Craig Smith - The Long Wait
Well, hey, welcome to Mission Hills. So good to have you with us whether you’re joining us in person or online for our fourth week of our Noah series. If you’re just joining us, let me get you caught up real quick. So far we’ve seen three kind of big-picture truths about living faithfully. The first one is that our faith matters more than we think. We tend to think that our faith matters between us and God. And that’s certainly true. But the reality is the one thing is the story of Noah teaches us is that our faith matters to the world and matters to people around us. Second big-picture truth we’ve seen is that the way we view sin matters. Often, it’s easy to look out the window, and other people sit and go, “Yeah, that sin matters. That sin is a big deal.” But when we look in the mirror, it’s pretty easy to go, “Yeah, but my sin is not that big a deal.” And there’s no way to live faithfully for thinking wrongly about sin. Now, the third truth we’ve seen is that God never requires from us what he hasn’t provided for us.
Living faithfully takes a toll. Living faith is not an easy thing. There’s a cost associated, but it’s a cost that God always supplies. And any time we feel like we don’t have what it takes to do what God’s called us to do, it’s always because we’ve either overlooked or repurposed a provision, we’re using it for something else. Now, obviously, that’s just a big picture, very, very sort of skimming kind of view of the things that we’ve seen. And so I’d really encourage you if you haven’t heard this message yet, dig in on the app or on a podcast or on the YouTube channel, because there’s a lot that God can say to you about what it looks like to live faithfully. But today we’re gonna dig into one last big idea about living faithfully. I’m just gonna tell you right now, you’re not gonna like it, okay? You’re not. I don’t like it. It’s one of those subjects that comes up kind of pretty regularly in the Bible, and I hate it every single time that it comes up. But it’s one of those truths that if we don’t get a handle on it, we’re never going to really be able to live faithfully. I’ll show you what I mean. Why don’t you go ahead and grab a Bible? Start making your way to Genesis chapter 8, where we find the conclusion to the Noah’s Ark story.
It’s not the conclusion to the story of Noah’s life. There’s another section of scripture in Genesis that talks about some lessons from Noah’s life. But this is the end of the Noah’s Ark story. And I’m going to show you this morning why I’m pretty confident saying that we’ve hit a very clear ending point to the story. But we will begin again in chapter 8,verse 1, where we’re told this, “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.” That is actually the climax of the entire Noah’s Ark story. It’s the pinnacle. It’s the peak. It might be the most important verse in the entire Noah’s Ark story. And I’m not just saying that because I like it a lot or because something just…you know, it grabs my attention. There’s actually a way the entire story is organized that drives us to that one sentence as the most important element of the story. And I’m gonna explain what I mean so you understand why this is such an important thing to pay attention to.
The entire story of Noah’s Ark is organized according to a structure called a chiasm. Now, some of you are going to love this. And some of you are going to be like, “Is this going to be on the final exam?” It’s not gonna be in the final exam. But I want you to understand why I say this verse is so important. The story of Noah is organized according to a chiasm. And a chiasm is a literary structure used a lot in the ancient Near Eastern world where basically they have a series of markers in the first half. And then they revisit each of those markers in reverse order in the second half. And in this case, the markers are all numbers. And so then we’re gonna go ahead and pop up a thing so you can sort of see the structure. In the first half of the story of Noah, there’s a series of numbers. There’s a 7 to 7, 40, and 150. The flood, God said will come in seven days. And then we’re told after seven days, the flood came. The waters below came up, and the waters above came down, and that happened for 40 days. And then there’s about 150-day period where the waters basically ruled over the earth, okay?
Now, what we’re gonna see today in the second half of the story is that we go through each of those numbers but in reverse order, so we’re going to hit the 150, then there’s gonna be a 40, and there’s going to be two 7s. Now, the significant thing about that is that that particular structure, it looks a little bit like an arrow, you see that? And typically, what happens when they use that structure is it drives attention to that center point, it drives attention to the thing that occurs right in the middle. And that’s usually something that has a tremendous amount of weight in God’s mind. And so there’s something about that center point that we’re supposed to lean into and go, “This is really, really important.” And what do we find in that center? What’s verse 8:1? “God remembered Noah.” That may be the most important sentence in this entire thing. The entire structure of the story is designed to get you to and make you lean into the significance of that statement, “God remembered Noah.”
