Noah Found Grace in the Eyes of the Lord
RUMC 18 June 2017
The best military assignment I ever had was the three years that I spent in the country of Panama. Across the street from the chapel where I worked was the Panama Canal, and I could see the huge tankers and cruise liners transit the locks. While considering the enormity of the vessels, I often thought of Noah and his faithfulness to God and his family.
I would like to honor his memory on this Father’s Day. My text is Genesis 9:8-17.
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
Noah, his wife, their three sons, and each of their wives were a family of eight. What stood out was Noah’s obedience to the message of God. And back then it was not easy. There were no churches/synagogues or prophets of God to provide guidance and inspiration.
The clear unmistakable word of God came to Noah; it was so real that he had no choice but to convince his family and others that he was not just hearing voices.
To hear the word from God in our time, our hearts must be receptive. We should do what He would have us to do. Psalm 47:10 tells us “Be still and know that I am God.”
Noah was the first of many spiritual spokespersons throughout biblical history. There is a pattern of God communicating with his people to warn them of something, to communicate his message, and to provide a solution or a means of escape. That is what happened when Noah built the ark. Other Biblical moments of such communications include the following:
- The time the angel of the Lord warned Lot’s family to leave Sodom and Gomorrah before the two cities were destroyed.
- At the first Passover, Moses had the people of Israel put blood on the doorposts of the houses so the angel of death would pass by.
- Then of course when God sent Jesus, he came with a message to believe and accept Christ’s death on the cross so we have eternal life.
I like what the first verse in Amazing Grace has to say: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.” Noah the great man of faith, clearly heard from God and began to plan and build the ark, but he needed help.
Babylonian tradition tells us that Noah was a city king. If that is accurate, then he could have easily employed 100’s of workers to help build this sailing vessel—roughly the equivalent of a four story building.
And we have to give him credit; Noah was focused. As a husband and father, he nurtured his family in what was a most difficult period. There were setbacks and struggles while building the ark. I am sure he was exhausted with the daily pressures, but at the end of the day, it was his faith that kept Noah going.
Like Noah, we too are subject to stresses; it is incumbent that we stay close to the Lord, and he will see us through. Proverbs 3:5 tells us. “Trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not unto our own understanding. In all our ways acknowledge him and he will direct our paths.”
Noah was not some superstar believer; he had his good points and faults. The Bible even talks about how he planted a vineyard after the flood and got drunk. But despite his imperfections, he was a yielded vessel and the Lord was able to accomplish much through his life. May the Lord do the same with us.
A modern day replica of the Ark was built in Holland in 2005. The construction took three years to build, and it was done with modern day tools at a cost of several million dollars. Another ark was similarly built in Kentucky in 2015.
When I was stationed in the Panama Canal Zone I belonged to a Yacht Club. I sailed a 13 foot sunfish in an area where I was able to get a close up view of the ships–they were enormous. I am sure the people observing the ark’s construction back in Noah’s time had similar thoughts to the ones I had observing those ships: incredible, amazing, awesome, unbelievable fantastic, stupendous, mind boggling, unreal, dynamic, extraordinary immense, prominent. Maybe different words, but you get the idea.
I realize that even today, some have doubts, that this was a made up story. Consider the words of Jesus (Matthew 24:38): “For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up the day Noah entered the ark.”
Let me conclude with some good advice.
- Don’t miss the boat.
- We are all in the same boat.
- Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.
- Stay fit, God may ask you to do something really big when you get older.
- Don’t listen to the critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
- Build your future on higher ground.
- It is always safer to travel in pairs.
- Speed isn’t always an advantage; the snails were on board with the cheetahs.
- The ark was built by amateurs. The Titanic was built by professionals.
- No matter the storm. When you are with God, there is always a rainbow waiting.