If you have heard the promise of Christ, even if today was the first time, and I know for most of you it is not), #2: and believes on Him who sent me (If you place your trust in the Grace that sent Jesus to the cross—believing that His blood was sufficient to pay for your sin) Those are the only conditions—there is no one here who cannot fulfill those two conditions. Let’s look at the threefold promise that rests on those two conditions:

Whoever hears, and believes, #1: HAS everlasting life (notice it does NOT say, will have everlasting life—it says HAS everlasting life—NOW!— not “someday, if you are good enough”… NOW— in spite of your sins.

#2: The second clause is similar—it says you shall not come into condemnation—God will remember your sins no more. He will never condemn you again. Your sins are gone forever, in terms of judgment. They were nailed to the Cross. Will you still sin? Yes. Will God ever condemn you again for your sins? NO. Those sins were paid for by the blood of Jesus.

The third is almost too simple—we almost miss it.

Clause #3 states that we have passed from death unto life. Now notice the tense, here—the first clause is present tense—it says we HAVE eternal life—present tense. The second is future tense—it says we WILL NOT come into condemnation. That covers my present and my future—what about my past?

The last clause is past tense, but not just past tense; no, rather, God used past PERFECT tense in the original language—meaning I have crossed over at some specific time in the past, and it has eternal results. I can never go back. That’s why we call it the new birth–Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again!” Well, by faith, I have been born again, and cannot be “un-born.” That is what perfect tense means…it’s a done deal!

God wants you to know that you have eternal life!  

1st John 5:11-13 says, “This is the record, that God has given unto us eternal life, and this life is in His son. He that hath the Son, hath life. He that hath not the Son of God, hath not life. These things I have written unto you who believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life.

God says He wants you to know that you have eternal life—not “hope you can hang on long enough to get it.” These are all things God definitely wants us to know.

Things God does NOT want us to know:

Some things we can assume He did not want us to know because He simply does not tell us, and there is no way to find out. What was God doing the day before Genesis 1:1? It isn’t entirely a silly question…God has been active throughout all eternity. We are given a few things to know—we know that there was a war in heaven—we don’t know exactly when. We know that the angel named Lucifer fell into sin because of pride, and became the adversary known as Satan (which means “the adversary”—the enemy.) We know that a third of the angelic host joined him in his rebellion, and were lost with him. We think (can’t prove it) that they are probably the spirits that became the demonic host that plagued Israel during the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. This type of question can be considered in light of what God has told us, and probable answers can be proposed…but only tentatively.

Peter asked Jesus, just before the ascension, what John was to do. Jesus told him, in effect, that it was none of his business, and that he should concentrate on his own walk with God. (John 21:20-23). I would hypothesize from Jesus’ answer that we are not given to know God’s will for another individual except in the general sense, in that he has told us his will for every believer in a wide range of circumstances, and general principles, so that there should be little doubt. But he does not tell me what he wants of you in your ministry. There is no hierarchy of clergy through which God reveals his will for all the laity—in fact, the whole concept of a division between clergy and laity is foreign to the church age. Every believer is a priest in the Body of Christ, and we all have responsibility as priests…and we all work directly for the Head of the Body—Jesus, himself.

Daniel once observed that he could not understand the prophecy he had just been given (Daniel 12:8, 9)—the angel who had given him the message told him to “write it down and run along—“ that it was not for him to understand, but for the people of the end time. Interesting! Daniel, one of the greatest prophets of all time, was not allowed to understand the prophecy he was sent to deliver!

Jesus’ disciples had essentially the same question…when is all this stuff going to happen? (Matthew 24:3, ff)  Jesus had gone to great lengths to explain the Great Tribulation, and the things that would preface his physical return to earth…but not a word as to how to put a date on it. In fact, in verse 35, he confides that not even the angels knew the date—but (at least at that point), only the Father (Matthew 24:35). In fact, in Mark 13:32, Jesus said that he himself did not even know the date of his return! Does Jesus know today? Undoubtedly, since he is God—and He was God, then— but evidently he had set aside that particular prerogative, and was living by faith, as a man. We might (probably should) take enough from these passages to understand that this is a closed issue. But the disciples weren’t satisfied…they just had to ask again.

