Noah, a continuation of Sethís line, is a figure of the spiritual mind at a new stage of development. It has come so far as to know the judgment of the old man, and the way through that judgment to a cleansed and better world. First, there is the discovery of sin which works in our old man nature. Then, we are tossed about with waves and billows of Godís judgments within. Lastly, we rest in resurrection life beyond the deep waters. Regeneration is not known until we have proved the corruptness and helplessness of all that comes from the old Adam. An improvement of the old man is not regeneration, but a new birth out of its death and dissolution. We see that Noah is not brought out of the Adam world into the world of the rainbow until Adamsí seed is proved to be so corrupt that they and their world must be destroyed.
To look at the details of what happened in Noahís day and to apply them inwardly, we come to an understanding of the workings of our inward man as the Lord has drawn it upon an outward life. Manís state is described as: "Man multiplied on the earth, and daughters were born to them." "Men" are certain minds or thoughts (e.g. carnal mind, spiritual mind). A host of thoughts are seen to be alive within us. Their daughters are the affections arising from them, which are shown to be corrupt and carnal.
Then "the sons of God" (thoughts which are not of the earth), mix with "daughters of men", (impure affections). This is what appears before regeneration: inward confusion, which is the result of the mixture of the flesh and of the spirit. The affections of the flesh seduce the higher thoughts of the spirit and produce "giants" -- earthborn thoughts, full of evil and violence. (Do we not see this all around us as we are again in the time the scriptures call "as the days of Noah"). But those who have, through grace, reached regeneration, will remember the awful sense of inward confusion in which they walked. When their spirit tried to walk with God they were constantly dismayed by the base workings of the fleshly mind.
The ark is the appointed means of deliverance for Noah, the spiritual mind. To make the ark, an axe must be laid to the root of the trees, which is Godís way of deliverance for us! The ark is formed by cutting down and judging the pride and strength of the old nature. It figures the cross by which the world is crucified to us, and us unto the world. As that ark was made up of many beams, so does the cross which delivers us from the world, consist of many parts, large and small crosses which are needful for our deliverance from our carnal nature. We cannot take any shortcuts, for in the cross alone is out safety. In it is light - a window and a door. In it is food, "all food that may be eaten"; and in it are "heights and depths."
Into the ark go clean and unclean beasts. Beasts figure certain animal faculties or powers in man. Some are clean and gentle, as doves and lambs; some are unclean and wild, as wolves, or swine. There is a mystery here that the church has not understood. It teaches that, after the person is born again, all the evil of the old nature is left behind - gone. If they see any evil passion arise in a believer, they hasten to say that he has never been "saved". Regeneration does not wholly take away or abolish bad tempers, or deliver from addictions. Entering into the cross and dying daily is the only remedy for those evil desires or habits to gradually become subject to the man.
In Noah, man recovers power over the beasts, but they are not fully slain. As our inward man learns to be subject the Lord, so fierce and devilish spirits in us (lions and bears!) become subject to us. Let the cross do its perfect work! In this ark are lower, second, and third stories - different attainments in the knowledge of the cross. Few enter into all the heights and depths available to them, for they have not yet put on the image of the Head. In the ark are found many carnal souls who cannot know the heights of the cross, yet they are saved by grace, even as the spiritual. Psalm 148:7-13 gives us a praise to God from all these different realms of the spiritual understanding.
Praise comes forth from: the earth, dragons, and deeps; from fire, hail, stormy wind fulfilling His Word; from the spiritual - mountains, hills, fruitful trees, cedars; from the carnal - beasts, all cattle, and creeping things; from kings of the earth and all people; both young men and maidens; old men, and children.
There are seven steps in Noahís life that trace a Christianís separation from the old world by the working of the cross. (1) First, Noah enters the ark, and "the Lord shuts him in." Oh, how thankful we should be for the security of being "Shut in with God in that secret place, there in the spirit beholding His face. Gaining new courage to run in the race; I want to be shut in with God." The cross holds us securely from what is without, restrains what is within, and keeps us secure in Him.
