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"Curtains for the World, Covenant for Noah"

Scripture Reading:  Gen 6:11-22

Intro: In then next few weeks we’ll be walking through the story of Noah.  This can be found in chapters 6 – 9 of Genesis, and since we won’t be reading the whole story together, I invite you to read it on your own.

When we think about Noah, what sorts of things come to mind?  Were your answers the same as the children’s this morning?  We think of the ark, the flood, the rainbow.  We see artists renderings and sing songs about this event.  We decorate our baby’s rooms in a Noah motif, (well we did 16 years ago!).  We tend to make light of a truly tragic event in which God judged, harshly, the human race.

Today we are going to look at two themes evident in Moses’ account of what led up to the God of all creation pouring out his wrath on humankind but saving Noah and his family.  Those two themes are:  God’s Judgment on evil and God’s Covenant to the faithful.  And before we go any further, I’ll give you a spoiler.  Every human on this earth today at this moment, is in one camp or the other.

God’s Judgment on evil  (11-13,17)

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 

So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 

Seems rather harsh, don’t you think?  What does this harshness tell us about God?  God is holy.  He expects his creatures to love, honor, obey, and worship him as the holy one who gives them life.  But what happened?  They chose to go their own way and corrupt everything.  Not only have they corrupted and brought violence to one another, but have brought violence to the whole earth!

I think we’ve seen clearly since the beginning of Genesis that humans have a choice.  A choice to obey God and live in communion with Him or the choice to ignore God and do their own thing, which is a choice to live outside of communion with God.  Each choice has always had a consequence.  Adam and Eve had to leave the garden and the presence of God.  Cain was banished after he murdered his brother.  And here we see again the difference our choices make to God.  God wants us to be holy as he is holy.  God wants us to trust him in the midst of circumstances that are beyond our control.  God wants us to rely on him to make things right.  God wants us.

Well at this time in history, the world did not want God.  They made their own rules.  They abused one another and the earth they lived on.  And it grieved God so much that he couldn’t abide it any more.  He said, “Enough is enough! I’m done with them!”  Seems out of character if your image of God is all love.  Seems about right though, if you understand that God is holy.

God created human kind to live in fellowship with him.  No one but Noah, was living into their intended purpose.  God had offered them everything and they rejected it.  They couldn’t hear God speak love or justice or mercy, so God judged them unworthy of life.  Your reaction may be, “That’s so harsh!  How could a loving God do that?”  True love corrects, disciplines, and instructs the object of its love.  And when the correction, discipline and instruction fail to turn a heart around, there is a consequence.  Parents understand this. 

What do you think God sees when he looks at the world today?

The second theme is

God’s Covenant to the faithful (18 and 9)

Speaking to Noah, God says, But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.  

And a reminder of Noah’s character is found in verse 9:

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.

Noah made a choice in the midst of a corrupt generation.  He chose to remain faithful to God.  He chose to not get caught up in what everyone else was doing.  He may not have been invited to many Memorial Day cookouts, not because he went about condemning his neighbors, but because they were perhaps uncomfortable with his differentness.  His mere existence as a man who put the holiness of God before himself, made his neighbors feel guilty and judged in his presence.  

Noah remained faithful when he was the only one who wanted to be faithful.  He did not have a community of faith outside of his family, and we really don’t know about their faithfulness!  They were included in the covenant because of Noah’s faithfulness. 

If you read the sermon title, you’ll see it’s “Curtains for the World, Covenant for Noah”  What’s the difference between curtains and covenant?  Life and death, salvation and separation, punishment and reward.

God has not changed.  God is still holy.  God is still loving.  The world is in the same place it was in Noah’s day, and there are more of us who are faithful, but there is more corruption and violence just based on population.  What does God see when he looks at the world he created today?  And where does he see you?

Are you a Noah, standing against the status quo and living in obedience to a holy God, or are you owned by a corrupt and violent generation?

As much as I’d love to sugar coat this for you, there’d be no truth in it.  So what do we do?  We display the love and holiness of God in the world we live in.  The good news is, we don’t have the job of judging others, but we do have the job of encouraging others, inside and outside of the church to live in an obedient relationship with the Holy God who gave them life. The truth is, that regardless of what we see around us, God reigns.  His holy righteousness is still the standard all humankind is called to live up to.

Maybe you will be invited to a cookout or event with others this long weekend.  Take Jesus with you, try to see things through his holy eyes, and respond accordingly.

Amen