And I think it’s probably important to understand that when we’re told that God remembered Noah that doesn’t mean that he had forgotten, okay? It’s not like there was a flood, and God is looking at the flood, and he saw this little bobbing boat, and he’s like, “That’s an all right. I sent them on a cruise.” Right? That’s not what happened. Okay. We actually see the same sentence several times in the Bible. And every time we see as soon as God remembered, every time the phrase, “God remembered,” is always a reminder that God never forgets. That’s what it actually is. It’s always a reminder that God never forgets. And I think one of the reasons we need to be reminded that regularly is because we often forget that God never forgets, especially if we’ve been waiting on God for a while, right? Especially if there’s an area of our lives where we’ve been praying for God to move, we’ve been waiting for God to do what only God can do, and God hasn’t done it yet, it can get pretty easy in those moments, it can get pretty easy to forget that God always remembers, that he never forgets.
And we begin to wonder if maybe he’s somehow forgotten about us. We can begin to wonder if maybe we’ve somehow slipped off of his radar. But these statements are actually intended to help us understand that that never happens. I love what God said in the Book of Isaiah. God’s people, the Israelites were in one of those moments, they were going, “I don’t think we’re on God’s radar anymore. I think maybe God has forgotten about us.” And this is what God said, Isaiah 49:15, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion to the child that she has borne? Listen, though she may forget, I will never forget you. I will not forget you. See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” It’s a really powerful statement. In the ancient world, it was pretty common for servants to tattoo the names of their master on their hands. But the master never tattooed the name of the servant on their hands. And yet, that’s exactly what God was saying. He was saying, “God as the master, I’ve tattooed the names of my servants, the names of my people.” And that’s how deeply committed God is to you. That’s how impossible it is for God to forget. He said, “It would be easier for a mother to forget her baby than for me to forget you.” It never happens. God never forgets.
And the reason that this is at the center of the story of Noah’s Ark, I believe, is to help us understand that living faithfully depends on remembering that God never forgets. It’s an incredibly important principle for living faithfully. We have to remember that God never forgets. Because when we forget that God never forgets, we go off on our own. When we forget that God never forgets, we take matters into our own hands. When we forget that God never forgets, we give up on waiting for God to do what only he can do. And we jump in and try to do it ourselves. And it almost always ends up in a disaster. And so living faithfully depends on remembering that God never forgets. That’s why that’s the center of the story. There’s another part of what’s going on in the center of the story there that we need to make sure we don’t miss. We’re told, “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.”
He sent a wind, and I put there the Hebrew word for wind, it’s ruach. And the reason that I highlight that is because the Hebrew word ruach can mean wind, but it can also mean spirit. That was sort of the image they used to think about the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit. And then the reason I think it’s important to recognize that is because in the original Hebrew, the sentence here that the wind was sent over the earth is very, very similar, like, suspiciously similar to a statement we have in the creation account in Genesis 1:2. And Genesis 1:2, we’re told that the Spirit of God, the ruach of God, was hovering over the waters. That’s not a coincidence that those two sentences are so similar. The point is, don’t know, we saw last week God is here in the sort of the conclusion of the flood story. He’s taking us back to the creation story, reminding us, A, that he’s in control, but, B, that whatever he does, he ultimately does for good. That’s an impossible-to-miss lesson from the story of creation. Everything God does, he’s doing for good. His Spirit is always working to bring good. And so now, as the flood story comes to an end, we’re told that the Spirit of God is again active.
He’s hovering over the waters again, and what is he looking to do? He’s looking to bring good. It’s an incredibly important reminder because we tend to think, as we’ve said so many times through the series, we tend to think of the story of Noah’s Ark as a story of God’s destruction of sin. We tend to think of it as a story of God’s wrath and condemnation of sin. And certainly, that’s part of it. But we can’t afford to miss the fact that God is only condemning sin here so that he can get to good. What God has done to the world with the flood is only so that he can reset it as he loves it. He’s resetting it so he can redirect it for good. And what we have here is really another reminder that God only tears down so that he can rebuild better. You are with me, church? God only tears down so that he can rebuild better. And you may be at a place in your life where you feel like God’s tearing something down. And that’s hard. It’s painful. You may even be at a place in your life where, because of what God is removing from your life, you’re beginning to wonder if he’s really good. Sometimes we’re like the little kids who can’t understand why a loving parent, why a good mom or dad would take us to this nasty man in a white lab coat who would stick a sharp needle into our arm and bring that pain into our life, “How could you possibly do that, Mom? I thought you were good.” And we do it because we’re good, right? God only tears down to rebuild better. And that’s what God’s reminding us through “The Spirit is hovering.” He’s in the process of beginning to recreate for the purposes of good.
