With All the Saints
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 12 July 29, 2018
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the Earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the Earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the Earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the Earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the Earth.”
In the Name of Jesus.
God binds all together under his covenant. No isolation, no division, no hatred of one man for another, no malice, no dishonoring conversations, but all, every person, delivered through the flood, bound together by God in his covenant.
All under the covenant’s blessing: Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth. And their wives. And, then, their children, and their children’s children. Genesis 9:18:
The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole Earth were dispersed.
Every family on Earth—from Noah up to us—under the blessing. Ephesians 3:14:
For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in Heaven and on Earth is named.
Under God’s blessing, peace, and care for one another, and joy in each other—no malice, no violence. Healthy families, children as gifts to parents, people honoring one another, each person treating neighbor in generosity. No retribution, no stinginess—all of us belonging to the same Father by virtue of his blessing. Each generation rejoicing in God’s blessing. Genesis 9:1:
And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth.”
This blessing to Noah and his sons and their wives and their families reverses what came due to the fall into sin. When Adam and Eve fell into sin, peace and health and wholeness of families is over.
Adam turns on Eve. Instead of loving his wife and giving thanks for her and protecting her and interceding for forgiveness on her behalf, he accuses her. Genesis 3:12:
The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Then Cain, instead of loving his brother and giving thanks for him, turns jealous and kills him.
It went on, generation to generation, up to Noah. All men and families rejecting the Lord’s gifts, turning on each other, accusing each other rather than interceding to the Lord for each other, until, finally, the Lord shut it down with the flood.
As the flood water subsided, the Lord reversed it all, brining Noah and his family through the flood, giving the covenant blessing. Genesis 9:8
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, … I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the Earth.”
We know how it then goes. We’re children of Noah. Every person on Earth—from Europe or Asia, from Egypt or Brazil, from Jerusalem or Albuquerque—every person, of the children of Noah. Whether from the family of Shem or Ham or Japheth, or some combination, and we are all under the covenant by which we bow our knees before the Father in Heaven, from whom every family in Heaven and on Earth is named.
But we know how it goes. For we know ourselves; we know our neighbor. We know how the children of Noah treat each other.
So, we look back at that covenant given to our father our Noah and we ask, what is that blessing about?
We consider how in the shortly after the flood, as all people on Earth were children and grandchildren and great-great grandchildren of Noah, all bound together in their humanity, all one big family, they built the tower of Babel. And all ended up divided, hating each other, classifying one other not as brother and sister, but by artificial categories of kingdoms and powers, of race and color—we taught ourselves to identify enemies in the flesh and hate them, and kill them.
It comes up to us today. We ask about another person, what race is he? What color is she? What culture is he from? We can slot everyone into category, forgetting that we made the categories up.
What the Lord gives us to know is we are all children of Noah, we are all brothers and sisters bound by the covenant, we are all children of the Father in Heaven, given to bow our knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in Heaven and on Earth is named.
So, we look out over our world and see neighbor dominate neighbor, nation struggle against nation. Then, where the weak are not protected, a person’s human life is counted up by what can be gained from it or what cost it exacts. So that blessing given to Noah by which we are all bound together as what family, where is it?
The waters came over the Earth, forty days and forty nights, and through the water the Lord brought Noah and his family, eight souls in all, safely through. And he blessed them.
But they are still in their sinful flesh.
The blessing gives them their life of faith, their life of a cleansed conscience, their life before God—the life of what Paul calls the inner man. This is the life of the heart of faith, the life living not from what is seen in our world, not from our own keeping of the Law, but from the Word spoken from the mouth of God, where God justifies the sinner. It’s the Word of blessing.
Along with Noah and the eight souls brought through the water on the ark, we, as Noah’s generations, all our neighbors on the face of the Earth, are in sinful flesh. The Apostle Paul calls that life the outer man. It’s the life of the sinful flesh, the life we belong to by everything we are according to our own works.
But we live from the blessing given Noah. Paul calls this life the inner man. At the same time that we live in our sinful flesh, everyday of our life here on Earth, the Lord is creating us anew as the new man of faith, the inner man. This is the cleansed heart living not from our own righteousness—which is death—but from the Word spoken from God’s mouth. This Word justifies us. It’s the Word of blessing.
For the blessing given to Noah is finally Jesus on the cross for every sinner. Jesus, from the lineage of Noah, yet without sin—for he was born of the Virgin of Noah’s lineage, yet begotten of the Father in eternity. Jesus, who took the sins of Noah and all sinners upon himself, so that every sinner is and redeemed to be under the blessing. Jesus, on the cross, is giving the deliverance from the flood of our sin.
The blessing to you and your family, to all the children from Noah, every human on the face of the Earth—the blessing to you is:
God, in his patience, waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to [Noah’s deliverance and blessing through the flood], now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into Heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.[1 Peter 3:21]
The blessing is for all Noah’s children, for all generations. Jesus, of Noah’s lineage, redeems Noah and all, including you and me and all people on the Earth.
You and me, called into the Church by the blessing. Enlightened by the Gospel to live before God the Father with a good conscience; cleansed by Baptism into Christ Jesus.
And now, you and I, gathered into the Ark of the Church, looking out over this sinful world, we pray to God our Father, Save them. Let them hear the Gospel of your Son. Gather them, too, into the safety of the ark of the Church. Cleanse them, too, by the waters of Baptism, relieving them of their troubled consciences. Give them a good conscience before you. Let them hear your Name by which every family on Heaven and on Earth is named, that they may cease maliciously dividing themselves by race and color and language and culture, and may know each other, instead, as brothers and sisters of the blessing.
And you and I, gathered into the Ark of the Church, look at each other. Where we see that we have divided ourselves from one another, where we have spoken of one who belongs to Christ as if that one was our adversary, where we have held another who belongs to Christ under the word of accusation instead of under the Word of blessing, we pray to God, the Father of us all,
Save us. Speak to us the Gospel of your Son. Keep us in the safety of the ark of the Church. Sustain us by the promise of the waters of Baptism. Relieve our troubled consciences. Give us a good conscience before you. Let us embrace one other as brothers and sisters living under the blessing.
[We] bow [our] knees before the Father, from whom every family in Heaven and on Earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.
In the Name of Jesus.