Revive Our Hearts Radio

Faithful Under Pressure

Leslie Basham: Why does God save sinners? Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It’s all about God. It’s about God showing the riches of His grace and His salvation to the world. It’s about God’s redemptive, saving purposes in this world. Your salvation is so much bigger than you.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, August 7, 2015.

Nancy has been giving us fresh insights into a familiar story in the series "Noah and the Flood: The Gospel in the Old Testament." If you’ve been listening along with us, you know that it hasn’t been a story of a fun, floating zoo full of cute animals. Instead, we’ve looked at the seriousness of sin.

If you’ve missed any of the programs, you can hear them by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com. Here’s Nancy to tell us about a turning point in the story.

Nancy: Well, some of you who have been listening to this series on Noah for the last several days have perhaps been wondering if we will ever get to the good part. We’ve been talking about the exceeding, utter sinfulness of men in the era when Noah lived, and the righteous wrath and judgment of God. The gospel never seems like such good news as it does once you’ve heard the bad news and you’ve stewed in it a while. We don’t like to have to sit under conviction. 

The old-time preachers didn’t mind letting people experience conviction, the heaviness of their sin, because they knew once they had sensed how great was their sin and how much they deserved God’s judgment, they would be more open and willing to fly to Christ, to find refuge and rest and salvation.

So we come today in this series on Noah to that wonderful verse in Genesis chapter 6, verse 8, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Some of your translations say favor. It’s the same word. It means “kindness, preciousness, favor, grace.” Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, the very same eyes that had looked down on this earth and seen the utter corruption, the violence, the wickedness of men’s hearts. In that very same God’s eyes, Noah, this man, found grace.

So in the midst of this very dark, desperate, and dire situation, God is there, and God is pouring out His grace. God selects a person to be the recipient of His grace and then to be the vehicle, the instrument, to extend His grace to others. Noah received grace.

Noah didn’t do anything to earn the grace of God. God just decided He wanted to show grace to Noah, and He established a covenant relationship with Noah. This relationship is God-initiated. Noah was not looking for God until God first looked for Noah. You and I will never look for God until God first looks for us and initiates a saving covenant relationship with us. That relationship is always undeserved.

Now that’s important to emphasize because, in the context of this passage, it could look like Noah did something to earn the grace of God. But we know that God’s grace is always unmerited. It’s always God-initiated.

If you’re a child of God, you have been delivered from the wrath and the judgment of God. It is because you have found favor and grace with God. God has chosen you to receive His grace. And with that privilege comes a huge responsibility to be obedient to God’s call, to follow God’s purposes for your life and to proclaim His grace and salvation to others, as we’ll see that Noah did.

You see, God’s salvation is not ultimately about you, and it’s not, ultimately, primarily for you. It’s all about God. It’s about God showing the riches of His grace and salvation to the world. It’s about God’s redemptive, saving purposes in this world. Your salvation is so much bigger than you. That’s what we see as we read the story of Noah.

Now in this passage, Genesis chapter 6, we see that God showed grace to Noah, and then God provided a way of escape. I want us to look at the provision of God, the ark that God provided for Noah and his family to be safe from God’s judgment.

This ark was, according to Genesis chapter 6, was 450 feet long. That’s the length of a football field plus another half of a football field. That’s long. It was 75 feet wide. Picture a six-lane highway. That would be about the width. And then it was 45 feet high, or perhaps the height of a five-story building. That will give you some picture of the size of this ark.

As I’ve read about the ark, many commentators have pointed out that today’s ships are built with similar proportions and dimensions, and that this actually would be a seaworthy vessel if it were made in those proportions. John MacArthur says that, “A gigantic box of that size would be very stable in the water; impossible to capsize.”

Then he talks about how much space there was in the ark. “The volume of space,” he says, “would be 1.4 million cubic feet, which would be the capacity of 522 standard railroad boxcars, it could carry 125,000 sheep.” So this was a big box. It was a big ark that God had Noah build. There were three stories, each one 15 feet high. This was God’s provision.

