A couple of years ago, I was challenged to read the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) and the first five books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and the book of the Acts of the Apostles).
On this scriptural journey, I rediscovered that the Bible is an extraordinary and extremely unusual book in the sense that:
- God is its author, even though He obviously used imperfect, but dedicated, humans to pen it down.
- Much is told through stories about human lives and how God can raise them and partner with them to execute His will and fulfill His agenda for the best of all humanity.
- There is no way we can go beyond the narratives and discover more than obvious principles without God's help, as the real content is reserved for those who seek Him wholeheartedly and walk with Him in peace and love, and with courage and determination.
- The people mentioned in the Bible were real humans and they are exposed with their strengths and weaknesses – they were not demigods (half human and half divine) like in mysticism and religious myths.
"Genesis" means beginnings. It is very meaningful to understand that the word “beginnings” is not only to be acknowledged as the chronological beginning in a sequence of events. It rather means the most significant issue, or “the one part that stands for the whole”, as someone has put it, or the most basic principle.
So the book of Genesis contains eternal patterns. Together with the following four books of Moses, it is an incomparable foundation for Kingdom understanding. I would say that the four apostles' books – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – together with the book of Acts are a similar foundation.
As I repeatedly read and studied these ten books, certain highly significant issues began to shockingly dawn on me, and it reminded me of the words of Moses:
"Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, as raindrops on the tender herb, and as showers on the grass. For I proclaim the name of the Lord: Ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He."
God is truly great, He is surely the Rock, He is perfection and justice, truth and righteousness...and the amazing thing is that teaching drops as rain, words distill as dew. Extremely decisive and influential but clean, light and fresh. This is exactly the way it happened: truth rained on me, slowly and quietly, but clean and clear.
For the very first time I looked into previously hidden patterns of God's operations and began to comprehend.
Remember that God never hides things from us, but He hides things for us.
After the phenomenal narrative of the Creation, the focus is on Man, his life, his mandate, his decisions, his actions and reactions as well as his mistakes and tragedies. The focus is also on his family, the first families on Earth, their strengths and their deficiencies. From one family comes a nation, the first nation “under God”. It is called: God at work.
In the “Pentateuch” of the New Testament we recognize similar patterns. The focus is on the Son of Man and His work with a little group of men. We read about His life and their lives, His mandate, His and their decisions; their actions and reactions as well as their successes and failures. The focus is also on His family, the Church which had never before existed. So many parallels.
1. The Father's ultimate dream – not easy
God created Man and reached out to him immediately. He blessed him, spoke to him and installed him in a global administrative and governmental assignment – also called work.
But things went wrong, tragically wrong. In the next generation murder took place as Cain killed his only brother Abel. The first fratricide was a reality. It was dark and evil, and it would not be the last one. Two people became four, and then four became three.
It didn't stop there. It spread rapidly to all mankind.
God sought a representative partner to care for, administrate and rule the globe. At least a region for a beginning. But it took time.
At creation God worked:
And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.
Later God found Noah, in many ways an unusual and righteous man among his contemporaries. The testimony of the Scriptures is clear. Noah was a man of faith:
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
Noah found grace; he was just and he was blameless, and walked with God who blessed him:
Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God ... And Noah did according to all that the Lord commanded him ... So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth."
Gen. 6:8-9, 7:5, 9:1
But something seems not totally in order.
Order had come into creation, but disorder crept in into humanity. It was extreme and it showed a strong capacity to spread – and it did. But as time went God was still looking for the right man in the successive generations. He didn't take a step back as in the days of Creation, and "saw that it was good". He saw that evil was present and that it was spreading.
God looked at Noah, whom He had blessed, and He was pleased with what He saw in him. God's grace made him unusual, but the words "in his generations" leave an awkward impression. Somehow Noah displayed a tragic greatness. Surely Noah didn't do evil. The Bible is clear.
But there is question which remains: If he didn’t do evil, what did he do then?
In a similar situation, Abraham was different. He broke the paralyzing passivity; he acted and pleaded for the rescue of human lives in the region of Sodom and Gomorrah:
The Lord said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know." Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. And Abraham came near and said, "Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
The cry was great, and it made Abraham raise to greatness. Let's then look at Noah:
And God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth."
But Noah remained silent.
In Noah's situation, Abraham might have stopped at the gate of the ark and brought the issue to God and negotiated with Him on behalf of a perishing mankind.
In a similar situation, Moses asked God to wipe him away in order for the nation to live:
Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, "You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin." Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, "Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin--but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written."
Noah remained silent.
In Noah's situation, Moses might have refused to enter the ark just with his own family. Do animals have more worth than humans?
