Parashah Noach (Noah): The freedom and comfort of His covenant

Last week, we restarted the traditional weekly Torah reading cycle with Parasha Beresheet, the Torah portion that recounts the creation of the universe.

This week’s Parasha tells the story of Noah and the ark.

As it is now, in the days of Noah, the earth was filled with corruption and violence (Genesis 6:11, 13).  The Hebrew word for violence in this week’s Parasha is ‘hamas.’

It was because of this hamas that God decided to destroy every living thing from the face of the earth, except Noah, his family, and a remnant of living animals (Genesis 6: 5–13).

“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.  God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.”  (Genesis 6:11–12)

Today, Hamas is the name for the terrorist organization that has political control of Gaza, and they want to destroy Israel through violence (hamas).

Now that Hamas controls the Parliament in Gaza and is seen as a political party, they have created their military wing called the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, an organization responsible for terror attacks against Israeli soldiers and citizens.

Some want to believe that Hamas, Hezbollah, and other Islamic terrorist organizations are simply engaged in a political battle to ‘liberate’ their rightful territory from the Israeli ‘occupiers.’

While some Christians have been duped into this ludicrous viewpoint, nothing could be further than the truth.

The Word of God clearly reveals the truth about the Arab-Israeli conflict to those who are willing to see and understand.

We mustn’t fear calling Hamas what it is – a violent force of darkness whose goal is to bring death and destruction to the Jewish people and their homeland, Israel.

Righteous Noah

“But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.”  (Genesis 6:18)

In his generation, Noah (Noach) had the distinction of being the only ish tzadik (righteous man) in a world corrupted by evil (Genesis 6:9).

Because the world was evil, God planned to destroy the world with a flood.  He promised to establish his covenant with Noah and to save him and his wife, as well as his sons and their wives, through an ark that God had Noah build before the flood began.

Although we don’t know if Noah’s wife and family were righteous, they were also saved for Noah’s sake.  This may give us hope that even one member of a family who is redeemed and righteous, who walks with God, will cause the rest of their family members to be saved from the coming destruction.

It may be noted, however, that the ark guaranteed only Noah and his family’s physical salvation, not their spiritual destiny.

Even in Egypt, the blood of the lamb guaranteed only the Israelites physical safety and deliverance from Egypt.

They each had to determine their own entry into the Promised Land.  Most perished in the wilderness due to their evil hearts of unbelief.  Only the two, Caleb and Joshua, who walked with God wholeheartedly were given the right to enter the Land.

Signs of Covenant

“And God said, ‘This is the sign [ot] of the covenant [brit] I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign [ot] of the covenant [brit] between me and the earth.’”  (Genesis 9:12–13)

After the flood waters dissipated, God made a covenant with Noah and his sons that He would never again destroy all life with a flood.

God declared the rainbow to be the sign (ot) of the covenant (brit). Each of God’s covenants carried with them an ot (sign).

The ot of God’s promises to Abraham was the circumcision of the foreskin of each male on the eighth day.  The ot of the Mosaic covenant was the seventh day Shabbat.  It stands for the promise that we are God’s special people, and He is our God.

The New Covenant (Brit Chadashah) also carries an ot – a new heart and a new spirit, as evidenced by our obedience.  Under the New Covenant, the Torah is not annulled, but rather it is in our hearts and minds to empower us to keep God’s commandments and live a life that is pleasing to Him.  (Jeremiah 31:31–34)

Finding Rest in Him

In a world where time is money and the clock never stops ticking, some of us treat rest like an inconvenience.

This Parasha challenges that notion. The name Noach, in fact, means rest or comfort.

In Scripture, rest isn’t merely an option or suggestion; it’s one of the Ten Commandments – right up there with “Thou shalt not have any idols or any other gods…. ”

The One who created our fragile frames of dust knows our need of Noach (rest).  Of course we are also commanded to work for six days, but the seventh day is holy and to be devoted entirely to rest and time with God.

For most of us, the rest that is truly needed is not a physical rest, since many of us don’t engage in back-breaking physical labour; no, the rest that most of us need is a true rest for our heart and soul.

We are perpetually worried and upset about so many thingsa condition that leaves us chronically tired.

When we feel weary to the bone, we need to cast all our cares on Him and simply rest in the Lord:

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.  Do not fret….”  (Psalm 37:7)

Resting in the Lord requires an attitude of faith that knows God is fighting our battles for us.

Rather than panicking when we face a challenge or feel the hot breath of the enemy at our backs, we are commanded to fear not and to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

Entering His Rest

“And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:18–19)

It’s only through faith leading to obedience that we may enter into God’s rest.  Unbelief will rob us of the rest of God.

It was Noah’s great faith that led him to move in obedience with Godly fear to build an ark for the salvation of his family.

