On Noah’s Ark
Some years ago on a flight out of London I sat beside a Dutch Palaeontologist, (that’s one who studies fossils) and I asked him if he believed that there really was the flood of which Noah was commissioned to prepare an Ark? This is what he said to me …..“if there wasn’t a flood then there would be an awful lot of unanswered questions, but the flood answers most of the scientific problems the palaeontologist wrestles with” So for this scientist, the flood of Genesis 6 thru 7 was as much a fact of life, as his sitting there on the plane beside me!
In Genesis 6, 5 we read that God repented that he had made man, God was sorry that He had created us, because as far as God was concerned mans way of thinking, the thoughts of the human heart were only evil continually. Right from the first, God warns that All Evil-doers must be judged and punished.
God has not changed his mind in all the centuries that have passed since he threw Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden for their evil-doing. Gen.3.23.
So by the time we get over to the days of Noah, in Genesis 6, the whole world had become corrupted by the sin of our first parents, corrupted both by that original sin, and by their own disobedience to the word and ways of God. Tragically we have returned to that very place again. I recon that Our world as we look at our news bulletins, and read our news papers is as corrupt and evil as the days of Noah, and maybe more so than at that time? Thus the Bible warns us in Matthew 24:37 that as things were in the days of Noah, so shall they be again in the days when the Lord shall return in judgement! Jesus is coming back again, firstly to remove the Church, (that will be the next biggest event on this worlds stage) and secondly thereafter, to bring to an end seven years of trouble and tribulation on earth the like of which has never been witnessed before, nor will ever be afterwards. The coming judgement is certain. The world does not expect it, nor do the many who are comfortable within their empty religious activities? But come it will, and it is upon my heart to prepare you. I am not concerned as to whether or not you will like me, follow me, or applaud me or my preaching – but I am concerned that as a minister of the Gospel of our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, that I proclaim to you the whole counsel of God, not just the bits and pieces that sound pleasing to the ear!
The man who may tell you that your house is on fire, is not bringing you a pleasing message, but is concerned about your welfare and your continued safety! There are many things too numerous to fit into one sermon that I could share about Noah and the similarities of His day with today, but I want to take time now to share just a few, which I believe you will be able to identify with. I am hoping that you will see with me that -Noah’s salvation, and that of his household was entirely dependant upon three very important facts.
Firstly, the fact that God called Him in!
It was God who came to Noah and warned him of the impending disastrous flood that was coming upon the whole world. It was God that wanted to provide a means of escape to any, and all, who would avail of it. God gave the measurements and the structural plan or blue print to Noah, it was not something he dreamed up all by himself. Neither did his three sons Shem, Ham or Japheth design this boat or ark which scholars tell us was in today’s reckoning about the size of a great football stadium, floating on the water!
When our humanity took a turn away from God, it was God who designed the way back, a means of salvation. It was God who provided the Saviour, it was God who came down in human flesh to rescue us. As the apostle Paul says, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” 2 Cor 5. 19.
Salvation is not to be found in religion, or religious exercises, not to be found in denominationalism, or church loyalty, our salvation is found only in a person, the person of Jesus Christ. In the same way that the Ark was the only way, Jesus is the only way. In John 14, Jesus himself says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”
Let me personalize this more in regard to you, my listening friend. We are thinking about the fact that God called Noah in to the Ark, – but may I ask you, how many times God has called you into the safety and salvation that is found in Christ? Perhaps in a time of sickness God has spoken to your heart? Maybe as a child you heard that call? Maybe after an incident or accident of some kind, or following the loss of a family member of friend, the voice of God called? And as yet you have not responded to that call. It is a loving call, an urgent call, like a life-line held out to a drowning man or woman. Ignore it at your peril. The ark will soon be afloat, it will soon have cast off, and it will be for ever too late. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us in the portion of scripture which we read together earlier in the service that to harden the heart when you hear the call is utter folly! Hebrews 3:15
The call is current, – this service, this message is yet another call. There are tears in my eyes and an ache in my heart for you, for although you may not see it – I see you as lost and alone in the world without God and without hope. The flood of judgement is coming, it’s at the door, it is the eleventh hour for our world, and you MUST be ready. Are you in God’s Ark or are you outside? God in his mercy is calling you, you know it, and I believe that there are hundreds of you right now under the sound of my voice truly anxious about your eternal well-being. The apostle Paul in his letter to the Roman Church warns, in Romans 6:23 – that the wages or the consequences of sin is death, separation from God and all that is good – for ever!
I cannot bear to think of you as Lost!
Think with me for a moment of the many who saw Noah, day in and day out build and prepare that great Ark. I have no doubt that many thought he had lost it! Imagine, building a boat, and such a big boat, miles from any water! Where was he thinking it could launch, where would it sail, how would such a gigantic vessel go, even if it could float? I am convinced that many of his day thought Noah to be a complete and absolute fool!
