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Noah

(Genesis 6:5-8, 13-22)

 

1.   Everybody knows the story of Noah and the ark and the great flood...if I were to ask any one of you to recite the basic facts of the story, no doubt you could do it...the story has become part of the folklore of human culture...and in one sense, makes it more difficult for us to deal with...

2.   The most difficult Bible passages for us to learn from the ones with which we are most familiar...when we come to a familiar passage or story in the Bible there is a tendency to think, "I've already heard this.  I know what it means.  There's nothing else for me to learn from this part of the Bible."...two problems with that kind of thinking...

--first, we may not know the facts of the story as well as we think we do...kind of like the man whose young son came home from Sunday School and asked, "Dad, do you know the name of Noah's wife?"...father rolled his eyes and said, "Son, I can't believe you don't know that.  Everyone has heard of Joan of Arc!"...sometimes we may have the facts a little confused!

--second, even when we have the facts straight, we may not really understand the theological significance of the story...

3.   And that's especially true when it comes to stories like the story of Noah and the ark which we tend to associate with children... however, the Bible does not treat the story of Noah as a children's story...there are many tremendously important adult lessons to be learned from the example of Noah…

4.   The significance of the story of Noah can be seen in the fact that four full chapters in the Bible are dedicated to him…Genesis 6-9…actually there are two accounts of the flood interwoven throughout Genesis 6-9…Old Testament scholars refer to them as J and P…there are some slight variations in the two accounts, but the essential story is the same…

5.   There are many things we can learn from this story, but the main theme has to do with salvation…the story of the Noah and the ark is a type, sort of a preview, of the salvation God offers us in Jesus…Hebrews 11:7 says that Noah "became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith."...Noah is the first person in the Bible to be called righteous...Genesis 6:9 says, "Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God."  .In Scripture word "righteousness" means "rightness with God"... because of Noah's faith he was made right with or reconciled with God...

6.   The story of Noah and the ark is in reality a preview of our salvation...in giving Noah instructions in building the ark God told him in Genesis 6:14 to "cover it inside and out with pitch."...the Hebrew word for pitch has the same root as the word "atonement" ...John MacArthur points out that just as "...the pitch kept the water of judgment from entering the ark, so Christ's atoning blood keeps judgment from the sinner"...in faith Noah entered the ark and did not perish in the flood...and through faith in Jesus we enter relationship with God and do not perish in our sins...

7.   That is the main lesson of this story, but there are multiple other lessons as well…I want to focus on what we can learn from the story about overcoming what seems to be impossible situations in life… Some times in life we come against things which may literally overwhelm us…maybe it is some task that we think is impossible…maybe it is some relationship that we feel is broken beyond repair…maybe it is a financial crisis from which we see no way out…want you to see from Noah’s example what to do when those times come…

 

I.  Don’t listen to negative people

1.      Noah was surrounded by negative people…he grew up in an ungodly family…his father, Lamech was characterized by moral perversion… in Genesis 4:23-24 brief description of character of Moses’ father…Lamech was the first recorded bigamist in Bible, having two wives in disregard of God’s standard of monogamy established in Garden of Eden…he was characterized by harsh cruelty…he bragged about killing man for wounding him and a boy for striking him…

2.      Not only did Noah live in negative home environment, lived in one of worst societies world has ever known…Genesis 6:5-7 gives brief, graphic glimpse of world in which Noah lived…

“…wickedness of man was great upon the earth…” (v.5)

“…thoughts of his [man’s] heart was only evil continually…”(v.5)

“…the Lord was sorry that He had made man…” (v.6)

3.      Noah was surrounded by a horrible family and horrible society…social psychologists would say he didn’t have a chance…that he was destined to be like everyone around him…but look at v.8…”But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”…he didn’t let his negative environment drag him down…and that quality put him in a position of being selected by God to do something which seemed impossible…

 

1.      Whenever you are faced with a seemingly impossible situation in your life, one thing you can be sure of is that there will be some people around giving you bad advice…and to make it through those difficult times we must learn not to let the negative people drag us down…doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek advice and counsel of wise people…but does mean that we shouldn’t take at face value everything anyone tells us…

2.  When Charles Kettering was president of General Motors would sometimes call a group of engineers together to solve a problem…said would place a table at door with sign instructing engineers to “Leave slide rule here”…some you don’t know what slide rule is…just substitute calculator or IPAD for slide rule…said if didn’t, some time during presentation some engineer would be working on slide rule and then stand and say, “Boss, what you are asking can’t be done!” [Charles F. Kettering in Bits and Pieces, December, 1991, p. 24]

