Wrath and Grace
Wrath and Grace
Today we are going to talk about one of the most beloved stories in the OT.
This story has inspired flannel graphs, art work, and cute toys.
In fact, our nursery has a big mural of this story on one of its walls.
As do many nurseries across the country.
If you haven’t guessed yet we are going to be talking about Noah’s Ark.
I don’t know what it is about the story that makes it seem like a cute story.
Maybe it’s the animals.
Maybe it’s the boat.
Maybe it’s the rainbow at the end.
But the reality is this is not a cute story.
It should be a sobering story.
The story of Noah’s Ark should cause us to marvel at the power of God.
To Fear the judgement of God.
To shake and tremble at the consequences of sin and rebellion.
To stand in Awe and humility at the grace of God.
The salvation of God.
The restoration and Redemption of God.
Because in this story we read about the magnitude of God’s Wrath and the overwhelming, never-ending grace and love of God.
Before we get into the story of Noah we need to set the stage for what is really going on.
5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
From the time Adam and Eve disobeyed God things have gone from bad to worse.
Their son Cain Murdered his brother Abel.
Cain’s son Lamech bragged about killing someone who wounded him.
God’s very good creation was tainted by sin and rebellion.
Men did what was right in their own eyes.
Murder. Theft. Debauchery.
The disease of sin was widespread.
“Every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only on evil continually.”
The image of God was distorted and wicked.
We read here from God’s perspective that the evil of the world was extensive.
Society has decayed and all of humanity had become degenerate.
There must be justice on the earth.
There must be a refreshing of the earth from this wickedness.
The sins of humanity must be washed away.
What God once saw as very good, now God saw as wicked and perverse.
And it wasn’t just in their actions.
It was the intentions of their very heart that were evil.
People didn’t just do wrong.
They loved, longed, and desired to do wrong in their hearts.
God was broken hearted over what man had become.
He didn’t regret creating man, rather he was pained over the fact that man had traded God’s image for their own.
That they were willing to abandon what God said was good for their own desires even if that meant absolute rebellion against God.
This creature, humanity, was not the pristine creation that God had intended it to be.
Rather than living a life representing God on earth, man was now foul, savage, and evil.
So God is righteously angry and ready to destroy his creation.
The pain of sin has consequences.
The pain of rebellion needs to be dealt with justly.
Sin leads to death.
So God says that he is going to wipe out his creation.
He is going blot out man b/c they live against his design.
They call good what is evil.
But he isn’t going to destroy all of his creation.
There is one that has God’s eye.
There is one that is walking with God.
There is one who is going to be like a new Adam.
God is going to start a fresh with this new man who loves him and is devoted to him.
8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. 9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.
A Righteous Man
Here we read that Noah stood out from the pack.
He was favored in the Eyes of the Lord.
When God looked out and saw all the evil and wickedness on the earth.
He also saw Noah who was different.
He was different from the rest of his generation.
We get three identifiers.
He was Righteous.
This is the first time in the bible that this word is used.
Meaning that he was in right relationship with God.
He was Blameless.
Meaning that he was moral and had integrity.
He walked with God.
To the careful reader of the bible, this would recall Gen 5:24 “24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.”
Enoch didn’t experience death, rather he was taken by God because of his devotion to God.
Walking with God also mirrors Adam walking with God in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden.
It demonstrates a devotion and closeness to God.
He was righteous and blameless b/c he walked with God.
Unlike the people of his generation he loved God and walked with God.
He was committed to the things of God.
He was not perfectly blameless or perfectly righteous, but when it came to comparison with his peers and generation. He stood leaps and bounds over them.
God is showing us here, that even in the pervasive wickedness and evil of the world, there are still some that stand for righteousness.
That God is looking out for those that walk with him.
God was going to save Noah, b/c Noah walked with him.
Noah trusted God.
Noah obeyed God.
What does it mean to walk with God.
It means that we are on the same page as him.
It means that we are looking out for how to serve him and serve his creation.
It means that we are joining him in what he is doing.
Noah Had faith in God.
Not some intellectual understanding, but a personal relationship.
A desire to walk with God and do his work.
And because he walked with God he was going to be spared from the destruction of the earth.
He was going to find his refuge in God.
