Does God make mistakes?
If you are joining us for the first time this week OR you haven’t been with us for a while
As a church, we have been looking at lessons from the book of Genesis
In the first couple of weeks, Lawrence dealt with THE GOD OF THE IMPOSSIBLE, THE GREAT I AM & GODS ORDER FOR MANKIND
And last week Andrew started the first of a two-part mini-series into Noah
Andrew focused on the faith of Noah and this week I am going to focus on God’s Covenant with Noah
NOW although we will focus on different aspects of the account of Noah our point of departure is the same
AND Andrew raised a critical question last week
As we look back through history at the account of Noah and the events that transpire, our initial gut reaction is…
Did God make a mistake?
Did he just go oops, Lets hit the restart button…
Andrew then reminded us of Lawrence’s statement:
The Great I AM does not make mistakes
So, how do we square this up?
Over the years as a Christian, I have found myself in situations where I have been questioned and been ridiculed for my faith and the events in the bible
When it comes to Noah and the ark, this is one where people have openly mocked me and scoffed at the Bible
There have been three central themes or questions to this ridicule:
How possibly could there have been a world-wide flood?
How possibly could all the animals have fitted on the ark?
See your God is a petty, vindictive God, who clearly made a mistake…
These are not necessarily silly questions & as Christians we should be ready to respond to these questions as best we can, but when it comes to the issue of “does God make mistakes”, we better do more than have a response, we better be ready to give an answer and we better have the facts straight in our own minds
And so first up I want to address this very critical question, “Does God make mistakes”
So I want you to imagine for a second that you and the family are going on holiday (not hard to do!)
The location & the destination will influence all of your decisions
What you will pack & the route to get to your holiday destination
If you are planning on roughing it & plan some hardcore tenting in the wild… then first you will need to get your head checked… & then you will need to pack: A tent; Mattresses & sleep bags; Braai kit; Pots & pans; s sense of hunour; etc
This would be very different if you are renting a house by the sea… with actual beds: Bicycles, swimming trunks, board games…
Where you are going determines the ROUTE you will take!
Hermanus → Baden Powell Road → N2 → over Sir Lowry's Pass → then across to Hermanus
Not the N7
There might, however, be things that deviate you from your course?
Traffic in Somerset West (Google Maps)
A delicious pie from Perigreens
The destination influences all of the decisions you make at the start of your journey
The things you do at the beginning of the trip make sense because of your goal at the end!
AND SO IT IS WITH GOD!
The Future Determines the Past
You see, to God and the things of God, HISTORY is not a random jumble of events, but rather a clearly directed series of events that leads from the formation of the world to its end, from beginning to end.
History is engineered by God who directs everything from his sovereign standpoint in the future
What do I mean by that?
God knows where he is going, because he appointed the destination before the foundation of the world and when he acts it is to achieve this goal
But how does he do this, how does he know the future?
Because God does not exist inside of time. God sees time and all of its events in totality
Another way to put this is that God runs history from the future
Isaiah 46: 9,10: God says: “for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
Our God does not guess!
Our God has decided on the destination, he has declared it & he will accomplish His purposes
OUR GOD does not make mistakes.
Okay, so if our God does not make mistakes and is fully in control of all events, what does that mean to us this morning
This means that if you want to fully understand these historical events, then you cannot just look to the past as historians do; you need to also look to the future
You see the account of Noah and God’s covenant with Noah, is not just a Sunday school story, but rather a preparation for Christ and all that God would accomplish in Christ
We as a Church are not studying the book of Genesis because it is a good story, nor are we studying it to remind ourselves of history, rather we study it because of what it teaches us about Christ & our future
So this morning as we look at this passage, we want to ask ourselves, how does God’s covenant with Noah prepare the Way for Christ?
The Covenant with Noah Prepared the Way for Christ
The account of Noah and the ark is not a children’s story
It is one of the most terrifying and tragic stories of God’s wrath in the bible
NOW, I don’t have an uber exciting personal story like Andrew, who mentioned last week how he was caught in a dry river bed and only just got out in time to escape a flash flood and then single handedly saved the whole town of pit-sonder-water, while still keeping Sarah and kids happy…
But I am sure that, when it comes to flood waters, there can be little else that reminds us of our insignificance and powerlessness
I clearly remember watching on tv, the events of the 26th of December 2004 and the tsunami that hit the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.
