This article is part of a limited series called Be A Man. These articles are taken from a Bible study I conducted for several months. The purpose of these blogs is to examine and discuss what it means to be a man, a husband and a father according to the Bible, and how we are to live that out in our modern world. While the Bible study was originally for men, not all topics are gender specific, meaning that women, wives, and mothers can still learn and be encouraged from these articles.
The story of Noah is one that is familiar to all. Whether you grew up in Sunday School or you are a fan of the Steve Carrel film Evan Almighty, the account of a man building an enormous boat is one that we all know. But unlike Noah, most of us will never to build an ark to survive a massive flood. We face different challenges than he did.
That doesn’t mean that we cannot learn something from his story. In fact, there is much to learn from this ancient man. For he was just a man like the rest of us are. He woke up on the right and wrong side of the bed at times. He had days where he wanted to call it quits. He had moments where his children or wife seemed too much to deal with. And like us, Noah was called upon by God to participate in God’s divine purposes.While we have talked about what God has called all men to do, these verses struck me as more a revelation about who this God is rather than being about Noah.
Who is this God? What is He like? How does He work?
This 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. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So 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. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.” Noah did everything just as God commanded him. – Genesis 6.9-22
These are important questions, especially if we as men are looking to God to help us when we are helpless. When we are without strength, we are told in Scripture to put our trust and faith in God. That was where Noah found himself, and all men will find themselves in that place at some point in their lives. When we do, there are three important truths that we can know about God. And these three truths will give us courage and strength to keep going.
1. This is a God with a plan.
There are some people that believe that God has left the world to its own devices. God created the world, set it on its course, then metaphorically stepped back. He has no involvement, no interest in what happens to the earth or the people on it. This idea is sometimes called the Watchmaker theory. While there is a degree of truth to this, there is also a level of falsehood to it as well. Especially the notion that God isn’t involved in the Earth and the goings-on here. On the contrary, God is involved. He has a plan and wants us to be a part of it.
God tells Noah this divine plan. There are specifics. There are details. There are instruction on how things are supposed to go, and by extension, the expectation that things shouldn’t be done any other way. That is not how an uninvolved party talks. If God was true uninvolved, if He didn’t care about Earth or have a plan to work in the fabric of history, He wouldn’t have spoken in such a way to Noah. You could argue that He wouldn’t have talked to Noah at all.
To know that we aren’t left alone, that there is a God that is so deeply involved in our planet, is very encouraging. To know that we are left to our own devices is a breath of hope, especially when we look at how things are going in the news.
But God doesn’t stop at just having a plan, at just being involved in that happens to us and the planet; He invites us to join Him.
We could discuss God and His omnipotence, and how He doesn’t need us to get work done, what is how greater importance is how God wants to include us in His plans. If it had been God’s intent to save humanity without Noah, without the ark, He could have. God has that power. But God takes pleasure in having us work with him. He enjoys having his creation work with Him, to see His kingdom established.
This too is encouraging. We do not have a dictator for a God, one that would push us around, making us do whatever He wants. No, we have a God that invites us to cooperate with Him, to work with Him, rather than under Him.
2. This is a God that speaks our language.
While the measurements and the type of wood that God asked Noah to use may be foreign to us, they wouldn’t have been for Noah. Noah understood what a cubit was, the length from his inner elbow to the tip of his middle finger. Noah would have been able to identify a cypress tree to get cypress wood from. Other translations may say other types of wood were used, but the point does not change. Noah would have understood what God was talking about. And when God said that the whole ark was to be covered in pitch, Noah didn’t need God to spell it all out for him. Noah knew what pitch was.
While this may seem like a small detail, the truth behind it is profoundly encouraging. God speaks our language. God talks in ways that we understand.
There is no mystery to what God is saying. He doesn’t cloak His words in some language that we do not know. God speaks clearly, in a way that you understand, in a way that I understand. I am not saying that God speaks or sounds the same to everyone, but at no point does God purposefully cover up what He means when He speaks. He speaks clearly, to those that are willing to stop and listen.
And with that revelation comes a second one. Not only does God speak clearly, in a language and with words that we understand, but God doesn’t have a secret agenda.
God isn’t moving us around like pawns on the chess board. We are not ignorant slaves that do not know what the Master is doing. In the story of Noah, God openly shares what is going on, in the spiritual and physical realms.
Jesus would later emphasize this point when he said,
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” – John 15.15
As we go about our days, as we face struggles and trials of all kinds, we can rest in the knowledge that our God speaks to us, without cloak or mystery, and that He is willing to tell us what is going on. Such truth is joy and strength to my soul, and hopefully, yours as well.
3. This is a God that is intent on saving us.
There is little question that this world is sick. You only need to turn on the TV or look at the front page of the paper. Scroll through your Twitter feed or listen to people talking in the coffee shops. There is always talk about how evil is running ramped on the earth. This was true of the world in Noah’s day as well. But God was not okay with that. It did not sit well with Him.
So the God with a plan, a God that is involved, puts his great rescue plan into action. God wants to save humanity. While Noah and his family would ultimately be the only ones saved, that falls on the free will choice of humanity, not on God.
But you must ask why would God do this? It struck me as confusing; God was under no obligation to save humanity. He wasn’t bound by some cosmic law or some covenant that said He had to save humanity from their evil, sinful ways.
Rather, God binds himself to us in love. It is out of His overwhelming love for humanity that God moved to save us from our sin. It was a completely unprecedented move, a move that was not required of Him, but was done nonetheless. God so love the world that He made a way to save us. In the story of Noah, it was through an ark that Noah built. Ultimately, God would save us all from our sins and death through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5.6-8
How refreshing it is to how that this God is bent on redeeming us, or rescuing us. Even though we rightfully deserve punishment, even though we rightfully deserve to live with the immediate consequences of our actions, He actively works to save us.
And a quick and mind boggling note, it isn’t just humanity that God wants to save from destruction. God wants to save the animals, for their lives and futures are put in jeopardy because of our sin too.
When you think back on your life, when has God given specific instructions to do something?
I doubt you were ever asked by God to build a boat to save humanity, but I am sure that God has spoke to each one of you with something specific to do, something specific to do with Him, to see His plan fulfilled.
For myself, God has told me to “keep writing”, even though I know that I have a calling to be a pastor. So I continue to write and publish blogs. I keep working on other things, all in an effort to do as God has said.
What has God asked you to do, specifically?
Jesus, Almighty King of kings, You Who obeyed Your Father to the end, Teach me the meaning of obedience. My soul burns to comply to Your Will, Striving to charm Your Divinity. While my worldly nature seeks one way, My spiritual nature seeks another. Bless me with the strength to obey, That my soul may subdue both natures, Blending them as a fair aromatic bloom. I always seek favour in Your eyes, To always obey You until my last breath! – Prayer for the Virtue of Obedience, Catholic Church
All Scripture references provided by Biblegateway.com
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