Restoration in Noah’s Family
The Providence of Restoration in Noah’s Family
Cain killed Abel, thereby preventing the providence of restoration in Adam’s family from being accomplished. Nevertheless, God had predestined absolutely the fulfillment of the purpose of creation, and His Will remained unchangeable. Hence, upon the foundation of the loyal heart which Abel demonstrated toward Heaven, God chose Seth in his place.21(Gen. 4:25)CEV|KJ|NI From among Seth’s descendants, God chose Noah’s family to substitute for Adam’s family and commenced a new chapter in His providence.
It is written that God judged the world by the flood: “And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; behold, I will destroy them with the earth.'”22(Gen. 6:13)CEV|KJ|NI This shows us that Noah’s time was the Last Days. God intended to accomplish the purpose of creation after the flood judgment by sending the Messiah upon the foundation laid by Noah’s family. For this reason, Noah’s family was responsible to fulfill the indemnity condition to restore the foundation of faith, and then the indemnity condition to restore the foundation of substance. They were to restore through indemnity the foundation for the Messiah, which Adam’s family had failed to lay.
In the providence of restoration through Noah’s family, Noah was the central figure to restore the foundation of faith. God called Noah ten generations or sixteen hundred biblical years after Adam for the purpose of fulfilling the Will which He had intended to realize through Adam. Accordingly, God bestowed His blessings upon Noah, “be fruitful and multiply,”23(Gen. 9:7)CEV|KJ|NI much as earlier He had bestowed the three great blessings upon Adam.24(Gen. 1:28)CEV|KJ|NI In this sense, Noah was the second ancestor of humanity.
Noah was called when “the earth was filled with violence.”25(Gen. 6:11)CEV|KJ|NI Enduring all kinds of derision and mockery, he worked for 120 years on a mountain to build the ark in absolute obedience to God’s instructions. Upon this condition of faith, God could bring on the flood judgment centered on Noah’s family. In this sense, Noah was the first father of faith. Although we commonly regard Abraham as the father of faith, in fact, Noah was to have had that honor. As we shall see, it was due to his son Ham’s sinful act that the mission of the father of faith was transferred from Noah to Abraham.
In the case of Adam, it was explained that although he should have been the central figure to restore the foundation of faith, he could not offer the sacrifice himself. Noah’s situation was different. He was called by God upon the foundation of Abel’s loyal and faithful heart in making an acceptable symbolic offering. In regard to his lineage, Noah was a descendant of Seth, who had been chosen to replace Abel. Furthermore, Noah was a righteous man in the sight of God.26(Gen. 6:9)CEV|KJ|NIFor these reasons, he was qualified to make the symbolic offering to God by building the ark.
The object for the condition by which Noah was to restore the foundation of faith was the ark. The ark was full of symbolic significance. Before Noah could stand in place of Adam as the second human ancestor, he first had to make an indemnity condition for the restoration of the cosmos, which had been lost to Satan due to Adam’s fall. Hence, the object for this condition, which Noah had to offer in an acceptable manner, should symbolize the new cosmos. He offered the ark as this object.
The ark was built with three decks, symbolizing the cosmos which had been created through the three stages of the growing period. The eight members of Noah’s family who entered the ark represented the eight members of Adam’s family who, having been invaded by Satan, had to be restored through indemnity. Thus, the ark symbolized the cosmos; Noah, its master, symbolized God; the members of his family symbolized humanity; and the animals brought into the ark symbolized the entire natural world.
After the ark was completed, God judged the world with the flood for forty days. What was the purpose of the flood? According to the Principle of Creation, human beings were created to serve only one master. Since humankind was under bondage to Satan, full of corruption and debauchery, for God to relate with them He would have to assume the position of a second master. That would be unprincipled. Therefore, God brought about the flood judgment, eliminating sinful humanity in order to raise up a family who would relate only with Him.
