The Faith of Noah (Part 4) – Conclusion
“God, and Eternity, and Heaven were very near to me today.”
Before the Flood God sent Noah to warn the world, that the people might be led to repentance, and thus escape the threatened destruction. As the time of Christ’s second appearing draws near, the Lord sends His servants with a warning to the world to prepare for that great event.
Multitudes have been living in transgression of God’s law, and now He, in mercy, calls them to obey its sacred precepts. Many feel that it requires too great a sacrifice to put away sin. Because their life does not harmonize with the pure principles of God’s moral government, they reject His warning and deny the authority of His law.
Before the Flood, of the vast population of the earth, only eight souls believed and obeyed God’s Word through Noah. As Noah’s message of the coming destruction was rejected and despised, so it will be now.
Before the Lawgiver shall come to punish the disobedient, transgressors are warned to repent but with the majority these warnings will be in vain. Apostle Peter says, “There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning.” 2 Peter 3:3,4
Do we not hear these very words repeated, not merely by the openly ungodly, but by many who occupy the pulpits of our land? “There is no cause for alarm,” they cry. “Before Christ shall come, all the world is to be converted, and righteousness is to reign for a thousand years. Peace, peace! All things continue as they were from the beginning. Let none be disturbed by the exciting message of these alarmists.”
But this doctrine of the millennium does not harmonize with the teachings of Christ and His apostles. Jesus asked the significant question, “When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8
Jesus declared that the state of the world will be as in the days of Noah. Paul warns us that we may look for wickedness to increase as the end draws near (1 Timothy 4:1); “. . . in the last days perilous times shall come.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) And Paul then gives a startling list of sins that will be found among those who have a form of Godliness.
As the time of their probation was closing, the antediluvians gave themselves up to the exciting amusements and festivities. Those who possessed influence and power were bent on keeping the minds of the people engrossed with mirth and pleasure, lest any should be impressed by the last solemn warning.
Do we not see the same repeated in our day? While God’s servants are giving the message that the end of all things is at hand, the world is absorbed in amusements and pleasure seeking. There is a constant round of excitement that causes indifference to God and prevents the people from being impressed by the truths which alone can save them from the coming destruction.
In Noah’s day philosophers declared that it was impossible for the world to be destroyed by water; today there are men of science who endeavor to show that the world cannot be destroyed by fire – this would be inconsistent with the laws of nature.
When great and wise men had proved to their satisfaction that it was impossible for the world to be destroyed by water, when the fears of the people were quieted, when all regarded Noah’s prophecy as a delusion, and looked upon him as a fanatic – then it was that God’s time had come.
“The fountains of the great deep” were “broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened,” and the scoffers were overwhelmed in the waters of the Flood. With all their boasted philosophy, men found too late that their wisdom was foolishness, the Lawgiver is greater than the laws of nature, and that Omnipotence is at no loss for means to accomplish His purposes.
“And as it was in the days of Noah . . .” “Even thus shall it be in the days when the Son of man is revealed.” (Luke 17:26, 30) “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” 2 Peter 3:10
When the reasoning of philosophy has banished the fear of God’s judgments; when religious teachers are pointing forward to long ages of peace and prosperity, and the world are absorbed in their rounds of business and pleasure, planting and building, feasting and merrymaking, rejecting God’s warnings and mocking His messengers – then it is that “sudden destruction cometh upon them . . . and they shall not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3
Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 102-104
There is a spiritual message in the Book of Habakkuk. This brief little book is remarkable in the history of religious literature because of two important spiritual insights. In Chapter 2, verse 4, Habakkuk uses the immortal words, “The just shall live by faith!”
This summary of true piety became the battle cry of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century. In the face of all religious rituals, all sacraments and indulgences, Luther was asserting the primacy of faith. Sin is a broken relationship, an act of rebellion and estrangement from God. Faith is the restoration of that broken fellowship by repentance and humble trust in God. Faith, to Habakkuk, is even more than humble trust – it is faithfulness, the steadfast obedience to God which marks the life of faith.
This spiritual truth separates all true and false religions.
This deep understanding of faith gives this book an indelible place in the spiritual life of the believer. Faith is not just some doctrine which is believed – it is a whole way of life. It is a daily dependence upon God, walking with Him moment by moment.
Habakkuk says that when everything has gone wrong, and all his possessions have been lost, and there is not even anything to eat, he will still rejoice in the God of his salvation. Faith says that God alone is enough – and when life comes to the end, every man will find out!
Abraham Lincoln was more than the country’s president; he was also the country’s pastor. During the Civil War, as casualties and injuries mounted, he visited hospitals and ministered to the sick and injured. Both Abraham and Mary Todd brought fruit and flowers, wrote letters home on their behalf, and sat with people who were dying.
Even before the pressing demands of his presidency, before the horrors of war, Lincoln demonstrated his compassionate bedside manner. There came a time when Lincoln’s legal services were required at the home of an elderly woman who was near death. He was summoned to prepare her last will and testament.
After he drew up the documents, oversaw the signing and witnessing of the will, the elderly woman turned to Lincoln and said, “Now I have my affairs for this world arranged satisfactorily.” She went on to say that she had already made preparation for the other life she was about to enter.
Then she requested that Mr. Lincoln read a few verses out of the Bible for her. Instead of reading, he recited the Twenty-third Psalm and then shared from memory the Fourteenth Chapter of John. Then with a tenderness and pathos that enthralled everyone in the room, he recited the last stanza of “Rock of Ages”:
While I draw this fleeting breath, When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I rise to worlds unknown, See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee.
Moments later an expression of peace lit her face, and then the woman passed away. As Lincoln rode home in silence, his traveling companion turned to him and said, “Mr. Lincoln, ever since what has just happened back there in the farmhouse, I have been thinking that it is very extraordinary that you should so perfectly have acted as a pastor as well as attorney.”
After several moments, Lincoln replied, “God, and Eternity, and Heaven were very near to me today.”
Walking with Lincoln, pp. 206-208