Parashah Noach 2018 (Noah) Genesis 6:9 – 11:32

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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.

Parashah Noach (Noah) Genesis 6:9 – 11:32

No, I am not going to review the story- who doesn’t know about “The Flood”?

Some interesting points:

  • Noah did not bring in all the animals two-by-two: he brought in the clean animals seven-by-seven, and the unclean two-by-two;
  • He first sent out a raven, which could have fed on any carrion left but not indicate if it was safe for them to leave the Ark, so later he sent a dove which only would feed on vegetation, indicating the waters had receded;
  • the rainbow wasn’t necessarily created after the flood, but it was now used to signify the covenant that God made with Noah;
  • before the Flood mankind ate only fruits and vegetables, but now mankind is allowed to eat meat, so long as there is no blood in the meat;
  • this was (probably) the very first time that rain fell on the earth, as we are told that the garden and the earth was watered by a mist in the morning.

When Noah was lying drunk and uncovered (Gen. 9:20-28), Ham (as described in the Chumash)  laughed about it with his brothers (was disrespectful) instead of covering his father, as his brothers did. The result is that Noah curses Canaan, the son of Ham, to be a slave to his brothers.

God, on the other hand, swore (Gen. 8:21-22) that He would never again hold the entire human race guilty of the sins of the individuals. Noah cursed Ham by cursing Ham’s son, and that curse was for all the generations of Ham. In a way, God relented of cursing the multitude for the sins of the individuals, but Noah cursed the multitude (all descendants) for the curse of an individual. To me, this shows that even a righteous man, which Noah was, will be less generous and merciful than God in his actions towards his fellow man (and woman.)

The final story of this parashah is the Tower of Babel, again a story that almost everyone knows. Just a single thought today on this: if the tower had been built as an alter to God, and not a means to show mankind’s strength, maybe God would have allowed it. The tower was built so that people could show their power and authority, and because it was a monument to mankind and not to God, that is the reason God did not allow it to be completed. If the tower had been built for the right reasons, and we continued to work together, a single humanity with a single voice and a single purpose that pleased the Lord, who knows what could have happened? Maybe there would not have been need for Messiah because we could have made our own paradise?

Naaahhhhh!! Couldn’t be- God tells us, in Gen. 8:21, that the heart of every man is evil from the start (it is called the Yetzer Hara, which means the evil inclination) and so God will just deal with each person in accordance to what they deserve.

It is a nice thought though, isn’t it? That of the world coming together, everyone working in unity for a common goal that is pleasing to the Lord, if only I could buy the world a Coke, and we could all sing in perfect harmony? Well, ….don’t hold your breath!

We are what we are, and during our life the goal should be to end up a better person than the one we started out as. We start off as sinners, born into a sinful world controlled by sinful people, and we have the one lifetime God gives us to get our act together. Shakespeare was right when he said all the world is a stage, and we are merely players; what you need to understand, what we all need to understand, is that the bible is the script God wrote for us, and we really need to read it if we want to know our lines!

Life is a dress rehearsal for eternity. We have seen God create mankind, destroy all of it (except for a remnant) and build an entire civilization, for a second chance. There will be one more great destruction, with one final rebuilding from the remnant that survive.

This play is almost ready for the opening night: we’ve had our read-through, we’ve been rehearsing for hundreds of generations, and who knows whether or not our generation will be the ones who get the curtain call?

Are you prepared to go on stage?

Parashah Noach (Noah) Genesis 6:9 – 11:32

Who hasn’t heard the story of “The Flood?” It has been told over and over, movies made about it (mostly dreck, stupid Hollywood fodder, fit only to be burned) and most every major civilization has a similar story. They have found evidence of a tremendously wide-spread flood in the Middle East (some 6 feet of clay layered at a level approximate to the time of the flood), and multiple sightings of an “ark” on Mt. Ararat.

Archeologists that search for the Ark are looking for it to prove the bible story to be true. They are like Indiana Jones, seeking the Ark of the Covenant, or the Holy Grail.

