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The Favour Of God

November 17, 2013

“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.” But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord”     Genesis 6:5-8

I have recently started reading through the book of Genesis, with the aim of reminding myself that the Bible is one epic storyline about God and how He reveals His glory through His promises with broken, ill-deserving people. And in Genesis 6, the lead-in to the story of Noah’s arc, soon to be a Hollywood blockbuster starring Maximus Decimus Meridius, Hermione and that geezer from every British gangster-flick, we see a small part of that beautiful landscape. 

To set the scene; the fissures of the Fall have menacingly raced from the Tree in the garden throughout all the earth. Humanity is not on a trajectory for recovery, much less transformation. No, man is becoming increasingly weaved into sin’s snare, so much so that “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”. God’s creation has been twisted upside down, charted so eloquently in the refrain of “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” from Genesis 1:31 being subverted to tragic lament in Genesis 6:12 “And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt”. Accordingly, the response of the Lord of creation is a burning anger against such cruel and depraved offenders that seek to put themselves above God.

Yet we see nestled in the text a moment of reprieve from the damning indictment on humanity. “But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord”. This verse is something that as beloved children of God we can cling to for assurance when our world is falling down around us. Because, although v9 says “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation” this account is not intended to tell us how Noah was saved because of his righteousness. Noah was saved because “he found favour in eyes of the Lord”. The grace of God does not belong exclusively to the New Testament! In Romans 3:10, Paul makes the emphatic statement that “None is righteous, no, not one”. This is not a lesson on how good Noah was, how God saw that and saved him, and so we should try our hardest to be like Noah. This account depicts a God who is sovereign and just and mighty to uphold His glory, and yet who also delights to pour grace out over His chosen children. If you read on, you’ll find Noah is not perfect, nowhere near close! That’s why reading about Noah as if he’s the hero of the story will crush you under the weight of trying to prove to God that you are worthy of His affection.

Because the hero of this story is Jesus. The blood of Jesus at Golgotha paints in vivid shades the intermingling of God’s flawless character and His vast love. Wrath and grace do not oppose one another, but rather they are humble vessels for visibly displaying the glory of God to all tribes and tongues and nations. God did not love Noah because Noah loved God. Rather, God loved him first, when every desire of his heart was evil continually. God shaped in him a heart that wanted to walk blamelessly before God. Our hope is not found within ourselves. It rests entirely on Jesus living the life we couldn’t and dying the death we should have.

My prayer is that this will fill our hearts to live our lives in light of this transforming truth. As Paul contends in Romans 9, “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy”. Instead of relying on our own imperfect endeavours to earn God’s favour, let’s receive it as a gift and rest in Christ’s finished work!

Soli Deo Gloria

Jack

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