Living By Faith In The Promises Of God

Genesis 7 1 Then the LORD said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household; for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time. 2 “You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; 3 also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth. 4 “For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made.” 5 And Noah did according to all that the LORD had commanded him.

6 Now Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth. 7 Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him entered the ark because of the water of the flood. 8 Of clean animals and animals that are not clean and birds and everything that creeps on the ground, 9 there went into the ark to Noah by twos, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And it came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. 12 And the rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights. 13 On the very same day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark, 14 they and every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, all sorts of birds. 15 So they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life. 16 And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the LORD closed it behind him.

17 Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days; and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth. 18 And the water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 And the water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. 20 The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered. 21 And all flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; 22 of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. 23 Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. 24 And the water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.

MOTHER’S DAY

In the narrowest terms, to be a mother is to carry, bear, and raise children (natural motherhood). In fuller terms it refers to any woman who is responsible to raise a child (adoptive motherhood). But in its fullest sense, to be a mother is to be a woman who gives life to and nurtures it in others (spiritual motherhood). While we tend to think of motherhood primarily in the first two senses, the bible most highly exalts the third. And in that third sense every Christian woman is a mother, for every Christian woman is charged to care for the spiritual lives of others. Ladies, whatever form(s) your mothering takes, do it well—that is, do it according to the Word of God, in the power of God, with the people of God, and for the glory of God. We’re thankful that by the grace of God you do in so many ways. And we’re thankful that by the same grace of God, the blood of Jesus covers every one of your successes and failures. We love you and are grateful for God’s work through you.

And so, “Happy Mother’s Day!” I imagine that all mother’s days are memorable, but perhaps this one will stand out even more. Perhaps you won’t be able to celebrate and be celebrated in the usual ways on earth, but rest assured that nothing has changed in the heavenly realms—God’s pleasure is as upon you this year as much as it has ever been. May we all rise up and join the triune God in calling you blessed.

Let me pray for you all and for the sermon before we turn to Genesis 7. Also, we have your magnets!

INTRODUCTION

I remember going to the Grand Canyon as a kid and thinking something like, “Cool, that’s a really big hole. Can we get some ice cream?” We went back there a couple of years ago and I was completely mesmerized. The pull of the Bright Angel Trail was almost overpowering. For the most part the Grand Canyon hadn’t changed much in the 30ish years between my visits, so what’s the deal? Why were my two experiences so different? I’m sure there are a number of reasons, but one in particular stands out: On our last trip, I really slowed down to take it all in. I slowed down to contemplate what I was really seeing. I slowed down to consider the vastness, the age, and the beauty of the Canyon. I slowed down to consider how the first discoverers of the Canyon must have felt. I slowed down to consider the God who spoke them into existence. And in slowing down—rather than merely considering the next source of immediate gratification I could chase after—the real remarkableness of the Canyon revealed itself.

One of the keys that I’ve found to understanding and applying God’s Word is closely related to that. We must slow down enough to really consider what we’re reading. For so many of us so much of the bible is so familiar that we barely blink when we read stories like the one about Noah and the ark. When we do slow down, though, things look a lot different. What we have here is a story of a world-wide flood, as an act of divine judgment for sin, whereby a small handful of people and animals—led by a 600 year old man—were saved in an act of divine mercy, by riding out the storm in a self-constructed boat over the course of about a year. All too often the shock and awe factor of this shocking and awesome story is missed because we don’t slow down enough to really consider how crazy all of that really is.

I invite you, then, to slow down once again and really consider this story of unfathomable holiness, sin, wrath, justice, violence, mercy, and foreshadowing. And then, having done so, I invite you to rethink your understanding and outworking of Christianity. Among other things, it will force you to consider whether you are living your life based on the authority of God’s word and the promises it contains, or something/anything else. This passage is especially good at raising that question by describing the character and actions of a man who, having found God’s favor, radically placed his hope in the word and promises of God.

There are two parts to this sermon: 1) A brief recap of the story of Noah and the ark, and 2) Six implications of Noah’s story. The main point of all of this is that God’s justice is unwavering, His power is unending, His grace is sufficient, and He calls us to respond to those things by living by faith in His promises. Let’s turn to the text (slowly), and the first part of this sermon (the story of Noah and the ark), so I can help you see where I got that.

THE STORY OF NOAH AND THE ARK

The second section in Genesis 6 (9-22) describes: 1) God’s charge to Noah to build an ark, 2) In order that he and his immediate family would be saved, 3) From the world-wide flood that God was about to send, 4) As an act of God’s judgment, and 5) In light of the fact that “… every intention of the thoughts of [mankind’s] heart was only evil continually” (6:5).