2.      And from Noah can learn in face of seemingly impossible situation we must not let negative people discourage us…

 

II.  Do listen to what God is saying to you

1.      When God spoke to Noah, He told Noah an amazing thing…said going to send great flood to destroy the earth…and he told Noah to build an ark to save himself, his family, and two of every kind of animal…

2.      When God gave that information to Noah, Noah was faced with a clear-cut choice...he could do what God said or easily found a reason for not doing what God said…for example he could have said—

--this makes no sense to me…God’s instructions went against everything he had ever experienced… Noah had never seen such a flood...some contend that Noah had never even seen rain...Noah could have said, “Lord, I don’t understand your instructions so I am not going to follow them.”

 

--this task is too big for me...Noah probably lived in Mesopotamia, a long way from any ocean or even sizable lake...while at some point in his life he may have seen some kind of small boat, he'd never seen anything like the boat God wanted built...it was to be 450' long, 75' wide, 45' high with three decks, one window, and one door...to construct such a boat would be an enormous task...Noah could have said, "Lord, I don't think I'm capable of doing what you ask."

 

--this is embarrassing...no doubt Noah was viewed by his contemporaries of something of an eccentric...he was not the kind of person you'd want buying the house next door to you...people laughed at him...made jokes about him...he was probably known as "Crazy Noah"...I read this week an interesting comment about people like Noah...one person wrote, "Every [person] who takes God seriously is considered mad by those who take Him lightly." [BBC, p.81]...Noah could have said, "Lord, I just can't do what you ask because it's too embarrassing."

 

--I don’t have time for...after all, in his world it was a full-time job just to produce food for the family...no doubt Noah's life was already full before God gave him this task...he could have said, "Lord, I just can't fit it into my schedule."

  1. But Noah didn’t do any of those things…to his credit, he took God at His word and did what God told him to do…and because of that, he was able to do what seemed to be impossible…

 

  1. One key to dealing with situations that seem to be impossible is to listen to and obey God…and when God speaks to us we are faced with the same decision Noah faced…

--are we going to believe God or not believe God?

--are we going to trust ourselves or trust God?

--are we going to follow our instincts, intuition, thoughts, or follow God’s instructions…

      These are questions we constantly face...one writer put it this way:  "The choice come to every [person], either to listen to, or to disregard the message of God.  [We] may live as if the message of God was of no importance, or [we] may live as if the message of God was the most important thing in the world ... Noah was the man who heeded the warning of God.  And it was because he heeded it that he was saved from disaster.  God's warning comes to us in many ways.  It may come from conscience; it may come from some direct word of God to our souls; it may come from the advice or the rebuke of some good and godly [person]; it may leap out at us from God's Book, or challenge us in some sermon.  Wherever it comes from, we neglect the warning of God at our peril." [Barclay, p.159]

2.      Remembering to listen to God and to do what God says to do is one key to dealing with situations which seem to be impossible…

 

1.      When Japanese invaded Yangcheng during WWII missionary Gladys Aylward was forced to flee with more than 100 orphans for whom she had been caring… during the terrible journey across a war-torn countryside, the missionary was overcome with fear and despair…one of young girls came up beside her and said, “Don’t be afraid.  Remember how God took care of Moses and the Israelites.”…in her despair Gladys said, “Well, I’m not Moses!”…and little girl said, “Of course you aren’t.  But God is still God!”

2.      One key to dealing with impossible situations is simply remembering that God is still God…and as Jesus said, “All things are possible with God!”

Conclusion

1.      Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who was executed in a prison camp in Naz1 Germany just before the end of WW II wrote a poem entitle "Stations on the Way to Freedom"...one of the stations or steps to freedom Bonhoeffer calls "action"... want you to hear what Bonhoeffer said about action or obedience...think it sums up well the example of Noah…

Do and dare what is right, not swayed by the whim of the moment.

Bravely take hold of the real, not dallying now with what might be.

Not in the flight of ideas but only in action is freedom.

Make up your mind and come out into the tempest of living.

God's command is enough and your faith in him to sustain you.

Then at last freedom will welcome your spirit amid great rejoicing.

2.   When you are faced with a seemingly impossible situation, do what Noah did…don’t listen to negative people…instead listen to and obey God…

 

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