Isaiah 54:9-101NIV New International Version Translations
9“To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. 10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
The biblical story of Noah is contained in chapters 6 through 9 of the book of Genesis, where he saves his family (his wife, three sons, and their wives) and representatives of all animals from the flood by constructing an ark. He is also mentioned as the “first husbandman” and in the story of the Curse of Ham. Noah is the subject of much elaboration in later Abrahamic traditions.
Noah was the son of Lamech who named him Noah, saying, “This same shall comfort us in our work and in the toil of our hands, which comes from the ground which the LORD has cursed.” In his five hundredth year Noah had three sons, Japheth, Shem, and Ham. In his six hundredth year God, saddened at the wickedness of mankind, sent a great deluge to destroy all life, but instructed Noah, a man “righteous in his generation,” to build an ark and save a remnant of life from the Flood. After the Flood, “Noah was the first tiller of the soil”, he is depicted as a husbandman who “planted a vineyard; and he drank of the wine.” Noah died 350 years after the Flood, at the age of 950, the last of the immensely long-lived Biblical Patriarchs. The maximum human lifespan, as depicted by the Bible, diminishes rapidly thereafter, from almost 1,000 years to the 120 years of Moses.
Noah was frequently excused for his excessive drinking because he was considered to be the first wine drinker, the first person to discover the soothing, consoling, and enlivening effects of wine. Since he was the first human to taste wine, he would not know its aftereffects. Noah is exonerated by noting that one can drink in two different manners: (1) to drink wine in excess, a peculiar sin to the evil man or (2) to partake of wine as the wise man, Noah being the latter.
In Genesis 9:11, God says, “1 establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
We have a God that is slow to anger and swift to show mercy. And how sweet the returns of mercy are when God comes and comforts them! God’s gathering his people takes rise from his mercy, not any merit of theirs; and it is with great mercies, with everlasting kindness. The wrath is little, the mercies great; the wrath for a moment, the kindness everlasting. We are neither to be despondent under afflictions, nor to despair for our relief. Mountains have been shaken and removed, but the promises of God never were broken by any event. Mountains and hills also signify great men. Creature-confidences shall fail; but when our friends fail us, our God does not. All this is applicable to the church at large, and to each believer. God will rebuke and correct his people for sins; but he will not cast them off. This should encourage us to be diligent.
Items for Discussion
- What are the benefits that someone may receive when those around them are slow to anger and quick to forgive?
- Why could our love for our God not exist without the attributes of slow anger and quick mercy?
- Why is it important to believe in God’s Covenant to us?
- Why, with such a good example set by God, do humans struggle with covenants between each other?
- Would humans receive the same benefits we talked about in the first discussion question if they honored their own covenants between each other?
1When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” 4But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 6“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” 8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
In Mark’s Gospel, he wanted to show that Jesus was the ‘Son of God’. So he emphasises how the crowds and the disciples were very often astonished at Jesus’ actions. Jesus made the storm on the lake become calm (4:41). Then the disciples asked, ‘Who is this?’ They had a feeling of fear. And they greatly respected Jesus. Evil spirits recognised who Jesus was. Mark also records that (3:11; 5:7). At the same time, Mark shows that Jesus was really human. He was ‘the carpenter’ (6:3). He became tired and he became asleep (4:38). He had human feelings. He felt sad (6:34), and he was angry at wrong ideas and actions (3:5; 11:15-17). There are details that are only in Mark’s Gospel. They give us the idea that someone had been an eye-witness. In the account of the storm on the lake, ‘there were other boats with him’. Jesus was ‘in the back of the boat with his head on a cushion’ (4:35, 38). The groups of people were sitting on the ‘green’ grass (6:39). On the road to Jerusalem, Jesus was walking ‘ahead of them’ (10:32). Jesus ‘took the children into his arms’ (10:16). The blind man ‘threw off his coat’ (10:50). Mark records some of the actual Aramaic words that Jesus used. He gave James and John the name ‘Boanerges’ (3:17). He raised Jairus’s daughter with the words ‘Talitha cumi’ (5:41). He said ‘Ephphatha’ to the deaf man (7:34). He called his Father ‘Abba’ (14:36). The cry from the cross was in Aramaic (15:34).
Mark shows how the crowds, the disciples and Jesus’ own family did not understand Jesus. The religious leaders opposed him. Most people had the wrong idea about what the Messiah should be like. Christians were suffering for their faith when Mark wrote. He showed them that Jesus suffered. He suffered in the plan of God and he made the Scriptures come true. Mark uses the word ‘immediately’ many times. He wants to emphasise the power of Jesus, whose command always brought a quick result (1:20, 42; 2:12; 5:42). It is also as if he is anxious to reach the end of the story. He cannot wait to tell everyone about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Mark knew that these two events were ‘good news’ for everyone. When Jesus suffered, it made it possible for God to save people. ‘The Son of Man did not come for people to serve him. Instead, he came to serve other people. He came to give his life as the price to make many people free’ (10:45).
Verse 1 – The women went out to buy special substances as soon as the Sabbath ended at sunset on Saturday.
Verse 2 – The first opportunity to see what they were doing was at dawn on Sunday morning.
Verses 3-4 – They remembered that there was a heavy stone at the entrance to the rock grave. It would be too heavy for them to push back. But they arrived at the grave. Then, they discovered that there was no problem. Someone had already rolled the stone aside.
Verses 5-6 – They were astonished to find a young man in white clothes who was sitting on the right side of the cave. He was an angel. He told them that they were looking in the wrong place for Jesus. He had risen. They could see for themselves the empty place where his body had been.
Verse 7 – They must tell his disciples ‘and Peter’ that they would see him in Galilee. The special message for Peter was to show that Jesus still included him in his love. Peter had said that he did not know Jesus. ‘And Peter’ would have given him the first sign of hope after he had said that. Jesus had said that he would go to Galilee (14:28).
Verse 8 brings us to some interesting discussion. This verse is a rather sudden end to Mark’s Gospel. Early copies end here but later copies include more verses. Mark might have written about how Jesus kept his promise to meet his disciples in Galilee. So later writers added other ends for the book. There is a short one, and a longer one. Mark may not have had time to complete his Gospel. Perhaps he became ill. Perhaps he died, or the Romans killed him.
It is also possible, however, that Mark intended to end at verse 8. All through his Gospel, he had described how Jesus astonished people by his words and actions. Jesus’ disciples, too, had a feeling of fear. And they greatly respected Jesus for his power (4:41). The resurrection was the most astonishing event of all. Mark perhaps thought that it was not important to write about Jesus’ appearances to his disciples. He had given the most important fact, ‘He has risen.’ The fear of the women was a suitable reaction to such an astonishing act of God. The reaction of all Christians should be similar. Verse 8 therefore can be a suitable end to Mark’s Gospel.
Items for Discussion
- Why is it important for us to know that Jesus rose from His Grave?
- What impact do you think this had on His disciples?
- Why would God use women and not an apostle to first manifest Christ’s resurrection to the world?
- Do you think that at the point of Jesus’ resurrection, the women at the grave and the disciples finally understood why Jesus came into the world?
- How is the apostle’s struggle with fear, faith and understanding similar to that of every Christian?
- Where in the story of Christ’s resurrection do you find confidence and faith?
- How does the Christian Church make the day of Christ’s resurrection meaningful to the world?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations