Sunday, March 9, 2014

Noah's Ark and God's grace.

Noah, portrayed by Russell Crowe, is a film released in 2014. It will be met with mixed reviews as it raises again the question of a world wide flood. Was it as the bible says a catastrophic overthrow of the world as an act of God's judgement by water? Did it really happen? Can the Biblical account be trusted? There is plenty of evidence to support the Bible's claim for it. However for my 'money' its reality is endorsed by Jesus as He told about a future worldwide judgement.'For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.'Matthew 24:37

Very little is given about the times of Noah. What we have must be put together and when we do we have a glimpse of a terribly wicked time. When Jesus said ‘In those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage… until the flood came.’ The term ‘eating and drinking’ is very important when placed alongside other such references. Exodus 32 is the account of the Golden Calf idolatry and it says ‘They (Israel) rose early the next day and brought sacrifices of well – being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.’ (Compare 1 Corinthians 10:6-8)

The days of Noah would have been tough going for those in the lineage leading up to this man. It will be similar in the time Jesus refers to also. How did they stand tall, strong, resolute and separate from the corruption of faith, family and future? Their example is our guide as to the way to overcome the anti-Christ forces. This is even in the ever present reality of martyrdom.

We have in Genesis 5 the godly line highlighted. It becomes evident how the truth of God was passed down from family to family. Here is our first responsibility. As we know God as Lord and Saviour so our life under–girds our words to our children and to all those in our care. Righteousness empowering prayer can open another’s ear to hear the word of the Lord.

The brief mention of Enoch holds a powerful message. Remember he was living in an increasingly corrupt and violent world. His epithet reveals a brave man. It also is a motivation to us and others in a godless age. The record says ‘Enoch walked with God.’ His very life must have made the depraved and demonic inhabitants hate him. They would have sought ways to bring him down to their level. He stood resolute. His testimony is an indictment on his community. It is such a lifestyle even today which explains why the righteous are assailed by the unrighteous. The ungodly know their wickedness but refuse to seek holiness and want to crush all that disturbs them.

From the brief account in Genesis it is easy for folk to presume God to be callous, even cruel in destroying the civilization through water. Those of us who know the Lord and His word appreciate the fact that He is holy and gracious, just and merciful. How does that come out in this setting? The people had the choice of believing or rejecting the ways of Yahweh. Too often we hear ‘seeing is believing’ which doesn’t work out in practise. The people up to Noah’s day could see the Garden of Eden guarded by the Cherubim; the sad testimony of Adam and Eve’s rebellion, passed down from him over many years; the example of the believers such as Enoch. His being ‘raptured’ (seized up) into God’s presence surely would have been newsworthy. Then there is Noah’s work of building the ark. It took 120years. Not one of those who perished could accuse God of being unfair, unjust or impatient. This remains true for all who leave the Lord out of their lives today.

The culmination of all this is in Noah. How did he find grace in the sight of the Lord? Hebrews 11:6-7: ‘By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark … The testimony of Godly men (and assuredly women) made Noah aware of and sensitive to hearing God’s voice. He was prepared to stand up to and stand out from the unbelief of his day. He wore their mocking in building the boat but he also had the last laugh, which was probably saturated with tears for the lost.

It strikes me that Jesus linked His return to the time of Noah to show us the World is not on a self improvement course. Without the ministry of God’s Word and the transforming power of the Cross it is doomed. Every age and every society is infected with the self destructive ‘viruses’ of unbelief and rebelliousness. Ultimately all that will culminate in ‘as in the days of Noah.’ God in grace provided a safe place. For Noah’s day it was the huge ark. For us it symbolizes the Cross and the risen Lord Jesus. He is our ‘ark of refuge’ accessible by faith. That requires believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as the crucified, buried and risen One. That is the biblical ‘passport’ for entrance into the place of safety called Christ Jesus. It is up to an individual to claim it, possess it and with it enter into a new life and destiny safe from the coming judgement of God..


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