Sermon for Lent Midweek 3, March 10, AD 2021

Genesis 7:1-9:17

For one hundred years Noah preached to his neighbors to repent, for God was going to destroy the earth by water. The world was incredibly wicked, and no one but Noah and his family would survive. Noah was righteous before God and blameless among his generation, yet the least effective evangelist of all time. How did the world get to this point? Why was Noah’s message not heeded?
         
As we heard last week, Adam and Eve were deceived by the serpent into taking the fruit of the tree, thus disobeying God and bringing the world into sin. They were cast out of the garden of Eden, yet they still trusted in God. For He promised them they would have a descendant, the offspring of the woman, who would crush the serpent’s head. Not understanding fully who he would be, they trusted in God for that deliverer to come. They showed their trust by continuing the human race, following God’s word to “be fruitful and multiply” and having three sons described in scripture – Cain, Abel, and Seth.
         
Cain was the firstborn, and the hope for redemption, but in envy he murdered his brother, Abel, in cold blood. Cain was banished to another land, and he began a family who gained renown throughout the ancient world. Cain’s descendants were the masters of animal husbandry, music, and technology in various metals. They built great cities and nations, but they did not follow God, or trust in the promise of the deliverer who would crush the serpent’s head.
         
On the other hand, there was Seth. Seth’s children believed in God, and called upon His name. They honored their parents and followed the faith of Adam and Eve. They were not as mighty and impressive as Cain’s line before the world, but they trusted God. This is the family that Noah came from. Yet many married the descendants of Cain and left the faith, so much so that when the flood came there only remained eight in the entire world faithful to God – Noah, his wife, his sons, and his sons’ wives.
         
Imagine how Noah must have endured a world where no one else trusted in Christ outside of his family. How was he treated? Was he mocked and ridiculed? Was he able even to trade to get the supplies to build the ark? Certainly he would have faced difficulty, as did all the righteous prophets. He was warned by God that this flood would destroy the earth. Trusting in God, he built the ark. No doubt during those years of building the ark everyone told him there would be no flood, he was crazy. He had nothing to argue back except God’s promise. He had nothing to hold onto in this world, only God’s Word sustained him.
         
Despite everything the world said, despite the might and power of the sons of Cain, despite no other sign of a flood, the Lord vindicated Noah. In judgment, He brought the flood upon the earth, opening up the heavens and the earth to drown it over the tops of the highest mountains. Those who hated God, those who attacked Noah, received their punishment from God, after centuries of mercifully waiting for them to repent. No matter how mighty the nation or city, no matter how renowned or wealthy the person, no one can escape God’s wrath. All flesh that was not in the ark died. Note that the scripture says all flesh, and not all souls – it leaves the possibility that the Lord was still more merciful and some during the flood did repent of their sins, though they would lose their lives. Even in exacting vengeance and supporting His people, God continues to be merciful and desires all to be saved.
         
Outside of the ark, no one survived. By faith Noah kept his family alive. They remained in the ark as it rained forty days and nights. An entire Lent of rain, sitting in the ark with the smells of hundreds of animals. They had been preserved from the flood, but what would happen? What would they find on the other side? The days went on until the rain stopped. Then another 150 days of nothing but water everywhere. So it may be with faith, that trusting in God, He gets us through one situation and we still have to wait for the full benefit to come. Yet God’s promises are true, He will not turn back on them. Through every trial He wants us to cling more to Him. Noah waited, but “God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark.” God did not save Noah merely to rot in the ship, but made the waters recede, and the flood ended. All tribulation will eventually have an end.
         
As the water subsided, Noah let out a raven and then a dove to test for dry land. Eventually they were able to leave the ark with all the animals. Noah worshiped the Lord, who had brought him through the ordeal, and God promised never to flood the earth again, with His bow in the clouds as a sign. So we know and can trust that God will preserve the earth until the end, that there will always be sun and moon, seed and harvest, as long as the earth remains. Let us cling to this precious promise of God. For as we see the sun rise and set, the phases of the moon, the changing of seasons, we can be sure that God’s promises will endure.
         
Even more sure is God’s promise in His Son, Jesus Christ. For the promised one who would crush the serpent, whom Seth and his descendants trusted and only knew dimly, in whom Noah showed faith by building the ark, is the one we know to be our crucified and risen Savior.
         
He was crucified for our sins, taking God’s full wrath upon himself. The world still deserves only the wrath of God. Humanity deserves only punishment for despising and rebelling against God. Despite the passing of time, we have not progressed in our hearts beyond the sons of Cain. We build great nations and cities, accomplish technological feats and artistic masterpieces, yet it is all in vain if separated from God. God in His mercy sent His Son to die and take on our punishment, to take the beating we deserve, that the whole world deserves. God does not spare the earth just on a whim, but because of the work of Christ.
         
Christ is our Ark. As the Ark took the lashing of the waves, Jesus was lashed for our iniquities. As the Ark bore the great weight of the world’s animals and righteous family, Christ bore the weight of the sins of the world on the cross. Just as outside of the ark no one lived, outside of Christ all souls will face everlasting death. All who wish to escape God’s punishment must trust in Him and no one else.  He has died for us and risen, and gives us the precious waters of baptism to save us from that evil day.
         
Just as Noah and his family were preserved, in baptism, we are preserved from God’s judgment. Our old man drowns with all its evil desires and the new man emerges from the ark, safe and sustained in the promises of Christ. Noah shows us here how to live a new life in Christ. First, he worshiped God with a sacrifice, a pleasing aroma to God. So our lives should be living sacrifices, in thanksgiving to God and service to our neighbors. We pray and worship our Lord for what He has done, and keep the whole world in our prayers, because if we didn’t, who would? We follow God’s commands and promises, like “thou shalt not kill” and “be fruitful and multiply.” For God in Christ wants to increase every blessing for us and for our neighbor. So we live in the callings God has put us, following the Ten Commandments, seeking forgiveness when we sin. And ultimately our trust is in the Lord keeping His promises.
         
Our Lord will never destroy the earth by water again, but the world will end. Jesus promises to return, and it will be like the days of Noah. Some will be prepared. Some will be eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even up to the very last day. Let us watch and pray and be prepared. The world may think we are foolish. Yet we know what God promises is true, and look forward to the day when our salvation shall be complete – when the old man is drowned for good, and in the resurrection, we see where Christ our Ark has landed us – with our Savior forever, free from sin, in eternal peace and rest.

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