The world rejects God, and at the same time, it wants proof that He exists and that the bible is true. And what’s even scarier than that conundrum is that I understand why! It’s because we know that when something sounds too good to be true, it usually isn’t true. The truth about God, that He exists, that He is going to judge us all and that Yeshua is the Messiah He sent to allow us to escape the judgement we deserve and all we need to do is call on His name to be saved (of course, you still have to work at it), well…it just sounds all too good to be true.  Where’s the catch?

The catch is that although it is true salvation is yours simply for the asking, it is hard to keep.  It will require you to suffer, to lose friends, family and maybe even your life. You must devote yourself to changing your attitude and your actions, and you will be attacked by the enemy every time you draw closer to God. Your life will be more difficult, but with the help of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and the never-ending love and support of God to bring you through things, your life will be richer, more fulfilling and you will be blessed more than you could ever imagine. And even better, because you will have God’s spirit and a new outlook, you will receive and appreciate the blessings you get, which most people who don’t know the Lord can’t really understand, so they don’t feel the fullness of joy that God’s blessings bring. Oh, yes, there’s one more thing…salvation through Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) is the best retirement plan the universe offers.

So what value is there in proving the flood story to be true? As far as I am concerned, regarding salvation, proving the flood to be a real-life event will not matter at all. Oh, there may be a few people who will “convert” to some form of Born Again realization, but they are probably going to be like the good seed on poor soil. The word of God never returns void, but it does rebound off many ears that are clogged with self-importance and (even worse!) wrongful teachings (i.e., religion.)

Salvation comes one way- through faith. If we prove God exists, if He shows Himself in majesty and splendor, that won’t make a big difference.

“Oh my Gawd!! How can you say that, Steve? God’s majestic presence shown to the world won’t make a big difference? What are you- nuts? Of course it will! It will prove He exists! It will be on YouTube and Twitter! Fox News will even show the video at 6 and 10! The world will see it and believe. Halleluyah!!!”

No, it won’t. How can I say that, so assuredly? Because we’ve seen it already. It’s proven every day that God exists; just look around. The entire nation of Israel saw His majesty and power on Mt. Sinai, they saw His cloud by day and His fire at night, they were given manna from heaven, they saw water come from rocks, they saw Elijah call fire from the sky at Mt. Carmel, they saw David defeat Goliath, they saw the Maccabee’s defeat the best army in the world, they saw the Son of God do miracle after miracle, and they have seen miracles since.

And we still don’t believe. So if God came from heaven and landed right on top of Mt. Carmel, the world would reject Him, still. That’s not my opinion, that’s what it says in Revelations. The bowls of wrath will be poured out on the earth, and people will curse God. In a way, cursing God is (at least) some form of recognition that He might exist, isn’t it? But it’s not accepting Him.

The flood is a wonderful story and has great value for those of us who want to know God better, and the history of His intercession in the lives of His creation. We can talk about how this was the first time people saw rain, how before the flood we were all, men and animals, herbivores but after the flood carnivores came into existence. We can recognize that even before God gave us the laws of Kashrut (Kosher) they were known to people, and how even before God told us in Leviticus not to eat the blood because the life is in the blood, He told Noach not to eat blood. We can trace the generations to see how Ham, being cursed to serve his brothers (and Shem assigned as the leader) has fathered those nations that historically have been the sworn enemies of the descendants of Shem, rebelling against the curse of their father, Noah, by attacking and constantly (to this day still) trying to destroy those that they are to serve.

All of this is interesting stuff, and valuable in understanding where we came from, which explains why things are as they are today.  We are (the United States, that is) interfering in a sibling rivalry that dates back to the Flood. It is not going to get better, it is going to get worse, and the longer we stay involved the more we will end up having to either get out, altogether (which we won’t) or take sides (which we will.) And when I read Revelations it says the entire world will come against Israel in the end days, so I think we can guess which side the US will end up on.

