#1- Historical writing vs. Theological writing
Genesis, along with the rest of Scripture is concerned and writing for and about God, not for an historically accurate date keeping fact book. Yes the story of Noah is in history and the writer wants us to know this is a true historical story. He does this by including times and days and counts. But the writer and God, are more focused on showing God and His interactions with the people, in this case Noah. So this story, along with every other narrative in the Bible, is a story about God and written to showcase God and is done in a great way setting it in an historical timeframe without focusing on the historical details to much. So we need to read this like it was intended. Do not get caught up in the time and setting details. It is not important what year this happened in or what the world was like with the technology or how the governments and ruling powers acted. What is important is God and His interactions with Noah. So do not get hung up on the details and feel like you need the details to read the narrative.
Chapter 9 in the story of Noah gives us the first clear cut covenant between God and man. Yes, God made a covenant with Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 and there is even a possible covenant with Eden and the earth in Genesis 2 but in the story of Noah God uses the word covenant. Covenants with God are a key theme not only in the book of Genesis but the entire Scriptures. Covenants is how God relates to man and is a key component in our relationship with God. We will see more this year of covenants like, the Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and finally the New Covenant. Keep your eyes out also for covenant language of God and His relationship with man. We will dive more into covenants later as we study Genesis (I will be preaching on Genesis 15 next Sunday), Exodus, Deuteronomy, 2 Samuel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Hebrews to name a few places.
#3-"This is the account" (record, lineage, family)
These simple four words help us understand the structure of the book of Genesis. These words are used 11 times in the book to break up sections of the story (2:4, 5:1, 6:9, 10:1, 11:10, 11:27, 25:12, 25:19, 36:1, 36:9, 37:2). So Genesis consists of a prologue which is 1:1-2:3 and then the rest of the book can be divided up in these 11 parts. Each part is about a particular family unit and as the story progresses God draws himself closer to that particular family unity in many ways. Here are the 11 family units; Heavens and earth, Adam, Noah, Noah's 3 sons, Shem, Terah and extension to Abram, Ishmael, Isaac, Esau, Edomites, Jacob. This structure will help us understand the book a little better and also see how God and His relationship changes more with each family unit. This will help reveal more about the nature of God and His purpose with mankind. This is a great tool in understanding the text so be on the lookout for more structure help like this as we read farther along in the story of God in His Word.
So just a note on some application that I love from the story of Noah. Genesis 6:7 concludes some of God's thoughts on His creation. God has had enough and is tired and sick of His creation rebellion against Him and living in unbelief. God decides that He will wipe everything off the face of the earth and start over. Then immediately after this confession of God and His regret of the sinful nature of mankind, God chooses Noah. Verse 8 states, Noah however found favor in the eyes of God. God chooses Noah. The Scriptures never say anything positive about Noah up to this point and it only gives a picture of the sinfulness of man. But in spite of all that God chooses Noah to save and then in verse 9 it states that Noah walks in righteousness. Where does this righteousness come from? This righteousness comes from God and His favor with Noah. Noah becomes righteous because God chose Him favorably. WOW! I love this truth and picture from Noah because it gives me hope in my sinful state. God chose to save me also through the blood of Jesus and as now given me the same righteousness that He gave Noah. Our God is an awesome God who never changes and is still in the business of choosing people for righteousness and salvation. Because of this righteousness then also Noah, had faith in God and obeyed God and was saved. Simple, we also need to have faith in God obey God and He will save us and give us righteousness, just like Noah.