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Faithlife

2017-22: Noah and Godly Obedience

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Notes & Transcripts

Introduction and Review

Whether you grew up in church or not, it is one of the most famous children stories, i.e. “fairy tales” of all time… and that’s the problem we’re going to run into today. When you start talking about Noah, immediately there are always going to be some people saying, “Really? I mean, shouldn’t you send that over to the Junior Church? They can color the guy in the boat, and make all of the animal crafts, and sing the song about “Arky, Arky. It’ll be fun! But as adults, let’s spend some time talking about things that really matter.”

This is Not a Children’s Story

As we continue in our study through Genesis chapters 1-11, I just want to put this on the table right from the beginning. This is Not a Children’s Story. Now, I’ve upset some of you in the past for saying that, but it doesn’t change the facts. This story was not meant for children. It wasn’t intended to be the subject of baby nursery decorations. It is one of the most violent, one of the most tragic… It is a story filled with more heartache, despair, judgment, anguish, and pain than almost any other story in the Bible.
Noah and the Ark… and yet when you hear that, some of you immediately go to a children’s story. You immediately go to the little bearded guy looking out the window with a dove in his hand and a rainbow above him. Maybe you had the Fischer Price set where the boat would actually split open with the little animals, two by two, or maybe you had the Weebles set. Never mix the two, alright? They don’t fit in the same slots! A couple weeks ago we saw a set from the 1800’s in the Greensboro Historical Museum - they’ve been around a while!

It is a Real Story

Noah’s Ark is this childhood fixation, and yet, I have no problem today as an adult telling you that It is a Real Story, for a couple reasons.

Detail

Number one, the Detail. This story gives so much detail, not just about the ark itself but about the time and the place… specific frames that cover the years, the months, the days with such detail that if it’s not a literal event, man, the Bible has gone overboard on this one! When I’m reading it in just a moment, pay attention to how specific the Bible is with the details.

Multiple Mentions

For those of you who might struggle with Noah and a boat and, “Did it really happen?,” understand, this isn’t the only place we read about Noah. So number two, the Multiple Mentions. Noah is also found in the books of Ezekiel, Isaiah, in the Chronicles, in Matthew, Luke, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and in the book of Hebrews. That’s pretty good for a “fictional” character, to be mentioned in all of those Biblical texts and stories, some that were written a couple thousand years after Moses wrote his book.

Jesus Believed Noah was Real

My third thing thrown in is that Jesus Believed Noah was Real. He referred to him two separate times. In fact, if you were here last week, when Jesus is asked when He is coming back, remember His answer? He went back and relied on Noah. He said, “Just as it was in the days of Noah, that’s what the culture will be like when I come back.” Listen, if Jesus believed in Noah, I’m going to put my chips on Jesus every single time.
As we dive into this story, like seemingly every other week in this series, there’s a lot about the story that I just don’t know. I’ll be honest about that. I’m also planning to point out a couple of things for those of you who are professional church-goers that may shock you because they’re not in the story of Noah, but you would swear that they are!
So, let’s get started. Genesis chapter 6, beginning with verse 14. If you weren’t here last week, we talked about this weird story which ended with the world getting to the point where God saw how great man’s wickedness on the Earth had become and he was grieved that He had even made mankind. God was broken. For over 1600 years, God watched from Adam to Noah. For over 1600 years He watched wickedness upon wickedness until He finally decided to have a “do-over” with Noah, a man who was righteous and “blameless among the people of his time,” and here are the specifics. God said to Noah...
(NIV84)14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. 16 Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. 17 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. 18 But 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. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 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. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.
First, I know the image that we grew up with, the little curvy ship and pointed front, something like this, but if you just take the dimensions we read, what Noah built was basically a barge. It was 450 feet long, 45 feet high and 75 feet wide. It had eighteen inches of ventilation all the way around the top, one door, and three different floors. You could have laid more than twenty basketball courts end-to-end inside of it. Five hundred and seventy railway container cars would have fit inside with 1.5 million cubic feet of space.
Now, I don’t know all of this stuff, so I had to look it up. The average size of a land animal is the size of a sheep. According to the dimensions, you could have fit 125,000 sheep inside the ark. 125,000! But understand, there are currently only 18,000 different species of mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians. So if Noah took two of every species, at a minimum, that means there are 36,000 animals on this barge that could hold 125,000. There’s two-thirds of the space available, which is plenty of room for storing food and the provisions that they need.
You know, we grew up with this idea of a pointy boat, but here is the replica in northern Kentucky at the Ark Encounter. Anybody been there yet? It might have looked like that but again, the Bible doesn’t even tell us that it had a rudder. It wasn’t meant to go anywhere. It was simply meant to float. The ark might have simply been just a huge rectangle!
But it was mammoth. This thing was huge! There was not a boat built that equaled its size until 1853! And I love how detailed the instructions are. I love that Noah’s told to use wood that floats and wood that’s not going to rot. I love that God told him to double insulate it – “cover it with pitch on the outside and the inside” to protect it from the time it’s going to be in the water and probably also on the inside, from the animals that are trying to eat through it!
So you’ve got this giant floating barge which is different from what I used to color as a kid, but the ark isn’t the point, right? The point is in that last verse we just read:
(NIV84) 22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.
Over the next couple weeks, we’re going to look at this story of Noah from two different angles. Next week we’re going to look at it through the lens of, “Can God be trusted?” because that’s certainly a question that a lot of people have, both inside and outside of the church . But this morning we’re going to look at Noah and Godly obedience. What does that look like? What’s involved with doing “everything just as God commanded?”

