The Faith of Noah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, October 8, 2017 0 comments

by Logan Ames

There’s a joke that goes around in churches that states, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him about your plans." A movie came out about ten years ago with a scene where God actually does laugh at the main character’s plans. The movie was called Evan Almighty and many of you have probably seen it. Evan Baxter is a politician who just moved from Buffalo to the Washington D.C. area to begin his term as a U.S. Congressman. His plan and his motto state that he is going to “change the world." Then one day, signs start appearing in his life to show him that he may be doing something he hadn’t “planned." Eventually, God (Morgan Freeman) appears to him a couple times and tells Evan he wants him to build an ark for a flood that will be coming. Evan starts talking about all the plans he had and how he doesn’t have time for the ark, and God just starts cracking up. It takes awhile, but Evan slowly begins to get the picture that life is only going to get more difficult if he doesn’t do what God is commanding him to do.

It’s not that God is literally sitting up in heaven laughing at our plans. But the point of the joke is that God doesn’t necessarily consider OUR plans, especially the ones we’ve made without consulting him, when he asks us to do something big or even just something different. Making plans is not a bad thing. Football teams have a game plan. Those who want to lose weight or get healthier have a workout plan and maybe a diet plan. Businesses have a marketing plan. Couples make wedding plans. You get the picture. But what happens when God allows something to come into your life that you weren’t expecting? Is there enough flexibility in your plans and goals that you can consistently follow God by faith when it doesn’t seem to line up with the direction you thought you were heading?

Evan Baxter is a fictional character, but he was purposefully created to give us a sense of what it may have been like for Noah in the Bible. Noah is the next hero of our faith in this series where we take a look at the examples of others who went before us and had to put their trust and hope in the Lord even in the midst of difficult or unexpected trials. Let’s remember that the foundational verse is Hebrews 11:3, where we see that we, like each of the heroes that are then mentioned, actually reason that God created the entire universe out of nothing. Once we’ve established that foundation, it makes logical sense that he could be trusted to work any miracles that we need as we follow him. Hebrews 11:7 then tells us about Noah’s faith, which caused him to fear the Lord and build an ark to save his family.

Have you ever thought about what an ark actually is? Because of the story of Noah, it’s now mainly defined as the boat that saved people during the worldwide flood. But here’s the thing, it wasn’t a boat back then! In fact, it still wouldn’t really be an accurate definition today because it cannot be steered or sailed. The only thing it can do is float. At the time of Noah, an ark was basically a wooden box or chest used for storage and protection of valuable items. So, when God spoke to Noah in Genesis 6:13-14a and told him that he was going to “put an end to all people” because of their wickedness and then commanded Noah to make a wooden ark, he was probably initially very confused. On the one hand, he would’ve assumed the ark was no different than any other arks that had been made, so he could have it done by that night! On the other hand, he had to be thinking, “Lord, how is a little wooden box going to save me from worldwide catastrophe?” But then God gives him the rest of the command. In Genesis 6:14b-21, God tells Noah to “make rooms in it” and then reveals the monstrous dimensions of the ark and also how it will be used during the flood. When I picture Noah hearing this, I sense that he went from thinking, “Piece of cake" to “That’s impossible!”

There is no way Noah could have expected what God was going to ask him to do. Genesis 6:9 tells us that he was righteous and faithful to God, so he may have been spiritually and physically prepared. But it most certainly was not in his plans. Like all of us, he probably had other plans that involved a daily routine and taking care of his family. At best, he was waiting for God to show him how he might fulfill the promise his father made at his birth. Genesis 5:29 tells us that the name “Noah” sounds like the Hebrew word for “comfort," and his father Lamech said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord had cursed." Try living with that pressure. The story of the curse has been passed down from Adam to each generation and you’ve been told that YOU are the one who will bring comfort. Maybe that’s what caused him to walk closer to God.

I’m sure Noah had to spend some time dealing with his feelings about what God commanded, just like Evan Baxter in the movie. Thousands of years later, Jesus would do the same (Matthew 26:38-42). We all have those moments when doing what we know God wills seems overwhelming. But, while the Holy Spirit helps us process those feelings, it’s ultimately how we respond in action and not how we feel that matters going forward. Genesis 6:22 tells us, “Noah DID everything just as God commanded him” (caps mine). He followed every detail, and Hebrews 11:7 says he moved with “holy fear." It also says that by his faith, he condemned the world. Noah wasn’t the only one who knew about the coming flood. God didn’t tell him to keep it a secret. If you were Noah and you received that kind of information, you’d share it with people. But Noah was the only one who lived by faith. Once the flood came and Noah, his family, and the animals were securely in, Genesis 7:16 tells us that “the Lord shut him in." Judgment came for those who didn’t believe, whether they planned and were prepared for it or not.

Judgment will come for each of us as well. The fact that God is the one who shut the door and not Noah is one of the most fascinating and commonly overlooked things in the Bible in my opinion. Think about it. Did Noah want people to die? Of course not! He was a righteous and faithful man, so there is no reason to assume he wanted to condemn anyone to death. Chances are he was yelling for people to get on the ark even until the last day! What a burden it would’ve been on him had he been the one to close the door and keep people out. It also would’ve been inconsistent with God’s character. He alone is faithful and just and he alone judges the whole world. Noah may have been righteous and faithful, but he was not perfect.

Friends, we so often try to condemn people with our words and judgments. If you’ve ever decided that you think someone is in heaven or hell based on what YOU know about them, that’s what you’re doing. Maybe God just wants us to shut up and focus on living by faith, and let him be the Judge. Trust and follow him. You’ll be set apart by action from those who don’t.

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