Noah By Faith Obeys God
Passage: Genesis 6:9–6:22
I find it ironic, since I'm the one that is representing our church through this construction project, that Afshin asked me to preach on the building of the ark!
And so, although our project pales in comparison to the scope and the magnitude of the ark, I do find some similarities -- one being that from time to time, especially in the month of June, our building does feel like a zoo with all these kids running around in confined spaces. And it smells sometimes like a zoo. But that's about as far as I could stretch that.
And so, although this is a very familiar passage, a text that even non-Christians know -- the story of Noah's ark -- we can easily get lost in the dramatics.
And Hollywood has done a fantastic job of turning biblical stories into dramatics. They use their own interpretation and their own creative flair and make some very entertaining movies. But it's no longer about the main thing any more. It just becomes about entertainment. You've seen this years ago with The Passion of the Christ. We've seen it in animated films like Prince of Egypt. We've seen it in old classics that my father made me watch, like Ben Hur. We've seen it more recently even in the story of Noah that came out a couple of years ago.
So we've got to be careful when we read a text like this, that we don't get caught up in the dramatics or the details or the science of it. You see, the story of this flood and this ark that's being built seems more like folklore than reality for a lot of people In the world. It may seem more allegorical to you, and almost unrealistic and silly, than true. Because, for Pete's sake, we're talking about a floating zoo. We're talking about a man who is tasked with building a boat the size of a mall. And we're talking about a flood of water that's so vast and massive that it consumed mountain ranges.
So I would challenge us to look past the details and the science and the dramatics of it, and ask, What is God trying to show us? Because some of us in this room, this skeptical approach to the Bible is just one that you operate by. And you probably operate in that manner in all walks of life. It's just always questioning, always being a skeptic.
Others in here are adamant about defending everything about the Bible to your death. And you will prove it, and make sure that the person you're talking with comes to believe it.
And both of these extremes, I think, are missing out on the very purpose of this text, and God's word in general. You see, God's Word is a gift given to us. It is whole and complete; it's not lacking anything, and it is given for the purpose of us knowing God. It is given for the purpose of God revealing Himself to mankind. And this is the primary purpose of the Bible, of the scriptures: God revealing Himself; choosing to reveal Himself to man.
And this is something we should honor. God's holy Word should be held up with great reverence, and be approached with great humility. And so we must ask the Lord to open our eyes when we come to the scripture, that we would see it clearly, and respond appropriately. That we would not approach the scriptures as if we're on a fact-finding mission. You see, the story of Noah's ark is not so much about a ton of water, and a big box that floats. But it's a beautiful picture of God's mercy and Noah's obedience.
And so let's jump into our text. Genesis 6:9-22:
9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
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. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” (Guys, listen to this:) 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.
This is our first in-depth look into the life of Noah. And so I want to focus on two primary questions today and answer these for you.
The first question is, "Who is Noah?" And the second question is, "What did Noah do?"
So obviously, verse 9 comes right after verse 8, and Afshin closed last week's sermon with verse 8, which said that Noah found favor with God, and that God's grace was upon him.
And so directly on the heels of this verse, verse 9 says that Noah was a righteous man. So who was Noah? Noah was RIGHTEOUS. A righteous man lives a life that's pleasing to God. This is not that he's living a sinless life, but a life that is lived in view of God, and desires to mimic God's character. A righteous man desires the things of God.
Now, you may be asking the right question: Okay, I know I want to live a life that desires the things of God. But what are those things? Who is God? And that would be the right question to ask, because in order for us to serve God and live for God, we must KNOW God.
So how do we know God? Well, God makes Himself known. And He does this in two primary ways. He does it through general revelation, which is creation, and then He also does it through special revelation, which is Christ incarnate, and the Word of God.
So He makes Himself known in two ways. Now stay with me as I unpack these a little bit. This is important for us in light of this text, the flood, in which we're going to see God's righteous judgment on full display.
So God reveals Himself. He makes Himself known first in general revelation. Listen to Romans 1:19-20:
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
So from eternity past, since the point in eternity where God created, He has made Himself known through general revelation.
