Developing the Theme of Family through the Torah Portions. Number Two.

By Dr Clifford Denton.

Noach: Genesis 6:9-11:32.

21st October 2023/Cheshvan 6.

Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth. Genesis 8:11Picture by Helen McNeill

Every person on the earth is a member of the family of Adam. Even Yeshua (Jesus) has Adam listed in His genealogy (Luke 3:38). Indeed, Adam is also listed as the son of God in Luke 3:38. We are born both into the family of man and the family of God. There is a line that is drawn, however, that will determine who remains in God’s family for all eternity. There are requirements to be met by the family of mankind. We read what happened when all mankind separated themselves from God through wickedness. It is immensely sad that God, the great Heavenly Father of us all, regretted creating mankind on the earth (Genesis 6:6) and so began the cleansing of the earth by the great Flood. 

This is why it is important for us and our families to live according to God’s teaching. Family is God’s chosen building block of society, defining the character of our communities, countries, and world. Sin and wickedness can be corporate, but they are rooted in individuals, and since family is at the core of God’s order, it is the breakdown of family which eventually brings the breakdown of the whole of society. God judged the entire world, but the breakdown of individual families was at the heart of the decline.

We do not know the exact details of the wickedness of mankind which resulted in the judgment of the Flood, but it was so severe that almost everything that lived, which God had created, was destroyed. At Creation, God made everything according to His design and called it good. We know that the first sin was disobedience to God’s command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This knowledge, the temptation to be led astray by satan, and the ability to do evil as well as good, entered the fallen world simultaneously. Wickedness grew in a world that is now gone – a new beginning was necessary.

God left a small remnant – one family, and some of every species of living creatures – so that the world would continue. Again, it was a family that was to be at the foundation of God’s purposes. Noah was considered righteous, but we know that sin soon entered the world again after the Flood subsided (Genesis 9:21-27). The sin of Ham has not been revealed to us in detail, but we can imagine how unclean it was. The family of mankind was once more corrupted right at the start, but, this time, with a new covenant promise that God would not destroy all living beings by a Flood again.

We must look centuries into the future from that time and track the history of mankind along the way to realise that the world of today is no different than the world before the Flood. In our own generation, nothing could be clearer. Thank God that there is redemption through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, Yeshua. The depth of the Flood is a measure of the height of Yeshua’s sacrifice on the Cross, so that all who will be accounted righteous through repentance and faith can rise above this sea of wickedness and be saved for eternal life.

But the journey is ongoing until the return of Yeshua. The world of Adam to Noah was washed clean. The family of man was restarted with their forefather Noah. Just as we are all children of Adam, we are also children of Noah. But our family fell a second time. We must study these early chapters of the Bible to understand that the tendency to wickedness did not end with Noah. The sin in Noah’s own family led to a curse on the descendants of Canaan – a most serious matter. This was the result of a son’s failure to honour his father. Such foolish behaviour was condemned by God in the Flood, and such consequences continue in large or small ways in the world today.

Adam and Noah, despite their privileged position, both failed with their family. What about us? All of us, members of both of these families, are also prone to sin but, nevertheless, let’s see what can we do to strengthen our own family in a world that continues to be full of wickedness, learning from what the Bible teaches us.

The theme of family continues as a strong thread joining all Scripture, taking new perspectives along the way. At the time described in our Bible reading this Shabbat, God took mankind a significant step forward by bringing a new promise within His overarching covenant purposes. He would not judge wickedness in the same way again. There would not be a worldwide Flood ever again that destroys all living creatures. Furthermore, God would ensure that the cycle of seedtime and harvest would continue so that all the world could be fed. We are on still this earth because of this promise, within the grace of God to all mankind. We still have the opportunity in every generation to discover together how to live in peace with Him.

Let us not lose a profound simplicity within the complexity of the society around us. Adam and Eve were to be at peace with God enjoying, with their family, life in the wonderful creation where they were to live. The new beginning after the flood brought another possibility for Noah, the farmer, to live with his family enjoying the world that had been cleansed and refreshed by the Flood. The world of our day is still full of much beauty, and we too have the opportunity to live with our families, peacefully, with God, harvesting from His Creation and enjoying the simplicity and protection that our Father in Heaven brings to us in fellowship with Him. Let us take every opportunity to build our families in accordance with His will.