Trusting God In The Midst Of A Mess Chuck Sackett March 1, 2005 Genesis 6:9-22; 7:24; 8:14-19 The story of Noah is one of the best known of all the Bible stories. Even after the recent tsunami in the Indian Ocean, one little boy was overheard to comment on Noah and God’s promise. Here we are in “Ordinary” time. I realize that doesn’t refer to the nature of the time, rather to counting it. But it’s the play on words that’s interesting. There is nothing “ordinary” about this story. Taking up four full chapters of Genesis, this story captures a number of lessons Moses wanted Israel to remember. Our reading today hits the highlights (Genesis 6:9-22; 7:24; 8:14-19). So, what do we notice? Man is a mess, most of the time. Just before our reading begins, Moses says “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness … and the Lord was grieved…” (Gen. 6:5-7). In another era, Isaiah announced, “I am a man of unclean lips and I leave among a people of unclean lips” (Isa. 6:5). Jeremiah said it this way, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jer. 17:9). Solomon phrased it, “there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Pro. 14:12). Paul remarked, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). A quick look at the news only confirms the Biblical statements. Reuters and other news services report that children were being kidnapped and taken into slavery (physical and sexual) following the tsunami. The New York Times reports that ten former board members from WorldCom will pay huge settlements for their part in the stock frauds. A local policeman is jailed for growing marijuana in her basement. Man’s a mess and God has no choice but to exact justice. So, a flood to cleanse the earth. And a promise – never again. Every rainbow not only reminds us that God is good, but that man is bad. Not all men are a mess. Noah was a “righteous man” (Gen. 6:9) and “he did everything as the Lord commanded him” (Gen. 6:22). Noah believed God when believing was hard (enter Bill Cosby-“build me a boat”). And he did so in faith that God could be trusted (Heb. 11:7). A quick look at the history of the church only confirms the biblical truths. Men do not always make the right choices (Matt. 7:21-29), but they sometimes do. And when they do, we are the richer for it. Where would we be if Augustine had not penned his confessions? Or if Luther had not nailed his theses? Where would we be if Mother Teresa had not knelt in Calcutta? Or if that elder had not loaned the congregation the money? Or that Christian sister had not shared her faith with you? Man may be a mess, but there is a spark of life in him that can be fanned into living flame. And that flame, empowered by the Spirit of the Living God can bring man to place of great accomplishments. God can be trusted. There were no doubt endless days of questioning for Noah. After all it took a while to build that ark. But, somewhere, somehow, he had learned to trust the voice of God. And in that trusting, became what God needed in that moment. In the mystery of it all, there is a power that comes from God. It is the power of His word. We call it the gospel in the New Testament. And it has the power to save (Romans 1:16-17). It can take messed up women and men and turn them into useful vessels for God. And in doing so, stir up one of the great mysteries of the faith. That mystery may be captured in the question, “was Noah righteous because he believed God or because he obeyed God?” The answer is, “yes.” He found that mysterious place of Biblical paradox-the junction of faith and works. Faith that God can be trust; trust that God must be obeyed. And in that place of mysterious uncertainty, man becomes a part of the redeemed. And as a part of those redeemed people, finds choosing the narrow gate, building the solid foundation, riding the rough waves in an ark of gopher wood, the wisest choice of all. Noah has quite a story to tell. The moral of which might sound like this: God is good, even when man isn’t. _________________________ Sermon brief provided by: Chuck Sackett, professor of preaching at Lincoln Christian Seminary in Lincoln, IL Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.