Monday, October 21, 2013

Noah's Ark

The church at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, has many beautiful and unique stained glass windows.  There were perhaps four windows depicting the story of Noah and the Ark.  I chose this window to highlight because every time I think of the faithfulness of Noah, I am literally amazed!  Just think about it.

Noah lived on the earth about 1500 years after it was created by God.  In that length of time millions of people had been born -- and many of those people were still alive since most people in that era lived to be over 900 years old.  Sadly, nearly every one of those millions of people were living in sin.  Genesis 6:5 says, "The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time."  the Lord only found one man who was righteous and faithful to Him - only one!  That's even worse than the days we're living in.

Imagine you are Noah and you've been living amongst these wicked people 480 years.  One morning you get up and hear God say to you, "Make thee an ark of gopher wood..."  Then God proceeds to tell you there will be a flood to cover the whole earth and that only you and your family will be saved, and then He gives you the dimensions of a vast ship that He wants you to build, how you will fill it with animals and food, and how God will bless you and your sons -- and that you will be the only survivors of the entire earth!

Several things were probably confusing to Noah at that moment:  first of all, there had never even been rain on the earth thus far, everything being watered by gentle mists; secondedly, as of yet, he had no sons (his three sons were born to him when he was 500 years old); thirdly, the massive ark was to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high -- that's as long as 1.5 football fields -- and he would have to cut down every single tree himself.  So, how would you respond to such a command?

Scripture tells us in verse 22:  "Noah did everything just as God commanded him."  I'd say that's about the most amazing picture of faith in the entire Bible. 

It took 120 years of cutting trees, dragging logs, planing wood, lifting heavy loads, and putting up with derision and mockery from the rest of the population, but Noah - and his sons as they grew -- worked faithfully on that boat until it was finished and ready to fulfill its part in the first major judgment God visited upon the earth and its people.

Hebrews 11:7 commends Noah for his faithfulness, saying, "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen..."  Things not yet seen -- now, there's the rub.  That's what we're asked to do today as well - to believe in things that are not yet seen -- not an easy task.  That's the definition of faith - "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see," Hebrews 11:1.

Faith is what God asks of each of us.  He doesn't ask us to understand, just as He didn't require Noah to understand how he would accomplish all he asked of him.  He just expects us to have faith and obey.  That old hymn is as true today as it always has been:  "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."

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