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Humbled

by Kristen C. Strocchia

“So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds–everything that moves on land–came out of the ark, one kind after another. Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.” Genesis 8:18-20

Image result for bonfire barbecueThe ark was emptied in order to replenish the earth. What a sight to see all of the animals of the world–literally–parading out in two by two formation.

And Noah’s first response is to honor God.

The burnt offering of Leviticus 1–first seen here in Genesis 8–is an atonement sacrifice. Now Abel also offered an atonement sacrifice when he offered the fat portions of the firstborn of his flocks [4:4], but Noah’s sacrifice here is the first time that we learn of a burnt offering. And he did so using clean animals.

In human logic, this makes perfect sense. Remember that of clean animals there were seven pairs–fourteen total of each kind! Naturally, you wouldn’t sacrifice any of the animals that only had one pair, that would bring the extinction of their whole kind after God just went to all this length to preserve them. Still, Noah could have done it. He could have said to himself, “But tigers and peacocks look so much cooler and more powerful than goats and bulls. If I were God, wouldn’t I want that as a sacrifice instead?”

Because often, that’s our human logic in dealing with God. “If I were God”–*cough…Satan’s lie…cough*–then I would think… or I would want… So I don’t get why God thinks the way He does or wants what He does, because, you know, I certainly wouldn’t.”

Time out.

Do you see where this line of thought comes from and leads to? Comes from Satan. Leads to death and destruction. Because any line of reasoning that substitutes self as God is the line of reasoning that felled a third of the angels of heaven and barred Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, cursing the earth with the nature of sin.

But to this point in scripture, just as with Abel, there is no mention of God instituting or requesting a sacrifice of any kind. Abel knew God though–in an intimate, experiential way–as did Noah, and both men acted on this faith, this absolute certainty of what they hoped for but could not see.

Noah knew God. He knew that God hated sin, and that there was sin even in him. He didn’t become conceited by the fact that God noticed his righteousness and saved him out of the whole world. On the contrary, he humbled himself before the Almighty Creator, the Holy of Holies, and he offered a right sacrifice to atone–make amends/repairs/peace with–God for that sin.

Has God ever chosen to use you in a situation? Do you let this make you proud or does it humble you? Do you know God by the same kind of faith that Abel and Noah did? Have you asked God to atone for your sins through the shed blood of Jesus Christ?

God’s Message Bearer

by Kristen C. Strocchia

“The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible. After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water all over the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought back to himself in the ark.” Genesis 8:5-9

Image result for flying doveSo five months between rain and flooding before the waters began to recede. Then two and a half months after the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat [like getting caught on a reef or a shoal under the water] the water finally went down enough more that they could see the tops of the mountains they were snagged on.

But it was another forty days after this before Noah opened a window and tested the readiness of the earth with some bird scouts. To date that makes 265 days total on the ark before Noah thinks that maybe they’re getting close to being able to leave.

At first, Noah sends out an unclean bird, the raven. Ravens are scavengers. They will eat carrion which is the meat of dead animals, an act that made them unhealthy for consumption. However, this also made the raven an unreliable scout. Because when the raven didn’t find dry land or trees to perch on, it was totally willing to touchdown on floating carcasses then to return and maybe sit atop the ark’s roof before going scavenging again. It did this back and forth routine, without returning to Noah’s hand, until the earth was dry enough to live on again.

The dove, however, is a clean animal because it does not scavenge. This made the dove a more reliable scout as well, because the dove wouldn’t land on floating carcasses. So when there was no dry land, the dove returned to Noah’s hand.

Doves are actually in the pigeon family and historically were trained to carry messages in a tube tied to their leg. They would learn a route to fly between two people/destinations and faithfully delivered their cargo. Perhaps that is why God chose to use the dove as a symbol of His Holy Spirit at Jesus’ baptism [Matthew 3:16]. A clean [aka holy] message bearer who faithfully moves between two parties–God and man.

A message bearer who we can receive if we just reach out our hand.

Have you reached out to accept God’s message bearer, the Holy Spirit, in your life? If so, what have you done with His message?

