Reckoning by Abidan Shah, PhD

RECKONING by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: Parents love to decorate their children’s nurseries and bedrooms with the theme of Noah’s Ark. Even our church nursery is decorated with colorful illustrations of Mr. and Mrs. Noah on the ark along with two of every kind of animals – lions, giraffe, monkeys, elephants, racoons, etc. We love the story of Noah’s Ark and the rainbow that God promised as a sign of his covenant with human beings. But, if you think about it, this is far from being just a kids’ story. It is a horrific account of God’s reckoning against sinful and stubborn humanity. In today’s message titled RECKONING, we’re going to learn about a God who is loving but also takes sin very seriously. Main point: Our caricatures of God create a god who makes us feel better. To the contrary, the Scriptures reveal the true portrait of God who is both holy and loving. His holiness brings his wrath on sin, and his love brings his grace to us. Ultimately, the true measure of God’s judgment and redemption is Jesus Christ.

Genesis 7:23 “So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive.”

Context: As you know, we’re in our series on apologetics titled CONTEND. Before we answer questions like, “Was the flood local or global?” “How did all the animals fit on the ark?” “Was there an Ice Age after the Flood?”, we need to answer the bigger question – “Did God really destroy all the inhabitants of the earth, other than Noah, his family, and the animals on the ark, because of sin?” The account of Noah’s Flood reveals a pattern in God’s judgment. God is loving, but he is also holy. In his holiness, he will punish sin; in his mercy, he is patient, wanting none of us to perish; but his wrath is unbending:

1. Sin

Genesis 6:3 And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

The Hebrew word for “strive” is “yadon.” It is not found anywhere else (hapax legomenon) in the Bible. Scholars are not sure which way to go with the meaning. If it is coming from Hebrew root “danan,” then it means that “my spirit will not remain with man forever.” In other words, man will die. If it is coming from the Hebrew root “din,” it means that “my spirit will not keep restraining man forever.” In other words, there comes a time when God let’s man go his own way, the way of destruction. I believe that it is the latter. There comes a point when God says “Okay, you can do what you want, and I will do what I need to do.” Genesis 6       5 “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” If we take this passage out of context, it reveals a helpless and disappointed God. There are 3 words here that are important in Hebrew – “sorry,” “made,” and “grieve.” All three of these words are found earlier in Genesis 5:29 And he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD has cursed.” The Hebrew word for “sorry” in Genesis 6:6 and “comforted” in Genesis 5:29 is the same word “nacham.” The Hebrew word for “made” in Genesis 6:6 and “work” in Genesis 5:29 is the same word “asah.” The Hebrew word for “grieve” in Genesis 6:6 and “toil” in Genesis 5:29 is the same word “etzev.” Here’s the point: Same words. In one context, they are words of comfort, and in another context, they are words of condemnation. The point is that Genesis 6:6 is not as much about God feeling regret as it is about the change in his reaction from righteous Noah to the sinful world. He is giving up the world to destruction. In Romans 1:24, because of idolatry, “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves.”

Application: Is there known sin in your hearts? The same God who responds one way to righteousness responds another way to sinfulness. Are you with righteous Noah or with the wicked world? 

2. Warning

Genesis 6:7 So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

This was not a secret decree. God announced this clearly and sternly. Genesis 6:13 And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” Amos 3:7 “Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” If you want to know what God is doing, read his Word. He will not send you contradictory messages. 2 Peter 2       4 “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;” In other words, Noah became God’s word of warning to the sinful world.

Application: Has God been warning you regarding some sin in your life? What will you do?

3. Opportunity

Genesis 6        13 And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch…17 And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female…21 And you shall take for yourself of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather it to yourself; and it shall be food for you and for them.” 22 Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did. What was the secret of his obedience and faithfulness?Hebrews 11:7 “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” Faith was his secret. Noah took hold of the opportunity God gave him and his family. In fact, along with building the big ship, he also preached to the people. How long? Genesis 6:3 And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” Noah preached for 120 years!

To the contrary, 2 Peter 3      3 “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Application: What are you doing with the opportunity that God has given to you? Are you obeying by faith or are you a scoffer and have you forgotten?

4. Inescapable

Genesis 7:4 “For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made.” Right at a week prior, God spoke to Noah one final time before the flood. I’m sure Noah spoke to the people, but listen to their response in Luke 17     26 “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” Genesis 7      11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. 12 And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights. In other words, this was going to be inevitable and irreversible. 

Application: Are your presuming upon God’s patience?

5. Death

Genesis 7      17 Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. 18 The waters prevailed and greatly increased on the earth, and the ark moved about on the surface of the waters. 19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered. The point here is that the human beings, and even animals, must have tried to get to higher ground. 20 The waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward, and the mountains were covered. 21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man. 22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died. 23 So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive. 24 And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days.

“Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all.” (H. W. Longfellow)

Application: Are you trying to escape death? Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death…” You need God to save you from the clutches of death.

6. Grace

Genesis 8       1 Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided. 2 The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained. 3 And the waters receded continually from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters decreased. 4 Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month. In the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen. Genesis 9      11 ”Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It is tragic that the rainbow has become a symbol of depravity! 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Invitation: What is your view of God? Is God both holiness and love? Do you know Christ as your Savior and King? He is the ark of God for us. Are you presuming upon God’s grace? Are you walking by faith?

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