There are many today who think we Christians foolish in our pursuit of Jesus Christ, but the Bibles definition of the fool
is one who thinks and says there is no God! Psalm 14.
There were many paths that led to the door of the ark. The animals saved in the flood made their way on a variety of routes to the shelter and safety of God provision. Some, crawled along the ground, others ran through the grass or undergrowth, some flew in through the open door, and others had to be guided and coerced to get on board, but although they came to the ark in differing ways, only in through the door meant safety from the storm to come.
God may have called you though circumstance to Christ, through personal loss, through affliction and pain, through poverty and need, through fear and anxiety, through love and fellowship, …. but by whatever means you have found the path to Christ, only IN him is there complete Salvation. Jesus said “I am the door” and as it was with the Ark, that door has two sides, the inside and the outside … on which side are you?
Now we have acknowledged the fact that God called him in, Secondly, let us consider: that God Shut him in!
Gen. 7.16 tells us that the Lord shut him in. Noah, did not close the door! While it remained ajar, there was ample opportunity for all and any to avail of the safety and shelter offered. But God knew that there would come a moment when HE himself would shut the door, after that there could be no second chance. And I might add, that if God shut the door,
you can be absolutely sure that Noah couldn’t open it.
The Hymn writer has put it so succinctly in the words,
THERE COMES A TIME WE KNOW NOT WHEN
A PLACE WE KNOW NOT WHERE
THAT SEALS THE DESTINY OF MEN
FOR GLORY OR DESPAIR
The Bible says that “He that is often reproved, and hardened his heart shall suddenly be cut off and that without remedy“.
We can picture the many who had laughed at Noah, still laugh, now the foolish builder has gone into this great boat with a whole host of animals and birds in a menagerie of livestock never before witnessed,- surely he and his family had all gone mad! The door was shut, and there was no way of getting him some professional help, and still no sign of the great rains or flooding he had foretold? But not long after God had shut that door, a day came when the showers became prolonged, then heavy, then torrential. Then the waters began to rise, and those on lower ground, moved their bits and pieces a little higher, but the rain was relentless, so the people moved higher still, until their homes were covered and lost under the water. Their livestock downed and their children drowned, and their relatives drowned, and I recon that those that were stronger got to that ark, and started hammering on the door, and calling Noah, remember me! But God had shut him in. Noah was powerless to assist them, Even his extended family, his neighbours, his workers, his school-mates, maybe even his church members, …..can you picture the awfulness of being outside and without hope?
Man, the influence of man, the wealth of man, the ability of man, the creativity of man, the ingenuity of man, ……… none of it can help you on the day of Gods judgement! Only shut IN CHRIST JESUS, sealed in Him, sheltered in Him, saved in Him, can be your hope and mine for the day that is coming. Holman Hunt, in his famous painting The Light of the World depicts Jesus standing outside the door of the human heart, that vision of Revelation 3 v20.……. But on close examination of the painting at Kebel College Oxford, you will see that there is no handle on the outside of the door, it can only therefore be opened from the inside.
The matchless Grace of God means that God does not force his way into your life or mine, he waits to be invited, he knocks, he waits, but he will not come in unless and until invited. Is He on the outside or the inside of your life, for if he is on the outside, you too are on the outside of His Ark, his great salvation, but if he is on the inside, then you are on the inside of his Church, his body, and his beloved.
Jesus told a parable of a Marriage feast to which many were invited, but those invited made excuses and none of them showed up. Then the Master of Ceremonies sent his servant out into the highways and by-ways and compelled strangers and tramps and the lame and the blind, and such like, and they filled up the great marriage supper banquet. It was a picture of Gods kingdom, to which many have at many times received a call, (an invitation) but yet have never turned up. Is that you?
Jesus says that in the end, the Kingdom of God will be made up of those who we would least expect. To be brutally honest, I don’t expect many of our so called respectable church-going community to be there, for most of them, their confidence is not in Christ but in their own self-righteousness and their own good deeds. Yet I do expect that many whose lives, homes and hearts have been broken by drugs, alcohol, immorality, violence, abuse, crime and such like – who out of despair have turned to Jesus Christ for mercy, these will fill and throng the corridors of heaven. Jesus himself said so. He said the drunkards and the harlots will press into the kingdom before you! Matt 21.31. Gods words not mine!
My dear friend, have you considered where you will be if God shuts the door on you? Many will say to him at the last “Lord Lord – have we not done many great things in your name” and he will say to them “depart from me I never knew you.” On the day of judgement, I cannot rely on my father and mother to get me through. I cannot put my hope in my academic qualification, in my ordination, in my experience, in my service, in my sacrifices, or in anything else that is of self ….
