But God Remembered...
November 5, 2017
People are forgetful. Sometimes we are just not very good at remembering things. Busy folks can forget where they last put down their cell phones. Holiday shoppers in parking lots might not remember where they parked their cars. College students may fail to recall answers to test questions that they definitely remember studying for. Loving husbands are constantly at risk of forgetting anniversaries. And let’s not forget about little children who often forget to feed their fish and how so many of us can forget people’s names shortly after we meet them. People are forgetful.
But our God is not.
“But God remembered Noah.” This is how today’s Scripture text begins. And it is beautiful language. God remembered Noah. This is absolutely beautiful language because it is covenantal language. You see the word everywhere in the Bible being used to convey the sense of God’s faithful promises and God’s loving truth. And the neat thing is that the first time the word pops up in the Bible is right here in today’s story. God remembered Noah.
What does this mean? Well, it doesn’t mean that God forgot about Noah and then all of a sudden remembered him. It means that God was going to make good on his promise to Noah. God promised that he would keep Noah and his family and select animals alive during the judgment for sin. God promised that he would get Noah through the flood. And in the bigger picture, God promised that he would provide a special human being who would one day crush the head of the serpent and bring a gracious salvation to an undeserving people. God did just that. He remembered Noah. That’s what these beautiful words mean.
Israel needed to hear these words. As they looked forward to the promised Messiah and as they waited for his kingdom in the new heavens and the new earth, Israel needed to remember that God would never forget about them.
Being forgotten is a terrible thing. Can you imagine what Noah could have felt in that ark? He was inside of the ark for one year and ten days. That is a long time. But that is not all. For over an entire year, Noah did not hear from God. As far as we can tell, God did not speak to Noah while Noah was inside of the ark. There was no word or update or assurance from God. There was only silence - silence that was compounded by the fact that the only thing that Noah was able to see for an entire year was water (and that is assuming that Noah was even able to see outside of the ark). The last words that Noah heard from God was “For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.” These were words of death. And then there was 375 days of silence. Can you imagine what Noah could have felt in that ark?
If I were in the ark, I would have probably thought to myself these words, “Where is God? When will I leave this ark? Has God forgotten about me? Are God’s promises no more?”
Brothers and sisters, are you perhaps thinking to yourself these words these days? Do you feel forgotten or neglected or ignored or left behind by God? If so, then I ask you to think about how God remembered Noah in the flood. And also think about how God remembered Abraham and brought his nephew Lot out of Sodom and Gomorrah. Think about how God remembered his covenant with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob when Israel cried out as slaves of Egypt. Think about how God remembered Hannah and gave her Samuel as a son. And the list goes on and on. Throughout all of redemptive history, God remembered his word, his promise, his covenant, and his salvation. God never failed. God’s people failed all the time. But God never failed his people. And God does not fail you now.
When Jesus was dying on the cross for the punishment of our sins, when Jesus was baptized into the flood of undeserved death, there was a man next to him who was also dying on a cross. But his death was deserved. The man knew and accepted the due reward for his deeds. And the man knew that Jesus had done nothing wrong. And the man said to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus said to the man, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Brothers and sisters, Jesus remembers us now. And he will remember us when he returns. He does not forget about the churches that he has put down on this old and fading earth. He is never at risk of forgetting about his bride. He never forgets to feeds his sheep. He never forgets our names. People are forgetful. Sometimes we are just not very good at remembering things. But God is never forgetful about us. The Lord remembered Noah. Jesus remembered the criminal on the cross. Your Savior remembers you.
Praise the Lord!
And praise God that while he never forget us, he is, so to speak, forgetful of one thing. Listen to the prophet Jeremiah and the writer of Hebrews, who both speak of what we have now:
And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” (Hebrews 10:17)
And listen to the prophet Isaiah, who wrote these words: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.” (Isaiah 65:17)
This is gospel. And now let me follow that up with law.
Brothers and sisters, if it is true - and it is true - that the Lord Jesus Christ remembers you, then may you remember him. May you obey him and love him. May you think about him more. May you take him more seriously in your life. And if you’ve made promises to him, then may you keep them. Let us remember the Lord, and all the more as we see the Day of the Lord drawing near.
In closing, consider the fact that Noah eventually died. His bones are somewhere in the Middle East. But his spirit is somewhere over the rainbow, where Christ is seated upon his throne.
At the end of the day, Noah had faith. He had an assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen. In reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
At the end of his life, Noah died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that he was a stranger and exile on the earth. He was seeking a homeland. He desired a better country, that is, a heavenly one. And God is not ashamed to be called his God, for he has prepared for him a city.
Brothers and sisters, we join with Noah and have faith too. Let us remember what we need to remember. And above all, let us remember that the Lord remembers us.