Inter-Community Church of God
June 13, 2021 Service
      • Psalm 92:1–4HCSB

      • Psalm 92:12–15HCSB

  • Unusual Characters

    I don’t know about you, but when I look at people, I don’t see so many that are walking talking clones or robots.
    Specially now, when we have had a year of social hibernation which has mostly helped us solidify some of our personal habits and ways of looking at things.
    Everyone is different. Some are genius, most are not. Some are crafty, most are not. Some are handy with things, most are not. Some are financially adept, some are great cooks, some are emotional cheerleaders, some great counselors, some great administrators, a lot of great helpers, a lot of people who excel at supporting whatever is going on, and a lot who are just not the kind to fit in anywhere.
    In our society, a bunch of those people end up homeless because the rest of the world doesn’t quite know what to do with them.
    But generally, we just live with some of our family and know some of our friends who are, well, we’ll just say a little more of a challenge to deal with. I don’t have to try to tell you what that might look like, you already know.
    Unless of course you family, friends and neighbors are all just about perfect.
    I am going to be preaching about how God has used some unusual characters to build his people. Now we can read in the Bible that God has built a “peculiar people” which is good because that is where most of us fit. Peculiar.
    I’ve selected a few, starting with Noah, and old man, very old to us, who walked with God and did what God asked him to.
    After Father’s day, I will finish Noah’s story and then I will use Abraham as our focus. Bobbi and I will be in Portland with our children to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary next Sunday. I have to say we are looking forward to that.
    Later we will deal with the likes of Rebekah, Leah, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. We will get to a few others, like Samuel, Saul, David and Solomon, so we will see how the schedule works out.
    This won’t be a character sturdy, but it will be a study of some characters.
    >>>God’s choice of people sometimes matches our ideas of a leader, and sometimes doesn’t. But we do find that God makes those unusual characters he uses into the peculiar people they need to be for His purposes.

    Noah: The 9th From Adam

    The Story of Noah is found in Genesis chapters 6-9. It is an interesting story, and of course I use these chapters to talk about the ark, or to talk about the flood. But I want to look into Noah a bit as an unusual character that God built into a peculiar person as the beginning point of a people of God.
    Now, while the story of Noah as the Ark-Builder begins in chapter 6, Chapter 5 gives some interesting background.
    We find out that Noah was the grandson of Methuselah, the oldest man in the Bible at 969 years old. Now, a few were pretty close, with Jared at 962, Noah himself at 950, and the first man Adam at 930. There were 3 others over 900 years. These were important lifespans in order to populate the earth, but there were problems. For after Adam was ejected from the Garden of Eden, and people began to cover the earth, there were just a scant few that remembered the God who made them, the God who used to walk with Adam in the Garden.
    The most famous of those was Enoch, who was Noah’s great-grandfather. Scripture records that “Enoch walked with God; then he was not there because God took him” (Genesis 5:24). This was at the tender age of 365 years old, an it was about 80 years before Noah was born. But Noah probably knew his grandfather Methuselah, for he survived until the year of the flood—maybe he died in the flood with the rest of mankind, but we can’t be sure of that.
    As chapter 6 opens, we read in Genesis 6:3 that the Lord God decided that in the future, the normal lifespan of humankind would be reduced to 120 years, because humankind is corrupt. Live too long, start to forget God and his designs for you, I guess, if the years don’t seem to take a toll.
    >>>Our God doesn’t force his human creation to follow him, worship him, or remember him. He wants a relationship with us. But rejecting God means living without holiness or righteousness. In Noah’s day, the Lord decided.

    Noah’s World Was Just Too Wicked

    We are surrounded with wicked behavior on every turn. Many live without a moral center, having rejected what is right or maybe never even learning the real difference between right and wrong. Our news stories are filled with shootings, abuse, lies, slander and misdeeds.
    >>>Sometimes we wonder just how much is too much. The story of Noah reminds us that even God has a limit to how much he will take. For the days of Noah, the world was piling up wicked thoughts and wicked behavior. God had finally had enough, and we read,
    Genesis 6:5–6 CSB
    5 When the Lord saw that human wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time, 6 the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and he was deeply grieved.
    That is always very striking to me, that the Lord was sorry he ever mad man. But even more striking is that it broke his heart. Our God doesn’t force us into obedience, but he is still broken-hearted when his children reject him and go against his ways.
    God decided that he would wipe the slate clean and start over. He would get rid of all humanity and even the birds and animals and most ground-dwellers. It was going to ugly.
    >>>There was one exception, however. The Great-grandson of Enoch, who walked with God, was Noah, and we read,
    Genesis 6:8 CSB
    8 Noah, however, found favor with the Lord.
    How did Noah get on God’s good side? Well, that’s pretty straight-forward in the Bible.
    >>>Unlike the rest of humankind at that point in our time on earth,

