So there was this guy.
He was old. Like, really old.
600 years old, to be exact.
I’d imagine he thought it was about time to hang up his robes and chill out for the rest of his life.
But there was a hitch in that idea. See, he was “blameless.” On the surface we’d say, “Wow. Blameless. That’s pretty awesome.” But the thing was that he was the only blameless person left on earth. Literally. So as the only one of his kind around, God gives him a task. And just to be sure he’s clear, God gives him details – details which, when we glance over them in the Bible, seem sort of excessive.
Here’s how God puts it:
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” – Genesis 6:11-21 (ESV)
Cue dramatic chipmunk.
SAY WHAAAAT? If I’m Noah at this point, I’d have a conversation with God over this matter. Honestly, I probably would have tuned out after the whole “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood.”
I mean, where to start? First off, gopher wood. Mmmmmhhmmmm. Let me figure out where I can come up with that. OK – let’s say I’ve done what is literally impossible and built this thing. Done. Check. What’s next? You want me to get two of EVERY animal? Oh man. I’d have trouble just getting one frog, much less two, much less two that I could distinguish between male and female. But I digress. And oh yeah, I’m 600 years old! This job is obviously more suited for a man in his 300s.
But Noah doesn’t do any of that. Noah doesn’t sit his family down and talk through this. Noah doesn’t tell God, “Yeah – I’ll get back with you on that.”
22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him. – Genesis 6:22 (ESV)
Noah knew that God had a plan. He didn’t understand the ways of God, but he had a promise from God. On that promise, he just did it. That’s all the Bible says. He did it. And he didn’t do a shoddy job. He did it in exactly the way God had commanded – down to ever meticulous detail. Why is the Bible so straight to the point here? Why did Noah just go with it? Because of faith that was hinged on the promise of God.
God has told me to do some pretty “out there” stuff in my life. Before I knew it was Him, He told me to marry a girl from Pennsylvania. He told me to become a worship leader. He called me to be a pastor. He called me to step out of a church staff position into uncomfortable unknowns. He is still calling me to take unconventionally bold steps of faith. I continue obeying Him in faith because of His promise. He has promised you and I through His Word that His plans for us are prosperous and good (see Jeremiah 29:11). The promise is that if I follow Him and obey what He commands me, I will receive treasure that is “out-of-this-world” (see Matthew 6:33).
Noah eventually saw the flood waters reside. God made good on His promise. Noah was able to live in the fulfilled promise of God because he acted based on that promise. In early 2011 I had to decide whether to follow God’s command to do something I was practically incapable of doing, or stay in a situation where I felt secure. God had made me a promise, however, and because I trusted in that promise, I’m still seeing its fruit today.
I don’t know about you, but this excites me. God’s provision excites me! It excited the psalmist in Psalm 111 also. Join me in praying this psalm this morning:
1 Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
2 Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
3 Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
8 they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever! – Psalm 111 (ESV)
A life that is lived aimed at glorifying God will undoubtedly be infused with great challenges and calls from God. But know that there is hope and confidence in God’s promise. So whatever your “ark” is, go on and build it. I don’t know where you’ll find your own “gopher wood”, but I’d bet God will provide it.