Always Obey God Even When You Don’t Understand Him

Let’s start with this statement, which is so much easier to say than to do: Always Obey God Even When You Don’t Understand Him, which, can we be honest, is pretty much most of the time. Always obey God even when you don’t understand Him. Let me read a few more verses and then we’ll try to unpack that statement.
(NIV84)1 The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4 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.” [Here it is again.] 5 And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him. 6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. 7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8 Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, 9 male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah.
Just a sidenote: The animals, it says, simply “came to Noah.” That’s all I got! I don’t know if they all lined up in a great big row. I don’t know if some started showing up months ahead of time. I don’t know if while they’re building, they turn around and say, “Check that out. Those stripey horses – they just showed up yesterday. They’re hanging out!”
I have no idea how this happened. What I do know is that throughout Scripture, God likes to use animals. He used a donkey to warn His prophet. He used birds to feed another prophet. And what I know is that when God uses animals, they obey Him! We’re the only ones dumb enough not to obey God! Animals seem to get it. When God says, “Hey, line up,” they’re like, “We’re lining up. You don’t need the boys out there with the whip to get us into the box. God said it – donkey go!” We’re the ones who say, “I’m not doing that. I’m not going there. I’ve got my own thing.” The animals - they obey!
10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth. [Again, listen to the detail.] 11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.
The Bible makes it clear that the water came down and that water from within the Earth came up, but we really don’t know how it happened. Some people say this was the first time that it ever rained. How many of you have ever heard that – that this was the first time that it ever rained? Yeah, that’s what I was taught, but understand, the Bible doesn’t say that. It might have been the first time, but we have no clue. What we have is God saying, “This is going to be a catastrophic, geological tragedy from the heavens and from the Earth in such a proportion that no one has seen before.”
But for some reason, we seem to think it’s easier to believe that Noah’s trust in God was more significant because it had never rained before. He’s building a boat and he’s never even heard of rain. Listen, even if it had rained every single day of Noah’s life, he could not have understood what God was doing… and yet, he obeyed Him. We’re told not once but twice – “Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.”

A Few Things About Godly Obedience

Let me tell you a few things about Godly obedience. This is for all of us, but especially for you dads, for us dads as we’re trying to bring salvation to your families.

