Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
Sermon by Duurt Sikkens
I am going to read something from a letter, a letter to the Hebrews, chapter 11 vers 7.
“By faithNoah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”
Well, the things from the past have happened as an example for us, so I want us to take time to think about Noah. You see, during a small part of the Bible, actually right from the beginning, from the very first beginning up to the first pair of human beings, everything was still perfect. God had only created good things, beautiful things. And he saw that it was good. Sometimes you have people who want to improve on what they have done. That is why they are trying so hard. But God says: “It is good” and that is sufficient.
After that, ‘man’ received the order: “Fill the earth, and subdue her.”
I prefer to read it a bit differently: “Fill the earth and bring her to fullness, let it grow and blossom.” Instead of subdue it is better to read: ‘take care of’. There is no force behind that. Just as it was said about the garden: “Take care of it.”
This is a beautiful picture of how we are to take care of our inner being, our soul. It started in Paradise, but that is where it went wrong, sin appeared on the scene, so the devil and death started to reign. What a terrible thing to happen!
And that happened through man. What must have gone through the heart of God when he saw that happen? For now men had become unsuitable for God’s intention. God’s intention is that you live with Him and walk in fellowship with Him forever. But now he lost this ‘living together’.
From the time of Adam, up to the flood, was a long period. And I think that during that long period the earth had filled up. There are scholars who have worked out that at that time there were as many people living on the earth as in 2003.
There were incredibly many peoples and cultures, so the earth was fairly filled up.
Now what about the matter of ‘taking care’ of the earth? You can hardly call it that. It was more like ruling over the earth. Yes, ruling by many violent men, like Nimrod. People were busy in the natural world, there was a lot of violence, murder, manslaughter and corruption. They just did what they liked. We read in Genesis 6: 5 how great the wickedness of men had become and that ‘every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time’. And in verse 6 it says: “The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth and his heart was filled with pain.” Yes murder and manslaughter, corruption, there is nothing new under the sun. People are calling out sometimes: “In what kind of world are we living?” Well not a very good kind of world, that is for sure.
The Lord Jesus once said: “They are busy eating and drinking, with marriages”.
I want to add to that, “with planning your career, with your house, with your desire to achieve, and with rivalry. And what does He add in Matthew 24:39?
“They are so busy with this and don’t notice anything.”They don’t notice anything, nothing at all. And (what about) today? Today it is just the same, because the average man is not searching for our Father, is not searching for His Kingdom.
And we have the whole bible in our hands. All Jesus and his disciples had is the Old Testament, that’s all! They called them ’the scriptures’.
And from the time of the fall, the Scriptures are pointing to just this one issue, this one desire of God “How can I get man back to me?” The Scriptures are not about: “How can I (God) push man further into destruction”, man who has screwed up so completely that God would say: “I’m going to let him go. I have had enough, I am going to start all over again with a new creation on a different planet.”
That could have happened. But when you search the Scriptures, you discover, that He continues to search for man. Again and again you see His call: “Man, make a new start, begin again with Me, for I am the Beginning.” In this way He held on to His creation through Noah. It is a very thin thread, but He does hold on to it through Noah, this is through Noah’s faith.
But what do you think of God’s faith? He thought: “Through this one man I will be able to hold on to my whole creation again one way or another.”
Noah, a thin thread, as it were.
And what do you think of Jesus, a small human being who grew up to become that one man To whom God wants to connect the whole creation again. That really shows us God’s faith.
Well, back to Noah, God and Noah connected. Noah means ‘rest’. He was not an impressive person. At Noah’s birth, his father said: “this one will comfort us in the burdensome work of our hands on this earth which God cursed.“ When you hear this, you can imagine that there was a great need for rest. This is a prophecy about a comforter. ‘Comfort’, what a beautiful word.
For God loved the world so much that He sent Noah. Noah is called ‘the preacher of righteousness, a comforter.’
For God so loved the world that He sent Moses; and the prophets.
He kept on trying to bring His world back to Himself, the world He loved, this cosmos, so that it would be in His hands again. He sent Jesus, He sent others as well, He sends us too. We are people sent to comfort others, to help them back to their feet.
So the first recreation, the one through Noah so to say, started with a comforter. And the real recreation is through Jesus Christ and Jesus too was a comforter. When he speaks in John 14:16 about the Holy Spirit, He calls him ‘another’ comforter. This shows that there was a comforter before: Jesus himself. In the Greek language the word used for comforter means ‘supporter’ or ‘advocate’, somebody who will defend you, will stand up for you.
