search
top

Noah Confronts a Worldwide Catastrophe Part 2

Overall View of Noah's ark
jeff.jacobs1990
Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

Summers in the East Coast were often a treat for me as a young boy. I treasured spending those hot, humid days visiting my grandparents in Coney Island in New York. Besides cooling off in the Atlantic Ocean, the main attraction was Steeplechase Park. The assortment of rides this park offered to a young starry-eyed boy was dizzying. Of course, I was ambitious enough to think I could enjoy them all in one outing.

One go-to amusement was the swing ride. According to an online history of carousels, the “swing ride is a variant of a carousel ride – a fairground ride that has chairs suspended by chains from the top of the carousel . . . This ride is also called a swing carousel, wave swinger, yo-yo, Chair-O-Planes or a swinger”.

This mechanism operates on a principle of a spinning central core powered by a motor that forces the swings to extend outward on wires or metal chains. The faster the central core spins, the farther out the swings stretch.

What does this sentimental childhood memory have to do with Noah’s situation or any spiritual truths? Let me suggest our relationship with God begins with a person’s central core fixed on the Lord. From this connection to our Creator, we discover a powerful, inner centrifugal force that drives our spiritual aspirations. When that inner connection to God is fractured, there are grave spiritual consequences-lack of purpose, extreme self-centeredness, depression, broken relationships, and involvement in destructive sins. This truth brings us to the reason why God brought the Flood upon our planet.

Sadly, this catastrophic event in Noah’s day was due to man’s lack of any desire to enjoy a relationship with God. The human population refused to see their need to have God as that centrifugal force. Instead, they attempted to enthrone themselves at the core of their souls. We too are fooled by the same self-deception. As long as we keep the swings in motion, we are convinced we can be the “captain of our own souls.” Despite our sincere endeavors, we default to arrogant pride, extreme self-centeredness, and a refusal to believe there is Someone in the universe greater than ourselves.

From this breakdown in man’s bridge to God in Noah’s day, humanity spiraled out of control. The downward thrust of mankind was enough for God to respond with a promise of a worldwide Flood. Like the motion of the carousel swing ride from the central core, our trouble is due to a failure to see the need to allow God to become part of our energizing inner core.

The Origins of Man’s Misalignment with God

One thing that sets me off is having to do expensive repairs on my car. Currently, I have two illuminated lights on my instrument panel reminding me to check my engine soon, and another light nudging me about my tire pressure. The “check engine” light has to do with a catalytic converter that needs to replaced before my next smog check and the tire pressure light is due to a faulty sensor in one of the tires. Neither of these warnings hinders me from driving the car safely. I can ignore their daily reminder a little bit longer.

Front End Wheel Alignment

However, some warnings in our automobiles cannot be ignored. For example, we step on the brakes and our car pulls to the right or the left. In response, we jerk the steering wheel to avoid veering off in one direction or the other. For an extended time we can ignore this mechanical problem until we can take it no longer. Once we roll our auto into the mechanic’s shop, we anticipate his diagnosis, “Your car’s front end is out of alignment.” Nobody enjoys life when things are out of alignment.

To get to the bottom of why man ignores the warning signs of misalignment with our Creator, let us consult the Word of God. The biblical description of man’s condition starts in Genesis 3, a portion of Scripture chock full of details about our misalignment with God. Yet, despite how the scriptures portray our lives, we still believe we are in motion moving forward. We feel good about what we can accomplish, how much we own, and how admired we are. We fool ourselves thinking we can remain in motion forever while ignoring that our lives are out of alignment with the Lord. Our misaligned spiritual nature keeps pulling us off the road. Regardless, we manage to get back on the road knowing we are in terrible need of a soul alignment with our Creator.

In contrast to our apathy to God, we learn from the early chapters of Genesis that God was anything but detached from His creation. From Genesis 1:31 we are reminded God placed man and woman in a perfect setting-paradise, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” The Lord wanted to have a fulfilling relationship with His creation. However, the first couple-Adam and Eve-chose to be indifferent to God and opened the door for sin to creep into God’s world of goodness.

Often when man rebels against God, He will bring catastrophe as a punishment for sin. In fact, in Genesis 6:17 the passage says God Himself will bring a devastating flood upon the earth. The text describes God’s warning, “For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die.” God decided to do this because of the increasing moral degeneration that set in after the first couple rejected their Creator.

The choice is ours whether to operate our lives while being out of alignment with the Lord. God waits for us to tire of yanking our lives back into place. Our real problem is not the occasional skid off to one side or another, but our entire lives need a realignment with Him. Our souls are in need of a supernatural transformation in which the Lord God becomes our center and by His power He prevents us from steering off in a harmful direction.

The Patience of God Towards Man’s Misalignment

Most individuals who seek a reason for God’s judgment of man, look for specific sins. What sin could cause God to destroy the whole earth?