Why did God choose a forty-day period for the flood? The significance of the forty-day period should be understood in terms of the meaning of the numbers four and ten. The number ten signifies unity.27(cf. Periods 2.4) It was ten generations after Adam when God called upon Noah to restore through indemnity the Will which He could not fulfill through Adam. By fulfilling a period of indemnity containing the number ten, God meant to bring the dispensation back into unity with His Will. Furthermore, since the goal of restoration is to complete the four position foundation, God worked to raise up each of these ten generations by setting up an indemnity period to restore the number four. In total, the period from Adam to Noah was an indemnity period to restore the number forty. Due to the lustfulness of the people of those days, however, this indemnity period of the number forty was defiled by Satan. The dispensation of Noah’s ark was God’s new attempt to complete the four position foundation. Therefore, God set the period of the flood judgment at forty days as the indemnity period to restore the number forty, which had been defiled when the earlier period was lost to Satan. By fulfilling this numerical period of indemnity, God intended to restore the foundation of faith.
The number forty thus became characteristic of dispensations for the separation of Satan, which are necessary for restoring the foundation of faith. There are many examples of this: Noah’s forty-day flood; the four hundred years from Noah to Abraham; the Israelites’ four hundred years of slavery in Egypt; Moses’ two forty-day fasts; the forty days of spying in Canaan; the Israelites’ forty years of wandering in the wilderness; the forty-year reigns of King Saul, King David and King Solomon; Elijah’s forty-day fast; Jonah’s prophecy that Nineveh would be destroyed in forty days; Jesus’ forty-day fast and prayer in the wilderness; and the forty-day period from Jesus’ resurrection to his ascension.
In the Bible we read that at the end of forty days of rain, Noah sent forth from the ark a raven and a dove.28(Gen. 8:6-7)CEV|KJ|NI Let us examine what future providential situations this foreshadowed, as it is written, “Surely the Lord God does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.”29(Amos 3:7)CEV|KJ|NI By building the ark and passing through the forty-day flood judgment, Noah fulfilled an indemnity condition for the restoration of the cosmos. The flood corresponds to the period of chaos before the creation of the universe when “the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.”30(Gen. 1:2)CEV|KJ|NI Accordingly, the works which God performed around the ark at the end of the forty-day flood symbolized the entire course of history following God’s creation of heaven and earth.
What was foreshadowed when Noah sent forth the raven, which circled about looking for a place to land until the waters subsided? It signified that Satan would be looking for a condition through which he could invade Noah’s family, just as the Archangel vied for Eve’s love soon after the creation of human beings, and just as Satan couched at the door looking for an opportunity to invade the offerings of Cain and Abel.31(Gen. 4:7)CEV|KJ|NI
What was foreshadowed when Noah sent forth the dove three times? Although it is written in the Bible that Noah sent out the dove to see if the water had subsided, that was not its only purpose. Certainly Noah could have looked out the opening from which he set forth the dove to examine the situation for himself. The sending forth of the dove had a deeper significance connected with the mysterious Will of God. Seven days after God proclaimed the flood judgment through Noah, the flood began.32(Gen. 7:10)CEV|KJ|NI Forty days later, the dove was first sent out. It flew about but then returned to the ark because it found no place to land, and Noah took it back inside.33(Gen. 8:9)CEV|KJ|NI The dove, when it was sent out the first time, represented the first Adam. God created Adam with the hope that His ideal of creation, which He had cherished from before time, would be realized in Adam as the perfect incarnation of the divine ideal on earth. Due to Adam’s fall, however, God could not realize the divine ideal on earth through him. God thus had to withdraw His ideal from the earth for a time and postpone its fulfillment to a later date.
