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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - Holding Back the Flood

Craig Smith - Holding Back the Flood

Craig Smith - Holding Back the Flood
TOPICS: Noah, Faithfulness

Well, hey, we’re starting a new message series today on the story of Noah and his Ark, which is maybe one of the most familiar stories in the whole Bible. Even if you’ve never been to church or never opened the Bible, you’ve probably heard at least a little of the story of Noah. But it’s also probably one of the most misunderstood stories in the Bible. Because everybody when they tell the story that they tend to corrupt it one way or another. I mean, I know Hollywood corrupts it. A few years ago, Hollywood released a major motion picture called “Noah” with Russell Crowe as the star, and honestly, if you watch that, it kind of seems like the whole point of it is that God is cruel. Which is a corruption of the story for sure.

But I can’t get too mad at Hollywood, because the reality is the church does the same thing. We also corrupt the story. Only instead of making it cruel, we make it cute, right? We literally tell the stories with puppies and rainbows. I remember when my first daughter was born, people said, “Oh, you’re a pastor. So you’re gonna decorate the nursery with like a biblical theme right?” And I was like, “Like what biblical theme were you thinking of?” And everyone seemed to say the same thing like, “Noah’s Ark.” And I was like “That’s a terrible idea.” Like I was picturing like a border of waves and little people drowning in the waves. Like, why would you put that in a little kid’s room? That doesn’t make any sense to me at all. But that’s not how we tell the story right? If we tell the story, it’s cute, right? And we sing songs like, I remember…how did it go? The Lord told Noah, there’s gonna be a floody floody. Anybody, which isn’t even good theology. It’s not like God was like, “Oh, there’s a flood coming, I should do something.” That’s not what happened.

Well, we corrupt the story. We either make it cruel, we make it cute. And then we just sort of miss it. And the reality is, it’s not a cute story. It’s a pretty raw story, actually. And it’s a strange story in some ways, in fact, there’s some elements of the story, including one we’re gonna look at today, that is so strange that we typically don’t even teach them we just kind of skip over them, or at least we skim over them really quick, which I think is a mistake. Partly because the Bible says that all Scripture is useful, helping us become like Jesus and join him on a mission to kind of paraphrase what he says that all Scripture is useful, even the strange parts. In fact, the part that we’re gonna look at today, which is really kind of the setup for the story of Noah’s Ark, even though it’s a little bit strange, in it, we find ourselves as followers of Jesus being forced to ask a really important question, which is this? “Where do I start to make things better? Where do I personally start to make things better?”

Because it’s easy to look at the world and go, “Things have gotten bad,” right? We got global pandemics, we got civil unrest, we got political tension, we got racial injustice, it’s easy to look at the world and go, “Man, I don’t think it’s ever been this bad.” In fact, I know probably some of you have looked around lately and thought, “I don’t think it’s ever been this bad.” One of the things we’re gonna see in the story of Noah’s Ark is yeah, it has. In fact, it’s probably not as bad now as it was back then. Today, we’re gonna see why I say that. But we’re not as followers of Jesus supposed to look around and go, “Wow, things have gotten bad. There’s a lot of sin, there’s a lot of wickedness.” But we’re supposed to ask the question, “God, how am I supposed to help? God, how am I supposed to be making things better?”

And as we begin to look at the size of the task in front of us, it becomes very easy as followers of Jesus to go, I don’t think I can do anything. I don’t think I can make a difference, but we can. And so the question we’re gonna ask today and answer is, “Where can I personally start to make it better?” Why don’t you go ahead and grab a Bible, I’ll show you what I mean. We’re gonna be in Genesis chapter 6 today. Genesis chapter 6. If you don’t know the Bible, real well, that’s not a hard book to find. Genesis is the very first book. So just start there and turn a few pages until you get to Genesis chapter 6. Now, while you’re making your way there, I wanna tell you a couple of things about the Book of Genesis that I think we need to understand so that we can make sense of the passage we’re gonna look at today.

