Sun, 10/02/22 Brad Barrett
The Story of God and Man: The Flood— Week 4
Every Sunday we read something from the Bible. We do this because we believe the Bible is inspired by God and intended to be useful to us. Useful to know God and to understand life. So that makes the Bible extraordinarily relevant to us.
But quite often as we read the Bible, we read stories that are not within the realm of our everyday human experience.
And so we can react to those stories in various ways.
- Amazement and praise to God, like in Luke 8 when Jesus heals a woman who has been hemorrhaging for 12 years.
- We can be perplexed. Unsure what some things mean. Like in the OT prophets and in Revelation.
- We can even be skeptical, wondering, “How could that possibly happen?” Like Jesus walking on the water in Matthew 14.
Our story this morning from the Bible may provoke some of those reactions in us. It’s the Story of the Great Flood in Genesis involving a faith-filled man named Noah.
The general story of the Flood may be well known, but I suspect the actual details of the story are not well known. Perhaps even among us here this morning.
Perhaps our main idea of it is a cute, childlike artwork of many pairs of animals on a wooden boat.
Or perhaps our main knowledge of the biblical story is from the 2014 movie, Noah, starring Russell Crowe.
I didn’t see the movie, but I heard that the vast majority of the details of the movie had no correlation to the biblical record.
We are in the middle of a sermon series we have called, The Story of God and Man. It’s based on a document the Stonebrook pastors and a few leaders wrote 10 years ago. We’ve assembled this Story into a book.
The document gives an overview of biblical history. 11 important events and truths that provide an over-arching picture of what God has done on the earth and how it’s all part of his eternal plan to save men and women through his Son, Jesus Christ.
The story of the Flood and a faith-filled man named Noah is an important part of the story arc. It’s a very serious story.
It is a story of devastating judgment. And importantly, it’s also a story of mercy. Of God’s compassionate heart to rescue.
From The Story: The Flood
We will begin on page 40 in The Story.
Let’s read page 40:
“As a consequence of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God, all human beings in all ages have been born estranged from God and bent toward sin and evil. Although humans still bore the likeness of God, that likeness was significantly twisted and marred. Human culture rapidly became corrupt until the earth was filled with violence and evil. In grief, God judged such evil by destroying the earth and its inhabitants with a worldwide flood, while saving land animals and eight people in a ship constructed by Noah, a righteous man.”
Read the Genesis Story
This morning, I want to read most of the actual story of the Flood. I encourage you to open a Bible, and we’ll read it together.
It’s a long story, so to see it in print may be very helpful. Reading this account will help us to feel the weight of this very heavy, sober story.
Read Genesis 6:5-8:19.
What an eye-opening and sobering story. Let it sink in. God destroyed every living thing on the planet. Every man, woman, and child. Every animal. Every dog, lion, squirrel, rabbit, and elephant.
We might read through this story and be aghast at the severity of the judgment. How could God do this? Why did he do this?
The key to the entire story is the first verses we read.
Genesis 6:5-8 ESV The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
The sin in the world was so dark and so evil that it permeated deep within the hearts of every man and woman.
The world was dark and steeped in sin. Honestly, I’m not sure it’s much different than our world today.
6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.
“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”
This sums up the reason for the story. God’s grief over sin and darkness and violence in the world. And his deserved judgment on everyone. But he showed mercy to one family.
Objections to the Story
I want to speak for a couple of minutes about objections we may have to this story of the Flood.
As I said three weeks ago in my Introduction to this series, much of the Bible that we will cover in this sermon series will contrast and contradict what we have heard in this world. This is one of those stories.
We read it, and we don’t know how to identify with some of the details.
- A man 600 years old.
- Every creature killed.
- God’s severe judgment
- The entire earth populated afterwards from one family.
This is an event unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. So I understand why we might be hesitant to believe it.
Specifically, there are at least two reasons we may have hesitations about this story:
- We never hear this taught in any secular text book or science class. So we’re confused. I can appreciate the confusion. We are bombarded in this world with a message that makes no room for God. None at all.
- Such severe judgment as in the Flood makes us very uncomfortable.
If it’s true, then what might God do to us and our world today? What if you and I will actually be held accountable for our beliefs and actions?
