Summary: Lessons from the life of Noah
Ross Cochran tells the story of attending Hillsong Church's Vision Night for leaders with his daughter and son-in-law. Hillsong is a mega church in Melbourne, Australia. They were seated in the third row and the music was awesome as they were led into singing about God’s beautiful and passionate expressions of heart together with 1000’s of people. The pastor spoke of an incredible vision he had for Hillsong Church stirring everyone to greater things. “Then he writes, “All of a sudden I felt so small, even insignificant. Oh yes, I was still very much a part of God's Church, but diminutive, just a face in the crowd. It was a strange feeling. Excitement for what God is doing but a sense of the insignificance of my part in it all.” And that’s the way we can often feel when we begin talking about the heroes of the faith. How could we ever measure up and what could we have to contribute? But the fact is, every hero was a small, insignificant, ordinary person before God placed a call upon their lives. It’s not the person which makes them a hero but their response to God’s call. Thus far, we’ve looked at a small act of a young boy giving over his lunch to Jesus and ending up feeding 15-20,000. Then last week, we looked at a barren woman named Sarah, who long after child-bearing years were over, gave birth to a child which was the beginning of a nation that would become God’s chosen people.
Today, we look at another insignificant person who was living in the middle of the desert and living an ordinary life until God called. His name was Noah and he is one of the best-known heroes of all time. Every child learns the story of Noah but it is a story with adult lessons of life and faith. So let’s set the scene of the beginning of the story. Leading up to Noah’s story, God’s children were in chaos. Cain had killed his brother Abel over jealousy that Abel’s gift to God was better than his own. Jacob deceived his blind father into giving him his brother’s rightful blessing and inheritance. Esau then tries to hunt him down and kill him. Finally, there is Lamech, a cruel and angry man, who kills just for the fun of it.
Sin is everywhere and has affected almost everyone. The message is clear: the perfect world God has created has been destroyed by the sinful acts of humanity and descended to the level of the beasts in the wild. And finally God says, “Enough!” His heart is stricken with grief and disappointment. And so God makes the painful decision to start over and Scripture says, “his heart was deeply troubled.” Walter Brueggemann writes, “God is not angered but grieved. He is not enraged but saddened.” The depth of God’s pain is revealed in the use of the Hebrew word “’asav” which is the same word used to describe the pain of childbirth. This is the depth and magnitude of God’s pain over what he sees and the decision he has to make.
But amidst all of this, we see a glimmer of hope: “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” (Verse 8) So what do we learn from Noah about life and faith? First, heroes walk with God. Genesis 6:9 says, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” Why did Noah find favor with God? Three things. First, he was righteous. One of the things the editors of Genesis want us to see is the contrast between the sinful world in which Noah lives and Noah himself. The Hebrew word for righteous is “saddiq” which means to do justice or right within a relationship. In other words, Noah believed in God, trusted in God and lived as God intended, despite all that was happening around him. The second thing we learn about Noah is that he was “blameless” which in Hebrew is “tanim.” It doesn't mean perfect but rather one who lives out the commands of the faith and is pleasing to God.
And then finally, Noah is described as one “who walked with God.” That’s a powerful image but what does that mean? The first image this evokes is of Adam and Eve walking with God each afternoon in the Garden of Eden. It speaks of physical, emotional and spiritual closeness to God. Who doesn’t hunger for that? This figure of speech means having fellowship with God, talking with God (praying), living by God’s will and dedicating every moment to living for God. Paul puts it this way, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” Eph. 4:1 (NAS) The description of Noah is all encompassing, touching every aspect of his being and his life. This coincides with the ancient Jewish understanding of worship which wasn’t limited to the Sabbath. Instead, all of life was an opportunity to worship God through our words and actions. So every moment, every decision and every circumstance is an opportunity to intentionally do the will of God. And that isn’t by chance. It is an intentional effort of being connected to God and led by Him and His Word. It’s not having God a part of your life. It’s God being your whole life where God’s continued guidance and presence becomes so much a part of you that it touches every fiber of your being and is the foundation upon which you stand.