A famous theologian once said, Life SUCKS! Stuff Happens!
OK, he wasn’t FAMOUS. It was ME. But it’s TRUE. And it IS THEOLOGY.
Let me give you some examples of what I’m talking about.
A lady in our church recently gave birth to her SECOND mentally handicapped child. Even though doctors said it wasn’t genetic.
The wife of an elder at our church had an affair with someone from church and left him, taking his three kids. They’ve now moved to the country where he really has trouble seeing his kids.
Another lady, a young mum of four is having surgery to remove breast cancer. She’ll begin radiation and chemotherapy soon after. Her husband is beside himself with grief and worry.
I could go on.
And I don’t think our church is particularly special. There are stories like this all over Sydney this morning. Probably here in THIS CHURCH TOO.
Perhaps it’s because there’s been a major disaster – like the Asian tsunami, or the Indonesian earthquake. Or a major ist attack. Or a war.
Or something a lot more personal and closer to home – a baby dies. A family member or friend suffers a terrible illness or injury. A bushfire, or car crash, or .
And people keep asking the same question. If God is GOOD. And POWERFUL. And WISE. Then why is the world full of pain and injustice and suffering? Why doesn’t God DO something? Where is God? Can’t he SEE what’s going on?
Where’s the JUSTICE? Why do GOOD people SUFFER, and BAD people get away with it?
(pause) And while these chapters don’t answer the question COMPLETELY, they BEGIN TO. And they give us the TOOLS to answer the question. They tell us about GOD, and the way he works. And they tell us about the re of mankind.
(pause) We talked a of weeks ago about the story of Adam and Eve and the snake (slide 2). And how it was a favourite children’s story. Well, I think Noah and the ark is probably even MORE popular with kids.
We’ve probably all got picture books at home with Noah sitting around cuddling all the animals. Everyone’s warm and cozy. Dry and well-fed and contented. (slide 3) And that’s certainly ONE part of the story.
But if you think about it, and if you look at what the story actually EMPHASISES, it’s a DREADFUL story. Really more of a horror story, than a children’s story. It’s a story that’s about DESTRUCTION and JUDGMENT. About COMPLETE ANNIHILATION. Because of the complete, world-wide wickedness of mankind.
Here’s another picture that’s actually a bit more REALISTIC – TRUER to the Bible version (slide 4)). It’s by a medieval painter by the name of Gustav Dore. I think it captures something of the despair and horror and blackness of the episode. The story of Noah and the flood is a disturbing, tragic, and drastic and extreme
So let’s keep THIS picture in mind as we look at the story.
We found out last time how things had gone from bad to worse. Adam and Eve were forced from the garden. But their children just grow in brazenness and wickedness.
And here at the start of Ch 6, we see that things have even got worse STILL. (slide 5.0)
First, there’s a description of a few things we have some difficulty understanding. But the point is clear. Down in v5. Things are in SUCH a mess, God’s just going to wipe his duster across the cosmic blackboard, wipe it all clean. And start again.
5 The LORD saw how GREAT man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD was GRIEVED that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with PAIN. 7 So the LORD said, “I will WIPE MANKIND, whom I have CREATED, from the face of the earth–men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air–for I am GRIEVED that I have made them.
You can feel the disappointment and despair! It’s time for a clean slate. A new beginning. Time to take out the rubbish. And start with something fresh.
(slide 5.1) Notice what we learn about God. First, he SEES. Not just evil ACTIONS, but evil THOUGHTS as WELL! He’s OMNISCIENT – he SEES EVERYTHING. Which is a scary thought if you’ve got something to hide – which is true of ALL of us.
(slide 5.2) Second, not only does God SEE. But he’s INTERESTED in what he sees. He’s not distant and isolated, or indifferent. Which is either a COMFORTING thing, or a SCARY thing, depending on what you THINK about God.
(slide 5.3) But more than just being interested. He’s EMOTIONALLY INVOLVED with his creation. A scientist might be INTERESTED in bugs. But there won’t be an EMOTIONAL CONNECTION with them.
But God is AFFECTED by his creatures. We influence the emotions God feels. That’s an amazing thing to realize!
On the NEGATIVE side, he’s GRIEVED at wickedness. His heart was FILLED WITH PAIN.
Which is a terrible thing if you’re the one CAUSING the wickedness. But it’s a COMFORTING thing when you’re on the RECEIVING end of wickedness. When you’re in the middle of terrible pain. To recognize that GOD TOO/ GRIEVES at the pain and suffering we’re going through. That God’s heart ACHES to see our misery.
But that’s not all. On the POSITIVE side, have a look at v8.