Okay, so the couple of things about Genesis I wanna make sure we all understand. Number one is this, is that Genesis is what we call prescriptive history. Genesis is prescriptive history. And that may not be a term you’re familiar with. What I mean by that is there’s two kinds of history. There’s descriptive history and there’s prescriptive history. Descriptive history is what most of us learned in elementary school. How many of us just loved history in elementary school? Not a lot of hands going up. Here’s the reason. It’s because you learn descriptive history, which is just describing what happened in the past. It’s all about names and dates, and facts and figures, and times and places. And then they pour all that into your head, and they’re like, “And now what?” They’re like, “Now we go into the next era.” Here’s more names and dates, and facts and figures, and times and places, and we don’t do anything. It’s just describing what happened in the past. Prescriptive history, however, is looking to prescribe things, it’s looking to prescribe a particular way of living. And in particular, when we think about the Bible, prescriptive history describes what happened in the past to help us live faithfully in the present. Are you with my church? Does that make sense? That’s what Genesis does. It describes what happened in the past in order to help us to live faithfully in the present.

So Genesis is prescriptive history, it is history. Let’s be clear on that. Okay. It’s describing historical events, it’s describing what happened. Everything in the Book of Genesis describes to taking place actually took place. And I know some people are like, “Including all of humanity was wiped out, except for one family and they were saved because they built a really big boat. Are you telling me that’s history?” Yeah, I am. I really believe that’s the case. And I believe that partly because the Bible says so and I’ve come to trust the reliability of the Bible historically. But also I say it because almost every culture on the planet on every continent of the planet has stories of something very similar. The stories of a great flood that destroyed most of humanity.

In fact, my youngest daughter Lynae was in a college mythology class recently. And then the teacher pointed out, she said, “Yeah, it’s always crazy. Like all of these cultures, even though they don’t have any real connection to each other that we can see, they all seem to have a story of a great flood. In fact, many of them have a lot of very similar elements of the story of Noah’s Ark that we find the Bible.” And she said, “That’s the weirdest thing. How did that happen?” And I was like, “I have an idea. It actually happened. It actually is a part of history. And people remember it, even though it’s been distorted throughout the years okay.”

So yes, I believe that the Bible is describing historical events. Noah’s Ark is a historical story, but it’s describing what happened in the past, in order to help people live faithfully in the present. And that’s a very important thing to understand about it. I think it’s also important to understand that the Book of Genesis itself, the Book was written, it was originally written when God’s people were facing some specific challenges to living faithfully. The Book of Genesis was written at a time when some of God’s people were facing some very specific challenges to living faithfully. Okay, what were those challenges? And what was the situation? Well, you may know some of the story. The Book of Genesis was written by a man named Moses. Moses was the man that maybe you’ve heard that name, he led the Israelites, the Israelites were the people of God, and they had been enslaved in Egypt for several hundred years. And then God raised up Moses who led the Israelites out of Egypt, and he led them to the edge of a place called The Promised Land.

Now, the Promised Land was called the Promised Land because God had given it to the ultimate ancestor of the Jewish people, a man named Abraham. He’d given it to him. He promised him, He said, “This is gonna be the land for you and your descendants.” So it was a promise to them, okay. And so Moses led the Israelites, the people God out of Egypt, he led them to the edge of the Promised Land, and on the edge of the Promised land, they looked in and they went, “Okay, we have a problem. It’s not empty, there are some people living there.” And so here’s what happened. Basically, Genesis was written when a group of God’s people were struggling to take possession of God’s promises. Are you with me?

It’s a group of God’s people, the Israelites, they were struggling to take possession of God’s promises. And see this is the way that it usually works, God promises, and God is faithful to his promises. But we are called to step forward into those promises to take possession and then we have to move forward in faith. And the Israelites were saying they’re going, “I don’t know that that’s a good idea. There’s people living there.” And basically, the people presented two different challenges. The first challenge had to do with the women living there, because apparently, they were good-looking women. But they didn’t love God. They worship other gods. So I mean, you think about this, basically, they looked good, but they did not love God. And God’s design has always been that people who love God would marry other people who love God, so that the two of them together could raise kids who would hopefully come to love God, that was always God’s design. That was God’s ideal. And God knew that his people were looking at these women, and they were desiring those women. And God knew that if they put their desires for those women above God’s design, it would lead to disaster, which is a pretty good principle in general actually.