And we who have received the Holy Spirit after Jesus’ departure, we have the same Spirit which Jesus received. The Holy Spirit made the little boy Jesus into a Messiah. Jesus was led and taught throughout His life. He learned new things, He learned to be gentle, learned to react in the right way, learned to be careful with God’s plans. When He was going away, He said: “You will receive this same Spirit.” Allow yourselves to be taught in the same way. Then you will be able to grow up unto spiritual maturity in all humility. The Spirit is our Teacher.
Let’s go back to Noah. The people laughed about him and had a lot of fun. What a sight to see this man building a rescue boat in the middle of nowhere. No water in sight! But Noah’s had a different way of thinking, because Noah understood God. Noah looked at God, and he found grace in God’s eyes. I can just picture it. He looked God in the face, put out some feelers as it were and what did he find? He found a gracious God, a God who has a warm heart toward man, without violence; full of love. You know, love is not one of the many attributes of God, no, God Himself is love. Noah saw God’s nature, as far as he was able to at that time. We also read that Noah received words from God.
God thought: “I can share my thoughts with him. “
Prophecies and words from God are always meant to lift us up, to comfort, to encourage, always. They always show us a way out, whether it has to do with a personal situation or a more general one.
Noah is called a ‘preacher of righteousness’. But don’t imagine that he walked the streets with magazines or tracts with the message: “People, things are not looking good, listen to me. It is nearly midnight, it is almost too late.” You know, I think that Noah’s sermon was not ‘heard’, but was ‘seen’ in the building of the ark. How long did it take him? I am not quite sure, something like 120 years?
It takes a lot of planning before each part of such a structure is made. But the fact that he kept on building God’s rescue boat, that was a message in itself.
He kept on being busy with his heavenly Father’s work, unperturbed. Yes, I think that that is the secret. The Kingdom of God is not in words. And so he toiled on, busy with God’s work. What a man, don’ you agree? To be building a boat for one hundred and twenty years far, far away from the open sea, just imagine!!
So you are searching the Old Testament, the Scriptures, for the statements God made. And when you do that, you have to keep in mind that ‘God is good’. That is the basis of your search. God is good for everybody; for the good and the bad. He cannot deny Himself. The minds of the people of that time, and also of many people today, are so veiled, so fogged over. It says in Revelation that there was something like a hairy sack covering the sun. Have you ever read that? So God’s face is veiled for the people on earth. A hairy sack is always a sign of mourning. And so philosophers and even theologians draw the conclusion: “God is dead.” Many people who believe in God, have a problem with God. They have questions.
Why doesn’t He do something about this world, why does He not interfere in the terrible things that are happening? He ought to step in with a forceful hand and finally build a temple in Jerusalem. John writes that there is no darkness whatsoever in God; and what is not inside, cannot come out, can it now? Do you really think that He would bring damage to His own world; that He would say to Himself: “Let me think up a plan as a warning, a flood or something like that, so that the people will return to Me.”?
Or imagine that He would set fire to it all, or send earthquakes, floods, and terrorism.
Would that bring them back to Him? What a terrible view of God: a frightful God, fearsome and unpredictable.
Remember and put this in your mind: God never invented sickness, not even one sin. Such things never enter His mind.
To wish somebody that harm would come to him? Never!!
Such thoughts never enter His mind.
The creator of such harmful thoughts is the father of all lies, the devil himself. He invented them in his own mind.
This anti-god is the ruler of this world. You can say: God holds the whole world in His hands, but the devil rules over it with a hard fist and very cunningly. So this means that the world is under a curse, under the power and rule of the evil one.
But Jesus showed us God. He was a unique teacher. And the Holy Spirit reminds us of all that the Son wants to tell us. Jesus says: “The Spirit takes it from me and I have received it all from God. “ The whole of the Old Testament points to the Messiah.
And what comes to mind with the word Messiah? Do you think of one or of more?
Jesus was the first one to explain the Father, who made Him known to us, and He used the Scriptures. Read John 1:18.
Do you remember the two disciples on the road to Emmaus? They did not recognise Him, He came in a different form. But they declared later that, while they were talking, their hearts ‘burned within them’. He taught them from the Scriptures about the Messiah. He starts from Moses, that is Genesis, and explains what or rather whom the Word was pointing at.
And all of a sudden they realise: “This must be Him.” And at that moment He disappears. Jesus always pointed towards His Father when He spoke to people.