The Hymn writer put it this way,
I HAVE NO OTHER ARGUMENT, I NEED NO OTHER PLEA, IT IS ENOUGH THAT JESUS DIED, AND THAT HE DIED FOR ME!
Where have you placed your hope for eternity, if you should pass out of time today?
Now we have seen that God called him in, and that
God shut him in, – finally let us consider…
How God Kept Him in?
Genesis 7:23 tells us that “only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark”
While the waters of the flood prevailed upon the earth for 150 days before they started subsiding, God kept Noah, and his loved ones for all of that time in the shelter and security of the Ark.
It is a simple and sad fact that there are many who are afraid of becoming Christians, because they fear they would be unable to keep the Christian Life. I have good news for you if you are one of those fearful people – you do not have to keep anything, it is God that keeps you!
While God sees us made perfect in Jesus, Christians are not Perfect, they are just Saved, in the shelter of Christ for time and for eternity. Every day, they are being made into the likeness of Jesus Christ as they surrender and submit themselves daily to His Lordship and control. That is why coming to Christ is just the first step on a journey to the Glory that is in Christ Jesus. The apostle Paul says we are being changed from one degree of glory to another, the process of conversion. We are made righteous, by faith, not by our own good,- but the righteousness of Christ Jesus which has been transferred to us. That is the gift, and Salvation is a gift, those who receive it, have it, those who don’t, don’t! The gift is transferred in the person of the Holy Spirit who makes effective the life of Christ in us. You and I cannot live the Christian life, cannot know the righteousness of Christ apart from the Holy Spirit. Those who try are just playing games. That is why we have nothing to keep, but it is Jesus who is the Keeper. It is Jesus who grants us power to keep us from falling. Again the Hymn writer puts it simply in these words….
DAYS OF DARKNESS STILL COME O’ER ME – SORROWS PATHS I OFT MAY TREAD
BUT HIS PRESENCE STILL IS WITH ME,
BY HIS GUIDING HAND I’M LED!
I expect that there were many perilous times while Noah and his family were drifting on those flood waters, and I am sure times of anxiety for their own safety and that of the animals on board. Thus it is with life, just because we are Christian, does not mean that we will not fall prey to many trials and testing times. Indeed the trial of our faith produces the Christ-like qualities of life which without tests we would never possess. You cannot have a testimony without first having a test. You cannot be victorious, unless you have been through a battle. You cannot really appreciate the calm, unless you have been through the storm.
I have discovered in my own life that much of what remains of real benefit to me, I have learned though the most testing and trying experiences, and my own troubles have given me a heart for those in trouble. When I began my counselling ministry, and worked with troubled people full time for almost 18 years at Armagh, I learned very quickly that I could be of more help to people in distress, in poverty, in family crisis, in mental illness, in spiritual battles, in emotional problems, and so on, if I myself had had some personal experience of those kind of hurting situations. While we should never forget that Jesus bore our sins and our sicknesses, – He did not bear our suffering – everyone must carry his own burden –
his own portion. (Gk)
God equips his people for all kinds of ministry, but he often equips us best in moments of hardship! I truly admire those who through years of suffering, and years of struggle can still smile and take time for others. God uses such gems in ways that he could never use many of us. Sometimes the storms of life, are instruments in the hands of God to draw us nearer to an understanding of Him, and of His purposes for our Ultimate destiny. Perhaps we have to try to look beyond our past and present circumstances to see that the future can and will be brighter in the long term in Gods plan – a loving plan.
Now this final word.
We have seen in relation to Noah, how God called him in, shut him in, and kept him in, and how that Gods call on your life can mean all the difference between your enduring or enjoying life!
Entering into the Arks safety, both for Noah, his family and the animals was as simple as going through a door! So it is with Salvation. There is a door that leads to life, you must ask yourself on which side you are right now? You can go through that door now, in a simple prayer you can know that you are safe for eternity, and the angels in heaven will be happy today if you come through for God. There is Joy in the presence of the angels over one sinner that repents. So why not say a simple prayer now with me. Let us Pray ….
Lord Jesus, I am a sinner, and separated from you because of it. I have been born a sinner by nature, but have also been a sinner by choice. I believe that you died for my sin and rose again to give me life eternal. In repentance, I gladly turn my life over to you now, I receive your forgiveness and grace to turn from sin.
I thank you for dying for me, paying for my salvation, and I trust you as my Saviour and Lord and I ask you to come into my heart and life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and empower me from this moment onwards to live and love for you. I thank you that I am now a blood bought believer and part of the family of God, and Safe in Gods Ark – In Jesus name I pray … Amen.
God Bless You