If you follow this blog you know I almost never get “political”, and I am not really trying to be so now. I am just saying that even the US, a long-time friend of Israel, will end up doing what God has said will be done. And when everything that the bible says will happen, happens- many will not believe but, in fact, be turned away from God. That’s right- God’s tribulations will not make more Believers but it will turn those who Believe to apostasy. Again, this isn’t my opinion- Yeshua tells us this will happen: read 2 Timothy 3, read Matthew 24:10, read Revelations and the churches that Yeshua says are failing to do as they should, and how in the last days most will turn away from the faith. Not some, not a lot, but most (this word may be different than ‘most’, depending on which bible interpretation you have.)

Faith is what saves us, faith comes from God (that’s in the bible, too) but it is up to us to work at strengthening our faith. And that is easier than you might think- in the same way we can see the proof of God’s existence we can strengthen our faith- just look around, observe what happens in your life and the lives of others, be open to accept that miracles are all around us, that happenstance and random chance could not ever have resulted in the unbelievable diversity of life that we have here on Earth, and that believing in God and being a slave to Messiah is not a crutch or a cop-out, but the smartest and most ‘freeing’ thing that anyone can do.

People want to feel that they are in control of themselves. I think that is one of the main reasons they reject God- they don’t want to cede control. The sad truth is that they are not, never have been, and never will be in control.  No one human being is in total control of his or her life, but God is in control of everything. If you want to be in control of anything, then you need to be working for the one that controls everything.

I’d be happy if I could just control my hunger, and even better, my tongue. I’m making progress, and that is only because I am asking God to help me.

Who’s helping you stay in control? If it isn’t God, it’s the enemy.  Forget about controlling anything, and just give in to faithful obedience to God. When you try to control things, it always gets screwed up, doesn’t it? C’mon, be honest! You know that we mess things up, all the time. Heck- we’re human. Screwing up is almost the definition of humanity. But God? Well, He doesn’t screw anything up. He is always in control, He always will get what He wants done, done. He is totally flexible, and eternally forgiving and merciful.

Follow God, let Him take the reins, and just faithfully believe. Forget archaeological evidence, forget scientific proof, forget needing to show anyone undeniable evidence that God exists. It’s been done, it’s been shown, and it hasn’t changed anything. Been there, seen that, didn’t even buy the T-shirt!

Just let God be the Boss, do as He says to the best of your ability, and dedicate yourself to being more of what God wants you to be. That’s all you need to do, that’s all you need to “control”, that’s all you will ever need to worry about. And if you do, you will be blessed beyond your wildest imagination!

The Flood was a short-term solution

We all know the story of Noah and the Ark. Because the Earth was full of sin and treachery God regretted that He had made people. He decided to destroy all the evil there was, except for Noah, who was the only righteous one and who God allowed to be saved.

Have you ever wondered whether this meant that only Noah was righteous, but not those in his family? Could it be that they were saved for Noah’s sake?

I don’t mean to question God’s actions, and especially not to cast doubt on God’s ability to do whatever He wants to do, but I have to ask myself this one question: did God really think that the next generation would be any different? Let’s get real, people…the world was still a cursed place. With the flood the Earth did undergo a kind of T’vilah (baptism, or cleansing), but the new generation of people were still under the curse that Adam caused us to suffer, weren’t they? Noah was born with original sin, so were his sons and all the wives, and their children would be, too. No change there.

So, nu? What was the reason for the flood? If it was to destroy, once and for all, the sins of mankind, well, sorry- didn’t happen. Sin was evident as soon as Noah got fall-down drunk. That was a sin. Then Ham, of course, not doing anything respectful, such as covering up Dad’s exposed equipment when he saw him dead-to-the-world on the ground, also sinned. We haven’t even gotten past the generation that was saved and already we have sin.

As I have said, and will repeat often, when interpreting the Bible we cannot make an argument from nothing, but if I was to read between the lines (in Judaism we call that giving a midrash) is it possible that Ham didn’t just tell his brothers about his father? Is it possible that Ham went to them and, like a child, was laughing about it and left his father that way so he could bring them over to see, then they could all have a good laugh? Maybe? It seems that Noah’s curse on Ham is a little over the edge if all Ham did was let his brothers know that Dad was passed out. What do you think?