    Noah Walked With God

    in this world filled with wickedness, selfishness, misdeeds, mis-behaviors and misadventures, Noah alone stood out.
    It wasn’t going to be his father Lamech, who died young at only 777 years about 5 years before the flood. It wasn’t going to be his grandfather Methuselah, who was like, REALLY old. There is nothing in the Bible to tell us about their faith or faithfulness, even though they were able to tell the tale about Noah’s great-grandfather Enoch whom God just took because of his faithfulness.
    >>>Enoch walked with God and escaped this world. I think this might have been what Noah aspired to, because the Bible says,
    Genesis 6:9 CSB
    9 These are the family records of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among his contemporaries; Noah walked with God.
    There you have it. Noah was righteous—meaning he did what was right. He was blameless—meaning you could trust his words and his deeds to match up. A man of real integrity.
    So like his great-grandfather Enoch, Noah walked with God. And God knows the difference between someone who says they walk with him but the right behavior never shows up and one who is faithfully connected to the Creator God.
    Because of this, “Noah found favor with the Lord.” Or, as some translations and a Sunday School song puts it, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”
    >>>It’s a little amazing that something else happens. Our God reveals to us only what he chooses to reveal of himself, and we are not privy to God’s Future purposes. But it is different with Noah, and we read that. . . .

    Noah Heard God’s Plans

    Typically, in the Old Testament, it is only the prophets that hear the word of the Lord. Of course, that is their calling, their gift, their purpose. Most of the time, for the prophets, what they hear from God is something they hear in order to tell others. It’s mostly Jeremiah and Hosea that hear from God about things that God will do through the obedience of their own lives.
    >>>Yet here in the story of the Ark and the Flood, Noah gets the inside scoop. Let’s see what it is that God decided to tell Noah.:
    Genesis 6:13 CSB
    13 Then God said to Noah, “I have decided to put an end to every creature, for the earth is filled with wickedness because of them; therefore I am going to destroy them along with the earth.
    Now that’s pretty nice breakfast talk around the family table, isn’t it?
    I can imagine Noah’s wife at the morning meal asking how he slept, and what the day might bring. Oh, and by the way, the Bible never tells us her name.
    “Good morning husband. How was your night? Do you feel ready for the day?” Now, these were good questions, for we learn in this chapter that Noah is 600 years old. What would you ask?
    Then Noah says to her, “Well, I slept pretty well, and, by the way, the Lord God of Heaven and Earth is going to wipe out everything that lives and breathes. So, wife, how was your night?”
    Of course it wouldn’t have been like that. Or would it?
    Then Noah’s wife asks him if that’s going to change anything he is doing right now. After all, she already knows he is faithful to God and is a man of rare integrity.
    >>>So Noah tells her, “I’m going to build a boat”
    “Oh, really? What’s a boat?”
    “Well, it’s a really big wooden house that floats.”
    “Why on earth would you do that?”
    “Because God told me to. He told me it would be an ark, whatever that is supposed to mean”
    Genesis 6:14 CSB
    14 “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it with pitch inside and outside.
    “Oh, so you just do whatever you think God tells you to do? There’s a few things that need fixing around here, you know.”
    If you were Noah’s wife, what would you say? I mean, it’s not like any of this is easy to swallow.
    “Well,” says Noah, “There’s going to be a flood. There’s going to be some water and there’s going to be some mud.”
    “OK, go on”
    “But God did tell me something else besides how big to build it.”
    >>>”Oh really,” says Noah’s wife, “and what could that be?”
    So Noah tells her what God told him—a little bit of good news in this story of an extinction-level event. God said to Noah,
    Genesis 6:18 CSB
    18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark with your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives.
    “Oh. so we’re all going on a cruise together?”
    “Well, no, it’s not like that. God told me this thing would be 150 paces long, 25 paces wide and as high as the trees. And we will be in there with a mating pair of every kind of beast and bird and bug. And we’ll have to feed them.”
    >>>Noah’s wife says something under her breath, I think maybe it was sort of, “Husband, now I know you’re nuts. Eat your breakfast and see if you still feel like doing this after lunch.”