Well, He also has made Himself known through special revelation. First, Christ incarnate. Hebrews 1:3 says,
3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
Colossians 1:19-20 picks up,
19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things.
So everything about God has been made known through Christ, and then also through His Word. 2 Timothy 3:16 says,
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (now listen to this), 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
So for us to faithfully live for God, we must fully understand who God is. Your worship, our worship of God, is influenced by our view of God.
Remember, Jesus even asked this question point-blank to Peter. He says, "Who do you say I am?" And so I ask you the question, who do you say God is? Do you know the Father? A righteous man knows God. He trusts and obeys God.
So Noah was a righteous man. He desired the things of God and knew God. But it goes on to say that he was blameless. When I read the word "blameless," my mind immediately thinks of one who has done no wrong. My kids try to defend themselves in committing to me that they are blameless all the time. And I just know that they're not blameless, but that we are all sinners.
But this notion of blameless is not the same as saying that Noah was sinless. You know, Romans tells us that. Romans says that For ALL have sinned. That includes Noah, and that includes you and me as well. We've all sinned against God.
So if Noah being blameless is not the same as being sinless, then what is it? Blameless is used to describe Noah's commitment to abstain from sin, not to be without sin. So when you have this pairing of righteous and blameless, what we see is that Noah is wholly committed to living a life that's honoring to God. Wholly committed to living a life that's honoring to God. And we'll see in a minute that this description of this life that Noah lived stands in direct opposition to everyone else that's living at this time.
And so Noah is not the only one who's spoken of so highly. There are others throughout scripture and throughout modern days of men and women who are righteous and blameless. Think about Abraham, who believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Or David, who the scripture says was a man who seeks after God's own heart. Or the Apostle Paul, who had everything in the eyes of society, yet had a dramatic encounter with Christ and gave all things up for the sake of taking the Good News to the Gentiles.
One of my favorites is what the scriptures say about Job. It says "There was a man whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil."
Allow me to deviate for a quick second. Could you imagine or think of any better eulogy than someone standing up and reading Job 1:1 over you? If that's how my life was defined, what a tremendous legacy that would be; what a tremendous life I would have lived. And these men and many others have lived lives that were honoring to God in the face of adversity. Each one of these men did these things in the face of adversity.
So, Noah was righteous; he was blameless; and thirdly, he walked with God. This statement, "walked with God," probably sounds pretty familiar, because a couple weeks ago, in Genesis 5, we saw the same phrase used about Enoch.
This is a tremendous honor placed on these men, because the phrase "walked with God" denotes a high level of intimacy with the Father. They experienced a high level of intimacy. One who walks with God is one who knows God intimately and obeys Him faithfully. The book of Hebrews in chapter 11 includes a statement about Enoch, that he "pleased God." His life pleased God.
You know, this notion of walking with God conjures up images of the midsummer classic, the baseball All-Star game. I'm not really a baseball fan, but you know, sometimes you just have to watch for the dramatics of the Home Run Derby. One of the things that you'll see, every time, is that the Home Run Derby is this very family-centric time. It's a light mood, there's a lot of people on the field, and the players will always have their kids with them.
It never fails that the camera will pick up one one cute 3- or 4-year-old son of so-and-so. And he'll be decked out in his dad's uniform, and he'll have the last name on the back of his shirt, and they'll be doing batting practice or playing catch. And you will see the effort that this little boy puts forward to mimic his father. His swing and his throwing motion will be tailored right after his father; his mannerisms will be like his father's.
And this is not a perfect picture. But you get the point. That one who walks with God desires to mimic God's every move. He desires to be known by God. All of us have this innate desire within our hearts to be known and to know the Father. But oftentimes we get distracted and we put our gaze on something less than the Father. Earthly fathers can be great role models, but if they're not emulating Christ, they're not being what their child needs to see. We have to fix our gaze on Christ and emulate His life. That is one who's walking with God.
The significance of Noah being introduced to us as one who's righteous, blameless, and walks with God, is that his life is in stark contrast to his generation in which he lives. Let's pick up in verses 11 and 12:
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.
