The Faith of Noah (Part 1)
“Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it.” ~Abraham Lincoln
In the days of Noah a double curse was resting upon the earth in consequence of Adam’s transgression and of the murder committed by Cain. Yet, this had not greatly changed the face of nature. The hills were crowned with majestic trees supporting the fruit-laden branches of the vine. The vast, garden-like plains were clothed with verdure, and sweet with the fragrance of a thousand flowers. The fruits of the earth were in great variety, and almost without limit.
The human race yet retained much of its early vigor, and man’s existence was still measured by centuries. Had that long-lived people, with their rare powers to plan and execute, devoted themselves to the service of God, they would have made their Creator’s name a praise in the earth, and would have answered the purpose for which He gave them life. But they failed to do this. There were many giants, men of great stature and strength, renowned for wisdom, skillful in devising the most cunning and wonderful works; but their guilt in giving loose rein to iniquity was in proportion to their skill and mental ability.
God bestowed upon these antediluvians many and rich gifts; but they used His bounties to glorify themselves, and turned them into a curse by fixing their affections upon the gifts instead of the Giver. They sought only to gratify the desires of their own proud hearts and reveled in scenes of pleasure and wickedness. Not desiring to retain God in their knowledge, they soon came to deny His existence. They adored nature in place of the God of nature. They glorified human genius, worshiped the works of their own hands, and taught their children to bow down to graven images. As a result, they became more and more debased.
The psalmist describes the effect produced upon the worshiper by the adoration of idols. He says, “They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.” (Psalm 115:8) It is a law of the human mind that by beholding we become changed. Man will rise no higher than his conceptions of truth, purity, and holiness. If the mind is never exalted above the level of humanity, if it is not uplifted by faith to contemplate infinite wisdom and love, the man will be constantly sinking lower and lower. The worshipers of false gods clothed their deities with human attributes and passions, and thus their standard of character was degraded to the likeness of sinful humanity. They were defiled in consequence.
God had given men His commandments as a rule of life, but His law was transgressed, and every conceivable sin was the result. The wickedness of men was open and daring, justice was trampled in the dust, and the cries of the oppressed reached unto heaven. Polygamy was introduced. Neither the marriage relation nor the rights of property were respected. Whoever coveted the wives or the possessions of his neighbor, took them by force, and men exulted in their deed of violence.
The world was in its infancy;
yet iniquity had become so deep and wide-spread that God could no longer bear with it; and He said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth.” (Genesis 6:7) Methuselah, Noah and many others labored to keep alive the knowledge of the true God and to stay the tide of moral evil. A hundred and twenty years before the Flood, the Lord (by a holy angel) declared to Noah His purpose and directed him to build an ark. While building the ark, he was to preach that God would bring a flood of water upon the earth to destroy the wicked. Those who would believe the message, and would prepare for that event by repentance and reformation, should find pardon and be saved. Enoch had repeated to his children what God had shown him in regard to the Flood, and Methuselah and his sons, who lived to hear the preaching of Noah, assisted in building the ark.
God was the designer, and Noah the master builder.
Human wisdom could not have devised a structure of so great strength and durability. It was constructed like the hull of a ship, that it might float upon the water, but in some respects it more nearly resembled a house. It was three stories high, with but one door, which was in its side. The light was admitted at the top, and the different apartments were so arranged that all were lighted. The material employed in the construction of the ark was the cypress, or gopher wood, which would be untouched by decay for hundreds of years. All that man could do was done to render the work perfect, yet the ark could not of itself have withstood the storm which was to come upon the earth. God alone could preserve His servants upon the tempestuous waters.
“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 which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” (Hebrews 11:7) While Noah was giving his warning message to the world, his works testified of his sincerity. It was thus that his faith was perfected and made evident. He gave the world an example of believing just what God says. All that he possessed, he invested in the ark. As he began to construct that immense boat on dry ground, multitudes came from every direction to see the strange sight and to hear the earnest, fervent words of the singular preacher. Every blow struck upon the ark was a witness to the people.
Many at first appeared to receive the warning; yet they did not turn to God with true repentance. They were unwilling to renounce their sins. During the time that elapsed before the coming of the Flood, their faith was tested, and they failed to endure the trial. Some were deeply convicted, and would have heeded the words of warning; but there were so many to jest and ridicule, that they partook of the same spirit, resisted the invitations of mercy, and were soon among the boldest and most defiant scoffers; for none are so reckless and go to such lengths in sin as do those who have once had light, and have resisted the convicting Spirit of God.
Had the men of that generation obeyed the divine law,
they would have recognized the voice of God in the warning of His servant; but their minds had become so blinded by rejection of light that they really believed Noah’s message to be a delusion. The world was arrayed against God’s justice and His laws, and Noah was regarded as a fanatic. They made merry at the folly of the deluded old man. Instead of humbling the heart before God, they continued their disobedience and wickedness.
But Noah stood like a rock amid the tempest.
To be continued . . . Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 90-96
When President Lincoln was unsure about deciding a matter of importance (i.e. the annunciation of the Emancipation Policy) he would plead with God on what to do. He always followed God’s leading regardless of the consequences, and God blessed him with victory. Our lives are no more certain, and our God is no less willing to answer when we seek Him. Like Lincoln, we can recognize God’s voice if we choose to listen. It is easy to say yes to His will, but it can be a challenge to honor our commitment when we face the opinions of others, difficult circumstances, or worse, our own complacency. But like Lincoln, we can rise above these challenges and offer ourselves as vessels “useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:21