Background to Genesis

The word genesis means "beginning." Therefore, Genesis is a fitting title for the book before us, for its pages record the beginning of everything—the beginning of creation, man, sin, family, culture, and industry. It deals with the beginning of everything one could possibly imagine—except it does not deal with the beginning of God.


First, because God has no beginning.

Secondly, the Bible being, in a sense, the autobiography of God, He needs no introduction. Think about it. If you were to write your life story, you would not spend chapters trying to prove that you exist because the very fact that you were writing the book would be verification of your being.

The more I study the Bible, the more I realize it was composed supernaturally. Comprised of sixty-six different books written by forty different authors over a span of 1,600 years in three different languages, there isn't one contradiction. Instead, there is a unified theme that begins here in Genesis, the Book of Beginning, and extends through the Book of Revelation. That theme is the story of God's gracious, glorious work of redemption.

Genesis 7

7:1a And the Lord said unto Noah, Come...

"Come." This is the first time this word is spoken in the Bible. But it is not the last, for from cover to cover the Lord says...

Come now, let us reason together, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Isaiah 1:18

Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Whosoever is thirsty, let him come and drink of the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17

7:1b ...thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

What a fabulous thing it is to realize that our Lord is interested in saving not only individuals, but entire families.

7:2-6 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him. And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.

Noah was told to take the animals two by two unless they were clean animals. Of the clean animals, he was told to take seven. Why? Clean beasts would be sacrificed to the Lord. Therefore, if there were only two and one was killed, that specie would become extinct.

7:7-9 And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood. Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.

"There went in two and two unto Noah." In other words, Noah didn't have to round up the animals. As He did in the Garden of Eden when He brought the animals to be named by Adam (Genesis 2:19), God brought the animals to Noah. How could the wolf and the pig, the fox and the rabbit come together into the ark? Second Corinthians 5 declares that if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. So somehow in preparation for the new creation which would take place after the Flood, the Lord caused the animals to enter the ark by twos and sevens without antagonizing each other. This shouldn't be that hard to understand, however, since similar miracles occur daily in the animal world...

Sitting on ice floes, dressed in identical tuxedoes, millions of Emperor penguins are mirror images of each other. And yet, after she lays her egg and dives into the Arctic waters for a three-month eating binge while the father incubates the egg, Mama Penguin is able to pick her husband out of the look-alike crowd upon her return.

From the North Pole, terns fly to Hawaii for the winter. But they leave their young behind because the young aren't ready to fly. Several months later, having gained enough strength to make the journey, the young terns fly in formation on their own—without a single travel agent or map—straight to their parents in Hawaii.

I can't explain terns or penguins but I do know this: God can do whatever He chooses to do with the animal kingdom, just as He can do whatever He chooses to do with you and me in changing our beastly behavior.

7:10a And it came to pass after seven days...

Evidently it took the animals seven days to make their way into the ark. When they got on board, wouldn't they start fighting? Wouldn't the cats start chasing the mice and the dogs start barking at the cats? God did something when He brought all these different kinds of animals on to the Good Ship Salvation—just like what He does with us. People who normally would be biting and barking and devouring each other begin to realize they have a commonality in Christ and something wonderful happens.

7:10b-12 ...that the waters of the flood were upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

Throughout Scripture, the number forty appears again and again with relation to judgment, trials, difficulty. The rain fell forty days. The Israelites wandered forty years. Jesus was tempted forty days.

7:13 In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark;

Noah and his family boarded the ark. But notice: Noah went first.

7:14-16 They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort. And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the Lord shut him in.

Now the door is shut, and Noah and his family are sealed in the ark. There's no way for them to open the door and escape or change their minds. This speaks to me because the One who said, "I am the Door," lets us know we are likewise secure in our salvation. "You are in My hand," Jesus declares, "and no man can pluck you out" (see John 10:28).

Do I believe in eternal security? Yes, I do. I am absolutely secure, because the Lord has "shut me in." You see, it wasn't Noah who shut the door of the ark, hoping he latched it right and that it would stay shut. God shut the door of the ark, just as He seals our salvation on our journey to heaven.