These two verses paint a very, very gloomy picture. And it wasn't very long ago that we read about a very different story in Genesis 1 and 2, as God creates. That picture is full of light and life, and this one is full of gloom and death. In the creation account, we see God creating by His very word, and as He creates, He says the same thing over and over again. He says that What I create is Good.
The pinnacle of creation is mankind. And at this very time in history, everything was perfect. God dwelt with man. Man was given dominion over creation and commanded to expand his kingdom. Genesis 1:28 says that "God blessed him, and God said to him, Be fruitful and multiply, and subdue it, and have dominion over the earth."
But we know that tragedy strikes in Genesis 3, when man believes that God is Not good, and that God is withholding something of value from Him. Adam and Eve believe a lie. And it's not that different from the lie that you and I face each and every day. It's a lie that our flesh and society both reinforce over and over again. And the lie is, "I Deserve." I deserve! I deserve, therefore I want. And it's the same lie that Adam and Eve bought into: God is withholding something that I deserve. And so they took the fruit and they ate. And with it, sin was introduced into the world, and consequences came with it.
Adam and Eve were removed from the presence of God, and ultimately paid with their lives. This is the beginning of a downward spiral that we are still experiencing the effects of today. And so in Genesis chapter 6, God in His forbearance, had waited long enough. And it was time for judgment to come upon the unrighteous.
Listen to verse 13:
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.
Pretty strong language. And after reading a verse like this, it's easy to jump to conclusions that are misguided. A lot of people read stories about God's judgment and are quick to determine that if God is going to do something as ugly as this, if He is going to be all about judgment and wrath, then I want nothing to do with Him. There's no way you could convince me that God is loving, if He acts like this.
Or, some people are going to jump to the misguided conclusion that says, That was the God of the Old Testament. The God of the Old Testament was about wrath and judgment. But I love and serve the God of the New Testament, who is a God of love and feelings.
Guys, both of these conclusions are misguided and inaccurate. And we know that because God is unchanging. He doesn't change. Hebrews 13:8 tells us that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." You may be thinking, Well, wait a minute, you're talking about Jesus there, and Genesis 6 is talking about the God of the Old Testament."
But this reinforces my point of why it's so critical for us to have a proper view of God. Remember back when I was reading Hebrews 1:3, it said that "He (referring to Jesus Christ) is the radiance of God's glory and the exact imprint of His nature." And in John 1:1 we hear that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word WAS God." Verse 3, "All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made."
Hear me: There is no change between an Old Testament and a New Testament God. He didn't go from this God of wrath to this God of love. There is no separation between God the Father and God the Son. They are one. The Father and the Son are one, John 17 tells us. Jesus says, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father." (John 14:9)
So what we see in Genesis 6 is a perfect picture of God's love and judgment on full display. And you may be wondering, how did you get off on that tangent? To me, it's not a tangent. I say this because of this: God choosing to judge mankind by way of destroying the earth with a flood, is in direct alignment with His nature, with His character. Sin demands to be punished. And that punishment is death. God's justice, God being a just God prevents Him from overlooking or ignoring or sweeping sin under the rug. He cannot. He must punish sin.
But herein lies the beauty of God's love. In the midst of judgment, He chooses one man -- one man who's not deserving over and beyond any man. He chooses one man who found favor in the eyes of the Lord, and through this man, God would save the human race. And the ark was the means by which He chose to save Noah.
So this is what we've learned about Noah. So far we've established that Noah was a righteous, blameless man who walked with God. We've seen how his life was in direct contrast to everyone else's. We saw how God in His perfect nature had declared judgment upon the unrighteous, and had chosen to save the future of mankind through Noah.
And so that was who Noah WAS. But what did Noah DO?
I want to quickly address three things that Noah did by faith. These three things are found throughout verses 14 through 22. So what did Noah do?
The first thing we see is that Noah, by faith, Received the words of God. In verse 13, "God said to Noah . . . " The text doesn't give us any details about how this interaction happened. We don't know if God physically appeared to Noah, or if God audibly spoke to Noah. That's really not the point. The point is that we know that Noah walked intimately with God, and that God spoke to Noah.