At the ascension, just before Jesus left the Earth, they tried once more (Acts 1:6-8), asking, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?” They did not understand any of the issues involved—they were asking for a restoration of the glory of the kingdom of David, or possibly that of Solomon—they had no idea of the Kingdom of God, or they would not have asked for “restoration”—they had never seen the Kingdom of God; Israel had never had it—so it could not be “restored”.

But Jesus’ response is a real key to the whole matter of the end times: He said, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power (authority.)” (None of your concern!) But, he went on to say, “you shall receive power…and ye shall be witnesses unto Me…” the great commission was reiterated at this point. The thing that WAS theirs to know was that they were to be ambassadors for Christ throughout the whole world.

That particular question was never raised again by the disciples—and it was not bandied about in the epistles. There is zero discussion about when the Day of the Lord may begin…only that it will begin suddenly, without warning, and that it will begin with the snatching away of the church, and the Tribulation (seven years of it) will immediately follow (see 1st Thessalonians 4 and 5). Jesus’ return to earth will terminate the Tribulation, and usher in the Millennial Kingdom Matthew 25:31 and following. Also Revelation 19 and 20.). The book of the Revelation primarily concerns itself with this whole time period from the rapture to the end of the millennial kingdom…but no clue is give as to when it might happen. There are many clues as to how to know it is coming, but not one bit about setting a time.

So…when someone claims to have that knowledge, you are dealing either with a false prophet who is deliberately attempting to lead you astray, or, hopefully, simply someone who has allowed themselves to be deluded, either by their own reasoning (quite common) or someone else’s (even more common). This is simply one of the few things we know of that God does NOT want us to know, and that, indeed we cannot know. Jesus said: “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is!” All we can do is be ready.

Today, this is a pressing hope in the Church. We see the World rapidly deteriorating, and we fervently hope for the Lord’s Return. But all we can do is press forward with the Great Commission, which is one of the things we DO know is His will, and look forward to the Hope of His Coming…another thing we know is His will.

How Shall we then Live?

Paul made an interesting comment to the Church at Corinth: “Awake to righteousness and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” (1st Corinthians 15:34) This is especially applicable today, as we are hoping for the Lord’s soon return: There are millions around us who would be eternally lost if He returned today. Paul says we are to wake up and do something about it. At the very least, our lives should reflect the Holiness and Love of God. It is our responsibility to act as ambassadors of Christ, as well, sharing that Love and the Salvation He provided at the Cross with the lost world around us.

Now, There’s something God wants you to know! And He calls each of us to wake up and respond to Him in faith and obedience.

God help us all to open up and yield to His Spirit, and reach out to the lost around us.


Dwelling and Abiding

Dwelling and Abiding

© C. O. Bishop January 2019  THCF 2019

(Read aloud) Psalm 91:1 & Psalm 15:1-5 (compare John 15:3-12)

Introduction:

“To dwell”, is to live, or to stay in a place; a “dwelling,” as a noun, is a place where people live. “To abide,” is to remain; to stay, or, in some usages, “to endure.” Sometimes “Abide” and “Dwell” are nearly synonymous.

God used David to make some statements about the verbs “abiding,” and “dwelling:” sometimes they are essentially the same; sometimes one results in the other.

Psalm 91:1 says, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” We might ask, “How do we dwell with God?, and What does it mean, to abide?”

If I were to use contrasting words to point out what the scripture does not say, I could point out that the passage does not say, “He who occasionally visits the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty…”. Nor does it say, “He who goes there seasonally to celebrate a family tradition …etc.” It says that the one who lives with God will find his life overshadowed by the presence of God.

If you want your life to be overshadowed by the Lord’s presence, then you need to dwell where He is. Center your life around his person and presence. Psalm 37:5 says, “commit your way to him.” The result will be that He is the one who accomplishes his work through you.

How do we Dwell with God?

