God’s Promise

God’s Promise

That last line of the video was “Sometimes all he needs is a willing servant and a piece of wood.” Seeing how the ark and the cross both rescued people from judgment, that seems true. Think about it…both Noah and Jesus were faithful, they were both righteous, and obedient. And both took the task of providing the means for God’s salvation. Noah took on a huge project, using one board at a time, to save his family from the flood. Jesus took on the huge task of eternal redemption by going willingly to the cross.

Both were faithful to the task.

Recap

We’ve been digging in the story of Noah for the month of January, looking for insights to see it in a new way. Let’s briefly RECAP and refresh your minds:

  1. A WORLD FULL OF EVIL – God’s looking for individuals to stand up for Him in a world that was, and still is, full of selfishness and greed.
  2. THE FIRST STEP – The task of building the ark was a huge project, and it was faith-stretching. God calls everyone to trust in Him no matter how impossible it seems.
  3. STORM OF STORMS – Are you in a storm right now? What part of it are you in?
    1. Are you in the middle of the storm;
    2. Are you still floating around after the storm;
    3. Are you at the point when you’re finally look around and see the damage and start rebuilding?
    4. Maybe you’ve just recovered from a storm;
    5. Or maybe you’re back at the start, preparing for another storm.

We looked at several scriptures over the past few weeks that talk about the storms of life and we discovered:

  1. Some storms are gonna come because we’re faithful.
  2. Some are gonna come because we do wrong.
  3. And some storms are just naturally going to come.
  4. But…we can rejoice in all of our storms because it’s then that we are made into who we are meant to be and we can rejoice because of the simple fact that God is always with us through them. He even has the Holy Spirit praying for us through each storm.

Genesis 8:1
“But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.”

I find great comfort in this passage because God didn’t forget little faithful Noah, even though he was shut away in that ark for an entire year. What this tells me is that he’s not going to forget me either, no matter how bad or long the storm gets. He’s gonna send a wind to blow across the earth and the flood waters will begin to recede.

God’s Promise

So let’s now look further into the rest of the story to see what Noah did when the floodwaters did finally recede.

First to set the scene:

  • this is after the waters from the ground stopped flowing up and the rain stopped falling,
  • it’s after 150 days of floating around until the ark finally came to a rest on the highest mountain peak, and
  • another 2 1/2 months when the water was receding and other mountain tops started peeking out.
  • So 9 months total since the flood began.

Gen 8:6-12
6″After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark 7 and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 9 But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. 10 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. 12 He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.”

The raven is an amazing bird! It didn’t come back! Did you catch that? It flew back and forth until the floodwaters on the earth dried up – if you figure that out according to when the dove’s timeline, that would be for 2 weeks that the raven flew back and forth. Just another amazing creation God has made.

Can you imagine the excitement when the dove actually came back with the olive leaf? I would have begun to think that day was never going to come. But this only means the tree tops are out.

By this time, it had been 10 1/2 months on the boat loaded with animals and just your family – or your husband’s family. Sure hope those girls liked their in-laws. The second time he sends the dove out, it just doesn’t come back – which means even better news.

But Noah still didn’t get out of the boat…not until God told him too. In fact, it was 2 more months until God told Noah to step out on. Noah was waiting for God’s timing. The patience Noah must have had or at least developed after being on a boat for a year is amazing in itself. Here is just another great example of Noah trusting God and waiting for him.

Gen 8: 15-17
“15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”

I’ll bet God didn’t have to tell them twice.

Now it’s time to multiply, both animals and humans. It’s basically the same order God gave Adam and Eve, so in reality God was starting over again with Noah and his family.

Gen 1:28.
“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

So Noah, his family and all the animals came out of the ark. And what do you think was the first thing he did.

Gen 8:20-22.
20″ Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. 22 “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

Noah offers a sacrifice to the Lord, killing some animals and birds on an altar he just built. (Good thing he brought those extra clean ones.) But why sacrifice them? Well, in reality it was an act of worship. But even apart from that, it was a matter of respect and honor. Noah recognized that God is more important than he was, and so he offered him this thing of value.

How did God feel about Noah’s sacrifice?
He loved it! He found the aroma “pleasing,” and it seems that the Lord was so moved by this sacrifice that he made his own promise. He says he will never again “curse the ground,” and never again “destroy all living things.”

