Noah lived in the midst of evil. We do too. Our modern world has plenty of idols. For some it is politics, for others it is entertainment. Acquiring wealth consumes the time and affections of many people, providing a false sense of security and self-sufficiency that excludes God. As in the days of Noah, violence fills our world. Individuals and nations employ violence as a means to secure wealth through war, sex trafficking, drug trafficking, and exploitation of others in the global marketplace. Violence against the unborn has reached abominable proportions. It’s not difficult for Christians to identify many other forms of corruption and to be appalled at their rapid increase.
A Unique Task
God gave Noah a unique task for a unique time. Noah, a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5), was faithful even though God delayed for decades the judgment he declared to Noah. Though none of us have a task as unique as Noah’s nor live in as unique a time, we can learn from Noah’s persistent obedience. We can, in the words of the apostle Paul, see to it that we complete the ministry we have received in the Lord (Colossians 4:17).
It could be that you have been given a specific task, one that others have been given but that is by no means universal. Perhaps you have journeyed far and labored long in obedience to God’s clear instruction but do not yet see the fruit you expected. Be encouraged by this:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.—Galatians 6:9
Favor In the Eyes of the Lord
Noah, a righteous man and blameless among the people, found favor in the eyes of the Lord and he walked with God.
A careful look at scripture shows many of God’s promises to be conditional on our obedience. We either walk with God or we don’t, there is no third option. If we cling to idols we cannot simultaneously walk with God, if we serve money we cannot serve God, we will not gratify the flesh if we walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16); we cannot be partners with immoral, impure or greedy people and be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1-7).
The Bible is filled with exhortations to persevere in our faith. In times such as we now find ourselves in, God looks with favor upon those who, like Noah, walk with him and are obedient to the task they are given.
A Universal Task
God has given some tasks to every Christian. None of us are excluded from walking in the Spirit, being ambassadors for Christ, or making disciples. We cannot do what God has asked of us in our own strength, but God has made it possible for us to participate in the work that he is completing in us. We can, in the words of the New Testament, see to it that none of us has a sinful unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God (Hebrews 3:12) and that no one falls short of the grace of God (Hebrews 12:15). We can “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”. We can “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Noah had to be prepared for the time of God’s judgment. Likewise, we must be prepared for the Lord’s return. God has promised to complete the work he began in us. We take comfort in this fact when we stumble while running our race, knowing that our perseverance, though there is no room for laxity on our part, ultimately depends upon God. Even the warnings against falling away found in the book of Hebrews serve as a means by which God ensures his elect do not leave the faith.
Noah warned about unseen things. As in the days of Noah, the unbelieving world is unaware of the wrath to come. We are called to go into the whole world and warn them, to make disciples who follow Jesus and escape God’s wrath.
Persevering In the Storm
Whether you believe the coronavirus pandemic is judgment from God on a rebellious world, a wake-up call for believers or merely evil resulting from a fallen world, the task in front of every Christian remains the same—to persevere in faith.
I can’t help but wonder what Noah thought while the flood waters prevailed on the earth for 150 days. How long would he have to live in the ark? When would he be back on familiar, solid ground?
The Lord knows how to rescue godly men and women from trials (2 Peter 2:9). If you are discouraged during this pandemic, recall that even as the floodwaters were still high, God remembered Noah and then made the waters subside. He will remember you too. Be faithful.