One Old Testament scholar says this: "The people of God are the people of the ear, not of the eyes."
But we want to be people of the eyes! What we SEE we believe! But the people of God have to be people of the ear. The closer and longer you walk with God, the clearer His voice becomes. When I was in college I had a close encounter with this very reality. I'd been dating my girlfriend, now my permanent wife, Emily, for some time. There was this silly game, where every so often she would break up with me, for "spiritual" reasons. And I would go along with this game, and I would be annoyed, but knowing in a couple of weeks she'd come back and want to get back together. And that's how it kind of went.
Until our sophomore year. And Emily and I will never forget this moment. She's at Baylor and I'm at A&M. And she calls me on the phone, and she's pretty distraught. She's uneasy and says, "I don't know what's going on, but I think we need to take time and seek the Lord for direction." And I'm like, Okay, what does that mean, how long . . . And she's like, "We'll know when to reconnect and discuss. The Lord will lead us."
So I get off the phone, and I am angry. I've trained myself over the years not to allow myself to get angry, because there's something wrong with that. But that's okay. God created the emotion of anger. I was not angry at Emily. I was angry at God. And I verbally said, in prayer to Him, "Why do You only talk to Emily and not to me? This is annoying!" And so for the next several days, I was like, dadgummit, You're gonna talk to me, and I'm gonna listen. Come on, let's do this."
So for a couple of days I was very conscious of praying and trying to seek the Lord. It was kind of rough and kind of awkward, because I didn't really know what I was doing too well. And then I decided to do something that at the time was pretty absurd. I wanted to get an answer so bad that I committed to fasting. And I'd never done this before on my own. I'd done the youth thing, fasting for a couple of hours at an all-nighter to practice spiritual disciplines. But I'd never committed to this on my own.
So it was hard. I spent the day fasting and praying, and every time my stomach grumbled -- I was in college, and you're hungry all the time in college -- it was a constant reminder that, gosh, this is not fun. And I know that people fast all the time, for much more than a day. But bear with me; I was a rookie, and it was a big deal.
Well, that night, I'm sitting with my roommates, and (I'm gonna say this quietly) we were watching wrestling on TV. It was the era of Goldberg, if you remember him. Anyway, there's a knock at our door. And Emily is standing there. My roommates are like, This is awkward -- we know what's going on. And there she is, standing there.
So we talk. Long story short, she felt led to fast and pray that day as well. And what the Lord was telling me, and made very clear to me, is, "Weyland, I speak to you, but you refuse to listen. I'm not the problem here; YOU'RE the problem. I want to make Myself known to you, but you refuse to engage with Me and listen. Wake up!"
And so I challenge you, as one who wants to walk in intimacy with the Lord: Do you practice the discipline of listening? Noah received from God by faith. He heard God speak. Do you hear God speak? If not, do you listen? We HAVE to practice the discipline of listening if we want to hear from the Lord. by faith Noah received the words of the Lord.
Secondly, by faith Noah obeyed all that God commanded, verse 22 tells us. In verses 12-21, God goes to great lengths to lay out the details of His plan for Noah. And he tells him all these things about cubits and animals and right angles and so on and so forth.
Well, this isn't the only time in scripture that God goes to great lengths to give specific instructions. Remember ahead when Israel was enslaved to Egypt, and all the plagues were coming, and the last plague was going to come and wipe out the firstborn male of every household that didn't have the blood of the lamb over the doorpost. God gave them very specific instructions of how to prepare and how to execute the protecting of their household.
And it's not unlike the specific instructions that God gave to the Israelites in the building of the tabernacle, in which He goes to great lengths to let them know what they need to do to build the house of God, the very place where God was going to dwell with His people. And so we see this from time from time, but I don't want you to miss the main point. I don't want you to get lost in the details. What God is communicating is that He will not, and does not, entrust the means of salvation to human imagination or effort. He will not leave the means up to us. He is specific in the way He saves.
Matthew 7 addresses this. It says, "Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction. And those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life. And those who find it are few." God chose Noah, and the means of salvation for Noah and his family was an ark. But the salvation that Noah experienced was temporary. It was finite. Noah was only a foreshadowing of One to come. Look back at verse 18: "But I will establish My covenant with you."
