This morning’s parasha is entitled Noach which means ‘rest’ or ‘comfort’. It covers Genesis 6:9-11:32.

To review, in Genesis chapter 2 the Lord commanded Adam saying: “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

In chapter 3, Adam and Eve committed the first sin by disobeying God and eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

In chapters 4 and 5, the appalling effects of sin quickly emerge. These chapters also provide the lineage of Adam and show that each person, after living a certain number of years, would inevitably die. The wages of sin is death. And God’s Word is proven to be true and accurate.

Our parasha this week picks up in chapter 6, where the Scriptures refer to Noah as a righteous man. His godly ways are presented in stark contrast to the wickedness of the world. He is described in three complimentary ways in verse 9: as righteous, as blameless and as walking with God. Being righteous meant that his heart was right, and being blameless meant that he did the right things.

Because he was both inwardly and outwardly right with God, Noah walked with God, or simply, he knew God on a personal level, had a close relationship with His Creator, and obeyed His commandments.

The author of Hebrews reminds us that by faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. It took faith to build an ark on dry land when it had never rained before, and also in the face of mocking and ridicule. This parallels our experience as believers today. We must maintain faith in Adonai in a world where the majority is becoming increasingly hostile towards God and His people. We must maintain our confession even in the midst of persecution and ridicule.

The Lord was very specific about the dimensions and the materials used in building the ark. It was to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, 45 feet high, consisting of three levels; constructed with gopher wood and sealed with pitch inside and out. Noah was to bring in pairs of every kind of animal; two each of unclean animals and seven of the clean animals. These details were not arbitrary, but based on Adonai’s infinite wisdom. If we are wise, we will do as He says and not reinterpret His instructions. Noah was faithful to every detail, and that obedience was outward evidence of his true faith.

Once the rain began to descend and the water sources underground burst open, as described in chapter 7, Noah’s once scornful neighbors surely began to realize he wasn’t as crazy as they thought. Now too late, they wished they had heeded his warnings and entered the ark with Noah and his family and the beasts, birds and insects. But Adonai Himself closed the door to the ark and only obedient Noah and his family were saved. This was a clear illustration of the fact that by faith we are saved and that faith isn’t real if it isn’t accompanied by obedience.

Noah not only believed that God would flood the Earth as He said, but he obediently took action by building the ark. What good would it have done mankind if Noah had said he believed God, but never followed through and obeyed God’s directive?

The same could be said of Israel on that first Passover night in Egypt. It wasn’t enough to say they believed in Adonai. If they wanted their firstborn to be spared, each family had to place the blood of a flawless lamb on the doorposts of their home. Faith is only as real as the action it produces.

And this same principle is true of the New Covenant as well. I have heard it preached that, “Many say ‘Lord, Lord’, but they do not do Lord, Lord”. Of what lasting value is it to say we believe the words of God, but then not take action and do them? Faith without works is truly dead.

The Great Flood lasted forty days, encompassed the entire earth, and rose above even the highest mountain peaks by over twenty feet. With the exception of Noah and his family and the animals with them on the ark, every living creature on the face of the earth died. And we are told that the waters remained at that level for 150 days.

Once the waters receded from the great Flood, almost a year after the rains first began, Noah sent out a raven and later a dove to determine whether the land had dried sufficiently so that they could leave the ark to resettle the Earth once again.

In Chapter 9, God promises that He will never again destroy all of mankind by means of a flood, designating the rainbow as a sign for that eternal covenant. Later in the chapter, Noah plants a vineyard, drinks from its produce, and becomes drunk. Moses tells us that his nakedness was uncovered by Ham, who tells his brothers about it.  In contrast to Ham’s horrific behavior, Noah’s other two sons, Shem and Japheth, cover their father in a very respectful manner. As a result, once Noah was sober he pronounced an extraordinary curse on Ham’s son Canaan, while blessing Shem and Japheth.

The Hebrew word used here for nakedness, ervah – almost always refers to the exposure, shame, sexual immorality or uncleanness of a woman. In fact, the very same idiom – a “father’s nakedness” is found in Leviticus 18:7 and 20:11 to refer euphemistically to a man’s wife. This has led both Jewish and Christian scholars to suggest that something much worse may have occurred than Ham merely seeing his father naked and talking about it. It is possible that Ham committed some form of sexual immorality with his father’s wife, and it would account for the severity of the curse upon all future generations of Canaan.

Chapter 10 covers the generations that follow as the world is repopulated. I find it interesting that after this great purge, we see humanity just a few generations later attempting to defy the Lord by building the Tower of Babel. Sin is once again running rampant within mankind.

The Lord responds by mixing up their languages and at the same time dispersing them across the planet. This both thwarted man’s wicked plans and accomplishing His will for mankind. The Torah portion concludes on an encouraging note with Abraham’s birth and his marriage to Sarah.

In Matthew chapter 24 Yeshua warns us that His return will be very much like the days of Noah. In the days before the Flood, people went on about their daily routines, oblivious to the judgment at hand, until the day that Noah entered the ark. I am convinced that we are living in the Last Days. Genesis 6 informs us that in the days of Noah, “the Earth also was corrupt before God, and filled with violence. So God looked upon the Earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the Earth.”

Once again, God’s word is proving true. Perilous times are surely upon us now, as they were in the days of Noah. We live in a world filled with deceitfulness, wickedness and violence. Terrorism plagues the planet. Our cities are crime-ridden: drive-by shootings, senseless gang killings; mothers killing their own children, fathers and husbands killing their wives and children; children killing parents. Such inhuman behavior no longer even shocks us. Fifty million babies are aborted worldwide each year!

We’re beginning to see the days of Noah again when seemingly every thought and intention of men’s hearts is wicked, and the Earth is continually filled with violence. In the midst of all of this are Christians and Messianic Jews proclaiming the salvation that only Yeshua can bring. In this way, Messiah Yeshua Himself is our Ark of rescue. But just as at that time, people will mock us, and dismiss our message.

Just as there was a great Flood and Noah and his family were safely carried away as the world was judged, one day the Messiah will return for us and the world will again be judged. In Noah’s day, people went about their lives, willingly deaf to his warnings, until the destruction suddenly came and they were destroyed. In our day once again there is plenty of warning. Will people listen this time and enter into the Ark of Salvation that is Yeshua, or will they again turn a deaf ear? I pray that many will repent.

Psalm 147:11 says “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy”. I pray that our nation returns to Adonai, and plead with Him for forgiveness for our waywardness, and return to our first love – Messiah Yeshua, and to the God of the Universe, the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. I pray that we will draw close to God and remain close to God, to quote Rabbi Loren, and that the nations will return to God, so that He may return His mercy to us. Shabbat Shalom.