The other thing I think is really powerful here is it’s tied up in that image of the Spirit as wind. And, of course, he’s not saying that the Spirit is the wind, but he is saying the Spirit is a little bit like a wind in that… Have you ever seen a wind? It’s a trick question. You haven’t? What you’ve seen is the effect of wind. You see what wind does, but you don’t actually see the wind. As long as the Spirit of God is like that, we don’t actually see the Spirit, we don’t always see God working, we see the effects of it. But sometimes it takes a little while before we notice the effects, before we understand what is actually driving those effects. And partly, what God’s saying here is this, God is always at work even when we can’t see him working. The Spirit hovering over the waters is a reminder of that truth that God is always at work, even when we can’t see him working. And you may be at a place in your life where you’re wondering if God is really at work or you’re wondering if he really has remembered you, if he’s really looking to rebuild better because you don’t see it. And God wants you to hear the truth that he is always at work in your life, he’s always moving towards good, even when you can’t see it, because he’s like that wind. But he’s always at work.
Those are the truths we find in the very center of the story of Noah. The truth that he never forgets us, that he’s always at work for our good even when we can’t see exactly what he’s doing. That’s in the center of the story. It’s the heart of the story. It’s the most important part of the story. And with that in mind, then we can continue the story. So, now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had closed. And the rain had stopped falling from the sky, and the water receded steadily from the earth. And at the end of one hundred and fifty days, there’s one hundred and fifty, again, the water had gone down. And on the seventeenth day of the seventh month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. And the waters continue to recede until the tenth month. And on the first day of the tenth month, the tops of the mountains became visible, on the first day of the tenth month. And all God’s people went, “Huh?” Here’s why the first day of the tenth month is important. Because here’s the thing, I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, whenever I heard the story of Noah’s Ark, I always had this idea that the story of Noah’s Ark, that the flood lasted for 40 days and nights. Anybody else?
That’s how I pictured. They were in the ark for 40 days and 40 nights. And let’s be clear, forty days and forty nights in that thing would have been a nightmare. Can we just acknowledge that? Because keep in mind, right? We think about all the animals being there as being super cute, right? Like, he’s good. You know, like, he’s got a little zebra, and he’s got a panda there. And it’s really cute. But remember, there’s two of every kind of animal, which means there’s two of every kind of animal pooping, okay? And peeing. And apparently, there’s no windows in this thing, at least they’re not opened, which can you even begin to imagine the smell in that place? Even 40 days would have taken a long time, but it hasn’t been 40 days. What we’re actually told earlier in the story is that the flood came on the seventeenth day of the second month. And now we’re told that the water has receded to the point that the Ark, it’s sort of run aground on the first day of the tenth month. So, if you want to do the math with me, the second month of the tenth month means they’ve been in the ark for how long? Eight months. That’s a lot longer than forty days under some really difficult conditions. That’s how long they’ve been waiting for an opportunity to get out. And yet, even now, they don’t get out.
After forty days, they’ve got a lot of ground, and nothing happens. They just sit there, and after forty days, Noah opened a window that he had made in the ark. And can I just say I cannot believe he waited that long to open the window? Day two, I’d have been like, “I gotta get some air. I don’t care.” But here’s the thing. He didn’t open the window just to get fresh air. He actually opened the window to assess the conditions. Because we’re told this, “And he sent out a raven, and they kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth.” He sent out a raven. Now, this is important to understand what Noah is doing there is actually very, very strategic. He’s actually doing something that’s very wise. In the first half of the story, all the information that Noah needs to act on came directly from God. Okay? In the first half of the story, God said, “Hey, there’s a flood coming. You need to build an ark. It’s gonna have these dimensions. Just get to it.” Okay? In the second half of the story, God doesn’t speak nearly as much. And he calls on Noah to actually use wisdom, okay?
