Genesis 6 if you wouldn’t mindA flood is a terrifying thing – I mentioned a few weeks ago up here that for work I’ve been travelling around the countryside inspecting bridges - I was in Greyton last week, and as my colleague and I were standing under a bone dry bridge river bed – we were looking at the mountain and the a storm was coming down – you could see all the waterfalls – and simple folk as we are, were marvelling, wow, that’s beautiful, shooo ,all that water, i wonder where it’s going… then my colleague said to me – Andrew, what’s that sound – he said he could hear rushing water – and the cracking of trees, - I said he was being a bit dramatic – but he wasn’t – and in the space of a few minutes, the dry river bed had been changed into a fast river flowing a metre deep – enough to sweep even big Andrew away – it was quite harrowing to see that water come down with such force. Just a bit of rain – no, the very force of nature, practically unstoppable. Quite scary. 5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.9 This is the account of Noah and his family.Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress[c] wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it:17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.Noah and the flood. That’s where we begin our short series of lessons from Genesis this morning – Ali is up next week, he will also be drawing out some lessons from the story of Noah, but we start here. In actual fact Lawrence has already kicked us off - painting a picture of the Great I AM who reveals himself to us in the beginning of the Old testament. And it was just last week that our esteemed speaker told us, rightfully, that God is the eternal God does not make mistakes!! Awesome, yeah! And now we start our lessons from Genesis series with the story of Noah – what! God regrets making mankind, and proceeds to wipe them off the face of the earth! No mistakes? Did the all-knowing God know that man would go his own way? Just a few short chapters after the Garden of Eden , all is Good – now, seemingly, all except one small family, all is bad!! And people, mostly non believers like to look at this passage and say things like – aha – see, your God’s not so perfect after all – look, he had to push the reset button! He messed up creating a people that would turn against him. But that’s not really what’s happening here is it. Yes, God knows what will happen. And he does it anyway. Yes, God grieves – he is moved – the unmovable God, being, in a sense moved. Does God have an emotional aspect to him – yes – hey loves, he hates, he shows anger, he has compassion – and now, he grieves – he is sorry. To me it’s like a parent seeing their child going through something necessary but painful. Like I remember my kids crying when they had the vaccine shots it was regrettable – in a sense – it grieved me – it made me sad – but – I knew it would happen and it needed to happen and yes, I would do it again.! We - humanity – even at our lowest – are not a mistake. We have, by some divine grace – been given the opportunity to choose our own way or Gods way – you, as you sit here, even in your darkest moments – are not a mistake. God can make a way for you, just like he made a way for Noah. But what saved Noah? Was it his construction and planning skills? It wasn’t the ark, was it, as impressive a construction as it was. That’s just a big boat – it was his faith in the almighty God – the, I AM, that, it seems everyone else has turned away from?
Hebrews 11 puts it way better than I can. Hebrews 11By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.Aldo – who loves the Hebrews himself – would tell me to count the words – and the dominant word in that single verse – FAITH – three times - And I want to pull out a few thoughts from this theme – the Faith of Noah. We know the story well – I maybe didn’t need to read part of it to you again? And before you sit back and largely ignore the rest of what I am going to say – why not let it challenge you – there are hard questions to answer! I’m not gonna answer most of them – but I have enjoyed being challenged by coming back to he so called kid’s story.This is crockle – not sure if you can see this, but this is a book off my sons bookshelf – the very cute story of a little baby crocodile aboard the ark. And they’re all having a fun time, playing with the different animals, getting up to hijinks. Noah is a happy old man with a white beard, very calm and gently – has a loving happy family? And it’s a lovely kid friendly story about the fun times . You know, they kind we teach at Sunday school.People, this is not a kids story. Go look at some of the artwork through the centuries, that paint a maybe more realistic picture of what might have been the case – waters rising – every living breathing thing – everything with breath in their nostrils. Drowning. Screams of horror? Cries for help? People moving to safer higher ground only to find out the ground isn’t safe enough? Noah’s family safe on the ark – sure, every other persons, they’ve ever met – their friends – their community? Think about that for a second.We did God have to kill everyone? Was Noah really the only one?Why did the animals have to die?How many animals were actually on the ark? 2s or 7s?How long did it rain for? 40 days? 150 days?When you’re preparing for a message it’s hard not to get pulled down all these interesting paths – but I’ll try stay on topic this morning – the faith of Noah
