This week's lesson is intended to show how God in his mercy, just as in the days of Noah, gives mankind as much time as possible to repent. It is also intended to show that God gives instructions to the righteous that if followed will provide the righteous Saints sanctuary from the ever-increasing waves of wickedness in the world.
Vaughn J Featherstone in his talk "Holiness to the Lord" said,
"The season of the world before us will be like no other in the history of mankind. Satan has and will unleash every evil, every scheme, every blatant vile perversion ever known to man in any generation. Just as this dispensation is the fullness of times, so it is also the dispensation of the fullness of evil. We and our wives and husbands, our children, and our members must find safety. There is no safety in the world; wealth cannot provide it, enforcement agencies cannot assure it, membership alone in this Church will not guarantee it."
Introduction and recap:
In our last study we learned of Enoch. Enoch and his city were so righteous that they were removed from the earth and taken into heaven. However Enoch's son, Methuselah, was not taken. Why was Methuselah left behind? Moses 8:1-2.
As part of the covenant the Lord made with Enoch, He promised Enoch that his seed would run through Noah's line and thus his seed would be preserved. And so Methuselah needed to remain on earth to produce and raise that seed. Now, as it was, his son Lamech already was born so why do you think it was important for Methuselah to stay behind still? How did his presence help fulfill the covenant? I wonder if he was there to be a guiding influence in the life of his grandson or whether as the "youngest" in the family line with the office of high priest he was needed so as to be able to ordain Noah to that office? Either way it must have been a somewhat lonely task I would imagine after seeing the faithful city of Zion and all your strength and friendships removed. Imagine seeing your local ward or stake being translated and you are left to yourself on earth, just you and your family. Would you be strong enough to resist the evils of the world and guide your family? How strong would you need to be? What a great man Methuselah must have been.
Now to give you an idea of the timeline - according to Genesis 5.
When Adam died aged 930 yrs old
his son Seth was 800 yrs old
his grandson Enos was 695 yrs old
his great grandson Cainan was 605 yrs old
his great great grandson Mahalaleel was 535 yrs old
his great great great grandson Jared was 470 yrs old
his great great great great grandson Enoch was 308 yrs old (just 122yrs before Enoch and Zion were taken from the earth)
his great great great great great grandson Methuselah was 243 yrs old (Methuselah lived to be 969 yrs old and was 365 yrs old when his dad Enoch and Zion were taken from the earth)
his great great great great great great grandson Lamech was 56 yrs old (was 178 when Enoch and Zion were taken from the earth and 182 when Noah was born)
Noah was born just 4 years after the city of Enoch was taken from the earth and 126 years after Adam died and was likely part of the first or second generation not to have personally known father Adam or be ordained by him (see list of ordinations Doctrine and Covenants 107:41-57).
It must have been a quite fascinating age to live in among all of those great patriarchs at one time. There is an interesting quote by the Jewish historian Josephus concerning the longevity of the prophets back then. He states,
"Let no one, upon comparing the lives of the ancients with our lives, and with the few years which we now live, think that what we have said of them is false;...for those ancients were beloved of God...and because their food was then fitter for the promulgation of life...and besides, God afforded them a longer time of life on account of their virtue and the good use they made of it in astronomical and geometrical discoveries...Now I have for witnesses to what I have said all those that have written Antiquities...that the ancients lived a thousand years"Whatever the reason for their longevity, many records do bear witness of their longevity.
Be that as it may, essentially 1099 yrs passed between creation and Noah as recorded in the bible.
What had been accomplished in that first 1000 years? Mankind had multiplied as commanded and started to divide as is the eternal order of things to create opposites thus creating choice and therefore growth. Establishment of a righteous people v establishment of a wicked people. But in taking Zion into heaven the balance on earth had shifted towards wickedness.
What do we know about Noah before the flood?
- Noah was ordained to the priesthood at just 10 yrs of age by Methuselah who had been ordained to the priesthood by Adam when he (Methuselah was 100 yrs old). What does this suggest about Noah?
- Noah's name means Rest or Comfort (see Moses 8:9; Genesis 5:29) What does this suggest about how Methuselah and Lamech had found the work since Zion had left the earth?
- Noah and his sons were called the sons of God as they hearkened unto God and were given His Holy Priesthood (Moses 8:13,19).
- Noah was almost killed by giants but the Lord protected him and saved him by his power (Moses 8:18) Who were these giants?
- Noah was considered a just man and perfect in his generation and walked with God and found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Moses 8:27) What does it mean to be perfect in his generation? Are there different perfections for different generations? I think this maybe the second definition of perfection. He wasn't perfect as in without sin for all man sins. But he was perfect as in complete, whole, or with integrity throughout his whole life.
- Noah became a preacher of righteousness, preaching the gospel of faith in the Christ to come, repentance of sins, baptism by immersion and reception of the Holy Ghost (Moses 8:16, 23-24)
- Noah holds the keys to a dispensation and stands next to Adam in authority (see LDS BD Noah). As Adam symbolizes newborn man, so Noah symbolizes reborn man. Nicodemus asked Christ how it was possible that man could be born a second time despite having it right there in the scriptures. If Nicodemus had looked closer at his scriptures what Christ taught him should have made a lot of sense. Mankind was reborn through Noah and in that sense Noah is very much a type of Christ.
