December 2, 2019
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
9 This is the account of Noah and his family.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 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 three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. 16 Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. 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.
7:11 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.
13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. 14 They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. 15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.
17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. 18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. 20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. 21 Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.Genesis 6:9-22; 7:11-23
On Friday, millions in this country trusted that Black Friday deals would save them money. I was one of those millions, and I believe we were able to get some really good deals. When this time of year comes around and you hear about the possibility of getting a good deal on something you want or need for yourself or someone else, you prepare for the day when you can get up early, get your coffee, wait in line outside the store, run to the aisle, grab your item, wait in line to pay and then get home to celebrate your savings, or you just set an alarm on your phone for midnight, ordered everything on your phone while still in bed and went back to sleep. When you hear about a good deal you prepare yourself for it, and you can’t help sharing the good deal with others. In our reading from Genesis 6 and 7, Noah trusted the promise of God’s coming to save him and his family.
Noah was surrounded by a world that did not want to be saved. Since Adam and Eve fell into sin, the world grew more and more evil as more and more sinful people were born into it. In the opening verses of our reading from Genesis 6, we hear, 11 “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.” God’s intention for mankind to be the object of his love and for them to love him back had been ruined. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.” If there had been Black Friday sales at the time of Noah, people trampling over one another, fighting and killing would be the norm at every store. All the people placed all their trust in what would make their life better at the expense of everyone else. Selfishness ruled the hearts of the people. They only wanted to be prepared for what made them happy, and not for what pleased God.
Noah was different from the people of his time. Noah trusted in God to save him from the sinful world as our reading from Genesis 6 described him, 9… “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” He believed the world was lost and that God was going to save it through one of Eve’s offspring as God had promised to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15, “he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” This was the first promise of Jesus, who would crush the devils head defeating him, and in order to defeat him be struck, rejected and put to death on the cross. Death would not hold him though, and Jesus rose keeping his promise to save the world and give us the sure hope of the resurrection to eternal life. Noah trusted in God’s promise of the coming Savior, and so he trusted God’s promise of the flood and his promise to save him and his family. And, this is how God told Noah how to prepare for the flood, 14 “So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.” And, 22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.
Those who trust in God’s promise to save them prepare for his coming. Before the flood, God gave Noah a way to prepare to be saved and, in our gospel, reading from Matthew 24, Jesus gave us similar advice. Jesus said, 37 “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Jesus’ point was that there were so many who were not prepared for the flood, and so it will be at his coming. The day the raindrops started falling people just moved their picknicks indoors and kept on with whatever was on the calendar, but ignorance did not save them from the flood. The same is true for us with the coming of Jesus. Now, this reading from Matthew 24 speaks about Jesus’ second coming, but in order to be ready for that, you have to believe in Jesus’ first coming.
As Noah believed in the flood because he trusted in God’s promise to Adam and Eve, so we believe Jesus will return on Judgment Day because we trust he rose from the dead. We just finished the season of End Time in the church year, where we focused on Jesus return to judge the world and how we are free from that Judgment through Jesus. Heaven will be yours someday, and that is because Jesus left heaven so long ago to come here and save you. Today we begin a new church year with the season of advent, a word from the Latin meaning “coming.” Jesus first came into this world so that you would be prepared to be with him in the world to come. God only wants those who are good to be with him in heaven. Which is a problem because we are not good. We are all sinful, unworthy, not perfect and not righteous because of Adam and Eve’s sin passed down through the generations, so we cannot enter heaven. So, God had to prepare us for heaven and he did this through Jesus as God inspired Paul to write in Romans 5:19, “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” Through Jesus we are good, worthy, perfect and righteous as we read in Ephesians 5:25-27, … “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” God wants us to be prepared for his coming, and that happens by trusting that he prepared us for heaven through Jesus.
Trusting in God’s promise to come and save you leads you to prepare others. Ignoring God’s promise to save the world through Jesus leads to death, and there are many who do not believe. God will keep his promise to save you from the fallen world, but that promise is not just for you. Until Jesus comes back, you have work to do by preparing others for his coming.
You will save others like Noah did by telling them God’s promise of coming to save them. When God shared with Noah his plan to destroy the world, he did not tell Noah to build a little raft for himself while the world perished. Instead, God told Noah to build a huge ark in which God would save all the land animals and birds. In the ark, God also saved Noah and his family. When the rains began to fall, we read in Genesis 7, 13 “On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark.” God wanted to save more people than Noah through the message to build an ark to be kept safe from the flood. God wants more than you and me to be saved by hearing the gospel, which is summarized by these words from John 3:16-18, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” God wants the world to hear about Jesus, so that whoever believes will be saved. God used the words “world” and “whoever” in order to be as general as possible, so that everyone is included in those who need to hear and those he wants to save.
Time is growing shorter for us to share this important message. As Noah got closer and closer to finishing the ark, I imagine it became more and more serious for him to make sure his family would be with him on the ark. At the same time, as he got closer and closer to finishing the ark, the list of those who mocked him for his preparations grew longer and longer. As Noah worked on the ark, the visual proof of his faith in God, he faced the temptation not to tell those who saw it what it meant. If someone walked by who mocked Noah or had hurt him in the past, then it would be easy for Noah not to tell them what was coming. You and I do the same thing when it comes to telling people about Jesus’ coming. You and I come up with all kinds of excuses for not sharing Jesus with others, but they are all wrong, selfish and unloving. Our reading from Romans warns us to get rid of all selfishness, and to live as people of the light, 11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Paul encouraged the Romans to follow God, to love him and all others. They would do this by fighting against sin and holding to Jesus. They would do this by sharing their faith so that others would be free from darkness and alive in the light of Jesus.
The final verse of our reading is a sobering reminder of God always keeping his promises. When God sent the flood, 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. The trust that Jesus came into this world to save you is not trivial. The ease of talking about gifts and gadgets rather than God at Christmas is a true temptation and it has eternal consequences for all involved. As sure as the flood came at the time of Noah, Jesus came 2,000 years ago to save you. There is no other message, gift, mission, priority, etc. more important to prepare for and prepare others for than for the birth of our Savior.
On Friday, millions in this country trusted that Black Friday deals would save them money. Billions have not heard that they will be punished for their sins in hell after they die. More than that, they have not heard that there is complete freedom from that punishment through God’s one and only Son, Jesus. As you prepare for the coming of Jesus, be prepared to share with others what you are looking forward to. Whether you get up get up early, get your coffee, go to work, school, the gym, the store, or are sitting in bed on your phone, let others see you trust the promise of God’s coming to save you. And, you want them to be save too. Amen.