Pastor Terry Tatum
Two weeks ago we launched our new sermon series titled “Family Album.” In conversations with our lead pastor, Craig, I have several times referred to the series as “God’s Family Album” and Craig has corrected me and said, “No, it’s Family Album.” To which I have replied, “Well, can we pick any family member? ‘Cause I have a few humdingers in my family that I could talk about for hours.” But Craig kept me in line and suggested that we’d better just stick to the characters in Genesis.
So here we are, week three of our series. We have already discussed God himself and Adam and Eve. Now we come to Genesis Chapter 6 where we meet a man named Noah. To recap a little: In the beginning God created Heaven and earth, and he also created man and woman and every other living thing. It was perfect but then, suddenly, it wasn’t. Humankind messed up God’s perfect world when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of in the middle of the garden. Their disobedience caused sin to enter the world and the world was changed forever.
After Adam and Eve, in chapter 5, we find a long ancestral line that takes us all the way from Adam to a new character in God’s story, Noah. This is where we learn a harsh reality. In nine generations (1,656 years) the world went from complete perfection to total failure, described as follows in Genesis 6:5-6 NIV 1984: “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.”
Can you believe that? It wasn’t that long ago that God created everything, perfect and pure. Now “every inclination of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil all the time.”
God goes on to say “So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth… (Genesis 6:7).
It was a mess, “but Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” (Genesis 6:8)
Noah’s life prior to and after the flood (Genesis 7:6-24) demonstrates the remarkable, single point we need to remember: Every day God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Let’s explore why Noah’s life proves this:
Many of you already know the story of Noah’s ark and the flood that God sent. Today I want to dig a little deeper into that story to help us better understand who Noah was and why God chose him to help get things back in order for the human race.
Aa we read earlier: “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.”
The relationship between God and humankind was broken. What took place in the garden wasn’t just your everyday act of disobedience; it was an act that separated us from God. Sin entered the world and humankind never looked back. At the time of Noah there was every kind of sin you could imagine.
But, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9). Living in a world filled with sin and deception Noah walked with God. This was no small feat.
Scripture tells us that “… the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people…” (Genesis 6:11-13a).
Out of all the people on earth, God chooses to share his plan with Noah. At this point in scripture, Noah is just an ordinary character in the biblical story. The only thing Noah did that separated him from others was, “he walked with God.”
When you don’t know what to do, when life gets out of hand, when everything around you is going crazy, do what Noah did and walk with God. He will take care if you.
So Noah walks with God and God tells Noah he is going to “put an end to all people…” He tells Noah that he needs to build an ark (450 feet long by 75 feet high by 45 feet wide). Say what??
“I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.” (Genesis 6:17).
You have to imagine Noah looking around and saying, “It ain’t raining, how in the world is this place going to flood?” And God says, “I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark — you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.” (Genesis 6:18-20).
“Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” (Genesis 6:22). Now, that’s faith.
I talk to God a lot and He guides me through a lot of things but he has never told me to build an ark. And he’s certainly never told me to build an ark when it’s not raining. Can you imagine the grief Noah was getting from other folks? He was following God in a world full of sinners, building an ark when it wasn’t even raining.
So Noah builds the ark and gathers his family and the animals and God says, “Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.” (Genesis 7:4). Sure enough, rain fell for forty days, and forty nights and “… all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered” (Genesis 7:19). “Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died.” (Genesis 7:22). The earth was wiped clean. Nothing was left except for Noah and his family, along with the animals on board the ark.
Noah’s family and the animals spent 150 days on the ark. It had to have been tough, being in close quarters with your family and two of every kind of animal on earth for 150 days? I have trouble being around some of my family for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.
“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.” (Genesis 8:1). After 150 days the waters begin to recede and Noah sent out a raven which flew around until the land dried (Genesis 8:7).
Then he sends out a dove, which comes back because it couldn’t find dry land. He sent the dove out again and it brought back a “freshly plucked olive leaf.” (Genesis 8:8-11). At last, the flood was over.
As soon as Noah hit dry land he “…built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 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.’” (Genesis 8:20-21)
God’s Covenant with Noah
Do you remember earlier where we read that God was going to make a covenant with Noah? The word covenant means “very strong agreement.”
“I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with… all those that came out of the ark with you — every living creature on earth.” (Genesis 9:9-10) “Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Genesis 9:11). He also tells them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; multiply…” (Genesis 9:7).
Noah and his family were given the important job of doing the right thing and repopulating the earth. Because of Noah’s faithfulness to God we are also given a second chance. A second chance to get things right. How many of you have been given second chances by God?
And God commemorates this by sending us a sign, “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: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” (Genesis 9:12-14).
Every time you see a rainbow, I want you to remember what God did through Noah, and the second chance(s) we have all been given. All because one man decided to walk with God in a sinful world.
How many of you here today can identify with Noah’s challenge? Everything around you seems to be filled with sin – lust, deceit, violence, greed, etc. You have the option to give in to that or walk with God.
Today, just like with Noah, “God still uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.” EVERYDAY!
So what do you want to do? I’m sure for many of you, walking with God sounds great and you really want to do it, but … you know you will fall short and stumble along the way.
What if I were to tell you that Noah had his own issues during his walk with God?
Noah had three sons Shem, Ham and Japheth. And in Genesis chapter 9 we read that “Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.” (Genesis 9:20-21)
Did he get drunk on purpose? Did he get carried away unintentionally? I don’t know but I know he got to a point where he was in an embarrassing situation. In Genesis 9:22 we read: “Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside.” Instead of helping his father, Ham made fun of him.
“But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father’s nakedness.” (Genesis 9:23) Shem and Japheth did the right thing and helped their father.
“When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.’ He also said, ‘Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave.’” (Genesis 9:24-27) Well, this doesn’t sound like the guy who helped God reconcile with man… It sounds like a man who had too much to drink and was angry when he heard what his son had done to him.
Next we read, “After the flood Noah lived 350 years. Altogether, Noah lived 950 years, and then he died.” (Genesis 9:28-29)
And that’s it, that’s the story. Noah’s life in a nutshell. It isn’t perfect, but it’s true. And the most important thing you must understand from Noah’s life is this: If God can use an imperfect man like Noah, he can use you, too, if you’ll let Him.
Every day God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.