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Who doesn’t know the story of Noah and the Flood? That’s right- everyone knows it, so I don’t need to review it now.
I do wonder about one thing, though: do any of you also think that it seems awfully cruel of God to have killed so many innocent animals? He took only one male and one female (for each species) of the millions upon millions of animals that existed. Yes, for the animals that were known to be “clean” he took 7 of each gender, but still and all, the odds for being picked to survive were pretty enormous against you. How would you have felt if you happened to be a cow in the pasture, eating the grass and waiting to be milked, then suddenly you find yourself drowning? Sometimes what God does seems to be unfair or even cruel, as in this case, but what can we do about it? After all, he IS God, right? That is an interesting study in itself, but not the one for today.
Back to the Flood: with regard to the (possibly) millions of humans that were alive at that time, we are told that only Noah was righteous. Did any of you notice that Noah’s sons and their wives are not mentioned as being righteous? Only Noah found grace in God’s eyes, but God saved the immediate family of Noah. Of course, if only Noah had survived and his wife, sons, and daughters had perished, that would have been the end of humanity. So, naturally, unless God intended to change the whole gender dynamic for humans he would have to also save (at least) Noah’s wife, and by also saving the sons and daughters he made it easier to repopulate the earth.
Which brings us to an interesting and (I believe) important question: was Noah “unevenly yoked,” and if so, did his righteousness save his family?
There is nothing specifically stating that Noah’s family members were as sinful as the rest of the world, but there is also nothing to denote they were as righteous as Noah. I think we are safe to assume that Noah’s righteousness “saved” his family. After all, if Noah hadn’t been righteous then they would all have been destroyed with the rest of humanity and we wouldn’t be here discussing this. And we can be sure that one son wasn’t the most righteous of people.
We read in Genesis 9:20-27 that Ham was a disrespectful son. Because of his disregard for his father’s “exposure,” he and his descendants were cursed by his father to be a slave to the other brothers and their descendants. Add to this the fact that God had stated in Genesis 8:21 that people were evil by nature. The Bible tells us that although Noah was righteous and remained so throughout his lifetime, the offspring of his children weren’t any better than the people God destroyed. In this section of the parashah, we are told the names of the descendants of the sons of Noah, in which we recognize the tribes and peoples that became sinful and idolatrous, many of which were (and still are) enemies of God’s Chosen people.
So was this whole Flood thing just one big waste of time? It seems so, doesn’t it? God rid the earth of all the evil people, yet within just a few generations they were at it, again. The end of this parashah tells us about the Tower of Babel, which was intended to reach heaven so that the people could make a name for themselves. When referring to a “name”, they meant to create a reputation that would exalt them. In other words, they wanted to become powerful by their own actions and able to do as they wanted with no regard for God. That is why God frustrated their plans.
Let’s finish by getting back to the question: can an unevenly yoked person save an unsaved spouse or child? My answer is Yes….and No.
Yes, we can eventually save them by showing them the blessings we receive from God for having faith in him, his Messiah and being obedient to his word (Torah.) By being a good example of a faithfully obedient Believer in God and Messiah we may generate an interest or even a jealousy within them to have what we have (this is what Shaul talks about in Romans 11:11.) In fact, this jealousy is what saved me- God placed many spiritually mature Believers in my life and I wanted to have the peace and joy that I saw they had, even in when they were having as much tzuris as I had. On the other hand, because God has given everyone free will to choose whether we accept or reject him, even the best of all examples may not have the effect we want it to have. Just like with Noah and his children.
Here is the point of today’s message: we can help to bring others to salvation by our example, but it is always up to them to choose life. Noah was a great example to his sons and their sons and daughters after them, yet look what happened. We cannot force people to choose God, and threats of fire and brimstone and death won’t do it, just as the Flood did not really change anything. Each of us must choose for him or herself whether to be faithfully obedient to God or not.
The best any of us can do is show the world, starting with our own family, the blessings and joy we receive from God for being faithfully obedient to his word and accepting his son, Messiah Yeshua, as our Messiah. And when the world floods us with persecution and name calling, we need only remember that God brought Noah through a much bigger flood, and he will do the same for us.