    Noah Did What God Told Him

    This is the second unusual character trait of Noah. First, he walked with God. His family knew that, his friends knew that, in fact, everyone knew that. Now the second thing about Noah that is the most important point in this story is that Noah did what God told him to do.
    Well, God told Noah he was going to destroy the earth. Noah needs to build a huge boat, an ark, and there would be every kind of beast, bird and bug on it. But those critters would all come to him so he can focus on building this monstrosity.
    What would you have done? The Lord doesn’t really have much reason to trust a lot of people with a job like this.
    >>>But he could trust Noah. So the Bible tells us,
    Genesis 6:22 CSB
    22 And Noah did this. He did everything that God had commanded him.
    I don’t know how long this job of building the ark lasted. The timeline we have is that Ham, Shem and Japheth were born when Noah was 500 years old. I’m thinking they had to get in on building this thing, so maybe when they were 18 or 20 they started finding trees, hauling them to the constructions site, splitting them for timbers, making wooden pegs, carrying buckets of tar, arguing about some elements of the design or how to make this happen.
    That might have been 80 years of this construction project. We don’t know for sure. I’m also pretty there were a bunch of servants, slaves and hirelings that were in on this. It’s too big for 3 or 4 men to cut, lift, and nail down the boards that would have been needed.
    >>>Finally it was finished. Noah checked every peg, every board, every spot that needed a waterproof sealant of tar inside and out. So it was done. And . . .

    Noah Got the Boat Loaded

    After all this, it’s good news for the earth that Noah stayed true to God and that he continued to do what God told him. Otherwise, according to scripture, we wouldn’t be here.
    >>>Now that it was time,
    Genesis 7:1 CSB
    1 Then the Lord said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation.
    So the 8 people that went through the flood were Noah, his wife, Ham, his wife, Shem, his wife, and Japheth with his wife. Only Noah’s household. And apparently there weren’t any other little Noahs in the house yet.
    But of course this wasn’t just about 8 people on a boat as big as 1-1/2 football fields and 5 stories high. This was also about saving the earth’s species. This was about saving humanity. This was about a fresh start for the earth.
    >>>Now here comes your trivia question that will stump most people. How many of the animals were on the ark?
    Genesis 7:2–3 CSB
    2 You are to take with you seven pairs, a male and its female, of all the clean animals, and two of the animals that are not clean, a male and its female, 3 and seven pairs, male and female, of the birds of the sky—in order to keep offspring alive throughout the earth.
    So it wasn’t just 2 of every animal. It was 7 pairs of every clean animal, which wasn’t yet part of the scheme of the Temple rites, but was part of what God showed Noah. These 7 pairs would ensure there would be food for the righteous, sacrifices for their worship, and plenty to keep the line going.
    >>>Through all of this, with all the questions, rumors, slams, and distrust of what Noah was doing among his contemporaries, we read again,
    Genesis 7:5 CSB
    5 And Noah did everything that the Lord commanded him.
    Without Noah, we’d never have been born. His walk with God and his obedience to God was the difference for the earth, so it didn’t end up like a Mars or Venus, unable to support life.
    >>>One other thing I want to remind you that this story teaches us. Not only faithfulness to God and man, nor odedience to God, but you are. . .

    Never Too Old to Do Something Significant

    So as we come to our close today, we are told something that seems crazy to us, with our 75 or 80 or 100 year lifespans.
    When the Ark is finished, and everything is loaded, and the waters came, . . .
    Genesis 7:6–7 CSB
    6 Noah was six hundred years old when the flood came and water covered the earth. 7 So Noah, his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives entered the ark because of the floodwaters.
    We are going to come back to the Bible’s record of Noah and how he survived the flood in a couple weeks, after Father’s Day.
    But today, I want you to think: is your life a life that God wants to use? I am sure it is. Are you living a life of righteousness that God and the world notices? And are you willing to hear his voice and then obey?
    Is a world like ours, this is not expected behavior. We are filled with wickedness that would make Methuselah blush.
    But for us, our world will not be destroyed by a flood. For us, we have a way of salvation through the waters of sin that is better than an ark of gopher wood.
    Our salvation is in Christ alone. Our holiness is through the Holy Spirit. Our hope is not this earth but heaven.
    For Noah, he and his family were saved because of righteousness. For us, we can be saved because of the righteousness of Christ.
    Put your life into his hands.
      • Genesis 6:5–6HCSB

      • Genesis 6:8HCSB

      • Genesis 6:9HCSB

      • Genesis 6:13HCSB

      • Genesis 6:14HCSB

      • Genesis 6:18HCSB

      • Genesis 6:22HCSB

      • Genesis 7:1HCSB

      • Genesis 7:2–3HCSB

      • Genesis 7:5HCSB

      • Genesis 7:6–7HCSB

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