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We live in a very wicked world. The question I want to ask is this how as Christians do, we do that? What should be our focus as Christians living in the modern world? As we continue our studies through the book of Genesis, we encounter a very wicked world indeed, but we also encounter a man who survived and even you might say personally thrived within it. A man from which I believe we can learn something.
We are going to begin looking today at the story of Noah. (Gen 6: 9-10). The text begins by telling us about Noah's character and it looks at Noah in contrast to his contemporaries who we will hear about in the following verses. These opening verses points out a number Noah’s characteristics.
Noah is declared blameless among the people of his time and we are told he walked faithfully with God. The point being made is that Noah was a very special individual. It says Noah was a righteous man. The use of the word righteous in the Old Testament context means that he stood by the standards that God had given to him. Which is why it says he was blameless. The Hebrew word translated blameless is a term used in Leviticus to describe the state of a sacrificial animal when offered to the Lord. In the Bible the word blameless means prepared or brought to where it's supposed to be, in other words prepared and spiritually mature. Noah was a spiritually mature man, and so from a biblical point of view to do to be blameless is to be spirituality mature. It also says that he was blameless [in his generation] among the people of his time. It puts him within the context of the people of his time and shows how Noah stands in stark contrast to the people around him. Noah stands in contrast to his generation and was different even as he stood in the middle of what we discover were wicked and violent times.
In contrast to Noah and his family (Gen6: 11-13). The world that Noah lived in was a wicked, corrupt, and selfish world. Because of that they were experiencing degeneration, violence and death. They were not just isolated cases of violence, they have filled the earth with violence. The word violence not only indicates physical violence, the particular word used tells us they were also violating the rights of people. In short anarchy prevailed Then God finally says, “I'm going to put a stop to this I'm going to wipe this out and I'm going to start all over”.
We have in stark contrast a man named Noah who was a man that walked with the Lord a man of character he did what was right because it was right. When all around him you have corruption and violence. These opening verses of this passage show a juxtaposition, a stark contrast between two sets of people.
The second part of this passage is when things gets really interesting. Having said He is going to destroy the earth God commissions Noah to build a boat, an ark. This is such a fascinating story it become part of the worlds collective Psyche. (Gen 6: 14-16) Versus 14 through 16 given a brief description of the Ark the basic details of which are that he built a boat and it had 3 decks in it and that each one of those decks contained rooms. It also tells us it had an area to let light in [window] and one door. Then in verse 16 and then it says it was covered with pitch inside and outside thus making the boat water tight . This passage tells us and says it was 300 cubits long and 50 cubits high and 30 cubits high. A cubit is the way they measured things in the ancient world, and it went from the elbow to the top of your largest finger. It’s a very rough measurement because it was measured by the maker and people's measurement varies but it was roughly considered to be 18- 24 inches. If we assume the shortest measure and use the 18-inch cubit then this vessel was at least 450 feet long and 75 feet wide. About 1 1/2 football pitches long what about 75 feet wide. It is also approximately 40 feet high which is equivalent to a 4 story building.
Then there is the question is what is the shape of this boat? Most scholars who have grappled with this conclude that it probably was like a modern ship it might have been more like a chest or a flat bottom boat. More like a huge barge. I can conclude by saying it has been demonstrated scientifically such a huge barge of such dimensions would be exceedingly stable if it was floated on rising waters. In other words, there would have been room for many, many animals as well as for Noah.
We are told in (Gen 6:17) That the purpose of the flood is to bring about the destruction of everything that breaths emphasizing the universality of this destruction. However, there will be an exception. (Gen 6: 18-20) In other words, he's saying I'm going to destroy everything, but I'm also going make a promise to ensure life survives on the earth and I'm going to do it through you Noah and your family. (Gen 6: 21-22) Bottom line, Noah believe the Lord and Noah did exactly as he was told. The book of Hebrew tells us. (Heb 11: 7) Noah had faith, he believed the Lord and he obeyed the Lord Peter in his 1st letter tells the recipients that Noah preached for 120 years warning of this coming judgement.
The great stark contrast in this passage is that some hear the word of God and respond in faith and obedience and as a result they find a safe place. Whilst others descend into and wickedness and violence. We like Noah may be condemned by the world as we try and build God’s place of safety on this earth. Many, many pastors and bible teachers have come to this passage before me and have pointed out that the ark is an illustration, a metaphor for the church. The ark is where people went to escape God's judgment and notice the ark only had one door. There is one door in the New Testament also, and it tells us that Jesus Christ is that one door. Jesus himself said, “I am the way the truth and the life, and no one comes to the father except through me”. So, you want to be safe, you want to get too heaven and have your sins forgiven. Simply get in the ark through the one door. In the New Testament that simply means trusting in Jesus Christ. The story begins with Noah finding grace in the eyes of the Lord and grace came through faith. It begins with faith it ends with faith, and Noah doing what the Lord told him to do.
The bottom line is we live in a very wicked world. All we need to do is reject the ways of the world and to believe the Lord and do what he tells us to do. However, it also means warning others of the danger of living by the world standards and believing in the lord and working for as long as the Lord grants you time to help build his safe place on this earth. Building his church, his sanctuary, his haven, his ark for others wanting to escape the violence and judgement of this world. Then those that want to can step through that one door that brings an escape from violence and destruction and salvation from sin judgement. And the promise of blessing and glory to come.
In Jesus name…. Amen
Living in a Wicked World