In chapter seven, our text for today, we find the record of both Noah and God doing what they said they would do.

God Commanded Noah to Enter the Ark (1)

Nothing at all is said about the actual construction of the ark. In chapter 6 God issued the command to build it and by chapter 7 it is done. And then, at the right time… “1…the LORD said to Noah, ‘Enter the ark, you and all your household…’”. This command, like all of God’s to Noah, was clear and unmistakable. There was no question as to what God meant or expected.

God also reiterated the reason Noah was granted this privilege and responsibility, “… for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time.” Noah alone, on the entire face of the earth, was found by God to be righteous (faithful to God’s covenant); and so Noah alone, and his family on his behalf, were allowed into the ark.

God Further Explained His Plans (2-4)

From there God gave a further explanation of the number of each kind of animal that Noah was to bring on the ark. “2 You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; 3 also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female…”. What had previously sounded like two pairs of every animal was (in vs.2-3) clarified. Noah was to bring two pairs of every unclean animal and seven pairs of every clean animal.

And again, God was kind enough to make plain His reason for including the things He did on the ark. “3…to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth.” The animals were brought aboard because God meant to refill the earth with them, through them. Some immediately for food and sacrifice, and the rest for a picture of the gospel.

Next, God updated Noah on the timing of things. “4 For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights…”. Having built the ark, all that was left to do was to fill it with the things God called for. God gave him seven days to do just that.

And for a third time, God was kind enough to provide Noah with the reason for all of this. “4 …and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made.” Again, all of this, in case you forgot, was because the sins of men had caused God’s judgment to bear down upon them like a freight train.

God commanded Noah to enter the ark and then He gave further explanation of what He wanted from Noah and further rationale as to why He wanted it.

Noah Obeyed God (5-9)

And then, in vs.5-9, we get to look in on Noah’s response to all of this.

5 And Noah did according to all that the LORD had commanded him. 6 Now Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth. 7 Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him entered the ark because of the water of the flood. 8 Of clean animals and animals that are not clean and birds and everything that creeps on the ground, 9 there went into the ark to Noah by twos, male and female, as God had commanded Noah.

Noah did exactly what God had commanded him to do. In fact, the phrase, “As God commanded him…,” is the repeated refrain of this passage (6:22; 7:5, 9, 16). There is no hint of disobedience or wavering from Noah. He did what God required of him; and to this point he did so without exception.

God Was Faithful to His Promises (10-24)

Likewise, without exception, God kept every one of His promises.

God said there would be a flood and there was a flood. “10 And it came about … that the water of the flood came upon the earth”.

God did so by undoing some of His creation ordering (allowing it to revert back to its initial formlessness). V.11 says, “The great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.” This, of course, draws our minds back to chapter 1 when God shut those things up as He was making the world suitable for mankind.

God drew the animals in. The text does not suggest that Noah needed to go out and capture every kind of animal and bring it back. The text suggests that God brought them to Noah supernaturally. The theme here is that God provides all that He requires from His people. He was faithful to His promise to rescue a people for Himself.

God closed the door of the ark. “16 …and the LORD closed it behind him.” He was the one who sealed them inside and that made clearer (what should have already been clear enough) that all of this was His doing, according to His promises.

God said that everything with the breath of life would die and it died. “22 … all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. 23 Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land…”.

God promised to rescue Noah and his boating companions and He did. “23 …only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark.”

That’s the beginning of the story of the ark. God commanded Noah to enter the ark, He further explained His ark plans, Noah obeyed all that God commanded him, and God remained faithful to His every promise. The question that leaves us with is…what did all of this mean? What did it mean back then and what does it mean today?

THE IMPLICATIONS OF NOAH AND THE ARK

Most of the ark’s implications would have been as understandable by the first recipients of Genesis as they are to us today. Of course, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ helps us to see all of this with fuller meaning and greater hope, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God strengthens us in new ways, but most of these implications were theirs as much as they are ours. As I work through the six of them, then, take a minute to slow down and consider the glorious fact that as we walk in them, we are walking in unison with the saints of old. There’s something powerful in knowing that thousands and thousands of years ago and ever since, others have fought the same spiritual battles as we are today. Again, then, what did/does God intend his people to understand and do in light of Genesis 7?

God’s Power Is without Measure

The first of six implications for the people of God is that God was and is without equal in His power and dominion. If this hadn’t already been made clear enough, we get another look at the absolute omnipotence of God.

