The Simple Life Ain’t So Easy

Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. Genesis 9:1-3

The Lord was now able to give the remaining family members their “marching orders,” so to speak. God blessed them, and gave them every living creature for their well-being. They would need to procreate and repopulate the earth. It would all take time, and they had plenty of it. So did the Lord.

We’re always in a rush, aren’t we? People push us to get things done quickly. The proposals I work on usually have 30 day time limit. If we’re not finished in 30 days we automatically are disqualified from that opportunity. Then again, if there were no time limits, nothing would be accomplished.

Noah and his family didn’t have that problem. If they didn’t know how to do something, they’d have to figure it out. Life was much simpler back then in the sense that finding and growing food was the number one job. They didn’t have the supermarket or convenience store. If they don’t bring in food, they don’t eat. Simple but not easy.

I long for the simple life. No cares. No worries. No “fires” to put out. The minimalist movement hasn’t taken hold yet, and the way society is moving, I doubt it ever will. There are just too many things competing for our attention. And God often gets the short end of the time stick. Too many things to do, so I’ll have to forgo prayer or Bible reading. I believe it was Martin Luther who said, “My schedule is so full that I need to spend more time in prayer over that schedule.” That’s probably the better attitude to have.

21 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.

22 “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

In response to Noah building an altar and sacrificing upon walking on firm ground once again, God vowed not to destroy all living creatures again. God is very aware of the human heart. So, while he wont destroy every living being, there will be a judgement day when all human life will be judged. Many may wish He had destroyed them.

In the Old Testament, sacrificing animals on an altar was a form of prayer and worship. When God smells the aroma and it’s pleasing, it’s as if it’s answered prayer (I didn’t make up this concept; scholars long before me have been studying this thing for a long time). It certainly gives meaning to the New Testament verse that states, “the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16

What if two did the same? How about an entire church or city or state? How would it move God to take action? I’ve often wondered about answered prayer like that. How many people does it take to “move God”? We of course will never know and it’s not important that we do know because if prayer is just a formula, then we would gather the right number of people to make change in this world. But as it stands, we don’t know how many people need to pray before God takes action.

For Noah, his prayers during his sacrifice certainly availeth much. How do ours stack up against his?

He Worshipped

13 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, 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. Genesis 8:13-20

I did not know the roof of the ark was removable. I wonder how he did it with only 10 on board. At any rate, after the ground had dried up, Noah was given the okay to empty the ark and move about freely. They had been in prison of their own making but it was a good prison. They were the sole survivors.

The human race was officially reset. New life would begin. Of course Noah was 600 years old at the time and he literally had another 300+ years left the Bible tells us later. At that age it would definitely be an interesting mid-life crisis!

Now what? You’ve survived the greatest human calamity known to man before or since. There are 10 of you plus a lot of animals. You’ve got a oversized shelter you probably never want to see again. Everything you see is new and fresh. Now what?

If that isn’t a pattern for us mere mortals to live by, then I don’t know what is. Sure, he was thankful to be on terra firma once again, but only One could have done it. He worshipped God as the first thing he did on the ground. Grateful to be alive. Grateful the he was spared. Grateful that the God of Creation was watching out over him and his family.

Noah Opened a Window

6 After forty days Noah opened a 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. 8 Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 9 But the dove could find nowhere to perch 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. 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 8:6-12

From this passage I believe the Lord was guiding Noah every step of the way. Opening a window, sending a raven, waiting, sending a dove, waiting, and sending the dove again all point to being guided by the hand of God. How else would Noah know to send a raven or to wait seven days? There were no instruction manuals or people who went before them. They were it.

A number of you need to hear this right now. You are in “the dark” fumbling around, not knowing which way is up. You haven’t seen light in some time (figuratively speaking) and even if you did, you wouldn’t know what to do with it. The pain you are experiencing is great and the days and nights are long. Every single minute of your life seems burdensome.

The same God who led Noah while he was in the ark with his family is the same God who will see you through. The darkness you are experiencing is not permanent, just as it wasn’t permanent for Noah.

Hang in there. Grab hold of Jesus’ garment and hang on. He’ll see you through. I don’t know when or how long, but He is faithful and will see you through.

