A. Read: Genesis 6:9-22
B. Song Intro: Part 1 – The Preparation
1. God promised and Noah prepared.
One of the benefits of preaching books of the Bible rather than topical sermons is that God gives me “fresh eyes” to see His word. In the past my focus for this story was the flood itself. I used to get caught up in questions like: How wide-spread was the flood?; or How many animals could the ark actually hold?; or how stable would it have been in tsunami conditions; and etc. This time around I see that the flood is simply the setting for the story. The focus is the relationship between God and Noah. The Genesis flood is about God’s faithfulness and one man’s trust in His promises. What we see here is an example of a life of faith, which doesn’t merely believe that God exists, but acts on what God says.
In chapter six, God warned Noah of a coming flood that would terminate all life in the land. He gave the man specific steps to take to preserve himself, his family, and the land animals. The Bible says that Noah was a righteous man in his generation. He demonstrated his righteousness through his preparation which came from his trust in God. He built the ark exactly as God commanded him.
2. God’s vision was specific.
That’s the great thing about God. When He sends a vision or revelation, it’s always specific. There’s no guess work involved, only faith. We must have the faith to act on His specific marching orders no matter how outrageous they may seem to us.
3. Noah demonstrated his faith by following God’s plan to the letter.
Some think that a life of faith is about being a good person. That’s not exactly true. A life of faith is about following God’s vision for your life. It is acting on what He has told you again and again and again, no matter what the cost.
That’s how Noah demonstrated his righteousness. He was not a person without sin, as we’ll see next week. But Noah was absolutely a man who took God at His word and acted on it. Noah’s response to God’s commands proves Romans 1:17 which says: “The righteous will live by faith.”
- Salvation is God’s work and we simply take Him at His word and obey
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18
- A life of faith continues this principle
God speaks through the Bible or revelation. We hear, take Him at His word, and obey. If individuals, families, or churches operate this way God calls them righteous simply because they take Him at His word.
C. Song: “Be Thou My Vision”
D. Read: Genesis 7:1-24
E. Children’s Sermon: Part 2 – The Fulfillment
1. Flood quiz
Hold up nursery Noah’s ark and ask questions:
Is this what Noah’s ark look liked?
How many of each kind of animal did Noah bring onto the ark?
How did he have time to round them all up?
How many people were on board the ark?
How old was Noah when the flood came?
What caused the flood?
Why did God bring the flood?
How do you think Noah and his family felt on the ark?
What does the Bible mean when it says, “Then the LORD shut him in”? (8:16)
2. Main questions:
*What is the Bible telling us about God in this story? (He is faithful. He keeps His
*What is the Bible telling us about Noah? (He trusted God’s promises. He did exactly
what God commanded him.)
*What does this story tell us about the way we should live?
F. Read: Genesis 8:1-22
H. Sermon: Part 3 – Refreshing the Heart of God
One of the fringe “benefits” of preaching is that you, the preacher, usually get tested on it before you present it. Sometimes it happens afterward. For me the test came right along with the preparation this week.
As I’ve told you before, right now God has given me a vision to do one thing as pastor of this church: lead Antioch to become a praying church. He desires that we be a people who seek His face before seeking His hand. He wants us to learn to hear His voice, see what He’s doing in the world, and then respond with action. That is also the point of the flood story as well. Noah listened to God and then obeyed.
This week I was tempted to get off track. It began early in the week when I received an e-newsletter from a company that promotes getting out there and seizing your destiny. Every time I read material from this company I feel like a loser because I want to make something happen, but sense God telling me to wait. The e-newsletter tempted me to consider using the church growth techniques that I’ve learned over the years to make something happen at this church. (Some of you may be disappointed that I haven’t acted on that impulse.) Wednesday I had lunch with a friend and former fellow teacher. He asked me how things were going at the church and then that discussion turned into a seize your destiny kind of talk as well. I started thinking about how to attract more people Antioch, about how to build a youth group, about sending out mass mailers to the community, about following the strategies of successful corporations, and on and on. I was prepared to make something happen with out the authorization and empowering of God.
When I arrived at Wednesday night Bible study, one person brought me back to focus on what God wants to do. Alan handed me a book titled Fresh Encounters which is about leading the church to seek God and that was all it took. I never ceased to be amazed at how easy it is to do things your own way and leave God out the picture. Thankfully the Lord always makes a way back to the reality.