Everything in creation obeyed the voice of God. Noah did all that God required (5), the animals came (8-9), the waters fell (6, 10) and rose (17-20) and abated (8:2-3) at the exact times prescribed by God (4, 10), the boat floated (18), the earth perished (21-23), and everything on the ark survived (23).

To drive all of this home, God determined that it would rain and rain until the mountains were covered and then 22’ more (19). Again this is a reversal of creation and another display of the sovereign power of God. No one can read this story and fail to see that God’s power is without measure. He does whatever he pleases (Psalm 115:3).

As was the case then, so it is today: let us bow in reverent awe before the LORD, our God, our maker. Do not try to stand against Him, Grace, for His power is without end. Surrender to Him, therefore, and find all of that omnipotent might working for your good instead of for your destruction! Marvel at that… every ounce of power (and more) that was unleashed in the destruction of mankind in the flood is for those whose hope is in Jesus.

God Did Not Start Over Entirely

The second implication of Noah and the ark, and a really interesting one at that, is that God determined to perpetuate the human race through a fallen man and his fallen family rather than starting all over with new people who did not inherit Adam’s sin. In other words, while it would have seemed to make more sense to start over with a new man and woman who did not have a sinful nature, God did not do that.

There are two main reasons for this. First, it was to show that it was never going to be within man’s power to obey on his own. The next man created ex nihilo would have eventually fallen just like Adam. Man would always need something outside of himself to live as he was made to live. The first readers of Genesis would not have missed this and neither should we. They wouldn’t have understood its full significance as we do today, but they wouldn’t have missed the fact that God chose to preserve humanity through a son of Adam and not a new line.

Second, the fact that God did not start over entirely is another example of God’s faithfulness to His promises. He promised to crush the head of the serpent with the heel of a son of Eve (3:15). Had God started over, He would not have kept this promise. Again, the first recipients of Genesis would have recognized God’s faithfulness.

If you’re prone to wishing things were different, let this be a lesson to you. All God’s ways are perfectly perfect.

The Flood Was So Big so that it Would Be a Warning for Every Future Generation

It is likely that we will be talking about the coronavirus for at least a generation. It truly is a global calamity in several ways. And yet, in my humble estimation, unless there’s some unforeseen, dramatic shift coming, it probably won’t go much beyond that. On the other hand, the Flood described in this section of Genesis is still being talked about millennia upon millennia later. The difference, of course, is one of magnitude. Both are significant, but the Genesis Flood makes the 2020 coronavirus pandemic pale in comparison—and that by God’s design.

The third implication of all of this is that the flood was as big and dramatic as it was in order to serve as a warning for every future generation. God would always be holy, He would always punish sin to the fullest extent justice would allow, and mankind’s only hope would only ever be the grace and mercy of God.

Just as the Exodus, and then ultimately the cross, would mark the mercy of God for every future generation, the flood would provide an unforgettable mark of the justice and wrath of God for every future generation. Let us not miss this, Grace. Let us not fail to recognize the severity of God. Let us not fail to appreciate the wickedness of our sin and rebellion against God. And let us not forget the unflinching justice of God that we see in the flood—all of which was unleashed on Jesus on our behalf. Oh praise Him! Hallelujah. Remember the flood and repent.

God Means Us to Live By Faith in the Promises of God

To help you see the fourth implication, let me ask you a few fundamental questions…On what basis do you live your life? How do you decide where to place your trust? On the most fundamental level, where does your peace come from? For most of us, each of these questions typically has a slightly different answer and each of our answers are typically somewhat unique to us.

In contrast to the way things typically are, though, this passage helps us to see that God calls us to something different. For Christians, as we grow to be more like Jesus, the answer to every one of those questions is increasingly consolidated and concentrated into a single answer: faith in the promises of God. On what basis do you live your life? my knowledge of and faith in the promises of God. On the most fundamental level, where does your peace come from? It comes from my faith in the promises of God.

God told Noah to do some crazy (build a giant ship before the rain started, convince his family to join him, leave behind all that he had, watch his neighbors drown, etc.). But Noah did them all in faith because he believed God’s promise to rescue and bless him.

The same God calls us to some pretty crazy things today as well (lay down your life, be last, serve and love your enemy, take the gospel to the end of the earth, etc), even as the same God promises some pretty crazy blessings as well (everlasting life, crowns in heaven, reconciliation with God, adoption by God, etc). To spend even a few minutes in the NT is to find out that God’s call on your life is total, even as His blessings are incalculable.