1 Noah’s Faith starts inside then moves outside Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.Before there was a flood, before the rain started, before the animals arrived, before the construction of the ark, before God pronounced judgement on humanity – Noah was a righteous man – blameless among the people of his time. Maybe you think it’s easy to be seen as righteous when you’re surrounded by wicked people – I would say it’s probably even harder to stand out and live a blameless life when your society is not behaving properly. But the point is this – we remember the great acts of Noah and the great things he achieved in obedience to God – but his faith came from within, long before he was called to do the amazing things - Hebrews 11 – by faith Noah – in Holy fear he built an ark.So when God speaks to Noah he speaks as to someone he already knows and already knows him, not a fearful stranger. And that’s how Noah can trust God to come through for him, as he obviously does. Noah’s faith starts deep inside him before it can work it’s way out into miraculous acts of service.If Noah had no deep internal strong faith – well, firstly, he probably wouldn’t have been living a righteous life, that’s for sure. And we have been obedient to God’s instructions? I’m not sure.The righteousness that comes his way isn’t because of his acts, it is because of his faith – that he is then called upon to do the acts. And there you have an early marker of how God works – from the inside out. He makes a point of revealing to us in the text and first Noah had internal faith – then the works followed. Noah has a saving faith – even apart from his works.
2 Noah’s Faith commits to a future without knowing what it isSecond point on Noah’s Faith – Noah’s faith commits to the future, without knowing exactly what it is - he doesn’t know what’s coming. How much of a picture do you think God painted for him of what the future would be like? Does he have any idea of what he is getting himself into.- You read the passages – theirs detail in some parts – the boat must be this big, have an opening here, and in other parts – not so much details – it’ll start raining for 40 days and 40 nights and every living thing will die… and that. Is seemingly it – what will happen after that? What does Noah’s future look like? Like, God, you haven’t given me much to go on here. If it was more fully explained, more details given, more assurance, well, this is how its gonna work, and the boat will sail here and you’ll live here, and it’s all gonna work out – well than it would have been that much easier to step on the boat – but because of Noahs faith – his righteousness – his trust in the Lord and his provision – he is able to commit to an unknown unseen future – the world would never be the same again – would clearly look different. Noah had lived a good, long life up until this point – remember this guy was a good five six hundred years old! But nothing was going to be the same after he stepped onto that boat. Hebrews 11 – well known – faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not seeSame with Abraham - By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was goingThat’s the same faith Noah has3 Noah’s Faith condemns the past
So Noah’s Faith looks forward to an unknown future – but what does he do with the past – easy – just leave it behind – walk away – it’s all going to be destroyed anyway. There’s an interesting little thing in that Hebrews Verse. By his faith he condemned the worldI read that and thought – hmm – that can’t be right – of course it was God that condemned that world – why does it say that Noah condemned the world by his faith? I thought that was quite interesting – and you know it’s true if you think about it – Noah had to come to terms with what God’s view of the world was – He had to accept that the world was going to change. And if he had any faith in the 600 years of livelihood, his security, his possessions, his lands – he had to actively leave that – he wasn’t taking any of that with him. You wonder if there was temptation to sneak anyone else of the boat – you wonder if he became a prophet - telling all the people to repent because the Judgement of the Lord is coming? In a sense perhaps he had already condemned the world by choosing to life this righteous life among wicked people. Probably, but when the floods come, when the waters started rising – and the Lord is about to shut him in the boat – He, and his family, would have had to choose – the past, you can stay on the dry (for now) land, and go it yourself, or, you have to get in the boat. And in that act of stepping aboard – condemning the world and his past to destruction. You can’t have both. And I like that idea if Noah himself condemning the world – yes, God was bringing judgement and the flood, it was all going to be destroyed – but Noah, individually had to make that choice to leave it behind.4 The reward of Noah’s faith comes later heir of righteousness
The last little pointer about Noah’s faith is what it led to for Noah. What did it result in – well, simple, he managed to escape Gods judgement – he survived the deluge – the bloodline from Adam to Christ was continued, he was able to start out a new community as it’s righteous leader – but look at the way the verse in Hebrews 11 endsand became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.What did his faith lead to – what did he get – far far greater than the physical salvation and safety in the ark, was the eternal shelter he found – as an heir of righteousness. Full righteousness – remember Noah wasn’t all of a sudden perfect when he stepped off the ark – you can read an all about his drunken episode in the later chapters. But he became an heir of righteousness – that this hero of the faith would one day – and one assumes has now – in heaven – received the full gift of righteousness – because of what he did building the ark – NO – because of his faith. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. You might think that verse is about people after Christ - a New Testament verse – well, yes, it is found in the new testament, but it’s in the middle of a description of old testament heroes – and it’s just before the verses we read in Hebrews about Noah – don’t be fooled into thinking that the old testament salvation was offered on the basis of works – that the prophets of old, before Christ were saved by their works. Salvation by Grace – through faith – that’s what Noah had – That’s how he received salvation – an eternal spiritual salvation, far great that the physical shelter from the flood.