So, the flood has come and gone, all the baddies are dead, and Mr. and Mrs. Noah (already hundreds of years old) are going to repopulate the Earth, with his children’s help, of course. Big job, and I can just imagine how the women felt about this (“Oy…I’m gonna be pregnant for the next couple of centuries!”) Maybe they were happy that human mortality was about to see a significant change with regards to one’s expected lifetime.

Going back to my question, was it God’s plan to remove all sin? If it was, it didn’t work. If it wasn’t, then why would He do what He did? Why destroy so many people, and all those innocent animals (there’s a good discussion- can an animal be innocent? After all, to be innocent, don’t you need to have the potential to be evil, and animals act on instinct, so they can’t really be evil, so they can’t be innocent, but they are the ones to sacrifice because the shedding of innocent blood is the only way to absolve sin, but if they aren’t evil and they can’t be innocent can their blood really work?)

Maybe the animals had to be destroyed because they are innocent, if we define “innocent” as meaning devoid of evil intentions and desires. And by destroying the animals, i.e. shedding their blood (figuratively, since they drowned), each animal that died was a sacrifice to atone for the sins of each and every one of the people destroyed? Maybe not so much to cleanse the person, but to cleanse the land? I don’t know!

There were some significant changes after the flood; for instance, up until the flood there was no rain. The Earth was watered by a mist every morning and everyone, animals and humans alike, were herbivores (read the beginning of Genesis.) After the flood the animals and humans feared each other because now they were food to us, and we were food to some of them.  And the animals also would eat each other. Carnivores, herbivores, insectivores, and all the other -vores now inhabited the Earth.  There were going to be seasonal rains, which were absolutely necessary for the agricultural economy that existed.  We would have droughts and famines. What might have happened if there were no famines in the land? Would Abraham have gone to Egypt? Would Yitzchak have moved? Would Pharoah have had the dream that Joseph interpreted, fulfilling the prophecy God told Abraham about his descendants being slaves? If there hadn’t been a famine to cause Israel to send his sons to Egypt for grain, would we have had Moses? The Torah? If there had not been a drought, how would God have shown His glory and power to the Northern Kingdom inhabitants when Elijah called fire from heaven on Mt. Carmel?

Ya know? Maybe the flood was necessary not just to get rid of sin, which it didn’t, but to get a fresh start. To kick it up to the next level, allowing for this new generation of humans to take the next step in God’s plan of salvation.  Maybe, just maybe, the story we hear has more to it than just a flood to ged rid of the drek of society.

That is one of the many things I love about reading the Manual every day- you read something you have read many, many times before, and suddenly….WHAM!!! You get this revelation, this new view, on what you have been reading for years. You see something in there you never saw before and have ask yourself, “How could I not have seen this?”  It’s like the Bible is one of those optical illusions, except this is, maybe, more like a spiritual illusion, where you’ve seen one thing for years and then you see something different, in the same place. Like the picture below: is it two faces or is it a lamp?

The point to this whole thing is that we will never know, for certain, what God is up to all the time. Sometimes He makes it clear, sometimes He doesn’t. As He tells us in His Word, that which He wishes us to know we will know, and that which He wishes to remain secret will remain secret. God is no respecter of persons- He tells us that Himself. He will do what He wants to do, and when He wants to do it. He will tell us, or He won’t- it’s His game, His rules.

The best we can do is make sure that whatever He has told us, we study and learn. We will need to know it when the real spiritual battle begins. And what He wants to reveal to any one of us at any time, He will do through the Ruach.

In the meantime, keep reading, keep asking the Ruach to guide you, and stay faithful that just because we don’t know what’s happening or what’s going to happen, God does.

And faithfully believe that God is in control.

Parashah Noach (Exodus 6:9 – 11:32)

What to say? What to say? There is so much in this Parashah.

