Genesis 6:9-16 “This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 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. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.”
We can see the importance of Noah and the Flood from the amount of space devoted to it in the book of Genesis. This narrative is longer than the chapters describing those previous centuries between Adam and Noah or than the future millennia between Noah and the birth of Abraham. The thoroughness and comprehensiveness of the description of the Flood is saying that the Bible takes seriously this calamity in the history of mankind. Or again we can see the importance of the Flood from the way that the Lord Jesus Christ referred to it. In the gospels of Matthew (24:37&38) and Luke (17:26&27) our Lord is quoted as saying, “as it was in the days of Noah . . .” There is surely no one who claims really our Lord didn’t believe in the Flood, that in his heart and as God he knew it was a lot of bunkum and that he was only pretending it took place. He, the Lord of love, was creating irrational fear to make people follow him. Not one Christian believes that. He in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and who said, “I am the Truth,” was the one who said, “as it was in the days of Noah.”
Jesus’ own appointed apostles also believed in it; Peter, the very first of the Twelve, refers to it in both his first and second letters (1 Peter 3:20, and particularly 2 Peter 2:5 “he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others”). The writer of the Hebrews also refers to it; “By 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 comes by faith” (Hebs.11:7). What would you think of the stature of our Lord as one who allowed the men he sent to speak in his name teach mischievous errors and include them in the Bible? Couldn’t he have prevented that happening? Of course he could have. Didn’t he give them the Holy Spirit in order to lead them into all truth? But he spoke of the Flood as one we believe to be the incarnate God who spoke infallibly on everything as did his apostles. He is the one who gives the church Noah; he charges our consciences with the events of the Flood.
1. GOD WILL PUT AN END TO ALL PEOPLE.
We are told in these chapters of God’s evaluation of mankind in the age of Noah, that is, how the living God himself saw things; “The earth was corrupt in God’s sight . . . God saw how corrupt the world had become” (vv. 11&12) and he determined to act. There was anarchy, cruelty, chaos, indiscriminate murders, theft of land, and the exposure of babies everywhere. There was Belsen and torture and massacres and child abuse on an unprecedented scale. There was not a secret valley anywhere on the earth free from the most repellent unspeakable cruelties. The earth was turning into hell. The seed of the serpent appeared to reign over this kingdom of darkness with no one to challenge his malice.
When God saw this scene he did not judge that they were all victims. No, he wouldn’t allow the descendants of Cain and Seth to wallow in a self-imposed and eagerly embraced status of victimhood. God didn’t say that it was all due to the Nephilim! He didn’t blame Lamech. The plight they were in was of their own making, “for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways” (v.12). They had chosen to do it. They had corrupted their ways. There was no one else’s door at which they could lay the blame. God wouldn’t allow a victim mentality to develop. They had no smokescreen behind which to hide their sins. There was no conspiracy. Noah made the reason plain; they had corrupted their ways and the result was plain to all, their own unrighteousness, and for 120 years he preached that to them. The world at the time of the Flood was not a celebration of victimhood, it was a cesspool crying out for the divine justice to be manifest and wash it away.
God spoke to Noah and told him what he was going to do. He not only caused but commented upon the coming cosmic calamity; “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them” (v.13). In other words God told Noah that he was aware of everything that was breaking Noah’s heart. At times Noah would have been afraid of what was going to happen to him and his wife and his three little boys. No one was safe. God spoke to Noah and assured him, “I see it, Noah. You think things are out of control. I want you to know Noah that everything in both men and beasts is under my control, and at the right time I shall take the appropriate action.”
God announced himself as the coming Judge of all the earth, as the church still proclaims him today. The apostle Paul stood before the Greek philosophers in Athens and he said to them, “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30&31). The judgment of the Flood is a prefigurement of that. God is going to bring to bear on all men the judgment of omniscience; this will be the judgment of perfection; it is the judgment which brings every factor into consideration. It is the judgment of holy love and loving holiness. It is not the judgment of cosmic indifference. It is the only perfectly just and righteous evaluation of you and me. He alone knows what sin is and what it deserves, and he will judge accordingly.
