Title: A Long Walk
Text: Genesis 6-8
Series: The Walk Series; #2
Introduction: Just last week we took our first walk together. If you remember, it was a glorious walk in the Garden of Eden with a couple named Adam and Eve. By the end of our walk though, Adam and Eve had sinned and been forced out of the Garden. As we start our walk today, I want to ask a question. Is humanity getting better? Are humans moving towards a more loving caring society? Many writers have speculated that mankind is getting smarter and smarter and will eventually create a utopian society. War will be abolished and poverty a thing of the past. Science fiction often portrays technology leading the way to everyone living in peace and harmony. This is a belief of many people that simply isn’t true. Open up your newspaper or watch the news and you will see that world isn’t moving towards utopia, but deeper and deeper into realms of evil.
We are living in evil times. What should we do? Should we run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off? Should we just bury our heads in the sand? Should we climb a mountain and just wait for Jesus to return? None of these answers suffice. There must be a better answer. Perhaps there was someone that lived during evil times that we can look at as an example. You know what? There is a man that lived a godly life even in the midst of evil. Today, we are going to look at the walk of Noah. Turn with me to Genesis 6:5-7
The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth--men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air--for I am grieved that I have made them." NIV
I. In evil times, Noah was righteous.
It didn’t take long from the perfection of man in the Garden of Eden to mankind’s thought’s being evil all the time. Yet during this evil time, Noah was different. The Bible says that “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). That’s quite a testimony. God had planned to destroy the entire human race because of wickedness, yet there was one man that hadn’t let himself be corrupted. He had remained righteous.
The pressure to conform is all around us. The world constantly bombards us with images, philosophies, and lifestyles that are contrary to the standards of God. It’s easy to give in. It’s easy to go with the flow. In a day where people change their view of right and wrong with opinion poll changes. “Honey, 76.3% of Americans think murder is okay now. I guess murder isn’t wrong anymore.” It takes a strong person; it takes a righteous person to stand against the overwhelming tide of public opinion. When we consider Noah, he was considered to be out of step with the entire human race. Noah didn’t have the opportunity to go to church and be surrounded by like-minded believers that sympathized with him. He was it. “Noah, the entire world thinks your crazy for your beliefs.” Noah wouldn’t back down though. He knew God and couldn’t be persuaded to join the evil lifestyles of the people around.
Not only was Noah righteous during a very wicked time, but he called others to righteousness. It’s one thing to hold quietly to a set of beliefs when surrounded by evil and another thing to speak out. Noah could have gone about his business without ever telling anyone about the impending doom. Being truly righteous, he couldn’t do that. He had to let people know. We see this in 2 Peter 2:5. “[God] did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others.” Noah was actively preaching during the time leading up to the flood. You can picture it. Noah’s out pounding away with a hammer building a part of the ark. A crowd begins to gather to laugh at him. “What are you doing Noah? Why are you building such a big boat out in the middle of nowhere? You’re crazy Noah! Hey everyone, look at weird old Noah. You’re foolish for believing in God anyway!” At this point Noah would lay aside his tool. He could take the comments about himself, but God must be defended. He would then stand and begin preaching against their wicked lifestyles. I can see him preaching for quite some time and then making the offer. “Friends, turn from your wicked ways and follow God. Join with me.” Many times the offer was probably made yet no one ever tool him up on it. Still, he remained faithful and righteous.
We must be the same way. The times are very evil. Yet God has called us to stand in righteousness and proclaim the truth. This world isn’t going to last. Destruction is coming again. Repent and turn your hearts to Jesus. Many will mock us for our belief. Many will think we’re crazy. But we must testify to the truth no matter what the cost.
