We’re going to do the lesson today as one of my favorite stories. And of course, our theme this year is what? It’s giving you a hint on the slide there, is living water.
And when I say living water, the flood story may not immediately jump to your mind as a time where God just poured out life with the flood waters as he cleansed the Earth. But it depends on how you look at the flood. Is this a time of destruction or a time of God’s Salvation given to his people? So we’re going to get into that. It’s really one of my favorite stories.
I’m grateful for the kids being in here because hopefully they will stay engaged in this story. But this is not a kids story. Yes, it is a kids decoration theme. And sometimes you can do a whole Noah’s arc crib and decoration theme and throw the stuffed animals in there so that your kids start learning the fear of God from infancy, if you’d like. But it is a great story nonetheless.
And it starts in Genesis, chapter six, when God is looking at the Earth and seeing how great the wickedness of the human race had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of our hearts, the human heart was only evil and all of the time. Isn’t that amazing how Genesis describes it? It’s not like they’re pretty good or they’ve fallen below average. It’s like, no, they’re only evil and it’s all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the Earth and his heart was deeply troubled.
Another translation said, deeply grieved, you see God’s desire to share paradise and creation with all of mankind. In Genesis, chapters one and two and three, God desired for there to be a paradise. A lot of times when we see evil, when we have these types of prayer requests, when we see loss in our family, we think is that maybe it’s just God’s will. That’s not a very comforting thought. And it’s actually not true.
It’s not God’s will for death, sickness, harm, and destruction to befall the Earth. That is our version of what we think we’re okay, we’ve got this. That was really always our response to God’s Grace, forgiveness, newness and paradise is we have a better way, God, and we’re going to try our way out, and then we get into trouble, and then it grieves the heart of God. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
And this is the account of Noah. That’s a great statement in and of itself, because I do think sometimes we can use the wickedness of the world to get very discouraged, can we not? If you are at school for the teens, for the middle schoolers out there, it does not appear that there are very many people walking righteously and blamelessly before God. And so sometimes we can kind of give ourselves a free pass. What difference does it make who will notice if I am any different than anybody else around me. We can feel that way sometimes, right?
At our workplace. I just want to fit in. Why bother standing out? Why bother living and acting righteously? Why strive to be blameless in a world that’s so evil?
Well, who will notice? God notices. God sees and regrets and is pained with the sin of the world. But God is also so excited, so relieved, so thrilled when he sees somebody that is striving to be blameless and righteous in this world. That’s the first question.
Is that our goal? Is it our goal to not just sort of look around and try to be a little bit better than people who are only evil all the time? Or is it our goal to just find favor, to find approval from God in a world that is wicked? And how do we do that? How did Noah do that?
How did Noah find favor with God in this world? You can be turning your Bibles to Genesis, chapter 6, 11 through twelve, where God commands Noah to build the Ark. And no, he did not use Imperial units of feet and inches. They didn’t exist at that time. But I’m using that because we’re more familiar with that than cubits.
But in Genesis eleven or six, verse eleven, it says the Earth was corrupt in God’s sight and full of violence. Are we still, by the way, surprised at this? I’m surprised that people are so surprised at the evil in the world. They read the news as if it’s like man, the Earth. This was Genesis six.
You know what I mean? Like, after God wrote a little introduction, then it got bad quick and it just stayed the same. The Earth was corrupt, full of violence. God saw how corrupt the Earth had become for all the people on Earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, I’m going to put an end to all people, for the Earth is filled with violence because of them.
I’m going to destroy both them and the Earth. Well, if God would have stopped there, no one will say, Why are you telling me this? Because I’m part of all people.
He says this. Make yourself an ark out of Cypress wood. Make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. And this is how you’re to build it. The arc is to be 300 cubits long, 50 qubits wide, 30 cubits high. Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof and opening of one cubit all the way around.
That’s for ventilation by the way. We had a farm growing up. And then when you bring those cows inside the barn, you are grateful for a little ventilation. Even with plenty of ventilation, you know that there is the presence of an animal.
Put a door on the side of the Ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. I’m going to bring floodwaters on the Earth and destroy all life under the heavens. Every creature that has the breath of life in it, everything on Earth will perish. But I will establish my Covenant with you, and you will enter the Ark. You, your sons, your wives, your son’s wives with you.