Whenever we put our desires over God’s design, it leads to disaster. Here’s how God described the situation, the potential damage. He said, “And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to other gods, to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same. They’ll lead you away from me.” And so that was the first challenge. They looked at the women and they had the challenge, “Are we gonna put our desires over God’s designs? Or are we gonna put God’s designs over our desires?” That was the first challenge they were facing.

The second challenge has to do with the men. They looked into the land, and they saw some men. And particularly, they saw a group of men who were really big, like, really, really big, humans of unusual size. Any Princess Bride fans out there? Yeah.

So big, in fact, that they called them giants. In fact, this is how some of their scouts describe the situation related to this tribe of men. They said, “We saw the Nephilim…which is probably a Hebrew word meaning giants, we saw the Nephilim there, the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim. And we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” So they were these huge, strong men. Now, I know that you hear that word giants, right? And immediately people go, “Really, you’re gonna call this history?” Because the word giant immediately makes you think, it’s myth. It’s some kind of weird, supernatural science fiction kind of thing. But the reality is that these are just unusually tall men. And interestingly enough, in just about 60 years or so ago, there was a man named Robert Wadlow. We have a picture of him here. This is a scale model picture. This is his actual size. There’s a normal human being standing next to him. I’m a normal-sized human being. In fact, I’m 5′ foot 7′, which makes me average for America. I just think we should be clear about that.

Compared to me that guy’s a giant, right? What do you call people that big? You call them giant. Like ever heard of Andre the Giant? We call people that are that much larger than other people, we call them giants. It’s not a supernatural term. There’s nothing really strange about these men. The point is they were just really big and really strong. And the problem for the Israelites was they saw these men, and they went, “I’m not sure we can beat those. Like, I know God’s powerful and all but have you seen the size of these guys? They’re like, really, really big.” And so the danger became that they could focus on human strength, exceptional human strength, but still human strength, and they could forget about God’s power. And those are the two temptations that were facing the Israelites as they stood on the edge of the Promised Land. And it was in that moment that God gave them the Book of Genesis. And what we see here in Genesis 6, at the beginning of the flood account is essentially that God said, “Hey, there was a time in the history of my people, when some of my people faced exactly the same two challenges.”

And if we understand that, I think, what we find in Genesis 6 makes perfect sense. Genesis chapter 6, verse 1 says this. “Now, when human beings began to increase in number on the earth, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans or the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.” You might wanna underline that phrase, we’ll come back to it in a minute. They married any of them they chose. And then the Lord said, “My spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal, and their days will be 120 years.”

Now, bottom line is that something’s happening and God’s not happy about it. Something’s happening and he’s not happy. And we know he’s not happy because he’s pronouncing judgment, right. He says, “My spirit will not contend with humans forever.” The word contend to means to wrestle with, it’s a striving for control. Now, interestingly enough, ever since Adam and Eve sinned, that has been what’s been happening, ever since Adam and Eve looked at God and said, “Hey, we appreciate life and everything, but I think we’re gonna take it from here. I think we’ll call the shots from here on out.” They were beginning to contend with God for control. It became a question of whose designs and whose desires went out, right? And then they were basically going, “I think my desires are more important than your designs, God.” And so they were wrestling with God for control. That’s been true all along. And now God says, “Yeah, I’m done with that. That’s enough of that. We’re hitting the reset button.” He says, “120 years from now, we’re gonna do a hard reset.”

Now, okay, why 120 years? Some people say, “Well, I think that’s God saying he was going to limit human lifespan to 120 years, people wouldn’t live longer than 120 years.” The problem with that, I think, is that throughout the Book of Genesis after this, there are a bunch of people who live longer than 120 years. So I don’t think that’s great interpretation. Another really common one is people go, “Well, I think that’s how long it took for Noah to build the boat.” Possible. But I think actually, both of those miss the more likely interpretation, which is that God is giving them a grace period, God is giving the human race a grace period in his announced judgment, and then giving them a grace period hoping that they’ll turn it around, that they’ll come back to him. Because this is something that God does consistently, we see this over and over and over again in the Scripture.

