by Jeff Curtis
When Paul was at the Areopagus, he told the people of Athens, “God made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined… the boundaries of their habitation” (Acts 17:26). His statement is like that of Genesis 10:32: “Out of [the descendants of Noah] the nations were separated on the earth.”
Just as all people have a common ancestry, all have common needs. In speaking of this that we have in common, Paul was not thinking of the basic physical needs of food, clothing and shelter. What most concerned Paul is that everyone needs to “seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27).
All nations need the gospel. Christ commissioned His followers to “go… and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Every person needs the opportunity to hear the gospel preached and develop faith in Christ, to confess that faith and to repent of sin and be baptized into Christ for forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; Romans 10:8-14). Why? Because one day “all the nations will be gathered” before God for judgment (Matthew 25:32; Revelation 7:9).
All nations need Christ. All have sinned, so people in nation need to be saved from the wages of sin (Romans 3:23; 6:23). God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1Timothy 2:4), and this can happen only in Christ. He Himself said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). Acts 4:12 reiterates that “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Jesus is “the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1John 2:2).
by Heath Rogers
“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt. 24:42-44).
When Jesus told these First Century disciples to “watch,” they understood the urgency. I can’t help but wonder how many of us in this modern world fail to appreciate the admonition to “watch.”
In the Lord’s day, the people did not have security systems or doorbell cameras that sent alerts to their smartphones. They had to watch and make sure no one broke into their home and stole their property. There wasn’t a nightly weather forecast on the local news. People had to watch the sky to see what the day’s weather would be (Luke 12:54-56). Shepherds didn’t have surveillance cameras or satellite GPS monitors to keep track of their flocks. They had to be in the field to protect the sheep and make sure none of them strayed from safety (Luke 2:8).
We are blessed with technology that relieves us of our need to watch these things with urgency, but I wonder if this hasn’t hindered us spiritually? Man will never develop devices that will guard his soul and protect him from spiritual dangers. There is no substitute for Christians watching and being ready by faithfully reading the Scriptures, attending the assemblies, praying unto God, examining themselves, and sharing their faith with others.
God’s Gracious Gifts
by Jeff Curtis
In a sense, Noah was a second Adam. He and his family stepped out of the ark into a new world that had been washed clean of the wickedness committed by the pre-flood population. God, by His grace, was giving humanity a new beginning. He did not revoke the curses on mankind, that had been placed upon man in the garden because of Adam and Eve’s sin, but He did repeat some of the original blessings of creation. He also gave some additional blessings to the new father of humanity.
Provision 1: The Increase of the Human Family (Gen. 9:1,7). The first commandment and blessing that given at creation (Gen. 1:28) was repeated twice for Noah’s family, urging them the survivors to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen. 9:1,7). The ordinance of marriage was reaffirmed by God as a sacred institution (Gen. 2:22-25; Matt. 19:4-6), raising the relationship of the sexes above degrading associations and promoting stability in society. This was God’s attempt to lift man above untamed passions and uncontrolled indulgence in flesh instincts. Much of the world’s corruption had come through the desecration of this institution by the practice of polygamy and marrying for the wrong reasons.
Provision 2: The Sustenance of Human Life (Gen. 9:2-4, 20). The Bible is silent on whether or not humans are the flesh of animals before the flood. We do know that, after the fall of man, many people were unconcerned about shedding the blood of fellow human beings (Gen. 4:8, 14, 23, 24; 6:11); and it is doubtful that they would have hesitated to kill animals for food. God may well have permitted the latter, but the first positive authorization of this practice came after Noah and his family left the ark. God also made provision for mankind to eat every beast of the earth, bird of the sky, creeping thing on the ground, and fish of the sea (Gen. 9:3).
Provision 3: The Protection of the Human Family (Gen. 9:5-6). After instructing Noah about the acceptable practice of killing animals for food but prohibiting the eating of their blood, God turned to a more important topic; the shedding of human blood. The Lord offered a level of protection against fearful and / or hostile animals that might either feel threatened by man or see him as a source of food. He emphasized that both beasts and men must be held responsible for shedding human blood. Violators would forfeit their own lifeblood (literally, “your blood of your lives”) (Gen. 9:5).
Provision 4: A Covenant to Preserve Life on the Earth (Gen. 9:15-17). The covenant that God made with man after the flood is often called the “Noachic covenant,” but it wasn’t simply a covenant made with Noah and his family. It was made with all their “descendants” (Gen.9:9) and “all successive generations” in the future (Gen. 9:12). But the covenant didn’t stop there; it included “every living creature” of every kind (Gen. 9:10,12,15). Human beings, birds, beasts, and all creeping things benefitted from God’s promise. God made an unconditional promise to Noah and his family. A promise that extended to the end of time; He would never send another deluge to destroy everything that lives on the earth. This was to keep mankind from despairing every time a threatening storm appeared.
Usually, when covenants were made in the ancient world, conditions of agreement were imposed upon both parties. However, God made this covenant binding upon mankind for its permanence. As a guarantee that He would keep this “everlasting covenant” to humanity (Gen. 9:16). God made the rainbow a “sign” that mankind could see. It would bear witness to the faithfulness of His promise (Gen. 9:12-17). The Lord’s bow in the sky became a symbol of God’s grace following His judgment upon a sinful world; it would give hope to future generations that the Lord would not destroy all life ever on earth again with a worldwide flood.
In spite of the fact that all people sin (Rom. 3:23), God still wants to bless His creation and bestow good gifts on us (Matt. 5:45; 7:11). The only appropriate response to the One who loves us, cares for us, and provides for us is to love and obey Him.