Godly Obedience Will Set You Apart

First, Godly Obedience Will Set You Apart. Again, let me tell you what the Bible doesn’t say. No one called Noah a name. I grew up in a church where, for 120 years, Noah was building an ark and people were making fun of him. That was ironclad. That’s the story of Noah! It’s not in the Bible. Nowhere are we told that people mocked Noah.
Where did we get that? Well, 2 Peter calls Noah a “preacher of righteousness.” Because of what we studied last week, we know that the culture was violent and evil and corrupt. You can assume that if your neighbor starts building a project that begins to work its way out of the garage into the street and down the block about 450 feet, you’re going to notice! This isn’t something that he could keep covered under a tarp in the backyard! But we don’t know how the people responded.
It’s true. In this society, in this culture, he could have been mocked every single day, but he kept plodding on in obedience. Or, he could have been some sort of local celebrity. “Where are you guys from?” “Oh, we live about three clicks away.” “Oh, is that, is that anywhere close to where the guy is building that huge barge?” “Noah? Oh yeah… I went to school with him.” “Have you seen that thing?” “Uh huh – sure have! I go by it every day on the way to work.” “Family and I have been thinking about taking a trip up there to see it!”
Could be. You don’t know - it could be! People travel out of their way to see a big ball of twine! It could have happened like that! I mean, someone builds something 450 feet long, they dedicate 120 years of their life to it… maybe he’s mocked… maybe people are taking trips to see it… either way, he is set apart.
There is no doubt in my mind, there was nobody else building a 450-foot boat. “Whatcha working on there, Noah?” “I’ve got me a 450-foot boat.” “Really? Dude, the guy down the street’s doing the exact same thing. Did you get your plans through the mail or did you get them from that Pinterest? Everybody’s doing it!”
No. If you follow God to His specifics and His details, it will set you apart from the crowd. Make no mistake about it. It was true then and it’s still true today.
Now I know, we have a tough time with this. I want my God, but I don’t want Him to make me separate from the culture that I live in. I want my God and I want to raise my family to be followers of Christ, but I don’t want us to be weird. I don’t want to be mocked, and I certainly don’t want my son to be mocked!
I don’t know if Noah was mocked. I don’t know if he was a local celebrity and the people just didn’t buy what he was selling. I do know this: In a culture that was painted in the last chapter, a culture very much like ours, here was a guy who heard it from God once and did it. That set him apart. Seven years into it he didn’t throw in the towel because it didn’t make sense. That set him apart! Forty years into it, he didn’t raise the white flag and say, “God, You’ve got to show me something else.” Sixty years into it, when it seemed like he was never going to finish the project and not a single animal or friend had asked to come on board, he didn’t stop cutting trees. Godly obedience will set you apart.

Godly Obedience Can Get Uncomfortable, Smelly, and Incredibly Painful

Godly Obedience Can Get Smelly

Godly Obedience Can Get Incredibly Painful

A few other things about Godly obedience, and I’ll give these to you quickly because they’re tough to hear. Trust me, they’re tough to say. Godly Obedience Can Get Uncomfortable, Godly Obedience Can Get Smelly - I just don’t know how else to say that… sometimes obeying God stinks - and Godly Obedience Can Get Incredibly Painful. Noah’s family is uncomfortable. Literally, it stinks. I don’t care if the animals were hibernating – the ark had to stink! Three floors of a zoo and you’re living in the middle of it? I’m sure by Month 3 they were hanging out at the ventilation windows every single day. It stinks!
You know, if somebody once told you that following God was the best decision you could ever make, I would agree with them one hundred percent, but I hope they included that it wasn’t going to be easy. I hesitate to say this, but God may take you through Hell to populate Heaven. Is that okay with you? And God may put you in some of the darkest times and some of the most hurtful situations in order to reach somebody who is there in that dark time as well. Is that okay?
Oh, Noah had Godly obedience, but it wasn’t fun. I can promise you that. Noah was a preacher of righteousness but after 120 years, not a single person showed up. A hundred and twenty years of obeying… A hundred and twenty years of doing something simply because God told him to, and there’s not a shred of evidence that he’s changed anybody else’s life. One hundred and twenty years of leaving whatever his dreams were, whatever his occupation was, whatever his hopes were for his boys and his grand-kids and the future and his family, a hundred and twenty years dedicated to God, and at the end of that time, when he watched his three sons and their wives and his wife get into the boat, he had to stand there at the opening and realize, “This is the same sized church I started with a hundred and twenty years ago.” Whew!
And then it started to rain...
I’ll tell you one more thing the Bible doesn’t teach that we tend to believe. Nowhere does it say that when the rain started falling and the water started rising that people starting banging on the door. Maybe they did, but I tend to think that the water came so suddenly, there was no time. When people are running for their lives, they’re not really thinking about which direction to go.
I’ll tell you one more thing the Bible doesn’t teach that we tend to believe. Nowhere does it say that when the rain started falling and the water started rising that people starting banging on the door. Maybe they did, but I tend to think that the water came so suddenly, there was no time. When people are running for their lives, they’re not really thinking about which direction to go.
We’ve seen in our own lives the tragedies of the hurricanes and the tsunamis. You don’t color those pictures. You don’t pass them out to kindergartners to make crafts out of them. When it comes to the real tragedy of human life that is lost just in our own local floods, you don’t sing songs about that. Somehow we’ve taken this incredible tragedy, and I’m glad they teach it to our kids, but somehow we’ve left it in the elementary classroom and forgotten that this is one of the most incredible… in fact, to date, the most horrific judgment of God that has ever come on the face of the Earth.
All of mankind will perish, and my bet is that Noah took his three sons, his three daughters-in-law, and his wife and they went to the bottom-most deck of that boat and prayed for the animals to be noisy because they didn’t want to hear what was going on outside. Sometimes Godly obedience is incredibly painful.