You were to bring with you into the Ark two of all living creatures, male, female, keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird and every animal and every creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You were to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away for you and for them. And Noah did everything just as God commanded him. So if our theme is living water, what about the flood? Does not this demonstrate also the destructive power of water? Well, yes, it does, certainly.
But really, the flood is an act of Salvation just as much as it is an act of destruction. It is God’s desire to continue to renew a Covenant with mankind and to continue to alter and change and make another Covenant, to give us another chance. And then soon with Abraham, God will give mankind another chance and make an everlasting Covenant with Abraham. And then God will come to the Israelites, his people, who are suffering as slaves in Egypt, and make a Covenant with them. And then as they settle into the promised land, God will renew his Covenant relationship with them.
And then, even when they turn away and suffer in exile, God will come and bring them out of exile and renew his Covenant with them. And even then, this placeholder law, the old Covenant, God will then send his son himself, God in the flesh in the form of Jesus Christ, to start a new and eternal Covenant with his people. So God’s destructive power, though it is immense, is curbed by his desire to renew and sustain an everlasting Covenant with his people. Amen.
What was known? This is very interesting. Tell me what Noah knew after this encounter with God. What was known? What was the known information? What did God disclose to Noah?
Let me hear some answers. All right. He was going to destroy the Earth by a flood. Had the Earth flooded before? No.
He’s like, what is that word, by the way? What else?
Okay. He knew that he would be saved. That’s known information. What else?
He knew to build an ark. Right. What kind of wood was that known? Yeah, he was like, this is the kind of wood. Again, Noah is not an ark builder, so he doesn’t know what kind of wood, balsa wood?
That would not have been good. Reeds, that would not have made it. So it had to be a specific type of wood. Did he know the dimensions? Yeah, he knew the dimensions. And God said to finish it within like three cubits.
And I already measured that. It’s like he gave no. 3% margin of error. So God wasn’t demanding perfection. He never does.
Just 97%. That’s pretty accurate. I’m a structural engineer. We usually get about a 50% to 80% factor of safety. We sometimes double what it takes.
So we’re lazy and we’re wrong sometimes. So it’s better to be wrong and have a 150% margin of error. He knew how to seal the Ark. He knew where to put the door. He knew how to ventilate it.
God told him to store food. So there was a lot known at this time. Now, what was unknown? What do you think were the questions that he had in his mind?
How long how long do I have to build this thing? How long do we have to survive on this stupid thing? You know what I mean? How long is it going to take us to find all those animals? And is that my job?
And where do they exist? And how do I get two birds and I get cows male and female? That’s pretty obvious. How do I tell the difference between two Canaries you know what I mean? How do you tell male and female?
I mean, this is not biology class or reproductive science, but I don’t necessarily know. There’s so many unknowns about this whole thing.
What about us? What do we know about God? As a disciple of Christ, what are you sure of? What are you convinced of? What do you know as a fact? Somebody.
You know what’s going to happen? No one knows it’s going to happen. Correct. What about now? What about the Covenant that we’re in with Christ?
What is known to you? What are you sure of as a Christian?
Okay. God will hold his end. What else? Jesus will return. Well, who’s Jesus? Before we jump to Jesus will return.
Who is he? Okay. How many of you are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is the Son of God? If you were baptized, your hand should be up because you were asked that even if you weren’t baptized like me growing up, I was convinced Jesus is the Son of God. I for some reason just knew that as a fact.
I never doubted that he was the Son of God. What else do we know? Yeah, Paul. God will be with you because that is a promise. What else do we know for sure? God loves us.
These are known things, right? Jesus. How about he died on the cross and rose from the dead? How many of you are convinced that that’s not just a story or a fable or a myth, but that it actually occurred that a bodily resurrection of Christ happened? There is a lot that we do know with 100% certainty.
We know that if you confess Jesus’s, Lord, you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. You make those confessions of baptism, you will be saved, you will be forgiven of your sins and given the Holy Spirit. These are promises. These are known. What don’t you know yet?
The name of God. I mean, the throne of God. I mean, we have some pictures. Somebody at one point, the scriptures say if he tells you his name, like your mind will explode or something like that, it’s too Holy to pronounce. What else do you not know? What heaven looks like. And when are we going to go? Is it before we die? Do we wait for judgment? Is there like a big locker room where everyone’s getting dressed?
And then when the last person becomes a Christian, then it’s over. And is there 1000 year pre post millennial? What is the Book of Revelation about which I’m studying right now? I’m having a blast doing it. Would love to teach that to us as a congregation, but I would venture to say there’s a lot that we don’t know.