In fact, some of you may…you may know the story of Jonah. Jonah was a Hebrew Prophet, he was sent to the city of Nineveh. Because of the great wickedness there, God pronounced a judgment on that city. And Jonah went and he announced to the city in 40 days God is gonna destroy the city. 40 days, why tell them 40 days, why don’t you just do it? Because he was giving them a chance to repent. Now, in that case, the City of Nineveh repented, and God relented, he took away the judgment, which I think is the same thing that’s happening here. Now you go, “But this is 120 years, why so long?” I think it’s because it’s such a big judgment. All of humanity’s being judged so there’s a really big grace period.

And I think this is so important to recognize, because the thing is that sometimes we read some of these stories in the Old Testament, and maybe we read the story of Noah and his Ark, and we go, “Boy, God just seems like he’s full of wrath, and anger, and judgment, and condemnation.” And then you read the New Testament and he seems all gracious and loving. Where’s the grace of God in the Old Testament? Right here. Big judgment, with a big grace period. God is longing for people to turn around, but he’s longing for people to return to him. Okay? There’s all kinds of grace happening here. But interestingly enough, the big question, I think, in this section is not what’s the significance of the 120 years? The big question is why now? Why at this moment in history does God go, “Yeah, I’m done. I’m done fighting with humans on this.” Because they’ve been doing it for hundreds of thousands of years at this point. They’ve been contending with him. Why now is he suddenly going, “Yeah, something just changed.” What was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak? And I think the key is verse 2, you wanna back up with me there again? Verse 2, what does it say? It says, “The sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.” And I encourage you to underline that verse, if you haven’t already, do it now. Any of them they chose is the key phrase there.

The point is, they were taking any woman they wanted. Now remember when this was being written, God’s people are on the edge of the Promised Land. They’re looking at a bunch of women and the temptation was to choose any of them they wanted without regard to the gods that they worshipped. I think the same thing is happening here. They’re choosing any woman they want, without any regard to the gods they worship. They’re putting their desires for these women over God’s designs. Which, by the way, explains another part of the verse that people have been confused by over the years, it explains what the sons of God are.

So people see this phrase, it says, “The sons of God, went to the daughters of men.” Like well, who are the sons of God? And there have been some different interpretations over the years, one of the most common ones in the Christian churches actually is that they were angels. Sons of God were angels, so they went in, and they married human women. And I’m gonna say that it’s possible. And the biggest argument in favor of it is that in the Book of Job in the Bible, the phrase sons of God does refer to angels. But Moses didn’t write Job. And as Moses is using the phrase here, I don’t think it means angels. Interestingly enough, later on, in Moses’ writings, he uses the phrase, “Not sons of God, but Son of God. “And he says, “The nation of Israel, and he calls them the Son of God.” Now that’s interesting. So it’s a phrase being used to refer to people who followed God, God’s people. I don’t think it’s likely that it’s angels, here’s the part of the problem with the angels’ interpretation. One of them is that angels don’t have physical bodies. Angels are…by nature they’re spirits, they’re non-physical creatures. Yes, they can manifest physically for a while, we see that happen in the Bible, but they don’t become human in that moment. They don’t become permanently physical. And whatever’s happening here it’s clearly a group of people getting into permanent physical relationships.

Secondly, Jesus himself taught that angels don’t marry. This seems to go against that. And third, and maybe most importantly, whatever is happening here, clearly, God’s not happy about it and he pronounces judgment, but who gets judged? Humans get judged. If angels are the ones doing this, then why are humans bearing the brunt of the judgment? It just doesn’t make sense. I think it’s much more likely that these are human beings. Okay, so who are these sons of God? I think the best way to think of it is the sons of God, were the faithful remnant of God’s people. They were the faithful remnant of people who claimed to follow God. Are you with me? For the last several hundred and thousand years, most of humanity has gone away from God. They’re putting their desires over God’s designs, they’re contending with God for control. They don’t really want anything to do with God. But there was a small group of people who stayed faithful. There was a small group of people, a remnant, who continued to try to honor God with their lives, continued to try to follow God. That’s the sons of God.

