Questions for Reflection and Discussion (Genesis 8 & 9)

Painting of Noah's sacrifice following the flood
“Or who has given a gift to God …”

The Uniform Series text we’re studying on Sunday, September 3 is Genesis 8:20-22 & 9:8-17. Here are a few questions that we might want to consider in class:

Noah’s first act after the flood subsides and he and his family leave the ark is to take animals that are appropriate for sacrifice and offer “whole burnt offerings.” Does the act of sacrifice take on any different meaning in the context of the aftermath of the flood? Is it a statement or suggestion of what God desires, or what Noah understands God to desire? What is that? How effectively does the sacrifice express gratitude? Why? Does it express anything else? What? Why? In Genesis 8:21-22, God delivers a speech to God, “in his heart.” Why does (or might) God speak silently to himself? What does this practice suggest about God? Why is God’s speech included here – do we think? What do readers learn from these verses? Is it important that we know this? Why or why not?

In Genesis 9:8-17, God continues speaking to Noah, and emphatically announces that God will never again destroy the earth with a flood. Why, do we think, is God so emphatic? What does this use of emphasis mean about God’s covenant with Noah and Noah’s descendants (humanity)? Why?

God states explicitly that human beings are bent towards evil from youth. What are the implications of this revelation – for us? For others? For God? Does this mean that human beings can never “be good” or do good? Why or why not? How does this inclination seem to affect the relationship God has with the human beings in this story? What are the implications of this relationship for us? Why?

Is the story of the flood and its aftermath a story of: God’s wrath; God’s justice; God’s redemption; God’s mercy or grace; God’s providence; God’s love; other? Why? Should the story lead human readers to: fear God; trust God; obey God; love God; other? Why?

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