You know that a child will listen to a singer in a very different way from one of the judges in a Singer of the Year competition. He will be wise and discerning in his evaluation. Again I will look at a horse in a very different way from a dealer in livestock. A surgeon will look at his hands before performing an operation very differently from how I’d look at them. I would say, “They are impeccably clean; go ahead and operate,” but he insists on scrubbing and scrubbing them for ages to remove every single bacterium. Our God is one before whom the spotless sinless angels cover their eyes and cry, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” God is light and in him is no darkness at all. One of his prophets named Habakkuk looked at the wickedness of his day and he was perplexed. He turned to the Lord in prayer and said, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” (Hab. 1:13). We know the answer to the question. Listen! Divine punishment is not necessarily inflicted in this life. Rapists escape detection; mass murderers open Swiss bank accounts; brothel owners enslaving little girls live lives of luxury; politicians receiving international aid for the sick and starving in their countries line their own pockets with that money and hence millions die. There is corruption everywhere and no bolts of lightning smite such men.
God is silent because one way that God punishes wickedness is allowing it to multiply and to destroy itself. We see that in Romans, chapters 1 and 2. Look at the state of the Roman Empire at the time of the early church. God’s judgment against that wickedness was to confirm its evil and give men up to their evil doings. In other words, God stood still. He did not turn them from the wickedness that they had set their hearts on. He let them go for it. He let them get on with it, abusing themselves and abusing others. The inaction of God is one manifestation of his judgment. So when we see that happening in our society, please don’t think that God is helpless. Quite the contrary! God is active. He may have decided to withdraw his common and restraining grace and let wickedness gain momentum on its broad road. He lets the juggernaut of depravity career on to hell. That is what we are seeing today in the silence of God in our nation.
We are living today in a society that lies under the judgment of God, the east and the west, Islam’s middle east, the Hindu gods’ India, the materialist sensual western world are all experiencing the judgments of God as he gives us up to our sin, but let all be aware that God has appointed a day on which he intends to rouse himself and judge the world. Hear these plain words of the Lord Jesus; “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left” (Matt. 25:31-33). Thank God that that day is not at this very moment. There would be no hope for some of you if it were . . . today!
I am saying to you that the judgment on Adam and Eve which drove them out of the Garden and allowed them to die, and the divine judgment which came on the cities of Sodom and Gomorra, and the plagues which came on Egypt, and God’s condemnation of the generation of the children of Israel resulting in their perishing in the wilderness, and above all the judgment of God that fell on his own Son when he was made sin for us on Golgotha – all such events point forward to the end of the world and that inescapable judgment towards which all men and women are hastening. Let me remind you that it is appointed unto men – unto you and me – to die just once, and after death the judgment.
So the God who sees how corrupt the world had become is the supreme one, the one whose judgment is absolutely final, above and beyond whom there is no other court of appeal. The Bible tells us that he sits upon a great white throne. Of course the phrase ‘great white throne’ is a metaphor to remind us of the nature of the judgment before us, that it is one of spotless righteousness, a judgment of unquestionable integrity. Our judgments are on politicians who go to war, and refuse to support the divine institution of the family, and introduce gambling and casinos, and increase taxation so much that both parents have to work to raise a mortgage. Our scorn for them I say is temporary and provisional. Again, our knowledge of what is happening in the Middle East comes to us via the media and that is not an objective force of pure truth. Every reporter, every tycoon and every government agency has its own agenda. Again, the judgments which men and women make of us are largely ill informed. We stand before the bar of other churches, and the bar of human scholarship, and academic and cultured opinions, and so often we are concerned about how those people judge us. We can become concerned and upset because their judgment is adverse. What a trifle it is to be judged by mortal men. Theirs is only a provisional and fleeting judgment.