II. In evil times, Noah heard God.
During evil times, men desperately need to hear from God. Yet there are so many voices to choose that it’s easy to let God’s voice be pushed to the side. A believer must actively listen to what God is speaking. Noah was a man that listened. Let’s begin reading in Genesis 6:11-16
Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. 16 Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. NIV
Noah knew God’s voice. If you were praying and God suddenly spoke and told you to build an extremely large boat, what would be your response? It would be very easy to question and doubt what God had spoken unless you were use to hearing his voice. I’m reminded of the words of Jesus, “My sheep know my voice.” Noah had received some crazy instructions, but he listened and accepted them because he recognized the voice of God. It was the same voice he listened to for years.
We need to work and develop sensitivity for listening to the Lord’s voice. Sometimes God will call us to do things we never dreamed of. We need to be confident that we are hearing the Lord’s voice and that only comes with time. When I first met Kelly, she could have called me on the phone and I wouldn’t have known it was her. Through time though, I began to learn and recognize her voice. Now I can recognize it any time. Like Noah, we need to be a people that listen.
III. In evil times, Noah obeyed.
Beyond just listening, Noah took the next step. He listened, but then he obeyed. God says a lot of things to people. He speaks through a still small voice and His Word. Many people hear and listen to the voice of God, but that’s as far as it goes. God speaks about this in the book of James. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22). Many people in these evil times are being deceived. They think it’s enough to just listen to the Word of God. Across the country people sit in churches hearing the very words of God be preached and they listen, yes, but they don’t act upon it. Listening only does so much good. It informs us of the truth, but we must act upon it. A person can listen to the salvation message a thousand times, but until they act upon it and ask Jesus into their heart, it does them no good. Obedience is required.
When God spoke to Noah, he could have walked around the next one hundred years telling people how God had spoken to him. “I heard God clearly. HE told me to build in ark. I know it was God speaking.” Then one day when the rains began to come, Noah would have realized that he should have been acting upon what he had heard. When God spoke, Noah responded. Genesis 6:22, “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” The Bible makes it very clear that Noah obeyed. Noah deserves credit for hearing God and obeying him without God’s written word being in place. How embarrassing it is for us when we have God’s clearly defined word and yet still struggle to follow and obey. To be people that will make it through evil times, we must learn to obey.
IV. In evil times, Noah was patient.
The final area we learn from is Noah’s patience. God had given him the word to build the ark. From reading the text, it appeared that it was 120 years from the time God’s word was given and the flood happened (Genesis 6:3 “Then Jehovah said, "My Spirit must not forever be disgraced in man, wholly evil as he is. I will give him 120 years to mend his ways."” TLB). That is a long time to be obeying God’s word. During that entire time the world kept getting worse, but Noah patiently kept building the ark. Imagine if you had spent your entire adult life working on one project for God. If you consider twenty to be an adult, some of you have only worked half the time Noah did on the ark. Some have worked only a third of the time. Others, like myself, have worked only a fraction of the time spent on the ark.
We talk a lot about our society has become a microwave culture. Everything needs to happen fast. Sixty years into the project and Noah was only half way there. Are we that patient? Sometimes we don’t understand why God doesn’t do things right now? Why hasn’t the healing come now? Why hasn’t my lost loved one returned now? Why hasn’t Jesus come had saved us from this rotten world? The Lord wants us to be patient. Healing and salvation are both coming, but we need to believe and continue to be patient.
The same reason that Noah had to have patience and continue building day by day is the same reason we need to have patience. God was giving the world a chance to repent. As I said earlier, Noah was preaching to the people the entire time. This world may be on a downhill slide, but God wants us to use the time to His glory. Preach the good news to everyone you know. Call people to repentance. Destruction may seem far off, but it is coming. Be patient in doing the Lord’s work. You may not see the fruit of your labor for years, but is fruit is being developed.
Conclusion: When the flood did come upon the earth, everything was destroyed except Noah and his family. They had been saved from destruction. It was only because of a few reasons. Noah was found to righteous even amongst an evil world. He was willing to listen to God. He was willing to obey God. And he was willing to patiently work out God’s plan even though he saw very slow progress. We need to dedicate ourselves to living by these four truths in our day and age.