06 August 2008

Caught in the Wake

I first noticed the thunderstorm after midnight last night. My blinds were closed, but they could not keep out the flashes of lightning and the roar of the thunder. The storm grew more intense, the flashes and booming in greater frequency, and my ability to sleep dwindled. As I laid in bed, I started praying. How awesome is it that I can have 3am conversations with my God, the same God who tells the lightning bolts where to go, whose own voice makes this thunder sound like nothing more than a whisper?

The rain blew against my windows and I started thinking about this fear that started creeping up in me. Not fear of the storm, but this fear of my God, this unmatchable respect I have for Him in acknowledging that he is all-powerful.

I started thinking of Noah. By the time Noah was a father to Shem, Ham and Japheth, the earth was corrupted and was full of violence (Genesis 6:11). God was sorry he had made people, so he told Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them." (6:13). So God tells Noah to build an ark and put animals in it and his family so they will be safe from the flood the Lord will send and everyone else will die...you know the story. Genesis 6:22 - Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

When Noah is 600 years old, the flood waters come. The springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights. Rain fell. It rained! In Genesis 2, we see that God had not sent rain to make the shrubs of the field appear. Instead, in verse 6, the streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. Then, when God created the Garden of Eden, a river watering the garden flowed form Eden (v.10). Based on these verses, I'm assuming up to Noah's point...there had been no rain. All the water needed to keep the plants alive simply sprung up out of the ground.

So picture this: Noah is in his ark with his family and all of these animals. God closes the door behind them and then... it starts to rain. The springs in the ground open up and flood water and the heavens open up and water pours forth. Water is coming up and falling down. I'm assuming Noah has never seen water come from the sky before. Whoa! Water starts falling from the sky and it doesn't stop for forty days and forty nights (Genesis 7:4).

Can you imagine what Noah - this righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, who walked with God - must have been feeling? He had never seen a flood, but he trusted God and obeyed him. Do you think he was freaking out when it started raining? He might have been a little scared at the great strength of the rains, but freaking out? I don't think so. I think Noah was fearing God, was realizing over and over what a powerful God he served and was praising Him for it.

When the earth was finally covered, it remained flooded for 150 days. 5 months: that's quite a long time to be on a boat with no land in sight. What do you think Noah and his family did to pass the time? What about the animals? I wonder if there were ever days when Shem approached Noah and said, "Dad, do you think we'll ever get out of this boat?" I trust that Noah was patient. That Noah had faith and trusted that God's plan was bigger than any of his plans.

Then, when Noah was 601 years old, Noah removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. Then God said to Noah, "Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives." (Genesis 8:15-16). Then the animals came out. And what did Noah do? What would you have done? Do you think you would have wandered around searching this earth and looking for the best spot to build a home? Verse 20: Noah built an altar to the Lord and made a sacrifice for Him. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his hear that he would never again curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. God blessed Noah and his sons and made a covenant with them in Genesis 9:11 - "Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth."

Noah worked by faith and in fear of God. Hebrews 11:7 - By faith Noah, 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.

God is faithful to those who obey him.

God does not always protect us from trouble, but cares for us in spite of trouble.

Obedience is a long-term commitment.


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