Seven days later, Noah sent forth the dove a second time. Still the water had not yet dried, and again the dove returned. This time it carried in its mouth an olive leaf, indicating that there would be a place for it to land the next time.34(Gen. 8:10-11)CEV|KJ|NI The dove, when it was sent out the second time, symbolized Jesus, the second Adam, whose coming would be God’s second attempt to realize the perfect incarnation of the divine ideal on the earth. These verses foreshadowed that if the chosen people were to disbelieve in Jesus at his coming, then he would have “nowhere to lay his head”35(Luke 9:58)CEV|KJ|NI and thus would not be able to realize God’s complete Will on the earth. In that situation, Jesus would have to go to the cross and return to God’s bosom, leaving behind the promise of the Second Advent. The dove returned to the ark because the water had not yet dried up. By analogy, had more of the Jewish people faithfully attended Jesus, he would have found a secure place to stand among them. He would not have been crucified and would have gone on to build the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
After another seven days had passed, Noah sent out the dove for the third time. This time the dove did not return to the ark, for the ground was dry.36(Gen. 8:12)CEV|KJ|NI The dove, when it was sent out the third time, symbolized Christ at the Second Advent, who is to come as the third Adam. This foreshadowed that when Christ comes again, he will surely be able to realize God’s ideal of creation, which will never again be withdrawn from the earth. When the dove did not return, Noah finally disembarked from the ark and walked upon the earth, which had been purged of sin and made new. This foreshadowed that when the ideal of creation is realized on the earth through the work of the third Adam, the new Jerusalem will descend from Heaven and the dwelling of God will be with men.37(Rev. 21:1-3)CEV|KJ|NI
The foreshadowing in this story should be interpreted in light of the principle explained earlier: God’s providence of restoration may be prolonged if the person entrusted with the providence fails in his responsibility.38(cf. Predestination 2) Due to Adam’s faithlessness and failure to complete his responsibility, Jesus had to come as the second Adam. Furthermore, if the Jewish people were to disbelieve in Jesus and thus fail to complete their responsibility, Christ would certainly have to come again as the third Adam. Just as the creation of heaven and earth took a seven-day period, the seven-day intervals for sending forth the dove indicate to us that the restoration of heaven and earth requires certain providential periods of time.
Noah successfully restored through indemnity the foundation of faith by fulfilling the dispensation of the ark and thereby making a symbolic offering acceptable to God. In doing so, Noah fulfilled both the indemnity condition for the restoration of all things and the indemnity condition for the symbolic restoration of human beings. Upon this foundation, Noah’s sons, Shem and Ham, were then to have stood in the position of Cain and Abel, respectively. Had they then succeeded in the substantial offering by fulfilling the indemnity condition to remove the fallen nature, they would have laid the foundation of substance.
For Noah’s family to make an acceptable substantial offering, Ham, Noah’s second son, was to restore the position of Abel, Adam’s second son. He was supposed to become the central figure of the substantial offering, just as Abel was the central figure of his family’s substantial offering. In Adam’s family, Abel had successfully made the symbolic offering in Adam’s place to restore through indemnity the foundation of faith and to be qualified as the central figure of the substantial offering. In the case of Noah’s family, it was Noah, not Ham, who made the symbolic offering. Therefore, for Ham to stand in the position of Abel, as one who has succeeded in making the symbolic offering, he had to become inseparably one in heart with his father, Noah. Let us examine how God worked to help Ham become one in heart with Noah.
The Bible reports that when Ham saw his father lying naked in his tent, he felt ashamed of Noah and took offense. Ham stirred up the same feelings in his brothers, Shem and Japheth. Swayed by Ham to feel ashamed of their father’s nakedness and turning their faces so as not to behold the sight, they walked backwards and covered their father’s body with a garment. This act constituted a sin, so much so that Noah rebuked Ham, cursing his son to be a slave to his brothers.39(Gen. 9:20-25)CEV|KJ|NI
Why did God conduct this dispensation? Why was it such a sin to feel ashamed of nakedness? To understand these matters, let us first recall what constitutes sin.40(cf. Fall 4.5) Satan cannot manifest his powers – including the power to exist and act – unless he first secures an object partner with whom he can make a common base and engage in a reciprocal relationship of give and take. Whenever a person makes a condition for Satan to invade, it means that he has allowed himself to become Satan’s object partner, thereby empowering Satan to act. This constitutes sin.
Next, let us examine why God tested Ham by having him behold Noah’s nakedness. We saw that the ark symbolized the cosmos, and that the events occurring immediately after the dispensation of the ark represented the events which took place immediately after the creation of the cosmos. Hence, Noah’s position right after the flood was much like that of Adam after the creation of heaven and earth.