We know that Jesus is the son of God, that he’s coming again, that he is Lord of heaven and Earth, that we confess that he is Lord. There is a lot that I don’t know. I mean, even James says, you don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? It’s a mist.
So there is actually a lot that we don’t know. Like, when will God and how did God and I don’t know, dinosaurs. You know what I mean? I don’t know. You know what I mean?
Is the Earth 6000 years old or 600 trillion billion years old? Is the universe expanding? How did God do that? Was it six literal days? Was it periods of time of God’s creation?
We’re asking the God who really does not have any concept of time, who created time. There’s a lot that we don’t know. My point is this. What do you focus on?
Because a lot of people use the unknown to just sort of override the known. I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know. Is God eternal? And so then we give ourselves a free pass on what is known.
And Noah could have done that. Well, should I be building or should I be, like, trapping animals? What do you want me to. There was a lot of time. I think you’ve heard me share this before. Even the door being on the side of the Ark, that’s a design flaw. There’s no way to keep the art afloat if there’s a door that can’t be sealed on the inside and outside. And I don’t even know if they had, like, a shutting thing. It was so big that there’s no way that him and his three sons in law or sons could close that thing.
Did he just hire unbelievers? All right, since you think we’re crazy anyway, we’re going to subcontract you to close the door, seal it, and then you’re going to die. But you can jump on if you’d like. I don’t know there’s so much. Here has to be our response: with what is known, obey it, with what is unknown, trust God. It’s almost like that deserves to be a song.
Obey and trust.
It is a song. Trust and obey. Or there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey. That is so true. That has not changed.
The circumstances that we’re in right now may be different. We may not be building an ark, but we are building the temple of God. The Kingdom of God serves as God’s Holy temple, built on the foundation of the Apostles and the prophets. Christ Jesus himself is the chief cornerstone, and we are being added to this temple. So we are building something that will survive God’s judgment.
We are building something that will survive because it’s based on a Covenant that is everlasting that is written in the blood of Christ. And there is so much known that we have to just obey what we know. And then that nagging stuff that we don’t know we have to trust God. And I think the tension that we feel as believers, as disciples of Christ is there’s things that we know, but we’re rebellious and we don’t want to obey.
And then there’s things that we don’t know and we don’t like trusting God in those things. It actually takes faith to do both. It takes faith to obey what God has said, because if you obey the commands of Christ, you are different than everyone else around you, just the way Noah was different than everyone else around him. There is that crazy guy building the boat. Well, there’s that crazy person at my school that is going to talk to me about God.
There’s that crazy person at my work that’s going to share their faith with me and invite me out to their Church. We are the crazy people in the world, or at least God has called us to be the crazies in the world. The people that in a wicked world are blameless and righteous and stand out and are seen and walk in favor with God. The circumstances may be different, but really the calling is the same. And we have to then trust what we don’t understand or know for sure. Which is easier or more difficult for you?
For some of us, the issue that tests our faith is obedience. And again, like I said, we sometimes use the unknown as an excuse to disobey or neglect the obvious commands of God. So for those who struggle with obedience, our struggles probably just include our desire to fit in, our desire for comfort and ease, our selfishness, our lack of taking responsibility. And maybe it’s even just immaturity that keeps us from truly obeying the known commands of God. But for others of us, and this might even describe more of us in this room, because maybe we’ve sort of agreed to the obedience part, but maybe for many of us the real struggle is trusting in God. Maybe we become good at kind of doing Church, serving, giving, but our desire for control keeps us from truly trusting God. I’m convinced more and more that the idol of control is such an insidious idol. Do you ever read about the Israelites and every King is, but he didn’t remove the ashera poles and didn’t remove the high places.
How did that work? How are they serving God and worshiping Yahweh at the temple? But there were still these other idols that existed. Why not just get rid of them? Well, that’s us as well.
But if Jesus is Lord, then why do we still serve the idol of control? So for those with issues and trust here’s how it shows up. We are the ones that tend to perhaps work too much.
The idol of control, I think, comes out in anger, a short fuse, and just a general irritability. We’re just annoyed all the time because there are things outside our control that if we were able to control it, it would be a lot better.
You’re wondering why that’s so easy for me to access the symptoms of this idol.
Lack of trust also and lack of control there’s a criticalness of other people.