The question before us, then, is what we will do with all of that. Will we learn from Noah’s example that the promises of God are the only sure foundation for our hope? Will we live by faith in and build our lives upon them? Or will we go the way of the rest of the world? Will we place our hope in things that flood and fire and foe can destroy? Noah’s story doesn’t tell us everything that there is to know about a life of faith in the promises of God, but it cuts quickly to the heart of it: God is always faithful to His promises, and living by faith in His promises always leads to God’s blessing…while everything else leads to suffering and death.

To rightly apply this, then, is to take an inventory of your life. Where is your hope in something other than the promises of God? Where is your peace coming from something other than the promises of God? Where is your life built upon something other than the promises of God? Where you find the answers to those questions you’ve found areas of your life that are not safe, good, or able to survive. Where you find the answers to those questions you’ve found areas in which you are simultaneously vulnerable and in rebellion to God. Where you find the answers to those questions, then, you’ve found areas for which you must repent and for which Jesus died.

Conversely, where you find areas in which you truly are living by faith in specific promises of God, you’ve found areas that will never be shaken, taken, moved, tarnished, diminished, or even threatened. Whatever may come, where you are living by faith in the specific promises of God you are safe and good, you are in obedience and blessing. Seek out the promises of God, then, and live in them—with all your life, live in them!

I read an article (by Jen Wilken on the Gospel Coalition’s website) that is really helpful for finding and rightly applying God’s promises for you. I included a link in my manuscript and in the discussion questions. In that article, the author lists several “unambiguous promises from our triune God that we can celebrate with certainty”.

    God promises to give us wisdom if we ask (James 1:5).
    God promises to provide a way out of temptation (1 Cor. 10:13).
    God promises that our salvation is secure, no matter what (John 10:28–29).
    God promises to never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5).
    God promises to finish the good work he has begun in us (Phil. 1:6).
    God promises to come back (Luke 12:40).

God Means Us to Do what He Commands

Fifth, and flowing from the last one, this passage teaches God’s people in no uncertain terms that God means us to do what He commands. We can scarcely read a page in the bible without seeing this. And in a very real sense this is a story of the entire world being divided up into people who obeyed and lived (Noah) and those who disobeyed and died (everyone else). There’s more to it than that, but there’s not less.

Noah modeled this for us in part. Jesus modeled it for us in full. Grace, obey God in the power of the Holy Spirit. When you fail, confess it to God, remember the forgiveness that is already yours in Jesus, and then repent—start obeying God again. And when you fail again, confess it to God, remember the forgiveness that is already yours in Jesus, and then repent—start obeying God again in the power of the Spirit. Don’t use the cross as an excuse to disobey. Don’t use your repeated struggles as an excuse to disobey. Don’t use the sins of others as an excuse to disobey. Don’t even use your knowledge that you will never be perfectly without sin until death as an excuse to disobey.

As Creator-King and God has the absolute right to command you—so obey. He is all good and so all His commands are good—so obey. Your obedience demonstrates the authenticity of your faith in Jesus—so obey. For the glory of God and the good of the world, obey as we see in Noah. The gospel changes which side of the equation our obedience is on, but it does not change the need to obey—so obey.

God Rescues the Unrighteous through the Righteous

Finally, sixth, I mentioned this before, but it’s worth noting once again. The rest of Noah’s boat mates (his wife, sons, and sons’ wives) were saved through his righteousness. Don’t miss the significance of this. Only Noah was called righteous by God, but God saw fit to rescue seven others through their union with him. The first Genesis audience would not have been able to understand where this was going, but they would have understood that Noah’s family was rescued through his representation.

And here’s the key for us…what God did through Noah for seven, Jesus accomplished for all who would trust in Him. Romans 5:17 says this, “For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ…

Noah’s righteousness rescued a few for a time. Jesus’ righteousness rescued all of God’s people forever. Noah’s righteousness rescued seven from a quicker physical death. Jesus’ righteousness rescued countless billions from eternal spiritual death. What Noah did in part, Jesus did in full. What Noah accomplished for his immediate family, Jesus accomplished for every tribe, tongue, and nation. Noah was the shadow, Jesus is the reality. Noah was a type, Jesus is the fullness. Grace, truly, praise God from whom all blessings flow! Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

CONCLUSION

The story of Noah’s ark in Genesis 7 is this: God commanded Noah to enter the ark, God further explained his plans for Noah, Noah obeyed God, and then God was faithful to all His promises. And the key implications to that part of Noah’s story are these: God’s power is without measure, God did not start over entirely, the flood was so big so that it would be a warning for every future generation, God means us to live by faith in His promises, God means us to do what He commands, and God rescues the unrighteous through the righteous.

There’s a lot here, Grace. In God’s kindness and power, let us know it, love it, and live in it by faith all the days of our lives. Amen.