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Everything I Need to Know I Learned in VBS: “Noah & the Flood – Why?”
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
Through the Written Word,
And the spoken word,
May we know Your Living Word,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
In our current Sermon Series, we are looking at some of our favorite VBS and Sunday School lessons – if you have a favorite Bible lesson, or a story that you’ve always wondered about or had questions about, bring them to me and we’ll eventually get at it, today we read about Noah’s Ark & the Flood.
A quip recap to remind us what’s happened so far tells us that God created everything and everyone – because God really wants our company!
But it took virtually no time at all for sin, disobedience, lack of respect, self-centered attention-seeking and self-driven motivational egos to get in the way – and Adam and Eve sin and are removed from God’s presence; and then their elder son, Cain, kills the younger son, Abel, and is removed even further from God’s presence. So far we have also seen that the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are involved in the creation work, and then in the saving work of these early humans – God promises a Savior who would defeat Satan, and God marks His people to protect them from dangers.
And then we read that another son is born, and that these sons find wives, and that Adam and Eve have more children, and that the face of the earth fills with people.
Your bulletins say that we are reading Genesis 6-9 today – that’s four chapters! And that’s right … – but most of that from this Children’s Bible – you’ll see, it’ll be alright.
But before we get started with that, let me read the first 6 verses of Genesis 6 from the ESV (page 4 in your NIV pew Bibles). Hear the Word of God …. —-
6 1 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. [So, I’m confessing straight up front that there’s a lot of confusion over what the heck this means, and I’m not spending time on it this morning….] 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” [120 years is still a pretty good lifespan, right? But apparently, maybe because of sin, humans are not living forever.] 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. [Again, we’re not spending time on it this morning, except to say how it somehow leads into the next sentence…. Pay attention:]
5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. [Evil and sin is getting worse and worse, so that every intention, all the thoughts, each idea and action, was only evil, with no good in it, all the time! And listen to how God’s heart is described:] 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
[The NKJV says, God was grieved in His heart. Our sin breaks God’s heart – it is an offense to God’s love for us. Imagine, for a second, that you or someone important in your life, had invested every ounce of energy, every nickel, every moment, in creating something beautiful – and it is amazingly so beautiful – but one morning it is found shattered into a gazillion broken pieces – what emotion fills your heart? Sadness doesn’t even begin to describe it – “heart-broken” might begin to get at it, but it’s too small. That’s how God is described here.]
The scene is set. Listen to the Word of God from The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories, Genesis 6-10 …. —-
In one-sentence, what is this story about?
God saves Noah – and His people, and His creation!
Yes, we can all see that there is lots of loss, way more losses than rescues, in these chapters – but the key-note of the story remains that God saves His people and creation.
It is at moments like this that I really wish we could still say we liked Bill Cosby – his Noah and God routine was hilarious! But Mr. Cosby, it seems, like all the people in the world in Genesis 5 and 6, had fallen to sin. The Bible calls it wicked, evil, so far gone it is irredeemable!
But God makes a way for redemption!
How does God redeem humanity? An Ark!
I love the image of the Ark – a container, built to safeguard against all the storms of life, against every tempest and every temper, against every violent windstorm and every violent attack, against every unexpected wave of terror and every unexpected wave of terror….
What are you facing today? What storms and tempests and waves are coming your way? God still redeems; He still saves; God still rescues His people – climb aboard His ark where He holds you safe in His arms.
And, did you notice, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights – that’s a long storm, but God kept His people and His creation inside that Ark for far more than 40 days! My math says it was much more like 12 months!
Does your struggle seem to go on and on? Are you wondering how much longer you will have to hang on? Friends, God loves you – stay in His Ark of protection for as long as He needs you there.
How does this story end? The rainbow, right? The promise of salvation by way of the rainbow in the sky. The actual Hebrew word used here simple says “bow”. “God put a bow in the sky.” Frankly, I believe the context of the rainstorm and the promise for dry land implies that “rainbow” is what is meant. However, just to put it out there, some scholars believe that there’s another way to read “bow” (and, no, a ribbon with a pretty bow tied on it is not what they have in mind); some read this as a weapon for protection against evil (or the Evil one) – God put a bow (and arrow) in the sky.
Maybe, but I’m still happy with the rainbow. But, what shape is a rainbow – at least that part which we usually see from the ground – what does it look like? An Arc? And Arc in the sky? Indeed.
God rescues Noah and his family and creation with an Ark, and He promises salvation, and reminds us of that promise, with an Arc in the sky.
And, as with every good story, there is a story-arc that leads unswervingly to, that points directly to Jesus, the ultimate means of salvation, of rescue, of safety – not just from the troubles of this life, but beyond that, to the presence of God’s grace and mercy.
In just a few minutes we will gather around the Lord’s Table here, we will be reminded of a means of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ – we will be lifted into the Ark of God’s grace as we partake of the simple elements of Communion that contain that grace.
Have YOU stepped inside God’s salvation-Ark today? Jesus died to conquer evil – the evil of our sin and the evil that sins of others have brought on us! And He offers forgiveness by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross!
Thank You, YHWH God, for the invitation into Your Ark of salvation, even while, as Paul says, we are still sinning. In Your perfect grace, today, we step inside and accept Your love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Batchelor, Mary; The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories; Lion Pub.; Oxford; 1985; Pp. 17-21.