Noah and the Faithfulness of God
October 15, 2017
There are many reasons for us to give praise and thanks to God. Today I will speak mainly of one. It is a plain and simple reason but one that is often underrated and underappreciated.
Our God is faithful. And his word proves true. After the fall of Adam, many centuries before Noah was even born, God made a promise. He said in Genesis 3:15 that an offspring of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. He said that. That was his word. And his word meant that he promised to make everything right again.
But would that promise come true? The world that God had made - the world that existed before the flood (2 Peter 3:6) - became more and more sinful and wicked and evil. Corruption and violence filled the earth. And every day that passed by and every human being that was born into the world only increased man’s affront and offense against the holiness and righteousness of God.
The day finally came when the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth. The day finally came when it grieved him to his heart. And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years…. 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.”
This is what God said. This was his word.
Brothers and sisters, imagine what Noah could have thought and felt when he heard this devastating news. 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.” Imagine what Noah could have thought and felt. He was flesh. And he was a sinner. So God’s judgment of death should have included him. And this would have been it for him.
Perhaps Noah’s heart sank after hearing God’s word. Perhaps Noah remembered the promise of God that was handed down to him from generation to generation by his ancestors. Perhaps Noah wondered if God could really make everything right again. Perhaps Noah thought that the name he got from his father was vanity. For when Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” Perhaps Noah felt like crying.
Perhaps. But here’s what we do know. We know that Noah did not say a word. And we know that God did not end with a word of judgment. God continued to speak. And what God said next was a glorious gospel.
Verses 14-16. “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 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.”
This is what God said. This was his word.
Brothers and sisters, these are beautiful words. You may not think so, but they are. Under God’s word of impending judgment and under the shadow of certain death, Noah received a blueprint. He was given instructions and measurements. He was told to build an ark.
Now, in one sense, the ark was a boat. And if you were a little kid in Sunday School, that was what you drew. A boat. But here’s the thing. The ark was not really a boat.
First of all, the word there in the original Hebrew is not the word you would expect for a boat or a ship or any kind of seafaring vessel. The word there in the original Hebrew is a strange but fascinating word that only pops up one other time in Scripture. We’ll take a look at it later today in Bible study, but all you have to know for now is that the word is not “boat.”
Second of all, the ark was not really a boat because it was much less boat and much more… house. “Make rooms in the ark.” “Make a roof for the ark.” “Set the door of the ark in its side.”
Third, there are only two times in the Bible where God gave extensive and precise measurements to build stuff. There are only two places in the Bible where cubits rule the day. These two places in Scripture are Exodus and Ezekiel. In Exodus, God gave extensive and precise measurements for the tabernacle. And in Ezekiel, God gave extensive and precise measurements for the new temple and the new Jerusalem.
The tabernacle, the temple, and the new city Jersualem. What are these things? These are dwelling places for God to be with man. Noah’s ark was way more than just a boat. It was a place that symbolized God’s dwelling place with man. It was much less boat and much more house - much more temple. Even the fact that Noah’s ark had three decks or stories is connected to the three-fold structure of the tabernacle and temple of Israel.
This is why verses 14-16 are beautiful words. Yes, there would be death. But there would also be a place for life in the midst of death. Yes, there would be justice and wrath over the face of the earth. But there would also be a place for mercy and grace. Yes, the words, “Behold, I will destroy them with the earth” still stand. But after those very words of bad news would come words of good news, “Make yourself an ark.…” God did not end with a word of judgment. God continued to speak. And what God said next was a glorious and beautiful gospel - a glorious and beautiful gospel centered on the fact that God will graciously save a people for himself and that he will be with them. He will dwell with them. He will be their God and they will be his people. That was what Noah’s ark was all about. That was what the temple was all about. That is what Christmas is all about. That is what forgiveness and eternal life is all about. That is what Jesus is all about.
And that is why God spared Noah. The Lord would destroy all life on earth but keep Noah and his family alive. He did this so that the line of promise would continue and prepare the way for the one who would crush the head of the serpent. The line of promise would remain unbroken so that a champion would one day come and defeat sin and death and be a sacrificial atonement and a representative of righteousness for a people for himself. This was God’s promise of salvation.
And God’s promise of salvation came true in the life and death and resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ - in the humiliation and exaltation of the Lion of Judah and the Lamb that was slain.
For the justice of God was satisfied by the death of Christ on the cross. By dying for our and for our sins, we have been atoned for and forgiven. There is no wrath and judgment for us anymore. For Christ died. And we who are united with him have also died to sin. We were buried with Christ in his death. The justice of God was satisfied in Jesus Christ.
But also the righteousness of God was satisfied by the obedience of Christ in his life. By living a perfect life without sin and crediting his righteousness to us, we have full invitation and full rights to the coming kingdom of God in the new heavens and the new earth. For Christ rose again. And we who are united with him have also risen with him. We have resurrection life with Christ in his resurrection. The righteousness of God was satisfied in Jesus Christ.
Praise the Lord! Jesus Christ is the answer to the question of how a holy God could dwell with sinful man. Do you want to be with God? Then you must be able to stand with him in his presence, in his house, in his temple, in his place. But no one can do that alone. So God loved us and sent his only begotten Son for us, so that we can be found in him. And when we are found in Jesus Christ, just as Noah was put into the ark, we are safe. Noah was part of a greater ark and a greater temple - not a place, but actually a person, who once said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19) and “I tell you, something greater than the temple is here” (Matthew 12:6). Praise the Lord! Jesus is the true temple! Those who are in Christ will be saved at the end, just as Noah was saved from the flood by being in the ark. What an awesome picture of salvation! What an awesome salvation, period! God is faithful! God kept his promise! God redeems a people by grace! God gets us to the place beyond the garden, the place of sabbath rest that Adam was supposed to earn in the garden of Eden. Praise the Lord! Long ago, at many times and in man ways, God spoke to our fathers. But in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. In today’s text, we see God’s words to Noah. But now, we have the living Word. And the livign Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory - the glory and the grace and the hope and the salvation and the rest of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters, may you take to heart the faithfulness of God. This is very important in Christian life. The enemy will often have us think that God is not faithful to us. You may think that God has not been faithful to you. But I hope that this story and many others in the Bible will make you think otherwise. God is faithful. His word proves true. He cannot lie. And what he says will come to pass. Take to heart the faithfulness of God.
Brothers and sisters, let us walk by faith as Noah did. When Noah measured twice and cut once all of that wood, he was part of a city whose designer and builder is God. He was part of a promise of salvation. He was part of a faithfulness from heaven. He was part of a covenant with good news. Noah believed in the gospel that was promised by God. And Noah is an example of faith for us to follow. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. This means that Noah believed. We know this clearly from Hebrews 11. Noah walked with God by faith. He was righteous because he laid hold of the righteousness of the promised messiah. And as a result of his faith, Noah constructed the ark in reverent fear. He didn’t say a word in today’s text. Instead, Noah simply did all that God commanded him. By this he became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.