According to Genesis 6:5, the Lord saw that “every imagination of man’s heart was only evil continually.” While we look for specific sinful actions that brought God’s anger on mankind, the text describes man’s sin problem not by what he does, but by how he thinks in his heart. Yes, there are references to the external behavior of man as seen in Genesis 6:11-12, “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (Italics mine). Yet God traces this corruption and violence to man’s heart, his mind, and imagination. Man’s inner inclination to stay out of alignment with God is what angered Him the most and brought grief to His heart as seen in Genesis 6:5, “And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.

If our central core is not home to the spirit of God residing within our hearts, then God will do everything to motivate us to return to Him. This is exactly how God related to Noah’s generation. He saw the evil of their hearts. The Lord used the promise of the impending Flood as an opportunity for humans to see the consequences of sin as well as the even more serious offer by God to forgive our sins and transform our walk with Him.

to show power of moving people
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Excuse me for returning to my fascination with amusement parks. One ride that is a favorite among all age groups is the Ferris Wheel. However, this popular attraction often makes little sense. Any Ferris Wheel is 75% waiting and about 25% thrills!

To embark on this ride, one must wait in line to get the current riders to exit the cars or gondolas. At that point the anxious people in line jump on to an empty seat and the wheel painstakingly completes a full circuit until the new travelers are all on board.

Finally, the Ferris wheel spins into action for about 7-8 minutes of thrills. Then it is time to vacate. Car-by-car. Person-by- person. Who is behind this theme park torture? It’s the ride operator. He or she is the culprit who doles out moments of fleeting enjoyment as the wheel spins around. Yet he is also the one who keeps his hand on the controls of the ride to make the ride goers wait.

In Noah’s time we observe God as the ride operator. He saw a generation that grieved His heart by their indifference to Him. Instead, their focus was on the earthly enjoyments given to them by the Creator. Their pleasures. Their 7-8 minutes of pure enjoyment. Jesus described the times of Noah as a period in which humans were materialistic. They were eating and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage.

For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Matthew 24:38-39 (ESV)

Let us not be surprised that during a time when men and women were materialistic that corruption and violence would break out. The Book of James offers us insights as to how a materialistic mindset would burst forth into violence as seen in James 4:1-2.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. 

James 4:1-2 (ESV)

Actually, there is nothing inherently wrong with enjoying material possessions. After all, these are blessings given by God. 1 Timothy 6:17 reminds us, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” However, these blessings can become a reason to fight with one another. We substitute the blessings that come from God for a relationship with Him. We only think and live for ourselves. We become greedy, possessive, and territorial.

Think about some negative effects of these beenfits. An overabundance of food and drink can make us ill, obese, and put our bodies in a dangerous unhealthy condition. Too much drink can lead to drunkenness, out of control behavior, and fractured relationships. Marriages can explode into a nasty, emotionally painful breakup. Giving in marriage can be a disaster if one chooses a person who brings us misery and abuse. Thus, Jesus’ words about Noah’s time period were not meant to communicate that this pre-Flood generation only experienced pleasure.

Remember sin had entered the human experience from Genesis 3 onward. Hearts were resistant to connect to God. So the ride operator, the Creator introduces waiting periods to motivate us to consider our ways. Lest if our lives were 100% pleasure, we might never give one thought to God. This is why God gave mankind 120 years to change their ways. We read in Genesis 6:3, ” Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” So during those 120 years the time clock was ticking. The Flood was awaiting that generation. God hoped that during the times when His creation was not experiencing the thrills of life, they would seek Him out.

The Provision of God to Transform Man’s Misalignment

A decade or so ago I owned a 1991 Volvo four-door sedan. This car was invincible. The odometer was coming up on 300,000 miles with nothing to hinder me from this milestone.

assorted cars junkyard
Photo by Luis Quintero from Pexels

Then my lucky streak ran out. I was cruising at fifty mph on a two-lane road with nothing but open asphalt up ahead. Suddenly a daredevil driver pulls out in front of me from a driveway hoping to cross the road before my car ventured any farther. He misjudged the timing of his Evil Knievel feat and his car was stopped in my lane with nowhere to go. I slammed on the brakes, but I also bashed into his side driver’s door. He was uninjured, but his car took the brunt of the collision. Sadly, the front end of my ’91 beauty was badly damaged. The insurance company totaled the car and shipped it off to a local junkyard. I was furious since the car had many more miles ahead of it. Yes, every good thing ultimately meets its end.

In Noah’s day mankind was living and loving their lives. They were headed for that 300,000 milestone and beyond. In their minds they suffered very little consequences for ignoring God. The last thing they wanted to hear from some boat-building preacher was that they were headed for a major collision with the wrath of God.

The assumption we live with is that we can go on living the way we do, ignoring God, and suffering no consequences. Nevertheless, in Genesis 6 God warns mankind of the pileup that is headed their way. In other words He was saying, “I am not going to tolerate man’s rebellious behavior much longer. I will give you another 120 years and then unless you repent, I will act.”

God offers reconciliation with Him until a certain point.

In Scripture there is often a long period when God appears to tolerate human resistance to Him. He allows events to take their course and does not seem to do anything about them, so scoffers would often mock and wonder “Where is your God?” 2 Peter 3:4 writes, “They will say, “Where is the promise of His coming? Forever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” When Noah warned people about the Flood, the people ridiculed this Waterworld patriarch. They mocked Noah’s words as he informed them God will not endlessly tolerate their resistance to Him.