And so it’s kind of a stylized going, okay, the sons of God, God’s people were now they were choosing women from the rest of humanity, the daughters of men, any woman they want without regard to who they were worshiping. In other words, they’re not all that worried about the impact that’s gonna have on their faithfulness, right. So here was the key problem. Here’s half at least of why it is that now God pronounces judgment. It’s because even the faithful remnant were putting their desires over God’s designs. That’s what had changed.

Now, even the last group, the faithful few who claimed to follow God, even they are putting their desires over God’s designs. That’s half the reason. The other half of the reason is this, verse 4, “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days. Say that word again, the Nephilim were on the earth in those and also afterward.” By the way, why I say that? Because he’s right into the group of people who are facing Nephilim themselves. He goes, “Hey, back then there was another group of Nephilim when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. And here’s partly where I think people get confused and why you have some kind of strange interpretations. Because on the surface, it kind of sounds like the Nephilim were the result of the sons of God going to the daughters of men, right? Kind of sounds like the sons of God went into the daughters of men, and they had the Nephilim. And the Nephilim, the word sounds mysterious. Because it’s still in Hebrew, we didn’t translate it. o like, “Oh, these seem like supernatural creatures.”

So yeah, the sons of God must have been angels. Or if they are not angels… By the way, the other interpretation I hear a lot these days is that they were aliens. It’s actually very common. Does anybody watch the History Channel? Like my favorite show on the History Channel is “Ancient Aliens.” I love that it’s better than anything Comedy Central has ever put out. And “Ancient Aliens,” loves this passage. They love the Nephilim. They’re like, “Oh, these are supernatural hybrids between aliens and human beings or between angels and human beings.” Because it sounds on the surface like yeah, the sons of God went into the daughters of men and they had these Nephilim kids. But actually, it’s interesting. If you look at it carefully, it doesn’t say that. It doesn’t say the Nephilim were the offspring. It says they were there at the same time. And what God is saying is, “Hey, you’re facing two challenges.”

As you think about going in and taking possession of all God’s promises, you got two challenges, choosing any one you want without regard to the God that they worship. And these really strong human beings that are inspiring fear. Well hey, there was a time when my people were facing exactly the same thing. There were Nephilim in those days too when my people were doing this thing.

And Nephilim as I said before, it probably means giant. But the reason that we don’t translate it, the reason we literally transliterate it, we keep the same Hebrew sound, but we put it in English letters. The reason we do this because we’re not 100% sure how to translate it. Most of us think it probably means giant. But it’s interesting that the Hebrew root word there literally means, “To fall.” And so a very, very literal translation of Nephilim would be the fallen ones. Which is exactly why people go, “Oh, yeah. angels fell, demons then married women. So they are the fallen ones.” Wait, wait a minute, no. The fallen ones then would be the angels who did that, not their kids. Why call these giant people, why call them the fallen ones? Here’s what I think is happening. God is being ironic. God is naming these really big, strong people that everyone’s afraid of. He’s naming them ironically; he’s naming them sarcastically almost. And what does he call them? He calls them the fallen ones. To tell you what happens to them. In other words, God called them the fallen ones because in spite of their great strength, they fell before God’s power. Does that make sense, church?

God calls them the fallen ones to remind them that in spite of like, they were incredibly strong and powerful and scary, they fell before God’s power back then. And so he tells the Israelites who you’re facing them, “Hey, they’re gonna fall before my power now.” Because here’s the truth, we need to understand this. And it’s amazing how easily we forget it. All human strength falls before God’s power. All human strength falls before God’s power, no matter what it is, of the earth, of the world, of the human race, that we’re tempted to go, “I’m gonna, put my trust there because I think that thing right there, it’s strong enough to sustain me and get me through my problems in life.” All of those things fall before God’s power, and they’re not worthy of our trust. And so God tells the group of people who are afraid of these large men, “Hey, there’s a time when my people were facing very, very similar challenges, including these big, strong men, these sort of paragons of human power.” And the question is, how did they respond to them back then? How did God’s people, the sons of God respond to them back then? Here’s what it says. “They were the heroes of old. They were men of renown, men of fame.”

