The Faith of Noah (Part 2)
“Whereas, it is fit and becoming in all people, at all times, to acknowledge and revere the supreme government of God; to bow in humble submission to His chastisements; to confess and deplore their sins and transgressions, in the full conviction that the ‘fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’” ~Abraham Lincoln
Imagine what it must have been like for Noah to stand like a rock amid the tempest, surrounded by popular contempt and ridicule; but he did, and he distinguished himself by his holy integrity and unwavering faithfulness.
A power attended his words, for it was the voice of God to man through His servant. For one hundred and twenty years his solemn voice fell upon the ears of that generation in regard to events, which, so far as human wisdom could judge, were impossible.
As time passed on, men whose hearts had at times trembled with fear, began to be reassured. They reasoned that nature is above the God of nature, and that her laws are so firmly established that God Himself could not change them. If the message of Noah were correct, nature would be turned out of her course, and they made that message, in the minds of the world, a delusion – a grand deception.
They continued their festivities and their gluttonous feasts; they ate and drank, planted and builded, laying their plans in reference to advantages they hoped to gain in the future; and they went to greater lengths in wickedness, and in defiant disregard of God’s requirements, to testify that they had no fear of the Infinite One.
They asserted that if there were any truth in what Noah had said, the men of renown – the wise, the prudent, the great men – would understand the matter.
Had the antediluvians believed the warning, and repented of their evil deeds, the Lord would have turned aside His wrath. But by their obstinate resistance to the reproofs of conscience and the warnings of God’s prophet, that generation filled up the measure of their iniquity, and became ripe for destruction.
The period of their probation was about to expire. Noah had faithfully followed the instructions given him from God. The ark was finished and was stored with food for man and beast. It was now that Noah made his last solemn appeal to the people. With an agony of desire that words cannot express, he entreated them to seek a refuge while it might be found. Again, they rejected his words, and raised their voices in jest and scoffing.
Suddenly, a silence fell upon the mocking throng. Beasts of every description, the fiercest as well as the most gentle, were seen coming from mountain and forest and quietly making their way toward the ark. A noise as of a rushing wind was heard, and birds were flocking from all directions, their numbers darkening the heavens, and in perfect order they passed to the ark.
Animals obeyed the command of God, while men were disobedient.
Guided by holy angels, they “went in two and two unto Noah into the ark,” and the clean beasts by sevens.
The world looked on in wonder, some in fear. It was a mystery which they could not fathom. But men had become so hardened by their persistent rejection of light that even this scene produced but a momentary impression. The sun was shining in its glory, and the earth clad in almost Eden beauty as that doomed generation banished their rising fears by boisterous merriment. By their deeds of violence, they seemed to invite upon themselves the visitation of the already awakened wrath of God.
Noah’s warnings had been rejected by the world, but his influence and example resulted in blessings to his family. As a reward for his faithfulness and integrity, God saved all the members of his family with him.
What encouragement to parental fidelity!
Now, mercy had ceased its pleadings for the guilty race. A flash of dazzling light was seen, and a cloud of glory more vivid than the lightening descended from heaven and hovered before the entrance of the ark. The massive door, which was impossible for those within to close, was slowly swung to its place by unseen hands. Noah was shut in, and the rejecters of God’s mercy were shut out.
The seal of Heaven was on that door; God had shut it, and God alone could open it.
So shall it be when Christ will cease His intercession for guilty men, before His coming in the clouds of heaven, the door of mercy will be shut. Then divine grace will no longer restrain the wicked, and Satan will have full control of those who have rejected mercy. They will endeavor to destroy God’s people; but as Noah was shut into the ark, so the righteous will be shielded by divine power.
For seven days after Noah and his family entered the ark, there appeared no sign of the coming storm. During this period their faith was tested. It was a time of triumph to the world without.
The apparent delay confirmed them in the belief that Noah’s message was a delusion, and that the Flood would never come. They were witness to the solemn scenes – the beasts and birds entering the ark and the angel closing the door – but they still continued their revelry, even making jest of these signal manifestations of God’s power.
They gathered in crowds about the ark with a daring violence they had never ventured upon before. But on the eighth day dark clouds overspread the heavens.
There followed the muttering of thunder and the flash of lightning. Soon large drops of rain began to fall. The world had never witnessed anything like this, and the hearts of men were struck with fear.
All were secretly inquiring, “Can it be that Noah was right, and the world is doomed to destruction? Darker and darker grew the heavens, and faster came the falling rain.
To be continued . . . Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 96-99
Lincoln was asked the question: “How can we be sure God is on our side?” Lincoln responded: “I am not at all concerned about that, for I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this Nation should be on the Lord’s side.”
How can we be sure we are on the Lord’s side? We can begin by fearing God. The Bible tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Job 28:28; Ps. 111:10; Prov. 9:10; 15:33; Isa. 11:2; 33:6).
Abraham Lincoln continually reminded citizens of his country to remember the Lord in both the wonderful and troubling events they experience in their daily lives. He issued proclamations urging the nation to give thanks to God and to repent of ungodliness and ingratitude. He set aside days for prayer and fasting, for repentance, and for thanksgiving.
On March 30, 1863, Lincoln declared a National Day of Prayer and Fasting, claiming that the Nation needed to humble itself before God. He believed that God was merciful and would graciously forgive every confessed sin. Today, we do have a National Day of Prayer (enacted in 1952) but we no longer observe national days of prayer and fasting. We remember to give thanks if only once a year.
It was Lincoln who issued the Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1863, which set the precedent for a national holiday every November reminding us to be thankful. Each one of us is responsible to submit to God, purify our heart before Him, and always give Him thanks.
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:7-10 (NKJV)
Walking with Lincoln, pp. 120-123