Community Group Study “Genesis: A Covenant and a Promise”

Before your community group meets:

Read Genesis 8:20-9:28 list out 7-10 observations you have from the text.

Do you see any significance to Noah’s first act being worship and sacrifice? How does God respond?

What does the text say about Humanity’s personhood, calling and relationship with nature based on God’s words to Noah in 9:1-7

What does God promise to Noah and future generations in his covenant? One of the things we can observe in scripture is that God gives signs to his people when he makes a covenant. Why do you think God does this?

Study Information:

This passage shows us 3 things about the new beginning God brings through Noah and his family.

First, God re-establishes his blessing with humanity. The first thing that Noah does after leaving the Ark was to offer worship and sacrifice to God. In this way Noah acts as a priest respond to God with an offering that God accepts and then God bestows a blessing. He foreshadows his covenant (8:21) and then blesses Noah and his family with the same blessing given to humanity in Genesis 1:28). God follows this up with provisions for this new beginning like humanity ruling over creation, animals now being part of the food chain for humanity and limits on human violence. God ends this section by reconfirming that humanity is still made in the image and likeness of God. This creation language shows Noah to be a new Adam and that God is reestablishing his created order through Noah.

Second, God makes a covenant. This is the first time we get detail into the specific promises of God through a covenant. A covenant is a relationship based contract and this one is unconditional. God promises to never again destroy the earth and all living things through a flood. The sign of this covenant is the rainbow, which becomes a symbol of God’s faithfulness to his promise and opposition to sin. The bow was used in battle or hunting and here it is hung up in the sky. We experience this beautiful sign often during rainy seasons and it is a reminder for God and his people that he is faithful to his promise.

Finally, Sin is still present in God’s good creation.Probably the most challenging aspect of the text is what’s happening in Genesis 9:20-27. We learn that Noah starts a nice little winery but partakes too deeply of the fruit of the vine and goes to sleep exposed. Nakedness in the scripture is often tied to sin and shame (ex: Habakkuk 2:15, Genesis 3:17, 21). Noah’s son Ham happened to stumble in on Noah’s exposed and sleeping body. Bible scholars disagree on the specifics but the implication here is not that it was just a harmless or an accidental occurrence, instead it was something sinful. The focus on the name “Canaan” gives us a clue that it was something sexually inappropriate since the Canaanites (the people who inhabited the Promised Land before Israel) were known for sexual immoral behavior. Ham goes and tells his brothers and they do the honorable thing of not looking on their father’s nakedness and instead cover him and when Noah finds out what happened he gives a strong curse to Ham’s family line. The focus of this last scene is to show the reader that sin is still present in God’s good world, despite the flood and God’s new beginning. It points us to our need for God to give his people a new heart and to save and redeem from sin’s power.

To summarize, God gives his people a new beginning and in it recommits his blessing to them to be his image bearers and to be fruitful and multiply in such a way that they’re exercising leadership and God honoring power over the created world as his representative. God promises mercy and grace in response to sin, and gives a sign of his faithfulness in the rainbow. Yet, despite these things sin is still present and active in God’s good world showing us our ongoing need for a savior.

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week?

Scripture and Discussion Questions:

Noah’s first action when get left the ark was to offer worship. How is this significant?

In light of what we’ve learned over the last few chapters, why does God put such an emphasis on personhood and consequences on violent action (Genesis 9:5)?

Describe the covenant God made with Noah and his family. What did God promise and what are some of the reasons people need reassurances of God’s faithfulness?

We should long for a happy resolution to the flood story, but like in past scenes the section ends with a negative note highlighting the fallenness and sinfulness of humanity. Why does God keep giving us these reminders at the end of the different stories in Genesis?

Looking Ahead:

Read Genesis 10:1-11:26 list out 10-15 observations you have from the text.

Many scholars think that Genesis 10 actually happens before the tower of Babel since there is reference to these different people’s having separate languages and since we get a fuller picture of Shem’s descendants in Genesis 11:10-32. Often Hebrew writers will do stuff like this and put their focus in the middle (instead of the end like Americans are used to). What do we learn about the people after the flood from Genesis 11:1-2, why is it significant that the genealogy emphasizes they all had separate languages, nations and cultures? Where did that come from?

Look at Genesis 11:3-4. The people using the language “let us” is an intentional reference back to Genesis 1:26. The people here are assuming a god-like stance… they desire to make a name for themselves showing their desire for freedom from God. How does God respond in the text and what was their overall goal?

If we are honest, many of us try and assume the place of God in our life. Spend some time in prayer asking God to reveal those areas to you and offer repentance and confession to God.

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