Adam and Eve before the Fall were close in heart and innocently open with each other and with God; as it is written, they were not ashamed of their nakedness.41(Gen. 2:25)CEV|KJ|NI Yet after they fell, they felt ashamed of their nakedness. They covered their lower parts with fig leaves and hid among the trees of the garden, fearing that God would see them.42(Gen. 3:7-8)CEV|KJ|NI This shame was an indication of their inner reality, for they had formed a bond of blood ties with Satan by committing sin with their sexual parts. By covering their lower parts and hiding, they expressed their guilty consciences, which made them feel ashamed to come before God.
Noah, who had severed his ties to Satan through the forty-day flood judgment, was supposed to secure the position of Adam right after the creation of the universe. God expected that the members of Noah’s family would react to Noah’s nakedness without any feelings of shame and without any thought to conceal his body. God wanted to recover the joyful heart which He had felt when looking at Adam and Eve in their innocence before the Fall by taking delight in the innocence of Noah’s family. To fulfill such a profound wish, God had Noah lie naked. Had Ham been one in heart with Noah, regarding him with the same heart and from the same standpoint as God, he would have looked upon his father’s nakedness without any sense of shame. He thus would have fulfilled the indemnity condition to restore in Noah’s family the state of Adam and Eve’s innocence before the Fall.
We can thus understand that when Noah’s sons felt ashamed of their father’s nakedness and covered his body, it was tantamount to acknowledging that they, like Adam’s family after the Fall, had formed a shameful bond of kinship with Satan and were thus unworthy to come before God. Satan, like the raven hovering over the water, was looking for a condition to invade Noah’s family. He attacked the family by taking Noah’s sons as his object partners when they in effect acknowledged that they were of his lineage.
When Ham felt ashamed of his father’s nakedness and acted to cover it up, he made a condition for Satan to enter; hence his feeling and act constituted a sin. Consequently, Ham could not restore through indemnity the position of Abel from which to make the substantial offering. Since he could not establish the foundation of substance, the providence of restoration in Noah’s family ended in failure.
Is it always sinful to regard nakedness with a sense of shame? No. Noah’s was a special case. In the position of Adam, Noah had the mission to remove all of Adam’s conditions which had left him vulnerable to Satan’s attack. By demonstrating that they neither felt ashamed of Noah’s nakedness nor would attempt to cover it, Noah’s family would have fulfilled the indemnity condition to restore the position of Adam’s family in its original innocence before it had joined with Satan in a kinship of blood. Therefore, this was an indemnity condition which only Noah’s family was required to fulfill.
It is difficult for anyone to understand how Noah persisted in building the ark on the mountain over 120 long years, all the while enduring harsh criticism and ridicule. Ham knew well that his family had been saved by his father’s labors. Considering these things, Ham should have had such respect for his father that he would overcome his personal offense at Noah’s nakedness and have some understanding of it. Yet instead of trusting Noah, who had been justified by Heaven, Hamcriticized him from a self-centered perspective and showed his displeasure by his actions. His disrespect had the effect of frustrating God’s long labors to work His providence through Noah’s family. We, too, need humility, obedience and patience to walk the path toward Heaven.
Next, the providence in Noah’s family teaches us about God’s conditional predestination of the fulfillment of His Will and His respect for the human portion of responsibility. God found Noah’s family after sixteen hundred years of preparation. He guided Noah for 120 years while he constructed the ark and raised up his family at the cost of sacrificing the rest of humanity in the flood. However, even though they had been His beloved in the providence of restoration, when Ham made his seemingly small mistake, allowing Satan to taint them, the entire Will centering on Noah’s family came to naught.
Finally, the providence through Noah’s family teaches us about God’s conditional predestination of human beings. Despite the fact that God had striven arduously for a long time to find Noah and raise him up as the father of faith, when his family could not fulfill its responsibility, God, though regretful, did not hesitate to abandon him and choose Abraham in his place.