Now the ark is a picture in the Old Testament of God’s salvation. It’s a picture or a type of Christ, who was to come and who would bring salvation for the world. Warren Wiersbe, in his commentary, talks about some of the ways that the ark is a picture or a type of Christ.

  • For example, the ark as a means for escape was planned and initiated by God. It was not invented by humans. That’s true of our salvation. It's God’s idea.
  • There was only one door in the ark, and there is only one way to salvation. That is through Jesus Christ.
  • The means of refuge that God provided, the ark, as it was designed by God, was adequate to do the job. It was effective. It was sufficient.

It’s interesting, as you read other religious traditions that have a flood story, many of them describe a box with proportions that would not have been seaworthy. So what God provided for Noah was a seaworthy, effective, sufficient, and adequate provision.

Isn’t that true of our salvation? The means God has provided, the means God has designed for sinners to escape from the eternal wrath and judgment of God is effective. It’s the one that’s been designed by God. And what is the means? It’s Christ. He is sufficient. He works! He truly does save us from sin.

Then the word pitch in chapter 6 of Genesis, verse 14, that’s used to describe what was put on the outside and inside of the ark. “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.” That word cover and the word pitch are two very similar words.

The word cover in the original language is one of the most important words in the Bible. The first usage of that word is found here in Genesis 6:14. It’s a word that means to cover, but it came to mean “to make an atonement, to expiate,” to cover over the sins of man. It’s usually used in reference to covering or hiding sin with the blood of a sacrifice.

God said, “Cover this ark inside and out with . . .” and using the word there that relates to atonement, covering our sin, He said, “Cover it with pitch.” That’s a similar word. It’s a coating, but it’s a word that came to mean “a ransom, a redemption price.” It usually means “to atone by offering of substitute payment.” So can you see how God built into the story of the ark a picture of Christ, the ultimate sacrifice and atonement and ransom for our sin?

Then God invited Noah and his family to come into the ark, and once they were in God shut them in, and they were secure. Isn’t that a picture of our salvation? God says, “Come! Come into the ark. Come to Christ. Repent. Believe the gospel.” And once we’re in Christ, we are secure in Christ. We’ll talk more about that later in the series.

The ark saved Noah and his family from judgment because they believed God’s promise. So Christ, our ark, saves us from the wrath to come, the judgment of God to come, as we believe Him. The ark was a place of safety. It was a place of security. It was a place of refuge. It was a place where, if you were in the ark, you would be safe from the storm. The storm couldn’t get to you. It couldn’t destroy you if you were in the ark. That was the only place you could be safe.

I’m thinking about when God took His Children of Israel out of Egypt, and He sent the angel of death to kill the firstborn in every Egyptian home. God said, “If I see blood on the mantel of your doorpost, I will pass over, My angel of death will pass over you. You’ll be safe” (Ex. 12:13 paraphrased). God made a provision, again pointing us to Christ whose shed blood is the provision for our sin, and that’s what always keeps pointing us then back to the cross.

Noah and the ark, the Passover: these stories were pointing forward to the cross. We look back to the cross, and we see Christ is our ark. He’s the blood on the doorpost. He is the provision of God for our sins. He is our place of safety. He is our place of refuge.

So we’re told in Romans 5:9, “[We shall] be saved by Him from the wrath of God.” In 1 Thessalonians 1:10 it talks about “Jesus who delivers us from the wrath [that is] to come.” Jesus, our ark.

Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.1
 

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back. Her current study, "Noah and the Flodd: The Gospel in the Old Testament," is so meaningful. I know many listeners will want to get a copy and carefully listen again. You can get a copy of the CD by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1–800–569–5959.

Now we’ve been studying the story of Noah for close to a week without saying much about Noah. Nancy is about to introduce us to this important character.

Nancy: The end of Genesis chapter 5 is the first reference to Noah. Verses 28–29 say that

Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and had a son. And he called his name Noah, saying, This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed” (NKJV).