5 End paralleling that to our faithAnd, that’s the standard for us as well - if we want to become heirs of righteousness – fancy way of saying if we want to really please God – to call ourselves his and to enjoy all the eternal benefits of being his children! Look at all the parallels – Our faith - just like Noah, our faith is birthed in us – before we can ever think about serving God and doing good things for him – our faith has to be right – our faith spitual, non works, faith – we have to believe and be born again. From the inside out – you won’t do much without the right heart behind it. We sat as a committee and discussed the whole full time worker thing for Medway, at length – and the winning factor for Maurice and Margie – that set them apart from the other candidate’s (terrible word), well, besides the obvious good looks and natural charisma – was their heart for Gods people – we don’t know where this thing is going – but it has to start from the inside – people, get your heart right with God – and then work outwards to ministry, to others, to service.Committing to the future and condemning the past – I literally sat at work on Friday talking to a friend at work who is about to take a huge step in his career and is so nervous and scared – and no, of course I didn’t spend all day on Friday working on my message…. But I was able to share with him – and I said – you know what – while you’re talking to me – I’ve been thinking about the verses about Abraham and Noah where Hebrews say they had to commit in faith to an unknown future, and properly leave the past behind – he of course didn’t realise I was trying out my sermon on him, but he appreciated the gesture, and so it made it into the message. Letting go of what is behind is hard – is difficult – condemning – is a difficult. When a building is falling apart – sure, we try and fix is up – but sometimes it’s so dangerous it needs to be CONDEMNED before some else can takes its place. Isn’t our spiritual life like that sometimes?And of course, even like Noah – in the days of burnt offerings and animal sacrifices - it is his faith that leads to eternal reward and righteousness. And so it is with us – the full outworking of our faith isn’t now. For all we know living lives of faith will make the here and now harder, not easier, make no mistake…. But we are told – without Faith, it is impossible to please God. Whether you’ve built and ark and saved mankind or not. Whether you’ve done these great things or not.
Noah is a crazy story. A story that is supposedly by today’s standards very hard to believe. But God works and his methods are still his methods – how could God condemn a sinful world and send all those people to death? Well his standard hasn’t changed – we still need to be sinless before we come to God. In the ark Noah finds deliverance from the flood – in Jesus we find deliverance from our sin and fallenness. Next week Ali will share with us about about the Covenant that God makes with Noah – which is a very interesting follow on from the lessons we’ve looked at this morning – and Ali is always brilliant so please invite someone to join us.
Let’s pray together shall we.Our Great Eternal God – the God of creation, the God of Noah, the God of Abraham. We are reminded that your standard has always been righteousness. That you cannot tolerate sin – That we, you people are created by you, for you and we are subject to you. We know your judgement will came upon this earth, just like it came upon the earth in the times of Noah – but we remember that in Jesus you have made a way for us – that you have secured our safe passage, and that the storms of life may come but we will not be moved. Help us to commit to the future plans you have for us – even when they are unclear, and scary, and require this thing called faith. Help us to condemn where we need to condemn. Thank you for your gift of righteousness. Thank you for your word to us this morning, is Jesus name, amen.