8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
God GRIEVES, and God REJOICES. We can both DISAPPOINT and PLEASE God. We sometimes think that God is like the parent for whom nothing is ever good enough. Who’s always shaking his head, and clicking his tongue.
When the reality is/ he’s more like the parent watching his toddler learn to walk. One or two stumbling steps are proudly and lovingly watched. And when the toddler falls down, as he will, he’s swept up in a loving and accepting and warm embrace. Dad, who’s so pleased at how WELL his child is doing.
(slide 5.4) The fourth thing we see about God from these few verses is that he ACTS. He’s actively involved with his world. He creates, he sustains, he moves, he disciplines, he guides. And here we see that he JUDGES and DESTROYS.
Like a potter who’s thrown a pot that’s too thin, or too squat or too crooked. He’s MADE it, so he’s got the right to put his fist into it, squash it back down into a lump. And start again.
Which is just what God’s going to do.
(slide 5.5) (pause) And it’s all because of MANKIND. Look back to v5. It’s a damning portrait of how low humans have sunk. How crooked and bent the pot’s become.
5 The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that EVERY inclination of the THOUGHTS OF HIS HEART was ONLY evil ALL the time.
Action AND thought. Completely orientated AWAY from doing what God wants. Seeking instead EVIL. EVERY inclination. ONLY evil. ALL the time. No redeeming qualities at all. Nothing worth saving.
Mankind has reached the bottom of the barrel. They deserve nothing less than complete destruction. It’s the ONLY JUST THING. Anything less would be WEAK INJUSTICE.
Last month there was an uproar about a Cairns judge who failed to record a conviction against six agers who ually assaulted a 10 yr old Aboriginal . The prosecutor, who’s supposed to stand up for the , called it “childish experimentation” even though three of the attackers were 17, 18 and 26.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he was “disgusted and appalled”. As were many people when they heard about the case. The State Attorney-General Kerry Shine has lodged an appeal to increase the sentences.
Which is what most people would WANT. What they would think IS FAIR.
And that’s the point here in Gen 6. God’s actions are EXTREME and SEVERE. But they’re JUST and DESERVED, because the crimes are SO TERRIBLE.
It’s not the sort of God most people want to think about. A God who expects purity and goodness. Who demands perfection. Who calls to account. Who punishes. Who executes justice.
I’ve heard it time and time again. “I don’t like to think of God as judgmental or angry. I’d much rather think of him as kind and loving.”
But, unashamedly, that’s the picture the Bible is presenting.
(slide 5.6) (pause) But it’s not ALL bad news. As we’ve seen already. And will see again and again. Mixed in with God’s JUDGMENT is sprinkled SALVATION. Grace. Deliverance. And it’s true here too. Because there was ONE MAN God would RESCUE. And who he’d use to bring about a fresh start. A new beginning.
V 8 Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord. He was a RIGHTEOUS man, blameless among the people. He WALKED with God. The only one who had the relationship with God he was DESIGNED for.
And we know the story. God tells him to build the ark. Together with his immediate family. And Noah does EVERYTHING God tells him to. And then he fills it with two of EVERY kind of animal. And seven pairs of every CLEAN animal.
Then, in Ch 7 v11, the RAINS start, and springs UNDER the ground open. And the water starts to rise. And they kept rising until even the tallest mountains were covered.
And then, just in case we hadn’t worked it out. V21.
21 Every living thing that moved on the earth perished–birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
In comparison, we’re not told THAT MUCH about what was going on INSIDE the ark. But outside, it’s TOTAL ANNIHILATION. Complete devastation.
(pause) And then, into Ch 8, we’re told that God REMEMBERED Noah. Not that he’d every FORGOTTEN him, but that it was time to express his concern and commitment towards him.
The waters receded until the ark ran aground. And then, down to Ch 8 v15, God calls him out of the ark, together with all the animals. And it’s time to START AGAIN.
17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you–the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground–so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it.”
Just like with ADAM and EVE.
And then in 8:20 Noah offers a sacrifice to God, and we’re told that God smelled the PLEASING AROMA. And he promises to never again destroy all living creatures. God’s PLEASED with how things have turned out. Just like Gen 1.
And so we can’t help wondering – is this “And they all lived happily ever after”? Is this Mankind and God at PEACE? Is this a fresh start that will actually CONTINUE?
But it doesn’t take too long for our hopes to be dashed. AGAIN. It’s a familiar pattern. God’s action. Fellowship, then sin, then judgment with grace, then MORE sin.
Have a look from v20 of Ch 9. It’s a funny little story. But there are some familiar aspects to it. Noah plants some vines. And picks some grapes. And makes some wine. And gets drunk. And he lies around in his tent .
Then Ham, who we’re told is the father of the people of Canaan, saw his father’s ness. But Shem and Japheth did the honourable thing, and cover up Dad without looking.