God is obviously not looking for a man whom He can bless, a man to whom He can give grace so he stands blameless and righteous in his own generation. God is looking for a Kingdom representative, a ruler, a partner and a leader, a global shepherd who is willing to stand for his own generation.
He is looking for a Son representing and partnering with the Father for the global good.
Righteousness is not leadership.
God is looking for a leader.
Maybe we have overlooked a specific element in the famous statement of Jesus, when He said:
"Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
Could it be that we have unconsciously changed “His righteousness” into “my righteousness”? Or consciously, because we didn't want to understand what Jesus really said and meant. However, the question is relevant and worth a sincere and open-minded consideration. And to migrate from “my” to “His” is extremely stretching for our ego, for self. The same is the case for moving from “in his generations” to “for his generations”. God's righteousness is so much more than my righteousness, even though it is a fact that in His righteousness we have been made righteous. But “His” goes beyond that. It goes far beyond me and my need for redemption and perfection.
Noah was surely made righteous and graced by God, which made him stand higher in his days. But how tall was he in the “days of God”, the “days of the Kingdom”? The “days of his generations”? Or the “days of heaven on earth”, as God told Moses. Noah was not there. He did differ from his generation, but he didn’t do anything to make his generation differ from previous generations. Obviously, he was not a generation changer or a generational leader.
Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
This is what Jesus said about the days of Noah. Normal “days” with eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage...normal human days. Inside the frame of this normality, abnormality emerged and spread rapidly. The presence of Noah had no effect and brought no change. The situation was not properly addressed and arrested. He put his hands into the building of the ark, but he didn't put his heart into the destiny of mankind outside the ark. Yes, he obeyed, but there is obedience that meets the minimum requirement, and obedience that takes initiative to go beyond the basics.
Jesus spoke about obedience in one of His very first training sessions because He wanted to raise the children and seed of Abraham and not the children and seed of Noah:
"Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
The scribes and Pharisees did obey, and their obedience was the root of their righteousness. But Jesus told them that the Father was pursuing another level of righteous life and obedience. It was another “place”, so to say, the place where the Son lived, as we will see later in this document.
Therefore Jesus repeatedly said that He wanted His next generation to be “where” He was. Live like He lived, and obey like He obeyed, like Abraham obeyed. We think that the “place” He spoke about is Heaven. Yes, it is, but it is Heaven on Earth, not Heaven in Heaven. At least not yet.
Shall we say that Noah could be called least in the kingdom of Heaven? Or one of the least? You might ask: Did he break any commandment? The answer is simple: He obeyed the explicit one about building the ark, but he broke the implicit commandment which was the least one, the one regarding God’s creation and His love for mankind. And God watched Noah. His disobedience of the least commandment, which actually was the greatest, disqualified him from leadership and influence in the Kingdom and consequently in the nation. He didn’t look after his next generations. Getting his children married was not the equivalent of transfer of legacy. Abraham made serious mistakes, disobeyed some basic principles, but didn't break the least commandment. Remember that there was no Law of Moses in his days. There was God's law, Kingdom laws. Therefore Abraham qualified for leadership, for influence and for legacy. He stood before God, he acted and spoke, and he taught his children and children’s children. Noah didn't.
Peter wrote about the days of Noah:
"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit ... when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water."
1 Pet. 3:18, 20
Righteousness is not leadership, responsibility is.
Adam failed on this account; he failed regarding personal responsibility. Cain failed too, and he failed regarding moral responsibility. Noah was not much better. He failed on global responsibility.
There is obviously not much progress, but God is patient in His pursuit. By the way, what does the “divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah” mean? What was God waiting for? Could it be that God was watching Noah and expected him to rise to another level and move from being the father of one rescued family to being the father of a living nation? I do wonder.
Maybe this is the reason why Noah is considered by the Jewish sages to be a foolish shepherd and Moses to be a faithful shepherd. The name Noah, they say, means "comfortable" in Hebrew. During the 120 years of building the ark no change or influence was detected in his social environment. Nothing seemed to be affected by the blessing and the grace God poured out over him. However, he and his family found a lot of “comfort” in God's blessing, grace and favor.
The words of Jesus about righteousness present another important element, which is speaking aloud. He called the person who did and taught/spoke the commandments “great in the Kingdom”.
Leadership is: speaking.
Noah remained silent.
Abraham came near to God and spoke.
As we will see later, Moses had to learn to speak and he spoke.
But did God expect Noah to speak to a generation whose heart was under heavy evil influence, a generation who might not even be able to listen and hear anything any longer? This generation might have been like Cain, who didn't listen to the warning against sin which was crouching at the door of his life.