(2) After being shut in, "the flood came." Floods of temptation and lust break forth in the soul; great waves and billows toss within us. A flood has come upon us from the heavens, sent by God to destroy the strength of self within us. This judgment of the old man leads the spirit, in time, to greater joys and liberty. This is the reality of water baptism. The act we had done by faith - identifying with His death, burial and resurrection, we must now experience in its inner workings. Baptism cannot remain simply an ordinance -- it must become a reality that we are cleansed by water (all our bitterness, rejection, self-hate, etc must be washed away an we die to self).
A further baptism comes to all who continue on with Him, even a baptism of fire. By fire the heavens, as well as the earth (in us) are purified. Because these operations in us are for good, He promises that "the waters shall not overflow us", "neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."
(3) The ark went upon the face of the waters. We go through the flood. We are not saved from the waters, but must go through the death and judgment upon all selfhood. At this stage we learn the worst about ourselves. After so long blaming others for all our problems, the Lord opens the floodgates within and lets us see how helpless we are in self. It is only then that we learn "that through death (to self) he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil..." Heb 2:14 Jesus could say, "The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in Me" because his soul was subject in all ways unto the Spirit of the Father. This is the death (to the power of the soul) that frees us from the power of our enemy!
(4) When all seems hopeless, the Lord sends a wind, a breathing of the Spirit to quieten the floods within. The Spirit breathes and the tossing of the waters decrease. "God remembered Noah and caused wind to pass over the earth, and the water assuaged." The rest is near.
(5) The grounding of the ark is the next step. Now it rests firmly upon the land even though the land cannot yet be seen, for it is covered with water. The cross has brought us to a better land - a cleansed land. And God, after we have suffered awhile, now establishes, strengthens, and settles us (I Pet. 5:10). The day of the arkís resting is the day of Christís resurrection: "the 17th day of the 7th month." After our death, we rise also to "newness of life" in Him! The pattern in Noahís life shows this clearly to our wondering eyes.
(6) Next, "The window is opened"; light shines in, and a new world appears. "The tops of the mountains are seen." Faith is now turned to sight. Deliverance from the tossing waters of the soul begins to be seen. (e.g. "Oh, I donít react like that any more! Iím able to keep my peace.") Hill-tops are promises of a higher place in God and we now get a glimpse of a more joyous place in our relationship with Him.
(7) At last, "the dove and the raven are sent forth." These are birds of heaven, and the heaven is the understanding. So, we still have certain powers or emotions of the understanding that are both pure and impure (good and evil stay with us until the last.) The raven is a figure of those tendencies in us that like to feed on dead things. The ark (cross) has not changed the ravenís nature, though is restrains it. The raven, when freed, returns not, but the gentle dove will be a truer sign in your life that you have entered a new world. She will not rest upon troubled waters, but returns to Him who sent her forth. Again she goes forth and returns with an olive leaf, a witness of a new life and anointing, and so she may return and find rest in that cleansed land above the waters. (Like Noah, whose name means rest, we find rest when we cease from soulish strivings and let the cross do its work!)
We now consider Noah on the earth beyond the flood, as the spiritual mind which has experienced the judgment of the old creation. We are risen with Christ and brought into another world. There are seven stages of this high calling: (1) "They went forth." Liberty is now known, and by grace we no longer feel " a prisoner of hope", shut in by the cross. All things are lawful (though not all things are expedient) for us. The tossings of the waves have ceased and we have viewed the hilltops of promise. From the gentle Dove we have received the olive leaf, the token of the earnest of our inheritance. We no longer feel bound by rules or times, but know that "to the pure, all is pure" and are free to be led by the Holy Spirit.
(2) When the old man has been judged, worship will take first place. As soon as Noahís feet touched the firm earth, he "builded an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings." Here, at the altar, God reveals His heart to him and shows the depth of His Love by telling him, "I will not curse again. Even though manís heart is still evil, I will not curse or smite again." Man knows now that God has saved him and will continue to save him! He opens up to manís understanding that all the changes in his earth are but a part of His divine plan ("seed-time, harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.") There is a time of sowing (in us), and a time of reaping, a time when coldness will serve His purposes, and darkness too -- all of these ways with us are of Him.
(3) Fruitfulness is the next stage. In creation, on the third day, the earth rose out of the waters and was made fruitful. Now in the third great stage in man, the flood is passed and the new man within increases greatly. "Except the corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
(4) Now power is given over beasts. The animal in us is subject to the mind, if the mind has become subject unto the Lord. As regenerate, we are called to rule over every animal faculty in us. The Lord says: "The fear and dread of you shall be upon every beast, and upon every fowl, and upon all the fishes of the sea: into thy hand are they delivered" Gen. 9:2. The man now rules over every fierce thought and commands it to be quiet!