Finding Favor in God’s Eyes

by Kristen C. Strocchia

“The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that He had made human beings on the earth, and His heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created–and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground–for I regret that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:5-8

Image result for standing out from the crowdWhat is wickedness? And what is evil? Both are defined–in modern dictionaries–as being morally wrong or profoundly immoral. But in our day, wickedness and evil seem to be used of the darkest, most heinous imaginings of horror films, terrorists and serial killers. People wouldn’t define such acts as just immoral. In fact, immorality is decried as narrow-mindedness, because, by definition, morality means conforming to socially accepted standards of right conduct.

However, when the Creator of the world is the standard of morality, and this Creator is the holy God, then immorality means not conforming to His accepted standard of right conduct. And by His definition in scripture, such godlessness [immorality] is wicked and it is evil.

Every thought of every heart was only godless–immoral, self-serving without regard for God or fellow humankind–all the time. Everyone thought only of themselves. Everyone tore each other down to self-promote, tore each other apart to self-preserve, tore marriage and family apart to self-gratify. The sinful nature of humanity tore and tore and tore at the threads of God’s image in them until they tore Him from the midst of their existence altogether. Until they tore themselves from the very heart of God.

And He was loathe that He’d ever formed the man, Adam, and the woman, Eve, that day. Their descendants had become such a vile stench that God was loathe He’d lent His very own breath of life to our existence. And He was willing to utterly destroy every creature of His creation that could not breathe water in order to remove once and for all, right then and there, the sin that had so corrupted every good thing that He had made.

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

Do you feel the enormity of that statement? Imagine God’s spirit roving over the face of the whole earth and finding evil heart after evil heart–except for one man and one man alone. The man named peace. The man whose father prophesied the future of the whole world for all time into his life. The man Noah.

A prophesy is not a true prophesy unless it comes to pass. Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord, and God found a way to redeem all that He had made through this one and only moral–righteous, that is right living by God’s standards–man.

Ever since this time, sin has again multiplied itself across the face of the earth in generation after generation, but God has promised to restrain His hand of judgment until the end [Genesis 9:15]. Yet, just as in the days of Noah, God is looking for one faithful, one righteous, one moral according to His ways through which He can work to redeem our world today.

Will that someone be you?

When God Said, “Enough!”

by Kristen C. Strocchia

“When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, ‘My spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.’ The Nephilim were on the earth in those days–and also afterward–when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.” Genesis 6:1-4

Image result for male angelsIn Noah’s generation, earth’s population exploded. Easy to imagine being in the tenth generation of peoples who lived to be several hundred years old, having children throughout their lives. During this population explosion, the sons of God start to notice the human girls. Now it is commonly accepted that these sons of God are the fallen angels whose half-human-half-angelic offspring were the Nephilim recorded in verse 4.

It was not God’s intention for humans and angels–whether fallen or other–to intermarry. Just as He never intended for dogs and cats to produce offspring, or pines and maples. However, sin perverted God’s design in so many ways. Marriages became fraught with difficulty, dissension, and the temptation to be unfaithful. Lamech [McCain] perverted the marriage relationship to include a third spouse. And here, human women married fallen angels. The scripture records many other marital perversions that are an abomination to God, and it is easy to see that these distorted desires are rooted in the sinful nature.

And these relationships created the heroes of oldmen of renown. Men. Myths. Legends. This explains a lot of the Greek and Roman [et al] mythology. Fallen angels–touting themselves as sons of God…and maybe, still believing Satan’s lie, straight up gods–had demi-human offspring who possessed superhuman strengths or abilities. By human standards, they would have been like demi-gods. It’s easy to understand why people would have feared and revered them, even though these too were nothing more than corrupted progeny of the Creation, with a sin nature that would one day stand before God.

This perversion truly exasperates God, makes Him throw His hands up and say, “Enough!” People are mortal–mort meaning death–so people are able to die. Their sinful beings were not able to live forever. But lifespans of up to 900 years with all of the wickedness carousing on the earth was intolerable to our Holy Creator. He wanted so bad to get rid of all sin right then and there, BUT…He. Loved. Us.

One hundred twenty years later [the limit set in verse 3] God sent His first judgment for sin on the earth–the destructive, worldwide flood. And it is important for us to know that, “as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man,” [Matthew 24:37].