And so what Noah is doing here is he’s sort of assessing the conditions. And so he sends out a raven. Now, that actually was really smart, because a couple things about ravens you’d want to know is, number one, they tend to live in the high country, and that’s where we’ve seen the waters have receded. So, it sort of makes sense to send them out and check out the high country where they would have nested anyway. And second, they ate meat. Ravens are carrion-eaters, they eat dead animals. And I know this doesn’t square with our cute little story of Noah’s Ark, but he sent out a raven because the landscape was good for them. And number two, he was pretty sure they were gonna find food. Yeah, it’s pretty wise of him. But understand what he’s doing is he’s assessing. And what’s fascinating about that, to me, is they’ve been in the ark for over nine months at this point, right? They’ve been in the ark for a long time at this point, and yet, just because the boat hit ground, and just because some land has become visible, Noah has not gotten out of the ark. He’s looking around. He’s continuing to wait. And I find that fascinating because I don’t know about you. But when I’m in a season of my life where I’m waiting on God to do something, I find myself jumping at every little positive development. I can be like, “Maybe that’s it. That’s God moving. That’s it, got to be.”
I remember when I was younger, and I was praying for God to send me a wife. And I’d been waiting for God to send me a wife. Like, every girl who smiled at me, I was like, “That’s her. That’s totally her. That’s clearly God’s provision. God told me that you and I…” That’s what happens, and its reality is that sometimes the longer we wait, the less wise we get. Because we get so desperate that we want to leap into things. And that’s not what Noah is doing. And it’s so important to understand that Noah is continuing to wait. He’s assessing, he’s not assuming that just because things have gotten a little better, that it’s time. And that’s such an important lesson. It’s hard for me, but it’s such an important lesson for me to grab hold of, maybe for you too. Living faithfully requires that we assess rather than assume. Just because some development happens doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s God’s development. It could be a red herring. It could be something that’s actually taking us off the track of faithfulness. And so we have to assess. We have to use wisdom to assess rather than assume that that’s God’s next stage.
That’s what he’s doing, he sends out a raven, and the raven apparently does okay. We’re told that it flew back and forth. And nobody’s quite sure if that means that it flew back and forth from the land that were dried up and the ark or if it was just flying to and fro on the land itself. But the point is it does okay, which you sort of expected it to, and yet, Noah doesn’t jump out of the ark. He watches that for a while. And he says, “Okay, that’s a good sign.” And then he takes another step of assessing. He says, “And then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth.” We’re probably talking about the lower-down areas at this point. And so it returned to Noah in the ark, and then he reset his hand and took the dove, and he brought it back to himself in the ark. So, he takes another step of assessing. He sends out a dove. Now, a dove, unlike a raven, lives in the low country, where humans would normally have lived, and it doesn’t eat meat. So, it would need to find green food of some kind. And so that’s what he does, he sends it out. But it comes back to him because apparently the water at that level isn’t dried up enough. And so Noah goes, “Yeah, I can’t get out yet.” He’s still assessing rather than assuming.
And verse 10 says this, “And he waited seven more days.” I would not have waited seven more days. I will just be honest with you about that. Like, if he came back for the first time, like five hours later, I’d be like, “Get out again. Try it again. I don’t think you looked hard enough.” But he waited seven more days. And then he again sent out the dove from the ark. And when the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So, the green plant life is beginning to come back. And then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. So, of course, he got out, right? No, he waited seven more days. And he sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him. So, interesting, isn’t it? The section begins, he waited seven more days. And then he gets great news. And he waited seven more days. The point is Noah did a lot of waiting. Noah did a lot of waiting. And some of you right now are understanding exactly why at the beginning I said you weren’t gonna like this one. Because this waiting business seems to keep coming up. And we don’t like waiting, right? We don’t. And yet, it’s undeniable that Noah did a lot of waiting.
