How do you obey when you don’t have the full picture? Learn from Noah. In this message, Dr. Stanley teaches us that, like Noah, we all have divine assignments. No matter what God calls us to do, our responsibility is to obey His instructions and trust Him to guide us. Discover the freedom in relying on God’s plan and not your own.
If there’s one story in the Bible most people know, it’s the one about Noah and the ark—even children’s books are written about it. But to understand the real message regarding this event, we need to look a little deeper into the scriptural account. In Noah’s story there’s a message of hope and assurance, but there’s also a warning because it demonstrates that God hates evil.
The Character of Noah - There are numerous servants of God mentioned in the Bible, but only two of them are said to have “walked with God”—Enoch and Noah. Further descriptions of Noah say he “was a righteous man, blameless in his time” (Gen. 6:9). Of all the people on earth in that day, only “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (v. 8). He was a remarkable man in his time, but he’s also someone we should aspire to be like today.
The World in Noah’s Day — Genesis 6:5-6 describes the kind of world in which Noah lived: “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” Verse 13 adds that the earth was “filled with violence” because of mankind. The conditions were so bad that God decided to blot out mankind and all the animals with a flood—everyone, that is, except Noah and his family (vv. 7-8).
After creating the earth and all the plants and animals along with Adam and Eve, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). Yet by the time Noah lived, conditions had all become so bad that God was sorry He’d made man. What had happened? The answer is sin. When sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, everything changed, and it is still having its effect today. We are living in a time when society is becoming increasingly like Noah’s day, and just as he remained righteous and blameless, walking with God, we should aspire to do so as well.
Noah’s Assignment from God — “Then God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood’” (Gen. 6:13-14). In a world where rain had never fallen and plants were watered by mists that arose from the ground, this must have seemed like a very strange instruction. Furthermore, Noah may not have had any building experience, but when God gives someone a task to complete, He always supplies whatever is needed.
The Ark — The Lord told Noah exactly how to build the ark. It was to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high, with three floors. It was shaped like a shoebox 1 ½ football fields long with about 100,000 square feet of space inside. God knew exactly how big it should be, what material to use to build it, how much food was needed, and how many animals would be in it. The ark had one door, which God controlled, and one window, which Noah could control. There was no rudder or wheel because the Lord was the guide. It had no engine or sail. And it didn’t look impressive or beautiful because its purpose was simply to preserve the lives of Noah, his family, and the animals.
The Flood — One week before the flood, God told Noah and his family to enter the ark, and He sent animals and birds of every species into the ark as well. Then after seven days, God shut the door, and it started to rain. It rained for 40 days and nights and the fountains of the deep were opened. The water rose and covered all the mountains and prevailed over the earth for 150 days before it began to recede.
The Bible doesn’t record what Noah and his family experienced during this time, but we can imagine what it must have been like to hear the first rain drops and perhaps the people knocking on the door to get in. Everyone they’d known before was going to die, and the earth they knew would be devastated and forever changed. This was not a pleasant boat ride but a rescue from God’s judgment on the world.
Eventually the ark landed on a mountain. Several months later the mountain tops became visible, and after 40 more days, Noah opened the window and sent out a raven, which never returned. Then he sent out a dove, but it returned to him because the water still covered the surface of the earth. Seven days later, he sent out another dove, and it returned with an olive leaf in its bill so Noah knew there was dry land. After being enclosed for 365 days, the Lord told Noah it was time to leave the ark.
A New Start — From the time God told Noah to build the ark and throughout his time inside the ark, Noah kept trusting and obeying the Lord. Now his walk of faith would continue as he and his family began living in a strange new world. The first thing he did was build an altar, offer sacrifices, and worship the Lord who had brought them safely through the flood (Gen. 8:20). Then God established a covenant with mankind and every living creature on earth. He promised that the earth would never be destroyed with water again. And as a sign of the covenant, He set His rainbow in the sky (Gen. 9:11-14).
Noah's Example — Noah’s life is an inspiration and an example we should all follow. He was a righteous, blameless, obedient servant of God in an ungodly society. He believed what God said, and did what He told him to do, even though he’d never seen rain or built a boat. Noah trusted the Lord to protect and provide for them in the ark and afterwards, when he and his family had to start over again. In the same way, we too can believe whatever God says, and trust Him to direct our lives and provide for all our needs as we obediently do whatever He says.
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