In other words, they made heroes out of them. They idolized them, they glorified them, which is to say they glorified and idolized their strength. That’s what God’s people did back then. And so basically, why the judgment now? Because even the faithful remnants were focusing on human strength and forgetting about God’s power. That’s the two sides of it. Why after hundreds of thousands of years of people strive with God does God suddenly go, “Yeah, it’s over. We’re gonna do a hard reset.” Because two things that happened. Number one, even God’s people were putting their desires over God’s designs. And number two, even God’s people were focusing on human power and forgetting about God’s power. And so God says, “There’s none of my people left. I have no faithful few anymore, we have to start over.” And 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. And if that doesn’t sound like overkill, you didn’t listen to it. All right, I mean, that’s like really over the top, right? I mean, basically, everything humans are doing and thinking is only bad all the time. How could it get to that point, because the faithful few are gone, the faithful remnant has ceased to be faithful, even the faithful few had ceased to be faithful.

There were no more faithful, there were no more followers. And so they were all off into this very dark place that comes when we live life apart from God, far from him. He says, “Even my faithful few cease to be faithful.” And that’s when he said, “Okay, we got to hit reset. And the Lord regretted that he had made humans on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.” And be careful. A lot of people struggle with that verse. Because if you read it at face value, it really kind of sounds like God made a mistake, right? And it even suggests to some people that maybe God didn’t know it was gonna turn out like this. It’s almost as though God is like, “Well, we’ve got to create human beings, and I have really high hopes.” And like, “Whoa, that did not turn out the way I thought it was gonna turn out.”

People feel like that might be the case. But that’s not what’s going on. Well, what’s happening here is that God’s using human language to try to convey the depth of his emotion at the state of humanity. Because God loves us, God wants to be in a relationship with us. God wants the best for us. And that’s not where they were. They were far from him and they were experiencing the consequences of that. And he’s deeply, deeply emotionally moved by that. And he’s trying to convey that. We do the same thing. We use similar kind of language. I don’t know if any parents out there have ever said, “I am losing my mind out of worry for my kids.” A lot of us have said that at one point or another.

We’re not saying, “Lock me up.” We’re not even saying, “I need medication.” We’re not saying, “I’ve gotten clinically insane.” We’re just trying to communicate the depth of our feelings of frustration at that moment. And that’s what’s going on. He’s using human language to convey the depth of his emotion at where humanity has gone, where his beloved, beloved, children have gone. And so the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race that I’ve created, and with them, the animals and the birds and the creatures that move along the ground.” And that might seem kind of rough for them. But the reality is, we were created to be caretakers of the earth, we’re stewards of the earth. And when the stewards have gone corrupt, we corrupt the things that we’re in charge of.

He says, “For I regret that I have made them.” Again, it’s the depth of his emotion at this point. But here’s what I think we need to make sure we don’t miss and it’s the thing I think so easily gets missed in this story. Again, this is the setup to Noah’s Ark. And the thing we need to notice here is not as much the fact that God judged at this moment, we sort of get that. But why hadn’t he judged up until this moment? In spite of humans contending with God for hundreds of thousands of years, why in this moment has he done it? And the answer is because even the faithful remnant had now ceased to be faithful.

And that tells me something really important that I think we need to understand, which is the faithfulness of a few may hold back the flood of God’s judgment, right, you see that? It held it back maybe for centuries before this. The faithfulness of a few, the faithful few, their faithfulness had held back the flood of God’s judgment, as long as they were there living faithfully as best as they were able, God went, “Okay, we’re gonna keep pouring out grace.” And by the way, that’s not just true here. It’s a consistent pattern that we see throughout the Bible. It’s a consistent pattern of God’s character.

A little bit later on in the Book of Genesis, and again, because that’s where the Israelites are, they needed to hear this. God told their ancestor, a man named Abraham, he said, “Hey, there’s these two cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, they’re totally wicked, and I’m gonna bring judgment upon them.” And Abraham said, Well, hang on a second. What if you could find 50 righteous people living there, would you hold back the judgment?” And God said, “Okay, yeah, find me 50 righteous people I’ll hold back judgment.” And Abraham said, “Interesting. How about for 40? Would you hold it back for 40?” And God said, “I will hold it back for 40.” “Cool. How about 30? Would you hold back judgment if I could find 30 righteous people?” I will.” “Can I get 20? What if we could find 20 righteous people? Would you hold back judgment?” And God said, “I will.” He said, “Okay. How about 10?” Abraham was the ultimate negotiator, right? He said, “How about 10? Can I get 10? If we could find 10 righteous people, would you hold back judgment?” And God answered, “For the sake of 10, I will not destroy it.” Ten people would be enough to hold back the flood of God’s judgment.

