I was thinking about the account of Noah found in Genesis 6-10. Noah was a man with a variety of skills. It is easy to see him as a tradesman. 2 Peter 2:5 calls Noah a preacher. I myself am both a preacher and a tradesman. I wonder………did Noah wear work boots?
Noah lived in a time that the world was overrun by sin. God was so deeply hurt by it that he decided to rid the earth of man and animal. In Genesis 6:3 God declared that in a hundred twenty years He would flood the earth wiping out every living thing on it. According to Genesis 6:8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
I wonder what it was like then. The bible tells us the thoughts of the human heart were only evil all the time. Can that be a literal translation or hyperbole? I look at the way the world is today and think maybe it is literal. Imagine a world without Christ. Where moral guidelines are ignored or do not exist. I cannot imagine what it would be like if every selfish thought were turned into action. The only thing I can think of that kept humanity from completely destroying itself would be self-preservation. It really is amazing that Noah could become and remain faithful in such a world. A world where faith was almost non-existent and sin was dominating.
Now let’s keep in mind the penalty for sin is death. Disobedience to God requires restitution in the form of blood. From the time Adam disobeyed God until Jesus died on the cross an innocent animal had to be sacrificed as payment for man’s sin. Without a sacrifice man was sentenced to eternal death. Because of sin man was separated from God. Without God man is doomed. The only hope we have is through faith. Noah was both a man of faith and faithful.
Who is this Noah fellow? Why does he have favor with God? Noah was the son of Lamech. His name means comfort Genesis 5:29 …”He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.” Genesis 6:9 says Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. Noah was a farmer as we see in Genesis 9:20 ‘Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard.’ There is nothing in the text to suggest Noah was skilled in wood working or taking care of animals and yet God chose him to build an ark and care for the only animals that would survive the flood. Noah chose to be obedient despite the difficulty of the work, regardless of the lack of training, not complaining about how long it was taking. Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord in his generation, before the law was given to Moses, and before Christ died on the cross for our sin. No bible had been written, no apostle preaching, no evangelist in the street spreading the word of God, just faith! He did exactly what each one of us who claim to be Christian should do and that is to walk with God! Genesis 6:22 Noah did everything as God commanded him.
How did Noah know what God commanded him to do? His time with God was not “Lord help me today, amen.” Noah spent time with God the way friends spend time together. When I am struggling with a problem or just feel chatty I will call on a friend to talk. When I need help in ministry or a project I am working on I will seek advice from other people who have the right experience. In the same way friends turn to me for the same reasons. God gave us companions. The bible says it is not good that man should be alone. God has placed friends and family in our lives for good reasons but wants us to turn to Him for all our needs. He may use people to give us needed answers but He wants us to walk with Him. He wants us to spend time with Him and put action to our faith.
God has a plan for each of us. The only way to know what he has for us is to spend time with him. It is as simple as that. God did not keep Noah out of the flood, he kept him from sinking. Noah did not have a background in ship building or taking care of exotic animals yet that is what he was called to do. When you are called by God to do something He will give you the skills to do it. This is not some supernatural event in most cases. Perhaps you will learn skills through work that will help you in ministry. Maybe an opportunity to go to school will open up for you. There is also the school of hard knocks and life lessons that can prepare you in your calling. However God chooses to teach you, the important thing is to follow His instruction. Do not let lack of a skill keep you from doing what you are called to do. When we set out to do what we are told to do the resources will be there. It is still our responsibility to use them. The trees to build the ark didn’t just fall down and cut themselves into planks. Noah had to harvest them. When you are called to a specific task the resources will be as plentiful as trees in a forest, however, you still have to do the work of shaping them to your needs. When we use our time and resources wisely for serving the Lord He will keep us afloat.
Genesis 7:1 The Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation……..” Again Noah chose to be obedient and as a result he and his family were spared from the flood while the rest of mankind perished. Make sure you don’t miss the boat when you are called to put action to your preparation.
In Genesis 8 we see that Noah and his family were in the ark for one year when God called them out. Can you imagine what it might have been like living in the ark for a year? In kids church we see pictures of smiling Noah on a boat with all these animals having a great time. I don’t think that’s a very accurate portrayal. At first glance it might appear Noah’s family might have been wondering why no one had invented board games, then it struck me that there were a lot of animals to take care of. Another thing to consider is all those animals ate on the ark and that resulted in digested food….I don’t think that needs anymore explanation. So now there are eight people in a large box taking care of a whole lot of animals. Daily responsibilities would have meant long hours in less than luxury conditions, and not knowing how long they would be there. That would be bad enough, but don’t forget these same people lost all their friends and other family members in the great flood!
It only seems natural that the people in the ark would be very ready to leave at first sign of dry land. Through wisdom and faith Noah watched for signs and waited on God to call him out. Being faithful means waiting on Gods perfect timing. If you leave the boat too soon you might end up stuck in the mud or simply find yourself in a wasteland with no provision.
Genesis 8:20-22 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 man, even though every inclination of his 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.”
It makes sense to me that the first thing Noah might have done after being released from the ark would have been to enjoy a hot meal or set to the task of growing more food. Really if you think about it, it’s hard to imagine they had many supplies left after a year on the ark. Most people agree a person’s needs are food, water, and shelter. I don’t think water was a problem. The ark certainly could have provided shelter. That only leaves food. Being a farmer, Noah would have known the time it takes to grow crops and yet that was not his first priority.
The bible tells us the first thing Noah did was to build an altar to the Lord and sacrificed some of all the clean animals. In the bible this is the first time we see the word altar used. The text suggests this would have been a well-known practice in that time. The altar here would have been used as a place to meet with God. That was Noah’s first priority, meet with God. This altar would not have been some elaborate, ornate structure. It would have been a simple pile of rocks or earth. The word ‘built’ suggests it was more than a large stone. Once again we see obedience has action to it, ‘Then Noah built an altar to the Lord…’ Without consideration of how little he had, he offered sacrificed burnt offerings on it. Sacrificial offering is not out of abundance but rather out of our provisions. When we put aside everything else and just seek God, he will meet us there.
There have been plenty of times I have been granted favor through very difficult tasks and situations in life. Somehow I either manage to take credit or at least not give the glory to God after the fact. I can imagine that could have been the case with a man weaker than Noah. After all he built a very large ark that actually floated, gathered and stored all the provisions needed, and all the living creatures on it lived. Personally I might have thought I had some bragging rights. In the face of adversity it is easy for some to put their faith in God. When the flood is over and it is time to move forward a faithful person will remember and honor God.
It is not an easy road being a Christian. It is not an easy road following your calling. When we make the decision to follow Christ and put in the hard work needed God is pleased with us. God was very pleased that Noah chose to honor him. In Genesis 9 we see God spelling out his blessing on Noah and his family. What is important to grasp about all this is we don’t know how God wants to bless us until we are faithful to what we are called to do.
Rev. Burt Schwab