Psalm 15 poses the question, “Who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy Holy Hill?” The issue is, “Who has the right to stand before God on a continuing basis?  Who will God accept as a constant companion?” Amos 3:3 asks a similar question; a rhetorical question: “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (The implied answer is “NO!”) So…assuming that I am already born again, if there is a disagreement between me and God…I have to change my mind (repent—metanoia) before I can walk with him again…and before I can “Abide in His tabernacle and Dwell in His Holy Hill”. The result is a lifestyle change. Look at what the psalmist lists as the normal standards for such a person:

  • He that walketh uprightly. This is a general statement about character—all that follows will reflect this reality. You are either walking uprightly, or you are not. There is no middle ground. It is a moment-by-moment reality. Either you are or you aren’t.
  • And that worketh righteousness. This is a general statement about works—good works are the result of righteousness. They can be proactive, overt acts, as well as reactive or passive behavior.
  • And that speaketh the truth in his heart. That is where truth has to begin…being honest with God and oneself. Confession plays into this, as well as how we respond to those around us. It means being sober and honest with ourselves and with others, and with God. Romans 12 speaks of a man not thinking more highly of himself than he ought, but to be sober—to see himself clearly.
  • He that backbiteth not with his tongue. (No gossip or slander. Even when it is true, gossip is wrong.)
  • Nor doeth evil to his neighbor. (No dirty tricks, or underhanded dealings. Treat others as you would wish to be treated. No taking advantage of them, in any way.)
  • Nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor. (Ever say bad things about other people? Accuse other people? Or join forces with those who do? Do you get offended against someone because of gossip you listened to? Bear in mind that the Scripture identifies the one who is the “accuser of the brethren”, in Revelation 12:10…it is Satan himself!)
  • In whose eyes a vile person is condemned. (This is not license to be judgmental. What do you think of your old sin-nature? Now, there’s a vile person for you! See Jeremiah 17:9 – “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…” , Romans 8:7 –“the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be”, and Ephesians 4:22 – “That ye put off concerning the former way of life the old nature which is being corrupted according to the deceitful lusts”. While you are there, and considering the enormity of your own fallen nature, however, please read Ephesians 4:24 –“…and that ye put on the new nature, which after God is created in righteousness and true Holiness”…that’s how God sees you.) On the other hand, every unsaved person in the world is already condemned, according to Jesus (John 3:18), so our response to a “vile person” should be to remember they are lost, and extend the offer of Eternal Life to them. Yes, they are condemned…and God wants to fix that! We cannot pretend to fellowship around the person of Christ with an unbeliever, but we can definitely and deliberately extend his forgiveness to them.)
  • But who honoureth them that fear the Lord. (Who do you seek to fellowship with? Who are your friends? Who do you respect…and treat with respect? King Jehoshaphat got in trouble with God because he was making allegiances (friendships) with the enemies of God. He repented, changed his behavior, and God honored him. 2nd Chronicles 19, 20)
  • He that sweareth to his own hurt and changeth not. (If it turns out that keeping your word is going to cost you heavily, do you keep it anyway? Or do you try to “weasel out,” and make excuses? God is impressed with people who keep their word, even when it hurts. He wants us to keep our word, and take our commitments seriously.)
  • He that putteth not out to usury. (The legal rule on this was that they could not charge interest on a loan to a fellow Jew…the principle is that we are not to profit from someone else’s loss or misfortune. There is not a problem with interest-bearing investments or bank accounts, etc. See Luke 19:23.)
  • Nor taketh a reward (bribe) against the innocent. (The principle, again, is not perverting justice; not subverting the cause of an innocent person, for the sake of a bribe. Bribery is always seen as sin, in scripture. Sometimes a gift of appeasement—a peace-offering— is approved, but never to corrupt justice, or get something by wrong means.)
  • He that doeth these things shall never be moved. (The idea behind this concluding promise is not that the person who walks in persistent obedience to Christ will never suffer misfortune, but rather that he/she will never fall prey to temptation and sin.)

I don’t want anyone to misunderstand: every believer can fellowship with God, but we begin with confession, and follow up with obedience, in order to maintain fellowship. He is not demanding perfection out of us: Jesus did that for us. But He is demanding a willing heart, to learn His ways, and to walk with Him.