He was going to be saved from the wrath of God.
Noah’s desire was to please God.
And he pleased God by walking with God.
By Loving God.
By obeying God.
By trusting God even when things seemed to be a little crazy.
Even when God’s request doesn’t make sense.
The Author of genesis reiterates the problem in v.12.
Gen 6:12 “12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”
Corruption and evil had affect the earth.
And God reveals his plan to Noah b/c Noah walked with God.
So what was God’s Plan?
13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.
Wrath and Grace
Because of the wickedness and corruption on the earth, God is going to destroy his creation.
But he is also going to preserve and save a remnant of people for himself.
God’s favor and grace toward Noah preserves creation.
In order to save some of the creation, God gives Noah specific design instructions for a vessel to save Noah, his family, and animals.
The dimensions for the vessel are
300 cubits long or 450 feet,
50 cubits wide or 75 feet,
30 cubits tall or 45 feet.
Real quick I want to point out something.
I think it’s real important that we read the bible and see what it says and not read into it what we want it to say.
No where in the bible does it say that Noah’s Ark was a boat.
In fact, the description and design that God tells Noah to follow is a giant box.
It doesn’t talk about rounded edges, or a curved bottom.
It is a grand assumption on our part to think of this as a boat.
Could it have been in the shape of a boat, maybe.
Do we know that for certain? No we don’t.
The word here for Ark is related to an Egyptian term meaning, box, chest or coffin.
In fact the dimensions and design are specifically meant to mimic the design of the tabernacle.
Three levels or compartments.
A single door to enter into the place of salvation.
The point is God’s treasured creation is saved from the flood in this vessel.
God is providing grace to his creation by providing them a way to be saved.
Salvation is being provided in the face of God’s wrath being poured out.
Both wrath and grace are presented here in the text.
It may be hard for us to hear or even think about, but the reality is God didn’t have to save anyone.
He could have wiped out all of humanity, including Noah and his family.
He could have simply started over.
He could have had the rain fall and snuff out all life.
But God is gracious.
God is merciful.
God is Just.
So he chooses to cleanse the world of Sin.
He chooses to destroy the world to renew it.
He chooses to save this Man and his family because he wants to.
It wasn’t b/c Noah was good enough.
Noah was righteous enough.
Noah was perfect enough.
God found favor on Noah before he chose Noah.
God didn’t leave the design and instructions on how to build the ark up to Noah.
He perfectly revealed how Noah was going to be saved.
God provided the way to salvation.
God provided the time needed for Noah to build the Ark.
God provided the instructions on which and how many animals Noah was to take on the Ark.
Noah wasn’t left to his own devices and knowledge he recieved special revelation from God on how salvation was to come.
So how does Noah respond to God’s instructions?
Gen 6:22 “22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.”
Noah trusts and obeys God.
He is a model of trust in God.
He is remembered in the hall of faith in the book of Hebrews.
Faith in God is more than just believing God.
There are some steps to take.
God promised Noah that he would be saved.
But he would only be saved if he obeyed.
He would only be saved if he trust in God’s instructions.
If he followed through with what God commanded him.
And Noah does.
Noah builds the ark.
Noah gathers all the creatures God commanded him to gather.
A refrain and theme throughout this story is Noah’s obedience to God’s command.
He did all that God had commanded him.
And in doing all that God commanded him he was saved from the flood waters.
He did all that God commanded him b/c he trusted God.
God revealed all his commands to Noah b/c he had grace and mercy on Noah.
In chapter 7:11 the water began to flow from both the sky above and the earth below.
Noah and his family entered into the Ark.
They entered into God’s Salvation.
They entered into the grace of God.
Along with the rest of creation.
and in Genesis 7:16 : And the Lord shut him in.”
The Lord Sealed the door of the Ark.
The Lord kept Noah and his family safe.
God was the one protecting his creation within the vessel.
The rains start falling and judgement comes on the earth.
Wickedness and evil are wiped out b/c of the waters.
There is no escape from God’s Judgement.
There are those that are saved b/c of God’s grace and their obedience.
Then there are those that perish b/c of their wickedness.
Gene 7.23 “23 He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark.”
Though God had the right and authority to blot out all humanity he saved a remnant for himself.
