Sabbath Reflection for Friday, December 5 (’14)
These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.
How would you summarize your life?
1) “My life is pretty good.”
2) “My life is pretty bad.”
Genesis 6 shatters the paradigms of both. Each seems to hide an assumption that life is judged by what is done to us, but such an assumption is wrong. On a human level, life is not measured by what is done to us, but by how we react to God. Noah’s life is a perfect example.
Genesis 6 judges Noah’s life and answers the question for him:
Noah walked with God.
I don’t care what else is on my tombstone. If I have those three words, I will be overjoyed. If it can be said of me, “Jonathan walked with God,” my death is a good one, for my life was done right.
To be sure, Genesis 6 gives us more detail. Of Noah, it says:
- Noah was righteous
- Noah was blameless
- Noah built a boat when told
- Noah gathered animals when told
- Noah protected his family when told
- Noah acted in faith when given the opportunity
In fact, 2 Peter 2:5 tells us more about Noah:
Noah, a herald of righteousness…
Noah was righteous. What does that mean? “Noah walked with God” in Genesis 6 is in a parallel position with him being righteous and blameless in his generation, essentially summarizing what “righteous” and “blameless” meant. Defined simply, this “righteousness” meant he was lawful in his conduct towards those around him and towards God. Both are significant. The last part, “towards God,” most of all.
Any moralist can treat people kindly. Even prisoners can “reform”. A thief can stop; a murderer can become a doctor, etc. Noah, too, was (at least somewhat) lawful towards those around him. The text doesn’t give a detailed description. While he—and many people—are lawful towards those around them, not everyone has faith or responds to God when they should. Not everyone looks to God for refuge, salvation, and as the source of righteousness. Compare the call in Jeremiah 23:6 during a time of judgment and restoration (similar to Noah’s day), “Yahweh is our righteousness!”
Noah does respond to God—trusting in him—and this makes Noah unique in his generation. And so:
Noah walked with God.
Noah acted in faith when he was called to do so. He acted in faith when the world around him was going to Hell in a hand-basket. Noah didn’t question the promise of God that rain (which Noah had never seen before as it had never rained to this point in history) would come and a Flood would cover his home and city. Noah didn’t hesitate to build a giant boat that certainly looked utterly stupid to people around him. Noah dealt with mockery and abuse and temptation to give up. He didn’t build the boat overnight, either. Such a task would have taken many months, perhaps even years. Eventually, he was given a week’s notice, entered the Ark, and waited.
Noah endured, because he walked with God.
I love the portrait of Noah we are given not because he is painted to perfection, but because he is painted as having his priorities ultimately in the right place. When God came calling, he picked up the phone. When God demanded action, he didn’t hesitate. When God made a promise, Noah walked with God in belief.
By the way, after the Flood, Noah planted a vineyard, tended it until the grapes grew ripe, made wine, and got hammered. I don’t blame him much for this. After all, think about the years he lived through: all flesh on the earth drowned in a horrible judgment. All his friends gone. Three sons on a boat, one of whom didn’t mind incest (9:22), and then getting out of that boat into a lonely planet. He got drunk. All the more significantly, this story of his drunkenness and his son’s bi-sexual pleasure (he was married, too) comes after God makes a covenant with “all flesh” (9:15-17). It’s as if Moses wants us to remember the Flood wasn’t any kind of permanent cure either for Noah’s heart (drunk as it was) or his son’s flesh (lustful as it was). In other words…
Noah is just like us.
We don’t handle our troubles well. We don’t perform up to par all the time. But do we deal kindly with those around us? Maybe not all the time, but the text doesn’t imply Noah was perfect here either. Simply that he was lawful and, when the Promise came…
What brings me the most joy about Noah is that I know the summary of his life can be the summary of mine as well because when God calls upon me to respond to his promise, I have, and will, and will always.
You can, too.
God has promised another judgment, and I believe him. Do you?
God has built a boat for us to be saved from said judgment: Jesus, his son, and I believe in him as my refuge. Do you?
God has promised new life on a New Heavens and New Earth, and I believe him. Do you?
The sins I commit in the Great In-between certainly have consequences, but ultimately, I know my life will be summarized as was Noah’s: “He walked with God.” Will yours?
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live yon all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for
‘In him we live and move and have our being;’
as even some of your own poets have said,
‘For we are indeed his offspring’ (Acts 17:26-28).
How will your life be summarized?
It is a terrifying question, but one we must embrace head-long. We mustn’t skirt this magnifying glass into our souls. Now is the time of salvation. Soon, the rains will come (cf. 2 Pet 3), and they will not stop until the universe has been cleansed. Those within the Ark of Christ will receive vindication and cleansing, too, and we will walk with Christ.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true” (Rev 21:1-5)
Come, Lord Jesus. Come. Walk with us, because if you do not, we cannot possibly walk with you.