So in light of God’s judgment, we may be tempted to want a softer God. One who doesn’t get angry. One who excuses our own sin. Yet, even then we contradict ourselves, because when evil happens to us and to people we love, we are incensed and demand justice. And we can cry out, “Where is a just God in all this?”
So do we want justice or not?
We may also be tempted to scoff at such a story. We might say, “That can’t be true. Surely it is just a fable.”
Interestingly, Peter in his second letter (2 Peter 3) actually warns of scoffers who “deliberately overlook” the Creation of the world and the Great Flood of judgment. And by this denial, Peter says, these scoffers are positioning themselves for God’s coming judgment when his Son returns to earth.
So though we may be skeptical of the legitimacy of this Story of the Flood, I believe ALL the stories of the Bible are true.
2 Timothy 3:16–17 CSB All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
By faith, I believe that this entire book, from Genesis to Revelation, is a holy, heaven-inspired document that tells us about God, our relationship with him, and his plan for this world.
We can trust God’s Word. If we cannot, then Christianity is all a lie, and we should go home right now. But if God’s Word is true and trustworthy, then the stakes are very, very high.
And concerning this story of the Flood, I believe it is a literal, historical event, and it was a global catastrophe. Why do I believe that?
First, and most importantly, the Bible records it as real story, in both OT and NT. And it reads as a catastrophic, global flood. This is important.
Not only does Genesis read as an actual event, elsewhere in the Scriptures this account is verified.
- Isaiah the prophet wrote about it.
- Jesus spoke about it. (We’ll read that passage in a few minutes.)
- The Book of Hebrews
- The Apostle Peter in his two letters all speak of Noah and the Flood as an actual event.
This is strong proof from within the Bible itself and from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ. That alone ought to be enough for us to believe that the events of Genesis 6 thru 9 are true, literal, and historical.
Second, it is helpful if we acknowledge that there are arguments today…people today…. that speak against the account of the Flood with scientific and historical reasons. However, I believe there are actually strong arguments for the reality of a devastating, global flood.
I don’t have time or the scientific expertise to explain all this.
I will point you to two Christian organizations that have done great research and documentation from both scientific and historical perspectives.
Go to either website, and in the Search box, type in “Flood.” You will find dozens of articles and videos from reputable scientists who have researched the Flood. Some incredibly fascinating research done by men and women with PhD’s in various fields. We can find articles and videos on topics such as geology, biology, paleontology, history, and more.
Articles like those—some historical and many scientific— are of secondary importance as compared to the Scriptures themselves, but they are helpful and informative. And they can strengthen our faith.
And again, of first importance is that the Scriptures themselves tell us the story is true.
Response to The Story
Now let’s get back to the Story. It is weighty, isn’t it?
It’s weighty in several ways.
- Mankind is incredibly wicked.
- God is incredibly holy and just. He is patient with us in our sin, but his patience has an end.
God had this story written down—not to entertain us but to teach us. What does he want us to know and do?
Three weeks ago in my Introduction to The Story, I stated our goals for this Entire Series. (And really, it’s the point of everything we do.)
- To hear the foundational truths about God, mankind, and life, and to believe it. To grow in our CONVICTIONS.
- To OBEY. To respond in faith to this. To think, act, and speak differently with all this in our minds and hearts.
So let’s now examine a few ways we can respond in Faith and Obedience to the story of The Flood.
Fear the Lord
From the last bullet in The Story, page 42:
“Since throughout history, God has judged the sinful rebellion of men and women, as was terrifyingly demonstrated in the flood, we should understand that He is a God of absolute justice. Such judgments of God on those who are His enemies foreshadow and warn of the dreadful day of judgment that will soon come. In light of God’s justice and judgments:
“We should fear His justice and live in light of the coming day of judgment, when everything that is hidden will be brought to light and judged.”
Noah’s flood is a picture of the coming final judgment on all who have ever lived.
Look at Jesus’ own words:
Matthew 24:37–39,44 ESV
For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man…
Jesus concludes that sermon with this:
44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
The people of Noah’s day were unprepared spiritually, ignoring God, and so found themselves overwhelmed by God’s judgment. So Jesus says, “Let that serve as a warning. For when I return to earth, my judgment will be like that. So be ready.” We are warned to be ready for Jesus to return.
