************ Sermon on Genesis 7 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on July 24, 2011
"The Flood and Baptism"
The first beginning of human life ended in violent chaos. Left to their own devices, human beings followed the wicked inclinations of their hearts. Their judgments were based on advantage and harm. They were driven by fear of death and love of glory, greed and anger, lust and vanity. They made endless war on one another. They destroyed all hope of peace. Anarchy bred lawlessness and death. God's created order was violated on every side.
It sounds bad, doesn't it? And, it should sound familiar. Because Noah's days are like our days. As Jesus tells us, "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man" (Mt 24:37). Which means that even as the world faced judgment for its wickedness at the time of Noah, so the world will face judgment for its wickedness when Jesus comes again.
Sin was the order of the day at the time of Noah. So God announced His coming judgment to Noah – watery judgment. And, God gave Noah instructions concerning the ark and the animals. For the next 70-100 years Noah was busy building the ark and collecting food. With the greatest possibly urgency, year after year, Noah also preached about the coming judgment but none of his neighbors repented.
By the time God spoke to Noah again nearly one hundred years had passed. The ark was now finished. Grandpa Methuselah, who had lived longer than any other man, was on his deathbed. And, God's day of salvation together with His patience had now run out and all that was left was judgment.
I Noah: Leaves the Old World
A The Lord then said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and your whole family ..." (Gen 7:1). I prefer another translation which says, "Come into the ark" (KJV, NKJV). However, don't understand go/come as an invitation on God's part; rather, it is a command. Now, notice what "come" implies. It implies "Come to Me" and means that God would be in the ark with them. Although the flood would soon be unleashed in all its devastating fury, Noah and his family would be kept safe with God.
So what did Noah do? He went into the ark; he and his family; before the flood started. Noah showed his faith in doing this. Noah showed his faith in God, in God's Word, in God's promises. Notice, Noah did not fearfully rush into the ark ahead of time. Nor did Noah presume to delay his entrance into the ark. Noah, we are told in Hebrews 11, was one of the heroes of faith.
B More than one person concluded after last week's message that Noah must have been a man of great wealth because he could finance the building of a ship as big as the ark. Remember the ark's size? Length - 450 feet; which is the distance from the front of our building to the start of the back lawn. Width - 75 feet; which is the same as the widest part of the sanctuary. Height - 45 feet; which is the same as the high point of our ceiling. Someone told me the ark was the size of a modern battleship. Noah must also have had many servants – because he could build the ark, collect food for the animals, preach to his neighbors, and look after the needs of day-to-day life all at the same time.
We are told that "Noah did all that the Lord commanded him" (Gen 7:5). Do you realize what this actually means? This not only means that Noah entered the ark but that he also left the world in which he had lived for six hundred years. Not only Noah and his wife, but also his sons and their wives willingly left the old world behind. They left behind their wealth, their friends, their family, their way of life, their homes. And, they embraced a new life, a life with God. From that point on the old world was forever dead to Noah and his family. From that point on they were dead to its allures and attractions.
Compare this to Lot's wife. She, too, was asked to leave an old world behind – an old world of sin and corruption and violence. So, she left Sodom and Gomorrah with her husband and her daughters. But she couldn't bear the thought of leaving behind her wealth, her possessions, her home, her friends, her way of life. So she looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.
There were no pillars of salt in Noah's ark. Noah and his family left the old world. They left its attractions. They had no regrets, no second thoughts, no qualms about what they were doing.
What happens to Noah is what happens to us in Christ. As I said last week, Christ is our ark. In Him we die to sin and are made alive to righteousness. As Paul tells us in Galatians, Christ "gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age" (Gal 1:4). Therefore, we are to put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature. And, we are to put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (cf Col 3:5-14). Like Noah, we are to enter the ark, leave behind the old, and embrace the new.