He graciously continued to let humanity survive.
1 But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.
God didn’t forget about Noah.
Rather the phrase, God remembered Noah, is covenant language.
God is acting according to an earlier promise he made to Noah.
I’m not sure you remember just a few verses ago but we read these beautiful words,
Genesis 6:18 “18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.”
When this is spoken it is a promise or covenant yet to be given.
But God makes a covenant to provide the covenant.
This is another first in the Bible.
6:18 is the first time that the word covenant is used.
Here in 8.1 God is following through with the promise he made.
He is acting in accordance with his character.
That Our God is a promise keeping God.
Covenants are a big deal to God and to his people.
Usually God makes covenants with conditions on them.
But here, this covenant is different.
This covenant is fully fulfilled by God.
And the covenant is
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
This covenant is God’s promise to Noah that he will never destroy the earth like this again.
Noah and his family are given a new start. (9:1-7)
They are given a similar command as Adam and Eve in the Garden.
They are to be fruitful and multiply.
They are to have dominion over the earth.
Now all the creatures are given to them to eat.
For all intents and purposes, God has chosen to reveal Noah as the Second Adam.
He is now the father of the families of the earth.
He is the one through whom life will be given.
But it’s short lived.
Immediately after disembarking from the Ark.
Noah plants a vineyard.
He is a gardener much like Adam.
And it is the fruit of the vine that Causes Noah to sin.
He takes the grapes and ferments them and creates wine.
Getting drunk off the fruit of the land.
Showing that even the Second Adam is not immune to sinfulness.
Showing that even when someone witnesses the goodness and grace of God that there will inevitably be short-comings.
Sin is still a reality even in the hearts of those that love God.
Even in the hearts of the righteous, blameless, and those that walk with God.
Sin is a disease that needs a cure.
And that cure is found in Jesus.
So how do we find Jesus in this story.
Where is the Type and Shadow of Jesus in Noah’s Story.
Well the first thing we see is that there are dire consequences for sin.
There is Judgement that is poured out b/c of the wickedness of Man.
Sin has to be judged by God.
His holiness and justice demand it.
When we rebel against God we deserve any punishment that comes to us.
But God is rich in mercy.
He is gracious and kind toward us.
Much like he provided a way of salvation for Noah, he provides a way for us.
Jesus is like the ark in the story.
He takes the wrath of God upon himself.
He takes the beating from the judgement of God and keeps us safe and secure.
We hide in him for our salvation.
He is the only one that provides salvation for people who trust and obey God.
He is the one door through which salvation is found.
He provided that salvation through his own sacrifice.
Also through use of Wood.
On a Cross.
His blood covering our sins.
In the Story of Noah, we must not overlook the fact that Real People died.
They died b/c of their wickedness and rebellion against God.
This Story isn’t a cute SS story that should remind us of animals walking side by side onto a giant boat.
This story should remind us of the reality that we have transgressed against a holy, righteous, and just God.
That there is a real consequence for evil.
There is a real consequence for sin.
That sin leads to death.
But that there is a way to salvation.
That there one greater than the ark.
He didn’t come to save just one family, but he came to save all who would call upon his name.
He came to rescue all who would trust and obey.
His name is Jesus.
We need to be about the business of telling others to join him.
We need to be in the business of being heralds of righteousness.
Because real people are going to die and be separated from God.
Real people are going to spend eternity without God.
Real people are going to miss the boat b/c we didn’t tell them to get on board.
Unlike Adam and Noah, Jesus didn’t fail in bringing about new creation.
He didn’t give into sin and temptation.
He lived a perfect life to bring us salvation.
Much like the ark, He is the only way to be saved.
You are either in Christ or destined for destruction.
God did promise that he wouldn’t judge the earth with water like he did in the days of Noah, but there is a Judgment coming.
2 Peter 3:5-7 “5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”
There is a day of judgment coming and Jesus tells us that his return is going to be like the days of Noah.
Matt 24:37-39 “37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
The time is now to tell others about the grace of God.
He doesn’t want anyone to be swept away by the judgement.
He desires that all will turn towards him.
That all would find salvation in Christ.
That all would be sealed by the blood of Christ.
So we as his followers need to proclaim this news to all people.