Righteous in His Generation
The microphone recording this sermon cut out in the beginning. As the pulpit microphone had been removed for VBS, the audio is very difficult to hear. As a result, the notes for this sermon are placed below without an audio recording.
In the previous sermon, Beyond Self Help, we saw that the entire world was in need of God’s grace. However, God’s wrath to be poured out against evil was put on a time clock – 120 years to repent. Finally, we were introduced to one person who had God’s grace, Noah. In Genesis 6:9-22, the Bible gives us a better look at the character of Noah and how his righteousness saved his whole family.
Genesis 6:9a “These are the Generations of Noah.”
This little phrase isn’t something to skip over. Here the biblical author is telling us something – this is a NEW story. We have no closed out our discussion on the lines of faith and the devil. We are entering into a new chapter in humanities struggle with sin and redemption.
Genesis 6:9b “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.”
Calling a person righteous in the Bible is not an oddity, but the term blameless is quite strange. The term here is rarely used of any person in the Bible ever! So what does it mean that Noah is blameless? We could understand blameless as sinless. However, this would be a mistake given the phrase “in his generation.” Noah is blameless within his timeframe. The Bible is not saying Noah is sinless, but rather that he is unique among his peers. No one in Noah’s time had any charge against him.
Think of the comparison between mega-church pastors, who have notoriously been involved in scandals lately, and Billy Graham. Billy Graham would not ever say that he is sinless. We would not imagine describing him in this way. But has anyone really ever been able to pin Billy Graham with a scandal? Certainly he has made mistakes, but even the secular world couldn’t blame him. Noah was like this. He was not only a good man, but what scandal could you put on him? He stands in stark contrast to most of our celebrity and spot lighted figures.
Genesis 6:14 “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood”
The command for Noah to build comes long before an explanation. As readers of Genesis 6:1-8 we know God has determined to destroy the earth. Noah knows that God is going to destroy everything. God doesn’t tell Noah that he is going to be saved. The motive for the ark doesn’t come until verse 18. Why is this important?
In the story of Noah, Noah is not the subject. The Biblical account of Noah does not make a very good movie. Noah has NO lines in his own play! This is part of the biblical story that movie and cartoon representations of Noah struggle to get right. Noah should not speak in a movie about Noah. There is only one thing Noah does in his own story, obey.
Now we don’t know much about the what type of wood gopher wood is, but we do know that the size of the ark is massive. Estimates put the ark at about 1.5 million cubic feet! Its huge! And unlike other flood stories outside the Bible, it takes Noah quite a long time to build the ark. And unlike other flood stories, building the ark IS NOT a focal point of the story.
Genesis 6:15-17 “This is how you are to make it…”
How important is it that Noah build the ark God’s way? Why not fudge the numbers? Why isn’t 49.99 cubits good enough? For one we’d hate for Noah to have to say, “well only one sheep this time, we ran out of space”. But more importantly, Noah is a man who trusts in God’s way. As fathers, we too need to lead our family God’s way. We cannot cut corners when it comes to obedience. Noah is given the authority to cut wood, not corners. As fathers, we are given these times t0 lead our families spiritually, not to be spiritually led by our times.
What is the focal point of the story?
Genesis 6:18, “But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark…”
While we will need to spend more time focusing on the word covenant (we will do so in later sermons on Noah), we need to understand this: Noah was in a covenant relationship with God by grace. He received the free gift (grace) of the covenant because he was righteous in his generation. God says build, Noah builds. God says go inside, Noah goes inside. Noah does not speak back to God in any of these things. Noah doesn’t cut corners.
Genesis 6:22, “Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.”
By his obedience, his faith in God (as obedience always comes from faith), Noah was able to save his family. However, there is a strong warning in the Bible about taking responsibilities for your time. Remember Noah was righteous in his Generation! Ezekiel 14:12-14 tells us that there is a point where God will let society get so back that he won’t redeem family members through someone else. “Even if” God says “these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Lord. God.” Noah was able to save his family, but he did (according to Peter) become a herald of righteousness in his generation. What does that mean? Noah preached righteousness to his people. This had such an effect that his family was saved by God as well.
Now this does not mean that Noah was able to save his family by works. Who’s idea was it to build an ark? Only God saves. But Noah was obedient. His obedience extended past his own family to his own generation.
Ezekiel concludes with this, “But behold, some survivors will be left in it, sons and daughters who will be brought out; behold when they come out to you, and you see their ways and their deeds, you will be consoled for the disaster that I have brought upon Jerusalem… They will console you, when you see their ways and their deeds” (Ezekiel 14:22-23). What an impact the righteous can have! We are to impact our generation by our ways and deeds. Well what is our way? Noah makes it clear, our way is obeying the Lord. We have faith in Jesus Christ and him alone. But our deeds are equally important. We must act. This means being a herald of righteousness in our generation. How do I do that? Go tell someone the gospel. Don’t cut corners. Don’t waste the years God’s given you for repentance. Preach the word.