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A. Our series this summer is stories in the Bible which teach us important lessons about how we should live in this world.
1. We have talked about Abraham being called to leave his homeland and go to a place the Lord would show him, and how we too are called to leave our home in this world and go to a place God has promised.
2. We talked about Moses transferring his allegiance from Egypt to Israel, after growing up as a member of Pharaoh’s household, and how we too must transfer our allegiance from this world to the community of God’s chosen people.
3. And today we are talking about the story of Noah, who, in obedience to the Lord, boarded the ark as the rain fell and the earth was flooded.
B. Genesis 6:11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come 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.
C. We all know the story of Noah’s ark
1. Sin – “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” – Genesis 6:5
2. Then God comes to Noah and says, ‘I will cleanse the earth with a flood, but I will save you and your family, and a male and a female of each kind of animal. Build an ark according to My instructions.’
3. Noah builds the ark – probably taking over 100 years
4. When it was finally completed, God brought two of every kind of animal & they boarded the ark.
5. Then, Noah and his family boarded.
a. “Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the LORD shut him in. 17 The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. 18 The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters.” – Genesis 7:16-18
6. Rain comes, the flood rises and covers all the land.
7. Then the rain stops and gradually begins to recede.
8. Eventually, Noah and his family, along with the animals, were able to disembark on dry ground.
II. Learning how to live in this world from the story of Noah
A. Now, as we ask ourselves how this story teaches us about living in this world, we follow the pattern we learned from Hebrews 11 about how these stories are applicable to our lives.
1. And there is also the guidance of 1Corinthians 10:6, 11 “Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did... 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”
B. So, what is there here for us? In some ways, the story of Noah is so far away from us!
1. So long ago, so far away, so different than the modern world.
C. And yet it is also so very similar to our situation.
1. We too live in a wicked world, full of violence and corruption.
2. We too live in a world where God is grieved over human sin, and promising to bring wrath down to destroy the wicked.
3. And in our day, just as in Noah’s, God has provided a way of escape. But’s it’s not for everyone. Only a certain number will be saved.
4. But they are not saved automatically. They have to enter in. They have to leave their world behind and enter into God’s special vessel of salvation.
III. (Climb aboard!)
A. And so, this is our first lesson from Noah’s ark about how to live in this world.
B. It doesn’t do any good to bemoan the wickedness of the world.
C. And it doesn’t do any good hoping and waiting for the world to improve.
D. But there are some things we can do!
E. The first thing to do is to climb aboard!
F. Instead of climbing aboard, how many people just wring their hands in frustration! They’re always talking about how things have deteriorated. But what good does that do? God has provided an answer. So, stop complaining and get on the ark!
G. Many other people spend their lives working to make the world a better place – through politics, through charity, through good deeds. But if they don’t climb aboard the ark, they perish with the unsaved!
1. They thought the world needed improvement; they didn’t see that it needed salvation.
2. They thought they were enough to give the world what it needed; they didn’t see that only God could give the world what it needed.
H. And how many people think they can find enough happiness in this world to make it worthwhile?
1. They accumulate money, and possessions, or even loved ones. They go to spectacular places and arrange to have thrilling experiences.
2. But in the end, they perish with the rest, for these attempts always end like the one described in Ecclesiastes 2:1–11 “I said to myself, ‘I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.’ 3 I cheered my body with wine, I did foolish things – to see what you can do in life. 4 I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards. 5 I made myself gardens and parks, and planted all kinds of fruit trees... 7 I bought slaves. I had great herds and flocks... 8 I gathered for myself silver and gold... I got singers, and concubines – the delight of the sons of man. 9 I became great and surpassed all who were before me...10 Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.”
a. So where did all that lead? Here’s his conclusion: “But behold, this was all vanity. 2 My laughter was madness and my pleasure was useless...11 I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”
3. The story of Noah’s ark teaches us this same lesson. Think about it: while the ark was being built, people were busy pursuing their pleasures and accomplishments and their accumulation of treasures! But it was all for naught! It came to nothing! It was all buried in the mud and forgotten.
4. As Jesus asked, “What good is it if you gain the whole world, but forfeit your own soul?” Mk8:36
5. The only pursuit which turned out to be profitable was the pursuit of God.
6. The only accomplishment which was remembered was the accomplishment of building the ark in obedience to God.
7. And the only treasure which lasted was the treasure of God’s blessing and favor.
I. So get on the ark! It’s not the only thing you must do, but it is the most important thing to do.
1. Whatever it takes, get yourself on that ark. Nothing else matters if you’re not on that ark.
J. Some say, “Threats, threats, threats! Where is this promised judgment day? They’ve been talking about this for a very long time, but everything keeps going along as before.” (2Pet.2:4)
1. Well, those people would be wise to remember the days of Noah, how – after many years of warning – the earth was suddenly deluged with water and perished. (2Pet.2:5-6)
2. And now God has issued a similar warning, only this time it won’t be water but fire. (2Pet.2:7,10)
3. And God even tells us in the Bible why it’s taking so long. It is because He patient, and is giving people opportunity to repent. (2Pet.2:9)
K. Our ark, of course, is Jesus. He is the only escape from the wrath of God.
1. There are only two options. You can get on the ark or you can stay outside it.
2. From an earthly perspective, it looks like a trivial difference. At first, the person outside may be only a few feet from the person inside. But boy does it make a big difference! The person inside is being saved and the person outside is perishing.
IV. (Our mission mandate)
A. And this leads us to our second great lesson from the story of Noah about living in this world.
B. 2Pet.2:5 called Noah a preacher or a herald. Some people take this to mean that Noah preached to his wicked neighbors about God and the coming flood, urging them to join them on the ark.