John 15:3-12 How do we Abide in Christ?

This passage is usually remembered as being the “discourse of the vine and the branches,” which is accurate, of course, but it seems a little shallow, in terms of understanding, if that is all we see. The issue here is Abiding. We are not talking about vineyards, here. We are talking about the core issue of discipleship—abiding in Christ—walking with Him, obeying him: becoming his hands, feet and voice on Earth. That is what the passage is about. Verse 5 is a key verse, in that Jesus clearly, unequivocally states that apart from Him we can do nothing. Not “less” or “lower quality” or anything comparative in nature: he says, “Nothing!”  Our work is a complete failure if He is not the source. Compare Psalm 127:1 “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” Jesus makes it completely clear that this is literally the case.

At the end of John 14, Jesus had left the upper room of the last supper, and was headed for Gethsemane, teaching as he walked. The eleven remaining disciples were with him, as they passed through the ancient vineyards between Jerusalem and Gethsemane. Then, in John Chapter 15, He used the vines as an object lesson:

v.3: He is speaking to believers: “Now ye are clean, through the Word which I have spoken unto you…” He is changing what he said in chapter 13, where all twelve were present and he said: “You are not all clean.” Judas had gone to carry out his mission. He was the only one of the twelve who never owned Jesus as his savior and master. He was never saved, never cleansed. The eleven were cleansed by believing Jesus; by trusting his word. The point I am trying to make is that this passage about abiding is only to believers. This has nothing to do with how to get saved or how to stay saved, but only how to bear fruit as a believer. It is critical that we understand this fact.

v.4: Abiding is necessary for fruit-bearing, as a principle of life—this is true in a vine; and true in the believer’s life.

v.5: Jesus alone is the source of nourishment. Apart from that nourishment, no fruit is possible. (There are two kinds of fruit—spiritual offspring and the fruit of the Spirit. Both are impossible apart from abiding in Christ.)

v.6: A non-fruit-bearing believer is rejected by men (not God). The World (and the Church, sadly) rejects a testimony that does not bring visible gain. This is not a reference to a believer losing his salvation. People reject failure, and brand as failures those who are not bearing fruit. In terms of literal grape-vine branches, such limbs are cut out and burned. The Old Testament man, Lot, stands as a good example of how God sees a non-fruit-bearing believer. There were definite consequences for his sin, and unbelief—yet, in 2nd Peter 2:6-8, God says he was a righteous man. Keep that in mind!

v.7: Abiding produces a productive prayer life. Abiding involves the Word of God in us. (Compare Psalm 119:9-11; Psalm 1:1-6) Bear in mind that it takes active feeding on the Word to have it in us at all. We have to choose to feed the new nature. One result is that our prayer life becomes productive. In 1st John 3:22, John points out that a fruitful prayer life is a direct result of obedience.

v.8: It glorifies God when we bear much fruit. Remember there are two kinds of fruit. One is a daily outpouring of God’s grace through us in what is called the Fruit (singular) of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22, 23—the other is spiritual offspring. (See John 15:16…the fruit of the Spirit is transient, at least from human perspective; sometimes we display it, and when we are carnal we most certainly do not. Spiritual offspring are the other sort of fruit; they are a heritage to future generations. This is the fruit that remains. Compare John 12:24. Jesus was speaking, regarding his own death: He said“Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” This is the fruit which is people, born again to eternal life. Jesus died to produce this fruit. We share the Gospel to bear this fruit.)

v. 9: The Agapé love is the key, here. Agapé is the committed love that is characterized by action (1st Corinthians 13) and focuses on the well-being of the recipient, not the source. It was best exemplified at the Cross.

v. 10: How do we “abide in his love?” We do so by obedience to his Word; keeping his commandments—see John 15:34, 35.

v. 11: His commandment, if obeyed, results in Joy.

v. 12: The commandment, of course, is, “Love One Another.”

This applies to the Agapé Love being poured out between believers, but also to the sharing of that love, through the Gospel, with the lost world around us.

