Genesis 7:1-5, 11-24.
We often think of Noah’s story as a precious childhood story. Kind of like Cinderella, Snow White or Little Red Riding Hood. But truth be told, all of those stories, including Noah’s, were a bit brutal when you really think about it. Cinderella (mean stepmother and sisters), Snow White (poisoned), Little Red Riding Hood (grandma was eaten alive). Truth is, Noah’s story was not a pretty little story either about cute animals entering a boat. It is a straight-to-the-point story of judgment and death.
We have this picture of Noah and his family building the boat, getting all the animals and supplies on the boat, even living on the boat for over a year. But what do you think all the other people were doing during this storm, the people who weren’t in the boat, the rest of the world? I imagine the people’s terrifying sense of fear growing and growing as the rain came down and the flooding began and didn’t stop. Perhaps they were pounding on the side of the Ark, begging to get in. And DID Noah’s family hear these cries, did those cries haunt them for days, weeks, months? We don’t know, but what we do know is that it’s a sobering scene of judgment.
There are a number of Bible passages that display God’s terrible judgment on His enemies. And no doubt, these are often very disturbing to us, as they should be. I know we want to see God as a God of love and forgiveness, but he is also the God of righteous anger and judgment. And that’s not always very comforting in our broken world. But what we need to remember, particularly, in this case, the world was very, very wicked. Scripture says that everything the people thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. The Lord was sorry he had ever made them. He was heartbroken about this! So He is Love, but He also has to be the Judge. This was not some whimsical act on God’s part. The people of the world deserved punishment. And sadly, we have no indication that any one of them was sorry for their sin, even as the water began to rise.
Now Noah’s family might have felt sorry for their neighbors and the rest of the world who were left to drown – or maybe they were glad to finally be free from the attacks and harassment of their neighbors and the evil surrounding them. One way or another, this storm was no picnic for anyone, not Noah and his family either.
READ 7:1-5, 11-12
Besides the rain for 40 days and nights, “underground waters erupted from the earth”. They were getting hit from all sides.
Do you remember the tragic flooding of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina in 2005? It was a category 5 hurricane causing catastrophic damage, causing over 1,200 deaths. The storm is the 4th most intense Atlantic hurricane on record to make landfall in the U.S. Part of the problem came from the torrential downpours, but the city of New Orleans sits below sea level, so when the levees gave way, water from the river flooded into the land – like a bowl where there was no escaping it. That’s sort of the picture we get from this scripture. Water shooting up and pouring in.
How many people were in the ark? (8 Noah, his wife, three sons, and their wives.) Imagine that you’re one of them. We can make all sorts of jokes about who here is going to be cleaning up the animal dung, but I want to go a different direction. I want you to remember that this is a sobering moment. Remember that this is a big boat, the size of a football stadium, with three decks. Let’s say the animals are below, but you and your family are in a small section on the upper deck. Eight people in a football stadium filled with hundreds of animals. The world as you know it is gone. This is your world now. The rain is beating on the roof day after day after day after day. Forty days of torrential downpours, washing away everything you used to know.
This is your life. How do you feel? Are you lonely, worried, apprehensive? What will life be like in the future? Will there be a future? Are you sick and tired of being stuck in a boat? Are the animals stir crazy from being stuck in a boat? The text tells us again and again that everything died. Every living thing that was breathing. If you needed your nostrils, you were now fish food. Only Noah, his family, and the animals on that boat remained. The rain stopped after forty days, but it took 5 months (150 days) for the waters just to start receding enough to dock the ark on the highest mountain in the region. Guess that might have stopped the seasick feelings at least. But it was much longer before the rest of the earth was dry.
Maybe you can remember how the Katrina disaster dragged on. Some places were flooded for weeks. Noah’s flood went on and on even longer.
So they hit ground in 5 months, but it was another 7 months, a total of 12 ½ months until they could get off that boat and step foot on dry land. Can you imagine a storm like that? We can only begin to imagine how they must have felt in the middle of it.
Now let’s take a metaphorical leap here.