Both of these things take faith. It takes faith to obey, but it also just takes faith to trust in God. And everything in between takes faith. We are just called to live by faith. Even though what is known is known and what is unknown God has, we still are called to live by faith.
You know what’s interesting is Noah had to exist in that tension for probably about 75 years during the construction of the Ark. And then every unknown thing was instantly made known. All the nagging doubts were clarified in a moment’s notice. Genesis seven says pairs of all living creatures that had the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the Ark. Can you imagine 75 years of just being annoyed at God?
Like, how am I supposed to do that?
The animals going in were male and female of every living thing as God commanded Noah. It’s like, why didn’t you just clarify that, God? Why didn’t you just use that in your explanation? So I didn’t spend the last 75 years worried about this one detail about this whole plan of yours. It’s like, well, the Ark’s done.
How are we..? Oh, they’re here. I mean, I’m not checking genders. They’re just. They’re here. God is taking care of it.
They’re just coming in. The birds are flying in the animals, the snakes are slithering in the pythons, all the different lizards, the cockroaches, thank God, survived. The rats, mosquitoes, every living thing.
Then the Lord shut them in. Another thing where it’s like, you could have just told me that’s how you were going to do it, God. God Knows what he’s telling us. He knows what he’s commanding us and he knows what he’s withheld. He knows the things that cause us to struggle and we want to control. Both of those are faithful decisions.
We have to faithfully obey what we know and then faithfully just let go and surrender the stuff that God is in control of. And in a second, at some point in your life, or maybe as you stand before the throne of God, all those weird questions that I’m going to ask God when I get there. No, you’re not. You’re not going to ask him any of those questions. They’re all stupid questions.
When standing in the presence of God, when you’re standing in the presence of God, you’re like, I had this long list of questions while I was on Earth. He never answered or addressed any of them. For some reason, I can’t think of a single one in this moment. Can you imagine standing in front of God? There will be no questions.
It would be so clear, oh, that’s how God is going to do it. As we prepare for Communion, I want to bring in a few New Testament parallels between Noah and the flood story and lessons for us today as Christians. Certainly a couple of you mentioned the idea of Jesus’s return, Jesus coming back. There is a day that is imminent. And Jesus sort of on Throwback Thursday, brought in the story of Noah.
It is not just a myth. It’s not just the Gilgamesh. All these ancient civilizations have a flood story. It is a story that happened, especially as referred to by Jesus Christ. He’s referencing true history.
He is the word of God. So as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the coming of the Son of man? For in those days before the flood, people were eating, drinking, marrying, being given a marriage. There was a lot of announcements then, too, up to the day Noah entered the Ark. And they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.
That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Did they know nothing about? I guess because they chose to know nothing. I mean, really, Christ people are without excuse, but we have to also present the gospel to them. Noah had an opportunity to present really through his life and through this gigantic ark that he was building the end times that God is pronouncing judgment on this world.
And Christ has as well, and will sit and judge and defend those who believe in him. And so we always have to be prepared. We do not know. One of the things in the category of being unknown is when will this happen? So we always must be prepared.
The other thing is just God and his tendency always in every Covenant to cover over our imperfections. With Adam and Eve, they tried to cover them up. Yes, we sinned, but we fixed it. See, fig leaves. We got it.
God, we don’t need you. And God said, no, I am going to provide for you a covering. And the first death occurs in scripture when God takes animal and sacrifices and provides a skin covering for Adam and Eve to cover their shame. We see God continue to cover our imperfections. We see it in the law of Moses as sacrifices of atonement and sin and even unintentional sins were made to cover over and to atone for our imperfections. I know of nobody who has undertaken this ark building project.
The only one that comes close, which is a bit of a herculean effort, in my opinion, is Mike, who built this canoe.
What kind of wood did you use there? Cedar wood. And wood obviously retains moisture. So how did you get this to be waterproof? Fiberglass, inside and out. And that’s including, like, a resin, right? All right. This is a pretty awesome achievement of he, even, like, jointed a few designs in there and everything. I’m not doing this in my garage anytime soon, but I love the craftsmanship of this.
Now, was that a one time deal? The resin? Just one and done? That’s second. Wow.
It actually does appear that there’s some tension on your line. I don’t know if that’s a weed or. Two of every species of fish, although they wouldn’t survive on the canoe. Incidentally, the reason why he didn’t have to make aquariums on the ark is the fish and the whales did just fine in the flood. Does that make sense? The sea creatures, if somebody ever wonders that just smack them really quickly.