Barr the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010, this is the deadliest natural disaster in recorded history.
A massive tsunami, caused by a magnitude-9.3 quake that struck off the west coast of Sumatra, killed people in 14 separate countries. The overall death toll is estimated at between 230,000 and 280,000 people. The tsunami wave reached a height of 30 meters, and people in low-lying areas or close to the coast were powerless and oblivious to the danger.
I remember watching video footage taken by holiday makes from hotel balconies, of holiday goers standing on the beach pointing at the retreating waters… never to be seen again.
I remember watching footage of cars, trucks and people being tossed around and carried off like leafs in a stream.
Why do I mention this? Because the flood was caused not just but 40 days and 40 nights of rain but Genesis tells us that once God had shut the doors to the ark both “the springs of the great deep burst forth and the floodgates of the heavens were opened”
So not only did the water come from the top down, but also from the bottom up
People would have been completely oblivious to danger, there would have been no escape
Further to this, the Bible tells us that the flood waters, at their peak, covered every mountain by 20 feet!
There was no escaping the deluge
Every single living thing was wiped out!
WHY? Because, and here is the first of the threefold message of the flood this morning...
The Threefold Message of the Flood
The Human Heart Is Very Wicked
The human heart is wicked… very wicked… all of the time
In fact it is fair to say that the natural condition of the heart is very wicked.
”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.”
God looked upon the earth and saw that it was corrupt and full of violence
And the source of this corruption and violence was the evil and wickedness of man's heart
So I am not sure if you have ever done this before… maybe it is only me
You see someone do something stupid… and you say to your self… I WOULD NEVER DO THAT
well if I was Adam I would have just said no to the fruit… OR possibly, if I was Adam, I would have known better
OR… stupid Adam and Eve if only they hadn’t eaten that fruit, we would all have been okay…
Why do we do this?
Because we think that somehow we are morally superior, or morally stronger than Adam and Eve, that we would not have caved into the Satan
Like it is only because of Adam and Eve’s sin that we are all now condemned
I call it justification through comparison
We justify our sinful desires & actions as, not that bad, when compared to someone else
I am not as bad as… fill the gap…
We think of ourselves better than we are AND we are not
But the reality is that our hearts are just like Adam and Eve’s
We are all sinners and deserve judgement
The condition of man’s heart does not improve after the flood
OKAY so let's maybe consider for a moment that we had a second chance would we do things differently… OH WAIT HOLD ON, WE DO!
God reboots the world, the human race gets a gimmi, a do over…
The same instruction that was given to Adam was given to Noah… go forth and multiply and fill the earth
Noah and his family are given a fresh start, God completely wipes out any trace of sin, the only thing left is this blameless and righteous man Noah and his family
BUT does the condition of man's heart improve after the Flood?
NO, directly after the Flood, as Noah makes a sacrifice to God, God assess the moral condition of mankind and says
Genesis 8:21: “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth.”
God is not naïve, he knows that Noah and his descendants (you and I) are not without sin
Nor should we be naïve - give half the opportunity we too would have done the same things
Noah falls after the flood
In addition to this it does not take Noah very long before he plants a vineyard and promptly gets drunk and behaves appalling
Genesis 9:20-21: “20 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk.”
Noah was saved by Grace
Blameless & Righteous → not sinless, but rather hates sin and turn from it and seeks God’s mercy
You see Noah found favour because he walked with God, and because of this good favour, Noah and his family were spared… not because of what they had done but because they trusted God for Grace
It is in this account of Noah that God makes a bold statement that reverberates through the rest of human history
The human heart is sinful and wicked and deserving of judgement
And given the opportunity to learn from our lessons to have a second chance… well we would just do it all again
Like Noah we need to be saved
Jesus came into this would to save sinners
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Repeated right throughout scripture
God’s Patience Does Come to an End
- The second lesson from the flood is that God’s patience does come to an end and he will destroy unrepentant sinners
7 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.”
13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh,[a] for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die.
Genesis 7:21 “Aquatic Holocaust”
21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind.
We live in a world where people believe that their sin will never be dealt with
You just need to go online and listen to some of the leading atheists and you will hear their scoffing → there is no judgement, there is no life after death…
There is no right and wrong, as long as it makes you feel good...
