The story of Noah is a graphic story when you look at all that happened during the flood. After the perfect creation and paradise in Genesis 1-2, by Genesis 6 all of creation had gotten out of control. “5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.’” (Genesis 6:5-7).
It’s amazing that kids’ books use Noah as a cute bedtime story with all the cute animals coming in two by two. Truthfully this is terrifying story of God’s judgment, massive destruction and dead bodies everywhere. Also, this man Noah was trapped on a wooden boat for several months with all these animals. That just doesn’t sound pleasant at all and there is nothing fun about that. But there is a key redemptive phrase in this story, “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8).
We tend to minimize certain attributes of God. The Christian marketplace is loaded with lots of books, songs and paintings that depict God as a loving Father. He definitely is that but He’s not only that. When people read stories like this of judgment in the Bible they sometimes ask, “Was this really necessary?” It says that “. . . every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5). There is an interesting world play in the Hebrew. The word used to describe “human wickedness” or “corruptness” in Genesis 6:12-13 is the same word used to describe what God does to the wicked. It means “destruction.” Sinful humans are destroying God’s good creation; so God is going to destroy the destroyers! God does this totally out of holiness and love. Think about it this way . . . if you love someone who is severely suffering with cancer. You hate the cancer that is destroying the body and you go to radical measures like chemotherapy and radiation to free them from the cancer.
In Genesis 6:6 it says the human wickedness “grieved him to his heart.” The word for “grieved” is the same word used in other places in the Old Testament to describe what an abandoned wife feels. It is a soul-wrenching, despairing grief. A holy God with perfect love cleansed the earth of sin. But Noah found grace (undeserved kindness) in the eyes of the Lord. God preserved Noah and his family as a representative of the human race and through him He would repopulate the earth. You might be wondering, “Was this an effective solution?” Really it wasn’t. Noah screws up his own family within one chapter of being off the ark. By Genesis 9, his family looks like an episode of the Jerry Springer show. Once again it says that man hasn’t changed. It says, “. . . the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” (Genesis 8:21). This tells us that a greater kind of salvation that would go to the core of the human heart was necessary.
There are several things we need to understand about Noah and see how the same things apply to us, the Gospel and God’s redemptive plan today. Noah found grace in God’s eyes. There was nothing special about Noah. He simply heard the voice of God and responded. “Noah was a righteous man.” (Genesis 6:9). Why was he righteous? Because and only because he responded to God’s offer of salvation. Nothing more, nothing less. God had a plan for him. Noah was chosen to be a channel of salvation to others. That would end up being only his family, but the point is God’s grace towards him was not intended just for him. He was to be a channel of grace toward others. Because of God’s grace extended to him, Noah had to re-prioritize. He could not continue from that point with “life as normal.” Everything changed! Imagine how different Noah would have looked at the world from that point on. Every person he saw was going to be saved or destroyed . . . The house he had built would soon be destroyed . . . The things he created would soon be gone. Noah was thankful. After God had sent the flood and saved Noah and his family, Noah exits the ark and the first thing he does is offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God. He didn’t do it because God commanded him to. The sacrifice was Noah’s idea. He was so grateful to God. He wanted to tell God, “Thank you” for showing him grace and saving his family. It was from an overflow of gratitude that he chose to make a sacrifice to God! How does all of that with Noah apply to us?
God has shown us a lot of grace. What’s so special about us? Nothing! We just believe God’s Word that Jesus doesn’t desire that any should perish. God is using you and all of us together to make a difference. And the amazing part of it all is we are just scratching the surface! We’ve been given an urgent message. Right now in the sports world, this is my favorite time of the year . . . March Madness! When basketball season gets to the point of March Madness there is an urgency about the season. You play your best and win or you go home because there are no second chances. It’s do or die! “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). Our message is the same . . . there are no second chances; its do or die! There are three major areas where God is calling us to take this urgent message into the mission field and several components of that mission field. Our families are our first mission field. We are committed to discipling those we win to Jesus, starting with our families to see them grow strong in God’s Kingdom. Our neighbors are our mission field. Our presence here in Morganton is not incidental. It is a part of God’s plan! We love our city and we are committed to it. Where we live, work and play daily is where God puts us to be light and to bring His redemptive gospel to people who need it. The nations are our mission field. There are still 6,645 unreached people groups in the world without a church. In the New Testament, the local church is like an aircraft carrier. When an aircraft carrier is deported, the battles are not supposed to happen on the aircraft carrier. If that happens, there is a problem! The battles happen out there and planes are equipped and sent out to the battle. The mission deserves our total commitment. Are you committed? Are you a fan or a follower? Followers of Jesus are all in . . . they are connected, they attend, they serve and they give! Fans of Jesus are those people who want to be close enough to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires sacrifice. Jesus never was looking for fans.
When Notre Dame came into the ACC, the president of Notre Dame, John Jenkins made a statement. He said, “I just want to say emphatically and clearly, (football) aside, we’re all-in in the ACC. . . . We’re deeply committed to the ACC.” You’re all in? We’re talking about Notre Dame. How could you possibly be all-in and leave out football? What is the football in your life? Think about it like this . . . If you have a breakfast of bacon and eggs, both the pig and the chicken contributed to your breakfast, but in different ways. The chicken made a contribution; the pig was “all-in!”
Stand there with Noah looking out of your doorway. What does he see? A city he loves . . . neighbors he loves . . . people playing with their kids, going to work, going about their everyday lives. They just don’t know and how can he do nothing? All that was going to happen would be horrific. The elderly and sick would have died first . . . Strong, young men would have climbed up in the trees and survived a little longer . . . etc. The only thing worse than the screams of people dying would have been the total silence that followed when the waters covered the last mountain peak. It would be nice if with a little more time and with the right politics everything would be okay. But that’s not true and it simply will not happen. If this is a true gospel, this is a real mission that demands urgent attention and radical commitment. People’s lives depend on it and their eternity depends on it!
I know most of you say you believe the gospel. You believe that Jesus is the Savior and the only hope for the world. But does what you are doing with your life and your money show that you believe it? What would you have said to Noah if he claimed to believe what God said about the flood but he made no effort to build the Ark or warn people to get on it? The Ark pointed beyond itself because it really was ineffective at wiping out sin. This story, like all the Old Testament stories, points beyond itself to Jesus. Jesus was the Ark we pulled into that kept us safe from the rain of God’s wrath! Does the urgency you talk with your kids and others about the gospel and the condition of the world show you really believe the gospel? Does how you live your life show you believe there is an urgency about the Gospel? Do people really believe you believe that people are in desperate need of authentic life change and transformation by the power of the Gospel? Does how you spend your money show that you believe the gospel? Your mouth says you believe the gospel; what does your life say?