The truth is, we could go our own way even in this church and see some success. We could do great things by the world standards, but miss out on what God wants to do in and through us. We could be successful and end up grieving the heart of God, just like the people of Noah’s day who by and large went their own way without him. I want to be like Noah, the one person who refreshed the heart of God and accomplished His purposes.
The point of this story is rather simple. God spoke. Noah took Him at His word and acted. God showed Himself to be completely trustworthy by fulfilling all of His promises. Then Noah trusted Him even more. Here’s the trend that I want you to see: Noah began the story by doing God’s will, but in the end he was God’s will.
Let me show you what I mean. Remember several weeks back when we studied Cain and Abel? Cain’s offering was rejected by God, but the reason why was not unveiled until he killed his brother. It was a mystery unraveled through the actions of the characters. The story of Noah and the flood has the same feature. We’re told up front that that Noah was righteous and blameless, but not given any reason why. As the story proceeds we put the pieces together and understand why.
In preparing the ark and bringing in the animals we’re told twice that “Noah did everything just as God commanded him” (6:22; 7:5). This was in direct opposition to the people of his age who “had corrupted their ways” (6:12) and “every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (6:5). They trusted themselves and followed their own selfish desires. Noah stood out like a beacon in his generation because he did everything just as God had commanded him including building a gigantic coffin-shaped box, bring in a year’s supply of food, and herd in a multitude of wild animals.
Two more times, but with a little less specificity, chapter 7 reminds us of Noah’s trust in and obedience to God’s word: “as God commanded Noah.” Anytime you see a pattern like that in the Bible you need to pause and consider its importance. God knows that we don’t pick up on subtlety very well so He emphasized the point explicitly 4 times.
By the end of chapter eight and interesting situation has occurred. Noah and his family and all those stinky animals have been stuck in this dark box for about a year. He knew from sending out the raven and dove that the ground was dry and habitable. But Noah did not open the door and disembark. Instead he waited and waited and waited. He waited two months from the time he knew the ground was dry until he opened the door to leave. How miserable must that waiting have been? Noah stayed put. What was he waiting for? The command of God. The Lord had shut the door. Noah was waiting to hear the Lord’s key rattling in the lock and His voice to say, “Come on out!”
Imagine the trust it took not to make something happen. How many times must the man have slipped in hippo poop? I wonder how often Noah’s wife or sons or daughters-in-law asked him, “Is it time yet?” Think of the pressure and the yearning he must have felt to flee that dark, smelly box. But Noah waited. He’d learned by experience to wait on God’s timing and to do it God’s way. He knew that God is faithful, so he was willing to wait it out until the Lord said, “Come out of the ark …”
How many of us trust like that? Are we willing to actually wait on God or do we seize our destiny? Most of us operate by the old saying, “Don’t just sit there. Do something.” Noah’s trust was the opposite, “Don’t just do something. Sit there and wait on God.”
4 times Noah did what the Lord commanded. Then he waited on the God’s command. Strangely, when he left the ark Noah did something that God never commanded him to do, yet it was an act that brought a tremendous promise from God and benefit to Noah and all his descendants. Upon disembarking the ark, Noah built an altar and sacrificed some of the ritually clean animals to God. God smelled the offering, was refreshed in His heart, and promised to never destroy life on earth again until the end of history itself. God made this promise “even though every inclination of [man’s] heart is evil from childhood.” That sounds like a good reason to exterminate mankind. Why did God make this promise?
It was because Noah refreshed the heart of God. Why did Noah build the altar and sacrifice the animals though God had not commanded him to do it? Noah had practiced doing God’s will so much that he eventually became God’s will. He knew and trusted the Lord to such an extent that he no longer needed direct revelation. Noah’s heart aligned with the Lord’s heart and it refreshed the heart of God.
Noah, whose name means “comfort,” comforted the heart of God. He demonstrated that though the mass of humanity might reject the Lord, fail to trust Him, and go their own way there will be some like Noah who will trust Him, take Him at His word, and after a while actually have a heart that beats just like His own. There are some, few though they may be, who do God’s will so long that they actually become His will.
Think about it. You could be such a person. You could be the type of person who refreshes the heart of God. How? Trust Him. Take Him at His word. Response with complete obedience no matter what your circumstances. You too could make the transition from doing God’s will to being God’s will. It begins with the step of simple faith.