C I want you to notice that Noah and his family did not leave behind the old world and embrace the new world by their own power and strength. First, God had to command them to come into the ark, to leave the world, and to come into His presence. Second, once Noah and his family and the animals were inside the ark, do you know what God did? God shut them in (Gen 7:16). God shut the door, the single door, in the side of the ark. Once that door was shut by God, no one could leave the ark. And, once that door was shut by God no one else could enter in. Once God shut the door, not even the gates of hell could prevail against it.
God's electing grace shut the door. This is the same grace that looked with favor upon Noah (Gen 6:9). Those chosen by God's electing grace were locked up inside the ark and saved from the flood. Those bypassed by God's electing grace were left behind in their misery and sin and received the judgment and condemnation they so justly deserved. God's electing grace shut the door on the old life of sin. And, God's electing grace brought Noah and his family into His presence and new life and salvation.
We, too, need God's call and God's electing grace to leave behind the old life of sin and to embrace the new life of righteousness and salvation. Because on our own, by our strength and power, we would never do this. We could never do this.
II Noah: the New Adam
A When we compare the language of Genesis 1 to the language of Genesis 6-8 we see that in many ways Noah is the new Adam.
Someone wondered last week how long it took Noah and his family to gather all the animals and birds and insects together. Did they set up traps and snares and dig holes in which to capture the animals? Or, did they have a huge big round-up? And, how did they catch the birds? Look at what Scripture says back in Genesis 6:
(Gen 6:20) Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.Did you catch that? The animals and birds and insects "will come" to Noah. Noah didn't have to catch them or trap them or round them up. So what do we read in our Scripture reading?
(Gen 7:8-9) Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, (9) male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah.What we read of here is the first migration in the history of the planet. God put it into the creatures to come to Noah and the ark on their own. No fear of man. Just simple obedience to God.
Now, what did Noah take onto the ark with him? Noah took animals, livestock, creatures, and birds "according to their kinds" (Gen 7:14). The last time we heard that phrase was over and over again in Genesis 1. There we are told that God created the plants, fish, birds, livestock, creatures, and wild animals "according to their kinds" (Gen 1:11,12,21,21, 24,25). The repetition of the phrase tells us that Noah has been given the same dominion that was given to Adam and Eve (Gen 1:28). Clearly, Noah is a new Adam in whom God renews His plan for creation.
B According to Genesis 6, of every living thing in the land and air, Noah was to take onto the ark one pair, male and female to repopulate the earth (Gen 6:19-21). Yet, in Genesis 7, Noah was told to gather seven pairs of each clean animal (Gen 7:1-5). Why the six extra pairs?
Do you remember what Noah did after he and his family came out of the ark? Noah built an altar and offered some of all the clean animals and clean birds as a burnt offering to the Lord (Gen 8:20). Now we know why Noah had extra pairs of clean animals – so he could offer a sacrifice of thanks to God for salvation. In doing this, Noah was not simply going through the motions. He knew obedience and love was more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices (cf 1 Sam 15:23; Micah 6:6-7; Mk 10:33).
Moses' original audience would be impressed when they heard about Noah's sacrifice. From the law of Moses they knew exactly which animals were clean and which animals were unclean (Lev 11). They further knew that only clean animals could be offered up to the Lord (Lev 3-7). Two times Moses told them that Noah was a righteous man (Gen 6:9; 7:1). Four times they were told that Noah did all that the Lord commanded him (Gen 6:22; 7:5; 7:9; 7:16). The children of Israel would see Noah's sacrifice of clean animals as proof of Noah's righteousness because Noah carefully obeyed God's rules about worship and sacrifice.
Noah is the new Adam who faithfully obeys the commands of the Lord.
C In keeping with Noah as a new Adam, the flood itself recalls the events of Genesis 1. Do you remember what the earth was like in the beginning? It was covered with water (Gen 1:2). God then separated the waters so there was sky and dry land. What happened to the waters? All the waters were sent to the seas and underground springs or fountains.
Now, what happened once Noah was shut in the ark by God? Two things: the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened and it rained for forty days and forty nights (Gen 7:11). Do you see what happened? The earth returned to its original state and was again covered with water.
