Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 3: Monday
Monday’s Bible reading is Genesis 8–11. Chapters 8 and 9 tell the events of Noah’s life as the Flood ends and his family begins life again on land. In chapters 10 and 11, his three sons and their descendants are traced as they separate by families, languages, lands and nations; the building of the Tower of Babel and the subsequent scattering of people is found in the first half of chapter 11.
Noah is mentioned several times in the New Testament. He is, of course in the genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:36). Other New Testament references to Noah vividly compare Noah and his times with salvation and judgment.
In Matthew 24 Jesus compares the days of His second coming to the days of Noah (cf. Luke 17:26–27). People were not ready then for God’s coming judgment; they will not be ready when Jesus comes.
Noah is found in the great faith chapter of the New Testament, Hebrews 11. Noah is listed because he believed God when He warned him of the flood yet to come, and built the ark God told him would save his household.
Peter refers to Noah in both of his letters. In his commentary on 1 Peter, Edmund Clowney explains Peter’s comparison of the deliverance of Noah’s family from judgment to our deliverance from judgment in 1 Peter 3:20b–21:
Peter continues to relate the time of Noah to that of the church by appealing to typology. The inspired authors of the New Testament find in the Old Testament history not merely instances of God’s saving power, but also anticipations of his final salvation in Christ. By providing the ark, God saved Noah and his family from the judgment of the flood. That deliverance, however, did not in itself give eternal life to the eight persons that were spared. Like the exodus liberation, it was a symbol of God’s final salvation from all sin and death. Peter uses the term ‘antitype’ to describe the relation of the new to the old. (3:21; NIV’s verb symbolizes translates the Greek noun antitypos). This use of ‘type’ and ‘antitype’ is itself figurative, drawn from the striking of coins or the impression of seals. ‘Type’ describes either a matrix from which an impression is made, or an image created. In the letter to the Hebrews, the typology is vertical. That is, the heavenly realities are called the ‘type’ and the earthly symbolizes the ‘antitype’. The tabernacle in the wilderness was therefore the antitype of the heavenly sanctuary. In Paul’s letters and here in 1 Peter, the typology is horizontal in history: the Old Testament is the type, and therefore Christ’s fulfillment is the antitype.
…Peter would have us understand that the God who delivered Noah will also deliver us, and ours is the final salvation.1
In addition to God’s judgment, Peter also mentions one other thing about God in 1 Peter, His patience:
In his second letter, Peter again uses Noah, as well as Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot, to teach about God’s coming judgment and His rescue of the godly, in these verses, from trial.
In the next chapter Peter mentions the flood as he reminds us that mockers forget God destroyed the world by water; His coming judgment will be by fire.
As he did in his first letter, Peter again, in the context of God’s judgment, also reminds us of God’s patience.
Clowney comments, “God’s patience during the time before the flood is obviously like the patience he now shows in postponing judgment.”1,2
In Genesis 9, Noah becomes drunk and his son Ham dishonors him. In Genesis 10 the genealogy of Noah’s three sons is given.
In chapter 11, the Tower of Babel is constructed. Kent Hughes has some helpful insights:
As they wandered eastward from Ararat (Armenia), they settled into Mesopotamia on te broad, flat plain of Shinar in what the Talmud would call the “valley of the world.” Moses’ clear statement that they “settled there” (v. 2) is not incidental, because “settled” is the opposite of “dispersed” (v. 8), which is the story’s dramatic outcome. Their settling was in direct opposition to God’s post-flood command to “fill the earth” (9:1).
…The intent behind building “a tower with its top in the heavens” was to join or displace God.3
Meredith Kline comments,
As in Ps. 2 God laughs at the counsels of kings, so here he ridicules and humbles the vanity of the tower-builders, for He must descend (so the anthropomorphism) to catch sight of their proud pinnacle far below…What the Babelites thought to avert befell them more disruptively than was elsewhere transpiring naturally.
…the dispersion movement of Gn. 10 appears as a curse, a centrifugal force separating men and retarding the subjugation of the earth (cf. 6b). Yet in sin’s context this curse proved a blessing for it also retarded the ripening iniquity that accompanied civilization’s progress (v. 6) and so it forestalled such judgment as would have interfered with the unfolding of redemption.4
I was fascinated by Kline’s comment about God’s dispersion of people retarding their ripening iniquity. I remember a few years ago a friend and I were talking about how we both thought world events seemed to be ramping up. Today instantaneous communication between many parts of the world and translation apps and services reverse the dispersion of Babel. That is not without its benefits, but I wonder if they are negligible considering the many ways it has compounded evil as thoughts and deeds are copied from one side of the world to another. What one person doesn’t think of, another will, and then they’ll tell others about it, entice them to do it, or else work together to make it worse.
Francis Schaeffer points out something else about Babel:
The basic confusion among people is expressly stated to be language—not the color of skin, not race, not nation. Language is the key to the divisions of the people of the earth.5
Derek Kidner writes of God’s grace beyond Babel.
Pentecost opened a new chapter of the story, in the articulating of one gospel in many tongues. The final reversal is promised in Zephaniah 3:9: ‘Yea, at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord’ (RSV).6
Even as Cain did not learn from God’s judgment on his mother and father, so Noah’s descendants did not learn from God’s judgment with the Flood. And man today is the same as in the days of Noah—the evil intent of man’s heart remains the same. We still rebel; we still want to be like God.
God is unchanged: He is holy and judges sin, yet in His mercy, as in the days of Noah, for a time before His judgment, He is patient toward us.
In the next chapters in Genesis, in His great lovingkindness, God has plans to break the cycle of sin and death caused by hearts of stone. At the end of Genesis 11, a man named Abram is born, and through him, God will bless all the families of the earth.
Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
The Ark on the waters, Jan van’t Hoff: Gospel Images. Genesis 7: 24.
1,2Edmund Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1988) 164–165, 162.
3R. Kent Hughes, Genesis: Beginning & Blessing (Crossway Books, Wheaton IL: 2004) 170.
4Meredith G. Kline, “Genesis,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1970) 91–92.
5Francis Schaeffer, Genesis in space and time: the flow of biblical history (terVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1972) 153.
6Derek Kidner, Genesis (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1967) 110.
I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.
Copyright ©2021–2023 Iwana Carpenter