This was a very interesting prophecy that came about when Noah was named. “This one will comfort us.” Some of your translations say, “This one will give us relief,” or “This one will give us rest from our work.” Comfort, rest, relief—that word comfort sounds a lot in Hebrew like the name Noah. It’s not that Noah means comfort; it’s that the two words sound a lot alike. So it’s a little play on words here in the original language.

In this prophecy that Lamech spoke when he named his son Noah, he’s speaking of the hope of a deliverer, as God had promised Adam. One day a deliverer would come and would rescue people from their sin. I wonder if Lamech may have wondered if his son, Noah (sounds like comfort), might actually be that promised deliverer.

You see, until the time of Christ people just lived in hope and anticipation and eagerness, awaiting the Messiah, the fulfillment of God’s promise, the deliverer, the promised one. I wonder if Lamech thought, Could this child be the one who will be that deliverer?

Well, he wasn’t, but Noah did point people to the comfort and the deliverance that God would bring through Christ. So he was one more person pointing ahead to Christ. And then we read in chapter 6, verse 8 of Genesis,

Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God (vv. 8–9).

If you’ve been with us for the earlier part of the series, you know we spent a lot of time on the depravity of man and the exceeding sinfulness of man. You’ll realize that everything about this description of Noah is in stark contrast to the day in which he lived. This has been such a bleak story so far. And then you come across this little jewel hidden in there.

Noah found favor, or grace. He was a righteous man. He was blameless among the people of this time. He walked with God. It’s just the opposite of everything else we’ve been reading and hearing about the generation in which he lived. He was different. He stood out. He stood alone.

You know, if you’re going to live a righteous life, if you’re going to walk with God, it is going to be, in some senses, lonely. It’s the majority who walk the way of the world, the way of their own flesh, the way of their own sin, who end up under the wrath and the condemnation and the judgment of God.

So we see Noah’s character in his conduct. He was righteous. He was blameless among the people of his time. His righteous character and conduct are evidence that he had a right relationship with God, because Noah was made right with God the only way that anyone can be made right with God. How is that? By grace through faith. He didn’t know all that we know about Christ, but he knew enough, and he believed what he knew, and that’s how he was made right with God.

This is a good reminder, I think, that it is possible to have a righteous life in the midst of a corrupt and violent world. What we experience in our day, what you experience in your home, in your workplace, in your environment, could not be worse than the days in which Noah lived. But his story says it is possible to live a righteous life.

Yes, you’ll be in the minority. Yes, you’ll be going against the flow. And yes, it will be hard at times. Yes, you will feel, some of you young women, as if you are the only one you know, perhaps, or one of the very few, who are doing things God’s way, choosing to live life God’s way. But you can do it by God’s grace. You can go against the flow. You can be the kind of wife and mom and woman that God made you to be in an unrighteous and corrupt and violent world.

Noah’s relationship with God was a remarkable one. We’ve seen that he was the object of God’s grace. That was undeserved. We’ve seen that he walked with God, verse 9 of Genesis 6.

Noah feared God. Hebrews 11:7 tells us that “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household.” What is that fear of the Lord? It’s a reverence toward God, a holy fear that says, “I take God at His Word.”

Ladies, the thought of the threat of God’s judgment should prompt reverent fear. If you’d stop thinking about just this little slice of time in which you live right now and think ahead to eternity, think to the consequences of our choices, think to the greatness of God’s offer of salvation and the utter destruction of the unregenerate and the wicked . . . it should prompt a holy fear to obey God, to believe God.

And that’s exactly what Noah did. He believed God. That’s why he’s listed in that great Hebrews chapter 11, the great Hall of Faith. He believed God. What did he believe God about?

For sure about three things. One, he believed that God is. Hebrews 11 tells us that you can’t even come to God unless you believe that He is, that He exists.

Then he believed what God said about the coming judgment. It says he was warned about things not yet seen. What was not yet seen? Well, rain, for one thing. Bible scholars believe that Genesis chapter 2 suggests that the falling of rain had never happened in Noah’s time until the flood came. That makes Noah’s faith pretty amazing.

