When God Delivers in Unexpected Ways

-When God Delivers In Unexpected Ways-

When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.”
— Genesis 5:28-29

Read that verse there in the quote at the top. That is a powerful verse, especially when you take it in context of the promise for deliverance in the heir of Adam, a child that would crush the head of the serpent! Surely God is delivering His children from the aftermath of the fall in a way that will bring rest.

Noah and the flood

He does, but not exactly as Lamech or others who would hear his reasoning of his son’s name would think. Oddly enough, we find in Genesis 9:20 that Noah becomes a man of the soil (adamah) which is much like Adam (man) who was created from the soil. In Genesis after Adam and Eve fall, the soil (adamah) is cursed and man is destined to toil by the sweat of their brow fighting against the soil. This is reiterated when God curses Cain (a man of the ground) and the earth (Cain’s source of provision). And here we have Noah, named because his father thought that he would bring man (adam) relief from work and pain resulting from toiling the ground (adamah).

How did God bring deliverance to Noah and mankind?

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lordregretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

- Genesis 5:6-8

God delivered the future of mankind by literally destroying every person on the face of the earth beside Noah and his family. Now, that sounds harsh, but look at the description of the state of the world in the passage above. “Every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” this is how the scripture describes man at that time. Reflect back on Cain and remember the grace God showed to Cain in the midst of his wickedness. God is not quick to bring death, even on the wicked, but He also refused to tolerate sin and see His creation destroyed and suffering in the midst of it. God delivered Noah out of that sinful world, and delivered the future of mankind from the anguish of experiencing that existence.

We know that Noah builds the ark, collects the animals, and is delivered safely through the storm. But look what happens near the end of the story when Noah gets off the ark:

Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

- Genesis 8:20-22

God fulfills the meaning of the naming of Noah - “I will never again curse the ground (adamah) because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” He promises not to curse the ground again (not that the original curse was removed) and promises regularity and predictability in the cycle of the seasons. God also promises never to flood the earth again later in Genesis 9:11. God delivers Noah and his family from the judgement in a way we wouldn’t expect, and in doing so also delivers mankind from the depth of sin that was present before the flood took place. Understanding God’s faithfulness in this situation is key and we will get a clear reason to understand why we can trust Him in His decision with difficult situations like this in part two of this blog post.

Remember what happened after Adam and Eve fell, God promised delivery in the future, gave them clothes to wear, and protected them from sealing themselves in a state of sin and despair? They had a son named Cain who ended up killing his brother and ultimately being delivered from death by a protective mark from God. Crazy right?

Well… it kind of happens again, right after a huge incident of grace from the Lord, one of Noah’s sons, Ham, does something that leads the world right back into experiencing sin and the consequences of sin.

Ham and Canaan

The incident with Ham and Canaan hardly looks like a situation of deliverance, I mean Canaan’s offspring are cursed for whatever it was that Ham did (we aren’t explicitly told) by looking on his father’s nakedness. Deliverance… getting cursed… deliverance… getting cursed - gonna say it is hard to claim deliverance when you get cursed!

However, take a moment to think about things here. Lets read the passage and then move forward:

Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father's nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said,

“Cursed be Canaan;
    a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”

He also said,

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem;
    and let Canaan be his servant.
May God enlarge Japheth,
    and let him dwell in the tents of Shem,
    and let Canaan be his servant.”

- Genesis 9:20-27

Let’s be honest, just like the situation in Eden, Noah and his family did not have a very good start to a renewed opportunity of a world with less sin and evil. Noah gets drunk, ends up naked in his tent (don’t want to know) and his son Ham ends up walking in, apparently seeing or doing something he should not and then tells his brothers about it (this is potentially the biggest issue with the incident - the telling of the brothers about what happened but never doing anything to correct the situation). This is a crazy start to the new world God just delivered into Noah and his families hands. We can see the depth and breadth of the sinful nature in how quickly things fell apart after being delivered from a universal (no, this does not mean the whole universe was flooded - come on, seriously guys…) flood (it means the flood impacted all mankind - I’m simplifying to save you from reading a 50 page document).

We see the deliverance in Noah (and understand that God has a greater rest planned than Noah, Lamech, or anyone else expects, much later in history), but do we see the deliverance in the situation with Ham and Canaan? Much like the curse of Cain, Ham - and Canaan by proxy, is delivered from immediate and just punishment of death (the wages of sin are death). The whole entire world outside of this family was just judged based on their sinfulness, the new opportunity for a better world had just begun, and Ham (and his lineage by proxy) just committed a sexual sin. Ham and Canaan were delivered from death. Not only that, but they were delivered from complete exile from the family. Remember, Cain had to LEAVE - get out, sayonara, hasta la vista, so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye! Here, however, God did not tell Canaan to just yeet on out of here. He cursed him to be the “servant of servants”, to serve in the tents of his brothers. Now, think about that for a second… the world might thing being a servant is low but what does the Bible say about it? That’s right, you’re thinking what I’m thinking:

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,  and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

- Mark 10:42-45

Canaan was cursed, because of his father, but his and his father’s life were not taken due to their sin. Canaan’s line had the opportunity to fill the greatest role that existed. But, like Cain, they failed to obey God in their punishment and Canaan’s line is yet to fulfill the role set for them. This is where the next big instance of deliverance and grace from God comes into play (but we will talk about that later - as the Canaan issue is an interesting but involved story of punishment, grace, patience, and justice)

why was canaan cursed and not Ham?
(read up on some potential reasons why here)

I was going to talk more about Canaan’s line and then talk about Abraham with Sodom and Gomorrah to round this out, but I am going to make that a part II of this section on “When God Delivers in Unexpected Ways”. I know it all doesn’t make sense to you yet, but it will get tied together at the end.

In the mean time, I want you to ponder in your mind how all this is going to tie together? Next week we’ll hear about how Canaan impacts Abraham and his offspring, the judgement of the Canaanites, a Canaanite woman talking to Jesus, and Abraham’s situation with Sodom and Gomorrah. We’ll see some awesome things about God, even in the midst of His judgement, that will help us remember that God always has a desire to deliver His creation and takes the steps necessary to make sure it happens.

Just remember this verse as you think about how this is all going to to come together to show God delivering in unexpected ways:

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

“For you shall go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
    shall break forth into singing,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
    instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
    an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

- Isaiah 55:6-13

Scriptures Used In This Post:

Genesis 5:28-29

Genesis 5:6-8

Genesis 8:20-22

Genesis 9:20-27

Mark 10:42-25

Isaiah 55:6-13

Resources Used In This Post:

Photo from Calpower on Pixabay

Custance.org (Noah Vol 1 Part III pg. 3

Table of Nations by Tim Osterholm