The great thing is that the God whose eyes were on the world at Noah’s day sees us, and soon, confronting him, we shall stand before ultimate reality. This God will see us through and through. This God will search and know us. His judgment will be final, a judgment of unquestioned rectitude. Men and women, that is a judgment to fear. My own conscience may be quite content with my attainments, but the question is this, what will God’s judgment of me be? The thing to long for is not the praise, applause and acclaim of fellow sinners but the accolade of God, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Everything else is fallible; everything else is provisional; everything else is fickle and subject to the review of God, but we are all on course to face the Supreme Court of the Universe, the very last examination and the great, unalterable, decisive verdict of Almighty God, the judgment of which Noah’s Flood was simply a portent. This picture of what God chose to do in the time of Noah brings our emotions to bear on the reality of what is going to happen when we meet this same God. We are living in a moral universe in which what men sow – men with never dying souls, made in the image of God – that men will also reap.
Consider how all-embracive was this judgment. Were there any at the time of Noah who escaped it? No, not one. What of the Nephilim – the giants, the men of renown of that day? There was no escape for them. What of the cultured people who wrote poetry and sang and played the harp and flute? No, there was no escape for them. What of the craftsmen and farmers? No escape. What of the violent men, murderers like Cain and Lamech? All through their lives no one had dared to touch them; they were accountable to no man; they were above the law of men, but when the initial drizzle began to fall then the raindrops landed on them as much as on their wounded victims. They too were soon soaked to the skin and running to the high ground for refuge. So it will be in God’s day of judgment – which we all shall soon experience, the writers and teachers who have stood up and arrayed against the Christian church – Marx and Freud and Nietzsche and Russell and Sartre and Ayer and Dawkins must meet the Holy One. So too will Chairman Mao and every other tyrant – they will be called to give account; every mouth will be stopped and the whole world guilty before God. They will stand with just one pitiful word on their lips, lacking any defense . . . Guilty! . . . no defense. Many of them had been great orators and eloquent pleaders of evil causes and yet at the last they’ll have nothing to say, all carried away in the flood of the wrath of God.
Did the little people on earth escape the flood? Did God just deal with the capitalists? Did the rich and the strong, the criminals and dictators, get their comeuppance while all the common people sat outside their cottages and applauded? No, there was none amongst them who was righteous, no, not one. Those whose lives were unmarked and unnoticed, those whose lives made scarcely a ripple upon the surface of human history, those whose names and deeds will be lost and unrecorded – perhaps the great majority of us all – yet the small were also judged by God in the flood. In many ways that is part of our grandeur. That is a part of the dignity of human life. Each one made in the image and likeness of God, and you can hardly belittle a man more than to say that he is so insignificant and helpless we don’t hold him responsible for anything he says or does. No, each human being was and will be held responsible. God will treat us all with such honour. He will say to you, “You’re a little woman, but you’re a woman.” He will say, “I expect you to answer. I expect your record to bear scrutiny.”
Did the children escape from God’s judgment at the time of Noah? No. God’s eye doesn’t begin to fall upon us when we become teenagers or when we are over 18 years of age. God is already watching, and God is now evaluating. Of course I want you to remember that God is doing much more for you children than simply keeping an eye on you. God loves you. Every good and perfect gift that you treasure, your parents, your brothers and sisters, your health, your intelligence, your home and all you have – all of it has come from above. And God is offering to be your Shepherd. God is prepared to be your Saviour. You see my concern? I don’t want you to think that God is simply a prying God, eavesdropping on your conversations, looking at what you watch, disapproving and shaking his head. He has been such a good God to you, nevertheless he does judge us all. He judges your mother and your father, but you too. He is watching and weighing up and measuring the little ones. He will judge the president of the USA, the most powerful man in the world. He will judge the bullies in your school and your teachers too, but he will judge how you’ve treated your parents and your brothers and sisters, how you did your work, what you thought of your preacher. He will know if you were scornful. Did you lose your temper? Are you selfish? Are you sarcastic? Are you rude? God will judge you too just as he judged every boy and girl at the time of Noah.