And when you think of the prophets and prophetesses of the Old Testament, you realise that they often stood alone in what they were saying. Why? Because they were standing so ‘close to God’. - When you are close to God, you will stand quite alone in this world.-
What the prophets were saying went completely against the prevalent view of God in those days. God is not a violent God, not a fearsome omnipotent despot.
Listen to what Isaiah says in Chapter 30 and verse 15: “In repentance and rest is your salvation. In quietness and trust is your strength. But you would have none of it.”
Rest and quietness are attributes of God and that is good for every person.
The Kingdom of God about which Jesus was always speaking, is inconspicuous, without a lot of noise, outward appearances, without violence. Jesus was not an imposing personality. He was not going for the things of man. Isaiah says in Chapter 53 and verse 2: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”
The prophets said beautiful things, true things and that is what the ruler of this world did and does not like. Think of Noah, Moses, Abraham, (they are called prophets), Isaiah, Jeremiah, Deborah, Hannah. All of these have pointed to THE teacher of righteousness. That is ‘the son of David’. No, not Solomon, but THE son of David, Jesus. They pointed to someone better than them. And I find the most moving aspect of Jesus’ life, that he moved on from being a student to becoming a teacher. You know, what I have remembered all my life: the best teachers will always remain students. If not, they are bad teachers, because they claim to know everything better than someone else.
In 1 Peter 1:10 and 11 it says: “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you,”
They not only prophesied about Jesus, but also about us. Who are these people,who are called ‘us’? They are the people who believe in Him.
It continues: “they searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.”
Think about this carefully: prophesies concerning Christ were spoken through the Spirit of Christ. Let me say it in this way: Jesus was the first Christ. Christ means ‘anointed one’, and He was the first, the highest, because He made Himself the lowest and He says: “It is possible to follow this example, because I am also a human being, I am man and I decided to become like that, because otherwise no one can follow me, it would be impossible.”
In these verses it also talks about suffering and persecution. Did Noah endure that as well? I should think so!
Jesus was the first Christ and when you follow Him, you will experience suffering and persecution.
But remember, the prophesies, which were spoken under the old covenant were not perfect. Paul says that in 1 Cor. 13: 9, “We prophesy in part, imperfect.”
So when you read the prophesies in the Old Testament, you have to find out, to determine which are the ones that concern us and which have nothing to do with us. It is the same in the church, our prophesying is still in part, not perfect and sometimes little things creep in, sometimes it is mixed. But the more we are in the Spirit, the purer and clearer our prophesies will become.
It all depends on the level we have reached. And then, when your insights are ‘being renewed’, you start to discover the beauty of that Old Covenant.
When you read Matt.13:5, you see that, ”Every scribe who comes to know God will bring to light old and new things.” First the new things through the Holy Spirit and then old things from the prophesies. You bring out such extremely beautiful things from these; and it is the Spirit who tells you these things. You have received insight in the words of God; you are searching the depths of God.
Job says somewhere: “does man not have a struggle here on earth?” But Job grows and develops in his spiritual live and finally he says: “I am sorry Lord, I did not understand you, I have acted foolishly.“ So his insight changed during his life.
The same counts for Moses, for Abraham, and slowly all these people walked the road of change.
Jesus taught his disciples to think in a spiritual way, because they didn’t know how to do that. He sometimes said: “You don’t understand at all.” And somewhere else he said: “At the moment you don’t understand, but later on you will.” Jesus didn’t make a point of it. He just said: “Later on you will see it!”
So when people don’t understand you immediately, don’t think that is strange. He also said: “One day you will understand the truth, it will really happen.” That truth will set you free.” Set you free from what?
Well for a start, it will set you free from the wrong view you have from God. You still don’t see Him as He really is. I know Him and that is why I keep on telling you this truth and that truth will set you free from wrong ideas about God. It makes you free in your thinking about God. It also shows you the truth about yourself. (And that makes me really happy.)
Who am I actually? Do you recognise that question? It is the big question people ask themselves today. Who am I? And you can spend lots of time in self-examination, but have a good look at your Father instead! That will set you free from all sorts of wrong pictures you have about yourself. You will start to see who you really are.
