Sometimes, one can read part 2 before reading part 1. Not today. I you haven't read part 1, read it now.
I did a search for the phrase "days of" and I counted every time it was used to describe an era (as opposed to "days of your life" or "days of the festival" which are usages that are not specific to a time in history.) Of all of the occurrences I found, "days of old" was number one, with seven occurrences and "days of Noah" was number two, with four occurrences. Notably, "days of Noah" and "days of Lot" are the only historical periods that are compared to "days of the Son of Man," a description of future events foretold by Christ. Therefore, a study in Noah is not just a lesson in the past, but a lesson in the future.
One of the things that I find remarkable about the story of Noah is the enormous attention to detail. In this study, I've decided not to read into every part of Noah's story. Though I recognize this decision may come at the cost of missing a relevant detail, the primary goal of this study is to retell the interwoven narrative that connects Adam to Noah. I don't want to be distracted by the details and lose track of the thread that I've been tracing from the beginning.
Cain murdered Abel and the earth cried out and renounced him (Genesis 4:10, 12) Cain took it as a death sentence but God preserved him. (Genesis 4:14-15) Why? God could foresee what lay ahead on the path the human race was set on. He knew He would bring a great flood. We can trace Noah's genealogy and determine God allowed the human race to persist in its wickedness for about one thousand years. (Genesis 5) Yet God doesn't need time to learn anything. It certainly doesn't take God one thousand years to figure out human beings are wicked or to decide what to do about it. (Genesis 6:5, Romans 9:22-24) If He was repentant about creating man, he was repentant in the first place. (If there is any confusion on what a "repentant" God might mean, it might be fair to substitute "repentant" with "knowing that this is going to hurt." See Matthew 26: 38-39 and Luke 22:44) If there was a reason for protecting Cain and his descendants for one thousand years, then it is because God wants us to learn something. This point is even more cemented if you are convinced, as I am, that Cain wasn't given a sign, but that Cain is a sign. There are at least two lessons to learn from the one thousand years that man was given to live: (1) God is forbearing and (2) mercy without cost (e.g. Cain was spared without a blood sacrifice) does not compute for us. I will say it again: if salvation costs God nothing, we cannot reason why not to abuse it. This is evidenced by the life of Lamech (Cain's descendent, not Noah's father.)
When Noah was born, it was said he would comfort us concerning our work and toil. (Genesis 5:29) While this can be interpreted literally, (One can imagine Lamech thinking, "This son of mine will grown up and help on the farm. I could use some comfort from the work and toil.") In this case, I think the comfort "concerning our work and toil" means much more. It is relief from the one thousand years that have passed since the fall of man. It is the "toil" resulting from the curse, the "old world." (2 Peter 2:5) Somehow, Noah is about to change all that.
Up until now, man has sinned but the earth has been cursed and the earth has rebelled. (Genesis 3:17 and Genesis 4:10-11) Mankind has suffered the consequences of a cursed earth, but if anything, more has been done to protect mankind than administer its due justice. (Genesis 4:14-15) Even the spilling of blood is absorbed by the 'adamah (earth) while the 'adam (human) wanders as a vagabond. (Genesis 4:11-12) This builds up and builds up for one thousand years. Up until this point, the earth has been bearing an extraordinary burden so that – in the immediate sense – the human race would be preserved and – in a greater sense – we might look back and better understand God's love for us and the need for a Christ who bears the cost personally and completely. This "old world" is not sustainable and is sure to end in destruction. (Genesis 6:11-13)
If you can't tell, I am really trying to press a point here: the flood was not some decision that was made by God at an arbitrary point in time when He decided mankind suddenly needed to be wiped out. Like a law of nature, the flood happened because it had to happen. The tension between the 'adamah and 'adam (earth and humanity) had grown too tense; catharsis was needed. It's in the very language describing the rain: "On that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened." (Genesis 7:11) You know that has to be talking about more than just rain, otherwise the following verse would be redundant, "And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights." (Genesis 7:12)
It rained until the springs of the deep and the floodgates of heaven closed up. The first thing Noah does after stepping onto dry ground is build an altar and present an offering before God. (Genesis 8:20) The first thing God does after receiving the offering is establish the first covenant. The covenant is this: "Never again will I curse the 'adamah because of humans." (Genesis 8:21) God also establishes a new rule, essentially declaring a retraction of the original provision made for Cain. (Genesis 4:15) The new rule is literally the opposite: “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind." (Genesis 9:6) God gives another command as well. He tells Noah and his family not to eat blood and explains that if blood should be spilled for any reason, whether animal or human, there will be an accounting. (Genesis 9:4-5) I believe He says this because, at this point in the story, He wants us to understand the importance of blood.
Blood and earth ('adamah) are the two elements that are infused throughout the stories of Adam, Cain, and Noah. Adam is formed from the 'adamah and his own name might mean "earth's blood." This helps us understand why his sin has such a profound effect on the earth. Cain spills the blood of his brother and it is received by the 'adamah, resulting in a curse from the 'adamah and a loss of God's pressence. Lamech is like a distilled version of Cain and embodies an era when mankind reaches the greatest degree of wickedness it has ever achieved, through spilling blood and boasting about it. This was the era that brought on the flood. Consider the significance of the 'adamah and blood at this point. The 'adamah is the whipping boy of 'adam. Blood is the catalyst for justice, the link between sin and consequence.
At this moment, God memorializes the covenant with the sign of a rainbow. He says it was put in place to remind Himself not to destroy the earth. (Genesis 9:14-15) Whenever the Bible uses a word that could be interpreted as something that changes God (as if God could forget and needed to be reminded) then it's just not being interpreted correctly. God always remembers. So when the Bible brings attention to it, (Genesis 8:1, Genesis 30:22, Exodus 2:24) it is usually because that is what we need to hear when we feel forsaken. Noah was in the ark for a year. He needed to know God remembered him. But what is it about this covenant and this rainbow that might make us, here and now, feel like we need to hear God remembers? In a hurricane or after a flood, one might find comfort in the appearance of a rainbow, but rainbows also appear during a gentle spring rain. They appear in lawn sprinklers. Most of the time when I see a rainbow, I'm actually not in a state of panic that the world might be coming to an end. Yet God desires me to know that He remembers His covenant. Might the rainbow signify something more? What if we consider the rainbow in light of the fact that God did curse the 'adamah again, quite literally breaking it, and that man would one day be invited to drink blood?
Jesus was not the 'adamah, but the 'adam. (1 Corinthians 15:45) In Christ, every mystery, whether in Genesis or elsewhere, is revealed. (Ephesians 3:4-5) In Christ, our sin is truly irradicated and washed entirely clean.
In Christ, the unbearable punishment Cain deserved is fully administered.
In Christ, the entire consequence of sin is poured out.
In Christ, we regain access to the tree of life.
This is our origin story. It began with purpose. It serves a purpose. That purpose is Christ.