MDB 3: Genesis 6

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"But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD" (Gen. 6:8)

An important word occurs in the story of Noah, one reverberates throughout the pages of Scripture: grace or as the ESV translates it, "favor" (Gen. 6:8). In a context where the sinfulness of man is said to be "great" (6:5), Noah finds "favor in the eyes of the LORD" and because of it, escapes the cataclysmic deluge that is the consequence of God's retributive anger towards human rebellion.  This is one about forty examples in the Old Testament where the formula "x found favor in the eyes of y."

It is crucial that we understand the relationship between the expression of favor on God's part to Noah and what follows immediately in verse 9 where Noah is described as a "righteous" and "blameless" man who "walked with God." It may appear on the surface as though verse 9 is explanatory of the grace received--that the reason God looked favorably upon Noah was because he was a righteous man. This would be a catastrophic interpretation and a denial of everything Scripture teaches us about the nature of grace and the human condition. Grace is undeserved favor," "his unmerited love." It is the idea of God blessing where he is not obligated to do so (cf. Exod. 33:12f., 16 f.; Amos 5:15; Jon. 4:2). The solution to this problem is to note that 6:9 begins with a characteristic formula--the so-called generations formula, "These are the generations of..." (cf. 2:4; 5:1; 10:1; 11:27, etc.). This then makes verse 9 the consequence of rather than the explanation of verse 8. In other words, when grace comes into Noah's life it changes him - it renders him righteous.  Grace always does: it transforms, renews. As Alec Motyer puts it, "the story of Noah preserves the exclusive reality of grace as grace, while at the same time demonstrating that when grace comes (verse 8) it produces the changed and distinctive life of the new man (verse 9)." [Look to the Rock, 44].

Has grace produced such a marked change in you?

Posted January 7, 2010 @ 9:59 AM by Derek Thomas
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