All mankind were destroyed because all had corrupted their ways. Their lives lost their course; their lives missed their goal; they all paid the wages of sin in death. What a solemn fact! What an overwhelming possibility for any one of us, that we too may be facing that. Didn’t the Lord Jesus speak often of hell? That is my only authority for speaking about it to you. Our gentle and loving Saviour spoke of it, and he spoke of judgment tenderly, and he knows about such things so much better than me, or you, or any so-called experts. He told us in the Sermon on the Mount that that is the destination of the broad road on which many are walking. If I refuse to listen to a preacher of righteousness, like Noah, and go with the flow of my crowd then I am heading for destruction. I shall end my life with those of Noah’s day, in the condemnation of God, in despair and desolation and pain. I shall end my life in this obscene absurdity of someone made in God’s image being destroyed, not in the waters of Noah’s Flood but in the lake of fire prepared for the devil and all his angels.
I mention it to you today because Jesus referred to the fact that as it was in the days of Noah so it will be when he returns. I am called to give this same message as plainly as Christ gave it, as solemnly as Christ, and as tenderly as Christ. I only preach this truth because as we go through the books of the Bible week by week this is what we find today. I only preach them because I don’t want you to be condemned. I preach it to warn you of this reality. That is why God has put it in the Scriptures. There exists this great entity, a place as real as this chapel, as real as this pulpit, as real as you and me, and even today it’s not empty. That is the message God brings to us when he says, “I am going to put an end to all people,” because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
You say that you believe in the love of God. Yes and so do I, and in a moment I will tell you what the love of God did at the time of the Flood. But you’re thinking in your heart right now that the doctrine of judgment contradicts the love of God. You say to yourself that you are a father and you would never drown your children. “Surely,” you protest, “God is more tender than I am.” I will answer you with the words of God himself in Psalm 50 and verses 20 and 21, “You speak continually against your brother and slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you.” The Holy Creator is infinite and eternal; he is not like you. He is without sin and he says that he will rebuke you for the way you treat your own brother. He is utterly different from ourselves. Isn’t the God of love continually punishing this sinful world? How can you reconcile that fact – the loving God punishing sinners? I will tell you – through their guilt and shame!
God is making it clear to you that what he’s about to do in the flood is absolutely just. If I were to announce that I was going to wipe out everybody on earth but for eight people then you would think I was crazy, and you would judge me to be the most cruel man who ever lived even to think like that. But I am a sinner; I am often unwise and foolish. I am an evil man. God the Creator and Sustainer of the world is not like me. It would not be right or possible for me to destroy the world, but we are dealing with the holy Creator, and what God is saying to you here in Genesis 6 is, ‘Yes, it’s fair for me to do this. In fact, it’s just. In fact if I didn’t do something about this, it would mean that I’m not in touch with my world and I’m not much of a moral God. If I didn’t do something about this it would say that I’m not holy, and that I don’t care about goodness. I want you all to know that that is the opposite of what I’ve revealed about myself in the Scripture.’ Again if I were to announce that I was going to condemn all those responsible for the murders of my parents and wife and children and brothers and sisters, then no one would challenge that. Or if I said I would condemn all those responsible for the gas chambers of Auschwitz, then no one would oppose that. Such a response is just and right. The holy and just God is dealing with the same thing at the time of Noah, a situation worse than Belsen. So God is building his case to explain to you that no matter how fearful and dramatic and drastic and extensive and breathtaking this judgment of the Flood might be God is straight and fair in all he does. As long as it is right and just then wickedness must be condemned.
You are still unpersuaded. You cannot see how could God possibly send someone to hell. But I want to say to you that that’s not really the question. The question is really, “How could God allow someone into heaven?” Let me illustrate the divine resistance to sin like this: Would you rub cancer cells into an open vein? Would you inject yourself with a fluid contaminated by the HIV virus? Would you breathe into your lungs air full of the most virulent bacteria? Would you stretch out a naked arm for malaria-carrying mosquitoes to sting you and drink your blood? No you wouldn’t allow disease to penetrate your being. Nor will God take into his heart and life in heaven, violence and pride and greed and lust and cruelty and thieving and murder and blasphemy and godlessness and unbelief and envy and bitterness and vindictiveness and hatred and abuse. These viruses of sin and those bacteria of wickedness God will banish from his own nature. He will be the uncontaminated Holy One. Nothing that defiles may ever enter God. Then how can anyone be saved? This is what God proceeds to tell Noah.
