This is our third installment of the life of Noah, a life that we are going to study this summer at our annual VBS. Here are the previous two lessons that we have covered:
Noah heard the message of God’s judgment, mercy, and grace. He believed God’s message and his faith was genuine because it produced obedience. Noah shared that message with his immediate family and then with the people in his sphere of influence.
This lesson will focus on how Noah trusted God during the difficult moments of the universal flood. Psalm 31:14 teaches us:
But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD, I say, “You are my God.”
This message was written years after the great flood during the days of Noah, yet, Noah understood the meaning and applied it to his own life. He taught his family to do the same.
I. Faith in action
As was mentioned in the previous article, genuine faith is seen in action, specifically, in the action of obedience. Noah’s faith was genuine because it produced obedience. Noah did not work harder to prove that his faith was genuine. Because of his genuine faith, the good works of obedience followed. I can almost guarantee that many years later, when the Apostle Paul wrote the following, he had Noah’s genuine faith in mind:
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Noah did not build the ark to prove his faith. His faith led him to build the ark. Again, not only did Noah build the ark, he also preached the message of judgment, mercy, and grace to his family and the people around him. The final act that manifested Noah’s genuine faith was his obedience to God’s command to get in the ark. The Lord sealed the door to protect Noah, his family, and all the animals that had come by God’s command.
II. God’s patience
Now, after God commanded Noah to build the ark, the project took anywhere from 50 to 100 years to complete. As I have mentioned before, while Noah built, he also preached God’s message of judgment, mercy, and grace. The people within Noah’s sphere of influence had many opportunities to hear and repent. In fact, this is why Peter wrote what he did in II Peter 3:9:
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
God made a promise and it may have seemed to some that He was not keeping His promise. In fact, some began to mock Noah (and God). There was a reason that God delayed His judgment on the earth. He wanted the people to have ample opportunity to hear and make a decision. The message of God’s judgment, mercy, and grace is delivered to keep us from perishing. Our sin nature leads us to destroy ourselves and those around us. God’s message leads us to repentance, which removes God’s judgment. Repentance means “a change of mind that leads to a change of actions”. When a person repents, it means that he has changed his mind about who he is and about who God is. This change of mind comes through the message of the Gospel as found in the Word of God. As a result of having your mind changed, your actions follow. This causes you to turn away from sin and to turn to God. Jesus began preaching repentance in His very first sermon and preached it all throughout His 3 year ministry. His disciples also preached repentance. On the other hand, during that same time that God is patient, offering an opportunity for us to repent, if we choose not to repent, then there are consequences and when those consequences come, we have no one to blame but ourselves. This is what the Apostle Paul teaches us in Romans 2:4-6:
Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:
III. The difficult time of the flood
The flood was a difficult time for the entire world. What do you do in difficult times? Everyone faces difficult times. How do we go through those difficult times? That makes all the difference. The rain fell for 40 days. Those who did not believe God’s message suffered greatly through this difficult time. The entire earth was flooded. Noah and his family trusted the Lord in the midst of the flood, just like they initially did when He revealed His message of judgment, mercy, and grace. Again, this act was an act of judgment because of sin. Peter describes it in his second epistle:
3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,
4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since * the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”
5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water,
6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. (II Peter 3)
Up until the end, the people were living by their sin nature. They were mockers. Mockers do what they do out of arrogance, out of their haughtiness and pride. When a person is prideful he is puffed up, but with air, which means that there is no substance, like a large balloon which can pop at any moment and be worth nothing. This is why mockers scoff at other people, because they (scoffers) have no substance to them and they know that so they put others down to lift themselves up. They were thoroughly warned yet they remained ignorant on purpose. They were proud, not thinking that God would or could judge them for their actions. They envisioned that they would work it out with God when they needed to, not realizing that:
. . . God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
The sinful men and women who did not listen to God’s message, who mocked God’s message and His messenger, they reaped what they sowed. Noah and his family did not trust in themselves. They were not arrogant. They trusted in the Lord, especially during the difficult days of the flood and God provided protection. He rescued them from the evil people and the destruction of the flood.
IV. Modern Application
There are many truths that we need to learn from this lesson about how Noah and his family trusted the Lord. The first thing that we need to learn is that by nature, we are all sinful and that sin nature manifests itself in pride and arrogance. We have the same tendencies that the people of Noah’s days had. Modern man is also separated from God and under the judgment of God. Even though God is very patient with us, His judgment is coming. He has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, with the message of mercy and grace. God showed His mercy toward us by being patient and not punishing us immediately. He also showed His mercy toward us by allowing Jesus to take our sins to the cross and pay the price, die the death that we deserve to die. God shows His grace to us by offering salvation, a gift that we do not deserve. We must respond the way that Noah did, in genuine faith leading to obedience, trusting God in every moment of our lives. If we receive the message and repent, we are forgiven. If we reject the message, we remain under the wrath of God and one day, God will pour out all of our judgment upon us. When we receive the message of God in faith, John 1:12 teaches us that we become children of God. We are adopted into the family of God. Once we are accepted into the family of God, like Noah, we need to take the message of God’s judgment, mercy, and grace to the people around us, starting with our family members and extending to the people who fall under our sphere of influence. This is what the Apostle Paul taught to the church in Rome:
13 for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?
15 How will they preach unless * they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”
16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?”
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10)
Go! Preach, so that people can hear and understand, leading them to make a choice of whether to believe or reject God’s mercy and grace. Remember, people are arrogant and prideful. They will probably mock you. Don’t let that stop you. We want them to become children of God, but, that is a choice that they have to make.
Are you a person of faith? Has that faith led to obedience to the Lord? Are you grateful for God’s patience? Has God’s patience led you to repentance? What do you do when you experience difficult times? Are you taking the message of God’s judgment, mercy, and grace to the people around you? May the Lord help us learn to trust Him the way that Noah did!