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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Preaching Righteousness in a Drowning World

Ten generations and more than 2,000 years pass when Noah, descendent of Seth, arrives on the scene of earthly violence and near total corruption--people are drowning in sin. God appears to him and promises a coming flood that will destroy every living thing upon the earth. He instructs Noah to build an ark, fill it with two of every unclean beast and seven of every clean animal. Noah believes in the veracity of God’s Word and begins building. For a hundred years this “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5) warns the people and builds the ark. The rains descend and drown every living thing outside of the ark (There were easily more than a billion of people on the earth at this time). Sadly, only eight people are saved. 
Noah walks down the road of faith, just like his forefathers. He understands that righteousness comes through the faith in the substitutionary death of another; he exhibits that faith both before and after the flood, “Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. Then the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from his childhood” (Genesis 8:20-21).
The promise of redemption and the picture of redemption have passed from one generation to the next. Noah’s sacrifice demonstrates his faith in that promise. 
Noah preaches what he understands about God:
  • God is good and He accepts anyone who comes to Him His way (the way established in the garden when God slays an innocent animal to cover man's nakedness.
  • Sin alienates man from God and all men are sinners.
  • God atones the sin of those who come to Him His way (substitutionary death) but He judges those who do not. 
God seals His covenant with Noah by placing a rainbow in the midst of future thunderstorm which assured Noah, his family and future generations that God would never again destroy all life through a worldwide flood. 
The story resumes with eight people and the repeat of a command, “As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.” Will Noah’s descendants walk down the road of faith or create their own path? Will they believe that God is good and that He does good and communicate His character and His promises to their children?

Older Post
"And rain fell on the earth  forty days and forty nights."

With each passing day humanity became more corrupt. Nothing escapes the all-seeing, all-knowing God and He acts. He tells Noah of coming judgment. Noah is God's confidant and is entrusted with an overwhelming assignment which he carries out over a hundred-year period. Then God sends the rains.

What about all of the other people in Noah's day? They had been warned for 100 years as Noah and his sons felled trees, built an ark and preached righteousness and the coming judgment of God (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5) to a deaf audience. Not one single person heeded his warning (Talk about an unsuccessful ministry!). Nothing got their attention until the first few drops of rain. Then it was too late.

Try to imagine what took place as the first raindrops begin to fall followed by a deluge of floodwater causing the cancellation of wedding and birthday celebrations and the early (and permanent) closing of the stock market. I'm sure that many fights broke out as people fled the lowlands and the rapidly flooding waters. The rain and the rising waters continue and there is no escape. 

Imagine what it must have been like inside the ark - to hear the banging on the outside wall and the screams of relatives, neighbors and others from the community begging to get in. How many days passed before the banging and screaming ceased as the last man, woman, boy and girl drowned in their hardness of heart and unbelief? Morbid thinking, but sobering.Jesus uses the story of Noah to illustrate the coming of another day of judgment. "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).

Just as Noah preached righteousness and prepared for the coming judgment so too must we act in faith by warning as many people as we can. Some will turn to God from their sin. Others, however, will scoff until the first raindrops begin to fall on their head.  

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Genesis 7:1-9:29
  • What did a hundred and fifty days of rain do to the earth and all of its inhabitants?
  • When was Noah released to leave the ark?
  • What was the first thing Noah did after he left the ark? What does this tell you about his view of God?
  • What was God's response to Noah's offering?
  • What are the terms and the sign of the covenant God makes with Noah?
  • What purpose does the rainbow serve?
  • Why does Noah curse Canaan?
  • What does this story teach you about God, about sin and judgment, and about human nature?
Turning truth into prayer
Pray for your neighbors. Ask the Lord to give you opportunities to share Christ with your neighbors and with others you come in contact with. Ask Him to help you to live expectantly.