2. GOD WILL SAVE ALL THE PEOPLE ON WHOM HIS FAVOUR RESTS.
Immediately God has spoken of his judgment he speaks of his grace. God will condemn sinners, and that is just, yes, for judgment is our deserving, but he will save sinners too, and that is mercy all, immense and free. “Make yourself an ark of cypress,” he tells Noah because Noah has found favour in his eyes. God will not condemn a single righteous man, no not one; he will not condemn a blameless man; he will not condemn someone who walks with him. You remember how Abraham pleads with God before the destruction of the city of Sodom; “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:23-25). You remember how God finally assures Abraham that even for ten he will not condemn Sodom, but here are just eight people but God will certainly spare them. So he set Noah a preaching for 120 years, and eventually eight were saved. We are told that Noah was a preacher of righteousness (2 Pet. 2:5), just like Enoch was (Jude 14). Men cannot walk with God while ignoring their neighbours, and so Noah was constrained to evangelize. He exhorted men and women about their sin and about the righteousness of God and told them to flee from the wrath to come to the righteousness of the one who was to come who would bruise the serpent’s head. Wherever there is judgment predicted there is warning given and evangelism put into motion.
i] Let me begin with a word about the disproportionate number of those multitudes lost compared to the handful saved. I want you to be provoked at the contrast between the eight saved and the world lost. We don’t know how many lived in the world at the time of Noah, perhaps a quarter of a million; maybe more, but we do know how many of them were saved, just eight people. Now I can turn that in a number of ways. I can say that the number of the redeemed is eventually going to be incalculably large, more than any man can number, from every part of the world. God has elected sinners in vast numbers like the sands on the seashore. All of them he has chosen – though not one deserved his saving love – and for all of them God the Son has died on the cross. So the contrast between those lost and those saved is indeed disparate in this judgment.
I can also turn it like this that the Lord Jesus has said that the way to destruction was broad and that many would find it, but that the path to life was narrow, entered by a narrow gate, and only a few would found that. We would say that this is confirmed everywhere from our experience. We knock on doors but no one is at all interested in our Saviour In most schools a tiny percentage of children go to church. There are eight thousand students at the local university and there are just a hundred who attend the Christian Union’s meetings. Seven thousand nine hundred students have little interest in God. How few in number are the people in the media, the members of the royal family, the members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, who are true Christians. How few throughout east and west Europe, how few in the Middle East, how few in India and China. Eight souls saved at the time of Noah and all the rest lost, and that percentage is what we see today everywhere in our land.
Or again, let me turn it like this; here we see the first full scale divine judgment, and it demonstrates that with God the truth of a situation prevails regardless of majorities and minorities. The minority, eight. The majority, who knows how many thousands, how many tens of thousands, how many hundreds of thousands? A pathetic eight is the minority. That is the group on which God has set his favour and grace. Isn’t it absurd? Absolutely, that those who are made in the image of God and blessed each day by God should live in resolute enmity against God. Is God’s judgment fair? Absolutely. The only thing that you have the right to complain about is that God was more gracious to the eight people whom he saved than they deserved. You cannot say to him it was wrong for him to punish and condemn the rest.
ii] Let me now say a word about the ark. You will see immediately that the whole idea of an ark being built was God’s. There is no suggestion that Noah conceived the plan, indeed it was not until later in their conversation (v.17) that God told Noah he was going to bring floodwaters on the earth. So the idea and the design of the ark was God’s alone. He gave to Noah every detail for the construction of the ark.