And by the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. And Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. By the twenty-seventh day of the second month, the earth was completely dry. By the twenty-seventh day of the second month. Now, we saw in the last chapter that on the seventeenth…yeah, the seventeenth day of the second month of his six hundredth year, the flood came. And on the twenty-seventh day of the second month of his six hundred and first year, it was dry. Flood was gone. And I know you didn’t come here to do math today. But the point is it’s been a year. Actually, it’s been a year and eleven days, which is fascinating to me. Some of you are going to love this, others, “Is it on the final exam?” It’s not. But it’s kind of interesting. It’s a year plus eleven days. And what’s interesting to me about that is that the Jewish calendar was a lunar calendar. And on a lunar calendar, a year had 354 days. So, if you take the 354 days of the Jewish calendar, and you add these extra 11 days, you might want to do the math 354 plus 11, it gives you 365, the exact number of days in a solar year. We’re supposed to understand that they’d been in the ark for a year before they got off, a year. Can you imagine the relief they must have felt? I mean, you think your quarantine has been bad. It didn’t even hold a candle to theirs. They’d been in there for a year. They’ve been waiting for a year under conditions most of us can’t even begin to imagine.
And it’s interesting to me. When we think about the story of Noah and Noah’s Ark, especially, we tend to think, yeah, yeah, Noah was a faithful man. And we know he’s faithful because what did he do? He built a big boat. I think most of us at least I’ve always sort of thought of Noah’s greatest demonstration of faithfulness is the fact that he built the boat when it didn’t make sense. There was no flood coming, the rain clouds weren’t gathering, and yet, he still built the boat. He built the boat when everybody else right thought he’d lost his mind. He built the boat when his family probably thought he’d lost his mind. And I’ve always thought of that as the greatest demonstration of his faithfulness. And yet, it’s interesting. Do you know how much time the Bible spends describing Noah actually building the boat? Eight words. “And Noah did all the Lord commanded him.” That’s it. That’s the only description we have of him building the boat. On the other hand, we have a whole lot of talk, a whole lot of time devoted to how much time Noah spent waiting.
And here’s the thing. The greatest demonstration of Noah’s faith in God may have been his willingness to wait on God. The greatest demonstration of Noah’s faithfulness wasn’t necessarily building the boat, it was his willingness to wait. And I hate that. I hate it in part because I’m just not patient. Some of you know, I’ve shared this before, we use a personality survey here at Mission Hills. And according to that personality survey, which has been independently tested, scientists have been involved to that, according to that study, 90% of the people on this planet are more patient than me. I’m top 10% most impatient people on the planet. Scientifically proven. I don’t like to wait. I hate to wait. Anybody else? Any waiting haters out there? Yeah. And yet, the reality is living faithfully depends on being willing to wait. It’s the truth I wish I didn’t have to share with you. It’s the truth I wish I didn’t have to wrestle with so regularly. But it’s the truth that we have to wrestle with. Living faithfully depends on being willing to wait. Because when we don’t wait, we get ahead of God. When we don’t wait, we get off track, and we leap into something that was not God’s provision. When we don’t wait, we make a mess of things.
I’ve been learning this during the pandemic. Right before COVID hit, I actually had picked up a hobby to try to keep myself mentally sane. I picked up woodturning. You know, woodturning, you get a chunk of wood, you put it on a lathe, you spin it really fast, tools come in, and you make a piece of art. I really enjoyed it. It’s been really fun. The problem is that we don’t have a lot of great wood just laying around in Colorado. And so I have to depend on other people who cut down trees to say, “Hey, I brought you a maple log or something like that.” And I love that people bring me a maple log. I mean, this is beautiful. I can see the art. It’s gonna be this beautiful thing. And the problem is it’s wet. It’s really wet, actually. And here’s what I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to take my lovely log where I can see this incredible piece of art is gonna be, and I’m supposed to put it on a shelf. And I’m supposed to leave it there for two years, two years before it’s truly dry, right? And I’m like, “Whatever. Get that thing on.” It starts spinning, and it’s taken shape, and I can see the art coming out, like, this is beautiful, but it’s still wet. Instead, I have this beautiful thing, and I take it off, and it immediately begins to dry, but now it’s drying really unevenly. And it’s warping, and it’s cracking, and pieces are breaking off. And what would have been a beautiful piece of art is now a hunk of junk. Because I didn’t wait.