(5) Something new is next! For the first time, man is given permission to eat the animals that, up until now were only used in sacrifice. They were Godís meat, for man ate only the green herb. The death of what is animal in us, the giving up of the natural life, is food to the spiritual man and strengthens him in God. Now man can find satisfaction in that which pleases God (even the death of the creature in its carnal state).
(6) Again, something new is brought forth. All murder is to be judged! By regeneration, the image of God is being restored in man, and God would not have it destroyed. Sethís line was not permitted to judge Cain for murder, for Adamís works were corrupt and had to be cut down -- he had no power to change them! But now the new creation man has power to judge wickedness. All hate and murderous thoughts destroy the inward man, so the regenerate soul must judge them and put them to death!
(7) A special blessing is given at this stage. The covenant is remade and a heavenly token is given of it. The "Thou shalt" of Moses law is changed to the "I will" of grace. Instead of the covenant depending upon manís works -- upon man keeping his part, grace comes into effect and God pronounces: "I will."
"I will establish my covenant with you...and I will remember my covenant... and I will look on the bow in the cloud, and the waters shall no more destroy." Man has, through the floods of his soul, and judgment of his sin, learned that all is of grace, depending on the Lordís will and not manís! This "new covenant" is "the promise" or the good news of the gospel. It is entered by simple faith.
"This is the covenant I will make in those days... I will put my laws in their hearts; and I will write them in their minds; and I will be merciful to their transgressions; and I will remember their sins no more; I will dwell in them; and I will walk in them; and I will be unto them a God, and they shall be unto me a people" Gal. 3:16-18, 21, 22 ,29. To this I will of God is added the token of "the bow set in the cloud." Half a ring shows on this plane, and the other half on high "in a circle round the throne."
At this stage, we find Noah on resurrection ground, passed over the flood that judged the carnal manís sinful state. ĎBorn againí may be the term we could apply here. And, being born again, we expect that we will never sin again. But Godís types and figures show us the truth of the matter; after regeneration, man finds in himself new forms of evil. Some have despaired, seeing evil that they thought the cross had purged. Take heart -- God knew all along that it was there and He loves you enough to reveal it that it might be dealt with!
The biblical account describes three chief forms of failures: first Noahís, then Nimrodís, then Great Babylon, each gradually increasing in evil. In Noah, we see the misuse of spiritual blessings and gifts lead to spiritual intoxication. "...Noah began to be a husbandman, and he planted a vineyard" Gen 9:20. Noahís work on the cleansed earth was to tend "the vine" -- to train, prune and cultivate it so that its precious juice might be drunk with thankfulness to Godís glory.
Not Noah profaned that wine which was given us in love. He perverted its use until he was drunk with it! He misused the blessing of God, even as today, some will magnify the gift or ministry above the Giver, and become intoxicated with self-importance, forgetting that the wine is as the blood of Christís sufferings. Instead of walking in watchfulness and prayer, men put some gift in the place of meekness and humbleness
The fall of Noah brings out different reactions from his children, just as the fall of ministries have brought forth these same reactions today! Some, like Ham, will not only look upon the shame, but will tell it abroad without covering the shame as if it were his own! Shem and Japhet refuse to look upon their fatherís nakedness, and "walking backward", in grace cover his shame. Men sit in judgment on evil in the Church, never thinking for one moment that the evil could also be judging them! Every trying thing - every humbling and shameful thing - can show the carnality of the carnal, and the grace that has been worked in the elect who still choose to love.
The second form of evil in a believer appears. Noah misused the Lordís gifts to injure and expose himself, now Nimrod exalts himself to lord it over brethren. Nimrod means rebel which shows the character which changed the rule of Godís family into a kingdom ruled by violence. It happened like this: "He began to be a mighty one," rather than an "ensample to the flock." Then be become as "lords over Godís heritage," followed by "a mighty hunter," one whom the people think will slay the wild beasts for them, only to find that they also are "snared and taken." The people, as Israel, wanted someone, to "fight their battles and go before them" and do what God promised He would do! They sought after a manís gift of God so, like Saul, Nimrod hunted the "Davidís" because they walked with God and would not come under all this pretended mightiness! (Does this sound familiar?)
