Summary: Judgment Is Coming 1) Get ready; 2) Stay focused
“There’s a hurricane coming.” For homeowners in places like the Gulf Coast, those are not words you take lightly. You’ll board up your windows, stock up on food and water, and if possible, leave town. Those who don’t will suffer the consequences of 250 km per hour winds and heavy rains and flooding. We obviously don’t have to worry about hurricanes up here but there is a more serious calamity on its way: Judgment Day. When Jesus returns, he will judge the world sending those who rejected him in this life to a place of eternal pain. He will then destroy this world with fire. Our Scripture readings today remind us that the only question about Judgment Day is when it will come, not if it will come. Since Judgment is coming we will want to get ready and stay focused. The Old Testament character, Noah, will teach us how to do this.
I’ve heard more than one old-timer speak about the “good ol’ days.” Sin may have not been as obvious a couple of generations ago as it is today but ever since Adam and Eve’s declaration of independence, this world has been a sin-stinking place. That was true at the time of Noah, five or six thousand years ago. When God looked at the world of that time, he saw believers carelessly putting their faith in jeopardy by choosing marriage partners based solely on sex appeal, not whether or not their spouse would help them in their walk with God. God also saw a wanton disregard for life as the strong fell upon the weak and took for themselves whatever they wanted. While these unbelievers could no doubt act like “nice” people from time to time, God was not fooled. He saw that “every inclination of the thoughts of [their] hearts was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5b). God was disgusted by what he saw and so he prepared to cleanse the world of these people who had no use for him. Friends, it’s good for us to remember that it isn’t just automobiles that can be recalled by their maker (John Jeske).
But there was one man who stood out from the rest. Noah was described as “righteous” and “blameless,” and one who “walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). When Noah is called “blameless” you might get the impression that he was sinless but that word would be better translated as “complete.” When a table has four legs and a top, it’s “complete” even though it may still have some nicks and stains. And so it was with Noah. He too was stained with sin as was obvious after the flood when he gave into drunkenness. But Noah remained “complete” or righteous in God’s eyes because he continued to trust in the Lord for forgiveness (Hebrews 11:7). And this faith was not hidden away like an old tattoo one might cover up with a long sleeve shirt. Noah’s faith was obvious in his daily life. That’s what it means that he “walked with God.” Noah didn’t just say that right things about God; he did the right things. This was best illustrated in how he obeyed God’s command to build an ark.
You’ve seen the cutesy pictures of the ark in children’s books giving you the impression that Noah could have assembled that boat in a weekend. Not so. The ark he was to build was huge. It was about as high as a four-story house and a football field and a half long. It wasn’t until 1884 that a ship of that size was built again! Besides his work on the ark, Noah also had to gather a year’s worth of food for his family and for as many as 2,000 animals. It’s no wonder God gave Noah his orders over a hundred years before he actually sent the flood. Noah would need the time to prepare for what God said was coming.
Don’t you wonder what kind of insults Noah faced as he worked on the ark? We might get an idea from a modern “Noah.” In 2007 a man in Holland built a replica of the ark that is five times smaller than the original one. It still cost the Dutchman $1.35 million (CDN). It’s interesting to read the posts about this man’s project. Scoffers talk about the waste of time and effort. I mean if you had $1.35 million dollars, would you build an ark? Why not build a comfortable home instead? In the same way Noah’s industriousness must have impressed his contemporaries as he cut down trees, dragged them to the worksite, purchased or made nails and then spent countless hours pounding the wood into place until his hands were numb. Noah then sweated in the sun slapping pitch on the ark so that it would be seaworthy. But what was it all for? A flood? Really?