Godly Obedience Brings Salvation

But you see, God never promises that obedience will keep the storms away, will keep the disappointment, will keep the hurt, will keep the grief away. He simply promises that obedience will get us through it. So, one more blank, and maybe it’s the most important one of all: Godly Obedience Brings Salvation, not just to us but to others as well. It is Noah’s obedience that keeps God’s plan alive in the world. It is Noah’s obedience that saves his wife and his kids. It is Noah’s obedience in standing out and standing apart from the crowd in such a crooked generation that allows God to bring the line of the Messiah, the line of Jesus to the rest of us.
Do you know what amazes me about this story that I’m not sure I’ve ever really caught on to before this week? Parents, dads, listen to me on this one. God did not tell Noah’s sons what was happening. Nowhere in the text do we see that. God did not speak to the daughters-in-law about what was going to happen. God did not tell Noah’s wife what was going to happen. Adult kids followed a really old man into the most unexplainable, craziest of ideas. How does that happen? It doesn’t, unless Noah was a man who led his family with character and integrity… unless he was trustworthy. I’m still guessing, though that all three of his adult sons probably sat him down and said, “Forgive us, Pop. You’re going to have to run that by us one more time. What did God say? We’re going to all quit our jobs and start doing what with you?”
Really? How many of you struggle with your kids taking out the trash? Try a hundred and twenty year barge project!
There is something about this guy’s obedience and the way that he led his family where maybe even his wife said, “Honey, are you sure this was God?” “Without a doubt.”
“Yeah, but in that time, women couldn’t….” Really? Job’s wife? “Why don’t you just curse God and die.” That wasn’t Noah’s wife’s reaction.
Parents, moms, dads, it is important to bring your kids to church, but even more important is to live it out the other six and a half days in front of them in such a way that they know… even if they stray away from it, they know, “That’s what I need to follow.”
(NIV84)7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark [Why?] to save his family…
God’s primary tool for reaching your family member, your neighbor, you coworker, your son, your daughter, your spouse, that person in your life that you care about… God’s primary tool for reaching them is you. It always has been. It always will be. We are the church, and by the church, I mean the people of God, not a building! We are Plan A. There is no Plan B. It is our obedience, even when we don’t understand… it is our obedience, living in this generation, following God regardless of how many years we’ve been doing it and it doesn’t seem to pay off… it is our obedience, even when life is hard and painful and maybe it even stinks… it is our obedience that causes someone else to say, “Hey, I need to talk to somebody. I think it might be you.”
It’s the incredible reality of the world that we still live in today. There are people outside that are drowning, people that are bent on living their life their way, doing it their way… and you may be a person of righteousness… you may be someone who tells others about who you are and the God that you believe in… you may be someone with a heart for them…
I just want to encourage you, regardless of who seems to be listening or not listening. Don’t give up! The end is already written. The reason why Noah continued is because he knew the end of the story. He had heard it from God Himself.
Today, there is no doubt about the end of our story. We’ve heard it from God Himself. The only question is, “What will we do with it?” Who needs to see our obedience when things are uncomfortable, when things are painful, when things maybe even stink? Who needs to see us obeying God, even when we don’t understand Him?
Don’t give up!
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