Conclusion:

Jesus says if we want to function as his friends, then we need to focus on doing what He commanded regarding the people around us. We must be committed to functioning as the Friends of Christ:

  • Abiding in His Word,
  • Abiding in his Love
  • Seeking to obey His Word.

This is what David was talking about in both Psalm 15 and Psalm 91. Notice that none of it is a “Lone Ranger” experience…it all involves how we deal with people around us. There is no such thing as a Christian Hermit, in God’s economy. Yes, people are a pain…but do you really think they are more so to us than we must be to the Holy God of the Universe, who is truly worthy of perfect obedience? And yet, He chooses to respond to them in Agapé love, but, sadly, we do not.

We have said it before, but it bears repeating: “the Christian life isn’t difficult: it’s impossible if you insist on doing it in your own strength.” Jesus himself says so: don’t fail him by attempting to obey in the flesh. It simply cannot be done. If you do not allow the Holy Spirit to love the unlovely through you, it simply will not happen. God says that your old nature not only is not subject to Him, but it cannot be subjected to Him. (Romans 8:7)Only the new nature, under the dominion of the Holy Spirit, can live in such a way as to please God.

Ultimately, then, the Christian life is a series of choices, moment by moment, day by day: “Will you, or will you not abide? Will you or will you not obey?”

Choose to walk with Jesus: abide in Him, and be the person he has created you to be. What does this look like?

  • You dig into God’s Word, daily, so as to give the Holy Spirit the tools He needs to change your life. Feed on it! Immerse yourself in it!
  • You submit yourself to God through obedience to His Word.
  • You pray for God to make you usable in His service.
  • You pray consistently for the Church and others.
  • You look for (and use) opportunities to share the Gospel with others, so that they may be saved from their sins, and have eternal life.
  • You consistently treat all those around you with the Agapé Love. (1st Corinthians 13)
  • You daily, moment-by-moment, remember that you are an Ambassador of Christ.

By the way, all of us are concerned about the small size of the church today: well, this is how the church is supposed to grow—individual Christians telling others about Jesus Christ— one beggar telling another beggar where to find food. Not just “inviting your friends to Church”, but rather inviting them to Christ; taking personal responsibility for the message that has been entrusted to you. Paul said that he had a debt to all, to offer them eternal life through the gospel of Christ. (Romans 1:14-16

Be the ambassador you are called to be: walking with Jesus, feeding on Jesus, and serving as His hands, feet and mouth. That is what discipleship is all about.

Lord Jesus, fill us with compassion for the lost, and the overwhelming desire to serve you with our lives. Place us into your service and love the world through us.


Problems (and Answers) in Genesis

Problems (and Answers) in Genesis

© C. O. Bishop 2018

Genesis 7, 8, compared to other passages

Introduction:

People discuss the Genesis Flood in a variety of ways, divided into two main groups: those who believe it is a true account of a worldwide flood which actually occurred in human history, as a judgment upon human sin; and those who reject it as a myth, or a legend, or even a bald-faced lie. There are a few seeming discrepancies here, but I think they are easily reconciled. Some people will always reject anything from the Bible, without further thought, as they have already rejected the God of the Bible. I am not attempting to convince such persons of their error, so much as to confirm to believers that they have made a good choice; that the evidence is clear. But some do see discrepancies in the text.

Problem #1

Some time ago, I had made the statement that Noah entered the Ark a week before the rains came. I was remembering Genesis 7:1-10. The LORD commanded Noah to enter into the Ark, saying that there was only a week left until the flood would begin (1-4). It then says that Noah and his family went in as commanded, and that the animals followed him, and that the rain came seven days later (5-10).

This is the part which I had recalled, and commented on, but someone else pointed out that the passage clearly said the rain started the same day they went in, correctly quoting verses 12 and 13. So I recanted, not having the sense, at the moment, to look a little further back, to see why I had thought that they were in the Ark for a week, waiting for the rain. But now I see that both are clearly stated here: so how can I reconcile the two?

