Torah Portion for week 2: Genesis 6:9 – 11:32
Noach (Noah / rest)
This week’s reading portion brings us face to face with the gravity of sin and its effect on mankind and, at the same time, with the Messianic hope. Here we see God intervene with mankind and raise up an elect remnant through whom he will save the world.
This Torah portion reminds us that we must never take sin lightly. It also reminds us of how Adam and Eve’s sin brought with it corruption that infected the entire world. In Genesis 6:5-7 we read:
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
We can never truly understand the pain God suffered in saying these words about his own creation. In fact, this is not the only time in Scripture that God faces a wicked generation and intends to blot them out. In the account of Israel’s birth as a nation at Mount Sinai, we see that the people of Israel sin and worship the golden calf. In Exodus 32:9-10 we read, “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.’”
If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that these verses about Israel also describe our own plight. This punishment for Israel’s sin should be ours as well. But praise God for Genesis 6:8 which says, “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” From this point on we see how God in his grace provides salvation through a chosen remnant and provides hope for the future of mankind. In Genesis 6:13-14, God reveals to Noah the future judgment and commands him to build an ark. Later in the same chapter (v. 18), God initiates a covenant with Noah and his family and assures them of their future safety.
Throughout the rest of this Torah portion, we see God at work in bringing the animals safely to the ark, shutting the door, sending forth the rain, and eventually, after the 150 days of judgment, bringing Noah and his family out of the ark to re-populate the earth. As Noah offers a sacrifice of praise to God for his salvation, we see that the aroma of this sacrifice is pleasing to God. God promises never to destroy the earth by flood again, and provides the rainbow as a symbol of this promise.
There is no doubt that these eight souls saved by water (as described in 1 Peter 3:20) are a symbol of life coming out of death and a shadow of a greater sacrifice many generations later that would be pleasing to God. As written in Isaiah 53:10-11:
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
What hope we find today in the one who was crushed for our sin and put to grief for our iniquities! May God help us to remember Yeshua’s warnings that our days are just like the “days of Noah” when humankind lived in sin and ignored the warnings of the coming judgment. (See Matthew 24:37-39.) Let us worship our Messiah and live each day with his sacrifice as our compass and vision.