God’s means of salvation is the only means of salvation.
Lesson 23 from The HOPE Study Guide
Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark – you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.
– Gen 6:17-19
But there was a man named Noah who followed God. And God gave Noah detailed instructions to build a huge boat, called an ark. Then, God sent a male and female of every kind of animal to enter the ark. And after Noah and his family were inside the ark, God closed the door. Then God made it rain for forty days and nights, flooding the whole earth and destroying everything that lived on the earth. For one hundred and fifty days water covered the earth. But Noah and his family, and the animals, were safe in the ark. When the water finally subsided, the ark came to rest on a mountain, and the animals went their own way. And so it was that Noah and his family escaped God’s judgment of evil in the world; not because they were without sin, but because they believed God.
– The HOPE, Chapter 4
OBSERVE & CONSIDER
The story of Noah is nothing short of amazing. Skeptics call it a fable. Yet in ancient civilizations from every region of the world, stories of a global flood abound. H.S. Bellamy in Moons, Myths and Men estimates that there are over 500 flood legends worldwide.1
In the Bible this story is found in Genesis, Chapters 6–9. Volumes have been written on these chapters, but for the sake of our study today we will focus on three subjects.
- 1. The judgment of God – the result of His holy character
In the previous lesson, we saw from Genesis 6:6 that God was deeply grieved over the sin of mankind. In Genesis 6:7 we read of God’s intent to “blot out” man from the face of the earth. At first, one might think that God’s intention to blot out man in verse 7 was motivated by His grief in verse 6. It might appear that God, becoming disappointed with man, somehow lost His patience. But is that really true?
We humans are often disappointed when our expectations are unmet. But God, who is not limited by the dimensions of time and space, knows the future (see verses in Lesson 6). What He expects is what happens. What happens is what He expected. So how could God be disappointed?
And what about God losing His patience? As we study the Bible we find that it is God’s amazing patience that actually delays judgment (2 Peter 3:9). Judgment comes when God appoints it, not a second before or after (Acts 17:31). His judgment wasn’t based upon grief, disappointment or loss of patience. The aspect of God’s character that requires judgment is nothing more or less than His holiness.
God is holy, righteous and just. He cannot sin, nor can He accommodate sin. If God were to allow sin, He would cease to be holy. God must either judge sin or violate His own character.
- 2. The faith of Noah – the one thing that set him apart
As we studied in Lesson 18, the sin that entered the world through Adam spread to every person that has ever lived. That includes Noah. So, if the people of Noah’s day were judged because of their sin, how is it that Noah (who had also been infected with sin) was spared?
In Lesson 20 we learned of God’s promise to send a Deliverer who would one day free man from Satan, sin, and death. Whether or not Noah understood the meaning of this promise, one thing appears to be true of Noah: he honored God as God. From his actions, we know that Noah trusted God as his Deliverer. His trust was manifested in his obedience. It was Noah’s faith in God that set him apart (Hebrews 11:7) from others of his day.
- 3. The provision of God – the only way to be saved
Recall that when Adam and Eve sinned, God provided a covering for them. So also, God provided for Noah by showing him how to build an ark that would cover his family from the deluge that destroyed the world. No one else in the world survived the flood. Only God’s provision was able to save Noah and his family. There was no other way of salvation.
In the Bible, the book of 2 Peter compares the sinfulness of our world today with that of Noah’s day. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us why God has delayed judgment of our world. It is because He is “patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.” The word “repent” literally means to rethink, or to change one’s mind.2 God has not yet judged our world because He wants to give people the opportunity to rethink their ways and to trust in Him.
God is patient, but we must not take His patience for granted. God’s judgment of sin may or may not be immediate, but it is inevitable. His holy character demands it. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
ASK & REFLECT
If we studied the Bible verses that detail the genealogy of Noah, we could deduce that Noah worked on the ark at least 70 years!3 Now, consider also that the Bible gives no record of rain prior to the flood. According to His story, the plants of the earth were watered by a mist that “used to rise from the earth” (Genesis 2:6). Think about it! Noah worked on a boat for at least 70 years in expectation of a flood, something that no man had ever seen.
- What do you imagine the people of Noah’s day thought about his 70 year “ark project?”
- Do you ever get discouraged in the face of adversity when you don’t reach your goals in a timely manner?
- What do you think you would have done if you had been in Noah’s situation?
- What is your response to 2 Peter 3:9?
DECIDE & DO
If God is asking you to do something, be like Noah. Trust and obey! If He is asking you to “rethink” some area of your life, don’t put it off.
1H. S. Bellamy cited in the article Flood Legends from Around the World, Northwest Creation Network. (http://www.nwcreation.net/noahlegends.html). Retrieved October 6, 2006.
2Blue Letter Bible. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words for Repent, Repentance.’ 1996–2002. (http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi–bin/new_choice.pl?string=Repent%2C+Repentance&live_word=Repent%2C+Repentance&choice=VT0002364&Entry.x=51&Entry.y=13). Retrieved November 9, 2006.
3How Long Did It Take Noah to Build the Ark? (© Copyright 2002–2006 Got Questions Ministries). (http://www.gotquestions.org/Noahs-ark-questions.html). Retrieved October 6, 2006.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB