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Noah: Saving Your Family in a Dark World

What could a story about a man and his family approximately 4,500 years ago do to help me today? Doesn’t everyone already know about Noah and the Ark?
By DENNIS BEVANS
Read Time: 9 minutes

Noah is such an interesting character study because we all think we already know the story. However, as we mature as Bible students, we need to expect to find more in the account than the surface level we learned as children in Sunday School. If you have not taken a deep dive into this story, you are in for a treat.

Some relevant questions that may be lingering in your mind. What is this world coming to? What is the ecclesial world coming to? What can I do about it to protect and preserve my family while we wait for the return of our Lord?

The world we live in has forever changed. The ecclesial family has been forever altered. Remote gathering tools like Zoom are better than anything we have ever had for those in isolation, traveling, or sick. It has expanded the reach of ecclesias that have used the technology to broadcast classes, lectures and even Memorial Service. It was the only way we could legally come together as a community for a while.

However, as much value as it creates for content, it cannot replace the contact necessary for a healthy ecclesial experience. Ecclesial life is what you put into it, not what you get out of it. Certainly, there are those among us who are physically unable to leave their homes and truly can only help others remotely.

However, for those who can (and before the pandemic did) attend in person, remote participation cannot be seen as an acceptable replacement if merely for convenience’s sake. Some may never return because they find it easy to eliminate the commute. Their ecclesial experience has been forever diluted! 

We see a world in chaos, which has also created issues in the ecclesia. Did you ever think we would have a discussion (some of it quite heated) about whether wearing a mask was a lack of faith or a responsible act of service? Did you ever expect to hear talks and read articles in our community about the social injustices this world has created and continues to create?

Did you ever expect that we would see the LGBTQ and whatever movement become mainstream in the world and even impact our conversations in the ecclesia? Did you ever think social media would light up with heated political debate among brothers and sisters?

Did you know that all of these conditions have happened before, and we can see evidence of these major worldview issues and their impact on the ecclesial family back in Genesis? What could a story about a man and his family approximately 4,500 years ago do to help me today? Doesn’t everyone already know about Noah and the Ark? Isn’t this a Sunday School topic?

Jesus tells us why we should truly care about and understand the story of Noah.

But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matthew 24:37-39).

If we can better understand the days of Noah, we can be better prepared for the return of our Lord. Not only can we use the details as clues and signs of the times (which we can and do), but we can also learn from what Noah and his family did to inherit life in a world on a collision course with the judgment of the Father.

Noah’s name plays a very prominent role in the early chapters of Genesis, but the Scriptural record is fairly quiet on him overall. In the New Testament, he is mentioned in the Luke parallel of the Matthew 24 verses above and in the genealogy of Luke 3. Outside of that, he is mentioned twice by Peter (both referring to the eight people saved in the Ark, which we will look at later in this series).

The only other is in Hebrews, and it is worth looking at.

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. (Hebrews 11:7).

Wouldn’t we all like to insert our name in this verse? In fact, the last two verses of the chapter offer us an invitation to be part of this glorious outcome: “that they without us should not be made perfect.”

let light in and make only one door

The Old Testament is not much different. We have Noah introduced in Genesis 5:28-29, noting his name as “rest.” Genesis 6 gives us two specific instructions: let light in and make only one door! These details point us directly to Christ as a shadow that will resonate throughout this account. There is only one path that leads to salvation. We must prepare, follow his way, and work together in love so that we might dwell with the Father and Son forever as his eternal family. You may be considering the words of Ephesians right now. Let’s divert for a moment:

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Did you know there are two different words in Greek for “one?” Most of them are the first, which is fine. But two of them are the word “the only one,” both of which tie us directly back to the story of the Ark being built: only one hope and only one baptism.

Genesis 7 tells us clearly that the theme of this story is the completion of a covenant using the number seven (rest again) to the point of exhaustion. For now, we will simply mention the seven rainbow colors as a case in point. Genesis 8 is essentially a foreshadowing of Jesus and his redeeming work.

God provided the specific timing of this event, putting it in line with the Passover week and, therefore, the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord.; we will consider this connection in detail later in the series. Genesis 9 closes the “story” with some “not so flattering details” and then concludes the account with “and he died.”

From there, he appears in a couple of genealogies (Genesis 10, 1 Chronicles 1) and then mentioned in a reminder of the curse and the promise in Isaiah 54:9. The other two references are in Ezekiel 14:14, 20, which we shall consider in detail shortly.

That is it! Why, then, does it feel like such a profound story in Scripture? People who know very little about the Bible can usually recite something about Noah or at least identify him in reference to an ark or the Flood.

The reason is that we all look through the lens of perspective. I imagine you could find Noah-themed toys in just about every ecclesial hall on any given Sunday. And that there are toys and decorations somewhere in your personal collection if you have children or grandchildren (personally guilty as charged).

Odds are that some of the lessons the children hear at nearly every study weekend or Bible School will use part of the Noah story, conditioning them to think they know the story, too! As they mature, they, like all of us, can then be challenged to study it for the wisdom of God and not discount it as a child’s story of old.