Then I want you to see that the Hebrew word ‘ark’ occurs in just one other place in the Bible and that is the floating basket in which the baby Moses was placed to hide him from those who would kill him. The word used in the phrase ‘ark of the covenant’ is different. Some men have suggested that this word ‘ark’ is in fact an Egyptian loan word meaning a box. Moses, who wrote this account, would know all about arks that were covered with pitch to make them watertight. So an ark once carried Moses and saved him from death, and he became the saviour of his people. This other ark, which was massively larger, would carry Noah, who would be the leader of salvation for his people.
The ark was actually not a ship. It was basically a seaworthy house. It’s been suggested that the term for a ship was deliberately avoided by Moses. The ark wasn’t built to be some sort of a licensed seagoing vessel. It was more like an Egyptian barge, and apparently that term was used for barges that would carry great memorials up and down the Nile on the way to make the temples and pyramids of the Pharaohs, but it is also a term that is used for a chest.
iii] The ark is to be made out of cypress wood says the N.I.V. and that is a guess. There is a footnote that points out that the meaning of the Hebrew of this word is uncertain. The A.V. tells us gopher wood, whatever kind of wood that is. The dimensions of the ark are 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high, so its length was ten times its height. It was massive, the size of a large battleship or a small cargo boat, something like 95,700 square feet, or 1.396 million cubic feet with a tonnage of 13,960. It would have displaced about 43,000 pounds. It would have been ample to hold easily 35,000 different varieties of invertebrate species and seven people plus all their food for a year. Now men have done all sorts of scale model work on the ark and concluded that it was ideally suited for floating in a catastrophe like this. It would have been low in the water, it would have been almost incapable of being capsized in the midst of the deluge. The plans for the ark which Noah was given had to be perfectly suited for the ends God had in mind for it. Archaeologists have found evidences from Near Eastern civilizations that at the time of Noah there was certainly skill in building to make a vessel like this. Its huge dimensions speak to us of the width and length and height and depth of the love of God is Jesus Christ which certainly will save all his vast company of people for ever.
iv] Then I want you to notice that the ark had three decks or stories (v.16). It had a roof and a door and then there is also a window mentioned, but that is in chapter eight and verse six where we learn that Noah had made a window in the ark. What is that window? Could it be the door? Or does this refer to the 18 inch gap that went right around the top of the ark between the sides and the roof? (v.16). Perhaps it was one simple window. So this is a floating house designed by God. It has echoes of the creation which God designed; he made that of three levels didn’t he? There were the heavens above, the earth beneath and the realm under the earth. Also when God later gives the blueprints for his home, the tabernacle, to Moses there is a similar approach. God gave him another exact design, and God blessed the work done and declared his covenant with the builder. Moses and Noah built exactly as God instructed them; they were meticulous. There was also one door in the ark, and that is saying that there was just one way of coming into deliverance and safety. Only by that door could anyone be saved. There was one door into the courtyard of the Tabernacle; only by that one way could you gain access to the dwelling place of God. Jesus says, “I am the door.” There is no one else who says that because the Father had just one child, an only begotten Son.
v] You will also see that God tells Noah to “coat it with pitch” (v.14). Moses’ basket was also covered in pitch, and this word is the same root as the verb to atone, to cover, a price of redemption. God is saying to Noah that he has designed this vessel so that there is complete protection given to all who are inside it. They are covered; they are redeemed by his plan and work. They are protected by him from destruction. That is underlined by this fact that there was no sail in the ark. When you see children’s stories of Noah the only thing above the roof is the giraffe’s head. At least they have got it right that this boat lacks a mast and sails, but it also lacks a rudder. Imagine a boat being launched from our harbour without a motor, no sails and no way of steering it. What lunacy to go to sea in such a vessel. The ark has been described as being in the shape of a coffin and you can understand anyone looking at it saying, “This is a death trap. You won’t find me in something like that.” What does it say to us? God has pledged himself to take care of everyone in the ark. “Do exactly what I say Noah, and then I will look after you.” Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.