"Wait a minute," you say. "I thought there will be some who won't make it into heaven even though they once made a profession of faith."

That's also true. And I believe the story that most clearly explains this dichotomy deals with a ship—like the ark, and a storm—like the Flood...

On a ship bound for Rome, Paul advised the captain to winter in port, due to bad weather. Ignoring Paul's advice, they sailed on—right into a storm which grew so fierce that the sailors feared for their lives. "Be of good cheer," Paul said. "There stood by me this night an angel of God whose I am, whom I serve, saying, Fear not Paul, thou must be brought before Caesar. And lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee" (Acts 27:22-24).

When the storm continued, some of the sailors decided to bail out. But just as they were about to leave, Paul said, "Except these abide in the ship, you cannot be saved." In other words, "If you choose to go overboard, you'll be wiped out. You are secure, safe, sealed only as long as you stay on board."

Gang, no one can pluck us out of God's hand, but that doesn't mean we can't leave on our own. I'm shut in the Good Ship Salvation because I have no intention of going overboard, of sailing off in another direction. Yes, I sin. But I am determined and decided that I will love the Lord all the days of my life. I pray you are, too.

7:17-18 And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters.

The waters continued to rise even after the rain stopped because the source of the flood was not only from the skies above, but also from the fountains of the deep, from below the surface of the earth (Genesis 7:11).

7:19-23 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.

The waters rose fifteen cubits—approximately twenty-four feet—above the highest mountain peaks. Some have suggested that this was not a worldwide flood, but rather a local flood in one section of the world. The problem with this viewpoint is that if it was merely a local flood, why didn't God simply tell Noah to leave the area? The waters were above the mountains—which speaks of a global flood. That is why virtually every culture on the face of the earth has stories about a flood, and why fossils of sea life have been found underneath ice packs in the Himalayas.

The idea of a local flood doesn't make sense logically, culturally, paleontologically, and certainly not Scripturally. Peter wrote that, just as the world was wiped out by water in Noah's day, it will be destroyed by fire in the last day (2 Peter 3:7). Thus, if the Flood was local, the end-time fire will be local as well. And that's just not so.

7:24 And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.

Although Noah had heard the voice of the Lord telling him to go into the ark, there is no record of God speaking to Noah while he was on the ark. In fact, he would not hear the voice of God again for a total of three hundred and seventy-seven days.

Maybe that's your situation presently. Maybe three hundred and seventy-seven days ago, the Lord made Himself known to you through a very real revelation of some sort and you said, "Okay, Lord. This is awesome!" And you did what you knew you should do. But now, as you are cooped up and bouncing around on rough seas, you wonder why God isn't speaking.

Folks, all of us wish God would speak more frequently than He does. But unlike some people, God isn't a chatterbox. Why doesn't He speak with greater regularity dealing with specific issues? It is not because He is callous. It's not because He doesn't care. It's because there's a bigger issue at stake...

But we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed... Romans 5:3-5

Bobbing around on the ark, sometimes there's nothing to do but learn patience. Then, when I finally settle down, when I finally quit squawking, God says, "Good. Now you're getting it." And it is then I begin to gain some experience...

There we were at the county hearings, requesting approval for a new sanctuary from a planning commission which was not very open to our plan. Ahead of us on the agenda, were the Buddhists, who were requesting approval for a twelve-bed retreat center in Ashland. When their request was denied, their lawyer immediately said, "Well, what about Applegate Christian Fellowship? They have a one hundred and twenty-bed retreat center."

"They have what?" said the surprised commissioners.

And as the story unfolded, it came to light that when three separate meetings were called to give us clearance for the retreat center, the commissioners failed to attend. So the decision was left to a single county officer—who approved it!

I was reminded once again that the Lord came through back then in ways I see only now. Tribulation does indeed work patience, and when I finally calm down, I begin to log some experiences. I begin to see how God works. Experience, then, brings hope—the absolute expectation of coming good. And hope "maketh not ashamed." Looking back over the years, I have discovered that the things I've done, the words I've said, the attitudes I've held of which I'm ashamed are all directly linked to a loss of hope.