Let’s use an object lesson to make the point more clearly. How many of each animal entered the ark? Most are thinking two, but you would be Biblically inaccurate and miss a major theme in the record. A detailed answer is coming, but the point for right now is that the children’s story is only part of the story, and there is much more for us to learn.

Ezekiel and Jesus channel our focus for us in this introduction. Since we read Jesus’ words earlier, let’s now look at Ezekiel:

Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD (Ezekiel 14:14).

To make it more succinct and closer to home, he repeats it for emphasis and adds the familial detail in verse 20:

Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.

All three saved others by their efforts, preaching, and living a life of faith. Ezekiel uses them as an example to Israel to save their households, basically telling them (and by extension us) that the state of the national ecclesia was so bad that if these three pillars in the truth were there now, they would walk out alone!

Jesus tells us to let our “light shine before men” to describe our preaching efforts, which is something we do not hear but rather see. Who we are is a far more profound preaching tool to our children, each other, our neighbors, and coworkers than anything we can possibly say! This thought is a highly important backdrop for us as we heed the warning to save our household as we see that day approaching.

Ecclesial life can be hard. Ecclesias are nothing more than a collection of individuals and families into a greater family, trying to become God’s family. Our personal families are the training ground for ecclesial service. It is not about any of us or even all of us! This concept is emphasized in the family setting.

The plan of the Father is all about His glory, and He has invited us to be a part of that. I earnestly believe the Father created the family (both personal and ecclesial) for us to learn how to love each other when some behave unlovable. When a child makes a mistake, we see past the present failure and encourage them to achieve beyond the temporary setback toward success.

Unless, of course, it is someone else’s child that fails. Here, we can easily write them off as a delinquent who was probably set up for failure by bad parenting! It is all about perspective. Our God sees us for who we are. Though sinners, He can see past our present failings toward His glory if we are letting Him refine us in our walk to His Kingdom.

Learning to love when the unlovable acts around us are evident allows us to see others how God sees us. Remember, we are judged the way we judge others, so it is imperative that we get our lenses aligned with His. Do we see the failings of our brothers and sisters around us as evidence that God is working in their lives too, and love them anyway? Our natural tendency is to discredit and selfishly see God only at work in our own lives. Tragic consequences await if we do not learn the valuable lesson He has provided in such an intimate setting.

Let’s use these three individuals of Ezekiel 14 to illustrate the point. All three were in difficult ecclesial circumstances, not unlike the challenges of our day. We are not alone! Our God has left them as examples to strengthen us for His purpose.

Noah was found alone with his wife, perhaps his parents, and certainly his grandfather, while the entire ecclesia and almost all of his family chose to be like the world and ridicule him. Talk about standing up for the truth! When the ecclesia is so small that one man and his wife are all who are worth saving, that is scary.

Job is such a great example as he lost his entire family, and the one surviving family member (his wife) advised he should “curse God and die,” giving him virtually no support in his time of need. Here is a man with no recorded sin called out in Scripture. Still, there are writings in our community calling him out as self-righteous, believing that he could earn salvation with works and that he needed correction. Let’s make it just a little more uncomfortable.

The sons of God (the ecclesia) have come together again, and Satan (the adversary) is among them a few thousand years later, calling out Job again. Unbelievable! It is our human nature to find flaws in others. But let us not be so arrogant as to find flaws where God does not. Let us allow for the flaws of others so that our God can look past our flaws to His glory.

Do we say, “My opinion is important to me because it is mine”? We must all be careful not to elevate our opinions above their station because when we do this, we do not give our God’s Word the preeminence it deserves. Job suffers not for his own sin but as a lesson about the jealousy of an adversary in the ecclesial midst.

The third was Daniel, who was torn away from his family and physically altered so he could not have his own children. He formed a small circle of friends (we shall call it a CYC) to withstand the pressure of the world in a foreign land and education system that both begged and threatened him to comply. This environment was not unlike the education models of our day, where our children are being groomed from their elementary years to accept what the world thinks is “right.”

In fact, he was a contemporary of Ezekiel, which is astounding! Picture that scene: Noah and Job—good choices, Ezekiel. Daniel? He was a kid that used to be in our meeting, but he got deported. Can you imagine having someone currently alive writing a letter to the whole community calling you out as an example of what it looks like to walk to the Kingdom?

Can you imagine describing another brother or sister that way? Add to this the thought that Ezekiel was writing under inspiration, so it was more than his opinion; it was God’s!

Jesus connects the dots for us in the gospels by adding the content of Noah’s story to Sodom and Gomorrah in the Luke 17 account. In verse 25, Jesus specifically uses Noah and Lot’s families to describe his own suffering among his family! Look at verse 27:

They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
What is the missing ingredient? YHWH! It is easy for all of us to fill our time with events like this, but if God is not the center of our life, then we are a family without a core. 

God is working in the lives of others. We just do not have a front-row seat. Let us be encouraged to leave our collective comfort zone, actively look for ways to develop our love for the brotherhood, and earnestly contend for the faith that leads us to dwell together with the Father and His Son for eternity.

Dennis Bevans,
Austin Leander Ecclesia, CA

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