Summary: Third in the Heroes of Faith series from Hebrews, this sermon is about Noah and the flood.
It was by faith that Noah heard God’s warnings about things he could not yet see. He obeyed God and built a large boat to save his family. By his faith, Noah showed that the world was wrong, and he became one of those who are made right with God through faith.
— Hebrews 11:7 NCV
It’s without a doubt one of the most beloved stories of the Bible. Children play with their little plastic animals and toy ark, as their Sunday School teacher tells them how the animals marched two by two into the pitch-covered vessel. Then the rains came. We picture Noah and his family huddled in the tiny cramped space of the ark, surrounded by elephants, walruses, and a couple of giraffes whose long necks jut out through the windows of the rickety boat.
But the story of Noah and the ark is more than just a children’s story. It’s a true story about God’s rage and righteousness, about salvation and damnation, and—perhaps most of all—it’s a story of one man’s faith in God. The Bible says:
The LORD observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the LORD was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. And the LORD said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.” But Noah found favor with the LORD. (Genesis 6:5-8 NLT).
Another translation says, “Noah was different. God liked what he saw in Noah” (vs. 8 MSG). So, in a world of corruption and chaos, what made Noah so different? Why did he find favor in God’s eyes? The answer is—his faith. By taking another look at a familiar story, let’s try to discover how Noah’s faith unveils itself through his life and love for God. The first thing we see is that Noah...
...God. I don’t mean that Noah merely believed in God, which of course he did. But Noah’s faith went beyond intellectual assent; he really believed that God meant what he said—that he could and would destroy the entire world with a catastrophic global flood. And he believed God in spite of the influence of the world around him.
Try to put yourself in Noah’s shoes. He lived in a world that by God’s estimation was “consistently and totally evil.” The Bible says, “As far as God was concerned, the Earth had become a sewer; there was violence everywhere. God took one look and saw how bad it was, everyone corrupt and corrupting—life itself corrupt to the core” (vs. 11-12 MSG). Now, at first blush we might think that this was a description of modern America, but trust me—Noah had it worst. Sure, we have our share of corrupt politicians, entertainers and supposed role models who allow their fame and popularity to corrupt their morals and integrity. But thank God that the Good News of Jesus has spread throughout this entire planet. Though we’re still surrounded by violence, crime, and corruption, there are also millions, if not billions, of followers of Jesus scattered throughout the world acting as salt and light, preserving this world in the name of Jesus.
In Noah’s day, he and his family alone had any sort of relationship with God. Imagine if you were the only person in church this Sunday. I don’t mean the only person in your church, but the only person in any church anywhere in the world! It wasn’t easy for Noah to go against the grain; to make the decision to believe God when everyone else in the whole world had turned their backs on him. And to make matters worse, it’s likely that the majority of Noah’s neighbors thought he was completely out of his mind.
Earlier in Genesis, the Bible says, “The Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land…and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground” (2:5-7 ESV). It’s difficult to discern whether the lack of rain was a temporary or permanent situation, but a lot of credible scholars believe that rain had not fallen on the earth from the time of creation up until the time of the flood, rather underground springs provided an uninterrupted cycle of water for plants and crops.
Building a massive boat so far from any large bodies of water is one thing, but preparing for a flood when no one on earth had even heard of rain before, that looks just plain crazy. Noah’s neighbors probably thought he was a little silly for talking to an invisible God all these years (maybe they thought Noah had an imaginary friend), but building an ark and predicting a flood most likely made them question his sanity.