But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. Genesis 6:8-9
The hopes and expectations for 2014 for every Christ follower is probably best summed up in our desire to find favor in the eyes of the Lord. Finding favor carries with it the idea of being blessed with pardon, purpose, provision, protection etc.
Favor is one of those beautiful biblical words that communicate the extension of God’s grace and blessing to human kind. The Hebrew word “chen” interpreted most commonly as “favor” is also translated in some passages of scripture as “grace” or “blessing.” It is significant to note that favor is often phrased in the Bible as something that is “found.” For instance the first mention of the word “favor” is in Genesis 6:8-9: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” I just happened to read this very verse today as I am launching into my annual daily reading plan to take me through the entire Bible in a year. (If you don’t already have one, try the YouVersion website or app for tons of Bible reading plan ideas.)
When something is found it carries with it the idea of being gifted or granted out of goodwill. That is an important distinction as opposed to something that we possess by virtue of having earned, purchased or gained it by the strength of our own will. Favor in many ways is like God’s mercy. It is unearned. Paul underscores this when he writes “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” (Romans 9:16 ESV)
Genesis is the book of “beginnings” and contains many first mentions. In most cases the first mention of a spiritual concept, i.e. favor, contains within it the essential seed truth for understanding its use and meaning throughout the Bible. First mentions also give us insight into the unchanging nature and character of God that carries through into the New Testament with the revelation of Jesus Christ. Remember the helpful adage – “The New is in the Old contained, the Old is in the New explained. The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed.”
Herein lies the secret to understanding God’s favor and grace. The record of God’s favor being extended to Noah in verse 8 precedes the account in verse 9 of three additional facts about Noah. “This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” The order in which these facts are presented says the same thing Paul tells us in Romans. Noah’s righteous and blameless life did not earn him God’s favor. To the contrary, it was God’s favor, i.e. His grace, that led Noah into a walk with God. Noah’s righteousness and all the attendant blessings were a result of God’s grace and not the cause of it.
What a wonderful thing to be reminded of this truth as we begin a new year. It affords us the joy of entering into a new year from a place of rest, free from a sense of ought to’s and should’s. As Christ followers we can expect God’s favor in 2014, because it is freely extended to us, simply to be received by faith. The quintessential essence of God’s favor is the gift of righteousness, salvation from God’s judgments and fruitfulness. Just as Noah and his family were saved and then given the mandate to increase and multiply we can now expect and experience God’s favorable abundance as well. (1 Peter 3:20-21 & Genesis 9:1)
For myself, I have determined to agree and confess the truth of Scripture, that in Christ this is “the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Isaiah 61:2)
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