I’ll tell you something else he believed God about. God said in Genesis chapter 6: “I will establish my covenant with you. I will bring a flood of waters. You shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives [will be] with you” (vv. 17–18).

Noah was not yet 500 years old when he received this word from God about the coming judgment. At that point Noah did not even have any children, much less sons’ wives! He believed God, and then he obeyed God.

He acted on the Word of God. Four times in Genesis 6 and 7 it says, “Noah did all that God commanded.” He obeyed God. And do you know what? That was the proof of his faith.

Don’t say that you believe God if you’re not obeying God. The evidence that you are a born again child of God is that you do what God says. You have a heart to obey God. Your inclination is to want to obey God. Noah’s faith was demonstrated by his obedience. No obedience? Then you cannot have any assurance that you actually have faith.

Then Noah persevered. He was faithful over the long haul. Long before he could see the outcome of his faith, he kept obeying God. When he couldn’t see the benefits of living life this way, when he was still building an ark on dry land, when no one else would walk with him, he persevered. He stayed preaching righteousness, obeying God.

I’m reminded as I read the account of Noah that we are responsible to live godly lives in an ungodly world and to keep proclaiming the gospel to those who are perishing, regardless of whether anyone ever believes. It’s not our job to convert people. It’s our job to be faithful to proclaim the truth.

So Noah preached righteousness. He preached it with his life; he preached it with his mouth; he warned people of God’s impending judgment. Now, his preaching wasn’t particularly successful in immediate terms. He only had seven converts in 120 years. But just a reminder: We’re not responsible for the results. We’re just responsible to be obedient to God, to believe God, to be faithful in proclaiming His truth to our generation.

Noah took his family with him in the ark, and that says to me that they must have seen something believable in his life, because Noah’s faith could not save his family. They had to believe. Though he didn’t have a whole lot of fruit to show for those 120 years of preaching and believing God and obeying God, though he couldn’t see a lot of fruit then, think how much fruit this man’s life has borne over all the years since the flood!

As we go back and read the story of the flood and we read about the judgment of God, we see the ark as a type of Christ; we see how God was faithful to keep His promise and keep those in the ark secure. We see how Noah and his family and his experience pointed people to Christ, and how many of us have come to faith in Christ because of the faithfulness of men like Noah who believed God.

So when you think your life isn’t making any difference, when you think it’s hard living a holy life in an unholy world, sharing courageously and compassionately the truth and the gospel of God with people who don’t care a whit about God’s grace or His salvation, when you tend to get discouraged or think it’s too hard or you’ve been faithful so long—you haven’t been going 120 years yet.

Hang in there. Be faithful. Believe God. Obey God. Be faithful. Persevere. Walk with God, and God will use your life to bear much fruit for eternity.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been offering encouragement to anyone who has been faithful for a long time. If you have children hearing stories like this, it is really important. It gives a chance for them to learn about God’s encouragement and provision. The Jesus Storybook Bible will help you connect with your kids. It will give them a sense of the Bible as a grand narrative, but Nancy Leigh DeMoss says, “This book isn’t just for kids and their parents.” She appreciates it as a single woman who wants to know more about God’s Word.

Nancy: I really enjoy reading the stories in this book and having my own heart be refreshed, encouraged, and challenged with fresh insights about how these stories tie together, like pearls on a necklace. They are strung together to give that beautiful story of the redeeming love of Christ, starting all the way back in the book of Genesis, continuing through the Old Testament and into the New Testament as well.

Leslie: We’d like to send you this book to say thank you when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Ask for The Jesus Storybook Bible when you call with your support. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or make your contribution at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, we’ve been studying the study of Noah and the Flood for about a week with no mention of a flood. That will change.

Nancy: Those huge reservoirs of water that were stored under the earth were unleashed and they poured forth like this powerful volcano just erupting from the earth. This is not just like ordinary flood waters rising because it has rained a lot. This is a giant tidal wave that suddenly burst with violent force upon every human being on the planet.

Leslie: Hear a dramatic account of the deluge next time on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

1 "Jesus, Lover of My Soul." Charles Wesley.

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