God’s been using that to teach me the value in being willing to wait on him. And what we see here in the story of Noah is a man whose greatest faithfulness was demonstrated by his willingness to wait. Because the reality is what would have been a great work of art can be turned into a hunk of junk if we’re not willing to wait. And that’s so true in so many areas of our lives. God is good. God is committed to your good. And when God calls you to wait, it’s because there is a piece of art that God is in the midst of forming. He’s always working, whether you can see it or not. He’s always shaping, whether you can see it or not. But we have to be willing to wait, and we’re not going to experience it, we’re going to experience something far less than he intended. It’s mainly the most important story or principles we are supposed to understand here. Noah was willing to wait, and that was the sign of his great faith. And then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that’s with you, the birds and the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground so that they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.” Because Noah has waited, the conditions are right for good to flourish.
And so Noah came out together with his sons and his wife and his son’s wives, and all the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds, everything that moves on land came out of the ark one kind after another. And then Noah built an altar to the Lord. And taking some of all the clean animals and the clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. Don’t miss that. Noah has been waiting a year under conditions that most of us have never had to face and probably never will. He has been waiting for a year, and what’s the first thing he does when the wait is over? He worships. It’s the first thing he does. It’s interesting where I think getting to the end of this pandemic. It’s not over yet. But we’re getting there. We’re coming to the end of it. And people are having conversations, I hear them all the time. What’s the first thing you’re going to do when this is all over? And so people go, “Oh, I’m going to go out to eat. I’m gonna go out to eat.” I went out to eat this past Friday night. Apparently in Castle Rock, the pandemic is done. I was a little mad at people, I was like, “What are you doing here?” And then I was like, “Well, I’m here.” So, you know, but I’m vaccinated. Okay. But that’s one thing people say, “I’m gonna go out to eat. That’s first thing I’m gonna do.” “I’m gonna go visit somebody I haven’t seen.” I was able to go and visit my parents for the first time in a year three weekends ago. “I’m gonna take a trip, I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do that.” It’s really easy to think of all these things that we want to do that we have been able to do. But don’t miss the lesson of Noah here.
The first thing we need to do after a long wait is worship. And maybe that’s the pandemic in your life right now. And maybe there’s another area of your life where you feel like you’ve been waiting on God, and you’re beginning to see signs that God is moving and that the wait is over. What’s the first thing you do whenever a wait is over? You worship the God you’ve been waiting on. I feel like we need to lean into that. So, again, whether it’s the pandemic or it’s some other area of waiting, let’s take a moment, just right now. Let’s just lean into worship the God who’s worth waiting on, shall we? Would you stand with us?
Amazing love, that welcomes me, the kindness of mercy, that bought with blood wholeheartedly, my soul undeserving. God, you’re so good. God, you’re so good. God, you’re so good, you’re so good to me. Behold the cross, age to age, and hour by hour. The dead are raised, the sinner saved, the work of your power. God, you’re so good. God, you’re so good. God, you’re so good, you’re so good to me. So good. God, you’re so good. God, you’re so good. God, you’re so good, you’re so good to me. I am blessed. I am called. I am healed. I am whole. I am saved in Jesus’ name. Highly favored, anointed, and filled with your power for the glory of Jesus’ name. I am blessed. I am called. I am healed. I am whole. I am saved in Jesus’ name. Highly favored, anointed, and filled with your power for the glory of Jesus’ name. And should this life bring suffering, Lord I will remember what Calvary has bought for me, both now and forever. God, you’re so good. Just tell him today. God, you’re so good. God, you’re so good, you’re so good to me. So good. God, you’re so good. You are good. God, you’re so good. God, you’re so good, you’re so good to me. Somebody sing it out, sing. God, you’re so good. God, you’re so good. God, you’re so good, you’re so good to me. So good to me. God, you’re so good. There’s no one like you. God, you’re so good. God, you’re so good, you’re so good to me. I am blessed. I am called. I am healed. I am whole. I am saved in Jesus’ name. Highly favored, anointed, and filled with your power for the glory of Jesus’ name. God, you’re so good. God, you’re so good. God, you’re so good, you’re so good to me. you’re good. Thank you, Lord.
Go and grab a seat. After a very long wait, the first thing that Noah did was he worshiped. Because it’s always what we do after we’ve been waiting on the Lord and he moves, we worship the one we’ve been waiting on. And the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma. And he said in his heart, “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans. Even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood, never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done as long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” And, again, we so often think of the story of Noah’s Ark as the story of God’s judgment on sin, it’s a story of God’s wrath. And, certainly, that’s there. So, we’ve said sin is serious business. I want you to spend more time looking in the mirror than out the window when we think about that. But don’t miss this. If you were with us at the beginning, you may remember the story of Noah’s Ark began with a statement of God’s grace, not wrath, not judgment, but grace. Even though every inclination of the human heart was wicked, God said, “You got 120 years to turn it around.” He gave him 120-year grace period.