God is the great architect of the universe. He is also the architect of our lives in families and as individuals. He designs the whole work of redemption and the new heavens and the new earth; he designs the ark and the tabernacle and the temple in Jerusalem. His plan at first was for the land of Israel and exactly where the tribes were to live. When Abraham saw that Jehovah was a planning God he looked forward all the more to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Heb. 11:10). Heaven is planned by the God who has the most exquisite aesthetic sense. For a hundred years Noah poured over the blueprint of the ark which God gave him and he made it all exactly as God has said. When he did that Noah was safe. God didn’t change the plans at all. God didn’t cajole Noah saying, “Hurry, hurry, hurry.” God just saw that everything Noah did he did as God had said.
3. HIS PEOPLE WILL DO WHATEVER GOD TELLS THEM TO DO.
Today there are commandments that God is giving to you and me. There are commandments to the waverers, and commandments to the backsliders, and commandments to those who are not Christians and other exhortations to those who are. They are God’s great requirements if we would be saved from the wrath to come – believe in Jesus Christ and turn from our sins. They are words God wants you to heed and do, just as surely as he told Noah to build this vessel.
Noah’s experience of salvation was confirmed the moment he picked up the saw, the wedge and the hammer and walked into the forest. He fulfilled to the letter the great directives that heaven gave him. There is no way that Noah would have any assurance of being saved without obeying God. So I am asking you have you done what God has told you? Remember it requires a decision. You are standing before the demand of God and you are being asked to make up your mind. Of course you obey by the grace of God, but you are the one to manifest obedience.
I have told you that as Noah faced a deluge of destruction so does all mankind. Is it worth trying to escape from that? Is perdition worth avoiding? Is God worth pacifying? Is God to be believed? Is it a fearful thing to fall in the hands of the living God? You and I have to decide; we must make up our minds. “Noah did everything just as God commanded him” (v.22). He decided that the deluge was worth avoiding; he had to escape from the coming wrath. He made up his mind that God deserved to be believed and obeyed. You have to decide whether this Christian life is worth adopting, and the wrath of God is worth avoiding, and the people of God are worth standing next to, and that the Lord is worth following, and eternal life is worth pursuing. You have to decide. You must come to decisions today. Don’t be always putting these things off. That is decision too, but it is a bad decision – “I won’t decide today.”
Also you have to face the labour, the enormity of Moses’ task. 120 years of unremitting toil, felling all those trees, building this massive structure, enduring all the hostility of a scornful mocking world, sustaining his own family’s morale. What a marvellous symbol of the life of the Christian. What a labour it is, presenting our bodies as living sacrifices to God! How many nights did Noah toss and turn in his bed? Was he worried about one of the boys? Was he perplexed about getting this whole ark to hold together? Would it float? Was it seaworthy? Was it waterproof? Would he keep going? This is a very searching question, what do we lose sleep over? Do we lose sleep over our souls? Do we lose sleep over the state of our religion? Do we lost sleep over the glory and honour of the name of Christ and the state of his cause? Do we know anything of that?
So I am asking you have we ourselves done all that God has commanded us? Have we made up our minds? Have we faced the challenge of all the work, and are we prepared to stand apart from the world, as Noah did, in isolation, ostracized and the butt of the common man’s ribaldry. As young people search for an identity are you prepared to find it here in a church that is serious in believing the Bible? In a church that doesn’t swing? Are you prepared to bear the name of Jesus Christ on your foreheads so that everyone seeing you knows that for you to live is Christ? Are you willing to stand outside the gate for Christ, for that is the only place a Christian belongs.
I am asking you in what particular action did Noah’s life begin and I am saying in this, when the word of God came to him and Noah obeyed. It is as simple as that, and however complex it became afterwards, and whatever happiness he knew in those 120 years – and I tell you he was the happiest man in the world for that century – it began in something as simple as this, that God told him something and he did it.
All of our salvation is in that. All the Christian life and all eternity is in that. God speaks to me. He says to me in the sermons that I hear that I’m to come to him and from now on walk with him. I come to him, just as I am without any other plea;
“I came to Jesus as I was weary and worn and sad.
I found in him a resting place, and he has made me glad.” (Horatius Bonar)
3rd September 2006 GEOFF THOMAS