Listen to what God said to Ezekiel concerning this matter:
And He said to me: "Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me ... I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God.' As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse - for they are a rebellious house - yet they will know that a prophet has been among them ... You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious."
The beginning of the life of Moses is absolutely fascinating when it comes to this:
But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river's bank. And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him. Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river. And her maidens walked along the riverside; and when she saw the ark among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it. And when she had opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, "This is one of the Hebrews' children." Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?" And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go." So the maiden went and called the child's mother. Then Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages." So the woman took the child and nursed him. And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. So she called his name Moses, saying, "Because I drew him out of the water."
Isn't it amazing to see Moses lying in another ark on other waters, the waters of the Nile? His mandate and his life will be connected to rescuing a whole nation from the "waters of slavery". By rescuing the nation of Israel God fulfilled his word to Noah, a word quoted by Isaiah, the prophet:
"For a mere moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies I will gather you. With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you," says the Lord, your Redeemer. "For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed," says
the Lord, who has mercy on you.
God spoke not only about the days of Noah, or his generations, but about the "waters of Noah", the waters which destroyed all mankind except for a family of eight individuals.
Isn't it amazing that during the 120 years of Moses' life (Deut. 34:7) a whole nation was saved from downfall, while Noah used the same amount of years to build the ark for himself and his family? It seems like Moses took over a mission which had been left by Noah.
Now let's move further...
What happened to him and his family after the flood? First, they walked out of the ark. Then what did he do?
Somebody described the situation: "The man of God has become a man of the soil. The upright man has become a drunkard. The man clothed in virtue now lies naked and unashamed. The man who saved his family from the flood is now so undignified that two of his sons are ashamed to look at him."
When the heart of man was corrupted and evil spread through the nations, God regretted He made Man. Then God was pleased with Noah and saved him. It might be right to assume that God was extremely sad. Most of all because the whole mankind had perished. Secondly because He watched the alarming decline of this man's life and home (His righteous, just, blameless, blessed and gracious man). God saw how the whole situation accelerated and aggravated, realizing that this family was actually the new humanity.
Noah was righteous before the flood and after the flood. He was blessed and had favor before God. But could it be that his lack of responsible leadership and consequently his silence under the utterly dramatic sequence of events had become a seed in his heart and mind, a seed which germinated and ultimately initiated his free fall after he left the ark? He planted a vineyard and got drunk on his own wine. Would it be appropriate to think that Noah struggled with thoughts about the recent global destruction and its enormity? Did he think about what he could have done? Was he shocked by the fact that obedience and passivity, obedience and silence, obedience and irresponsibility could go perfectly hand-in-hand; that blessing, grace and immaturity could coexist so easily and peacefully?
What about his family, then?
The three sons Shem, Ham and Yafet grew up in the pre-flood society characterized by a culture of evil, violence, demonized spirituality and sexual immorality. They were a part of the generation in which Noah is mentioned as the only just man. They saw their father's outstanding spiritual position of blessing and grace. Later they were rescued because of him. They lived close to him and surely watched his undiverted focus, his determined obedience and consistent work for God. But they might also have noticed his passivity and “heard” his silence. Ham's offence against his father had its root in that polluted environment. He was enraged by his father's nakedness, which might be the loud expression of his spiritual absence, moral passivity, verbal silence and visible resignation. Kings, emperors and nobles are clothed. As a person, God had clothed him in grace and righteousness, but as a national statesman Noah was still naked.
And Noah is said to have lived 300 years after the flood, until the day when...
Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth. But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, "Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.
Noah was alive. His children and generations were alive as well. But still absent, passive and silent. This is the tragedy of Noah and his family. So much leadership potential, such an outstanding position before God, so much insight as he walked with God, so much courage, zeal and consistency when he built the ark. But no influence, no report of his or his descendants' contribution.
Jewish scholars mention that Noah lived ten years after the dispersion, and that Abraham was forty-eight years old then. It doesn't seem that either Noah or his children raised their voices regarding the tower project. Noah built an ark to rescue himself and his family. Now the people were building their own “ark” (in the form of a tower) to rescue themselves from whatever might happen in the future, whether of the devil or of God.
Therefore God had to come down. When His man was absent, God had to be present. When His man was silent, God had to speak. When His man and family could not become His building on Earth, the people had to be scattered and their project (building and city) had to be stopped.
But Abraham was on the way. He would stand, and he would speak and he would take responsibility...and he saw afar the city whose architect and builder was God Himself.
The rest is available in the booklet "THE KINGDOM BRAND | THE DYNAMICS & WORKFORCE". Mail me to purchase a copy...