- Noah is also known as the angel Gabriel, who visited Daniel, Mary, and Zacharias.
What was going on in the world as Noah preached?
- Others claimed to be priesthood holders and claimed to be sons of God but did not listen to God and were thus became known as sons of men. How did they try to justify themselves? (Moses 8:21) "We got married, we multiplied, our kids are big and strong - see! we are righteous!" "BUT they hearkened not unto the words of Noah". How might we be in danger of being like these people?
- Daughters of God also marrying unrighteous men.
- The wickedness of men had become great. Every man lifted up in the imagination of the thoughts of his heart, being only evil continually. (see Moses 8:14-15, 20-22)
- The earth was corrupt and filled with violence (Moses 8:28)
What ultimatum did the Lord give, (remembering he has been laboring with these people since the time of Enoch)? Moses 8:17 God gives the people another 120 years to repent. How merciful is the Lord? Genesis 7:6 also indicates that the Lord only gave the 120 year ultimatum after he had already given them 484 years previously, to repent (since Enoch and Zion were taken from the earth).
There had been wickedness on the earth before. Why was this so different that the entire earth needed to be flooded and all life killed? What do you think was the last straw for God? The scriptures are too general for us to tell but certainly a theme was that God and the prophets were no longer listened to, the world had become a world of violence, and man chose evil over good continually. Even the children of the righteous were turning to evil it seems. Did you notice who made it into the ark? Genesis 7:13 Where were Noah's grandchildren or his other children?
Lessons of The Ark:
Noah is commanded to build an ark to save his immediate family and other life on earth. President Spencer W. Kimball explained that when Noah built the ark,
“there was no evidence of rain and flood. … His warnings were considered irrational. … How foolish to build an ark on dry ground with the sun shining and life moving forward as usual! But time ran out. The ark was finished. The floods came. The disobedient and rebellious were drowned. The miracle of the ark followed the faith manifested in its building”What commandments have we been given that might appear foolish to others?
President Ezra Taft Benson said,
“The revelation to produce and store food may be as essential to our temporal welfare today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah”How many of us have a years supply food storage for the whole family?
What can we learn from the instructions Noah receives in building the ark? Genesis 6:13-16
- The ark was sealed within and covered without with pitch. The Hebrew word for this pitch was "kopher" which literally means covering. What do we have today that seals us and completely covers us and if used fully can prevent us from being engulfed in the waters of wickedness? The Atonement of Jesus Christ provides that sealing and covering effect in our lives.
- The ark was given three levels/stories symbolic of Solomon's temple that had three rooms representing the three kingdoms, or the three degrees of glory.
- The ark is one of only 3 structures in the Bible that the Lord gives precise measurements for its construction - ark, ark of the covenant, Solomon's temple. All of these were places of sanctuary and peace and holiness. It seems the Lord is asking us to be very careful and very precise. One leak, one entry point for the water could sink the whole boat. (Consider the Titanic - supposedly unsinkable and yet there was a weakness. Are our lives, our homes more like the Titanic or the Ark?)
"Endowed faithful members of the Church who keep all their covenants including the sacred coverings will be safe as [if they were] protected behind temple walls. The covenants and ordinances are filled with faith as a living fire. "he continued by saying
"Before the Savior comes the world will darken. There will come a time when even the elect will begin to lose hope if they do not come to the temples. The world will be so filled with evil that the righteous will only feel secure through their faith in Christ and within the temple walls. I believe the Saints will come to the temples not only to do vicarious work but to find a God-given haven of peace. The true and faithful Latter-day Saints will long to bring their children to our temples for safety's sake."What are we doing to become more temple-attending people/families/individuals? How does the temple and the covenants and ordinances within, strengthen us and cover us against the world? How can we make our homes more water tight?
v.6 Noah is 600 yrs old
v.10 It begins on the 17th day of the second month of his 600th year
v.11 source of flooding: "fountains of the great deep broken up", "windows of heaven were opened"
v.12 rain is upon earth for 40 days and nights
v24; 8:3 waters prevailed upon the earth 150 days
v.4 ark rests on mountains of Ararat on 17th day of seventh month
v.5 tops of mountains seen on the 1st day of the tenth month
v.13 waters dried up face of the ground dried on 1st day of first month of his 601st year
v.14 earth dried 27th day of second month of 601st year.
We know God to be a God of Love. Yet here a whole world is wiped out, slaughtered. How does this measure up to the God of Love that we all know and identify with?
President John Taylor gave this insight,
"I will go back to show you how the Lord operates. He destroyed a whole world at one time save a few...And why? This people were not only very wicked themselves, but having the power to propagate their species, they transmitted their unrighteous natures and desires to their children, and brought them up to indulge in their own wicked practices. And the spirits that dwelt in the eternal worlds knew this...And supposing ourselves to be of the number of unborn spirits, would it not be fair to presume that we would appeal to the Lord, crying...'Is it just that we who are now pure should take of such bodies?'"It is contrary to the plan to allow us to come into a world where it is so wicked that there is essentially a lack of choice. It would have been unfair to the unborn spirits to send them into that environment and ask them to choose good when there was no good to choose from. Thus we see it was in fact an act of mercy and love and justice and it was vital to the plan of salvation.