Well, to begin with, there is no evidence, once the procession of the animals had begun, that the people might not have moved in and out of the Ark, as they felt the need. (Or, they may have stayed there nearly exclusively.) And we don’t know how long it took to get the many thousands of animals aboard, and situated in their places, though it does say that the animals went in to Noah in the ark—he did not have to drive them in, lead them in, nor bring them in cages, or whatever. Apparently the LORD brought them to him, and He caused them to enter the Ark. (Getting them there was no big problem, either, as there was only one land mass at the time, according to Genesis 1:9.) Perhaps the humans did not even have to arrange for the other creatures’ places. It very much looks as though God was completely in command, here. (Now, there’s a revolutionary concept!)

But I can easily believe it may have taken a week to get them all aboard, at which time Noah and his family may have hopped down for a last look around, to make sure nothing was forgotten, or something. At any rate, apparently, the day the rain began was the day the procession into the Ark was complete. And God closed the door. And then the flood began to rise: not before.) Keep in mind that the Ark is a fairly detailed picture of our salvation in Christ. The general Judgment which will fall upon the earth, in the coming Tribulation, will not begin until the entire Body of Christ is saved, and taken off the Earth. This is a pre-figuring of the pre-tribulation rapture of the Church!)

Problem #2

Now. Here’s another problem. The earth had only one land-mass, as we said earlier, but that is still a lot of land. And the water had to rise enough to cover all of it. Many people deny the possibility of such a result, “just from 40 days of rain.” And they are right!

Look at Genesis 7:11, 12. The rain was certainly not the only place from which the waters emanated. It calls out three places. The first is that the fountains of the great deep were broken up—I don’t know if that means that water was coming from under the ground, as some teach, or if the ocean itself simply broke out, and overflowed its bounds in a great “tsunami” of sorts. That would certainly be a possibility, as we will see that unimaginably huge forces were about to break the super-continent into various pieces. Either way, it is not talking about rain, but evidently a subterranean or submarine source.

The second source is that the windows of heaven were opened. Now, I’ll admit that this could have been simply be a metaphor for the rain, except for the fact that, in Genesis 1:6, 7, God described two bodies of water: one below the sky, the other above it. Rain is never “above the sky”: in fact, it only exists in the lower strata of the atmosphere. The water “above the sky” had to be in what we would now call “outer space,” and it could only be in the form of ice crystals. The water from above the atmosphere had apparently been suspended there since the creation, and it now was being released to come down.

In recent years, scientists have verified that, to this day, great balls of ice-crystals are entering our atmosphere from space every day—snow-balls the size of a two-story house, thousands of times per day: they are immediately evaporated, due to atmospheric friction, and they add to Earth’s supply of water. So apparently these snow-balls are still left from the water canopy that surrounded us before the flood. It is possible, in fact, that the protection from harmful radiation, originally afforded by that canopy, is partially the reason why the people lived so long up to that time, and began to die sooner and sooner, immediately thereafter. But that is only speculation: we can’t prove it.

Then in verse 12, he says “…AND the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.”  The rain was a third source of water. It is instructive to note that, back in Genesis 2:5, 6, it states that no rain had been there, originally, but that God had caused a mist to come up and water the face of the ground. So, the rain was a new thing. This first rain came as judgment, and a worldwide monsoon. A true, torrential, monsoon downpour is a terrifying thing, even today, as the air is so completely filled with huge raindrops and (usually) a driving wind, so that the drops are hitting with painful force, not a gentle sprinkling of water. If they had never seen rain before, and the first rain was of this sort, it would be devastatingly frightening.

Genesis 7 and 8

Now: notice some other things: the rain was on the earth forty days and nights, and it was possibly toward the end of that time that the Ark was afloat (Genesis 7:17).  But, the waters continued to rise, after the rain had ceased, or at least after that first monsoon had ended. (Genesis 8:2 suggests that more rain came later.) Genesis 7:18-24 say that the waters continued to rise for 150 days—about five months. And at the end of that time, (Genesis 8:2) it says three things stopped:

  1. the fountains of the deep were stopped,
  2. the windows of heaven were stopped, and
  3. the rain from heaven was restrained (not after just 40 days), and

Then the waters began to recede. The abatement of the flood took even longer than the rising of the waters: the waters continued to recede for the rest of the year. After seven months, the Ark came to rest on the mountains (plural) of Ararat (whose elevation, today, is between 12,000 and 16,900 feet: the land was rising, not just the water “drying out.”)

