There was a Church, in that period before the flood, when the age of man was more than 900 years, and the temptation to put death out of view was great.
There was a Church; a congregation that became illusive about the reality of an end; an assembly of unbelieving sons and daughters of God.
There was a Church that became reduced to a single family, and the rest of its members sunk into evil, infidelity and immorality.
This Church was a gathering of people who said “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow who brought us up out, we don’t know what has happened to Him.” Exodus 31:1. A Church that lost the heavenly vision, but encumbered with earthly pursuits and agendas.
Just as it is today. There was a Church that got drunk on wine of their own prosperity, and worshiped the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone. Daniel 5:4.
This Church intermarried with the world and became corrupt, and at last almost extinct. This Church was the first illustration of the fatal consequence of too close a connection between the Church and the world. By these means the Spirit of God was provoked to depart, and general licentiousness and wickedness resulted. “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” Genesis 6:5.
Yet, Noah, a man of Faith and Fortitude was found within it. He was a preacher of righteousness; but he preached to the Church without success, and drew taunts instead of tears.
He never seems to have made much converts in 120 years of ministry!
“God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved.” 1 Peter 3:20
This done, God determined to cast away the church as ruined, and to make a new beginning on the foundation of GRACE, commencing a new stock with Noah. This rejection of that church by God was expressed grievously thus: “The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain! So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.” Genesis 6:6-7
The old congregation of men was devoted to destruction. The waters are to rise and rage above the highest mountains. No vessel had yet been invented to ride the waves. How can any escape? God only can find out the way. He instructed and causes an ark to be constructed by Noah.
This thought prepares the way for us to meditate on the conduct of Noah while laboring for that refuge, and the conduct of that profligate and wicked generation who cast contempt and abuse on him. The things most worthy of notice in respect to Noah, are his faith, his obedience, his patience, his self-denial, and his fortitude.
Perhaps, while he sat at rest in his house, pursuing a life of devotion, and mourning over the abounding wickedness of the times, he heard a voice—a voice declaring that the end of all flesh was at hand—a voice which fixed the event and the manner, but concealed the time. The voice assured him that the wicked would be destroyed, and that the only safety for him was in an ark, which he must at once set about preparing. All this was strange, and different from anything he had experienced. Yet Noah believed God.
Consider his patience under labors and sufferings, the length of which he could not foresee. He submitted to the scoffs of his acquaintances, his superiors in rank and fortune, his inferiors, his relations, and his enemies! He heard, undismayed, their endless charges of bigotry, superstition, intolerance, and the like.
But his patience never failed.
Likewise, I desire and pray that today’s believers would readily and patiently submit to the labors of pilgrimage and the trials of spiritual warfare half as long, without complaining that their hardships have no end. Knowing that they are destined for them, “…so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them” 1 Thessalonians 3:3
How often was he called a madman and a fool! Those who passed by, would insultingly wag their heads. Others would curse him. The children would mock at him as he walked the streets, and load him with the epithets and call him names which they had heard their parents use. All the wit and raillery of the age would be leveled against him! The news of his foolish undertaking would travel to remote nations—and from all quarters derision and reproaches would come in.
If he had not been a man of faith as well as fortitude, his soul would have crushed. He would have lost sight of the divine testimony and commission, and looking only at himself, he would shrink into nothing, and say, “Who am I—to be the reprover of the whole world?”
But faith joined to fortitude, supported him. His unconquered mind rose above the opinion of the united ungodly race. He did not consider the applause or approval nor criticism and condemnation of men. He was not carried off by men’s opinion. He rested on a higher decision.
The reproaches of the wicked would become more and more triumphant and insufferable, the longer the event was delayed! To see ‘the madman’, as they would call him, foretelling destruction year after year, without any prospect of a fulfillment; to see him laboring to build an enormous vessel for ten, twenty, forty, eighty, a hundred years, without any sign of a deluge, though he might have expected it long before, and might have intimated that expectation; how great must their contempt and triumph have arisen! How often would they load him with the titles of ‘false prophet’, ‘impostor’, and ‘liar’! How often would they tauntingly ask, “Where is the destruction which you have so long foretold? Why, as far back as anyone can remember, everything has remained exactly the same since the world was first created!”
But this heroic saint, far from being conquered by reproaches, resolved to believe and obey God, rather than man. With astonishing fortitude, he held fast his integrity for 120 years.
“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” Hebrews 11:7
There is always a day of reckoning, yes, a day of fulfillment.
Finally, the frightful morning began! The heavens gathered blackness. Angry tempests conflicted in the skies. The lightnings flashed in the skies! Word was spread, that Noah and his family had entered into the ark. The ungodly then began to fear!
But it is too late! Time was, when the ark was open and they might have entered in—but that time is past! Where are now those tongues which derided the enormous vessel and the man who built it? Now what do you think of him—who for more than a century has borne the character of a fool and madman! They would give a thousand worlds—to be in his condition now!
They were filled with regrets, weepings and gnashing of teeth. The ark floats by—and sails over the heads of the revilers and persecutors! Only that blessed family in the ark, are safe!
Those nearest to the ark, cry and plead for admission, but in vain! The waters roar! The ark is lifted up! They sink and are seen no more!
Alas, the same terrors will seize this unbelieving church of our days when Jesus comes again!
For we have not learnt by examples before us, and are not by any means better than them in the days of Noah. “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 swept them all away! That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man!” Matthew 24:37-39
The time is coming when true and genuine Christians will not be deemed mad men for their efforts to worship God in Spirit and in Truth,and their concern to secure a saving interest in Christ; when it will appear that they did not believe and labor and bear reproaches in vain.
The time is coming when those who are now as secure, as wise in their own eyes, as religiously tolerants and liberal, as healthy, as those foolish wretches before the flood, would give ten thousand worlds—for the place of the lowest Christian whom they now despise. When the door of the kingdom shall be shut, and there is no more entering in; when they shall stand outside and say, “Lord, Lord, open to us!” and he shall answer, “I never knew you!” when the sluices of infinite vengeance shall be unstopped; when the heavens shall be on fire above their heads, and the earth shall rock beneath their feet; when the sea shall rage and rise and flood the distant land; when all the elements shall make war on man; when they shall flee from the waves—and the flames shall devour them; when they shall flee from the wonders in the heavens—and the opening earth shall engulf them; when they shall stretch out their hands to God—and find him only a consuming fire; when more piteous shrieks shall be heard from every quarter—than were heard in the days of the flood; when they shall see the Noahs whom they despised riding above their heads—and themselves sinking in an ocean of fire!
Ah, it will be such a dread for unbelievers within today’s Church!
O Careless Soul—believe God’s Word! Now is your time to avoid the terrors of that dreadful day. Enter the ark—Jesus Christ! By all the solemnities of that coming scene—I entreat, I beseech you to hasten into the ark! Come, for the floods are rising! Come quickly, or the next hour may be too late!
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