Summary: Experience the consequence of obedience to God
Sometime ago, I received an email titled, “Everything I need to know, I learned from Noah’s Ark.” Here are some of the lessons noted:
1. Don’t miss the boat.
2. Remember that we are all in the same boat.
3. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.
4. Stay fit. When you’re 60 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.
5. Don’t listen to critics. Just get on with the job that needs to be done.
6. Build your future on high ground.
7. For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.
8. Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
9. When you’re stressed, float awhile.
10. Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
11. No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.
These are good and practical lessons for life, but I don’t think these are the lessons God intended us to learn from Noah and the flood account. After all, the context for Noah building the ark or the boat is one of God judging all of creation for the great corruption and wickedness of mankind at that time. Before we talk about the true lesson from Noah’s ark, let’s ponder whether the flood account was true.
You need to know that similar accounts of a great flood permeate many ancient cultures. The Babylonia account explained that gods brought the flood because they couldn’t stand the noise mankind was making. The Egyptians believed that the gods purified the earth by a great flood, and only a few shepherds escaped. The Greeks also had a tradition that told of gods bringing a great flood because of the wickedness in the world. The Chinese tells about Fa-He, founder of the Chinese civilization, who escaped the flood with his wife, three sons and three daughters. The Hindu, the Polynesian, Mexican, Peruvian, Native American, and many other cultures have similar flood stories.
Do you know why a flood account is found in almost all ancient cultures? Because a great flood really did occur. And one family of eight people, Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives were the only ones to escape and to repopulate the earth.
Many scientists today conclude that the gene pool experienced a bottleneck effect early in human history. From one gene pool, mankind evolved to many gene pools, and then back to one small pool before evolving to the great diversity we have today. Why? The bottleneck effect came when the great flood narrowed the gene pool to one family: Noah’s family.
You’ve heard the lessons from that email I read at the beginning. Let me tell you what I believe God wants us to learn from the life of Noah. It wasn’t about a boat, about staying fit or keeping safe. The story of Noah illustrates a life of obedience to God.
You need to know that Noah lived in a time far worse than ours. This week, someone stole some expensive music instruments and equipments from this sanctuary. Both the Lutheran Church and our church suffered loss. And then Eugene mentioned that his car was also stolen this week. As terrible as these occurrences are, they do not compare with what went on during Noah’s time.
I grew up in the inner city of San Francisco, and theft often involved violence as well. But San Francisco doesn’t compare with the corruption and wickedness of Noah’s time.
Nine generations, about 1,500 years of human history, had passed since the Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden. Paradise had become a sewer. And that was not acceptable to God.
We don’t know a whole lot about Noah, what he did for a living, whether he was well off or poor. The Bible, however, tells us that Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time. And he walked with God. In other words, he cared a great deal about his relationship with God. His goal in life was to live to please God.
Noah would tell you that his motive for being pure was not to avoid sexually transmitted diseases. His motive to be blameless was not to avoid being caught. His motive for being righteous was not to receive the applause of people. His motive for doing good was not to escape suffering. His righteous life incurred a great deal of ridicule and abuse by the wicked men and women surrounding him and his family.
When Noah heard from God, he didn’t know what to think. He was relieved to know that God would clean up the corruption and evil. He was glad to know there would be an end to the mistreatment by the wicked people. But Noah was also saddened by the thought that all his neighbors, his siblings and his grandfather would be drowned in the flood that God would soon send as judgment for mankind’s evil.