How do we ready ourselves? It begins with believing in Christ who died as a substitute for you and me.
Romans 6:23 ESV For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We deserve death no less than the people in Noah’s world. So to escape God’s judgment just like Noah and his family did, we don’t build an ark. Rather, we are to believe in Christ and receive this glorious, free gift that God offers: His Son. When we do this, eternal life is ours.
When I was 19-years old, I heard the gospel message clearly multiple times. I knew that because of my sins against God, I deserved death. I deserved hell. I clearly remember thinking that if I died in a car crash, that would be it. I would have to pay for my own sins. I learned from some loving Christ followers, including my parents and their pastor, that according to the Scriptures, my only option was to find eternal life through Jesus Christ.
This passage says it so well and so plainly.
1 John 5:11–12 CSB
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. The one who has the Son has life. The one who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
So on a warm August evening just days before my sophomore year began here at Iowa State, I humbled myself before God, believed in his Son, and so found life forever and ever and ever in him. The next morning, I didn’t know much about Christianity. But I was confident of this: that I was ready for death. I was ready for Christ to return.
As Jesus said in Matthew 24:44, we must be ready when he returns to earth. Are you ready to face him? Do you know him?
If you’re unsure, don’t wait. None of us knows the day of our own deaths… nor the time of his return. Fear the Lord and be ready.
There is a second response we have to the Lessons from the Flood.
Wait patiently for justice
Also from page 42.
“We should never take our own revenge, but trust in God’s justice and anticipate the coming Day of Judgment. No one who sins against us or those we love will ever get away with it. It is God’s job to judge and we must put our trust in Him to take vengeance where it is needed and appropriate.”
Very simply, when we experience injustices in this world, these can infuriate us and discourage us. And rightly so, for we are made in the image of God, and we want justice because God is a God of perfect and holy justice. So we crave justice and are angered by injustice.
- Racial injustices.
- Criminal injustices.
- Injustices of war brought on by one nation against another.
- Someone mistreats us and abuses us.
- Persecution against Christ’s followers.
But when evil does not even find justice here on this earth, the Lord calls us to wait patiently. He will bring justice someday. Nothing will escape his notice.
Romans 12:17–19 ESV
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
To wait patiently for God to bring justice takes faith. We have to believe he sees everything. Nothing escapes his notice. We have to believe he is completely just. And he is thoroughly fair… that when in eternity we see justice fully displayed by Christ, we will all say, “Now that was remarkably just and fair and right.” And we will be extraordinarily satisfied.
And for now, we also remember that Jesus endured the most unjust treatment the world has ever seen. How did he respond?
1 Peter 2:21–23 CSB
For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth; when he was insulted, he did not insult in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.
In Christ’s sufferings, he was treated more poorly, more undeservedly, more unjustly than anyone…anyone…who has ever lived. He did not retaliate. He did not seek vengeance. He did not brood with anger and hatred. Instead, he entrusted himself to the Father, the Judge who judges all things justly. He knew the Father would make all things right in the end.
The severe justice of God demonstrated in the Flood of Genesis tells us to wait patiently. If we cannot get justice on the earth, be assured: Our Father is the Judge who judges all things justly.
There is a third Lesson from the Flood.
If you already have believed in Jesus Christ for who he is and what he has done, then you should rejoice!!!
From page 42 in The Story
“We should rejoice that Jesus was judged by God as the substitute for all who put their faith in Him. He satisfied the justice of God on behalf of those of us who believe. This is an act of love for which we must be forever grateful.”
Instead of God’s fierce judgment poured out on us, he poured it out on his own Son so that we could go free. So that’s why we love the gospel. Jesus was our substitute.
In an ancient prophecy about Jesus and his work on the cross, the prophet Isaiah writes,
Isaiah 53:5 NIV But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Forgiveness and healing deep within our souls is ours through faith in Christ. That’s why it’s called “Good News.” That’s what the word “Gospel” means: good news.
Imagine what Noah and his family thought when they came out of the ark after nearly a year. Every person and every animal was now dead except for them. Do you know what Noah’s first act was on coming out of the ark? He built an altar to God and worshiped him. He rejoiced in God’s merciful deliverance. So we ought to rejoice in our deliverance through Christ.