Noah's family Ark experience is an entire year! Why did they wait so long to leave the ark? Why did they wait another month after they saw the surface of the earth was dry, for the earth to be completely dry?
What did Noah do after he left the ark? JST Genesis 9:4-6 made sacrifices, gave thanks, rejoiced.
Was it a global flood? Many Christians are now suggesting this was a localized flood (as there is very little scientific evidence of a global flood) but based on the spiritual symbolism of baptism by immersion I remain of the disposition that this was indeed a flood that covered the entire earth.
Elder Mark E Peterson said,
"The flood had a far greater purpose than to merely to wipe out Noah's neighbours. God baptized the earth. He would not baptize a portion of it any more than we would be satisfied with a partial immersion if we were baptizing some person"President Fielding Smith said,
"...this earth was born in water. Before the land appeared the whole sphere was covered with water. [Then, with the flood of Noah, it was born again]."However rather than getting hung up on the physical aspects of the flood I believe it is far more important for us to learn from and focus on the spiritual lessons of the flood.
The Rainbow Covenant:
Genesis 6:18 "with thee will I establish my covenant" What is His covenant? It is his "everlasting covenant" - the same covenant he made with all the prophets, with Adam and with Enoch and later with Abraham and that we know now as the Abrahamic covenant. It would appear that the rainbow may also have been a symbol of this covenant before Noah.
What did this covenant include? Moses 7:50-52, 62-63; JST Genesis 9:21-25
- Enoch's seed/posterity would be preserved through Noah
- Remnant of Enoch's seed should always be found among all nations
- The city of Zion will return to the earth when men keep all the commandments
- Earth might never more be covered by the floods.
- Remnant of Noah's seed should always be found among all nations
- The city of Zion shall look downwards and be reunited with the righteous on the earth
- There will never be a flood to destroy the earth again
Covenants are two-way binding agreements. There is no doubt that Enoch and Noah's part in this covenant included keeping the commandments. The two main commandments the Lord reminded Noah of immediately after the flood was not to kill and to be fruitful and multiply. Why is God so insistent on us multiplying, to the point that he commands it? Having seed is one of the great blessings of mortality AND eternity. It is the central unit not only of mortal society but immortal society also. And those that are unable to have seed in this life, if they remain faithful to the commandments will have seed in the eternities.
One of the great blessings of this covenant was also based around Enoch and Noah's posterity/seed. When you look at the animals brought onto the ark the message there too is not just about survival but also multiplying each species They were brought in two by two, male and female obviously with the plan not for individual survival but to preserve and propagate the species. It would appear that much of the Lord's plan revolves around the need to multiply and have seed, and families, and that this rainbow was as much a token of that as it was a reminder that there would be no such flood again. How clever of Satan then to distort that token in today's world to stand for a lifestyle that is in direct conflict with that eternal commandment to multiply and have seed.
The Lord also makes it clear that the rainbow placed between the heavens and the earth would be a symbol for those righteous on earth looking upwards and for those in the heavens looking downwards. See JST Genesis 9:21-23; Moses 7:62-64. This is going to be a glorious and very emotional reunion. All of this is part of the great Rainbow Covenant the Lord made with Enoch and Noah and is available to all flesh.
Interestingly, Joseph Smith referred to this token. He records that he inquired of the Lord concerning his coming and was told by the Lord,
"...in any year that the bow should be seen the Lord would not come;...but whenever you see the bow withdrawn, it shall be a token that there shall be famine, pestilence, and great distress among the nations, and that the coming of the Messiah is not far distant."So keep looking out for those rainbows!
Tower of Babel:
By Genesis 11 it seems this great covenant symbolized by the rainbow in the sky was not enough to satisfy the people and instead of waiting on the Lords time they took it upon themselves to make the reunion between heaven and earth happen there and then. The very fact that they attempt to build a city and a tower of bricks and slime (yuk!) to reach heaven or possibly the city of Zion shows that they had decided against following the true way to heaven. They wanted a shortcut. They were unwilling to follow the true way. Jesus Christ is the true way. They could not wait for Christ. They had no faith in Christ but rather had only their own pride and vain ambitions to become as God. (cf John 14:6)
Once again we see Satan's handiwork. If he cannot convince people they are nothing if worthless mere mortals he will instead flatter their pride and convince them they can overthrow God.
If nothing else the story of the flood and the ark teaches us that the way to become AS God is not found in shortcuts. There is no smooth easy path. It comes through testing, through time, through preparation, through faith, through biding the floods of life within our own spiritual arks whether they be our own souls, our homes or the great temples of the latter-days.
The times are fast approaching where we find ourselves living "as in the days of Noah". Our world is consumed with violence, and multiplication of the species has been replaced with gratification of the species, in many perverse ways. The world no longer hearkens unto the voice of God or His prophets. The time is close and at hand. We would be advised to ponder the story of Noah closely for his life can be a great example of how to save our own families in the coming days.