You will see Him as He really is, that is because He sees you as you really are. That is a deep secret. That is wonderful and comforting, it gives you inner rest. The lies are exposed, “the sheet that covers all nations” according to Isaiah 25: 7 and 8, has been destroyed. That sheet does not only mean the veil of death, but also the misty veil that stops you from having a clear picture of God, and a clear image of yourself, of other people. May be you have heard of this terrible doctrine that is taught in many churches, that your old self first has to be completely destroyed, before God can have His way in your life. That is a lie!
Just imagine a seed that you want to plant and you say: “I am going to destroy it first.” Any child can tell you that that seed will not sprout. This seed, which is not very much to look at in itself, must be planted. If it stays on its own, you will never see that what is inside appearing.
Jesus died for me and Paul says in Romans 6:5 that “I am united with Him in His death.” That is when the real life is coming to light. That is resurrection.
You are becoming who you are.
What is it you want? Do you want to become a beautiful, nicely polished seed? Or do I allow myself to be planted, to be buried in the death of Jesus Christ in order to take part in his life?
If you do, you will break open and sprout out effortless and you will be amazed when you see what comes out of it!
God speaks to many people.
He said to Noah: “The world will perish. That is not my doing, but I can see it will happen. You Noah, build an ark, a rescue boat.” The creation will perish.
“Moses, you too build an ark and put a tent around it. I will show you what it should look like.”
“Solomon, as for you, build a temple!”
“Abraham, what do you see?” He says: “I see a wonderful heavenly city.”
”Yes, one day it will come true Abraham, Noah, one day it will come true.”
Jesus built all three. An ark of salvation, which is His church.
He brought salvation en reconciliation. Remember the mercy seat on the ark. And he is the first stone of the temple, the beginning of the new city. All these things have come together in Jesus. All the prophets saw part of the reality and in Jesus the full truth has come to light. He actually is the beginning of God’s creation. Jesus was everything, God’s principle is in HIM, the head of all things.
Noah sees a rainbow on the earth. That is a story you tell your children and many people think of Noah and the flood when they see a rainbow.
I think that is a pity, because our radiation is the invisible rainbow of which Revelation 4 and 10 speaks.
That bow is around the throne of God and the Lamb, even around the angels of the Lord.
What is radiating from you? It is that bow in the clouds of which we read in Genesis and we transpose that to the heavenly clouds, which are the righteous people of all times. That covenant, that is there and counts for every person.
I have spoken about suffering. Who are going to be your opponents when you tell them that God is only good and only glory? Who will become your enemies? Yes, the religious people, the people who say that they believe in God and in Jesus and who also talk about the Holy Spirit. But that is a different God, a different Jesus, and a different spirit. (read 2 Corinthians 11: 4 if you like) They will be your opponents.
Do you know what the Lord Jesus calls these people right from the beginning, from the time of Cain and Abel?
Do you know how He uses one word for them all? He calls them: “this generation.” He talked about them several times. I will read Matthew 23 verse 32 and 33. He says to that religious generation: “You are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up the measure of the sin of your forefathers!” You are hypocrites, saying: ‘if only we had lived in those days, we would not have been as bad as them, we would never have killed Jeremiah.’ What hypocrites you are!
And in verse 34 Jesus says: “I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers Some of them you will kill and crucify, others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue them from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of the righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berakiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.” What a place!
“That is what you are doing,” says Jesus” “and all these things will happen to this generation.”
Who killed the innocent prophets? Who killed Jesus? Who killed Paul, Peter, John? And why? Who persecuted the Huguenots in France? Who invented the Inquisition in Europe, killing so many Christians?
Who will kill the future witnesses? In the Book of Revelation it is clearly stated that this will happen. What kind of people will do this? What kind of generation is that?
All the righteous ones, right from the time of Abel up to the future, have persevered. They did not soften or weaken their message. In their weakness they received strength. Often they stood alone, just like Noah, the preacher of righteousness, but they held on and stood firm, because God held them. They received His strength in their weakness. Isn’t that wonderful!
“And when all is over,” says Jesus, “then you will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of your Father.” That is the glory that awaits them. Amen
Father, we ask that we may ‘keep the faith’. Your faith in creation. Your faith in man, May we also hold that fast. May we continue to believe, that You have faith in us. We ask that we may not err in our thinking again, never again, in the sense that we add violence to your costly Good News. May we keep it pure.
Sometimes it frightens us what may still be ahead, but you are teaching us to look beyond that and be able to stand firm.
Thank you Father that we are dependent on Your goodness and Your grace. What a precious message we have!
Your spirit of love and gentleness, of faithfulness comforts us and is our help.