More Than Adequate

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. 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. Genesis 8:2-5

Even though it has stopped raining, Noah knew it wasn’t safe to go outside just yet even though he and his family were going stir crazy taking care of all the animals and not being able to breath fresh air.

Scholars estimate he built the ark for over 55 years with little sign of rain or disaster. Another month or two of waiting was not going to hurt. I suppose he didn’t have a lot of time to dream and wonder while on the art, but you can guess he had doubts about what it would be like with nobody around anymore. Any friends he had were gone. Everything built over history were gone, wiped out. He and his family had to start afresh, from scratch. Obviously God had brought them to this point, He’d certainly teach them all they had to know to survive in the new environment they would be entering. Still, they had to tend to hundreds if not thousands of animals in the interim.

Sometimes we get worried and flustered about things we cannot control. If God is moving you to do something, He will supply you with the “tools” and wherewithal to accomplish it. You will be more than adequate to accomplish it.

He Is Not Here; He Is Risen

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said! Come, see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples, ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.'” Matthew 28:5-7

No further commentary is necessary.

HE IS RISEN!

God Had Grace on Noah

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. Genesis 8:1

God had grace on Noah and his family. Probably in the midst of serious doubt and loneliness, God had grace on him. When you’re in the midst of the storm, it’s easy to forget everything that happened before the storm. I’ve done this a few times while I was driving. A storm would rage all of a sudden, and you couldn’t see two feet in front of you. All concentration is on what is ahead. Who cares what trophy I received in my 9th grade or anything else leading up to this one moment. All focus was on getting through the storm safely.

Some of you reading this are in the midst of a raging storm right now. You cannot focus on anything but your storm. It engulfs everything you do. It could be the loss of a loved one, a divorce, a child gone astray, nearing bankruptcy, or anything else. You can’t focus on tomrrow because you’re taking one day at a time. You can’t think of the 6000 good days prior to this. Right here right now is your focus.

God will have grace on you. God will see you through it. The Bible tells us to “hurl all your troubles on Jesus, for he cares for you.” Do it. Do it soon, then let the Holy Spirit engulf you. You’ll still have the trouble, but you’ll be better able to handle it walking with Someone who cares.

Call someone and talk through it. Do it today.

Sunday is On the Way

13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. 14 They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. 15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.

17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. 18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. 20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. 21 Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.

24 The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days. Genesis 7:13-24

It rained for 40 days and the springs came up from the grounds. For five months they were cooped up in the ark with wild animals. Nothing living was left on earth. It was an official Do Over, a reset. They would get a chance to begin again, to make it anew. It must have been exhilarating and frightening all wrapped up. The rest of civilization would depend on 10 people. Hundreds of thousands were given that opportunity but they chose to go their own way. Sound familiar? Sounds like 2019.

As I write this, Easter weekend is around the corner. While it may seem like a diversion from Genesis, it fits right in. The rains have come and gone in Genesis, and the ark inhabitants are waiting to begin life again and to breathe fresh air. We have the benefit of knowing what happened with those 10 people; they didn’t. They must have been worried and confused.

Jesus died on what we call Good Friday; the rest of the world waits in agony for three days for newness of life. We know it’s coming. We anticipate the resurrection. We know the story and the ending, and yet we still want to hear the happy ending to the story.

Sunday is on its way.

Forty Long Days and Nights

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights. Genesis 7:11-12

For 40 days and nights in rained and poured. I recall seeing artist renderings of people surrounding the ark floating about with their arms flailing. By then, though, it was too late. Thousands of animals and 10 people were on board. The text doesn’t state it, but they probably had to load enough food and supplies on board for the duration, though, at the time no one knew how long that would be.

The alternative to listening to all the restless animals day and night was to watch the people drowning and the rain continuing to fall. Yes, the floodgates of heaven opened, but so did the springs on the earth.

Today many Christian songs use this flooding as a theme, and it makes sense. Are the people less evil than in the days of Noah? Do we need a refreshing from above, a flood of compassion in these last days?

I think we all know the answer to these questions. We need the Holy Spirit more desperately now than we ever have. There are more temptations, more stumbling blocks, more reasons for our faith to grow cold and distant. We need a fresh filling of the Spirit of God, not only on Sunday morning during official worship times, but every day.

We need His a refreshing today.