“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.  By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.”  (Hebrews 11:7)

After being saved from physical destruction, Noah and his family began the hard work of rebuilding after the flood.  He was obviously greatly skilled in animal husbandry and agriculture, and he put that knowledge to work immediately. 

What was the response of Noah’s other sons – Shem and Japheth – to Noah’s drunken state?

They showed him honor (kavod) by covering his nakedness. They accomplished this by holding a coat over their shoulders and walking backwards so that they would not see him in this state.  For this act of respect they were blessed.

That was love in action, as love does not expose people’s sins; rather, it “covers a multitude of sins.”  (1 Peter 4:8)

This is a wonderful lesson for children, usually not found as one of the stories in our Children’s Bibles, but one which should be told.

Although no parent is perfect, and sometimes we even do things which might be cause for our children to laugh at us or point the finger, children must be taught to always respect their parents.

Generational Curses and Empire Building

“But God said to Balaam, ‘Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.’”  (Numbers 22:12)

Although all of Noah’s family were saved physically, each one had to choose the way of spiritual salvation, which pertains to the transformation of the heart.

Shem and Japheth showed a right heart and right spirit, while Ham showed that his heart still needed regeneration.

Because God had blessed Noah and his sons, including Ham (Genesis 9:1; see also Numbers 22:12), Noah could only curse Ham’s descendants.  That curse did not end with Canaan, but carried on down the generations.

Likewise, we may unknowingly also carry curses upon our lives from generational sins (Exodus 34:7; Jeremiah 31:29–30; Ezekiel 18:2–3; Lamentations 5:7).

The atoning blood of Yeshua (Jesus) which paid the price for all our sins has the power to break these curses, but we must receive and proclaim our freedom in the Son. “Messiah redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written:
‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’” (Galatians 3:13)

The Bible traces the rebellion and curse working through the generations of Ham.

One of Ham’s sons was Cush.  Nimrod came from this lineage.  He began his kingdom in Babel (modern day Iraq).  He also built the wicked city of Nineveh, to which God sent Jonah to preach repentance.

The tower of Babel was also built in the land of Shinar, which is in Babylon (Iraq).  The people of the world unified in their goal of building the tower of Babel, but their motives were not godly, and God was forced to bring confusion to their languages to destroy their works.

In everything we do, we must examine our motives to see if we are attempting to ‘build a name for ourselves’ or working to build the Kingdom of God.

All that is built with impure motives will be destroyed on the Day of Judgment.

Haftarah (Prophetic Portion)

To Me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.  So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again.

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.  (Isaiah 54:9–10)

The Haftarah portion of this week’s reading highlights God’s covenant with Noah to never again destroy the earth through flood, and God’s anger with sin.

It also emphasizes God’s unfailing love for Israel and His forgiveness, redemption and restoration through His covenant of peace.

God promises that exiled Israel, punished for her sins, will one day be forgiven, redeemed and returned to her Land in fulfillment of Bible Prophecy.

“For a little moment I left you, and with great mercies I will gather you up.”  (Isaiah 54:7)

Survivor Guilt and Unconditional Love

Ever wonder how the people on the ark felt while they were tossed about on the waves?

We might perhaps feel the same way they did at various times in our own lives when we are “Storm-tossed, suffering, not comforted.”  (Isaiah 54:11)

We sometimes wonder if these storms will ever come to an end.  Is there no one who can comfort us in our affliction?

In the midst of relief at being saved, some of Noah’s family on the Ark might have experienced survivor guilt – horror at the terrible loss of life – and guilt that no one else was saved except their family.

Did they feel guilty that they had somehow not conveyed the seriousness of the situation?  Did they feel inadequate in that no one had listened to them?

Sometimes we feel this way when people turn a deaf ear to the Gospel message of Yeshua – when they do not want to come under the covering of ‘the ark’, the blood of the Lamb, and do not take the message seriously that God’s judgment is coming.

Parasha Noach moves us beyond our guilt and shame—real or imagined—to accepting the unconditional love of God.

“Fear not; you shall not be put to shame.”  (Isaiah 54:4)

Bringing Comfort

One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is that of comforter.  The Holy Spirit comforts survivors of the storms of life and refugees who are still adrift, trying to find a place to settle.

When we see the sign of the covenant that God gave to Noah, the rainbow, we are reminded that we can rebuild our lives out of the destruction of the flood.  We are called to rebuild even when all has been lost or swept away.  The waters that caused death can now become a source of life and hope.

“All you who are thirsty, go out for water.” (Isaiah 55:1)

This is the message of Noach.  God is present even at the flood, even in the darkest of moments.

Because of covenant, because of His tender mercies, new life is possible.  An abandoned, barren life can become fruitful and joyful.  When hope is restored, we can begin to form new relationships – a first step to rebuilding our future.

Time is short.  A great judgment and destruction is coming upon the world. Despite that, most continue on with life as usual, completely unaware of what is coming, just as in the days of Noah before the flood.

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.

That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  (Matthew 24:37–39)