Sermon Selection

A Problem, A Passion and A Promise

Genesis 6:5-13; 7:1-10; 8:21; 9:8-16

January 28, 2018


The Lord spoke to Noah and said, “Noah, in six months I’m going to make it rain until the whole world is covered with water. But I want to save a few good people and two of every living thing on the planet. So, I am ordering you to build an Ark.” 

“OK,” Noah said, trembling with fear. “I’m your man.” Six months passed, the sky began to cloud up, and the rain began to fall in torrents. The Lord looked down and saw Noah sitting in his yard. There was no Ark. 

“Noah!” shouted the Lord, “where is My Ark?” 

“Lord, please forgive me!” begged Noah. “I did my best, but there were some big problems. First, I had to get a building permit. My neighbors objected, claiming that I was violating zoning ordinances by building the Ark in my front yard. I spent months trying to get a variance from the city planning board. After all that, I had a big problem getting enough wood for the Ark, because of the endangered species act. 

“Then the carpenters’ union started picketing my home because I wasn’t using union carpenters. Next, I started gathering up the animals but got sued by an animal rights group. Just when that suit got dismissed, the EPA notified me that I couldn’t complete the Ark without filing an environmental impact statement for your proposed flood. Then the Corps of Engineers wanted a map of the area to be flooded. I sent them a globe and they went ballistic! Lord, I’m sorry, but I don’t think there’s any way I can finish the Ark in less than five years if ever!”

With that, the sky cleared, the sun began to shine, and a rainbow arched across the sky. Noah looked up and smiled. “You mean you are not going to destroy the world?” he asked hopefully.

“Wrong!” thundered the Lord. “But I’m going to do it with something far worse than a mere flood. Something far more destructive. Something that man himself created.”

“What’s that?” Noah asked.  “Government!” said the Lord.  


Some things are hard to understand!  Just so hard!  A country preacher announced that on the following Sunday he would preach on the story of Noah and the Ark.  He gave the scriptural reference for the congregation to read ahead of time. However, a couple of mischievous boys in the church noticed something interesting about the placement of the story of Noah in the Bible. So, they slipped into the church and glued two pages of the large Bible in the pulpit together.


On the following Sunday the preacher got up to read his text. He was reading, of course, from the King James Version of the Bible. “Noah took himself a wife,” he began, “and she was . . .” He paused for a moment as he turned the page to continue . . . “she was . . . 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high.”

He paused, scratched his head, turned the page back and read it silently, turned the page and read again, “she was . . . 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high.” He still didn’t realize that two pages of the Bible had been glued together. Finally, he looked up at the congregation and said, “I’ve been reading this old Bible for nigh on to fifty years, but still there are some things that are hard to believe.” 


1.  There’s a problem in Genesis 6.

  

A couple enrolled their little girl in a private Christian school. They were so excited about their daughter going to this school that taught positive values. One day when the daughter came home from school, the parents asked her, “What did you learn in school today?”

When the little girl told them the story of Noah and the Ark about how God destroyed everyone except for Noah and his family the parents were outraged. They could not believe that their little girl had been exposed to such an awful story. They were so outraged that they withdrew their little girl from the school with this parting comment, “Our God wouldn’t do that.” 


That’s not only a problem in some parents’ lives, that’s a problem in the hearts of many people in our world.  They can’t believe that a God of love could possibly be that upset with his creation!  There are those who don’t believe these chapters in Genesis.  There are those who do not believe that there is a hell for the those who are disobedient.  There are those who just don’t believe there is a God.  


It’s difficult to understand the hardness of a person’s heart concerning the things of God.  But I have seen an example of that which is out of control.  Several years ago, our nation's attention was drawn to a fire burning deep within the earth in abandoned coal shafts below Centralia, Pennsylvania. Fifteen different federal, state and local agencies have spent millions of dollars trying to extinguish this fire. They have had no success. It has been burning for more than 50 years!  The flames continue to burn without restraint because there does not seem to be any reasonable way to put out the fire.  God faces the same dilemma with the human heart. There is something in our very nature that is rebellious, that is self-seeking, that would put ourselves upon the throne rather than God.


Genesis 6:5-7 says:  5The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” 8But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.


2.  There’s a passion in Genesis 6 & 7


Let’s keep reading.  There is something about the phrase “but Noah found favor….”  9This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. 10Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

11Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14So make yourself an ark of cypress[a] wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.


God tells Noah how to escape the wrath to come.  He gives instructions about the ark.  He sees a righteous man, his wife, sons, and later, daughters-in-law.  Noah begins a two pronged path of obedience:  he builds the ark and he preaches about the wrath to come.  

Hebrews 11:7 tells us: “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet see, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.  By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”  


God loved his creation, but he could not in his righteousness, stand the violence and the sin.  So, he watched Noah, gave him a task to save his family, the creatures and any of mankind who would respond to the message.  Noah prepared the ark – in spite of the objections of his neighbors!  Rain?  What’s rain?  Flood?  What’s a flood?  They rejected the offer of protection, the message of repentance, the opportunity of forgiveness.  Is our violent world much different?  


21You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.” 22Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

7 1The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”

5And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

6Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. 7And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, 9male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. 10And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.


The flood covered the earth.  150 days they floated.  Months for the water to evaporate.  Nearly a year passed before they received the command to leave the ark.  Noah was 601 years old.  He built an altar.  He offered a sacrifice.  21The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though] every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.” (Genesis 8:21 NIV)


3.  There’s a promise in Genesis 9.


Noah and his family are told to “be fruitful and multiply.”  They are now permitted to eat meat; it must be cooked, and its lifeblood may not be in it.   The promise is presented.

8Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9“I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

12And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.16Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”


There’s something special and hopeful about a rainbow.  “Rainbows appear at the end of rainstorms because it is then that you have the two prerequisites for making them: 1) water droplets suspended in the sky and 2) sunlight . . . A rainbow’s visible colors are always arrayed in the same order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet . . . Rainbows are actually circular. They appear to be arches [or half‑circles] only because their bottom halves are cut off by the ground you stand upon. If you wish to see them in their full circular glory . . . you need to view them from high above the ground, such as onboard an airplane.”  That’s why you can never find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The rainbow has no end.


Those are the technical truths about rainbows, but they do not explain the emotional lift we get from these wonders of nature. A father was asked by his 8-year-old son if he knew what a rainbow was. The father gave his son the scientific answer, sort of like I have just given you. The son said, “No. A rainbow was God standing on his head and smiling after eating skittles. 


God made a covenant with Noah.  He made a covenant with his creation.  His promise is eternal.  God cannot lie.  He will keep his word.  We can count on that.  Everyday.  Every storm.  


The Peanuts characters Linus and Lucy are standing at the window watching the rain. Lucy says, "If it doesn't stop raining everything will be washed away." 

"Oh no!" says Linus. "Genesis chapter 9 says that never again will God wash everything away."  "Thank you." says Lucy, "that is a great comfort to me."  Linus replies, "Sound theology will do that." 


And that’s why Genesis tells us about a problem, a passion, and a promise.  That’s still in effect today – every part of it.  All of us have sinned; none of us are perfect.  God is still passionate about his creation – he sent his Son to redeem us.  He has made this and other promises upon which we can rest our hearts and minds and take him at his word.