The flood representing God’s awesome power over the Earth, the righteousness of Noach that saved not just him, but his family. The first covenant mentioned in the Bible. The fear of man upon the animals, probably representing that before the flood meat was not on the menu, not for men and not for animals. Isiah tells us the lion will lay with the lamb and we are told that in the End Days they will eat straw together. Does this mean that they originally were all herbivores? That’s part of what’s in here.

Then we have the question of was the flood really all over the entire Earth, or just locally? They have found a large layer of clay deep under the Earth in the mid-East that scientifically proves there was a great deal of water, and for a long time, in that part of the world, but  was it just the mid-East or everywhere? Does it really matter?

What about clean and unclean animals? The laws of Kashrut (Kosher) were not absolutely spelled out until God gave them to Moshe, but Noach knew clean from unclean. There were 7 pair of clean but only 1 pair of unclean. Yet, God tells Noach that all the animals are for him to eat, so did God allow Noach to have future knowledge to make sure there were 7 times more clean than unclean pairs? Is that because God knows everything in advance, and He knew He would make Kosher regulations a requirement of worshipping Him, so he had Noach save enough of the clean animals to make sure there would be enough to go around?

Oh, and the lineages. We see how Ham was cursed for his disrespectful treatment of his father?  We didn’t even have the 5th Commandment, yet here Ham was cursed for simply seeing his father naked. I wonder why nothing was done to Noach? After all, he got fall-down, lose-your-clothes drunk! What? That’s OK? In any event, Ham becomes the father of the nations that are enemies of the descendants of Shem, who is the favorite here. Japheth seems to be sort of the “middle child”- not as bad as Ham, and not as good as Shem, so Ham is slave to them both but Japheth has to live under Shem’s authority (in the tents of Shem). Does this represent the fact that there will only be a remnant of righteousness in the world? Out of the three sons only one was blessed. As the population grew, the number of righteous people remained small.

What about Babel? God, Himself, said that if men were to get together as one there is nothing they could not accomplish! That’s pretty high praise, and from the Highest of the High, too! So why did God stop that? Because He gave us different speech, from which we ended up with different cultures and different ethics, we have never been a united people, and we have always been at war. Why did God, a loving and compassionate Father to all, set us up against each other like that?

I don’t know.

There could be an entire treatise written about how, when God said , “Let us go down and see…” regarding visiting Babel, that it is impossible for Him to do that because He is everywhere all at once. If you are already there, how can you “go down” to it?

Since God promised not to destroy the Earth by flood, is that why in the Acharit HaYamim He will burn the Earth? Is that some sort of “Escape Clause” He figured into the Noahic Covenant? He can keep His covenant about not destroying the Earth with a flood but still destroy it. Actually, all He has to do is sit and watch- mankind is pretty much destroying the Earth without any help from the Lord. Will the ultimate destruction God plans to bring on the Earth be accomplished through mankind’s own self-destructiveness?

If you add up the years Noach lived after the flood, and the years between the birth of his sons leading to Avram (later to be named Abraham by God) we see that Avram was 88 years old when Noach died. There is no reference as to when Terah left Ur, but I think it is safe to say that Avram could have spent a lot of time with his ancestor Noach, and could have been influenced by Noach. Of all the children that sprung from the loins of Noach, only Avram was righteous enough for God to call upon him. Maybe, just maybe, since Noach had been the only righteous man on the Earth, he was able to teach and influence Avram so that when God was ready to begin His plan of redemption, Avram would be ready.

Who knows? You can’t make an argument from nothing. On the other hand, sometimes you do need to read between the lines, and that’s why reading God’s word with the leading of the Ruach is so necessary; it helps you  get past the P’Shat (written word) to the Drash (underlying or hidden meaning.)

Well, well, well…all these questions and not one “answer.” And you know what? That’s how I’m leaving it today. That’s right- the lesson today is for you to ask God to show you what He has for you from this parashah. If  I am to edify you, my readers, and help you come closer to God by better knowledge of His word, then I need to let you find some answers on your own. Of course, I mean on your own with God’s Ruach leading you.

I am leaving it up to you and the Lord to go through this parashah together. Find out what God has for you, and (maybe?) share it with the rest of us.