Do you ever have one of those days where you feel like everyone around you is...how do I put this delicately?...Intellectually challenged? Like you're the only one who gets it? And all you can do is throw back your head and yell...
As a disciple, do you ever have one of those days when everyone around you is morally challenged? Where you feel like the second you put your feet on the floor in the morning, that you're trying to avoid stepping in the black sludgey puddles left behind by everyone walking around you? Ok, maybe a little extreme but you get the idea. Most of us have days where we feel alone and isolated in our world. And honestly it's difficult to continue to do what's right when it feels like no one around cares.
Most of those feelings are slightly dramatic, but for Noah it was FACT. Literally the Bible says he was the only one who was righteous. THE ONLY ONE ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH. That's slightly overwhelming, for anyone. Here's what it says about what was going on on the Earth around Noah.
"The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Genesis 6.5 ESV
That's rough. People's hearts were evil, all the time. And we find out in v.11 that they were also, violent and corrupt. Not a pretty picture. So God is "grieved" (v.6) that he made people. The sad part is, remember back to Genesis 1 and how all of God's creation was GOOD? In just five short chapters his noble creation, created in his own image has fallen to this. You can hear God's heart breaking as he tells Noah that he will "destroy them with the Earth" (v.13). And yet the one bit of shining hope in this masterpiece of catastrophe is, "[the] righteous man, blameless in his generation, [who] walked with God," (v.9), Noah. And here, we see the foreshadowing of another man who was the only one blameless, righteous, and walked with God--Jesus.
Most of us know the story, about how God tells Noah to build an ark out of gopher wood and then to take two of every sort of animal on the ark along with his family to save them from the flood. He does it, and they are saved through the 40 days of rain and 150 days on the ark following the flood.
Where is Jesus in the Old Testament?
Where I see him is two part
God Vindicates Obedient Faith
Both Noah and Jesus looked like idiots while they were waiting for God to work. Noah waited roughly 100 years as he built the ark, waiting for God's flood. I bet he felt foolish at times, and when he didn't, I'm sure other people around were happy help him get there. But still he completed the ark, faithfully. And 40 days into the Stormageddon, his previous 100 years was vindicated.
Jesus, the amazing rabbi who healed the sick and fed the hungry, who rode into Jerusalem to the chants of "Hosanna" like a conquering King-General, was reduced to death like a common criminal. He was beaten, spit upon, shamed, dishonored, and crucified by the very people he was dying to save. On that good Friday, it appeared as though Jesus was not favored by God, but was in fact under his curse like the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law had said. His followers put their head in their hands and wept, "The Pharisees were right, all along." But three days later when he rose from the dead, God proved that Jesus was not under any curse, but he was favored above all people. That even death couldn't hold him. Because God vindicates righteous obedience.
As a Redskins fan, I firmly believe this is how I will feel when the Redskins win the Super Bowl...someday. But spiritually, I look at this and think, how long do I wait on God's vindication before giving up? How long do I wait for God to vindicate me and my faith? Noah waited 100 years. Jesus endured the worst pain and shame. I give up after I get tired. If Jesus was vindicated through this pain, how much more will we been vindicated if we persevere?
Some of us bear immense pain because our family persecutes us about being a Christian. Some of us are ridiculed among friends because we don't chase the money at work or we don't have sex before marriage. And most of us have thought at some point along the way, "It would be so much easier to just give up." DON'T. DON'T DO IT! God vindicates obedient faith. That is how this ends! God vindicates your faith. And it isn't just for your sake. It's also because of the second way we see Jesus...
Others are saved through that faith
Noah is allowed to bring his family on the ark, and thus the human race repopulates. They are saved because of his obedient faith. Peter actually recognized this and wrote about it in 1 Peter 3 where he says
"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit...when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 3.18-21 ESV
As Noah's family joined him on the ark and were saved from death, we get to join Jesus on the cross and be saved from death. Baptism allows us to be joined together with Jesus (Romans 6.1-5, we are "united" with him in both death, burial and resurrection through baptism). But this does not come from our great power, we benefit because of Jesus' faith which led to his resurrection.
So for us, remember two things: 1. You benefit because of Jesus' faith, so the pressure is off of you! You don't need to be the most amazing person in the world, but you need to point to Jesus, who actually is. 2. Others will be saved through your faith. Sometimes it feels like no one cares that you are keeping yourself pure on your campus. Sometimes it feels like no one cares that you dress modestly at your high school. sometimes it feels like no one cares that you don't make your kids extra-curricular activities the most important thing in your world. And you know what, maybe no one does...right now. But God doesn't forget that you did, and people will be impacted by your faith. It may not be a lot, Noah only hit 8. But people will be impacted. People will be saved.
Man, I think I love the story of Noah so much more with Jesus in it!