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God’s Word for You

Hebrews 11:7

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, December 10, 2014

7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

Noah’s story of faith is a lonely one in a world filled with unbelievers. For a hundred and twenty years he worked on the ark after God warned him about the day the flood would come (Genesis 6:3-13). The world didn’t believe that what God had promised would ever take place. The very act of Noah’s shipbuilding was a sermon condemning their unbelief. The years wore on: thirty years, forty, fifty, a hundred, and more. Noah’s sons grew up and grew old helping him with the vast ship, but no one turned away from their unbelief. Then, 115 years after God warned Noah about the coming flood, Noah’s father Lamech died. Five more years came and went. The huge ark, three stories tall, a football field and a half long, was finished. Lamech’s father, Noah’s grandfather, the ancient Methuselah, died as well—969 years old. He was the last man on earth to have been alive during Adam’s lifetime. Between them, Adam and Methuselah lived just a few months short of two thousand years, from curse to curse.

Then the rain began, the greatest storm the earth has ever seen. Water came surging up from below ground. The sky fell and fell in a torrent that lasted a whole month, and then another whole week, and still the rain fell. Dams and dykes disappeared after a few days; lakes pushed into valleys, rivers flooded fields and villages, and then, no longer held back by the vanishing coastlines, the surge of the sea itself came rushing and roaring in. Whole continents disappeared until even the mountains were covered. If some people attempted to survive in sailing ships or rafts or on pieces of drifting wreckage, they did not last long, because “all mankind perished” (Genesis 7:21).

The water level stayed as it was until the sheer weight of it all finally broke through somewhere, deep under the waves, and a hundred and fifty days after the flood began, the water finally began to recede. The current of the sinking world-wide ocean brought the ark to rest in the mountains of Ararat on the modern border between Turkey and Armenia.

When Noah and his family of eight finally left the ark, they stepped out into a world destroyed and remade. God used them to replenish the animals and birds; the Lord himself preserved plants and fish. One thing remained as well: sin was still in the world, in Noah and his family. They were nor perfect, but they were forgiven sinners just like us. Noah was the heir of righteousness, and through Noah’s son Shem, the Savior would come. The Lord is Noah’s Savior, Shem’s Savior, and your Savior too.

Let the story of the flood bring you grief over your own sins, knowing that this is God’s judgment of all who do wrong. Yet let the story of the ark bring you joy, because the same waters that condemned mankind also buoyed up the ark and preserved the remnant by the grace of God. Those who perished in the flood were specifically confronted by the risen Christ when he descended into hell to proclaim his victory over Satan. Jesus “went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built” (1 Peter 3:19,20). But then Jesus appeared as the risen Lord to Peter and John and many others. His resurrection reminds us that we are buoyed up and carried along by his grace, and that on the Last Day, we too will step out of our graves into a world destroyed and remade—but where sin will no longer exist. All thanks and praise to Jesus our Savior.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.