Summary: When God says to go, you prove your faith by packing your bags. (1st of a 3 part series on Abraham)
“The voyage of faith”
1. Noah’s faith was grounded on the word of God. “warned”
the nature of the people (Gen 6:5,11-12 “…every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”)
God gave a warning (Gen 6:13)
we live with warnings all the time yellow lights, cigarette packs [illus. Warning on the pharmacist on the sheet in Ben’s medicine]
this was a very serious warning – total destruction of the earth on all living creatures on it
it was a warning that God was under no obligation to give. Cigarette companies must put a warning on cigarette packs. They don’t do it because they have a concern for cigarette smokers. They do it because the gov’t says that they must. They have no choice. God, on the other hand, was not forced to give any warning. The people had already rejected God and His way. God was perfectly justified in destroying them without warning. But God had no desire to see his creation destroyed. His desire is that all men come to repentance. [illus. I, as a parent, am not obligated to give my children warnings. They know the rules and what the consequences of breaking those rules are going to be. Once they mess up, I am justified in passing out punishment immediately. But usually I don’t. I give warning after warning. Why? Because I have no real desire to pass out punishment.] Gen. 6 says that God was sorry – it hurt Him – that He had even made man because they had rejected His appeals and were now going to have to face his judgment. The giving of the warning itself is an evidence of God’s love and concern. It is evidence that it is not God’s desire to judge mankind even though that is his right.
All that Noah had to go on was God’s word – “not yet seen”
Noah had never seen rain much less a flood, and yet God told him that it was going to rain so hard that the water would destroy the flood. It’s difficult to believe a warning about something that you have never seen before. [illus. How many of us two months ago would have believed a warning about two planes being flown into the WTC towers? We’ve never seen anything like it before.]
Ever since 9/11, we have become very familiar with a new phrase in our everyday language – “credible warnings”. Due to a “credible warning”, all the bridges in California around San Francisco were put on high alert and increased surveillance. There was the thought that one of them would be attacked. Nothing happened. After the bombing began in Afghanistan, we were told that there was a 100% chance that there would be a new terrorist attack here in the states. So we all held our breath…and nothing happened. With each “credible warning” and each averted catastrophe, we begin to file those warnings in the “to be ignored” category of our brains. The more “credible warnings” that go unfulfilled, the more they lose their credibility.
All that Noah had to go on was God’s word both for judgment and for salvation. He had no evidence – none whatsoever – that what God said could or would happen. And even if the judgment did come, he had to trust that God’s plan for salvation was going to work. Noah had never seen a boat. And he had certainly never been trained as a ship-builder. He was a farmer in all likelihood. But God said that the world was going to be destroyed and that a boat built by Noah would provide rescue for Noah, his family, and all the animals of the earth. All that Noah had to go on was God’s word. But for Noah, that was enough!
[illus. Disciples’ fishing experience “because you say so, Lord”. These were experienced fishermen. They had worked all night and caught nothing. Everything about their lifelong experience told them that what Jesus said was foolish. Everything that their aching bodies said told them to disregard what Jesus said. Every sense told them that it couldn’t happen the way that Jesus said. It couldn’t be that easy. But they went against what their senses told them because Jesus said so.; Peter walking on the water. Jesus said, “Come”, and Peter came. All that they had to go on was the word of God, but that was enough.]
But that’s what faith is all about, isn’t it. Remember the definition that Heb. 11:1 gives. “Faith is the substance of the things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is taking what God has said and believing it simply because it was God that said it…even if there is no evidence to back it up.