Noah and his family passed through this mega-storm. No doubt it was huge! But what I want you to think of now is what kind of storms have you had to deal with? Think about the times of difficulty and challenge. Think about the problems in your life, the times when you wondered what in the world God was doing or how He was even going to get you through it.
You may be in a storm right now. If you are, what stage of the storm are you at?
- Are you right in the middle of the storm, when it’s most devastating;
- Still floating around after the storm;
- Are you at the point when you’re finally ready to see the damage and start rebuilding?
- Or maybe you’ve just recovered from a storm and are back on your feet;
- Or maybe you’re back at the start, preparing for another storm.
Jesus knew storms were coming and He prepared the disciples for them….not a weather storm, but rather a storm of persecution.
READ Matthew 10:17-20
According to this scripture, some storms come because we’re faithful. Jesus is saying you’re going to face this storm because you follow me. However, you’re not going to be doing this on your own. I’m with you. God will give you all the right words to say. When we face trouble because of our faith, it doesn’t mean we must be doing something wrong. Instead, it probably means you are doing something right. When we’re faithful, we can expect opposition – but we can also expect the Lord’s support. So no matter what part of the storm you are in right now, these words should give you confidence.
READ John 16:32-33
Here on earth, you are going to have MANY trials and sorrows. Jesus himself faced His own huge storm when he went to the cross and abandoned by his disciples. Yet he was not alone. He says His Father was with him. We are bound to have trouble in life, but what Jesus is telling us is that even though the storms will come and go, He has ultimately overcome them all. Nothing is too big for him. This should change our perspective of the storms we are in right now.
READ Romans 5:3-5
What? We can actually rejoice in times of suffering?!….We can rejoice because the storm strengthens us. It strengthens our endurance, develops our character and therefore strengthens our confidence in our salvation. Our confidence in who we are, in who God is, and in what God has done for us. If we let them, storms will build our trust in God!
READ 1 Peter 3:13-18
Look we live in a broken world, therefore there are storms. Sometimes we bring on our own storms of suffering by doing wrong. Sometimes other people’s storms are thrown onto us. Whatever kind of storm you face, you can face it with hope rather than fear. And that kind of attitude is going to be a testimony to others.
Whatever kind of storm you face, overall, if you turn to God:
- You expect the Lord’s support.
- You can trust that He still loves you and is there with you.
- Through trusting God, your confidence in your salvation will strengthen.
- And ultimately we begin to live like our core is built on knowing that ultimately Jesus has already overcome the worst of the storm.
We are naturally going to go through storms. But we can rejoice in all of them because ultimately God is going to use them to make something beautiful. He is going to use them all for the good of His people.
I know the first place we often want to go when a storm hits is doubt. But instead, I challenge you to go to Romans 8. The whole chapter is a beautiful piece to strengthen us.
It’s about how:
- We are adopted by God.
- We inherit God’s Kingdom through Jesus’ storm of suffering.
- The Holy Spirit is actually praying for us. Speaking on our behalf.
- God causes all things to work together for the good for those who love God.
- And that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Not hell or anything on this earth.
Just because we are having trouble or storms, does not mean God doesn’t love us anymore. Like Noah’s storm, our storms are not random acts of God. Maybe we don’t understand what’s going on, but God does, and even though he’s not causing the storm, He is making all those things work for not only His good but for our good too, fulfilling His purposes in the midst of them. God never promises that our lives won’t be filled with storms that devastate our personal finances, our families, and sometimes our hopes and dreams. Ultimately what the Scripture does promise is that Christ will be a redeeming force in the midst of all our storms and that He’ll always be present with us. Though we’re afraid, though we may feel abandoned, God never leaves.
Now, remember where we left off in the Noah story. The waters have risen, and the boat was afloat 150 days.
Now read the next line in Genesis 8:1.
God does not forget us. We are never abandoned or alone. And as the storm ended, Noah rejoiced. And we can too. We can stand confidently on the mountain top like Noah and rejoice that it’s over and something new and so much better is ahead.