Now the details of this covenant that God will establish with Noah, we'll see in chapter 9 in a couple of weeks. But from our time today, let me just give you a brief synopsis. A biblical covenant can be defined as follows: "A promise in which God obligates Himself to His people." The promise extended to Noah is one of redemption. It is one of salvation, where God reaches out and chooses to save. It's one which he established with Adam, that He would dwell with man for eternity, and nothing we do is going to thwart His purposes. His covenant with man will remain.
And as you look at the overarching scope of scripture, you'll see that God's plan of redemption is ultimately fulfilled in Christ. Christ is the one who can take the sins of this world upon His shoulders and endure the full weight and wrath of God. Christ is the ultimate means of salvation. His life of perfect obedience was lived on our behalf, and His sacrificial death was offered up for us. And through Christ, we all have full access to the eternal presence and power of God, Amen.
Scripture says that it is by grace that you have been saved through faith, and that this faith confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Lastly, by faith Noah persevered. Our willingness to obey is typically contingent upon the costliness of the request. If I'm told to do something and it's convenient for me, no problem, I'll do that. But if you’re asking me to do something that's costly, that's inconvenient, that's gonna require me to get outside my comfort zone, then well, I don't know; wait a minute. Let me think about that.
Hebrews 11 tells us that there was no hesitancy in Noah. It says that by faith, Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. So Noah hears about a flood of judgment that's gonna come at some point in the future, and is told to build a ridiculously massive structure in the middle of nowhere. And he's made aware that the project will consume every waking hour of his life for the next many years. And throughout those years of painful physical labor, he would also have to endure the hostility of all those around him who think he's nuts.
So why would he continue? Why would he obey God when his circumstances tell him to give up? Why? Because he walked with God, and knew the promises of God. Therefore he knew that God alone was the giver of life. And that apart from God was only death, and that life is always better than death. Noah chose life. He chose to obey God and was saved. Noah did this: He did all that God commanded him.
So Noah was a righteous man; he was blameless; and he walked with God and trusted God. And we also saw that our view of God will influence our worship of God. You see, your worship of God, or your faith in God, will be evidenced by your actions. Noah's actions gave proof to his faith in God. Your actions, or lack of actions, will give proof to your faith or your lack of faith in God as well.
So we see this in the life of Enoch, we see it in the life of Noah, we see it in the life of Abraham. And in order to obey, we must have faith that God is who He says He is, and will do what He says He will do.
So how is that we can know God? What we read today is that one must walk with God. We can intimately know God by creating space to listen, to read, and to respond to Him.
Some of you are here today, and you’re not walking with God. You may be going through the motions of walking with God, but you really don't know Him. You've never confessed your sin to Him, asking Him to forgive you, inviting Him into your life to be your Savior and your Lord. If this is you; if you've been under the illusion that Christianity is about doing good things and being a good person, I would encourage you to confess your sins to God and ask Him to save you.
For others of us in the room, who know God, and are walking with God, I would challenge you to consider how well you know Him. What is your level of intimacy with the Father? Most of us know Him positionally. What I mean by that is, I know that I have been saved, that I am saved, that I am accepted by God, that I am positionally His child. But I don't walk with Him very intimately. I don't know Him very well. So I'd encourage you to confess and repent of your apathy, and ask God to give you a deep desire to abide in Him.
Noah, by faith, walked with God. And by faith, you and I can walk with God. Let's pray.
Heavenly Father, I love You. I thank You that You are an intimate God. A God who is revealing of Himself; a God who is patient with us. A God who loves unconditionally. Lord, I thank You for saving mankind. I thank You for Christ and his ultimate sacrifice that was paid on our behalf. That those who put their faith in Christ can know You, can walk with You. And Lord God, I just pray that we would be obedient sons and daughters. Not out of obligation, but out of love, that You are good, and You are good to us. Lord, we need You, each and every moment of each and every day, we need You. We thank You for Your holy scriptures. I pray that our hearts would be quickened to respond in obedience. In Christ's Name we pray, Amen.