I suggest the same is true for you. What you are ashamed of today are the times you thought, "What's the use? Why even bother? Why try so hard to follow the Lord?" That's precisely why hard times—times we feel like we're shut up in an ark with no word from God—are vital to our development. They make us patient, which gives us experience, which leads to hope.

How important is it to read the fine print? Ask Richard Lusk. A Florida newspaper recently carried his story...

The large print on the Sweepstakes mailing screamed, "Richard Lusk has won it all and will definitely receive 12 million dollars!" So Mr. Lusk, age 88, traveled 6,000 miles to insure his winning ticket didn't get lost. The trip was in vain. The fine print told the story. The lead-in to the won-it-all pitch on the American Family Publishers entry said in small print if you have and return the top winning entry.

"The thing to do was get the ticket back to them and that's what I was trying to do," Lusk said Friday from his home near Victorville—a desert town east of Los Angeles. After all, he said he received six such announcements and returned all of them, but he still wasn't a millionaire. So he assumed that the tickets were getting lost in the mail. This time he decided to fly across country and deal with it personally. For several years, Lusk had been entering sweepstakes, thinking he had to order magazines with the entry. His family estimates he spent $100,000 on magazine subscriptions. One-quarter of his house is filled with periodicals.

Upon his arrival, Richard Lusk found out about the small print. He returned home and yet mailed in his most recent ticket for the next drawing sometime in November. He still hopes to win the twelve million. "But this is the end of it," he said emphatically. "I've got more magazines than I know what to do with."

Sometimes it's the small print that causes big headaches and heartbreaks. But such is not the case with Scripture, for even the small print carries big blessings—as is true of the text before us. There's something in the small print of our story, which perhaps you've never seen before, and which I believe will warm your heart.

Expectation in Faith

And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Genesis 5:32

And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. Genesis 6:3

And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth. Genesis 7:6

Putting together the "fine print" of Genesis 5:32, Genesis 6:3, and Genesis 7:6, we know that Noah was four hundred and eighty years old when he began building the ark, five hundred years old when his first son was born, and six hundred years old when the Flood began. This means that when God instructed Noah to make a place for his sons in the ark, He did so twenty years before Noah's first son was even born!

Twenty years before his sons were born, God said to Noah, "You, as the leader of the family, you as the patriarch of the clan, you as the father, Noah, are to expect your sons and their wives to be in the ark—the place of salvation—with you and your wife."

I believe so. Am I suggesting a new doctrine? Dad, get saved and everyone else is included? No, I'm not talking about a doctrine, but about a dynamic. By faith, Noah prepared a place for his family on the ark even before his kids were conceived. So you open your heart, Dad, to the Lord Jesus Christ, and by faith say, "I am believing my sons and daughters and their spouses and our grandchildren will be on board the Good Ship Salvation."

Certainly, each man, woman, and child must make his own decision regarding salvation, but they can do so, seeing the reality of faith lived out before them, just as Noah's family observed him pounding away on the ark day after day.

Exemplification of Faith

When it was time for Noah and his family to enter into the ark, Noah went first. He didn't say, "There's the ark, kids. Go ahead. I'll catch up." No, Noah led the way. He was an example—and that's the key. Mom and Dad, what you are personally will be communicated to your kids individually and it will impact them very powerfully.

Think with me. When David was a young man, he killed a giant. The list of David's "mighty men" in 2 Samuel 23 includes those who also killed giants.

This means that even though most of David's men didn't see him kill Goliath, they became giant-killers simply because of their linkage to David.

Contrast this with Saul. Saul was intimidated by Goliath. In Saul's catalogue of mighty men, not one is a giant-killer because Saul wasn't.

Dad, you be a prayer warrior and watch how your kids will be prayer warriors, too. You witness at work, and watch your kids follow your example at school.

Who we are very definitely affects what our kids become. Therefore, if I am a man who loves the Word, is devoted to prayer, is committed to the kingdom, my kids will be impacted very deeply. Your kids will either be spiritual wimps who get wiped out and are intimidated by the enemy, or they will be giant-killers who overcome and are successful in the things of God.

Mom and Dad, lead the way in the things of God—and your family will follow.