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Be Fruitful and Multiply or Not

God’s way to blessing is the only way to blessing.
Lesson 24 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”

– Genesis 9:1

Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. And it came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there…And they said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

– Genesis 11:1, 2&4

When the water finally subsided, the ark came to rest on a mountain, and the animals went their own way. And so it was that Noah and his family escaped God’s judgment of evil in the world, not because they were without sin, but because they believed God. And God blessed Noah and his sons and told them to be fruitful and multiply, and fill them earth. The number of Noah’s descendants increased greatly, but they remained as one people. They did not fill the earth as God commanded. Instead they built a city. Then they built a tower reaching to the heavens. God was not pleased.

– The HOPE, Chapter 4

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

Have you ever longed for a fresh start? Well after the flood, Noah and his family experienced one of the most remarkable fresh starts in human history. They had a blank slate on which to begin a completely new story for their lives. And furthermore, God spoke a blessing of prosperity over them (Genesis 9:1,  7). God then promised never to destroy the world with a flood again …and He sealed His promise with the first rainbow (Genesis 9:13-15)!

What an opportunity for renewal. Unfortunately, it was never realized!

God told Noah and his family to fill the earth. Instead, they gathered in one place and built a city. They wanted to be one people in one place. But that is not what God wanted. In the next lesson we’ll see God’s response to their disobedience, but for today let’s reflect on how they could possibly have missed such an incredible opportunity to walk in the way of blessing!

According to God’s story, Noah and his family entered the ark on the second week of the 2nd month of the year. They left the ark on the 27th day of the 2nd month of the following year (Genesis 8:14-15). Assuming a lunar calendar of 365 days, Noah and his family could have been on the ark an entire year!1 Linger on that thought before moving on.

When they finally stepped off the ark, what were they feeling? What on earth did they see after everything had been under water for nearly a year? Was it a strange, horrifying sight, perhaps even surreal?

Of all people, Noah and his family should have been prepared to follow God no matter what they saw.

  •  In the entire world they alone had been preserved by God through the flood.
  •  They personally heard God and saw Him do amazing things.
  •  God pronounced a blessing on them that they should have fruitful lives.

Still, after radically trusting God and having experienced His faithfulness as they did, Noah’s family failed to do what God told them to do. Either they didn’t listen carefully or they listened, but didn’t obey. You’ve probably heard the saying that there is safety in numbers. Perhaps they stayed together because they were afraid. Whatever their reason, they disobeyed God. They did not attempt to fill the earth.

From today’s lesson, consider that:

  •  God wanted Noah and his family to prosper and “fill” the earth (Genesis 9:1). That was the way to discover God’s blessing. But the way to blessing may not have looked to them like a blessing. The people feared being “scattered” across the earth (Genesis11:4). The difference between “filling” the earth (as God commanded) and being “scattered” across the earth is primarily one of perspective: one of choosing or being forced.
  •  They wanted to make a name for themselves (Genesis 11:4). That prideful motivation sounds a lot like the attitude that led to Satan’s downfall (Lesson 14).
  •  Even though they didn’t want to follow God, they still wanted to get to heaven. But they wanted to do it their way – by building a tower (Genesis 11:4).

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