In Genesis 15:16 God said He was not ready to bring Israel back to their land because the “iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full.” God was also patient with the city of Nineveh in the face of their brutality towards other humans. He eventually sent the prophet Jonah to preach repentance to the city. He waited until the proper time. God does not always act at once; but He will act, in His own time.

Rather than rely on man waking up to seek His Creator, the Lord chose Noah to stir his generation. The construction of his sea-going vessel would take 120 years to build it. During this interim Noah was to tell people through the building of the ark or by his words, “God is going to judge the world unless we all repent. He told me to build an ark to save myself and my family. Yet you need to seek the Lord in humility and perhaps He will withdraw His promise of this worldwide deluge” 2 Peter 2:5 says of Noah that he was a “preacher of righteousness.” Nonetheless, Noah’s generation paid him no attention. They went on drinking and eating. They lived with their callous heart towards God until the Flood came and took them away. The collision they thought would never happen took them by surprise.

God uses those faithful to Him to reach the unfaithful.

Noah found grace or favor with God. Genesis 6:9 reads, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” God took notice of Noah out of all humanity. It was not his deeds or his character that saved him. The text says of Noah, “He walked with God.” In contrast to his generation, the captain of the ark allowed God to lead him.

Bible scholars speculate that since no words are attributed to Noah during the course of his life, his witness to others was seen in his faithful building of the ark. 2 Peter 2:5 states, “if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.” The uncompleted ark was a daily reminder to Noah’s generation of the time they had left to repent.

Noah may not have “preached” in the common sense. Rather, his message of faithfulness to God was seen in his steadfast commitment to complete the ark in obedience to God’s instructions. Hebrews 11:7 clarifies this point, “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, 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.”

The question is posed whether Noah’s connection to the Creator was influenced by external circumstances or was his walk with God. In other words, was Noah scared into obeying God by the up and coming Flood, or were there internal factors that influenced his tightness with the Lord? It is the contention of this writer Noah had that inner core relationship with God that was unaffected by his environment. Regardless of how individuals in his generation conducted themselves, Noah remained faithful to God for nearly 600 years. Noah had been walking with the Lord most of his life, so when the call of God came to prepare for the Flood, he was ready. Faithfulness to God amidst difficult circumstances is what God is seeking.

It’s easy to draw close to God when one has no other place to turn. Knowing the compassion of God, He is very understanding when a person is frightened by a pandemic like the coronavirus or a worldwide flood. Regardless, the Lord’s door always remains open.

Our sinfulness deserves the same punishment God brought on Noah’s contemporaries. He will do the same in our day at the end of the time when He brings the final judgment. However, repentance and turning to God through the Messiah Jesus will spare us from that final collision.

As children of God, we need to be stockpiling our connection to God and reach out to others in need. We are surrounded by people fearful lest they run out of food and hygienic supplies. People are facing loneliness. Individuals are frightened by the possibility of contracting COVID-19. Sadly, they are hoarding their concerns and anxieties. Like Noah we are called to have a cache of a consistent walk with God that can withstand these times of instability. Our calling is to live out of our walk with God like Noah and face the insurmountable obstacles in our lives without fear. The operative word is “fear.”

Conclusion

As a teenager I found traveling into downtown Manhattan always presented me with some unusual experiences. Once when crossing 45th Street and Broadway, I observed a woman with a sandwich board sign which boldly announced in bright letters, “Repent or Perish.” I knew this woman’s message was a spiritual challenge, but I did not see how it connected to me as a pre-teen Jewish student. I sloughed it off. In my mind she was a religious nut case and quite a contrast to the bright lights of Times Square.

A few other times in my life I ran into these odd street preachers with their messages that failed to touch on any relevant issues, at least to my mind. It was not until I was twenty-two, freshly back in the States after one year in Vietnam, that another one of God’s odd ball preachers spoke to me the same message, “Repent or Face the Consequences.”

I was older and was more focused on the message than the messenger. One pastor shared his message in front of the Whisky-a-Go-Go on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. This clergyman challenged me to see if the call to return to God was a biblical message of the Hebrew prophets. I was intrigued and spent the next six months reading the Hebrew Scriptures and eventually the New Covenant. In the summer of 1969 I did what God called me to do-confess my sin, commit to change my ways with God’s strength and accept His provision of salvation in the Messiah Jesus.

Noah had a strange message to a fun-loving, God ignoring generation. His method was even odder. He constructed an ark as a way of escape from the coming Flood. To this day, God’s faithfulness to save those who repent is still His message to us. This time the means of salvation is not a wooden boat but His Son Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel and light of the world.

Today Jesus (Yeshua) is our ark to spare us from the final judgment. He died for our sins that we might be granted the confidence to stand before Him on judgment day through His atoning sacrifice. Only by accepting Jesus’ offer of salvation will we be enabled to rise above the dark waters of God’s judgment and come to the still waters of eternal peace through knowing Yeshua.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

top

Bad Behavior has blocked 563 access attempts in the last 7 days.