Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Living Faith - Noah

"Living Faith"
Hebrews 11:7; Gen. 6:8-9:7

These past few weeks we have been studying about having a "crazy love" for God. We've rediscovered how awesome God is, how awesome God loves, and how we should respond to that love with surrender and service. If you are like me, it helps to see an example of what that kind of faith looks like.

In Hebrews chapter eleven, we're given a long list of faithful men and women whose lives reflected a deep love for God. This list has been rightly called "the hall of faith". If you are a student of the Bible, most of the names are quite familiar: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. Each of their stories represents a faith that stood the test of time and trials; these men and women, while fallible human beings, who lived by faith.

For the sake of our study, we will focus on but one of these faithful – Noah.

Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

Noah's life saw the end of the primeval age; where men lived for hundreds of years. In fact, Noah's grandfather, Methuselah, lived 969 years! Noah's great grandfather was Enoch who was famous for starting a walk on earth and ending it in heaven, "Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him".

Genesis 6

5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

[When you get to verse 13 you find that this "wickedness" of man was primarily violence. Imagine what it would do to mankind if violent men, human predators, lived for 500 or more years. The innocent of the earth would quickly be overwhelmed by the violent killers, such that the very existence of mankind was in question, as Noah himself fathered his sons after he was 500 years old.]

6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

[God plans to mitigate the effects of sin by removing the vast populations of the wicked from the earth, while extending grace to mankind through one man, Noah. As we will see throughout the story, Noah's righteousness was a result of his faith in God.

This is reiterated in the New Testament, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV). ]

9 This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.

[Noah was a man who believed in God. We are told in back in Genesis 4:26 that when Adam's grandson Enosh was born to Seth, "then men began to call on the name of the Lord."

Noah walked with God like his great grandfather Enoch. To be perfect in your generations, means his faith was complete in this age, he had a living faith that dramatically changed his lifestyle, making this righteous man a brilliant contrast to the wicked, violent, families of earth. So, while Noah could not have earned God's favor, he certainly was not an embarrassment to it.]

13 And God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

[When we join Noah's life in Genesis 6 we find a man who is already in tune with the voice of God; a man that when God speaks, he listens. There was no burning bush, no fire from heaven, just God's Word to a waiting ear. God would lead, Noah would follow.]

14 Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. 15 And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16 You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.
17 And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive. 21 And you shall take for yourself of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather it to yourself; and it shall be food for you and for them."
Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.

[God asks a man living in the Mesopotamian plains to build a giant boat; 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high! Amazingly, there is no record of Noah questioning God's command. The Lord tells Noah what He wants him to do and how He wants him to do it and Noah does it! Imagine living in Parker County on the plains of Texas and God saying all this to you.

I would've asked things like: "You're going to destroy everyone?" "What's gopher wood?" "What's an ark?" "Why do I need pitch?"

Many times when God asks us to do something we delay with selfish questions. We want God to show us the end from the beginning, when He just wants us to step out in faith. We stall, stutter, and sometimes even shut down our prayer life over the fear and doubt. Noah's faith is a wonderful example of obedience. I doubt that God is asking any of us to build an ark, but He may be asking us to step out of our comfort zone for His glory and the building of His kingdom.]

Genesis 7

 1 Then the LORD said to Noah, "Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation. 2 You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; 3 also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth. 4 For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made." 5 And Noah did according to all that the LORD commanded him. 6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters were on the earth.
7 So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons' wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood. 8 Of clean animals, of animals that are unclean, of birds, and of everything that creeps on the earth, 9 two by two they went into the ark to Noah, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. 10
And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth.
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. 12 And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights.

[ The ark took Noah and his sons 100 years to build! This was no weekend warrior project! There was no blueprint or picture to consult. Noah was building the first ark ever made. All the while his friends and neighbors probably mocked and made fun of Noah's "project".

"Gopher wood" or Cyprus is durable wood. In fact, the gates of St. Peter's Square at Rome were made of gopher wood. They lasted over a thousand years from the time of Constantine to the time of Eugene IV without signs of decay.

When completed, the ark was to be covered inside and outside with pitch or bitumen, that part of the world has open tar pits made by the same process as oil and gas fields. The Ark was to have a window and a door – Noah was to have control over the window, God would take charge of the door.

Noah knew that judgment was coming because he believed the Word of God. His work and life reflected that truth even in the midst of what must have been tremendous persecution. When we live our lives in faith, we will stand out in this world. Our lives will be counter cultural because we follow Christ.

We see God inviting Noah and his family into the completed ark a full week before the flood. For seven days NOTHING happened. Imagine the anticipation! God was going to destroy the entire earth with a flood, you spent 100 years of your life preparing for that moment, and now you wait for 7 days. Has your faith ever been shaken by God's apparent delay? God's timing is not our timing. His ways are not our ways. Interestingly, Methuselah's name means, "When he dies, it shall come". Noah's great-grandfather Enoch embedded this prophesy in the name of his son. God's long-suffering and patient mercy allowed Methuselah to live 969 years. This was a 969 year grace period for the people of earth to repent. But instead of turning to God they fell further into sin. Judgment would come. Just as his name prophesied, the flood came the year Methuselah died. I take this as a favor God granted to his friend Enoch.

Noah's faith not only had to be firm in preparation for the flood, but now also must remain firm for the duration of the flood. From the time that God closed them in, to the time they set foot on dry ground 375 days would pass! ]

Genesis 8

1 Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided. 2 The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained. 3 And the waters receded continually from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters decreased. 4 Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month. In the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.

[Finally, in their 7th month adrift, the waters began to recede. On the first day of the 10th month the mountain tops became visible. Forty days later, Noah sent out a raven and a dove (Gen.8:6). Over the next fourteen days, Noah sent out two more doves. In all, this took 61 days. By Noah's 601st year on the first day of the first month, the water had dried up (Gen. 8:12&13). Noah waited one month and 26 days before exiting the ark. The patience of Job is legendary, what about the patience of Noah! The entire time that Noah and his family were enclosed in the ark (1 year and 10 days) they had to continually remind themselves that – "if God said He was going to save us, He will save us". Their confidence could not rest on the circumstances; it had to rest on the unchanging Word of God!]

20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, "I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.

[Noah's first response to the realization of his salvation was worship! He built an altar and offered a burnt offering of praise and thanksgiving (Gen.8:20). Noah's praise moved the heart of God to decree that He would never destroy the earth again with a flood. So God removed the violent from the earth and shortened the days of man to mitigate the effects of sin.]

Genesis 9

1 So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.

[From Noah and his three sons, every man woman and child on the planet has descended!
6 billion people, but when they do genetic studies of mankind to look at the genetic variance; the mitochondrial DNA of women and the Y chromosome of men they find a genetic bottleneck in men. Whereas the 4 women were not all closely related by blood, the Y chromosome of the 4 men was practically identical except for a single generation of genetic drift.]

God delights in using men and women of faith. 2 Chronicles 16:9 comes to mind, "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him" (NKJV).

In speaking with His disciples about the time of his second coming Jesus said, "And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all"
(Luke 17:26-27 NKJV).

In Noah's day, they lived lives of wicked violence without the slightest thought that they would one day give an account to God. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Just as God's grace to Noah included the destruction of the wicked, so too his saving grace for the redeemed, concludes with the condemnation of the lost. Noah spent 100 years, lived what he believed and delivered 8 souls and mankind itself, from the flood. What about us? Who will be saved, because we live what we say we believe?]





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