Nimrodís kingdom was the beginning of Babel, or "confusion". Here menís tongues are confounded and the one family unit splits and separates. After their redemption from the flood, "...the whole earth was of one language and of one speech." Though they were of different ages and personalities (some Shems, some Hams, some Japhets) yet, "they all spake the same thing."
As in the early church, love enabled them to be all of one mind. There was but "one lip and one speech" among them and they could understand one another and walk together. In the restoration that is ushering in the new Millenial Day, the Lord is once again requiring us once again to speak "the same language" and to be "of one accord" and "of one spirit."
If the dealings of the inward working of the cross during our past time of wilderness wanderings did anything, they should certainly have prepared us to walk once again in unity with our brethren. This is the Lordís time to dwell in His children in fullness and they must put aside all the petty things of the in-part realm, all the division, all the prejudices, all that would keep His sons from walking in unity that the world might have the testimony they have not had: "Behold, how they love one another! (for this shall all men know that we are His disciples).
The three forms of failure that were shown forth among Noahís seed (regenerate believers) were: Noah misusing Godís blessings; Nimrod exalting himself to Lord it over brethren; and lastly, Great Babylon whose confusion covers the whole world. The seed of Shem followed Nimrodís unholy example of building cities. The "cities of the nations" soon arose and are a foreshadowing of those national denominational systems that make up Babylon. Forgotten are the tentmakers, as Abraham and Paul, who lived and worshipped in humble places, always ready to move on at the slightest bid of the Holy Spirit.
Babylonís fall is a departure from original truths, replacing them with forms and dogmas that are but imitations of the true. Self-exaltation is passed off for Godís glory. It is quite instructive to us to learn how a regenerate people, as typified by Noahís family, could end up in apostasy. If we understand this, we will understand the way that we take.
First, " They journeyed from the east." The east is the place of the sun-rising - the place from which the light springs. Our Lord is called the "Sun of Righteousness (who) Ariseth with healing in His wings." Now we see those who have been delivered from the great judgment upon their wickedness, walking away, with their backs turned to the east.
Then, as they journeyed, "They found a plain." This word "plain" signifies to us that they had left their high ground of the spirit, and come down to the common level of the carnal man. ("Rock music with Christian words will attract young people to the church," they say). When the ark first landed, it was upon a mountain. Do you recall your "mountain-top experience" when you knew your sins were judged, and through the ark, the cross of Christ, you had come to a new world "wherein dwelt righteousness?" I recall praying for my nine-year old niece when she received the Baptism of the Spirit. Wide-eyed, she said to her mother, "Mommy, now Iíll never be bad again!" Would that it were so, but the way of man is not thus. He is tried and tested in every way necessary in this old world, to prove what is in his heart, and to know the nature of his God!
Recall that Lot chose a plain, even though his dwelling would be with wicked men. At the same time, Abraham took the mountains - the high place in the Spirit - that place which self-centered men did not find to their liking. And every time Lot got into trouble (being attacked by some unyeilded area of self), it was Abraham who came down into Lotís place to deliver him. Then Abraham returned quietly to his own place where he walked close to God.
These pilgrims, upon finding this plain, "dwelt there." They settled down and were pilgrims no more. Their thoughts now centered on "establishing a work" and building for their own glory - which, of course, they called "Godís glory." No more did they move on when new revelation came from on high. They became "settled on their lees, and refused to be poured from vessel to vessel." What they believed 400 years ago, they believe still, and have not progressed or grown, or moved on in God. Great Babel is the result.
"And they said one to another, God to; let us make brick... they had brick for stone, and slime for mortar..." Here we see man taking counsel of man, and not of God. They try to imitate God; first in His words, then in His words. They said, "Let us make,í even as God had said, "Let us make,"
Then their work is manifest: brick is manís imitation and substitute for Godís work with living stones. God would have no bricks in His altar - but stones that have not been touched by manís hand! But Babylon would cause their followers to line up and to conform to all their rules and ways until, like bricks, they are all exactly alike. The bricks are held together by slime, a sulphurous compound that can quickly burst into a blaze as does that cement of self-love and lust for power which holds Babylon together!