And when Dad sobers up, he CURSES Ham.
We’ve got FRUIT AND NESS AND SHAME. Just like Adam and Eve. Just more of the same. Another example of the frailty of humanity – even a human as BLAMELESS as Noah.
And so the pattern continues. MORE sin. MORE people in need of a Saviour. Someone to rescue them from judgment.
(slide 5.7) (pause) So what do we learn from the story of Noah? What does it have to say to us today?
We began with the question “Why doesn’t God DO something about the evil in the world?”
Here’s the answer this story gives. Why doesn’t God DO something? “He HAS”. What’s more, HE WILL.
Because he IS a God who SEES and who’s INTERESTED, and who DESPAIRS. And who ACTS. He HAS done something. He’s already destroyed evil ONCE.
(pause) And Jesus himself tells us that God will DO IT AGAIN. (slide 5.8) In Matthew 24:37-39, he’s talking about his return. (p701)
37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
No-one was expecting it. Things were going on just like normal. Right up until the time the rain started to fall. At which point it was too late. And God’s judgment had begun.
People want to know why God isn’t doing something about the evil in the world. And the answer is that HE WILL. And you better be ready. Because you won’t know when it’s going to come.
Jesus continues a bit further down in Ch 25 v31. (over the page) (slide 5.9) Describing what will HAPPEN on that day. It won’t be rains and flood, but something MUCH WORSE.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Judgment. Only two options. Either to eternal fire with the devil and his angels. Or to an eternal inheritance in a kingdom prepared since the creation of the world.
It’s described in the third box of the two ways to live outline (slide 6). Which we’ve worked through in this Genesis series.
3. God won’t let us rebel forever. God’s punishment for rebellion is and judgment. And then the Bible verse “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement”. Hebrews chapter 9, verse 27
That’s the fate of ALL of us. Without exception. Those who are getting away with it/ WILL finally receive justice. Those who deserve REWARD/ WILL be rewarded.
God’s done it ONCE. So we can be confident. And take comfort from the fact/ that he’s going to do it again. And we can WARN people about it. And use the story of Noah as evidence.
(pause) But not everyone thinks like that. For many, it seems that God’s just taking too long to get around to it. And so, their concerns about whether he KNOWS or CARES what’s going on. Or whether he can do anything about it.
But the Apostle Peter says it’s none of those things. God’s slowness at acting’s got nothing to do with him not CARING, or not being ABLE to act.
Once again, it’s because of this mixture of judgment and mercy. Justice and grace.
There were the same sorts of doubters and cynics around when Peter was writing his second letter. And here’s what they were saying. 2 Peter 3 v3 (p861) (slide 7)
3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days SCOFFERS will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “WHERE IS THIS ‘COMING’ HE PROMISED? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
It’s the same question – do you see? What’s God DOING?
And look at what Peter answers.
5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
God’s done it ONCE. And he’ll do it again.
Then look at what he says next. The reason WHY he’s holding off judgment.
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is NOT slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is PATIENT with you, NOT WANTING ANYONE TO PERISH, but EVERYONE to come to repentance.
God’s justice WILL come. But he also wants to show MERCY. He wants to SAVE people. And so, he’s holding off judgment. Justice mixed with grace.
Sometimes a library will declare an amnesty on overdue books. Fines will be cancelled if you bring the books back. There’ll be no penalty. Because getting the books back is more important than collecting the fines.
And God’s done the same thing. He’s declared an amnesty on returning SINNERS. “Come back to me. You’ve been gone so long. Come back and I’ll forgive you. All debts cancelled. The offer’s open now, but it won’t be open forever. Act now, before it’s too late.” Because getting SINNERS back is more important than them receiving justice.
And it’s an offer like that which demands a response. Have a look at v11.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE OUGHT YOU TO BE? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, MAKE EVERY EFFORT to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation,
That’s the message for us from the story of Noah. God has acted ONCE to judge mankind. He WILL do it again. So live now in light of that judgment.
And when our friends ask questions like “Why doesn’t God DO something?” Answer them with some of the things we’ve talked about this morning. God HAS. And he WILL.
But don’t forget to remind them that the fact that God HASN’T done something is because he’s showing them GRACE. Offering them forgiveness. And that’s MUCH more important than getting justice or comfort or retribution in THIS life.
THEY need to make a personal response to the news that God IS coming. And WILL judge THEM.
(slowly) God HAS done something about evil. He’s destroyed the earth ONCE. And He’s sent the TRUE Saviour. His only Son Jesus to buy us the forgiveness by which we can escape the coming judgment. When God will finally and ultimately and terribly, DO something about the way the world is.
THAT’S the answer to “Why doesn’t God DO something?”