Now, think of think of what Noah all witnessed. He heard the cries of his ungodly neighbors as the waters covered the earth. He must have seen them climb to the roofs of their homes and up the tallest trees. Some must have tried to get in the ark – but they couldn't because God had sealed the door. Noah must have witnessed the drowning of many individuals he knew. He would have seen the floating corpses of those who perished. No, this was not a luxury cruise.
The earth was covered with water and for one hundred and fifty days it was a return to what it was like in the beginning. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out – except for Noah and those with him in the ark.
D Noah is to be seen as a new Adam and the flood was a return to the beginning. Yet, we know from Noah's later transgressions that he – like Adam before him – failed (Gen 9:21). It is only Jesus Who succeeds as the new Adam. It is Jesus Who succeeds where both Adam and Noah failed. It is Jesus Who alone is righteous in all His ways and never fails in offering to God the required obedience. It is Jesus alone Who obeys all God's commandments. It is Jesus alone Who offers to God a perfect sacrifice of praise.
III Noah: a Type of Baptism
A Let's tie all of this with this morning's baptism of Gerben Jay Leyendekker.
As you know, Noah is mentioned in the prayer of our baptism form:
Almighty, eternal God, long ago you severely punished an unbelieving and unrepentant world by sending a flood. But you showed your great mercy when you saved and protected believing Noah and his family.
Do you know why Noah is mentioned in our baptismal form? Because Peter, in his first letter, mentions Noah in connection with baptism. Listen to what Peter says:
(1 Pet 3:20-21) ... God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, (21) and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ ...What happened to Noah and his family in the flood points forward to what happens to believers when they are baptized.
B So, what is the connection between Noah and baptism? First, the water of the flood, like the water of baptism, points to the need for cleansing. Whether you are Noah or Gerben Jay, you need cleansing. The flood shows us the world was so corrupt and wicked and violent that it must undergo a cleansing. Baptism teaches that sin has made us so impure that we must undergo a cleansing.
Second, the flood shows Noah leaving the old world and embracing a new life. Likewise, baptism signifies that we are buried and raised with Christ (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12); this means that, like Noah, we are to put to death our old life and embrace the new. Whether you are Noah or Gerben Jay, you need to leave behind a life of sin and evil.
Third, the flood, like baptism, points to salvation by grace and through faith. Whether you are Noah or Gerben Jay, this is the only way of salvation. Remember, it was God's electing grace that looked with favor upon Noah and sealed him in the ark. Likewise, baptism reminds us that it is only God's electing mercy and grace in Christ that cleanses us and saves us.
Fourth, the flood, like baptism, points to God's covenant of grace. Noah, for instance, was not saved alone. God saved him and his house; God saved him and his whole family (cf Gen 6:18; 7:1). Likewise, baptism points us to the covenant. As Peter put it, the promise is for you and your children (Acts 2:38). The promise is for Frank, Nancy, and Gerben Jay too.
Let me end by pointing out that from Genesis 1 through Genesis 7, one message comes through loud and clear: God is in control. God is in control of the waters that covered the deep (Gen 1:2). In the beginning, it is God Who assigned the waters their place in the sky, in the rivers and streams, in the seas, and in the fountains of the deep (Ps 104:6-10; Prov 8:28). Likewise, God controlled the waters at the time of the flood. It is He Who caused the springs of the great deep to burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens to open so that it rained for forty days and forty nights (Gen 7:11). Furthermore, the God Who judges with water is also the only One Who can save from water.
Now, in this light consider the disciples' amazement when Jesus calmed the stormy sea (Mk 4:35-41). Jesus' sovereignty over water told the disciples that Jesus must be God. Jesus' sovereignty over water told the disciples that Jesus is the only Judge and Savior of men.
So, congregation, think of the flood. Think of baptism. And stay ever mindful of God's sovereignty over the waters and His promise to save His people.
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