Jeremiah 5:1, God said, “Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares, if you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city.” This is a pattern. This is the grace of God. The faithfulness of a few may hold back the flood of God’s judgment. In this case here in Genesis 6, it was literal, but it’s something that we see consistently throughout history. The faithfulness of a few may hold back the flood of God’s judgment on the rest. And that’s an important principle because, well, it means that our faithfulness is pretty significant, isn’t it? But let’s talk about it positively. Let us not just talk about how it is that the faithful of a few may hold back the flood of God’s judgment. Let’s talk about the positive side of that. The other side of that coin, which is this, is that God may reward the faithfulness of a few with grace. God may reward the faithfulness of a few with grace that comes upon the groups that they’re part of. God might reward your faithfulness with grace upon your family. He might reward your faithfulness with grace upon your neighborhood, or your company, or your group of friends, or your community, or your country, or the world. God may reward the grace of a few, or the faith of a few with grace for all. Which means, please don’t miss this. I think this is really the bottom line of this setup to Noah’s Ark. It means that our faithfulness matters more than we think. You hear me, church?

Your faithfulness matters more than you think. We’re always tempted to think that our faithfulness matters mostly for us in our personal relationship with God. And certainly, that’s true. But our faithfulness is not just about us and our relationship with God, it’s also about other people around us. The faithfulness of a few may hold back the flood of God’s judgment, but the faithfulness of a few may also bring blessing. And it works out in a couple of ways. One of them is, as we’ve said, it may hold back the flood of God’s judgment on a group that’s not following him and give them time to repent. But also, it gives us the ability to show them what following God actually looks like. Our faithfulness models an alternative way of living. We can’t expect anybody to repent if they haven’t seen the other way of doing life. We can’t expect people who don’t know Jesus to live like followers of Jesus, especially if they haven’t seen how the followers of Jesus live differently than them. Our faithfulness gives them an alternative. It shows them a different way to do life. It shows them God’s way to do life. And they begin, hopefully, to see how it is that that way is actually better. And they begin to go, “What do you know that I don’t know?” That’s powerful.

So here’s the thing, here’s the question we need to ask as we begin this series. Where might my faithfulness matter more than I’ve realize? Where might your faithfulness matter more than you’ve realized? Where might your faithfulness be important, not just for you and God, but for those around you? Maybe it’s your family, maybe it’s your community? Maybe it’s a group of friends, maybe it’s your company? Maybe it’s our nation? But where might your faithfulness matter more to those around you than you’ve realized? And then the question becomes, “Okay, well, but how do I live faithfully? What does it look like to live faithfully in a way that holds maybe back the flood of God’s judgment, but also maybe invites his blessing? How do I do that? What does it look like to be faithful?”

Well, I think this passage we just looked at provides two really important principles of faithfulness, doesn’t it? Two very important questions to ask ourselves. The first one is just this. Where in my life am I putting my desires over God’s designs? Where in my life am I putting my desires over God’s designs? Because the reality is, we all are, okay. I promise you there are places in my life where I absolutely am putting my desires over God’s designs. But this is what it means to become like Jesus. It’s a gradual process, we say yes to following him, the Holy Spirit begins to work in us. And as that happens, we go through something called discipleship. And discipleship really is just constantly taking the next step of obedience, is taking the next step of surrendering those parts of our lives that we’ve held on to and giving them over to him and beginning to live them according to his design.

We all have those places. Maybe it’s a relationship, maybe it’s finances, maybe it’s politics, maybe it’s how we respond to other people in traffic. I’m being really honest with you, that’s my hard one. Like people cut me off in traffic, my first response, my desire, ram them. Now, I want to tell you up to this point, I have always put God’s design over my desire in that situation. But not always in the way I think about them. Not always in the way I talk to other people in the car about them. And that’s just a little example. The reality is we’re at all these places where we’re putting our desires over God’s design. So where is that in your life? Let God show them to you. And then surrender them to him and begin trying to live differently there, surrendering your desires, and living by God’s design. That’s one of the ways we demonstrate faithfulness.