After ten months, the tops of the mountains had become visible (8:5); in the middle of the eleventh month, Noah sent out the raven, which flew around for the remainder of the time. He sent out a dove, too, which is a bird with somewhat cleaner habits than the raven, and, as she could find no suitable roost, or a place to land, she simply came back to the Ark, and Noah took her back in. A week later, he tried it again, and she came back in the evening, with an olive leaf in her beak, which has become a traditional symbol of peace, because of this little piece of history. (Both the dove and the olive branch are used in that way, either separately or together.) A week later, he tried it one more time, and the dove stayed gone, evidently feeling that there was no point in returning.

Look at Genesis 8:13—it gives us the “date” when the waters were sufficiently gone, so that Noah started opening things up: the surface was dry—perhaps it was still hazardous, though, because of mud-holes, quicksand, and the like. According to verse 14, it was still another eight or nine weeks before the Lord told them they could come out. Why would such a “date” be important? Because, if you didn’t notice it when we read it the first time, it was one year and ten days earlier that the flood itself had begun, and they had apparently been aboard the Ark for seven days already. So, either one year and ten days aboard the Ark, or one year and seventeen days…take your pick. It was NOT a “forty day flood”—the heavy rains lasted “only” forty days, and evidently continued intermittently after that. The door to the ark opened over a year later, no matter how you read it.

Problem #3

Let’s notice some other little things—people frequently question the truth of this account, saying “there is simply not enough water in the world, to cover the high mountains.” They are forgetting two things: one is that there are incredibly deep trenches and “deeps” in the oceans of the earth: far deeper than the tallest mountains: If the ground were level, there is more than enough water! The other thing is that those very mountains, the ones they think could not be covered, virtually all have fossil seashells at or near their peaks. (How’d they get up there, hmmm?) We know that today, we can dig fossil seashells near the peak of Mt. McKinley (now called “Denali”), and upon most other such peaks. The forces which heaved those mountains up from the ancient sea-bottoms, or from the plains which had once been inundated by a worldwide flood, are the same forces that eventually tore apart the old “super-continent”, and left the pieces remaining today, as “continents.”

Let’s look back at Genesis 6:19, 20: it says, “…the waters prevailed greatly upon the earth, and the high hills were covered.” That’s pretty impressive sounding, by itself, from my perspective: I live on a 750-foot hill, and it is a very small one compared to the real hills nearby. But read verse 20: it says that the waters prevailed (rose up) fifteen more cubits (that’s less than 30 feet!) and the mountains were covered, and everything died.

So, then… if the difference, at that time, between a “mountain” and a “high hill” was only 30 feet, or so, what does that tell us? That they didn’t know what a mountain was? Or that the mountains they were referring to were just not very big? Or, that what passed for a mountain before the cataclysm that tore apart the antediluvian world, was far different than what we know today? We know there was only one land mass (compare 1:9 with 10:25—the Hebrew word (erets) translated “earth”, in Genesis 10:25, specifically means the ground, not the people.) By the way, modern science has finally conceded that this concept of “one supercontinent” is correct: in fact, they believe they “discovered it,” though ancient man actually watched it happening!

There was one land mass, with no “real mountains,” by today’s standards. The waters of the flood truly covered the entire earth. The earth was completely under water for at least five months; probably more like eight. Then a tiny part was dry, and finally it emerged with all the ground usable. But huge things were still happening—the land did not finish breaking up into separate masses until several generations later, about the time of the Tower of Babel. So when the people dispersed at the time of the Tower of Babel (in Genesis 11), it was easy for them to do so: they just walked away from each other.  And the ground continued to move, and pull, and shake, and tear apart, until the various family groups actually found themselves on diverse bodies of land, rapidly rising, and departing one another. It was rapid enough for Peleg to be named after the event, in commemoration of what happened (Genesis 10:25). In fact, it is still breaking up, today, but at a slower and slower rate of change…inches per year, instead of miles.

