Just so you know, the actual title of the post should be “Don’t Miss the Boat, Pt. 2,” and since it is a continuation of yesterday’s post, you might want to go back and read Pt. 1 just to get the flow.
The story of Noah and the Flood has always intrigued me. How could one man and his family remain righteous in the midst of such wickedness? The answer is found in Psalm 78: parents teaching their children the great stories of the Bible — the stories of man’s failure and God’s grace. We fall down, but by His grace, we can get back up again. And in Psalm 78, Asaph said that if we do this, teach our children God’s Word, they will set their hope in God, will not forget the works of God, will keep His commandments, and will not be like their fathers. They will break the cycle of sin and judgment, and that is a good thing because sin always leads to sorrow.
There is an old sermon outline that I think every preacher in the world has preached, and I’m not sure where it started. It goes like this: “Sin will take you farther than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you wanted to pay.” In short, sin will make you sorry, and it will bring you sorrow. Before you became a Christian and you did something wrong, you felt bad because your conscience bothered you. When you became a Christian, you feel sorrow because the Holy Spirit brings conviction on your heart.
But when you look at Genesis 6:6, you see that the sin of mankind was so great that it made God sorrowful. He was sorry that He had made man on the earth. In fact, the KJV says, “He repented.” And the word that Moses used here is the Hebrew nacham, the word most often translated in the KJV as “repent.” Do you know what the root of the word actually means? It means “to breathe strongly.” Kind of like “to give a deep sigh.” Do you ever do that when you’re sad? frustrated? angry? Now I don’t want you to miss the point here because this verse isn’t trying to tell us that all of this took God by surprise. Nothing ever takes God by surprise. When Moses wrote this down, he wasn’t telling us that God regretted having made man because He didn’t know this was going to happen. When God looked at the state of mankind, He was sighing because He was sorrowful. God was sighing because He was brokenhearted over what He saw happening.
Sin always breaks the heart of God, so can you imagine when He saw that every thought and every intent of every man except for Noah and his family was evil how He must have felt? One Bible scholar summed it up this way. He said, “It was one thing for God to anticipate man’s sin and another to face it.” It was kind of like God knowing that His Son would die on the cross of Calvary, but when the moment came, He couldn’t bear to look. This is a side of God we don’t often think about; we don’t want to think about it, but the picture Moses is painting for us here is that God is in agony. He is groaning. He is grieving over the depravity of mankind to the point that He is sorry that He ever created that which only 10 generations ago He had said was “very good.”
How could it be? How could it have come to this point? Think about it. Humanity had been created for one purpose and one purpose alone: to worship, glorify, and fellowship with God. And out of the entire population of the Earth, only one family was continuing to fulfill their purpose. Instead, the magnitude of their sin had increased from eating forbidden fruit to Cain’s murder of Abel. Then there was Lamech’s act of polygamy and multiple murders to a total preoccupation with evil. God’s patience had come to an end, and judgment was to take place in one catastrophic act. God said, “I will destroy both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
First came sin. Then there was sorrow. But remember, in all of these stories, Asaph reminded us, there is hope. Yes, these are stories of our failures, but they are stories that teach us that in our failures, God remains faithful. We fall down, but by His grace, we get up. Remember, He has a plan because all the while, there is Noah. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Noah found favor with God because like Enoch, he walked with God. He wasn’t perfect, but he possessed integrity. When he messed up, he confessed his mistakes to God. His loyalty was to his Lord so much so that when the Lord spoke, Noah listened and he obeyed. He built the ark just as God said. He brought the animals in just as God said. The door was closed. The rain began to fall. The fountains of the deep broke open, and all living creatures except for those in the ark perished from the face of the Earth. God’s judgment on sin was complete.
Sin, sorrow, and salvation. A cycle oft-repeated throughout the Bible. You don’t have to turn too many pages to find it. The Tower of Babel in chapter 11. Then the repeated stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. As I was trying to decide which stories I would use in this series, the problem was not in finding enough but in deciding which ones to cut out because our theological history is one of repeated failure and forgiveness. But that is the point. We fall down, and by the grace of God, we get back up. You see, it’s not just in the Bible that we come across this oft-repeated cycle. It’s in our daily lives. Sometimes it isn’t a matter of how many days we have to go before we find the cycle. Sometimes it’s how many hours. Or minutes. Or even seconds. Because people today aren’t a whole lot different than the people of Noah’s days whose every intent of the thoughts of our hearts are only evil continually. Just like Jesus said it would be in the last days, and the only reason that God isn’t wiping us out like He did in Noah’s day is that He promised He wouldn’t do it again like that.
But my friends, judgment is coming. God’s heart is broken. He is breathing deeply. Only this time, He is looking for you and me to nacham, to breathe deeply, too. To repent. To be sorry over our sin. To weep and to mourn. To rend our hearts and not our garments. So that like Noah, we can find grace in His eyes.