November 29, 2020
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
Genesis 6:1-3, 5-14, 17-22
Genesis 6:1-3, 5-14, 17-22
1 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
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.
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.
Last night we went to the Dallas Zoo Lights. The Dallas Zoo hosts the event each year and allows people to go through the Zoo at night to see Christmas lights. We began planning the event weeks ago. We had family in town for Thanksgiving, and we knew it would be a special treat for them to see, not to mention for our young kids to see. And as we drove through the Zoo, I could not help thinking about Noah’s Ark and the Flood what with all the animals and the rain. I was thinking about how all the animals could fit on the Ark and after a little research, it turns out that the Ark would have had the interior space of the equivalent of 569 modern railroad stock cars, which would be a train that is about 5 miles long. And, keeping in mind that it was just for the animals that could not have survived in the water, and now that there is a full-sized replica, it is clear to see how the Ark would have made a fine home for all those creatures and Noah’s family. And so often we get lost in those details of the flood, but that was not the reason God revealed what happened at the flood.
The events of the flood occurred because God saw how wicked the world had become. As I read through the words of Genesis 6, I pictured the scene between God and Noah as God spoke these words, 13 … “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.” I picture Noah’s horrified face as he pictured the destruction of all the people and the earth. I also picture what God had watched century after century as more and more people were born and lived without a care for who he was and what he had given them. God would have seen families falling apart because parents neglected their calling to teach their children about right and wrong, to treat them with patience and kindness, and to tell them about God and let them figure out whatever path they wanted to follow. God would have seen such violence between people who could not settle their arguments with words, but resorted to name calling, ruining reputations, violence and murder. God would have seen people using one another for entertainment and what felt good in the moment, then moving on to someone new without any regard for relationships, stability or marriage as God designed it. God would have seen corrupt, selfish hearts eager for the next best thing, unsatisfied and unhappy, and willing to believe any claim that something would finally make them feel complete, when each claim failed to live up to their expectations. God saw all of this happen because the people of the earth had rejected him as God, the Creator and the one who had promised to save them through one male offspring as God told Adam and Eve, the parents of all of us.
Though the news of destruction would have horrified Noah, he also knew God was right. The violence and wickedness of the world was caused by sin, and the consequence of sin was death. Yet, the people of Noah’s time lived such long lives, centuries rather than decades, before they died giving them ample time to destroy their lives and the lives of others with their wicked ways. So, God said, 3 … “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” Here God was not saying that people would only live for 120 years, for the people after the time of the flood continued to live longer than that. Plus, later in Psalm 90 Moses admitted that most live seventy or eighty years. Instead, God was revealing that in 120 years the flood would destroy the earth. Learning this, Noah now had work to do. Yes, he had the work to do for building the ark, but more than that, he had a message to share. In 2 Peter 2, we get this description of Noah, 5 “if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;” God was serious about destroying the people and the world, but he had provided a preacher, a sharer of the message for people to hear. Noah was to call the people to repent and turn from their evil ways. If Noah neglected to tell others about the coming flood and, when they would listen, how God provided rescue, both with the ark and rescue through the promise of the Savior, then he would have been just as loveless and wicked as those around him.
Yet, it is not easy to share the message of God’s destruction. It would have been a difficult task for Noah to share the news of the flood with a world he knew deserved destruction for their wickedness. It would also have been difficult because of the rejection by the many who did not believe him. Even as he built the ark and as the animals came to him, Noah faced the temptation to change his message, but he could not because God was working in him and through him. As with all those who have faith, when the message of God’s promise to destroy and save is in their hearts, they must speak as the prophet Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 20, 8 Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. 9 But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” The love of God burns within us so that those who have heard what God has promised must tell others.
You and I need the reminder of God’s promise to destroy and save preached first to ourselves before we go out to tell others. During this season of Advent, with means “coming,” we look at the promises leading up to the birth of Jesus; his coming into the world to save us. We return to the promises of Jesus’ birth year after year to keep us from compartmentalizing God in our lives. Compartmentalizing or decided what in our lives does or does not have to do with God does not let God be God, nor does it let his revealed Word, the Bible speak for itself. Rejecting the message of God and deciding when it does or does not fit into life is what the people of Noah’s time had done until they did not see any reason for God to be in their lives. There are times when we act as if determining who God is happens by getting out a white board and some dry erase markers, and start throwing out ideas about who God is, then taking the consensus and living as if that is who God is. Or worse, we just use ambiguous terms for God and join with those around us in living our lives without really putting a lot of effort into sharing the teachings and details of who God is because we all just want to make the world a better place. The truth is, the world is a violent place as God said to Noah and continues to be one because of you, me and all people, our wickedness and sin, which we cannot change. The only way to get rid of the wickedness and sin is destruction, to destroy it, to put it to death. This is why the flood happened, it is why some were saved on it, it is why Jesus was born, lived, died, rose and ascended into heaven, why we share the Word of God and even why we baptize all people.
When God announced to Noah the flood, he also announced his covenant to save his people. The word covenant can also be translated as an agreement or promise made between multiple parties. Here in Genesis 6, the covenant was between God, Noah, Noah’s family and Noah as the caretaker of the animals, as we read, 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.” The flood was coming, but God wanted to save some from destruction. The flood cleansed the world of wickedness, and also God preserved Noah and his family so that he could preserve life and keep his promise of sending the Savior. And finally, Jesus was born to Noah’s descendants. He was born a human being like you and me. Jesus was born without sin, so he did not deserve destruction or death, which allowed him to offer his good, perfect, sinless life as a trade on the cross to be put to death in our place. He then rose from the dead as proof that you and I will rise, and he now waits in heaven for his second coming to the destroy the world and save you from it by taking you to heaven.
This message is the message of the Bible, the message of God’s love, deliverance and the Savior. This is the message Noah held onto. This is the message we share with each other to encourage each other when the wicked world overwhelms us and when we fall into the temptations of the world. We also baptize one another because through baptism God promises deliverance from the destruction of our sins, death and hell. In 1 Peter 3, Peter revealed the power of baptism by referencing the flood, 20 … “In it[the ark] only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” Your baptism was saving water. It was not just a physical cleansing, but it is the promise of a clear conscience, no guilt or sin before God. And the guarantee that your baptism saves you is Jesus’ resurrection.
You have been saved from the destruction planned for this world through Jesus’ coming. The words used to describe Noah in Genesis 6 describe all who believe, 9 … “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” By faith we walk through this world well aware of its wickedness and the evil in our own hearts. We walk through this life certain God is coming to destroy it. We walk through this life certain God has saved us through Jesus. We also walk through this life not knowing when God will return to destroy the world and save us from it as Jesus said in Mark 13, 32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” Until Jesus returns you and I are preachers for one another like Noah for his family. In many ways, you can think of churches as mini arks. Where the family of believers gather together to hear the message of Jesus our Savior from destruction, sin, death and the devil. Even your home then is a mini ark where you gather yourself, your family, friends or even those you have not known very long to tell them of God’s promise to save us from destruction through Jesus.
As you walk through this life, walk with God. Recognize the world for what it is, doomed to destruction, and recognize God for who he is, the one who made you and sent his Son to save you. These are the truths to hold dear at Christmas and even the truths to hold dear on a trip to the zoo, and the truths to hold dear when the wicked world threatens your faith. You know the day Jesus came to save us, and you know when destruction comes God promises to keep you safe. Amen.