Just because we live in a period where there is delayed judgement, doesn’t mean no judgement
In the third and final lesson we are going to hear how God made a promise to Noah and all of mankind to protect them and to delay judgement… but that does not mean that God somehow is now accepting of sin
On the contrary, God hates sin and he will punish unrepentant sinners
JUST IN THE SAME WAY as he judged the world in the account of Noah so he will judge us again… but not the same way
When Jesus came into the world, he taught the same thing about sin, only he made the punishment eternal
8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.
The Flood and God’s son teaches us the same lesson: God hates sin and will punish unrepentant sinners with unspeakable judgement
2 Peter 3:3-9
3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
God Does Not Surrender His Purposes for Man
The third and final lesson for us this morning is this...
Despite man's sinfulness, God does not surrender his purpose in creating man.
In other words, God created mankind in His image and His aim is for us to fill the earth with God’s glory reflected in our faith and righteousness
God is prepared to start over with Noah and his descendants, a new “Adam”
BUT this is no longer the Garden of Eden and so God makes three special provisions to protect the life of man & the mission given to him
This makes interesting reading
God gives man new rights over animals
Now we are on in the 9th Chapter of Genesis and although it has been an action first 8 chapters, there are no detailed descriptions of what life was like in the early days, but we do know that Abel kept flocks and brought an offering, the fat of the lamb
But this verse seems to indicate that before the Flood the relationship between man and animals was very different from what it is now
Firstly scripture seems that prior to the Flood they were vegetarians
“And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”
OKAY to eat meat!
Secondly, it seems that man’s existence was threatened by the animals
Now we would be speculating at the exact relationship, but from this point forward, God radically changes the order of things
Now all animals will be fearful of man, and man is given mastery over the animals, and the threat of animals was removed
The reason for this is that God wants to protect man in his mission to fill the earth with the knowledge of His glory
God makes provision to restrain murder
The second provision that God makes is a provision to restrain murder
To protect man from man himself
From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”
Before the Flood God had kept to himself the prerogative to take life
We see in Genesis 4:15 where Cain the murderer worries for his life and God threatens sevenfold vengeance on anyone who slays Cain
BUT NOW, now God makes a provision for murder… he makes murder a capital offence and a capital offence is an offence where death may be considered an appropriate punishment
In other words, to kill someone is a sin, but to put someone to death because they have committed cold blooded murder, is allowed by God
God wants to protect man in his mission
We wonder why, when we do away with capital punishment we stop protecting people
Inhuman and barbaric???
God makes a covenant with Noah
And then finally God makes a covenant with Noah and his sons, and all of mankind that never again will God allow his wrath to to overflow in a flood against sin
God protects man against this threat
11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
In other words, I will give you protection from the animals, I will give you protection from man, and in my own covenant promise I will protect you from me
But is man protect from God’s judgement for time and eternity, NO
21 “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
Crying out for a conclusion
So why does God make these 3 provisions?
When we consider the flood we have to acknowledge that it is a catastrophic event on a global scale
I am not sure how but on a planetary scale it must have figuratively shifted the world on its axis
The sheer force with which the “waters of the deep” gushed forth would have changed the very surface of the planet
There is every indication that the very weather patterns or science itself was altered so that the rainbow now appeared as a sign of the covenant
BUT when compared to God’s covenant with man, the seismic impact of the Flood pales into comparison
We are wicked down to our very core & if given the opportunity for a second chance, which we were, we would do it all over again
It is because of this wicked heart, that considers evil all the time, that we are deserving of God judgement
BUT despite this God is not prepared to surrender His purposes for us
And to accomplish this he is prepared to chance
The very nature of our relationship with the animals
He is prepared to ceed the Godly porogative to dispece with murders
And He is prepared to suspend His just judgment, which we deserve
In order to eek out a period of time, to protect us, so that he can provide a way
WOW praise be to God!
Now I would like to end here, but the story is crying out for a conclusion And there is, but it is not to be found here…
As the Flood is a foreshadow of the eternal judgement to come, SO the ark is a foreshadow of the final salvation that is to come and has been completed in Jesus Christ
OUR God does not make mistakes
2 Corinthians 1:20 “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.”