Moved by Grace to Give Thanks
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What Would Bring You Out?
Lightning was the worst. Years ago I met a family who had a dog. And the dog was very mild-mannered. There was an exception though. The lightning and thunder. When lightning came in the spring time the dog would run and hide under the bed and in the basement. It was loud. It was scary. And so I asked the family what they did to bring that dog out of basement or out from under the bed. They said that kind word and lots of doggy treats. Our lives can sometimes be much the same. There are times in our lives when we would rather just stay at home. In the words we look at today Noah and his family were brought into an ark. And the question we ask is what brought them out of that ark? In Genesis 8, we read: “15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.” 18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. 19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another. 20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.” (Gen. 8:15–20 NIV11-GKE)
As we begin these words it would be best if we backed up and picked up some of the context leading up to these words. In these words Noah and his family are in a massive box. What brought them to this point? If we go back to Genesis 6, we learn that the answer to that question is: people. The people who lived at that time were corrupt, wicked, and violent.1 The Lord says this about the people of that time: “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” (Gen. 6:5 NIV11-GKE)
And as we read these words, we have to put ourselves in the shoes of Noah and his family. It was Noah’s role to preach the gospel to these wicked, violent, and corrupt people. And there’s this powerful irony: The very people he was called to preach to, he needed protection from. And, after hundreds of years, the only solution to end the violence was the end the people. So the Lord provided an ark for Noah and drowned the world.
With that in mind we can begin to appreciate these words. Over a year has gone by. The Lord tells Noah to come out of the ark, along with his family. And that’s what Noah does. He comes out of the ark and worships the Lord. And still today we ask the question, why? The first answer to the question is found in the next verse: “The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.” (Gen. 8:21 NIV11-GKE)
What brings Noah out of the ark is the fact that he has a forgiving Creator. If you think these words through, these are not the words you would expect to hear. You see, at the beginning of chapter 6 we learned that every inclination of people’s hearts were only evil, all the time. And here, notice that the Lord says the same thing. And it makes us stop and scratch our heads. Weren’t all the bad people drowned? The flood did not remove sin from people. No, that would come much later. That would come with our Savior, Jesus.
As we consider the wicked people out there in the world, notice where the Holy Spirit guides our hearts. First we consider the wickedness and corruption in our own hearts. For, my friends in Christ, there will be times that people out there in the world will be cruel and mean and even violent to us. But it is also true that, when we are pushed, we have this innate desire to push back—that if we are harmed, we will harm back twice as much.
The flood did not solve sin. The solution to sin is only found in Christ. When we are pushed, it is so easy to push back with even more violence. But look at our Savior. Peter writes about our Savior: “23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”” (1 Pet. 2:23–24 NIV11-GKE)
You have a forgiving Creator. And notice what that frees you to do. It brings you out of the hiding places in your own homes and hearts to go out there into the world and serve God by serving others. And we can all do this because we have a forgiving Creator. But the Lord brings out out of the darkness and into the world with one more detail: ““As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”” (Gen. 8:22 NIV11-GKE)
We have a forgiving Creator. We also have a protecting Creator. Notice in these words that there is balance and there are boundaries. Our Lord protects us from people. And what’s the proof of this? The Lord was patient with their violence for hundreds of years. But one day that ended. And for the sake of protecting God’s church, he ended millions of people in their unbelief with a flood. And it will be the same on the last day. He will end millions of people on the last day, not with a flood, but instead, with fire.
And that speaks so much to us today. Just as there were boundaries and balance back then, so also it is the same today. There will be people that cause you harm in your life. But God puts limits on what they can do to you. And the same is also true when it comes to places. There will be many little floods and flash floods. But there will not be one massive flood. And it’s so easy for us to overlook how scary nature out there can be. It’s easy to say, “get out there and enjoy nature” until we hear of people being swept away in an avalanche or flash flood. But look at the promise that God speaks still today. He puts boundaries and balance in this world. And that’s so important for us to know. For he protects us from the harm so that, once again, instead of hunkering in the darkness, we can serve in the light. For what brings out out is the fact that we have a forgiving Creator and a protecting Creator. Amen.
1 Gen. 6:1-12