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Noah and His Really Big Boat

Part 3 - As Long As The Earth Endures

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

Read Part 2

(10/4) Today we're continuing in part 3 of our series on Noah and his really big boat. We’ve talked about how God was grieved by mankind’s sin and rebellion. Two weeks ago, we looked at the flood and the horrible consequences of mankind’s unrepentant attitude toward God. And honestly, I have found it extremely difficult to remain positive and uplifting when we discuss such things as a worldwide flood. I mean this is a challenging series for me to teach about such a horrendous event and yet end on a worshipful note. But we must remember the big picture, the big idea, and it's really about a God who doesn't give up on you. And so what we have seen so far is that the flood came as promised. It rained for forty days and forty nights. The flood waters covered the earth and every living creature died. And I want you to remember, it didn't have to be that way. It didn't have to be just Noah and his family. There could have been others… if they would have believed… if they would’ve been willing to turn to God. Unfortunately no one but Noah and his family were so inclined.

After the rain stopped, the ark floated aimlessly for months and months, and this is where chapter 8 picks up, if you have a Bible follow along. Genesis 8, at verse 1…

"But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. 2 Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. 3 The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, 4 and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat." (Genesis 8:1-4; NIV)


Now the mountains of Ararat today are a chain that spreads over Iran, Turkey and Russia. People have been climbing the mountains looking for the ark for centuries but it is a challenge because the highest point of this mountain is a 17,000-foot peak. And it’s also interesting because the people who live there at the base of that mountain worship the mountain as a sacred god. It’s as Paul says in Romans 1, "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator" (Romans 1:25). And so God floods the earth, wiping out the unbelieving wickedness from the earth, the waters recede and sometime later that area repopulates and they go back to worshipping the creation and not the Creator. History testifies that there is something deeply and profoundly wrong with the human condition. And today that mountain is still there, and for some, it is not a remembrance that God is their only hope; it is their god.

Picking up again at verse 5, "The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible. 6 After forty days Noah opened the window he had made in the ark 7 and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth" (Genesis 8:5-7; NIV)

Now if you could imagine, Noah has been inside that boat for about a year and he opens the window and looks out into the world. He’s curious… he’s investigating what’s out there... and he peaks out. Can you imagine how peaceful it was? There’s not a bird in the sky. No land on the horizon. The peaks of the mountains are just appearing above the water. The whole earth is still, it’s eerily quiet. I mean just imagine a world where there are no human beings, birds, or animals. There is nothing. So Noah decides to investigate if there was any dry land by sending out a raven… a scavenger… and the Bible says "it kept flying back and forth."

And verse 8 tells us, "Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find no place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark" (Genesis 8:8-9).

And I love this picture of Noah, caring for the dove, as God cared for Noah. You see, the dove needs a nest, a home, a place of shelter. It’s not as strong of a bird as the raven. So Noah reaches out his hand and brought the dove back to himself in the safety of the ark. Isn’t that beautiful? He tenderly cares for this dove as God has cared for him. He’s a man who’s learned something of grace.

Reading again at verse 10, "He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. 12 He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him" (Genesis 8:10-12).

Noah has learned to be patient just as God had been patient. "He waited seven more days." The dove returned with a "freshly plucked olive leaf!" Noah knew that meant somewhere there was land, somewhere there was plant life that was growing again, soon he would be able to leave the ark.


Verse 13 says, "By the first day of the first month of Noah's six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. 14 By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry. 15 Then God said to Noah…" (Genesis 8:13-15).

I love verse 15, because Noah had not yet left the ark. God told him, "Build the ark" and he built it. God told him, "Go on the ark" and he went on the ark. Noah looked out of the ark and saw that the water had receded, he looked out and saw the dry land, but what Noah doesn’t do is leave the boat. God said build the boat, God said get on the boat, but God hadn’t said get off the boat. And so Noah stays on the boat until God tells him to get off.

Now you’ve got to know this is a man who wants to get off the boat, right? This is a man who has spent a year with his in-laws. This is a man who’s endured the stench of all these animals; who hasn’t himself taken a decent bath or had a decent meal, and so this is a guy who wants to get off the boat. But he waits... He waits for God to tell him to proceed.

And God does at verse 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 upon 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 the earth — came out of the ark, one kind after another" (Genesis 8:16-19).

Now I want you to picture this. The door to the ark opens. Noah comes out, he’s the father of a new humanity, he’s squinting and blinking as his eyes adjust to the brightness. He peers out into this new creation, one full of possibility, one that has been cleansed by the just judgment of God. And Noah, as the leader of his family, cautiously steps out as the first man to set foot in this new world. He knows that the fate of humanity is now dependent upon him, his wife, his three sons, and their wives.

And at this moment, if you were Noah… if you were looking out at this world pregnant with possibility, what would you do first? This is a very important and significant moment. Do you build shelter? Do you search for food and fresh water? Do you go for a walk?

You see, what we do at this moment indicates our highest priority, our greatest value and our most urgent commitment. What you do at that moment indicates what is most significant to you. You would do that which is your highest priority. And here’s what Noah does at verse 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. (Genesis 8:20).


The first thing he does, he gets off the boat, he grabs some dirt, some rocks, and he builds an altar. His first priority, his highest value, his most urgent and pressing need is to worship God. Now I’ve got to ask you, "Is that what you would have done? Is that your highest priority and your first value? Are you walking with God?"

Noah gets off the boat and makes an altar upon which he intends to worship God. He’s standing there… he looks at the world… and he realizes that he’s just as wicked a man as everyone who’s perished. That he too should’ve certainly died and would’ve had it not been for God’s grace. And so what he does here is he acknowledges God’s favor and repents of his sin.