Look around. Are people living perversions of the lives that God intended? Marrying in anything other than one man and one woman for life? Are people doing–in all things–whatever they feel is right for themselves? Do people disregard God’s Word or deny His existence altogether? These are exactly the things that were happening in the days of Noah.

The Lord is coming back soon. Are you ready to meet Him in the air [1 Thessalonians 4:17]?

Lamech MacSeth

by Kristen C. Strocchia

“When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son. He named him Noah and said, ‘He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.’ After Noah was born, Lamech lived 595 years and had other, and then he died.” Genesis 5:28-30

Image result for Black Father and Newborn SonSeven generations after Seth, Lamech was born to the oldest man who ever lived–Methuselah [whose father had such a devout relationship with God that he was raptured thousands of years before Jesus even came and prophesied about our future rapture!] And, unlike the Lamech born in the line of Cain, it seems that this Lamech held some of his granddaddy Enoch’s regard for God.

Here we hear Lamech prophesying over his son, Noah’s, life [5:29]. Noah–meaning peace, rest, repose, consolation–would bring comfort. But who’s the us referred to? Obviously, Lamech himself may have found Noah a comfort in his lifetime as fathers and sons should be to one another. And Noah may have in fact spelled Lamech from some of his work when he was of age to help.

But look deeper. In the world, sinful man was alienated from their Creator God. In other words, there was hostility between man and God. Human beings needed not only to be redeemed [restored to their rightful sonship to God], but they also needed to be reconciled [restored to their rightful relationship with God–a relationship of peace].

Lamech named Noah peace because he understood that God would restore the peace of mankind to Himself through Noah and his line. He references the Genesis 3:17 curse spoken to Adam, which was only reversible by God’s plan of redemption, which, in Lamech’s lifetime, had not yet come to pass.

However, through Noah, God would bless the one family whose patriarch still held onto a right faith in God, and He would condemn all other lifestyles through the destruction of the only worldwide flood in world history. Through Noah, God would restart the world as at the Creation and preserve a family line through which He could send His promised redemption to restore the peace between God and man. Through Noah’s line, the world would come to have the Way, the Truth and the Life in the person of Jesus Christ, who Himself is our peace. Who Himself is coming again–having prepared a place for those who believe in Him [John 14:1-3]–to find eternal rest from the painful labor and toil of the sin-cursed earthly life.

How sad, that 595 years of childrearing Noah and his siblings, that Noah is the only one who remained faithful to God. Many of those destroyed in the flood were his immediate family. But Lamech died before the flood at a good old age of 777. Unlike his distant-great-uncle, Lamech McCain, who claimed 77 fold vengeance for the murders he committed [Genesis 4:24], Lamech MacSeth was blessed 777 fold for his faith in God.

There is no middle ground. No fence to walk between sinfulness and holiness. Either we believe in God and pursue right living. Or we deny God and pursue self-living. Which Lamech are you? Do you believe in God? Will you accept His redemption in your life? Will you be reconciled to Him and know peace?

Pastor Seth

by Kristen C. Strocchia

“Adam [knew] his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, ‘God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.’ Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.” Genesis 4:25-26

Image result for missionary sharing the good news + imageThe heaviness of belly gave way to breath snatching, tightened muscles, which themselves broke with the cry of a newborn son. “Seth,” Eve pronounced. “Compensation for my Abel, the son whose life Cain stole.” A God-given equivalent for loss? Maybe Eve had hoped it would heal her pain. But as a mother, one child can never really replace another.

And a part of me wonders if Eve was also mourning the loss of Cain. Though he was still alive, he was no longer the sweet little baby she’d nursed or the toddler whose skinned knees she’d kissed as he learned to walk. He’d completely turned his back on their Creator and left his parents’ home as well.

Whether or not Seth ever brought emotional healing to his mother, Eve, spiritually, God was already fulfilling his Genesis 3:15 promise to Satan. Perhaps Satan saw how Abel loved God and took advantage to plant the seed of discontent jealousy in Cain. Perhaps Satan thought that killing Abel would remove the offspring that God promised would one day crush his head.