The Great Rift Valley, in Africa, is splitting apart the African continent, today, in a slow, but spectacular fashion. Victoria Falls is the result of the entire Zambezi River (over a mile wide) falling off the edge of that chasm, to the rocks, 340 feet below. People come from all over the world to see the spectacle of that waterfall, and that awesome chasm. Furthermore, I have read, this year, that oceanographers have discovered that there are stone ruins of towns beneath the North Sea, in an area which, if it were still above the sea, would connect the British Isles with the mainland of Europe. In other words, Britain was once a peninsula, connected to the mainland…and people lived on all of that land. (I guess “Brexit” really occurred thousands of years before recorded history!)

What can we Conclude?

The two things I especially see here, are that:

  1. God doesn’t exaggerate, and
  2. God keeps his Word.

Incidentally, the fact that He doesn’t exaggerate can also be applied to what He said, back in Genesis 6:5, saying that “the wickedness of Man was great on the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” That was not an exaggeration, either. Which would be easier to exaggerate? The flood, or the condition of the heart of Man? You could say “the whole earth was flooded,” and only mean the part inhabited by man, or most of it, perhaps: many people refuse to believe the account, at all, because of just these sorts of assumptions.  But God did not exaggerate. He meant what He said, and He fulfilled His promise of coming Judgment. The same is true today.

His estimate of the heart of man is entirely accurate: it is not a “metaphor,” or any sort of “philosophical statement;” it is just the fact of the matter. We are a corrupted race, and all of us, to one degree or another, carry the mark of that degeneration in our character. We are taught by secular humanism (and by other religions) that “Man is fundamentally good.” Nothing could be further from the truth! Man is fundamentally flawed, and corrupt, and all one has to do to demonstrate that truth is to read the news on any given day: Read the political news, the crime rates, the various tragic realities in our cities, and those across the world. The whole human race is infected with a fatal disease called “Sin,” and we are getting worse, not better. The only “cure” is the Blood of Jesus!

In Ephesians 2:2, 3 (please read it!) Paul says (speaking to believers) that we (believers) all once walked according to the course of this World, according to the Prince of the Power of the Air (also known as Satan), the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience (meaning all unregenerate humans), among whom, also, we all had our conversation (“way of life, or behavior”: Greek anastrophemen) in times past, in the lusts of the flesh, and of the mind (notice that sin starts in the mind); and that we were by nature (by birth—by genetic predisposition) the children of wrath, even as others. (Just like everyone else.)

The fact is, that, when Adam fell into sin, back in Genesis 3:7, he took the entire race with him, as Paul points out in Romans 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Verse 19 confirms this, saying that, “By one man’s sin, many were made sinners.” There is a universal contamination, here. All of us need a Savior: each individually, because we all continue in sin, individually. The Ark provided salvation for those within the Ark. But every single individual in the Ark went in voluntarily, in obedience to the call of God, and in faith, believing the Word of God.

That Ark was a great picture of the Person of Christ, in many ways: all inside the Ark survived the Judgment; all outside perished! The Ark bore the brunt of the judgment, but rose above it, carrying all within it to safety. Jesus bore the judgment for our sin, and died in our place, but rose to eternal life; all who believe in Him, entering in by faith, are born again, sharing in His death, His resurrection and His eternal life.

But, every individual human has to make this choice: will you confess that you are a sinner, in need of a Savior, and recognize Jesus as your personal blood-sacrifice for sin? (In which case He will permanently place you in the Body of Christ.) Or will you deny it all, and remain outside? This is the choice we present to the world around us. We pray for their salvation, praying for open doors before us, and willing hearts, but every single one has to make a personal decision. Our job, as the Ambassadors of Christ, is to persuade them, and to light the way for them.

Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” He also called us to be His witnesses in the World, as lights in a dark place. Let’s not fail at the task He has given us.

Lord Jesus, convict each of our hearts of the enormity of our sin, and the incredible Grace that you offer through the Cross. Help us to take hold of that Grace daily, and to offer it to those around us, as we live in the light of the Cross.