Upon that altar, Noah took a knife and one animal after the other, he named his sin, his wife’s sin, his sons’ sin, and their wives’ sin, and slit the throat of the animal. Now at this point, the law had not yet been given, the priesthood and the sacrificial system, didn’t exist. Yet Noah is taking the role of a priest for his family. He’s offering a sacrifice of atonement to God. And I want you to know that every time you see a sacrifice in the Bible it’s pointing you to Jesus. So Noah was being very biblical even though that part of the Bible had not yet been written. And he took his example from God who offered the first sacrifice in the Garden when Adam sinned. Where God slaughtered an animal and "made garments of skin for Adam and his wife" to cover their nakedness and shame (Genesis 3:21). You see, it’s the shed blood, representing the loss of a perfectly good life that covers sin. So here we see Noah is following in the pattern of God.

Now, we don’t like blood, gore, and death; but the Bible says that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:22). That the wage for sin is death, and so when you see blood, it’s symbolic of death (Romans 6:23). And every time you see a sacrifice like this, it’s pointing you to the cross, and you’re supposed to look to Jesus.

That’s what the Bible teaches. We’re supposed to go right to Jesus. That Jesus is a priest like Noah, he’s a sacrifice like that animal, and that’s why when he comes on the scene John the Baptist cries out, "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). So John early in the Gospel, prophesies that Jesus is going to die, that he’s going to shed his blood on the earth that he made… to cover Noah’s sin, my sin, and the sin of all the world.

So that’s how Noah spent his first day off the boat and I want you to see that what Noah initiated… moved God to respond! You see God didn’t command Noah to offer the sacrifice. God told him to build a boat, to go on the boat, to stay on the boat, and then get off the boat. But God didn’t tell him to offer a sacrifice. Noah does that and God responds. Let’s look at his response in verse 21.

"The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease" (Genesis 8:21-22).

Now just imagine, an early summer evening, and you catch the smell of your neighbor grilling out in their backyard. You know what I mean? You just breathe deeply of the aroma. It’s good right? Well, God smells the sacrifice of Noah and it says that God was pleased. Before God had only known the pain of rejection, the grief of rebellion, and sadness of alienation from the very ones whom he had created to love and to fellowship with. But now, because of Noah’s worship, God knows joy again. God is pleased, because finally someone has confessed their sin and been thankful for his love. And so God gives a promise. He says, "Never again will I curse the ground… never again will I flood the earth." He is so moved by the sacrifice of Noah, he says, "even though every inclination of his heart is evil" never again!

And then God makes another great promise; "As long as the earth endures..." Now what he’s not promising is that the earth will always endure. In fact, God’s telling us, "That the world as we know it will end, it won’t endure, but as long as it does, one thing is certain… the seasons will continue. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be famine or floods, but there will be people, there will be food, and there will be seasons on the earth until God says it’s over.

The point is that God doesn’t give up on you. There is coming a day when the world will come to an end. As God revealed to the Apostle Peter everything is going to be destroyed by fire. Listen to what he wrote, "The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare" (2 Peter 3:10). Meanwhile God is faithful to you… he is waiting patiently. The Apostle Paul tells us, "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery… Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in" (Romans 11:25). You see, judgment is coming, the earth is coming to an end, and just as in the days of Noah, God is waiting patiently to fulfill his promise. As Peter said, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).

And Jesus verifies the reality of a second judgment, a universal judgment, in Matthew chapter 24. Here’s what the Lord Jesus says, "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man" (Matthew 24:38-39).

As we close, I want you to know that your future is full of promise. And just as God waited patiently in Noah’s day, God waits patiently in our day. Just as God invited people to turn from sin in Noah’s day and be saved, he invites us all to turn from sin and be saved. You see, today our hope is in the peace, the possibility, and the promise that’s ours in Jesus Christ. Our hope is in God who comes down from heaven and becomes a man to identify with humanity. In Jesus who’s tempted in every way as we are, yet he never sins. Jesus lives this perfect life on this imperfect planet. And the only reason today why we’re not bringing a sacrifice like Noah is because the sacrifice has already been made. That the Lord Jesus Christ has died for our sins. That he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. And that as Ephesians 5:2 says, He gave himself up for us as a "fragrant offering and sacrifice to God". And as the sacrifice was in the days of Noah, in 2 Corinthians we are told that our lives now as God’s people are "the aroma of Christ," a "fragrance of life" that ascends to God (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). And even our prayers are as the sweet fragrance of "incense" that ascends into the presence of the father (Revelation 5:8).

So we’re here today to worship, not to sacrifice an animal, but as Ephesians 5:1 says, to "be imitators of God," and to do what Romans 12:1 says, "to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God." And so we come this morning to give of ourselves, and if you’ve tasted the grace of God, you’re here with me like Noah saying, "I can’t believe I’m alive. I can’t believe I’m forgiven. I can’t believe that God loves me. I can’t believe that God puts up with me. I can’t believe that Jesus died for me so that God’s justice, God’s wrath would be satisfied… and that Jesus’ blood was spilled for me… And for those of you that are in that place, I praise God, because we’re here to worship.

For those of you who are still living like those people in the days of Noah, I’m begging you to consider, "How are you going to face the judgment? How are you going to beat death? How are you going to conquer sin? What is your hope in?"

You see, God was willing to send his only Son, to punish him, to crush him and kill him; and if God the Father was willing to sacrifice his Son for you. He has demonstrated his love for you and he hasn’t left you any option but to turn to him in repentance as Noah did… to become a Christian… to give your sin to Jesus, so that his death and his blood would cover your sin.

And I pray that as we close in worship that by God’s grace you would be saved. That we would obey God. That we would walk with God. That we would worship God together. And today, if you ask him for forgiveness, he responds, he hears, he answers, he embraces you, and his heart goes from grief to joy. Will you pray with me?

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