God defined his part of the contract more specifically by saying He will not destroy the world with a flood ever again. And here comes the rainbow.

Gen 9:11-16
12 “And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

The rainbow will forever be a sign of this promise, this contract, this covenant.

Now quickly let’s look at those verses again. Did you notice God didn’t say the rainbow would appear on a beautiful sunny day? Three times he tells Noah that the rainbow will appear in the CLOUDS!

Clouds mean storms and storms bring wind and lightening. In order to get the rainbow you have to first go through the storm! I want the rainbow in my life. But, I don’t want to have to go through the clouds or the storms. I want to see God’s blessing on my life, but I don’t want to go through the things associated with those blessings. It is difficult for us all to put up with inconvenience even if it is only for a short time. We all despise being inconvenienced. I want the blessings of God but in order for me to get them I may have to go through the storms of life. I may have to stand for truth when truth is not the popular thing to stand for. I may have to be holy when the world around me turns against all that is holy. I may have to look different when I am being pressured to conform to the ways of others and join the crowd. I may have to endure the clouds and storms in order to see the rainbow, God’s promise.

So let’s review

In this “covenant”, this agreement between God and Noah:

Noah’s part was to be faithful in building the ark, and to be obedient during the preparation for the flood. And now he’s been asked to repopulate the earth. But He also responds with worship – performing a sacrifice to show his continued devotion to God.

And God, his side of the contract is to withhold from any more floods of judgment, no matter how wicked the world gets. Seems pretty fair.

You know, Noah’s been looking pretty good through this whole thing. He’s righteous, God likes him, he does what God tells him. He devotes one-sixth of his life to build a gigantic boat, because God says so.

And here today, we’re being challenged to be like Noah. We’re supposed to hear God’s instructions and obey them. Take on the task, no matter how great, no matter how crazy.

You might be saying, “But I’m nothing like Noah. He’s faithful; I’m not. He’s righteous; I’m not. I struggle to do the right thing. I really hope God finds that ‘willing servant and a piece of wood,’ but I’m not that person.”

But let me share with you one last piece about Noah….

Gen 9:20-25
20 “Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”

This is odd stuff. Noah gets drunk and gets naked. One son sees him, and he’s probably joking about it. The other sons respectfully cover dad up. When he wakes up, no doubt hung over, he utters a curse against the his wise-cracking son. This is hardly what you expect from a man of faith. It’s not the kind of thing we think Noah might do, but he did. The whole point for this story even being in the bible, is that he was a sinner just as we are.

He wasn’t some super-human Ark-builder programmed to do God’s work. He made a choice, every morning for a hundred years, he made a choice to go out and build that Ark. And we don’t know how many mornings he may have wanted to sleep in and just say forget it.

He did a great thing, not because he was perfect, but because he chose to obey God. We can make that same choice.

Others in scripture have made similar contracts with God.

In Matthew 28 Jesus gives the disciples “The Great Commission.”

Matthew 28:16-20
16″Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus had led his disciples in ministry for more than three years. They had faced opposition, crucifixion, resurrection, and now Jesus was about to leave them for heaven.

According to The Great Commission, the disciples were supposed to:

  • Go
  • Make disciples of all nations
  • Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  • Teach them to obey Jesus

And Jesus’ part of the deal? He said: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” This was Jesus’ promise to the disciples. This is Jesus’ promise to US.

Closing

We all probably know corporations who make a contract, and fifty years later the contract still stands, even though the original contract makers have all retired. The new people in the company assume the responsibility to fulfill that contract. In a way, the church is a corporation. Jesus made this agreement with his disciples, the original church leaders. Now the responsibility falls to us, to continue going and teaching and being witnesses of what Jesus has done in our lives.

We need to take personal responsibility for this, but we also need to see ourselves as part of the “corporation.” A secretary fulfills the goals of the company just as much as a salesperson does, but in a different way.

In the church, an encourager works beside the giver, and the administrator and the evangelist get out and get the work done. We use our individual gifts and put them together to fulfill the contract. Each of us have Spirit-given abilities to help the whole church carry out the commission.

Chris in the video said: In the midst of all the storms of our life, God’s still longing and looking to us to be faithful – not to be perfect – and to . . . make a difference in a devastated world.

It’s interesting to note that God’s promise is basically the same to Noah and to the disciples. And it reappears in a whole lot other passages. His promise to all of them, and to us?

HE WILL BE WITH US ALWAYS!

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