The second way is just this. Where am I in my life, am I focusing on human strength, and forgetting about God’s power? Where in my life am I focused on earthly things, human things, and going, “That’s what I need to put my trust in, or that’s what I can put my trust in, that’ll get me through it.” Maybe it’s finances, maybe it’s a relationship with someone, maybe it’s politics, that there’s so many different areas that we do this. And I’m not saying we shouldn’t be involved in those things. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be active in any of those things. But I’m saying we cannot put our trust in them. But we all tend to do that. They all tend to attract our trust. And so we have to do a trust transfer.

So where in your life are you focusing on human strength, and forgetting about God’s power? Because it’s as we answer those questions that we begin to figure out what it looks like to step forward being faithful in a way that matters so much more than we realize, not just to us, but to the world. Could you pray with me?

God, we thank you for your Word. We thank you for the greatness of your power. And we thank you that we don’t need to put trust in human things. And we ask for your forgiveness for the ways that we have looked at earthly things and we’ve given them our trust. We’ve glorified them, we’ve idolized them. Maybe there are things that we thought we could get in good with and they would just get us where we wanted to go. Or maybe there are things that we were in fear of and we glorified their strength so it kept us from being faithful. We ask for your forgiveness for those places. And we ask that you give us the strength of your Spirit to move forward, trusting you. And we also ask for your forgiveness for those ways that we’ve put our desires over your designs. Holy Spirit, we invite you to root those places out in our lives, show them to us, give us the strength to admit where we’re doing that, and then to begin stepping forward in faith and trusting you and your designs rather than our desires. Lord, we’re grateful for your grace, knowing that even though we have not done this right, we haven’t done it perfectly, you’re a God of grace, you are God of forgiveness. And that everywhere that your Spirit reveals that we have kind of been like those people of God way back then, even though we’ve done that, even though we’ve done what they did, Jesus forgives us. We don’t move forward in guilt or shame; we move forward in hope of what comes when we truly live in faith.

And if you’re a follower of Jesus, would you do something for me, would you just keep praying, just pray right now. For those that are listening to this message who are not followers of Jesus yet. And if that’s you, I just wanna speak to you for a moment. It may be that today, for the first time, you’ve heard that God is a God of grace, even all the way back into the story that seems like a story of condemnation and judgment, even there God is… he’s pleading for people to return to him because he loves them. Maybe you heard that for the first time. Here’s also what you need to hear. God wants to forgive you. God wants to free you up from the temptation and the burden of trying to live by your own strength. He wants to be in a relationship with you. He wants to put his strength to work in your life. Here’s the proof, here’s how I know that. He loves you so much he sent his own Son Jesus who lived a perfect life. And then Jesus died on the cross voluntarily, in order to pay the price of your sin, to remove the thing that separates you from God. He did that for you because of his love for you because of his grace for you.

And then three days later, the power of God raised Jesus from the dead. That’s another fact of history. He raised Jesus from the dead to prove that he’d accomplished and that he paid off the price. And now Jesus offers his forgiveness for all of our wrong. He offers us adoption into the family of God, we have become the sons and daughters of God. He offers his relationship with God that begins now and goes on forever, eternal life. That’s a gift that he wants to give to you. You just have to decide to accept it. And if you’ve never accepted it, I wanna tell you how to do it right here right now. There’s no reason to wait another moment. You’re just gonna have a conversation with God in your heart, you’re gonna say something like this to God say:

God, I’ve done wrong. I’ve sinned. I’ve been putting my desires over your designs for a long time. And it’s a disaster. Jesus, thank you for dying to pay the price of my sin. I believe that the power of God raised Jesus from the dead three days later. And I understand that Jesus is offering me forgiveness, adoption into the family of God, and eternal life. I’m ready to accept that gift. Jesus, right now I’m putting my faith in you. Jesus, I’m gonna trust you from here on out. I’m saying yes to following you. For now and forever. Amen.

Are you Human?:*