The story of Noah’s Ark begins with a story about God’s great grace. And it ends with another statement of God’s great grace, doesn’t it? God says, “I’m not going to do this again, even though,” this is the sentence that you got to pay attention to, “even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.” God’s not naive, he knows that the flood hasn’t fixed the real problem. This was never the plan to fix the problem. God’s plan to fix the problem was also grace. He sent his own Son, who lived a perfect life and then who voluntarily died on the cross to pay the price of our sin. God raised him from the dead, and out of his grace, he offers us the opportunity to be forgiven of our sins, adopted in the family of God, have eternal life with him, simply by putting our faith in what Jesus did on the cross. That’s grace. And here at the end of the story of Noah’s Ark, he says, “Even though every inclination is still evil, I’m not going to do this again.” And what do we call it when God doesn’t give us what we deserve for our sin? We call that grace.
Noah’s Ark begins with a statement of God’s grace. It ends with a statement of God’s grace. And then smack in the middle, there’s the statement that God remembered Noah. Notice, he didn’t remember Noah’s righteousness. He didn’t remember all the good things Noah had done. He didn’t remember all the ways that Noah had tried to live a good life. It just says he remembered Noah, his child. That’s grace. The story of Noah’s Ark is shot through the statements about God’s great grace. And really, if you think about it, it all boils down to realizing that the story of Noah’s Ark teaches us this principle that God’s grace always leads to good if we’re willing to wait, if we’re willing to wait on him. So, as we wrap up the series, a few things to maybe think about, wrestle with. Number one, where do I feel like God has forgotten me? Is there a place in your life where you feel like you’ve been waiting so long and you’re beginning to wonder if God still remembers you? He hasn’t. He never forgets. But if you have a place in your life where you’re feeling like maybe he has, then the question you want to ask yourself is, “How will I remind myself that God never forgets?”
Maybe it’s as simple as writing Genesis 8:1 or just the first few words, “God remembered Noah.” Put that on a Post-it Note, put it on your bathroom mirror so you see it every morning. Set a reminder in your phones that every day at some time those words come up, “God remembered Noah, and he remembers me.” How will you remind yourself that God never forgets?
Second question to wrestle with is, is there a place in my life where waiting has tempted me to be unwise? Is there a place in your life where you’ve been waiting so long that you find yourself ready to jump into any hint of an opportunity rather than assessing it? You’re just assuming, “That must be what God’s doing. That must be it. That must be it. That must be it.” Is there a place in your life where the waiting is tempting you to be unwise, and so how are you gonna assess it? How will you assess rather than assume? Maybe it’s leaning into prayer, maybe it’s seeking wise counsel from other followers of Jesus to think through those things together with you. But how will you assess rather than assume in that place? Are you facing that danger?
The third question is, is there a place in my life where waiting seems to be coming to an end? Maybe you’re feeling that way about the pandemic, maybe you’ve had the disease, or maybe you’ve gotten the vaccine, and it’s beginning to feel like it’s coming in? Great. What are you going to do now? Because what we’re told we’re supposed to do when the waiting comes to an end is we worship the one we’ve been waiting on. Or maybe there’s another area in your life where you’ve been waiting for a long time, and you’re beginning to sense that God is on the move and that the waiting is finally coming to an end. Don’t miss this lesson. The first thing we do after a long wait is we worship the one we’ve been waiting on. So, how will I celebrate that with worship? Maybe it’s as simple as coming back to an in-person service, or maybe there’s some other way that God’s calling you to worship first. Wrestle with those. God is good. Amen.
Even in one of the stories that feels like the greatest demonstration of his wrath, we actually find over and over again the undeniable truth that God is good. And he’s kind, and he’s worth waiting on. Because the good that comes when we wait so surpasses the imitation of good that we can take for ourselves when we refuse to wait. He’s worth waiting on. Would you stand with us? Before we head back out into the world, let’s take one last moment to worship this God who is worth waiting on.