1. Others think it more likely that this refers to the message Noah communicated by building the ark.
2. Either way, the point is that Noah did communicate the truth of God to those around.
3. Now in one way Noah’s situation was very different than ours – there is no indication that he was supposed to invite others to join them in the ark.
4. And yet Noah communicated truth by building an ark. What did that communicate?
a. That a big flood was coming.
b. That there was a way of escape.
c. And that God was in the business of judging the wicked and saving those who fear Him.
C. For us, the point is this: it is not enough to come into the ark. There is a world of people who are about to perish under the righteous judgment of God.
1. And in the NT the Lord commands us to warn them, and call them to come into the ark of Christ.
D. It’s likely that Noah and his family mixed with others as the ark was being built, at the market or other places. They knew that those people’s lives were soon going to end in tragedy.
E. It’s the same way for us, isn’t it?
1. How can we not care?
F. I’m not talking about telling people things they don’t want to hear.
1. By and large, Jesus spoke to people who came to Him, who asked him questions, who approached Him. He didn’t go after people, nagging them with the truth.
2. But He made Himself available. He helped people where they were. He showed love to people.
3. He looked at people in a way others didn’t.
a. John 9:1–2 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
b. He showed compassion to people, even people He had never met before.
c. By doing this, He made it clear that He had something they didn’t have.
d. And this caused them to pursue Him. And that’s when He told them the truths.
V. (Choosing the place of true safety)
A. But all this is about the story of Noah before the flood. What can we learn from Noah and his family getting on the ark and staying there during the flood?
B. This part of the story also gives us a nice picture of our lives on earth. The ark wasn’t a very comfortable place. A luxury cruise it was not.
1. It was cramped; there were no padded seats; there wasn’t much light.
2. I doubt if the food was very good. There was no escape – and nowhere to go.
3. You couldn’t go hang out with your friends – or take a hike. And there were lots of chores to do.
C. And one more thing. I have a decent sense of smell. And disgusting smells really bother me.
1. And one of the places that really gets to me is certain parts of the zoo.
2. You’ve been to the zoo. You know that some rooms are really stinky.
3. Well, you can just imagine what the ark smelled like. No ventilation. No easy way for eight people to remove what was causing the smell. No hoses with running water. But the worst thing is that you live here. There’s no escape. And no break – even at night when you’re trying to sleep.
D. You know, when the family of Noah stepped on that ark, they were going from complete freedom to uncomfortable, unsavory confinement.
E. So, life wasn’t very pleasant on the ark. But listen to this: it was a lot better than the alternative.
1. The most uncomfortable member of Noah’s family was infinitely better off than all the people outside the ark!
F. It’s just like us. Being a Christian, living one’s life in church: it’s not necessarily a pleasant way to live. It involves persecution; it involves self-denial; it involves being a servant and humbling yourself; it involves being convicted of sin; it involves loving your enemies. But it’s a whole lot better than the alternative.
1. There is a lot to complain about, but no good alternatives.
2. It’s often uncomfortable and smelly, but it’s a lot better than the alternative.
3. It’s easy to focus on the hardships, but the fact is, there are no people on earth more blessed.
G. Gen.7:16 says that “the LORD shut him in” to the ark. He was trapped inside.
1. But it’s far better to be locked into life than freed unto death, isn’t it?
2. Divine imprisonment is far superior to worldly freedom!
H. Life on the ark may not have been pleasant. But it was life.
1. Life in the church may stink. It may be uncomfortable and unpleasant.
2. But, it is so much better than the alternative! Outside, people are perishing!
I. People are reluctant to pray for humility.
1. I sure was. I didn’t start praying that till a year or two ago. Why?
a. Because I didn’t want to experience the discomfort and stink which is required to become humble.
2. But that’s such a foolish way to think! Instead of being concerned about being comfortable or uncomfortable, we should be concerned about having God on our side. The Bible says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1Peter 5:5; James 4:6)
3. If you’re proud, God opposes you. If you’re humble, God gives you grace. Is avoiding humility really the safe choice? Why are we so afraid of the rod of God?
4. David said, “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Ps.23:4
5. We’re afraid of the wrong thing! We are afraid of God’s loving rod instead of being afraid of the impact of our pride and sinfulness, instead of being afraid of living a Christless life.
6. We can try to avoid the suffering and prefer the ease. That’s what the people outside the ark did.
7. But the ease doesn’t last. The humility yields eternal treasure, but the ease is so fleeting.
8. Doesn’t the stiff-necked person get a more severe penalty than the person who is contrite/humble?
9. Don’t be reluctant to pray for humility.
10. Don’t be reluctant to pray that God would show you the things you’re blind to.
11. Don’t be reluctant to ask God to show you your sin.
12. And don’t be afraid to get into the ark. The discomfort of the ark only lasts for awhile.
13. It may seem dangerous; it certainly can be a scary ride! But it’s actually the place of safety.
14. What everyone else is doing may seem safe – like solid ground. But it isn’t. The judgment of God is coming soon.
15. The wild boat ride is actually the safest place you can be. Just ask the people of Noah’s day.
16. Isn’t eternal safety more important than temporary comfort?
J. In Mark 12:34 Jesus told a man he was “not far from the kingdom of God.”
1. But, of course, being close doesn’t mean being in.
2. It would have been possible to be close to the ark but not in the ark. At some point of their entrance into the ark, each of the members of Noah’s family was close to the ark without being in it. But that wasn’t enough. They had to actually get in it.
3. It’s good to be close because it gives you the opportunity to get in. But you still have to get in.
4. Perhaps others at times were close to being in the ark. But ultimately it did them no good. They didn’t get in.
5. So, get in! Get on the ark! Don’t let anything stop you. Don’t let anything distract you. Don’t let anything delay you.
6. The door is open, but it won’t be open for long. Don’t be left outside.