Yet God had appointed this to Seth. Not that he himself would crush Satan, but that his line would preserve right living–righteousness–by God’s standard and would one day bring forth the promised seed, a Messiah, to save the whole world from sin.

It didn’t happen in the second generation of Seth’s line. Here he had a son that he named Enosh, meaning man or mankind. Perhaps named after Grandpa Adam–meaning earth, but which was also used as the generic term for man in Hebrew Notice how close the name is to Cain’s first son, Enoch. Though the meanings vary drastically–experienced, profound, dedicated, teacher–it’s clear that Cain named his first son after the self-sufficiency in his heart whereas Seth named his son to reset the world stage back to the beginning, when the Creation was pure, and holy, and good.

And then there were people on earth–all descended from Adam and Eve–who began to call on the name of Yahweh [the Lord]. In the original Hebrew, the word liq-ro translated called on here can also mean to summon, to proclaim, to preach or to read. They began to preserve and pass on, “undimmed and undiminished,” as A.W. Tozer puts it, “that noble concept of God,” that they received from those who came before.

They summoned, or prayed for God’s presence and divine intervention.

They proclaimed, or taught, and preached God to every family member who would listen.

They maybe even read? Though historical accounts don’t credit most ancient peoples with writing much before 2600 BC [evidence to confirm a worldwide flood around this time] there are hieroglyphs and tablets that may be as old as 3500BC, just 500 years after the Creation. And it’s possible that earlier writings were just completely destroyed in the flood. These earliest people groups also used the oral tradition–basically memorizing the stories of history and passing them from generation to generation.

Regardless of whether they read and wrote at this time, the message is clear. Seth knew the importance of praying to God, preaching, and teaching others to know Him as well.

How about you? Do you have a daily prayer life? Like Seth, do you long to share the truth of God with all who will listen?

Distorted Authority and Justice

by Kristen C. Strocchia

“Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering–fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering He did not look with favor.” Genesis 4:2b-5a

Image result for court gavelCain and Abel are literally the first children and brothers on the planet, as in ever [which means they were also the first two people ever to have bellybuttons!] Cain became the first big brother of all human history when Abel was born. In Hebrew, Cain means spear–though it can also mean possession or acquired–and Abel means breath.

It’s curious to me how Adam and Eve came to name their first child either spear or possession because it would seem that they had no need of either of these words at the time. Remember that all creatures were made vegetarian and it wasn’t until after the flood when man would hunt for food that animals would fear and attack man [Genesis 9:2-3]. So a spear wouldn’t seem all that necessary at the time Cain was born, unless of course the animals were already eating one another as a result of sin destroying their created nature. In which case, when Abel became the first shepherd in world history, he would’ve needed to defend his flocks against some of the planet’s first predators.

Cain, on the other hand, worked the soil, which is exactly what God told Adam would need to be done as a direct result of sin entering the world. The ground would be cursed to produce thorns and thistles, and Adam [and his offspring forever after] would raise their food by working the soil [Genesis 3:17-19].

So why is it then, that God is happy with Abel’s firstborn fat offering and not Cain’s garden produce offering? The Genesis account doesn’t tell us why. As readers, we don’t learn the intent behind the lesson until Hebrews 11. But God’s lesson to Cain is intended to be the primary focus here, not the theology behind it.

Do you see the lesson? God’s truth that we must understand in our own lives? God is our holy Creator. He is sovereign and He is just. We were created in His image. We demand a sovereign authority and justice. But being polluted with sin we’ve distorted justice to fit ourselves as sovereign authority [us as our own god] and cry, “That’s not fair!” [How many of you thought exactly that the first time you read this account? Be honest.]

But Cain is not in trouble here. He’s simply being instructed in what God finds acceptable and what He finds unacceptable. What Cain chooses to do with this instruction shows who is on the throne of his heart–God or Cain. And that is the truth that we all need to understand.

Unfortunately, in the world we live in, when people hear that God is not pleased with their behavior they ignore/deny His existence and they ridicule/persecute anyone who tries to live God’s way.

What do you do when the Holy Spirit shows you something in your life that is unacceptable to a holy God? How are you tuning your ears to the Holy Spirit so that you can be instructed by Him?