It was breath. The breathing things needed to be saved. The fish, they did just fine.
So Mike and obedience to Genesis Six coated it with Gopher. That’s why we sing. And we’re going to close with the song later today. Out of Gopher wood. Why do we not just say out a Cyprus?
It’s still two syllables. Gopher wood. This idea of gopher, it’s interesting. The Hebrew word for this resin, this pitch is also the same as a ransom.
It’s a payment that covers over the ransom price. So it’s a sum of money to cover the ransom price. Also Bitterman, used for coding waterproofing, as the henna plant used for dying. So gopher is the word there is translated as ransom. Well, that’s a huge theme in the New Testament.
First, Peter says, knowing that you were ransomed from the feudal ways inherited by your forefathers, not with silver and gold, but the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot. So the ransom, the price that was paid to cover over your sin and the feudal wife that we live outside of Christ is gopher. It’s pitimen. It’s this resin that God covers us with with the blood of Christ. And then Peter brings this up again and also hearkens back to the time of Noah’s Ark and says, Christ suffered once for sin, the righteous for the unrighteous to bring you to God.
He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit. After being made alive, he made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits, those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the Ark was being built. And Peter continues to bring this symbolism of that Covenant into the new Covenant. In that arc, only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water. And so it was living water.
It was an act of Salvation for all of mankind that mankind was once again saved, redeem and given a second chance in the flood waters. And water, this water now symbolizes baptism that saves you also. Not the removal of dirt from the body, but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you. This water of baptism saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
So it is part of the new Covenant. And there is a throwback reference to Noah and the Ark. And really, baptism is a trust and obey scenario. Obey. We have faith in Christ.
We make a confession that Jesus is Lord. We’ve repented of our sins. We know for a fact that he is the Son of God. But even in the unknown things saved you by the resurrection. I don’t know why he chose that vehicle of Salvation for all those in the New Testament in the new Covenant with Christ. I’m not sure why he did that, other than there is a sense of cleansing. But as Peter says, it’s not a symbol, it’s not dirt from the body, it’s not a shower. It’s actually a vehicle of Salvation when we trust and obey and combine those things. I don’t know how God does that.
I don’t know that how December 5, 1990 me making that confession of faith and being baptized into Christ. I didn’t feel any different. But that’s the unknown. I just trust that that was the promise of God that I received in that moment. I have to trust that.
I wish I could see my name, the book of Life, verify. Just look it up. Can I just see my registration? Is there a confirmation number that I’m going to need in heaven? Do I need to make a reservation or no, you got to trust all that.
And then this idea of coating it with pitch inside and out. At baptism, the blood of Christ is that outward clothing. Now you are outwardly dressed with Christ, but then inwardly you are renewed by the Holy Spirit. Both of those promises occur when we are baptized into Christ. God coats us inside and out with himself. That’s pretty cool, isn’t it?
And lastly, as we take Communion, and then Communion is a little different. Today we’re out of some of the I think we had a few of the mobile communions, but we’re going to pray and then the worship team will be singing a song. We’ll be singing Oceans, which is appropriate God’s calling us out into this great unknown. But the ushers will excuse you and you’ll be able to go to the back where they have some emblems of Communion.
But the idea is that eight and all were saved again. Is that the will of God to destroy all of mankind and save just eight. No, it is clear that God wants as many as possible to be saved. God’s invitation is to all of us. This is good and pleases God, our Savior, who wants eight people to be saved.
No, he doesn’t, all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind. The man Jesus Christ who gave himself as a ransom for all people. I hope that you have not taken that invitation to really study the Bible and understand what is known about God and come to a decision to trust what is unknown about him, God will reveal himself to you so that you also can make that decision by faith to proclaim Jesus is Lord to receive the Holy Spirit and forgiveness of your sins when you’re baptized into Christ and then live in that tension that the rest of us live between what’s known and what is still unknown about our faith.
Amen. Let’s pray for Communion. Father, we thank you for this time and ask that God you would bless this fellowship with the faith to live in the tension between the known the things that we know. And right now we know that as we take this bread and as we take this juice it does represent the body and the blood of our Savior. And that we know without a doubt that he died on the cross and rose from the dead for the forgiveness of our sins.
And we know that you keep coating us inside and out. You didn’t just cover our imperfections once, but that blood that was shed is enough to continually cleanse us inside and out from our sins. The name of Jesus we pray. Amen.